By: Alice Cheng
MSJ’s History Club members attended the National History Day (NHD) state competition on April 25 to 27 at the RiversideConvention Center. Out of the 17 students who attended, three students reached state finals and one student is eligible to compete at the national level.
History Club, which was passed in December 2012, currently has about 35 members. Since its inception, History Club has competed annually at the regional NHD competition, which is divided into several categories including paper, website, exhibit, performance, and documentary. Each category is further divided into two portions – students who do a group project and students who do an individual project. Students who place top three in their category at regionals qualify for the Riverside state competition. Out of the students participating at the state level, the top eight in each category reach state finals and the top two students qualify for the national competition.
The theme of this year’s NHD competition is “Rights and Responsibilities in History,” which provides a lens to read history and drill down into understanding the content instead of conforming to antiquated facts and dates. Under the theme, students researched a topic of their choice.
Sophomores Kylie Cheung, Hannah Choi, and Anu Asokan reached state finals with their individual projects. Cheung wrote a historical paper about Anne Boleyn and the rights and responsibilities of the Tudor queen-consort. Using an individual exhibit, Choi presented her topic about Admiral Lee Soon Shin who was a war hero of the Joseon Dynasty.
Asokan, the third state finalist who also qualified for nationals, presented an individual performance titled “From Monkey to Man: The Scopes Trial.” The project describes the conflict regarding the teaching of evolution in American schools, using costumes and props along with acting skills. In her project, Asokan presented the fact that the majority of people didn’t want evolution to be taught. However, the government should not restrain what is being taught, giving teachers the opportunity to teach what they think is right. According to Asokan, “I feel really strongly about teaching what’s believed to be the truth. People should not be restrained from knowledge.” Asokan stated that her overall NHD experience was “…super stressful and super exciting. Everyone looks forward to the award ceremony. If you make it, it’s really rewarding.” Asokan plans to continue on her NHD journey as she will be attending the national competition on June 15 to 19 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Overall, History Club has had a successful year. According to Treasurer Joshua Chan, History Club allows “students [to] gain the privilege to participate in NHD, and immerse themselves in a topic that they enjoy learning about.” Currently, though the primary purpose of the club is to participate in the annual NHD competition, Chan said, “we’re planning to talk to our advisers to incorporate more activities in history club.”