OC students return with honors from final National History Day showdown in Maryland

Back in May, we reported that a dozen young historians from Orange County had punched their tickets to the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest in Maryland after impressing at the state-level competition.

Well, the accolades keep coming. A trio of students from Shorecliffs Middle School in the Capistrano Unified School District secured a first-place trophy at the national event, and several other local schools also took home honors.

An image of this year's National History Day winners from Shorecliffs Middle School in the Capistrano Unified School District

Kelly McDonald, Sophia Burick and Katherine McKernan of Shorecliffs Middle School placed first in the junior group website category for their original website, “Feminists in Flight: Exploring Gender Equality at 32,000 Feet.” Shorecliffs’ Zane Pert, right, was named a finalist for his individual exhibit, “Sir Edmund Hillary, Extraordinary Explorer.” (Photo courtesy of Shorecliffs Middle School)

The competition, which drew more than 3,000 students from 50 states and a handful of international affiliates, showcased and judged scores of history-based projects June 12 through June 16 at the University of Maryland at College Park. This year’s theme was “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.”

In the junior group website category — “junior” here refers to the middle school division — Sophia Burick, Kelly McDonald and Katherine McKernan of Shorecliffs Middle School earned top honors for their original website, “Feminists in Flight: Exploring Gender Equality at 32,000 Feet.”

In the senior division, which includes participating high schools, Eunji Son, Chai Won An and Kenny Chung of Woodbridge High in the Irvine Unified School District placed third for their group exhibit, “Perry Expedition: Exchange Through Encounter of Japan.”

There were additional honors for Orange County campuses. Karen Chung and Emily Le of Irvine’s Sierra Vista Middle School were named finalists in the junior group documentary category for their film, “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Jonas Salk’s Pioneering Exploration Into Poliomyelitis.” And Zane Pert of Shorecliffs Middle School was named a finalist for his individual exhibit, “Sir Edmund Hillary, Extraordinary Explorer.”

For a complete rundown of this year’s winners, click here.

Every year, about 600,000 elementary, middle and high school students from the U.S. and beyond take part in National History Day competitions, which are held at the local, state and national levels. Participants conduct extensive research based on the year’s theme before submitting papers, exhibits, performances, websites and documentaries. To learn more about NHD in Orange County, and to discover how you can get involved, click here.