Correction: In the printed version of this article, we incorrectly attributed a quote from Sabrina Huang (Fr.) to Frankie Son (Fr.). The attribution has been corrected in this version.
By CHELSEA GUO
The 16 UHS students selected as regional finalists for National History Day all qualified to go to the State competition on May 6-7 at William Jessup University in Rocklin, CA.
Awards were given to Brian Kim (Fr.) and Peter Thomas (Jr.) in the Historical Paper category, Sonia Kelly (So.), Vikram Vijayakumar (So.) and Evan Juan (So.) for Group Performance, Joshua Zou (Fr.) for Individual Website, Frankie Son (Fr.) and Sabrina Huang (Fr.) for Group Website, Sandeep Kambhampati (Jr.) and Christian Duhay (So.) for Individual Documentary, Jonathan Huang (Jr.), Kanyes Thaker (Jr.) and Harrison Ku (Jr.) for Group Documentary, and Arni Daroy (Sr.), Kathy Flores (Sr.) and Sarah Verdegan (Sr.) for Group Exhibit.
“Both of us were so sure we wouldn’t do well and the odds of making it to finalists were like, one in a billion,” Huang said. “Then on awards day, you can imagine the two of us died on the inside. If we were shocked at making it as finalists, how surprised do you think we felt at making it to State?”
National History Day involves conducting a historical research project based on the theme of the year and one of five different categories. From this theme, students choose specific topics and issues as the center of the project. The 2015-2016 theme is Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.
“Our topic was the division of East and West Berlin by the Berlin Wall. We chose to do a performance because we thought that since this was such a social issue, the emotions and the bias of the German people would come across well in a performance and add something extra to our project, other than just facts,” said Kelly.
All students in Mrs. Richonne’s classes were required to do a part of an NHD project, but entering the actual contest was completely optional.
“At first, the three of us were all doing separate research projects independently; however, close to when the project was due, we discovered that we were all doing the same topic,” said Juan. “This prompted us first-time NHD competitors to join together to form a group and enter the actual contest.”
Having creative freedom in the competition allows students of all strengths and backgrounds to express their ideas in their own individual ways.
“Documentaries are, in my opinion, a lot more unique,” said Kambhampati on his choice of category. “You have to synthesize all this various media, including pictures and video and audio clips, rather than just paste text onto a board or a paper, so I knew I would have a lot more fun with it.”
“Even though our group is largely involved in STEM activities, we thought it important to realize the history of the many topics we are interested in today,” said Thaker. “We ultimately decided upon Dr. John Snow because he remains a relatively unknown figure despite his major contributions to the field of modern epidemiology.”
The purpose of National History Day is to inspire students across America to become more interested in what history has to offer, beyond just memorizing dates and facts. Each project is a story in itself of what that student or group has decided deserves to be recognized and shared.
“[NHD] makes you understand the motivations of people better so when you go out into the world, you’re a more active player in your own decision-making and why people are making their decisions,” said Ms. Judy Richonne (Social Science Dept.), who is the advisor for the National History Day club. “I hope [my students] can gain an appreciation for history, and an appreciation for listening to the lessons of the past and the lessons of the present.”