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Two Hillsborough students had the opportunity to compete in a national academic competition.

Two Auten Road Intermediate School in Hillsborough sixth grade students, Nitya Balasubramanian and Ritija Bhargava, earned a place to compete with other middle and high school students from across the nation in the finals of the National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The students attended the event on June 10 with their exhibit titled, “Spanish Invasion of the Americas: Tragedy and Triumph of a Continent.”

The duo, along with the school’s National History Day Club Advisors, Pat Sellar and Nancy Patrick, attended the event where students from around the country showcased their documentaries, websites, performances, and exhibits based on this year’s theme, “Triumph and Tragedy.”

National History Day is a year-long education program, designed for students in grades 6-12. Throughout the school year, students conduct research of primary and secondary resources in order to prepare presentations based on the annual theme. The program culminates in a series of contests held at the regional, state, and finally the national level.

Balasubramanian and Bhargava worked as a team and were named the top entry in the category of exhibits at the New Jersey state competition that was held on May 4 at William Paterson University in Wayne.

The 18 of 36 ARIS sixth grade students who participated in the New Jersey Regional National History Day Competition at Monmouth University on March 29 qualified to move on to the State National History Day Competition at William Paterson University in May.

The top two entries in each category at the state-level were invited to the National Contest held at the University of Maryland.

The students who presented their research and conclusions by creating an entry in one of five categories: Paper; Museum-style exhibit; Dramatic performance; Documentary; or Website.

At each competition level, students share their work with their peers, historians, educators, and professionals in related fields as they complete for special awards and the opportunity to advance to the next level of the competition. Participation in this national program has grown to more than 500,000 students across the country.

This top-place finish earned the ARIS duo’s entry to the national level of competition. Their winning exhibit looks at the topic of the Spanish invasion of the Americas.

Their research focused on the tragic loss of the Mayan, Aztec, and Incan civilizations by the Spanish conquistadors and how the annihilation of these civilizations changed the course of history.

Prior to the students participation in the national competition, Sellar and Patrick were fond of the duo’s achievements to make it to the grand stage of the academic program.

“We are so delighted that Nitya and Ritija are representing Auten Road Intermediate School and Hillsborough Township Public Schools at the national event this year,” Sellar said.

“They have both worked hard this year delving into their topic and certainly deserve this honor,” Patrick revealed.

The ARIS sixth grade students may choose to participate in the National History Day academic club. The club is open to any sixth-grade student that is interested in participating. At the beginning of the school year, club members choose a topic and continue their research and develop their entry with the guidance of their advisors. This is the sixth year of the club’s existence at ARIS.

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