College Park, MD.—National History Day® (NHD) and Ford’s Theatre Society are pleased to announce a world premiere online showcase of nine student oratory performances addressing the 2022 NHD theme of Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences. The performances are devised and performed by middle and high school students competing in the 2022 NHD National Contest, and were screened and selected by Ford’s Theatre staff. National audiences can experience these student performances exclusively on the Ford’s Theatre website,, from Monday, June 13 until Monday, June 27, 2022. 

Aligned with the Ford’s Theatre mission, featured NHD student projects span the influence of President Abraham Lincoln’s leadership and legacy from the Civil War era to the Civil Rights Movement, with a focus on African American history and civic engagement.

“During the last two years, we have all seen the dedication and perseverance of students who have adapted to extreme circumstances,” shares Executive Director Cathy Gorn. “Yet, we are heartened to see that they continue to excel and innovate, learning about the past through deep research and expressing their arguments in such meaningful ways. We are also very grateful that our partner Ford’s Theatre has shared their time and resources to showcase the stellar work of these history students.”

“As a long-time supporter of National History Day, Ford’s Theatre is excited to showcase the work of these young historians,” said Ford’s Theatre Associate Director of Museum Education Jake Flack. “In our own work with student orators, we’ve seen the value of public speech training for developing student confidence and leadership. We’re eager to celebrate these students’ performances and historical research as they’ve become interpreters of President Abraham Lincoln’s legacy.”

The following performances and students have been selected for this showcase:

Title: 1968 Olympics: Game Changers, Debating Human Rights through Athletics
Student(s): Steven Bryant, Jonathan Hines, Joseph Johnson, Kingston McFarland, Francisco Rodriguez
Teacher(s): Karen Hunley
School (City, State): McDonough Middle School (McDonough, Georgia)

Title: The Counter Debate
Student(s): Ben Wierzbicki
Teacher(s): Christine Zeglen
School (City, State): Holy Name of Jesus School (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) 

Title: Dorothea Dix: A Diplomat for the Mentally Ill
Student(s): John Paul Markosian, Gwen McConkie, Ashley Peterson
Teacher(s): Melinda Reay
School (City, State): Skyline High School (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Title: The Freedom Rides of 1961
Student(s): Susan Anderson, Maggie O’Keeffe
Teacher(s): Susan Petrie
School (City, State): Hingham High School (Hingham, Massachusetts)

Title: Honoring Henrietta
Student(s): Soleil Escobar, Zoe Tibbs
Teacher(s): Sharon Low
School (City, State): Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Title: I am Claudette Colvin: The Debate of My Activism and the Diplomacy That is Rosa Parks
Student(s): Imani Milligan
Teacher(s): Zachary Barfield
School (City, State): McDonough High School (McDonough, Georgia)

Title: Kate Warne: No Time for Diplomacy
Student(s): Amelia Larsen, Allison Parker, Lucy Peltier
Teacher(s): Carrie Newman
School (City, State): Murray Middle School (Saint Paul, Minnesota)

Title: Mendez v. Westminster: Equal Education and the Fourteenth Amendment
Student(s): Ivelisse Santos
Teacher(s): Esther Perez-Zemmels
School (City, State): Tom Benson School (Kenner, Louisiana) 

Title: Pleading for my People: The Truth Behind Debate and Diplomacy
Student(s): Madhalasa Iyer
Teacher(s): Jason Barton
School (City, State): Plano Senior High School (Plano, Texas)

About National History Day® (NHD)

NHD is a non-profit organization based in College Park, Maryland, which 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. NHD is sponsored in part by HISTORY®, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, The Better Angels Society, Jacqueline B. Mars, and BBVA. For more information, visit

About Ford’s Theatre

Since reopening in 1968, more than a hundred years after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Ford’s Theatre has explored Lincoln’s legacy and celebrated the American experience through theatre and education. Under the leadership of Director Paul R. Tetreault, Ford’s Theatre has been recognized for the superior quality of its artistic programming. With works from the Tony-nominated Come From Away and the nationally acclaimed Big River, to the world premieres of Meet John Doe, The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Liberty Smith, Necessary Sacrifices, The Widow Lincoln, The Guard and Grace, Ford’s Theatre is making its mark on the American theatre landscape. For its accomplishment, the organization was honored in 2008 with the National Medal of Arts. For more information, visit

Ford’s Theatre Media Contact: Leah Frelinghuysen, or (202) 639-1581.

June 9, 2022 •

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