Twelve Wilton High School students spent Saturday, March 21 participating in their inaugural Connecticut History Day Fairfield Regional Contest. Despite their first-year status, they overcame roadblocks to be recognized for their efforts.

One of Wilton’s student groups placed second in the Group Museum Exhibit category with their project, J. Alden Weir: Painting a Legacy. The WHS History Club students who were recognized by the judges for this achievement were  Lizzy Lynch, Mary Lynch, Isabel Saltzman, Claire Graham and Hana Perevite. These students will be moving on to complete at the CT State History Day contest on May 9.

CT History Day Wilton 1[12]

The WHS History Club is a pilot club at the high school that hopes to obtain administrative approval and become a standing club for the 2015-2016 academic year. Several students and their advisor, Wilton High School social studies teacher Kenneth Dunaj, wanted to create an extra curricular academic activity that would allow students to engage in historical thinking.

The new “pilot” club at the high school offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills. The goal of the club is to allow students to celebrate their appreciation for social studies beyond the classroom. The History Club is open to all WHS high school students.

All members of the WHS History Club who participated in Saturday’s regional contest were required to select a historical topic in order to develop a project exemplifying the theme of “Leadership and Legacy.” The Wilton High School student projects focused on the following subjects:  Benedict Arnold: A Man Without a Country; Ella T. Grasso:  Changing the Political Norm; and J. Alden Weir: Painting a Legacy.

Since autumn, students have been collaborating together to conduct original and secondary research in order to develop a presentation for the CT Regional History Day contest to present an original thesis statement with supporting primary and secondary data. Two of the high school groups designed museum exhibits and one created a documentary film. Unlike many of their peers from other high schools, the Wilton students did not have the opportunity to work on their projects in their daily history classes; instead the Wilton History Club students completed their projects outside of the normal school day.

History Day in Connecticut is led by Connecticut’s Old State House, with support from the Connecticut Historical Society, the Connecticut League of History Organizations and Connecticut Humanities’ website. Major funding is provided by Connecticut Humanities.

The regional contest was hosted by Fairfield University. Students were evaluated by volunteer judges who are social studies teachers from local school districts and college professors from all around the state. In addition to creating an original product, students are required to compose an annotated bibliography and a process paper. After students finished presenting their projects, judges questioned each group about the inquiry process and their products. All of the students had an amazing experience presenting their projects to the judges and other onlookers.