Welcome to the VA District 8 Contest

Important Dates & Times

Information on VA District 8 National History Day Competition (February 29, 2020):

***Thank you to those of you have registered for the District 8 National History Day competition.  We're looking forward to seeing you Saturday morning, 2/28.  The following information was e-mailed to all students, parents, and teachers on Tuesday, 2/25:

Dear National History Day Students, Parents, and Teachers,

 Thank you for participating in Virginia District 8’s National History Day competition on Saturday, 2/29.  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 college has paid the registration costs for all students as a service to the community.  We deeply appreciate the commitment of John Tyler to Central Virginia’s students.   


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, 2/29.   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 of information, and you will locate, on the bulletin boards, the room number and time that you will meet with the judges.  Be prepared and waiting outside your room at least ten minutes prior to your scheduled judging 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  The specific judging schedule will NOT be published ahead of time as it is subject to last minute changes.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 most of the judging will take place in the T-building, which is attached to the parking deck.  Some students will be also be presenting in Hamel Hall where the Awards Ceremony will take place as well (Hamel Hall, H109).  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.  


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. 

Students who have prepared documentaries should make sure they have 1) uploaded the final version of their documentary to the YouTube link they provided at registration, if possible, and 2) that it is published “Unlisted” so that judges with the link can access it.  If students are not able to upload their video to YouTube, they should bring a thumb drive with their video that they can leave with the judges after their interview.  To be safe, we recommend that all students preparing documentaries bring a thumb drive with their video to the contest as a back-up.  Students presenting websites and documentaries will do so on John Tyler’s computers.  We will call up the URL and project the site.     

*** Students are free to leave after their judging session, but exhibit boards will need to be left in place until the end of the competition.  This is necessary so judges can view the exhibits once again during the finals round.  Exhibits that are left at John Tyler will be returned to the students’ teachers.

Spectators are allowed to sit in on Performances and Documentaries.  However, they may not enter or leave during a presentation and must be silent while in the room.  Exhibits are open to the public only after the judging is finished.  Copies of papers will be available to the public to read on the second floor of the T-Building, but paper, website, and exhibit judging sessions are not open to the public.


Breakfast and lunch food will be available for purchase from two hot trucks that will be parked just outside of the T-Building in Parking Lot C (https://www.jtcc.edu/downloads/about/midlothian_map.pdf).  First Stop Donuts, featuring apple cider donuts, coffee, and other breakfast items will start selling at 8 AM.  They will sell apple cider donuts by the dozen ($10) and half-dozen ($6).  The Boardwalk Food Trailer (“Richmond’s Best Hot Dog on Wheels”) will be selling lunch items from roughly 10:30 on, including hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, and fries.  Their menu is available at http://www.boardwalkhotdogs.com/.  Please patronize these vendors!


Judging begins promptly at 9:00 AM and will last until 12:45 PM or thereabouts.  The first, second, and third place finishers for each category will be posted on the bulletin boards on the second floor of the T-Building as they are decided. 

Students do not need to be present to win.  Students may leave John Tyler once they have been interviewed by the judges.  However, exhibits will need to be left in place until the end of the competition so that judges can view them again during the finals round after interviews are completed.   Exhibits that are left will be returned to the student’s teachers the week after the competition.

The Awards Ceremony will be held at 1:00 PM on the first floor of Hamel Hall, room H109.  This is the second largest room we have on campus, but, unfortunately, it may NOT hold everybody who wants to attend the ceremony.  We would like to give priority seating to those who placed first, second, or third in the competition.  Attending the Awards ceremony is purely optional.  Award Certificates that are not claimed at the ceremony will be forwarded to the student’s teachers.   All students participating in 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 finish first or second in their category will compete at the NHD state competition at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture on April 25 & 26, 2020.  Students who finish in third place will compete at the state competition if the first or second place finishers cannot attend. 

 Thank you for participating in National History Day.  As co-coordinators of the District 8 competition, Greg Hansard and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday morning between 8 and 8:45 AM.  If you have questions, do NOT reply to this e-mail.  You may e-mail either of us at the e-mail addresses listed below.  This information can also be found on the district 8 website at https://va-vadc6.nhd.org/

 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 VA District 8 National History Day competition will be held on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at the Midlothian campus of John Tyler Community College from 8:00 AM-2:00 PM.  The Snow/Inclement Weather date is Saturday, March 21.  Students must register to compete by Wednesday, February 19.  There is no registration fee for students.  The competition date falls upon the same week as last year and has been set to avoid conflicts with the Metro Regional Science Fair, the Governor’s School Model UN competition, the SATS, and John Tyler's spring break.  Registration and Information for teachers, students, and prospective judges can be found on this website.  

