Students revisit the past at National History Day; awarded for hardwork

Jose Herrera

Senior Vanessa Fano, freshman Kailtyn Arst, Senior Amanda Arst, Senior Boa Pistol-Boesch, junior Saba Mahmoudi, junior Sheena Gonzalez and Jomari Reyes gather up in front of a display.
Senior Vanessa Fano, freshman Kaitlyn Arst, Senior Amanda Arst, Senior Boa Pistol-Boesch, junior Saba Mahmoudi, junior Sheena Gonzalez and Jomari Reyes gather up in front of a display.

The air was thick with nerves and the sun was beating down on hundreds of students from across the Los Angeles County as National History Day (NHD) went underway.

Early in the morning, students were scurrying around finishing up putting the last touches on their projects or searching for their building in eastern part of Azusa Pacific University where the projects would be showcased and judged.

“I felt sick because I was sick, but I was also excited as well,” freshman Kaitlyn Arst said.

The school had four groups of students competing and illustrating 2015 NHD’s theme of Leadership and Legacy in their various projects of an exhibit, documentary, essay, performance or website.

Senior Amanda Arst created an exhibit on Cesar Chavez demonstrating leadership in the farmer’s labor union and rights.  Seniors Vanessa Fano and Boa Pistol-Boesch created a documentary on Albert Einstein’s humanitarian side rather than focus on his influence in the field of physics.

Juniors Saba Mahmoudi, Sheena Gonzalez and Jomari Reyes designed a website to highlight Walt Disney’s individualism and how it shaped his leadership and legacy in the film industry.  Last but not least, freshman Kailtyn Arst also created a website; hers emphasizing Indira Gandhi, first woman Prime Minister of India from 1966-1977, and her ideals that molded her career.

Each participant was judged at different times throughout the morning and until the afternoon.

“We were one of the last people to get interviewed.  After the interview there were three hours of waiting to find out if we won,” Mahmoudi said.

To help the competitors kill time while waiting, NHD’s sponsors and contributors set up various displays from the 1700’s showing participants how pioneers used to live.  Students were able to learn the paths that pioneers took to travel to the west, how to sew and games that children used to play.

Eventually, the award ceremony began at 5 pm.  After an hour, many students came out with medals, others with disappointment but nonetheless students were proud overall of making it to the county level.

“I wasn’t entirely heartbroken or disappointed that we didn’t win anything because everyone who won had put a lot of effort and hard work into their projects,” Fano said.

Gonzalez and her group and Amanda were awarded as alternates for the state competition being held in Rocklin, California May 8-9, in their respective categories.

Kaitlyn won first place in her category of senior solo website and will be moving on to the state competition.  Amanda’s proud of her sister for moving to state.

“I was sure I wasn’t going to win,” Kailtyn said. “I prepared myself to lose because I was still working on it the night before.”