UHS Students Win Awards at County National History Day


Alyssa Tang

UHS finalists and Judge’s Choice Award recipients pose at the OC County National History Day competition. As part of the NHD club, students competed and showcased their projects.

Sarah Chen, Staff Writer

On March 10 and March 11, UHS students participated in the National History Day (NHD) county competition at the Orange County Department of Education. Students researched any historical topic of their choice to showcase their historical argument and interpretation of its significance in history. Many students were finalists in the county competition, including freshmen Divya Agarwal, Helen Han and Nethra Iyer, sophomores Hailey Chen, Kevin Choi, Zidong Hu, Dory Meng, Jimmy Tang, Ivy Wang, Eric Yang and Evan Zhong, juniors Luba Al Khalili, Elizabeth Choi, Baran Daliri, Aidan Jang, Jonathan Rho, Ayla Shamsnia, Julianne Wu and Reinina Zhang and senior Alyssa Tang. Sophomores Kenneth Chen, Rachel Helbig, Annie Jiang and Camille Park received the Judge’s Choice Award.

Students compete in various individual or group categories, such as exhibit, website, documentary and performance. Through argumentative writing and research, students learn historical thinking skills. Their work is then evaluated by volunteers, some of whom are professional educators and historians, based on their historical argument, theme, wide research, primary sources, historical context, multiple perspectives, historical accuracy, historical significance, performance, technical elements and student voice.

The first step to creating entries for the competition was choosing a topic that adhered to this year’s NHD theme of “Frontiers in History: People, Places, and Ideas.” 

“[My group] selected our topic area [of Nellie Bly’s Performative Muckraking] by looking into key figures in history that were tied to issues concerned today,” Helbig said. “That’s when we learned about Nellie Bly, who advocated for mental health awareness and women’s rights-two, things that are still pressing issues today.”

For others, NHD provided an opportunity to explore their personal history in terms of their cultural backgrounds. 

“[My group] selected our topic area [of the Xinhai Revolution and modern China] for our presentation as we wanted to do something that correlates to our heritage,” Yang said. “We used movies, such as ‘1911’ starring Jackie Chan, and other dramatic mediums for inspiration.”

After selecting a topic, some NHD participants organized and coordinated with group members to complete research and produce their mediums. 

“Preparation was a special experience despite being stressed and rushed,” Zhong said. “[My group] had a lot of fun while working together, and we had many bondings where we messed around.”

Many students tapped into their creative visions to bring together their performances. 

“Some key memories were definitely our rehearsals when [my group] tried to perform for the first time,” Meng said. “Writing our script for the performance and thinking of creative ways to incorporate researched details in different dialogues between characters was also a key memory.”

After receiving awards, many students felt satisfied with the body of work in history that they had completed over the academic year. 

“I was surprised and thrilled that we qualified for our county champion award because I know that we were competing against other extremely talented groups,” Meng said. “It felt like all the hard work and the numerous hours of dedication paid off in the end.”

The NHD award winners offered advice to UHS students looking to further their study of history as an extracurricular activity. 

“My advice for UNI students wanting to join NHD is to try collaborating with others and being open to new ideas,” Helbig said. “The combination of other people’s ideas and your own can enhance your project’s depth.”