***There are five changes this year that you need to be aware of:

  1. The number of contestants grew by 300% last year!  We were very pleased but had to scramble to come up with additional space, judges, and time.  To make sure that we can devote quality time to judging each project, District 8 is limiting the number of projects to six entries per category per school.  This may require schools to have a run-off event prior to registering students for the District 8 competition.  Schools will have to carefully monitor the number of students participating in each category.  Please e-mail me if you have any questions about this new policy.
  2. National History Day is no longer using Weebly as the web platform.  A new platform called NHDWebCentral will be available after November 1.  Stay tuned.
  3. For the first time, there will be an elementary division (grades 4-5).  These students will compete in the Group and Individual Exhibit categories only. 
  4. The state competition at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture will take place over two days rather than one.  The elementary and junior divisions will compete on April 25 and the senior division on April 26.
  5. Individuals and groups working on documentaries must upload their video to YouTube.  When registering, students will be asked to provide the YouTube URL. This is preferrable to collecting thumbdrives containing the videos as we did last year.  Students should set the privacy setting for their video to be "unlisted," meaning they are only accessible if a person has the URL.  Do not mark them "private" as judges will not be able to access them.  As a precaution, students should still bring a copy of their documentary on a thumb drive to the contest.  However, we will not collect the thumb-drives. 

Please review the following and e-mail me or co-coordinator Greg Hansard if you have any questions:

  1. Information on the theme for this year’s competition (Breaking Barriers in History) can be found at the National History Day website: https://www.nhd.org.  There is also information for teachers and students on the project categories (documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, website), project examples, and the contest rulebook.   
  2. You should also explore the Virginia History Day website maintained by Virginia History Day state coordinator Sam Florer at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture (https://www.virginiahistory.org/learn/virginia-history-day).  Mr. Florer is offering Skype sessions and interactive webinars for teachers and students who have registered for the competition.  If you are interested in these and additional resources, visit the Virginia History Day website for more information.
  3. The registration procedure for the District 8 competition is as follows: Teachers much register first.  See the District 8 website for details. Once teachers have registered, students can register.  If you home-school your child, please e-mail Virginia History Day state coordinator Sam Florer sflorer@virginiahistory.org) with the name of what you want your school to be called and a physical address.  [Note: District 8 comprises Amelia, Charles City, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fluvanna, Gloucester, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Hopewell, King and Queen, King William, Louisa, Mathews, New Kent, Petersburg, Powhatan, Prince George, Richmond City]
  4. Students must register to compete on the District 8 website by Wednesday, February 19, 2020.   Once again, there is no registration fee for students.  We are lining up sponsors to cover the costs of registering students, feeding the judges, etc.  John Tyler Community College is providing the facilities as well as extra security, housekeeping, and set-up staff. 
  5. If students are participating in the paper or website category, their completed work is due by Wednesday, February 19, 2020 to give judges time to review it before the contest.  Papers can be uploaded through the contest website.  Websites must be created through the NHDWebCentral portal which will be available after November 1.  Websites will be locked out for edits after February 19.
  6. The District 8 competition will once again be held in the T-Building at the Midlothian campus of John Tyler Community College.  Check-in will be on February 29 from 8 AM – 8:45 AM.  Judging will begin at 9:00 AM and be complete by 12:45 PM.  The awards ceremony will begin at 1 PM in the Lynn Theatre.  Students do not have to be present at the awards ceremony to win. 
  7. Information on parking at the John Tyler Midlothian campus can be found on the District 8 website. 
  8. The Snow/Inclement Weather date is Saturday, 3/21/20. 
  9. First and second place winners in each category, at the middle and high school level, will be eligible to compete at the Virginia State History Day competition.  If they are unable to compete, third place winners will be offered the opportunity to compete.  The top three elementary projects will compete at the state level.  The state competition will be held at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond over two days.  Elementary and Junior Division contestants will compete on April 25.  Seniors will compete on April 26. 
  10. If you are a teacher who is also willing to volunteer as a judge, we would be very grateful!!  We will assign you a category that does not contain any of your students.  Please register as a judge at the district 8 website.
  11. If you have any questions that are not addressed by the website, please feel free to e-mail John Kirn(jkirn@jtcc.edu) or Greg Hansard (ghansard@jtcc.edu).  We will get back to you as quickly as possible.  If we cannot answer your question, we will get in touch with Sam Florer, the state coordinator for the Virginia History Day competition, and get back to you shortly.

We are looking forward to another great event!  Thank you for all you do for your students and the VA National History Day competition.


John Kirn & Greg Hansard

Co-Coordinators, Virginia District 8 National History Day

History Dept. Faculty Members, John Tyler Community College




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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!

The registration deadline for students is February 19, 2020.  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 other donors.  

By registering, students are stating their intent to participate in the contest on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at John Tyler Community College, Midlothian Campus.  The snow/inclement weather date is March, 21, 2020.  Group projects must have at least one student present to compete.  Students must register between 8:00 and 8:45 on the morning of the contest.  Judging will take place from 9:00-12:45.  The Awards ceremony will begin at 1:00 or thereabouts.  Students do not have to be present at the Awards cemerony to win.   

Please note that papers and websites are due by Wednesday, February 19, 2020.  Papers can be uploaded through the contest website.  Websites must be created through the NHD portal which is scheduled to be available after November 1. 

