Welcome to the VA District 8 Contest

Important Dates & Times

Thank you to all the students, teachers, and parents involved in National History Day today at John Tyler.  The judges were once again impressed by the quality of the projects and the composure of the students.  It was a good morning. 

The contest results are under "Contest" > "Contest Results" above or at:- https://va-vadc6.nhd.org/?siteid=resultsArchive&f=94b18fbe-8217-4019-b65a-e872eeeda2ce

The judges' comment sheets, documentary thumbdrives, and student participation certificates will be forwarded to the teachers in the coming week.  Thanks again for your participation!  You are all winners for  developing your historical research and presentation skills.

John Kirn & Greg Hansard

Please send any questions, comments, or concerns to JKIRN@jtcc.edu

Information on NHD VA District 8 Event (March 2, 2019) for Students, Parents, and Teachers:

This is the e-mail sent to Students, Parents, and Teachers on 2/26/19.  It has accurate and up to date information for attending National History Day at John Tyler's Midlothian Campus on Saturday, 3/2.

The concessions menu of the Grumpy Veteran's Cafe and directions for pre-ordering whole pizzas is at the bottom.

Dear National History Day Students, Parents, and Teachers,

Thank you for participating in Virginia District 8’s National History Day competition on Saturday, 3/2.  We’re looking forward to seeing you on Saturday morning.  The competition is once again being hosted by John Tyler Community College at our Midlothian campus.  The Tomahawk Ruritan Club of Midlothian, VA has paid the registration costs for all students as a service to the community.  We deeply appreciate the commitment of John Tyler and the Ruritan Clubs to Central Virginia’s students. 

Student participation this year is three times that of last year!  This is phenomenal growth.  Teachers, we appreciate the extra time you have spent working with your students to prepare for this event.  And students, you are all winners because of the research, presentation, and communication skills you have honed preparing your project.  This growth means, however, that there will be a lot of people on John Tyler’s campus.  We will also be on a very tight judging schedule to make sure we can complete the competition on time.  Students, please be prepared and waiting outside your room ten minutes prior to your scheduled time to meet with the judges and present your project.  Thank you in advance for your patience and diligent cooperation as we proceed through the day.   Please read this entire e-mail and note the requirements for your specific project category.  For example, students presenting documentaries need to bring an extra copy of your documentary on a thumb drive that you will have to leave behind!      


Students should check in on the first floor of the T-Building at John Tyler Community College’s Midlothian campus between 8 AM and 8:45 AM Saturday morning, 3/2.   Do not go to the Chester campus!  If you have an exhibit to set up, please check in by 8:30 at the latest!  At check-in you will receive a folder containing a name tag and a piece of paper with the room number and time you will meet with the judges.  Be prepared and waiting outside your room at least ten minutes prior to your scheduled appointment.  Students who miss their scheduled time will have to be dropped from the competition.  The specific judging schedule will NOT be published ahead of time as it is subject to last minute changes.

The address of the Midlothian campus is:

John Tyler Community College

800 Charter Colony Parkway

Midlothian, Virginia 23114


***The most convenient place to park is in the parking deck off of Woolridge Road.  Registration and many of the activities will take place in the T-building, which is attached to the parking deck.  Some students will be also be presenting in Hamel Hall.  A map of the Midlothian campus, including the parking deck, T- building, and Hamel Hall, can be found at https://www.jtcc.edu/downloads/about/midlothian_map.pdf.  If the parking deck is full, you may park in any of the student parking lots surrounding the campus.  Be aware that it will take some time to walk to the T-building for registration.  Please arrive early to avoid anxiety.  

Judging begins promptly at 9:00 AM and will last until 1:00 PM or thereabouts.  The Awards Ceremony will be held at 1:30 PM on the first floor of Hamel Hall, room H109.  This is the largest room we have on campus, but it will probably NOT hold everybody who wants to attend the ceremony.  We apologize, but we have no larger space.  Attending the awards ceremony is optional.  Students who have other commitments can leave once they have been interviewed by the judges (though students with exhibits may not take them until the competition for their category is complete).  Their award certificates will be forwarded to their teachers.  All students participating in the National History Day will receive a participation certificate and feedback from the judges. This information will be sent to teachers the week following the competition. 

***Students who have prepared exhibits, performances, documentaries, or websites, should bring with them 3 copies of their process papers and bibliographies.  Students presenting papers should bring with them two copies of their papers.  John Tyler will have computers in each room with internet access.  Students can bring their documentaries on thumb-drives (preferred) or DVD’s, and it wouldn’t hurt to copy them to a YouTube channel or Google Drive account as a backup.  You may bring your own laptop as a backup, but it will be used only in an emergency.  Students presenting websites will do so on John Tyler's computers.  We will call up the URL and project the site.  

