Historically good time

APUSH students take (stand) on National History Day


Bao, Jenna Xu

TAKE A STAND. National History Day participants can compete with a website, exhibition, documentary, presentation, or research paper. Eight SHS students from Mrs. Valerie Nimeskern’s APUSH class will compete with history papers that they wrote for class based on the topic of taking a stand in history. One junior Natalie Brinkman, will submit a documentary. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Valerie Nimeskern.

Spring break is quickly approaching, but for a few juniors, there is one more big event to get through prior to relaxation.

The regional round of National History Day (NHD) will take place on March 18, the Saturday after the last day of third quarter, at the University of Cincinnati.

The national competition is meant to engage students in researching and exploring history based around an annual theme. This year, that theme is “Taking A Stand.” Participants could choose to create a project in one of five categories: historical research paper, documentary, website, exhibit, and performance.

“I decided to participate in this competition to get some comments from people other than my usual circle of opinions on my writing. My paper was already written for APUSH so registering was easy!,” said Kiri Wang, 11.

From year SHS’ AP United States History class, taught by Mrs. Valerie Nimeskern, eight  students, juniors Jenna Bao, Leah Schwartz, Nathan Zhang, Keren Idelman, Harsimran Makkad, Anne Marsh, Wang and sophomore Karisa Grandison are competing with research papers. Junior Natalie Brinkman is submitting SHS’ first ever documentary.

A significant part of the course is a research paper in first semester. Students may choose any topic in American history, but the theme is always the same as that of NHD so that those who choose to will have the option to easily adapt their assignment for the competition.

“I decided to write about the tennis great Arthur Ashe and his activism during his retired years. Since I was young I had heard inspirational stories of his transcendent achievements on and off the tennis court, and upon research I have gained insight on the life of a remarkable man who everyone should strive to be more like,” Zhang said.

While Nimeskern typically sends many of her students (with over 40 two years ago), new restrictions this year limited each teacher in the region to only eight students in the research paper category.

“New changes have occurred in the regional competition which I am unhappy with, such as each school is only allowed to send 8 students to compete per category of competition.  Prior to this change, Sycamore sent 42 students in 2015.  This year, with the limit of 8 I had to select my top 8 papers to go to the competition (if students wanted to compete).  Selecting only 8 papers was a very difficult task for me as I had so many wonderful papers, therefore I went with the top-scoring papers with unique topics,” Nimeskern said.

The main consideration in judging is the project itself, but participants will also have to present their work to a panel of judges at UC. They will be asked about their topics and research processes.

“National History Day is a great opportunity for students to display their passion and skills in pursuing research regarding a specific topic. You get the chance to talk about why your work deserves to be advanced to the next round of competition, and it’s very exciting,” Zhang said.

SHS typically fares well at this event; last year, all three papers that advanced to state were written by Nimeskern’s students: current seniors Matthew Schuetz, Marshall Hall, and Mitch Radakovich. Two years ago, Caroline Gao advanced to the national competition.

“I wish all my students the best of luck and can’t wait to see what happens,” Nimeskern said.