Ayn Rand Featured in National History Day Exhibit

This May, two high school sophomores, Sarah Henry and Shelbey Michel, from Bethel High School in Spanaway, Washington, entered a National History Day competition in which they were to select a historical figure to feature as the subject of their research. It was a requirement of the competition that the person chosen embody leadership and have a strong legacy in the culture today. The students chose Ayn Rand. From there, they went to work learning everything they could about Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism — using resources from the Ayn Rand Archives at ARI — and then creating their exhibit for the competition.

The exhibit included four display panes presenting Rand’s ideas in four distinct realms — metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics.

Ms. Henry describes the process:

“We began the project in late November with a research paper that included quotes from various Ayn Rand works, speeches and interviews. Then, we created the actual exhibit. Competition rules allowed us to use up to five hundred words in our exhibit, so we chose to do a combination of Rand’s words and our own, which included our interpretation of what we read.”

The first round of the competition, regionals, occurred in early March. The exhibit was positively received, and Henry and Michel were thrilled to advance to the state level in May. When the day arrived, the feedback was once again positive. The judges remarked that they particularly liked the way the girls presented opposing sides to Ayn Rand’s philosophy rather than a one-sided viewpoint.

While the exhibit failed to move on to the national competition, both students agree that they’re walking away with invaluable knowledge about Rand’s philosophy as well as a stronger grasp of their own personal philosophy for life.

Ms. Michel shares:

“I’m in agreement with most of the ideas we explored. Sarah, on the other hand, doesn’t agree with Rand but enjoyed the learning aspect. We both really benefited from working collaboratively to better understand Ayn Rand’s complex philosophy.”

To learn more about how Rand’s philosophy applies to today’s issues, subscribe to ARI’s blog.