What is Hawaiʻi History Day?

What is Hawaiʻi History Day?

Hawai‘i History Day, a state affiliate of National History Day (NHD), is a year-long history education program that invigorates the teaching and learning of history in grades 4-12. It promotes a theme-based, research-centered model for history and civics education.

Doing a History Day Project

Students produce a History Day project, which can be entered, presented, and evaluated at school, district, state, and national history day fairs. Public, private, charter, and home school students in grades 4-12 are eligible to participate in the Hawai‘i State DOE District in which their school is located. There are three divisions:

  • Senior Division: Students in grades 9-12
  • Junior Division: Students in grades 6-8
  • Youth Division: Students in grades 4-5

Students can choose from one of five different project formats:

  • Exhibit, Performance, Documentary, Essay, Website

In Hawaiʻi, students can also enter their project in on of the formats above, in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. Projects are centered around a yearly theme from National History Day. The theme for last year, (2022-2023), was Frontiers in History: People, Places, and Ideas.

Benefits of the Program

History Day offers teachers and students another path towards broadening historical perspectives and deepening understanding of the stories of our past, the complex and beautiful moʻolelo that make up our human experience. History Day:

  • Promotes student excellence and performance through integrating research, writing, and other skills
  • Empowers and supports student choice, voice, and presentation skills
  • Builds student confidence, poise, understanding of our local, state, national, and global history and introduces them to civic engagement
  • Opens space for collective learning of history and allows the experience to be shared by families, groups, and communities
  • Provides opportunities for students to connect to, and strengthen relationships with, teachers, peers, community members, and organizations

As an introduction to our program (or perhaps a nostalgic reflection, if you are already part of our Hawaiʻi History Day community), please enjoy this beautiful video, lovingly put together by Dorian Langi, who has been a dedicated volunteer to Hawaiʻi History Day for many years. Mahalo nui, Dorian, for such a caring testament to this work and this program.


A Slam Poem about Hawaiʻi History Day

Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner is internationally renown for her powerful poetry and her engagement around climate change. In 2014, she spoke before the UN for the Secretary General’s Climate Summit. Her poem, written for her daughter, “Dear Matafele Peinem” received a standing ovation.

While attending UH Laboratory School, Kathy participated in Hawaiʻi History Day telling the story of her people, the Marshallese, and how the United States tested 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands. The impact of this history has been long lasting, tragic, and often unacknowledged.

Participation in Hawaiʻi History Day has a lasting impact on people’s lives. It strengthens and creates intergenerational bonds throughout our community and fosters the capacity to understand the world beyond our immediate individual experiences.

The stories and histories of many of our communities have not yet found substantive places in conventional curriculum. Hawaiʻi History Day provides an opportunity to look at the mana wai, the richness, depth, and diversity of all our stories here in the islands.