***THIS IS A NEW REQUIREMENT:  Students presenting Documentaries need to bring an extra copy of their documentary on a thumb drive that you will have to leave behind.  This is necessary because of the large number of participants and the need for a finals round in which the judges will review the documentaries once again after the interviews are completed.   

*** Exhibits will need to be left in place until the end of the competition.  This is necessary because of the large number of participants and the need for a finals round in which the judges will review the exhibits once again after the interviews are completed. 

Breakfast food, lunch, and snacks will be available for purchase from the John Tyler Student Veteran’s Organization.  The Grumpy Veteran’s Café menu was e-mailed to students, teachers, and parents Sunday night, 2/24.  The menu and instructions for pre-ordering pizzas can also be found on the District 8 NHD home page (https://va-vadc6.nhd.org).  All money raised by our Student Veterans Organization goes to support worthy causes in Central Virginia.  Please patronize them. 

Greg Hansard and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday between 8 and 8:45 AM.  If you have questions, do not reply to this e-mail.  You may e-mail me at JKIRN@JTCC.EDU

John Kirn, Professor of History, John Tyler Community College


Greg Hansard, Instructor of History, John Tyler Community College


Co-Coordinators, VA District 8 National History Day Competition



The Grumpy Veteran’s Café will be located on the first floor of the T-Building near the main staircase.  You can't miss it!  They take cash and credit cards. If you are interested in pre-ordering a pizza, please see the directions below.

The Grumpy Veteran’s Café Menu:

Candy Bars $1.00

Chips $1.00

Coffee/hot chocolate/ Hot Tea $1.00

Cookies $1.00

Cotton Candy $2.00

Crackers $0.75

Cup of Noodles $1.00

Donuts $1.00

Fig Bar $1.00

Fruit $0.50

Granola Bar $0.50

Honey Bun $1.00

Muffin/Pastry $2.00

Nachos with Chili and cheese $4.00

Orange Juice $1.25

Pizza Slice $2.00

          Whole pre-order $15.00

          Whole non-pre-order $24.00

Popcorn $1.00

Slim Jim $1.00

Soda/water $1.00

Trail Mix $1.00

To pre-order a whole pizza, send an e-mail to mark.e.burroughs@gmail.com prior to 5:00 PM on Friday, 3/1/19.  Include the name of the person picking up the pizzas and the number and type of pies (cheese or pepperoni) you would like.

John Tyler Community College would like to salute our Student Veteran’s Club for their outstanding service to John Tyler and the community.

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Thanks for participating in Virginia History Day! Please visit the Virginia History Day website to learn more about the program. 

Welcome to Registration for the Virginia District 8 National History Day Contest!

Registration Deadline is February 20, 2019.  Once again, we are pleased to announce that there is NO REGISTRATION FEE for students thanks to the generous support provided by John Tyler Community College and the Tomahawk Ruritan Club of Midlothian.

By registering, students are stating their intent to participate in the contest on Saturday, March 2 at John Tyler Community College, Midlothian Campus.  Group projects must have at least one student present to compete.  Most judging takes place between 9 AM and 12:30 PM. 

Please note that papers and websites are due by Wednesday, February 20th. Papers can be uploaded through the contest website.  Websites must be created through the NHD Weebly portal or converted to Weebly and will be locked out for edits after February 20th. 

***Because of the impending snow, delays, and possible cancellations, the deadlines above have been extended one day to Thursday, February 21st, at midnight.

If you have questions, please ask your teacher, or District 8 coordinators John Kirn, Professor of History, jkirn@jtcc.edu, and Gregory Hansard, Instructor of History, ghansard@jtcc.edu.


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Thanks for participating in Virginia History Day! Please visit the Virginia History Day website to learn more about the program. 

If you would like your students to participate, the first step is to make sure your school account has been created and then to create your account as a teacher.   To do that, go to CREATE ACCOUNT, schools.  If your school is not on the list please e-mail Christina Vida with the name of your school and she will add it.  If you home school your child, please e-mail Christina as well with the name of what you want your home school to be called and a physical address.  After verifying that your school has an account, you can now create an account for yourself as a teacher.  Once that is complete, your students will be allowed to create an account.

If you have questions, please ask District 8 coordinators John Kirn, Professor of History, jkirn@jtcc.edu, and Gregory Hansard, Instructor of History, ghansard@jtcc.edu, or Christina Vida, at cvida@VirginiaHistory.org or 804-342-9672.

