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A Historical Event: History Day L.A. 2011

by Ahmed Sedam '11

Azusa Pacific University, the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and the Perryman Foundation hosted the 31st annual History Day L.A. at APU on Saturday, March 12. History Day L.A. is part of a national program that encourages students to engage in learning about and getting involved with historical events.

This year’s theme was Debate and Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, and Consequences, focused on America’s diplomatic impact throughout history. APU welcomed 725 participating 4th-12th grade students for the day’s festivities.

More than 500 entries were submitted for competition, from poster board presentations to dramatic performances and more. Community members and social science professors selected winners in the elementary, junior, and senior categories to go on to compete at California History Day. Junior and senior state winners then advance to participate in National History Day at the University of Maryland in June.

Throughout the day, historical re-enactments took place on APU’s West Campus lawn, giving students a physical representation of the events they study in textbooks. Students interacted with the groups, learning about the printing press and how to make adobe bricks, helping sew a quilt and making rag dolls, and even signing up for George Washington’s army and practicing drills.

The participating historical groups included New Buffalo soldiers, Heritage Trail Hands on History, George Washington and Volunteers, Riley of Los Rios, Yucaipa Valley Forge and Adobe Brick Making, Ben Franklin’s Printing Press, and North and South Civil War.

“The historical re-enactors interaction with the students made history tangible for the students with rope making, pioneer games, George Washington’s encampment, visiting with the Buffalo soldiers, and seeing horses and all of the equipment,” said David Landers, assistant professor in APU’s School of Education.

Most importantly, all the events helped history come alive for students. And the biggest impact of the day: seeing students get excited about what they’ve earned in the process of researching and putting together the projects.

“The highlight of the day was hearing student’s excitement as they cheered for each other at the awards assembly,” said Landers.