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More than 500 of Am. Samoa’s young historians to participate in National History Day

FAGATOGO, American Samoa — National History Day, the world’s leading program for history education, invited students across the Territory to enter its annual competition through the American Samoa History Day Program.  This year’s theme is Rights and Responsibilities in History and students were asked to examine how these subjects have shaped the course of history, especially with our very own local history.


Our local History Day competition will take place April 8-11 at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium from 8a.m. – 4p.m and the public is invited.


More than 500 students in grades 6-12 have advanced to the Island-Wide History Day Competition representing private and public schools. They have submitted more than 300 project entries for this year’s competition.  Whether they attend a small school in the rural areas, or a large school in the urban areas, students will display how they have applied the skills of a historian in conducting research and analysis. They have carefully selected the best format to present their findings to our people. For many of them they hope these projects will take them all the way to the National History Day (NHD) Competition to be held on June 15 – 19 in College Park, Md.


The Late Governor A.P. Lutali reflected on his life as a teenager in Aunuu, and summarized the importance of education in those days as such: “The education of a child, even though that education by today’s standards is equivalent to only the 5th or 6th grade, was the highest goal any family could hope to attain.”  Former Governor Togiola. T. Tulafono emphasized that “It is important for our young people to appreciate our involvement in the march of time and of civilization.”


Most students began preparing for the competition soon after the school year started in August.  Their teachers brainstormed with them to choose topics and provided them with the guidelines for entering the competition. Students will present in one of five categories: exhibit, performance, documentary, website and research paper; they also may decide to enter as individuals or as members of a group.


American Samoa History Day’s impact goes well beyond the students who participate. Hundreds of parents also got involved, making it a family affair.  It also provided teachers with a unique alternative to what can be accomplished in the traditional classroom. Teachers and parents whose children were involved in the History Day Program have seen improvement in their children’s learning skills and habits.


As John Maiava, a former History Day teacher said, “It has been amazing how so many students have learned a wide range of research skills at this age which will be very useful for their educational career beyond high school.”


The American Samoa History Day is the regional program under the National History Day Program. Since 1974, National History Day has grown from a Cleveland, Ohio competition with about 100 students to a national academic program that engages 2 million people annually.


The Amerika Samoa Humanities Council, the local affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Samoa Department of Education (ASDOE) has sponsored our local competition every year since 2003.


The NHD program is funded by The History Channel, ABC-CLIO, Jostens, as well as private foundations.  Judges are university professors, high school teachers, museum curators and other public historians.  Over $150,000 in scholarships will be awarded to top national winners, including a full tuition scholarship to Case Western Reserve University.