Education

Paterson Powerhouse: City Students Take History Day Competition To a New Level

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All photos by Alan Knight/Paterson Public Schools
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PATERSON, NJ – Any student of regional history knows that Paterson lays claim to a rich and impressive past. So perhaps it stands to reason that Paterson students lay claim to a special status when it comes to National History Day competitions.

Year after year, Paterson students win prizes at regional and state competitions for best performance pieces, documentaries, websites, and research papers. This spring, seven Paterson students managed to advance to the nationals in Maryland.

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All that success has come with little overall coordination among city schools. Well, the rest of America best look out now.

Paterson Public Schools’ social studies department this year has put together a program designed to make the city’s History Day projects stronger than ever. In conjunction with the Paterson Education Fund (PEF) and the Paterson Free Public Library, the district recently organized a gathering of about 100 students so they can hone their skills for their history day projects for the current academic year.

The November 27 event at the main library branch on Broadway was designed to introduce the students to the many research opportunities at the library. Moreover, the event featured presentations by school district faculty members with expertise in different types of history day projects.

“When it comes to History Day, Paterson is really recognized throughout the state,’’ said Nicholas Vancheri, the district’s social studies supervisor. “We’re hoping that the history mentality that they develop for this competition will stay with them throughout the school year.’’

Students from Rosa Parks, International, Kennedy, Eastside and Great Falls high schools participated in the event. “It was a great event,’’ said Irene Sterling, president of the PEF. “You should have seen the level of enthusiasm and interest the kids had.’’

Many of the students seem surprised to learn the variety of research resources that were available at the library, Sterling said. Some even signed up for library cards afterwards, she said.

Of course, there was some trepidation about having 100 high school students at the library for the event, Sterling said. But all went smoothly. “They show how serious Paterson kids can be when given the opportunity to rise to the occasion,’’ she said.

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