The Washington Nationals' traditional "Racing Presidents" event is held at a home game on July 4, 2014. (Courtesy of Washington Nationals)
The Washington Nationals' traditional "Racing Presidents" event is held at a home game on July 4, 2014. (Courtesy of Washington Nationals)

The Washington Nationals and White House Historical Association are forming an education program to help boost student achievement in social studies, specifically presidential history.

The program called “White House at Bat: A Presidential History Challenge,” asks students in grades nine through 12 throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area to create short video featuring one of the five racing presidents previously highlighted by the baseball team during home games at Nationals Park: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, William Howard Taft, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

“This project continues efforts to foster partnerships with our regional schools,” Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, said Saturday, Oct. 31. “Moving forward, we will be taking the content of our curriculum to schools to do White House Historical Association events that focus on the five original racing presidents.”

McLaurin said the Association has a three-year agreement with the National to produce more programs geared toward American history.

A 50-second video must be produced that examines the Constitutional powers of a president, his decision-making and how executive decisions have been influenced by the diverse constituencies that make up the American citizenry.

One of the challenges in conducting the project stems from using historical footage such as black and white photographs and newsreels of the presidents during a time when video didn’t exist. For example, Washington held the presidency from 1789 to 1797.

Before the short film is produced, each must be accompanied by a storyboard, or a graphic organizer in the form of illustrations or images displayed in a sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, motion graphic, or interactive media sequence.

Here are some of the questions outlined at whitehousehistory.org/nationals/plan-your-storyboard:

What are the most important points of your presidential decision to show in your documentary? Hint: What was the issue that captured the nation’s attention?

What is the role of the White House in your documentary? As a setting for important actions and decisions, how can you represent the president’s house?

Do you want to film any of your shots on location? If so, these locations need to be in the Washington, D.C., area. Keep in mind that many locations require special permission for filming.

How can you incorporate your primary source research into your documentary?

The contest will have five winners representing each president who will receive a $1,000 prize equally shared by any team members. The work will be shown on the White House Historical Association’s website and the winners will participate in an award ceremony with their families, teachers and principals.

In addition, their video will be broadcast at Nationals Park next year and they’ll receive tickets to a game with their teachers.

All entries will be reviewed by these six judges: John H. Dalton, former secretary of the Navy; Cathy Gorn, executive director of National History Day and an adjunct professor of history at the University of Maryland in College Park; Martha Joynt Kumar, an author and political science professor at Towson University in Townson, Maryland; David Lundin, director of production and operation for the Washington Nationals; James I. McDaniel, chairman of the White House Endowment Trust and secretary of the White House Historical Association; and Gail Berry West, former director of Armstrong World Industries and a board member of the White House Historical Association.

All entries are due Feb. 25 and participants will be notified by April 15.

For more information, go to www.whitehousehistory.org/nationals.

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