Thirteen Orange County student projects advance to National History Day championships

Sierra Vista Middle School students and their championship medals at National History Day state contest.
Sierra Vista Middle School students pose with their champion medals at the National History Day state contest.

From 64 Orange County submissions, 53 historical project entries were recognized at the 2022 National History Day-California contest.  

The NHD-CA State Finals returned in-person this year for students to showcase their research and analysis from May 6 through May 8 at William Jessup University in Rocklin, California. The annual event selected 13 projects from Orange County to represent the state in the online national competition next month.

The National History Day program features more than 600,000 students every year. Each individual or group entry is given the opportunity to conduct primary and secondary research to develop their theses. From 210 participating California schools, 1,230 students submitted their studies for the 2022 contest. 

Participants’ research focused on this year’s theme, “Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences.” Students utilized resources from libraries, museums, archives and eyewitness accounts and presented their findings through mediums including documentaries, exhibits, performances, posters, websites, papers or podcasts. Individual and group entries were judged and interviewed with the help of more than 160 professionals, including historians and educators. 

More than 80 percent of all entries from Orange County students were chosen to move onto the final round of the contest. Seven of the projects deemed champions in individual categories were crafted by Sierra Vista Middle School students, while the Irvine Unified School District won a total of 21 awards. Elementary division champion titles went to two group projects from Olinda Elementary in the Brea Olinda Unified School District. In addition, special prizes donated by the program’s sponsors were awarded to 10 Orange County project entries. 

The winning historical submissions from the junior division and senior division groups will have the chance to compete for the top prizes in the online national competition from June 12-16. 

A comprehensive list of the honorees can be found at: https://www.nhdca.org 

Below are the NHD-CA Orange County contest champions and special award winners:

Orange County Elementary Champions (Grades 4 and 5)

Elementary Individual Podcast

“The Munich Massacre: How Failed Diplomacy Fueled the Arab-Israeli Conflict”
Soren Qualls
Olinda Elementary School, Brea Olinda Unified School District

“The Gold Standard Debate”
Audrey Park
Olinda Elementary, Brea Olinda Unified School District

Orange County Junior Champions (Grades 6-8)

Junior Individual Documentary

“The Panama Canal: Centuries of Tension for Miles of Connection” 
Leanna Lo
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Junior Group Documentary

“Reclaiming Kaho’olawe: How One Island Changed the Lives of Hawaiians” 
Moksha Kolli, Ritieka Kumar
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District 

Junior Individual Exhibit 

“World Cup Fever at Its Worst: The Fútbol War of 1969” 
Megan Liu
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District 

Junior Group Exhibit

“The Barbary Wars: The First Fight Ending Terrorism” 
Alexis Low, Lauren Low
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District 

Junior Historical Paper

“The Cod Wars: Iceland’s Victory Through Diplomacy and the Global Consequences of their Success”
Alexander Miller
Lakeside Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Junior Individual Performance

“Yu Gwan Sun: A Martyr of the Korean Independence Movement” 
Susan Kim
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District 

Junior Group Performance

“Social Security Act of 1935”
Sumayya Jaffar, Charlotte Collins-Williams, Maya Marfatia, Diane Almaoui, Kasia Lien
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District 

Irvine Virtual Academy Middle School student Frankie Holland

Junior Individual Website

“Interracial Marriage in American History: From Diplomacy to Debate”
Frankie Holland
Irvine Virtual Academy, Irvine Unified School District

Junior Group Website

“Judy Blume and the Battle Against Book Censorship” 
Isabelle Yang, Zixuan Cui, Yongjing Li
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District 

Junior Individual Podcast

“Unwinding the Doomsday Clock Through Diplomacy: SALT Negotiations of 1969-1972”
Venado Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Orange County Senior Champions (Grades 9-12) 

Senior Individual Exhibit 

“A World Without War: Women Empowered Debate and Diplomacy at the Hague” 
Riya Gupta
Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District

Senior Group Exhibit

“Abstract Expressionist Art in the American National Exhibition: Modernist Culture as a Diplomatic Weapon”
Sol Choi, Deul Choi, Allison Yue
University High School, Irvine Unified School District

Senior Group Website

“We’re Not Experiments: Shaping Medical Ethics Through the Nuremberg Code”
Nataly Lopez, Sofia Sevilla
Samueli Academy, Santa Ana charter school

Special Award Winners

Longevity Award

Jasmine Chaabria
Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District

Bushong for Social Justice Legacy / Stephenson Family Award for Sports History 

Yaseen Obaidi, Yahya Sevinc, Garrett Vincent, Harmony Yan-Li 
Venado Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Catalina Pacheco Memorial Award

“Social Security Act of 1935”
Sumayya Jaffar, Charlotte Collins-Williams, Maya Marfatia, Diane Almaoui, Kasia Lien
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District 

Herbert Nikirk Visual Art in History

“Abstract Expressionist Art in the American National Exhibition: Modernist Culture as a Diplomatic Weapon”
Sol Choi, Deul Choi, Allison Yue
University High School, Irvine Unified School District

Individual in History

Emily Yokota
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District 

National Maritime Historical Society Award

“The Cod Wars: Iceland’s Victory Through Diplomacy and the Global Consequences of their Success”
Alexander Miller
Lakeside Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Santiago Hills Elementary School student Audrey Kim

Technology in History

Audrey Kim
Santiago Hills Elementary, Irvine Unified School District

Turning Points in History

“Dire Diplomacy: How the Munich Agreement Failed to Prevent World War II” 
Aryanna Lee
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District 

William E. Geary Award for Military History

“The Diplomatic Consequences of a Forgotten War: How Two Powers Pitted Korea Against Itself”
Rachel Kim, Tyler Kim
Portola High School, Irvine Unified School District