GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) —In March high school and middle school students on the Western Slope competed in the regional National History Day competition at CMU. Now, the state competition in Denver is on the horizon and students are gearing up.

This year the theme was ‘Frontiers in History’ and it inspired many great projects on the Western Slope. Michael Kratzer, a senior at Caprock Academy, wrote a paper on the trinity test, the first-ever explosion of the atomic bomb. Elizabeth Thomas, a freshman at Caprock, created an exhibition on the trailblazing ocean cartographer Marie Tharp. Caprock Juniors John Miller and Jack Fry created a documentary on the first subway system in New York City.

In essence, we’re having middle school and high school kids do projects that are very close to what a professional historian would do.

Dr. Vincent Patarino, Professor at CMU and Coordinator of the regional competition

They have to make an argument it’s not just let me list a bunch of facts about this. So, developing a thesis and finding primary and secondary sources to back up that argument.

Raluca Liles, Humanities teacher at Caprock Academy High School

Raluca Liles, a humanities teacher at Caprock Academy, told KREX her students start working on their National History Day projects in November with the goal of being ready for the regional competition at CMU in March. Students who finished in the top 3 at the regional competition qualified for the state competition in Denver. After Denver? It’s off to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., for the national competition.

Michael Kratzer, a senior, told me doing well on his National History Day project makes him confident he’ll succeed in college, and Dr. Patarino said the facts back it up, “The data suggests that those kids tend to do even better when it comes to college.”

Caprock Academy alone is sending more than 20 kids to compete in the state competition in Denver on April 29th.