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More than 250 middle and high school students will converge at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh this weekend, showing their interest in history as they square off in the East Central Regional of the Wisconsin National History Day competition.

Students will compete in five categories: exhibit, documentary, performance, websites or papers. Topics must be at least 20 years old and fit within the 2018 theme, Conflict and Compromise, set by the National History Day office. The directive to choose a topic causes students to “become detectives who do history,” said Jenny Kalvaitis, coordinator of secondary education with the Wisconsin Historical Society. “They conduct primary and secondary source research, analyze those documents, write a thesis and create a project.”

About 60 registered judges, including many UW Oshkosh undergraduate students, faculty and staff and community members will evaluate the entries with the best progressing to state competition in Madison April 21. Exceptional projects will move from state to national competition in Washington, D.C.

The East Central Region encompasses Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Winnebago, Calumet, Manitowoc and Washington counties.

Stephen Kercher, chair of the UW Oshkosh history department, and Joshua Ranger, university archivist, will serve as local hosts of the event–held on campus for the first time.

Ranger said undergraduate students in history and education who work as judges have the opportunity to engage with younger students He noted that higher education transforms students only a few years older into more sophisticated individuals capable of constructively evaluating the work of high school and middle school students.

Kercher said the event shows students and parents that UW Oshkosh is a regional center for the study of history, from college to K-through-12.

“This encourages students to think about the complexity of history,” he said and shows prospective (college) students who we are.”

The event is taking place from 8 a.m. to noon at Clow Social Science Center and at Reeve Memorial Union.