Triumph and Tragedy: National History Day 2019

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National History Day (NHD) is an annual event where students from various middle and high schools create a project based on a selected historical theme. This year’s theme was “Triumph and Tragedy in History.” Students could choose to create either a documentary, website, exhibit board or performance, or write a paper on the subject.

The AP Seminar/Social Science Research class annually submits projects to NHD. This year, NHD took place on March 10. Students submit two group documentaries, two group exhibit boards, and two individual exhibit boards to the competition.

“The National History Day project anchors the tenth grade AP Capstone/SSR course as part of AP Seminar,” stated AP Capstone teacher Franco Scardino. “It is the fundamental project by which we teach the historical research skills needed to defend a thesis or argument. These [skills] include how to develop a strong research question and thesis, how to use archival resources, how to interact with experts and first hand participants related to their inquiry, how to write professional annotations, and how to present and defend their research before a panel of judges and the public. I think this experience builds self-confidence and builds capacity in students.”

Most of the students enjoyed their experience at NHD, saying it was interesting to see the variety of topics presented, and that they thought it was a useful experience for the future.

“It was really cool to see the work from all students from the city and it was a fun experience,” said sophomore Zoe Indarshan, who submitted a project about the Japanese Imperial Army’s inhumane operations on prisoners of War during World War II. “Some of the projects were really great and out there.”

Six students, sophomores Anil Singh, Zoe Indarshan, Riya Nobi, Emmily Cipriana, Zeyad Shariff, and Julia Wojtkowski, received NHD awards and will all be moving to the state finals in Cooperstown. Out of the projects that will be moving forward, two are individual exhibit boards, and two are group projects: a documentary and an exhibit board.

Emmily Cipriana, who submitted an exhibit board on the Flushing Remonstrance and religious intolerance during the time of Peter Stuyvesant, connected the relevance of her topic to  current events, saying that although the theme of triumph and tragedy influenced her decision, “so did the presence of rising religiously intolerant related crimes and protests occuring in contemporary society.”

Along with her classmates, Zoe expressed her excitement to move on to States, along with her nervousness for the competition.  “I heard that the competition up there is much greater and the event is far more competitive,” said Zoe.

Nevertheless, Mr. Scardino assured, “Townsend Harris students have always done very well in this competition and this year is no exception. We have a very talented group of sophomores in the program this year and I look forward to working with them again next year in AP Research.”