Even if your students do not participate in History Day competitions, please register so we can track your school's participation in the program and earn points for your school to win the 2019 Virginia History Day Cup! Points are awarded for percentage of eligible students participating at each school in History Day projects, projects that win 1st or 2nd place at District contests, and projects that win 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place at the State competition. The Virginia History Day Cup prize will be awarded at the Virginia History Day Contest on April 27, 2019.

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This is the information e-mail sent to all judges on Tuesday, 2/26.  It is up to date and accurate.  Judges should report to Hamel H109 on John Tyler's Midlothian campus at 8 AM on Saturday 3/2 for breakfast items and training.  You may park anywhere, but lot A or D near Hamel Hall will be most convenient.

National History Day VA Region 8 Instructions for Judges:

Dear National History Day Judges,

Greg Hansard and I would like to start by sincerely thanking your for being a judge for VA District 8’s National History Day competition at John Tyler Community College on Saturday, 3/2.  You’re performing a noble service for our youth as they learn to ask questions of the past, conduct research, interpret sources, construct arguments that distinguish fact from fiction, and communicate their findings.  Working individually or in groups, they use this process to create original papers, exhibits, performances, websites, or documentaries.  If they finish first or second in their category at our regional competition, they will go on to compete at the state competition at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in April.  State level winners compete for national titles at the University of Maryland, College Park, in June.  Student who place third at our competition will proceed to the state competition if the first or second place finishers cannot attend.

I am in the process of assigning you to judge one of the above 5 categories, either at the junior (middle school) or senior (high school) level, or both.  Those of you assigned to review papers or websites already have your materials since these need to be reviewed prior to Saturday’s competition. 

Student participation this year (roughly 350 students) is three times that of last year!  This is phenomenal, and somewhat unanticipated, growth.  Word got out among teachers that this was a good program for their students.  And that’s because of the effort many of you put into interviewing students and providing them with constructive feedback last year.  This growth means, however, that there will be a lot of people on John Tyler’s campus.  It also means that judging teams may be reduced from three to two members for some categories.  We will also be on a very tight judging schedule (in most cases 10 minutes per project) to make sure we can complete the competition on time.  I’ve asked students to be prepared and waiting outside their room at least 10 minutes prior to their scheduled interview. 

I hope amidst the driving schedule you can take time to focus on the students and let them shine as they present their topic to you.  Enjoy interacting with them.  Please read through the interviewing tips below and, if you have time, watch the excellent webinar on judging produced last year by the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.        


***This is a change from last year.  Judges need to check in on the first floor of Hamel Hall, room H109, at John Tyler Community College’s Midlothian Campus at 8 AM on Saturday 3/2.  Don’t go to the Chester campus!  The address is   

John Tyler Community College
800 Charter Colony Parkway
Midlothian, Virginia 23114

***The most convenient place to park is in student parking lot A or D outside of Hamel Hall.  However, you can also park in the parking deck off of Woolridge Road.  Activities will take place on the first and second floor of Hamel Hall and, predominately, all three floors and nearly every room in the T-building.  A map of the Midlothian campus, including Hamel Hall, the park deck and lots, and the T- building, can be found at https://www.jtcc.edu/downloads/about/midlothian_map.pdf

After checking in at 8 AM in Hamel H109 and receiving your assignment and comment sheets, there will be a short judges’ training session from 8:15 to 8:40.  Coffee, tea, orange juice, bagels, fruit, and yogurt will be available.  Lunch will be available after 10:45 or so and will be served in the Judge’s Lounge (otherwise known as the Student Lounge) on the first floor of Hamel Hall.  Lunch will consist of Chick-Fil-A chicken wraps and chicken strips as well as a full salad bar.  There should be plenty of options on the salad bar for vegetarians.  There is a refrigerator in H109 near the lounge if you want to bring your own food.  Our Student Veterans Organization will also be selling concessions on the first floor of the T-Building. 

All judging sessions will start promptly at 9:00.  Some of you will finish earlier than others.  We hope all judging will be complete by 1:00.  ***Once your team has completed your student interviews, we ask that you confer and select your top three entries immediately and let Greg Hansard, Stacey Lyons, or I know.  We will be in the command center in the T building, T-203.  Because there are so many participants, most junior (middle school) categories will require a run-off.  The captains from each judging team will meet in T-203, present their top two projects, and from those the captains will pick first, second, and third place.  No student interviews will take place during the finals round.  Documentaries and websites can be viewed on the computers in the T-203 command center.  Judges not involved in the finals round should retire to the Judge’s lounge on the first floor of Hamel Hall to enjoy lunch, fellowship, and write up your comment sheets for the students.  It is important that you give the students as much constructive feedback as possible.  Students will receive those comments from their teachers next week. 

