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Eight Menlo Park Academy Students Advance to National History Day Finals

Menlo Park Academy (MPA), a Cleveland, Ohio-based nonprofit public community school for gifted students, had eight Wizards advance to the National History Day (NHD) National Contest this June, including its first sixth-grade student—a record number for the school.

Competing in NHD’s Junior Division (grades 6-8), middle school students began this past fall choosing their topic related to NHD’s annual theme (this year’s theme is Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas). They conducted extensive research and then created history projects in one of nine categories:

  • Documentary (group or individual)
  • Exhibit (group or individual)
  • Performance (group or individual)
  • Website (group or individual)
  • Paper

In February, in preparation for the regional competition, students presented their history projects at Menlo to a group of judges, comprised of local historians, staff members, and NHD alumni, who evaluated and critiqued each project. On March 4th, at the Ohio Region 3 NHD competition at the Cleveland History Center, 33 Menlo Wizards competed against approximately 400 students from the six-county area comprising Northeast Ohio. After tallying the scoring, Menlo was the top public middle school, advancing 19 students (10 projects) to Ohio History Day on April 22nd, the state finals for NHD.

At the state finals, which took place at Ohio Wesleyan University near Columbus, Menlo’s ten history projects competed in five different Junior Division categories against students from across Ohio. Only the top two projects within each category would earn the right to advance. Menlo’s history projects placed in the top two in all five categories our students competed, advancing eight students and five projects to the NHD National Competition at the University of Maryland June 11-15th. At that event, they will go up against nearly 3,000 students from all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Department of Defense Schools in the Atlantic, and international schools in China, Korea, and elsewhere.

This continues a trend of a strong representation of northeast Ohio schools at NHD Nationals. Of the 18 Junior Division history projects from Ohio, 17 come from Cuyahoga County. Menlo’s five projects, plus three others, come from tuition-free public schools, while the remaining ten come from private schools.

Menlo would like to thank the staff, teachers, and parents who have supported our NHD competitors this year. We congratulate our NHD students for their creativity, hard work, and success.

Here are the students, projects, and categories going to NHD Nationals:

  • Junior Division Group Documentary:
    • The Frontiers of Interracial Marriage in America: Loving vs. Virginia – Sylvia S. & Leanne Z.
  • Junior Division Group Exhibit:
    • Frontiers in Labor Unions in Britain: The Matchgirls Strike (1888) – Kyla M. & Eliza B.
  • Junior Division Group Performance:
    • Taking Their Swing: The Rockford Peaches – Beth D. & Ollie R.
  • Junior Division Individual Performance:
    • The Frontier of Women Investigative Reporters: Nellie Bly – Juliana S.
  • Junior Division Individual Website:
    • Frontiers in Leadership – Women as President: Corazon Aquino – Ariel C.
menlo's eight national history day finalists
Pictured (L-R): Ollie R., Beth D., Sylvia S., Leanne Z., Kyla M., Eliza B., Juliana S., Ariel C. and Menlo Dean of Curriculum, Jessica Wilcox.

About National History Day

National History Day® (NHD) is an educational nonprofit organization that engages teachers and students in historical research. The mission of NHD is to improve the teaching and learning of history in middle and high school through an innovative framework of historical inquiry and research. Students learn history by selecting topics of interest, launching into year-long research projects, and presenting their findings through creative approaches and media. The most visible vehicle of NHD is the National Contest.

Beginning in the fall, students choose a topic related to the annual theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, exhibits, performances, websites, or documentaries. These projects get entered into showcases and competitions in the spring at local, affiliate (U.S. states, territories, and participating countries), and national levels, where historians and educators evaluate them. The program culminates at the National Contest held each June at the University of Maryland at College Park.

About Menlo Park Academy

Menlo Park Academy is Ohio’s only tuition-free K-8 school for gifted children. MPA is a public, nonprofit community school, with an economically and racially diverse student body of approximately 490 students from across northeast Ohio. The school is located on a renovated seven-acre campus formerly home to the abandoned Joseph & Feiss Clothing Co. on Cleveland’s near-west side.

The school is dedicated to providing exemplary, rewarding experiences that promote both learning and whole-child development, offering a curriculum with innovative acceleration and differentiation options.

It is also consistently ranked as one of the top schools in Ohio. Niche, an organization that provides school rankings at the national, state, and local level, ranked MPA as the No. 1 Best Charter Elementary School and Charter Middle School in Ohio in its 2023 rankings, and the top 3 of all public elementary and middle schools in the state.