Wednesday, January 7, 2009

National History Day Receives Major Gift From Kenneth E. Behring

HH Note: The state of Georgia was represented by a talented group of Troup County girls in 2008 as they performed a skit based on real life women who were "Rosie the Riveter." Performances of this delightful skit were given last year at the Little White House in Warm Springs, GA.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National History Day announced today a $1.9 million gift from philanthropist Kenneth E. Behring to "improve the teaching and learning of history at middle and high schools throughout the country."

The announcement was made during a special briefing at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

"We are obviously delighted and grateful," said Cathy Gorn, National History Day executive director, in accepting the gift. "Mr. Behring's generosity will enable us to take important new steps to open the window of history to students and teachers. We know the need and desire for history education is out there. Now we have the capacity to serve thousands more. This gift will help us demonstrate that the study of history can be both enlightening and fun."

This year National History Day is celebrating its 30th anniversary and will explore the theme "individuals in history." The group emphasizes the importance of research, thinking and communication skills among students, and provides educators with resources and training to enhance classroom teaching. More than 600,000 students nationwide take part in the program.

Students choose historical topics and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through museums, libraries, archives, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics' significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries.

National History Day activities culminate in a national contest - now called the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day competition - held in June at the University of Maryland and attended by thousands of students who display history projects they have developed during the year.

In his remarks, Mr. Behring stressed the need for young people to study and understand history. "There's nothing more central to the education process than learning about the individuals, events and movements that have shaped our way of life," he said. "I hope this contribution will make it possible for students and teachers alike to gain a greater appreciation of history."

Through the partnership with the National Museum of American History, projects by the state finalists will be presented at the museum. The partnership will also feature web and blog components for use by students, teachers and families.

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