Antonia Mazzilli at Vermont History Day. Photo: Andrew Liptak

Thirteen Harwood Union Middle School students participated in the Vermont Historical Society’s 39th annual Vermont History Day (VHD) earlier this month. During the April 2 event, Vermont students competed with displays, websites, talks, performances and presentations related to history. Approximately 170 Vermont students in grades four through 12 from 17 schools and districts participated in this year’s competition, which was themed “Debate and Diplomacy in History.” Students’ projects were reviewed by teams of volunteer judges composed of local historians, educators and other professionals from the community. This year’s competition was held both virtually and in-person at the Davis Center at the University of Vermont in Burlington.


Harwood students who competed included Sophie Pelletier, Marty Brown, Eli Sanford, Felix Kretz, Addison Petrasch, AJ Brooks, Lydia Fowler, Madi Maylin and Antonia Mazzilli. Harwood’s Leo Costanza and Milo Lavit won the Military History Prize with their project titled, “The Manhattan Project: The First Atomic Bomb.” Eliza Krotinger and Haley MacDonald won first place for their junior group website on The Seneca Falls Convention. Nicky Service took home second place for junior individual website with his website, “Thirteen Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis.”

“HUMS students have been participating in NHD for the past six years through social studies class and this year in combination with English class,” Harwood teacher Sarah Ibson said. “NHD teaches the skills of how to be a historian -- asking questions, researching and writing, and proving a thesis statement. As a part of the research process, students are encouraged to use primary sources and focus on multiple perspectives in learning about their topic. This year's theme is Debate and Diplomacy in History so students could pick any topic as long as it fits within that theme. The topics that students choose are not ones that are necessarily taught about as a part of our curriculum, but ones that students have an interest in or after doing some research find a strong connection to the theme.”

“Nicky chose the Cuban Missile Crisis and although he has built websites before he had to learn how to use the NHD website builder,” Ibson said. “Eliza and Haley created a well-designed website with detailed research about the Seneca Falls Convention. Because NHD is a contest at the state and national levels there are strict parameters that students have to follow in creating their projects. Students can create a website, documentary or exhibit, do a performance, or write a paper. Milo and Leo chose a topic for which they were passionate and they won the military history prize for their exhibit on the Manhattan Project.” 

Service, Krotzinger and MacDonald qualified to compete in National History Day, which will take place online in June. The Military History Award was a locally-produced award and, therefore, the winner does not qualify for National History Day.