Maryland History Students Earn National History Day Recognition

June 23, 2015

Nearly 3,000 students representing schools from throughout the United States, surrounding territories, and countries around the world gathered at the University of Maryland, College Park to compete in the 2015 Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Competition. Sixty-seven exceptional students from the state of Maryland participated in the competition that took place between Sunday, June 14, and Thursday, June 18.

The National History Day program allows students to explore an annual theme through research using primary and secondary sources, and to create a final product to display their work. The 2015 competition encouraged students to contemplate “Leadership and Legacy in History” and select a project in one of the following five categories: exhibit, performance, website, paper, or documentary. Maryland students competed in school, county, and statewide competitions before advancing to the national competition in College Park.

At the national competition, Maryland students displayed their work alongside the best history projects in the country and at the culmination of the four-day competition on June 18, 2015, national winners were announced at the Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland.

James Sappington, a student at Central Middle School in Anne Arundel County, received the Outstanding State Entry award in the Junior Division for his documentary, “Woody Guthrie: How His Protest Music Helped Change History.” His teacher Georgia Ladd is the coordinator for the Anne Arundel County History Day program.  Anna Barth and Juliana Lu-Yang of Montgomery Blair High School in Montgomery County earned the Outstanding State Entry in the Senior Division for their documentary “From Ones to Zeros to a Compiled World: The Legacy of Grace Hopper.”  They created their documentary under the guidance of teacher George Mayo.

 Ananya Iyer of Eastern Middle School in Montgomery County represented the state of Maryland at History Night on Wednesday, June 17 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.  Her exhibit entitled “Margaret Thatcher: Britain’s Economic Savior” was displayed at the Museum throughout the day and was ranked among the top 10 finalists nationally in her category.

Parker Nickels of Northern Middle School in Calvert County was selected to represent Maryland at the National Endowment for the Humanities Breakfast on the Hill on Wednesday, June 17. Parker met with Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman Steny Hoyer to discuss his exhibit on Rachel Carson.

Sarah Bowden, a student at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore City, was selected to represent Maryland at the December 2015 opening of a new wing at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.  Bowden researched and developed her performance on Adolf Hitler under the guidance of librarian Maureen O’Neill.

Thirteen additional students also advanced to the final round of judging, with entries ranked among the top fourteen projects in the country in their respective categories. These exceptional students include Rakshita Balaji (Mayfield Woods Middle School, Howard County); Katherine Harvey and Kelly McGovern (Frederick Homeschoolers, Frederick County); Cecilia Hsu (Centennial High School, Howard County); Matthew Blum (Howard High School, Howard County); Molly Bingham (Marriotts Ridge High School, Howard County); Hunter Avallone, Joseph Harvey, Abby McGovern, and Carrie Pritt (Frederick Homeschoolers, Frederick County); Megha Sharma and Zion Hadley (Long Reach High School, Howard County); and Alexandria Ligon (Bullis School, Montgomery County).

Three Maryland History Day teachers were recognized at the National History Day awards ceremony.  RaeLynne Snyder, a social studies educator in the Baltimore City Public Schools received the HISTORY® Award for Service for her outstanding contribution to history education through service to the National History Day program.  Sara Romeyn of Bullis School, Montgomery County, and Leah Olsen of Stephen Decatur Middle School, Worcester County, were recognized as Patricia Behring Teachers of the Year for Maryland.

The full list of winners is available at For more information about Maryland History Day, please visit

Press Release