National History Day competition begins

January 25, 2015 — by Michelle Leung

Thirty-six projects will compete at the school level of the 2015 National History Day competition, themed Leadership and Legacy.

Thirty-one projects will compete at the school level of the 2015 National History Day competition, themed Leadership and Legacy.

Compared to just 18 projects entered at the school level last year, the number of projects this year has doubled.

History Day competitors spend hours conducting research at libraries, universities and archives before creating a website that synthesizes all the information they have gathered into a cohesive project. Students can compete as an individual or as a group, in the website, exhibit, paper and documentary categories.

Three projects will advance from each category to compete at the county level. Those that advance past the county level will compete at the state and then the national level.

History Day coordinator and school librarian Kevin Heyman said that the process of National History Day is more important than the result.

“I'm always hopeful that we will do well, but the most important part of History Day is for students to develop a real appreciation for how important studying history is,” Heyman said.

Junior Jennifer Chen will compete with an individual performance about American zoologist Dian Fossey. Above all, she hopes to create an excellent performance.

“Although it's junior year and like everything's coming up, I still try to find time to create my entry,” Chen said. “I love researching the most because I got to learn about Dian Fossey through newspapers, websites and especially videos.”

Senior Mahir Jethanandani, who is creating a group website about J.P. Morgan, said that the flexible theme allowed him to combine personal interests with history.

“The most interesting part has to be the angle we have decided to take this year,” Jethanandani said. “Considering our strength in economics and history, we decided to tailor the theme of ‘Leaders and Legacies’ to J.P. Morgan, the man who saved our young nation from collapse twice and gave birth to our national economic policy today.”

Senior Ethan Ngai, who is also creating a group website about one of the founders of Stanford University, Jane Stanford, said that his favorite part is the process.

“[I most enjoy] the research and the small details that you uncover, like the whole setup of Jane's death, and the mystery [and] circumstances that surround it,” said Ngai.