NHD competition adjusts in accordance with COVID regulations

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Photo contributed by Zach Brody ’23

Some students, like Zach Brody ’23, created an exhibit for NHD. Instead of presenting it in-person to be scored, Brody submitted photos of his display.

Julia Herlyn ’23, Staff Writer

National History Day (NHD) is an annual nationwide competition open to students in grades six-12, promoting the study and appreciation of U.S. History. All Staples students enrolled in U.S. History Honors are required to complete a project for NHD. However, due to COVID, the NHD logistics have been modified, resulting in mixed reactions from both students and teachers.

In terms of project-based requirements, NHD maintained its expectations from prior years (the inclusion of an annotated bibliography, a process paper, etc.) Students are permitted to create an exhibit or website, write a paper or conduct a performance. However, this year all projects must be turned in electronically and presented virtually, as opposed to an in-person regional competition at Sacred Heart University, where adjudicators would normally score projects.

Fulfilling some NHD requirements proved to be difficult due to COVID. In completing his NHD project, Max Vexler ’23 believed that the interview component of the project was especially challenging.

“Arranging interviews virtually was very stressful,” Vexler said. “It was hard for me to get in touch with sources and get the project done before the deadline. Meeting with people online was awkward and not as personal as an in-person interview would have been.”

“It was hard for me to get in touch with sources and get the project done before the deadline. Meeting with people online was awkward and not as personal as an in-person interview would have been,”

— Max Vexler ’23

Additionally, Staples students have lost in-class time to work on their projects due to the hybrid model. However, social studies teacher Kelly Zrenda believes that there are some benefits to completing NHD under these circumstances.

“I actually think it may be easier to compete this year,” Zrenda said. “Normally students have to attend the regional and state competitions in person. This usually interferes with extracurriculars like spring sports or the spring production of [Players]. However, because all submissions are virtual this year it takes less time to compete in the competition.”

Meanwhile, social studies teacher Nell-Ayn Lynch believes that the removal of an in-person competition had a negative impact on students’ drive to compete.

“I think it was harder to be motivated to compete because everything was submitted online,” Lynch said. “Usually, students are driven by the lure of competition in person, whereas this year it is all virtual.”

Tavan Bhatia ’23 and his NHD partners were in agreement with Lynch, choosing not to participate in the competition itself.

“I didn’t really want to apply to the competition,” Bhatia said. “My partners and I weren’t as interested in the competition itself, partly because it’s all virtual this year. We didn’t want to deal with the added pressures of competing in addition to our normal stress; it just wasn’t worth it.”

Nonetheless, Staples students look forward to receiving their results from the regional NHD competition, hoping they will be selected to advance in the statewide and national competitions.

“Even though everything is virtual this year, I’m still interested to see how the competition will go,” Vexler said. “We all worked hard and hopefully Staples students will move on to nationals.”