Student smiles at camera in busy classroom

Ohio’s 529 Plan is the Champion Sponsor of Ohio History Day, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024. Hosted by the Ohio History Connection, Ohio History Day encourages students to explore topics in ancient, world, national, or state history, allowing them to tell the stories that inspire them.

In celebration of this partnership, Ohio’s 529 Plan is sharing this article from the July & August 2023 issue of Echoes, Ohio History Connection’s bimonthly membership magazine. The article is written by Samantha Rubino and Alexandra Eveleth; the former was the Ohio History Connection’s former State Coordinator of Ohio History Day, and the latter is the new State Coordinator of Ohio History Day for the Ohio History Connection. Their article highlights the evolution of Ohio History Day and shares the value of studying history and how it impacts today and the future. Please enjoy the article below:

Young Eyes on the Past 



Three years ago, the Ohio History Day team sat down with Echoes Magazine to discuss the impact COVID-19 had on the 2020 Ohio History Day program and, more important, the contests. We reflected that, while the shift to a virtual contest was initially hard on students, teachers and even judges, doing so allowed the program to survive.

Fast forward to today and we’re (finally) back in person! All the regional, state, and national History Day contests have returned to some sense of normalcy.

The tagline for History Day has always been “It’s more than just a day, it’s an experience!” It’s an opportunity for students in grades 4–12 to go beyond their classroom textbooks and tell the stories that inspire them. Using their own research, these young scholars create exhibits, documentaries, performances, websites, and academic papers based on each year’s specific theme.

The students then have the option to get feedback from volunteer judges at regional and state competitions. First- and second-place winners at the state contest advance to the national contest in June, which takes place at the University of Maryland, College Park.


This year, we had about 4,800 Ohio students participate in the program as part of their course work. Of those, 1,303 students competed at the regional, state, and national contest levels. This is a 64% increase from 2021 and an 18% increase from 2022 contest seasons. This goes to show the importance of History Day for students, but even more, it shows the importance of holding our programming and contests in person.

For the first time in three years, students had the opportunity to meet with judges. They practiced their communication skills through the interview portion of the contest— an opportunity that wasn’t available during the virtual years. This allowed them to share their passions and research with the public, rather than just turning in an assignment.

“We get to really show what we’ve learned, what we loved and what we’re passionate about in our projects, because a lot of our projects have very important stories that need to be heard,” says Celine O., a student at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson.

Students have many choices about how they spend their time in and out of the classroom. It’s truly inspiring to see the next generation exploring the history of the world around them, in turn helping them make changes and impacts in their own communities.


The theme for 2023 was Frontiers in History: People, Places, and Ideas. It invited students to investigate the connections that Ohio has to the frontiers of innovation, exploration, and transformation. When most of us think ‘frontier,’ we probably envision the American West.

However, our students expanded that idea and saw frontiers in video games, sports, courtroom criminology, space and so much more. Their creative projects reflect their enthusiasm for unique historical viewpoints.


In 2024, Ohio History Day will celebrate its 50th anniversary. That’s right, National History Day is an Ohio original! The program began as a small, local contest in Cleveland in 1974. Dr. David Van Tassel and members of the Department of History at Case Western Reserve University created the program to reinvigorate the teaching and learning of history in elementary and secondary schools.

By 1980—and through the help of the National Endowment for the Humanities—National History Day grew into a national nonprofit.

In 1992, the headquarters moved from Cleveland to Washington, D.C. A program that started with 129 students now has more than half a million students who participate in local contests at one of the 58 affiliates, including every state in the country as well as Puerto Rico, American Samoa, South Korea, China, South Asia and Central America.

We plan to mark this historic anniversary throughout next year’s contest season. We’ll use the 2024 theme of Turning Points in History to highlight Ohio’s contributions to the program, as well as many other historic events Ohio played a role in state-, nation-, and worldwide!


Interested in more information about Ohio History Day? Visit Ohio History Day is always looking for support. If you’re inspired to volunteer or donate, email

About the authors:

Samantha Rubino

Samantha Rubino has more than eight years of experience in formal and informal education and served as the Ohio History Connection’s State Coordinator of Ohio History Day through 2023. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and Spanish from The Ohio State University, and a master’s degree in history from The University of Texas at Austin.

Alexandra Eveleth has more than a decade of teaching experience, working with both K–12 students and adult learners, and is a passionate historian. After serving as Education Coordinator, Alexandra was appointed as State Coordinator for Ohio History Day in 2023. She holds a bachelor's degree in history and English for education from Central Michigan University. 

Young Eyes on the Past highlights work by Ohio students in grades 4–12 participating in regional, state and national History Day competitions organized annually by the Ohio History Connection and local sponsoring organizations statewide.


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