County students take honors at state level in history contest


“Communication in History: The Key to Understanding” was the topic for students in this year’s California National History Day competition, which recently announced its winners.

Students competed virtually to explore the theme, doing original research on topics from spies and comic books to the Pony Express and Hedy Lamarr. They used posters, videos, websites, performances, exhibits and essay papers to illustrate their projects. In developing their ideas, the students learn and improve critical thinking, research and reading skills, and problem-solving and teamwork.

National History Day is an education nonprofit based in College Park, Md. The competitions draw more than a half-million middle and high school students each year from across the nation. Students taking honors from San Diego County are:

Junior Division
Individual Website — Champion: “Anguish to Action: How African-American Spirituals and Their Adaptations Were Used by the Enslaved to Communicate Emotion, Protest Their Enslavement, and Convey Messages in Secret,” Bridge Han, Thurgood Marshall Middle School, San Diego

Group Documentary — Honorable mention, “The Navajo Code Talkers: Secrecy in Communication,” Griffin Samuel, Anay Kulkarni, Maanit Mehta, Black Mountain Middle School, San Diego

Group Exhibit — Honorable mention, “Julia Child: Communication Through Cuisine,” Eleanor Werland, Katherine Morrison, Sofia Mendoza, Los Coches Creek Middle School, El Cajon

Group Performance — Honorable mention, “Communication Through Modern Dance: the Unknown Accomplishment in History,” Yasmin Dowlat, Catherine Hassanein, Solana Ranch Elementary, Solana Beach

Senior Division
Individual Documentary — Champion: “Sting Like a Bee: Muhammad Ali and His Fighting Words,” Jefferson (Jesse) Smith, Francis Parker School, San Diego

Group Documentary — Runner-up: “A Window Into Internment: Communication of the Japanese Community Evolved on the Road to Redress,” Canyon Crest Academy, Aron Einbinder, Samantha Yokoyama, Andrew Tsai, Canyon Crest Academy; Honorable mention, “The Pulpit of the Streets,” Ollie Pai, Liam Brownlie, Francis Parker School

Group Performance — Champion: “Operating on the Front Lines: The Hello Girls of World War I,” Elsa Baumgartner, Adelyn Phillips, Francis Parker School

Individual Exhibit — Honorable mention: “The Zimmermann Telegram: How One Message Changed History,” Jack Ducote, Francis Parker School

Group Exhibit — Honorable mention: “Estonian Revolution: Communicating to Create a Peaceful Revolution,” Shea McGrath, Keigo Omura, Nicholas Smith, Sophie White, Francis Parker School

— Laura Groch is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune