Inaugural History Day Collaboration Between 6th and 10th Grade

Oak Knoll has a long history of cultivating meaningful relationships among community members and providing opportunities to strengthen connections between students in all grade levels. Motivated by their respective teachers, Upper School history buffs recently mentored Lower School budding historians in Oak Knoll’s inaugural History Day project. Grade 10 mentors in AP World History paired up with students in grade 6 Social Studies to assist them in conducting primary research and preparing presentations before parents, faculty, staff, and students on May 24.

This year’s projects centered around World War II themes, and grade six students who participated did so above and beyond their regular academic studies. Charles Coughlin ’29 selected Operation Overlord and the Normandy Landings. Kelsey McGowan ’29 and

Layla Wells-Roth ’29 selected women code-breakers during the war effort, and Maddie Aiosa ’29 and Tess Maxwell ’29 investigated the many children hidden from the Nazi’s during the Holocaust.

“It has just been a really exciting initiative, and I’m so pleased to see this collaboration,” said Upper School AP World History Teacher John Petito. “I can’t speak highly enough of all the work that these students have done.”

While working on their final presentations, grade 10 student mentors advised the grade 6 students on the physical creation of their presentations, helping them with respect to layout choices of imagery, as well as helping them feel comfortable speaking about their research to people older than themselves.

“I really wanted to learn about more women in US history and dive deeper into their contributions,” shared McGowan, grade 6. Her partner, Wells-Roth, concurred and added, “I agree with Kelsey. We normally learn about wars and the role of men, and I wanted to learn something about what women did. I think it’s important to talk about women’s contributions in history.”

Coughlin explained, “I love history, and I love reading. History gives you a much better understanding of the world — from unknown stuff six million years ago to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s very important to have an unbiased understanding of the world.” 

Aiosa suggested, “You should learn about what happened in the world before you, because it determines why you’re here — basically your purpose. You don’t want some of those things to happen again. You want to help prevent it.”

“I think if you know what happened in the past, you can help with problems in the future,” concluded Maxwell. 

Congratulations to all our History Day participants! Thank you to the grade 10 mentors, and we look forward to this becoming an annual inter-grade-level engagement.