How To: Choose Partners


One of the most important things you'll do in National History Day is choose who will travel with you on this voyage

Much like the first explorers crossing the Atlantic Ocean, what they needed most was a great crew and a boat filled with competent mates. You need to find ways to attach SAILS to your boat and leave the ANCHORS behind.


Working together on projects is NAVYsomething that students say they enjoy most about school. It also is one of the most useful ways for them to learn. So we encourage possible entrants to work together. Some questions to ask yourself about your possible partner(s):

  1. Six months from now, do you see them being someone you'll be proud to be beside because you all worked hard to get to the State Competition?
  2. Is there a time where you'll be able to meet and work together (occasionally in class, but, moreso, in class)?
  3. Do you think all of you will be able to share the vision for your project?
  4. Do you predict fighting within your group (or, believe it or not, between your group's parents)?
  5. Will they be an ANCHOR or a SAIL?

 Evil anchor Identifying ANCHORS:

Apathetic (Lazy)
Not willing to learn about the topic
Controlling and not a team player
Have too much fun (not serious enough)
Often doesn't have the time to work together
Responsibility, trust, & organization problems
imply involved in the project for the wrong reasons

ANCHORS take up room on the ship. They slow your ship down. Beware of ANCHORS because they can sometimes beg you to come on board only to sink your ship. When that happens, NHD is over for you and your mates.

It must be said, though, that sometimes someone who is perceived as an ANCHOR is actually - or morphs into - a SAIL. 

We're telling you right now - do not be afraid to drop the ANCHORS from your voyage. You may offend them by leaving them behind, but but it is sometimes the best decision to make. Stand firm, mates!

Sail boat

Identifying SAILS:

  • Strong in academics and work ethic 
  • Adaptable to the situation, project, and topic
  • Is reliable, honest, and positive
  • Likes to find ways to solve problems
  • Share and communicate ideas with the group

We don't know about you, but we'd much rather have SAILS on board our ship than ANCHORS. They are great to have because these partners divide the work, are dedicated to the project, and exponentially add to the team component. SAILS should make your ship faster, more efficient, and enjoyable to travel on.

SAILING ALONE - An Individual Project

YSailing Aloneou may choose to take on the voyage alone. That way there is only one SAIL, and the voyage should be simplified. There are few distractions to impede your progress. 

If you decide to work alone, you are accountable solely to yourself. You know that the project's success and failure is entirely up to your own efforts. There is no one else to blame! Sailing alone can be rewarding and a fine means of travel.

Groups should have no more than 3 on board. However, if you could determine a bunch of SAILS are on board and form a fantastic team, it'd be great to see how far your ship could sail. 

Ultimately, the amount of contestants you choose to have in your group is up to you. Just make sure you talk it over with your parents!

Edited from National History Workshop

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