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West Hartford Student Wins Top Prize at National History Day Contest

National History Day winner Mia Porcello (left) with Connecticut History Day teacher Jennifer Hunt. Submitted photo

Middle school student Mia Porcello of West Hartford, who won the Junior Individual Exhibit Category, was one of several Connecticut students to win an award at the National History Day Contest Contest at the University of Maryland.

National History Day winner Mia Porcello (left) with Connecticut History Day teacher Jennifer Hunt. Submitted photo

National History Day winner Mia Porcello (left) with Connecticut History Day teacher Jennifer Hunt. Submitted photo


Sixty-eight Connecticut students represented the state and the Connecticut History Day (CHD) program during the prestigious 2016 National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland from June 12-16, and a West Hartford middle schooler took home a top prize.

CHD, a statewide history program led by Connecticut’s Old State House, sent the state’s delegation to the annual contest to compete against 2,900 students from across the country. Several students won awards at the NHD Contest, resulting in the most successful year in the program’s history:

Mia Porcello, a middle school student from St. Timothy School in West Hartford, captured a national title by winning First Place in the Junior Individual Exhibit Category for her entry Florence Wald: Exploring Medical Boundaries, Exchanging Hospitals to Hospice.

Mia Porcello with her winning exhibit at National History Day. Submitted photo

Mia Porcello with her winning exhibit at National History Day. Submitted photo

“Good strategic thinking by our History Day team has increased the number of students who learn and grow through this program,” said Sally Whipple, Executive Director of Connecticut’s Old State House. “Old State House workshops, resources and coaching have helped students develop high quality projects based on sound research. We serve thousands of students through this program, but more important than the number served, is the quality of that service. Students develop critical thinking, writing and research skills, along with increased confidence, curiosity and the ability to ask and find answers to compelling questions. The Old State House staff strives to do this every day through all of its programs. It’s great to see student work that we’ve helped nurture receive the highest National History Day honors possible.”

Other Connecticut award winners include:

  • Shay Pezzulo, a high school student from Classical Magnet School in Hartford, captured CHD’s second national title of the year by winning First Place in the Senior Individual Website Category for her entry Duel and Duality: New Journalism, New York. Pezzulo also attended “Breakfast on the Hill” with members of Congress during her trip to the NHD Contest – an event sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Juliana Rodrigues, Max Bueno, Samantha Gilbert, Emily Strickland and Joseph Zarif, students from Memorial Middle School in Middlebury, won two Special Awards for their project, Alexander Hamilton Explores a Financial System for the New Nation of America. The awards included the U.S. Constitution Award and Special Award in History in the Federal Government.
  • The Outstanding Connecticut Entry Award from the Senior Division was awarded to Nicole Wood, Juliana Salamone, Katherine Hurst and Flora Dievenich for their group project, Women Airforce Service Pilots and the Flight for Equality. They are students at Greenwich High School and were also finalists in the Senior Group Performance Category.
  • The Outstanding Connecticut Entry Award from the Junior Division was awarded to Hunter Dale and Noah Vasington for their group project, Branch Rickey: Branching Off to New Ideas. They are students at Mansfield Middle School in Storrs and were also finalists in the Junior Group Exhibit Category.
  • Rosie the Riveter, an exhibit created by Claire Graham, Hana Previte, Isabel Saltzman, and Lauren White was one of only 57 projects featured at the National Museum of American History’s “National History Night” on Wednesday, June 15. They are students at Wilton High School, in Wilton, CT.

During their stay at the five-day contest, the Connecticut Delegation spent time exploring Washington, D.C. They toured the U.S. Capitol Building and were able to observe a filibuster from the Senate Gallery. Students also enjoyed the opportunity to visit and tour the National World War II Monument.

Connecticut History Day is made possible by the leadership of Connecticut’s Old State House and a strong collaboration among many of Connecticut’s history organizations. CHD is designed to help students develop critical thinking skills and a passion for learning and sharing history – with the goal of encouraging students to develop a life-long interest in Connecticut’s rich stories, archives, historic buildings and museum collections. CHD is led by Connecticut’s Old State House, funded by Connecticut Humanities and supported by the Connecticut League of History Organizations, Central Connecticut State University and scores of historical societies and civic groups who provide special prizes at the state level.

To learn more about Connecticut History Day visit the program’s website, www.historydayct.org, or follow Connecticut History Day on Facebook.

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