National History Day, March 14, 2018, was a day to commemorate the past and look forward to the future. During this annual event, students across the nation gathered to compete under a historical theme. Founded by Dr. David Van Tassell in 1974, the nonprofit National History Day organization prompts students to push past the antiquated view of history as just mere facts. Rather, the goal of NHD is to promote application, study and appreciation for history. Students have the option of researching a vast array of topics and applying their research to an exhibit, documentary, website, paper, or preformance. Each project is judged by a panel of professional historians and first and second place winners obtain a spot to compete at the state competition.
As Philadelphia students, we are immersed in history. Our city laid the foundations of the nation, and it is important to not only reflect on the past, but apply the lessons learned to the future. This year’s research framework encompassed the theme of, “Conflicts and Compromises in History.”
Central’s club sponsor for NHD, Dr. Drago, explained, “It’s a great way to understand and study history because it gives kids the chance to do history as opposed to just read about it while competing against people who also a deep and abiding love for history. It’s a fun way to do history and it brings the humanities back into focus as opposed to just the sciences and maths.”
Central students promptly arrived at the Constitution Center the morning of March 14 to setup their projects and shake off their last minute jitters. A total of 31 Central students participated across the five categories: documentary, presentation, website, performance, and research paper. After a morning of presentations, students had lunch and awaited the awards ceremony. Emily Chen (278) reflected, “All of the all nighters paid off in the end when I saw the intrigued expressions from judges who truly shared the same interest in the topic as I did.” Central took home six medals, making this year’s competition the most successful in Central history.
Jennifer Butler (278) recounts her experience, “I did a group performance with four of my closest friends and it was fun, challenging, and really educational. The theme this year was conflict and compromise, and we focused on the separation of the American Equal Rights Association during the Women’s Suffrage Movement. I’m glad we chose that topic because it’s not often that we learn about women’s history, and it’s so easy to take advantage of the right that we have to vote, and we don’t think about the conflicts faced and the compromises made that helped women get the right to vote. During the award ceremony we were all shaking and reminding each other to be good sports if we did not win anything. However, we won first place group performance and we were so surprised. That energy stayed with us all day and we were elated to see that Mr. McKenna had retweeted a video of us singing!”
Yasmine Mezoury (278) reflected, “I definitely think the whole process of researching about a topic in such depth changed my perspective on history. When we study history at school, there’s no time to actually go in depth. However, doing NHD was very enlightening because we got to see how a vast variety of factors contribute to events in history and how many secret motivations there are. I also thought the whole experience was great because the judges were really accommodating and engaging. Even when we had technical difficulties, they were very kind about it.”
Kejsi Ruka (278), club president of NHD, voiced, “I think that the most memorable part of the competition was actually presenting your project because you get to see where all your hard work gets you.”
MaryElizabeth Greeley (278) expressed, “I was really surprised when I got a reward and I thought it was a really memorable event because we literally made history!”
NHD welcomes all students and aspiring historians to participate in National History Day. The theme of “Triumph and Tragedy in History” will frame 2019’s competition. Keep up to date with NHD by following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and wish the victorious lancers luck as they continue to leave their legacy.
List of Winners
- 1st Place Group Performance: “Daughters of Freedom: Women’s Struggle for Voting Rights in America” Esmerelda Zere, Jenny Dong, Kimberly Danni, Jennifer Butler, Juliannie Ortega
- 2nd Individual Website: “Against All Odds: Louisa May Alcott, Ambition, and Social Conscience” MaryElizabeth Greeley
- 2nd Group Website: “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Story of Daisy Bates” Maab Taha, Abigail Thomas, Gladys Ramos, and Anastasia Volyanyuk
- 3rd Group Exhibit: “Nightmare on Tiergartenstraße Street” Cindy Mani, Tamanaa Atrafi, Nirmine Hachemi-Bouzid, Emly Moise, Michelle Yuen
- 1st Group Documentary: “Ihahamuka: Breathless with Frequent Fear” Kejsi Ruka, Yasmine Mezoury, Aida Gashi, Tristan Jennings
- 3rd Group Documentary: “Philadelphia’s 1944 Transit Strike” Eli Simon, Abigail Leedy, Sasha Hochman
Nancy Zhu (278)