Orange County educator heads California history contest

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This year, an Orange County educator is overseeing an annual contest to help turn around California students’ notorious deficiency in history.

In the last couple of months tens of thousands of California public school students have been busy working on National History Day projects. The June competition is the Olympics of social studies, says California coordinator Debbie Granger of the Orange County Department of Education.

"The idea is that students have an opportunity to become historians," says Granger. "Every year the National History Day organization determines a theme for the year and this year’s theme is 'Debate and Diplomacy in History: Failure, Successes, and Consequences.'"

That’s not a dry topic, Granger says – middle school students have submitted entries on Assimilation of Native American Children, Western Diplomacy in Iran, while some high school projects include the Woodstock music festival, and Equality of Women in Religion.

Entries with website and video documentary elements have shot up this year, Granger says. Winners of county competitions in a few weeks go on to statewide competition, then a national contest in June.