The Awards ceremony will take place in Hamel H109 at 1:30, if we are running on time.  We will not be able to fit as many students and parents into the room as will want to attend.  Therefore, we are not encouraging judges to attend the Awards Ceremony.  You are free to go once your comment sheets are completed and handed in. 


The National History Day theme this year is “Triumph & Tragedy in History”.  The theme is broad enough so that students can select topics from any place (local, national, or world history) and any time-period.  As you will see from the judging sheets, they need to relate their project in some general way to this theme.  If you’d like to read more about National History Day and this year’s specific theme, please go to https://www.nhd.org/triumph-tragedy-history. The theme book can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF.

You can find the Contest rule book, which delineates the rules students must follow for each type of project, at https://www.nhd.org/sites/default/files/Contest-Rule-Book.pdfThis information will also be in your packet.

 I’m already asking a lot from each of you.  However, if you’d like to watch all or part of an excellent webinar on good judging techniques by Christina Vida, the Virginia History Day Coordinator for the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, please go to  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Uf9t5E0PEpkAr3ovdxZCYgbYPA30DuIz

Here are some tips I got while watching the webinar:

  • Be friendly; help students to feel at ease
  • Remain objective; be consistent with every project; ask the same types of questions
  • Let the students be the experts—you’re there to listen, not to lecture
  • Leave the students feeling like they nailed the interview.  If the student missed an important source, save it for the comment sheet.
  • Assume the work is the students and ask if you’re unsure.  It’s amazing the access students have to information these days.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  They did the work 98% of the time.
  • Smile; be excited about each project even if you aren’t.
  • Remember the redeeming qualities of each project; each project has something about it that is unique.
  • For group projects, ask the students how they worked together as a group.  Attempt to get everyone in the group into the conversation.   Only one member of the group is required to be present to represent the project.
  • Ask students how their project relates to the theme of Triumph and Tragedy in history.
  • Provide positive feedback.  For most students they won’t progress any further.  But whether they come back next year depends to a large part on the judging experience.  Let students know that you appreciate the effort they put into the project.

Once again, thank you for your participation.  If you have any questions, please e-mail Greg or myself.

See you Saturday morning at 8 AM in Hamel Hall, H109!


John Kirn

(Prof. of History, John Tyler Community College) 


Greg Hansard

(instructor of History, John Tyler Community College)


Co-Coordinators, National History Day District 8 Competition


Judge Information

I’ve never judged History Day before.  Is that okay?

Absolutely!  We welcome veteran judges as well as new judges.  Every Contest begins with a training session run by the Virginia Historical Society. Judging teams will consist of a mix of veteran and first-time judges.

What qualifications are needed to be a History Day judge?

No qualifications are required to judge a History Day event. However, judges should possess an interest in history and be comfortable interacting with students.  Judging involves evaluating projects with a critical eye, making decisions and offering students constructive feedback on their work.

How much time do I have to commit?

At both the District and State level, a judging session typically requires a minimum of 6 hours. This includes an orientation followed by examination of student work, interviews with students, and determination of top entries. Judges who review Historical Paper and Website entries have a slightly different schedule with a similar time commitment. As a judge, we’ll invite you to participate or view a few webinars prior to the competition, but they aren’t required.

What do judges do during History Day?

The basic task of judges is to evaluate the students’ entries and provide both the positive and the constructive feedback that is essential to the learning process. Judges begin the day with an orientation where they review the day’s timeline, learn how to use the National History Day scoring sheets, discuss consensus judging, and meet their fellow judges and judge captains.  There will be time for questions and answers.  Judging teams will consist of two or three members, with a mixture of veteran and novice judges. Judges evaluate the student entries in 10 to 15 minute intervals, with time to interview the student(s) about their project.  Judges fill out the score sheets and come to consensus on the winning entries. You are welcome, but not required, to stay for the Awards Ceremony.

What kinds of questions should I ask the students?

Questions asked during the judging process should give students the opportunity to talk about what they learned while creating their project.  The Contest is the students' day to shine! The judge should never talk more than the student or make them feel as though they have not done enough research.  Questions about their research process, sources used, inspirations for the topic, and what they liked about the project are all appropriate questions.

How do I register to be a judge?

Click on the "Register" button above and select "Judge." Register as a user and then fill out the short questionnaire. We will do our best to accommodate your preferences. You should receive a confirmation email once you have completed the process.

Have more questions? Contact John Kirn, Professor of History, and Gregory Hansard, Instructor of History
John Tyler Community College
Phone: (804) 594-1495 or (804) 706-5136
E-mail: jkirn@jtcc.edu and ghansard@jtcc.edu



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