If you have questions, please ask your teacher, or District 8 coordinators John Kirn, Professor of History, John Tyler CC, jkirn@jtcc.edu, and Gregory Hansard, Instructor of History, John Tyler CC, 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 Sam Florer, the state coordinator for Virginia History Day, at sflorer@virginiahistory.org.  Let Sam know the name of your school and he will add it.  If you home school your child, please e-mail Sam as well with the name 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, John Tyler CC,  jkirn@jtcc.edu, and Gregory Hansard, Instructor of History, John Tyler CC, ghansard@jtcc.edu, or the VA History Day Coordinator Sam Florer, sflorer@virginiahistory.org.

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 2020 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 25 & 26, 2020.

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Judge Information

The following e-mail was sent out to all judges on Thursday morning, 2/27.  If you don't see it, look in your trash bin!  

Dear National History Day Judges,

Greg Hansard and I would like to sincerely thank you for volunteering to be a judge at the District 8 National History Day competition at John Tyler Community College on Saturday, 2/29.  You’re performing a valuable public 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 are creating 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.  Third place winners will advance if either of the top 2 finishers cannot attend the state competition.  State level winners compete for national titles at the University of Maryland, College Park, in June. 

***I’ve attached a Word document which lists your name and the category that you will be judging.  Please find your category (paper, website, documentary, exhibit, or performance) and then read through the attached “Judging Criteria and Rules” for that specific category before Saturday.  There is a slim chance that your category could change before Saturday morning, but most likely not. 


***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 sharp 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.  Judging will take place in nearly every room of the T-Building and on the first floor of Hamel Hall.   A map of the Midlothian campus, including Hamel Hall, the parking 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 judges’ training session from 8:15 to 8:40 while you eat breakfast.  Coffee, tea, orange juice, Panera bagels and coffeecake, fruit, and yogurt will be available. 

Lunch will be available after 10:45 or so and will be served on the second Floor of Hamel Hall, outside of rooms E219 and E221, where you will write up your comment sheets.  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.   If this doesn’t suit you, there will be two hot trucks in the faculty parking lot for the students: First Stop Donuts and The Boardwalk Food Trailer.   

All judging sessions will start promptly at 9:00.  It is imperative that you keep to the schedule.  Students have been instructed to be waiting outside their judging rooms at least ten minutes in advance.  Some of you will finish your interviews earlier than others.  We hope all judging, including final rounds, will be complete by 12:30.  Most of you will finish earlier than that.  ***Once your team has completed your student interviews, we ask that you confer and rank your entries immediately using the ranking sheet included in the Judge Captain’s folder.  Please get your ranking sheet to the command center in the T-Building, room T-203. 

Because there are so many participants, most junior (middle school) categories will require a run-off between heats or a “finals round.” The captains from each judging team will meet in T-203, present their top three projects, and from those the captains will review the projects and pick first, second, and third place.  An additional independent judge will be assigned to help if someone is available.  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 E219 and E221 on the second floor of Eliades 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 written feedback as possible.  That is our real purpose today.  Students will receive those comments from their teachers next week. 

The Awards ceremony will take place in Hamel H109 at 1:00.  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. 


  1. Per NHD rules, spectators are allowed to watch performances and documentaries. They may not enter or exit the room during the judging session—only between candidates.  They should be instructed by the judges to silence their cell phones and to remain absolutely quiet throughout the session.  As judges you have the right to ask a spectator to leave if they are disrupting the judging process.  Spectators are NOT allowed in paper, website, or exhibit rooms until the juding process is over. 
  2. This year we put limits on the number of students that could compete in each category from each school.  This forced some schools to have run-offs.  As a result, we have fewer, but hopefully higher quality, projects than last year.  This has allowed us to increase the judging time per project.  The judging sessions for papers, exhibits and websites has increased from 10 to 15 minutes, and for documentaries from 15 to 20 minutes.  This should allow for a saner pace and perhaps even enable you to write up some feedback on the scoring sheets between students.  
  3. This is new: If your judging group is having a hard time deciding between second and third place, and both projects are worthy of advancing, advance all 3 to the state finals by creating a tie for second place. 



The National History Day theme this year is “Breaking barriers 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/breaking-barriers-history. The theme book can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF.

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, 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 Breaking Barriers in History.
  • Provide positive feedback.  Most students will not progress any further than today’s competition.  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


Greg Hansard


Co-Coordinators, National History Day District 8 Competition




***Thank you to those who have signed up to judge the District 8 National History Day competition at John Tyler on 2/29.  Information about contest day procedures, parking, food, judging, etc. will be placed on this site and an e-mail sent out to all judges on Monday, 2/24. If you have specific questions, please e-mail John KIrn at JKIRN@jtcc.edu.

Thank you for your interest in judging the District 8 National History Day competition.  The competition will be held at John Tyler Community College's Midlothian campus on Saturday, February 29, 2020.  The Inclement weather date is March 21, 2020.  Please read through the following FAQ's and then use this website to register as a judge.  You will be part of a team; past judges, no matter their background or occupation, have found this to be a rewarding experience.  If you have specific questions, please e-mail the District 8 coordinators listed at the bottom of the page.  Thanks for your interest!

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 Museum of History & Culture.  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 written 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 the 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.  All judges will write up constructive comments on each project which are sent back to the teachers and students.

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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