History in the making: 15 students qualify for state History Day competition

April 6, 2010 — by Parul Singh and Synthia Ling

“And for individual paper, Stephen Louie.” said the announcer.

Honored and shocked, junior Stephen Louie was so amazed he started physically shaking as he went up to collect his ribbon at the annual Santa Clara County History Day competition. At the competition, which occurred on March 20 at Lincoln High School , Louie, along with 14 other Saratoga students qualified for the state History Day competition in Pasadena on May 8.

This year’s theme for History Day was “Innovation.” Beginning back during the first semester, 33 students chose their topic, whether to work individually or in a group and what category to compete in. The students then spent months conducting their research and synthesizing what they learned into a cohesive project. The students were guided the entire year for the competition by their adviser, history teacher Matt Torrens, who gave extra credit as an incentive for students to participate. Although it took numerous hours of work and plenty of effort, the competitors felt it all paid off.

When the competition finally came, the students presented their projects to two or three judges and answered any of the judging panel’s questions. The top three from each category qualified for the state competition.

On competition day, juniors Pamela Lee, Aaron Rhee, Nick Renda and Krista Chow’s website was a contender among the eight websites at the competition; no one could tell they had run into unexpected problems just the day before.

“We spent a lot of time on it, but the night before we had a last-minute crisis because we lost some of our materials so we had to make a plan B,” said Lee. “We were up pretty late doing that. It was stressful, but it was worth it.”

Louie qualified for the state competition with his essay on Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

“The research of Eunice Shriver gave more of an outlook on the topic of mental retardation,” said Louie. “Not a lot of people have done Shriver for History Day, so I chose her because all the other people were overdone and she was one that didn’t have a lot of coverage.”

Another student who won with an individual project was junior Megan Morais for her documentary on Elizabeth Blackwell.

“It was really nerve wracking but it was a rush just to know that all the hard work I did staying up until 4 a.m. the night before actually paid off,” said Morais. “I learned time management and not to procrastinate everything for the last night before. When you know you need to do something get it done.”

The students who qualified for state competition are Morais for individual documentary on Elizabeth Blackwell; Grace Kim, Synthia Ling and Kevin Mu for group documentary on Margaret Sanger; Louie for individual research paper on Eunice Shriver; Anna Shen, Logan Short, Kenny Song, Anthony Sutardja and Dorothy Tan group website on Nikola Tesla as well as Aaron Rhee, Nick Renda, Lee and Krista Chow for group website on Walt Disney; and Shannon Galvin for individual website on John Marshall.

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