U.S. History students advance to Nationals in annual competition

Students chose between an exhibit, website, performance, paper or documentary to display their research. Layla Bloomingdale ’22, Emmy Marcus ’22 and Karina Murray ’22 project on the 504 sit-in was presented as an exhibit. (Photo contributed by Karina Murray ’22)

A handful of U.S. History Honors students waited nervously at their computers on May 13 anticipating the results of the National History Day (NHD) state competition. Several groups placed at the regional competition, but not all would do the same at States.

 Every year, tenth grade U.S. History Honors dedicate hours and hours into creating a project to be entered into the NHD competition.

“We started working on it around October or November [of] 2019, and we worked on it up until the competition,” Emmy Marcus ’22 said. 

Participants choose between a documentary, paper, exhibit, website or performance for the format of their project. Each year has a different theme that the project must connect with. This year the theme was “Breaking Barriers.” 

Layla Bloomingdale ’22, Karina Murray ’22 and Marcus submitted an exhibit about the 504 sit-in, which was a movement to gain rights for people with disabilities. They placed third at regionals and first at states. 

“I was definitely surprised,” Marcus said. “I was really happy because we had put a lot of work into it.”

The group’s teacher, Drew Coyne, promised the class at the beginning of the year to give all students an A for the project if they placed at regionals. 

“With the regional competition, we were mainly excited about the grade,” Marcus said. “But when we made it through to nationals, I think we really realized how proud we should be of our hard work.”

“With the regional competition, we were mainly excited about the grade. But when we made it through to nationals, I think we really realized how proud we should be of our hard work.”

— Emmy Marcus '22

The NHD national competition would have taken place at the University of Maryland on June 14-18. However, due to current circumstances with the coronavirus, like the regional and state competitions,  nationals will take place online.

Sarah Thomas ’22 submitted a website with her partner, Ava Vincini ’22, about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the United States. They placed third at states, and although they will not be advancing to nationals, Thomas and Vincini were incredibly proud of their accomplishment. 

“We started a few months ago,” Thomas said. “We wanted to do something with women, and we’re also both super interested in science and medicine, too. We thought it would be a good idea to do [our project about] her.” 

Lea Rivel ’22 and Emma Nordberg ’22 earned first place at States for their website about Robert Smalls, an African-American man born into slavery who freed himself and his family during the American Civil War.

Ishan Prasad ’22 placed first at States with his paper about controlling overpopulation in India from 1951 to 1957. 

“I started out this paper by deciding a topic that really fit the claim, Breaking Barriers, but was also interesting at the same time […] and I took feedback from teachers,” Prasad said. “Then after regionals I incorporated some of the judges’ feedback as well.” 

Prasad was unsure whether or not he would place and anticipated the results nervously. All participants seemed to feel the same way in that placing at States was an exciting novelty in their repetitive weeks of quarantine. 

“I wasn’t sure how the judges were going to see it, so I was a little surprised [when I got first],” Prasad said. “It was a pleasant surprise.”