National History Day has gone virtual, and OC students continue to shine

After impressing judges at the state level, 11 history projects created by students from the Irvine Unified School District and an exhibit created by a pair of Capistrano Unified middle schoolers will advance to this year’s National History Day showdown.

In all, 20 Orange County students will have their projects judged in the final showcase, including seven from Sierra Vista Middle School, which has become a perennial NHD powerhouse. Sierra Vista is sending four entries to the national competition, which is set to take place virtually June 14-18.

Student Maverick Malfavon and teacher Erik Peterson

Santiago Elementary teacher Erik Peterson, right, was named the California 2020 Patricia Berhing Junior Division Teacher of the Year. He’s pictured with student Maverick Malfavon in 2019.

National History Day contests are staged at the local, state and national levels for about 600,000 participants each year. Working as individuals or in groups, students in grades 4 through 12 conduct extensive research on a historical topic before submitting projects that can take the form of an original paper, a website, a poster, an exhibit, a performance or even a documentary. This year’s theme is “Breaking Barriers in History.”

OCDE virtually hosted its countywide competition in mid-March, right as schools were announcing closures. Nearly 1,700 students from 294 schools later participated in California’s virtual competition, with winners announced on Wednesday, May 13.

Speaking of which, Erik Peterson of Santiago Elementary School in Santa Ana Unified was named the California 2020 Patricia Berhing Junior Division Teacher of the Year for his National History Day support and his broader efforts to make students more aware of — and interested in — history. He receives $500 and is now in the running for the National History Day Teacher of the Year award.

Here is the list of winning projects from Orange County by category:

Orange County Seniors Champions (Grades 9-12)

Group Documentary

Breaking the Barrier of Racial Homogeneity: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
Daniel Yang, Ethan Chen and Rachel Gima
Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District

Individual Website

The White Rose: Breaking the Barriers of the Nazi Regime
Linda Zhong
Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District

Historical Paper

Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”: Breaking Barriers to Ignite the Modern Environmental Movement
Amerdeep Passananti
University High School, Irvine Unified School District

A Penny for Your Thoughts: How the New York Penny Press Redefined American Journalism
Jenny Won
Portola High School, Irvine Unified School District

Orange County Junior Champions (Grades 6-8)

Group Documentary

Technicolor: Witness the Rainbow
Noah Villanueva, Jimmy Chen and Erin Chen
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Group Exhibit

Nancy Wake – “The White Mouse”: Resisting the Gestapo and Breaking Gender Stereotypes
Sophie Rapeepat and Ava Martinez
Bernice Ayer Middle School, Capistrano Unified School District

Historical Paper

Ex parte Mitsuye Endo: Breaking Through Barbed Wire
Natalie Miller
Lakeside Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Individual Exhibit

Women Breaking Barriers at Langley
Riya Gupta
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Individual Performance

Ruby Bridges: Breaking the Segregational Barrier
Louise Macatula
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Individual Website

Wilma Rudolph
Wendy Cao
South Lake Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Group Website

On Behalf of the Unfortunate: Dorothea Dix, Mental Health Reformer
Sophia Ho and Sara Kim
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Breaking Barriers in Technology and the Barriers of Space, The Arms and Space Race
Tyler Kim, Miles Dela Cusack and Rachel Kim
Beacon Park K-8 School, Irvine Unified School District

Orange County Elementary Champions

Group Poster

The Mother of Computer Programming: Ada Lovelace Breaking Barriers in Technology and Gender Discrimination
Andrea Villanueva, Grace Li and Brooke Nguyen
Acaciawood Preparatory Academy

Special Award Winners

California Historic Places
California Office of Historic Preservation and California Historical Society

The 504 Sit-In: Breaking Cultural and Legislative Barriers for People with Disabilities
Alyssa Tang and Rebecca Kornu
University High School, Irvine Unified School District

California History Award
Friends of NHD-CA

John Muir: Breaking the Barrier Between Humankind and Nature
Sophie Wang, Sarah Gomez, Natalie Chan and Amy Guo
Olinda Elementary School, Brea Olinda Unified School District

Conference of California Historical Societies
Conference of California Historical Societies (CCHS) 

Ex parte Mitsuye Endo: Breaking Through Barbed Wire
Natalie Miller
Lakeside Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

The Golden Gate Bridge: Breaking an Engineering Barrier
Aadya Batra
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Elizabeth Avery Award for Social Justice
Friends of NHD-CA

The Little Rock Crisis: Breaking the Barriers of School Segregation
Maryam Quraishi
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Equality in History
Friends of NHD-CA

The White Rose: Breaking the Barriers of the Nazi Regime
Ling Zhong
Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District

European History
Monterey Lyceum 

The White Rose: Breaking the Barriers of the Nazi Regime
Ling Zhong
Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District

Maritime History
National Maritime Historical Society 

Hungnam Evacuation: Breaking Barriers for Freedom and Humanity
Kowoon Jeong
Irvine High School, Irvine Unified School District

Naval Order of the United States San Francisco Commandery Award for Outstanding National History Day Project in Maritime or Naval History
San Francisco Naval Commandry

Hungnam Evacuation: Breaking Barriers for Freedom and Humanity
Kowoon Jeong
Irvine High School, Irvine Unified School District

Jacques Cousteau’s Aqualung: The Breakthrough that Unlocked the Ocean’s Mysteries
Ethan Sorenson
Santiago Elementary School, Santa Ana Unified School District

Social Justice and Diversity Award
California Council for Social Studies

Painting over Barriers: Post-Revolutionary Mexican Muralism and the Wall of Marginality
Sol Choi
University High School, Irvine Unified School District