KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — More than 100 students were in Knoxville on Tuesday to compete at East Tennessee History Day.

In total, there were 146 students representing 14 schools competing for the chance to represent the East Tennessee Region at the state contest in Nashville in April. Students have researched topics surrounding the 2022-2023 Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.

“It’s all about history today on UT’s campus,” said Lisa Oakley, vice president and curator of education for the East Tennessee Historical Society. “It can be history of any type, shape or form even though it says National History Day and we’re the East Tennessee region, we welcome students and projects on all different topics, time periods and all over the world. A lot of students do projects that are science-oriented or world history or ancient history. They just find a topic that relates to the theme.”

On Feb. 28, at the Student Union of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the students presented their research and competed in one of five categories — exhibits, performances, papers, documentaries and websites.

This year, the contest is back in-person after being virtual due to the pandemic. Oakley spoke about how they have taken digital tools and are now using them to enhance the in-person competition.

“[The students] present their projects formally in person, they have a brief interview and then the final ranking happens here at UT, so it’s kind of a nice combination. We learned a lot but we’re glad to be back in person,” said Oakley.

A junior at Sevier County High School spoke with WATE about her project on the 1919 race riot in Knoxville and Maurice Mays. Molly Bohanan said she chose this topic because she wanted something that happened in the area that she could bring to light.

“I wanted something close and local and I also wanted something civil rights related because I wanted something I would be passionate about and you can make change with,” said Bohanan.

Bohanan added that she has competed in History Day since she was in 6th grade.

Tennessee History Day 2023 is scheduled for April 15, 2023. Winners at the state level will have the chance to compete in the National History Day contest scheduled for mid-June 2023.

“Between [regional and state], they have judges’ comments so they’re able to adapt, make revisions based on what the judges said. And then they bring not a new topic, not a wholly new project, but a better project to state that everybody in the states done the same thing at the other five regional contests. So then those state winners advance to that national contest with a new set of judging comments. So when they get to nationals, they’re experts, they know their stuff and they’re competing with all the kids from around the country that are incredible junior historians,” said Oakley.

Oakley said this competition acts as a launch pad for students who want to learn more about history.