GPS Students and Teacher Earn Honors at Regional and State History Competitions

Reed Dillard nominated for National History Day Teacher of the Year
At the Southeast Regional Competition of National History Day, GPS took both first and second places in the Group Documentary category: Ella Chapin, Arysa Kayasit and Lavender King placed first, with Katie Hubbard and Mary Mueller placing second. This year’s National History Day theme was Communication in History: The Key to Understanding. 

GPS swept the regional competition in the Group Exhibit category, taking first, second, and third. Isabel Ponce and Sutton Salter won first place; Caroline Breazeale, Cameron Buhrman, Sarah Kate Elrod, and Ana Pritchett placed second; and Hoda Alameddine, Caroline Barnes, and Holly Beale took third.

Emerson Couch, Julia Nichols, and Zella Stockman won first place at regionals in the Senior Group Performance category. Lee Lee Heald, Emma Leinberger, and Kathryn Lindley took third in the Group Webpage competition. And Sawyer Hunnewell took first place in the Senior Individual Exhibit category.

Juniors Mary Catherine Clelland, Ellie Fivas, Aarushi Modi, and Lauren Thacker had previously entered the National History Day competition in 2019. During the summer of 2020, they participated in GPS’s online enrichment program and took a three-week online course with Dr. Ralph Covino on the foundations of the international language, Esperanto, which led to their return to National History Day this year. Their project, completed on their own time and not as a part of classwork, titled “Esperanto: How a Constructed Language Bridged Gaps in International Communication,” took first place in the Senior Group Webpage competition at the regional level.

Students placing first and second at regionals advanced to the state competition; GPS girls took home more prizes in the state Senior Division than any other school, with two second place finishes and two third place finishes.

Mary Catherine Clelland, Ellie Fivas, Aarushi Modi, and Lauren Thacker’s Esperanto project went on to earn second place at state, earning them a chance to compete at nationals later this year. 

Caroline Breazeale, Cameron Buhrman, Sara Kate Elrod, and Ana Pritchett’s project on Edward R. Murrow during the Nazi Blitz took second place in the Senior Group Exhibit category at state. 

Emerson Couch, Julia Nichols, and Zella Stockman’s performance on Alan Turing and the Enigma Machine took third place, as did Sawyer Hunnewell’s exhibit “Words Win Wars.” 

GPS history teacher Mr. Reed Dillard was nominated for the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award in the senior division of the National History Day (NHD) National Contest. The award is sponsored by Patricia Behring in recognition of the pivotal role teachers play in the lives of students.

Each of the 58 National History Day affiliates may nominate one high school teacher for this award, and Mr. Dillard is the senior division nominee from Tennessee. Every nominee for the $10,000 award is a teacher who demonstrates a commitment to engaging students in historical learning through innovative use of primary sources, implementation of active learning strategies to foster historical thinking skills, and participation in the National History Day Contest. All nominees will receive $500 as a result of their nominations.

“The nominees for the Behring Award have shown a dedication to teaching that goes beyond the classroom,” said Dr. Cathy Gorn, National History Day Executive Director. “These educators are leading examples for their peers and invaluable resources for their students. I congratulate Mr. Dillard on his well-deserved nomination.”

The national winner will be selected by a committee of experienced teachers and historians and announced on Saturday, June 19, at the virtual National History Day National Contest Awards Ceremony. Nominees’ work must clearly illustrate the development and use of creative teaching methods that engage students in history, and help them make exciting discoveries about the past.

About National History Day

NHD is a nonprofit organization based in College Park, Maryland, that seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Projects compete first at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. For more information, visit

About National History Day in Tennessee

National History Day is a year-long education program for students in grades 6-12 that engages both educators and students to improve the teaching and learning of history in public, private, and home schools. Students who participate have shown dramatic improvements in research techniques, writing skills, historical knowledge, creativity, literacy, communication, civic engagement, and college readiness. In addition to these skills, a 2011 study demonstrates that students who participate in National History Day outperform their non-NHD peers on state standardized tests in multiple subjects, including reading, science, and math, as well as social studies.

The Tennessee Historical Society became the state affiliate of National History Day in the 2008-09 academic year. Since that time, student and educator participation across the state has more than doubled. More than 8,300 students across the state participate in National History Day. After competing in a cycle of contests, a delegation of approximately 65 students is selected to represent Tennessee at the National History Day contest, held each June in College Park, Maryland.