On March 7, 13 high school students and 27 middle school students participated in the National History Day (NHD) county competition at Inderkum High School.

This was one of the largest groups to compete, according to history teacher Chris Kuipers. NHD is a project in which students research a topic from American history that relates to the theme chosen for that year; this year’s theme was Breaking Barriers. The categories in which students can submit projects are performance, documentary, paper, exhibit and website.

The top-three finishers in each category advance to the state competition. NHD does not distinguish among the top three, Kuipers said.

Because the state competition will be held online this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, fourth-place finishers (alternates) also are invited, according to Kuipers. The schedule has not been announced, he added.

Seven of the 13 projects moving on to state are from SCDS high school students: senior Jackson Margolis’ performance, “Inside the Mind of Nikola Tesla: Breaking Electrical and Mental Barriers”; junior Keshav Anand’s documentary, “Dolly the Sheep: A Clone that Changed it All”; sophomore Sanjana Anand’s paper, “The Impact of Immunotherapy”; freshman Sage Spradlin’s documentary “House on Fire: A Greta Thunberg Story”; freshman Eric Lechpammer’s exhibit, “The Establishment of the European Union”; freshman Natalie Park’s website, “Emmeline Pankhurst: Breaking Barriers in Women’s Suffrage”; and freshman alternate Brynne Barnard-Bahn’s website, “Rosalind Franklin: The Reluctant Feminist.” Keshav Anand also earned a Longevity Award for his six consecutive years of National History Day participation.

Junior Keshav Anand’s documentary, “Dolly the Sheep: A Clone that Changed it All,” won at the National History Day competition on March 7. The cloning of Dolly proved that it was possible to take any cell in an animal’s body and create an identical copy, according to Anand. (Video courtesy of Anand)

Freshman Jada Grey won the African American Award for her exhibit, “Breaking Barriers: Athletes Turned Activist.” Park earned the Mel Russel Women’s History Award, and Spradlin won the Climate Change Award. These prizes also came with cash rewards.

This was the first year in which freshmen participated in NHD for class credit. Through NHD, freshmen will build strong foundations in researching before doing their sophomore projects, according to Kuipers.

“I like NHD because it teaches the skills of research in a very effective way,” Kuipers said. “It’s also the fact that they have an outside audience, which often enhances the level of work the students do.”

Sanjana Anand used her sophomore project paper in the competition. She said she decided on the topic after reading an article in a magazine about a woman who survived cancer thanks to immunotherapy.

“The main challenge I faced when submitting my paper was the requirement for more primary sources,” Anand said. “I also had to add about 1,000 words to my paper since we had a limit when we had written it for English class.”

Anand said she didn’t expect to win since she had entered the competition only because she already had a paper written for the sophomore project.

“When I won, I felt really happy because there were a lot of people in my category, so I was surprised that I had won,” Anand said.

Kuipers said that when setting the guidelines for the sophomore paper this year, he and history teacher Bill Crabb kept the NHD guidelines in mind.

“We have plans for next year to fully go with the NHD theme when setting guidelines for the sophomore paper,” Kuipers said. “Hopefully, we can do a connection with both a regional topic and with the NHD theme. Luckily, a lot of the cash prizes are awarded for projects focused on local issues.”

This was the first time Sanjana Anand and Lechpammer competed.

While Lechpammer was choosing his topic, he said Brexit was in the headlines. After reading more about it, he came upon the topic of the European Union.

“Initially, I was worried about filling up the board with enough pictures and words and also meeting the 500-word requirement,” Lechpammer said. “Luckily, it ended up working out.”

Lechpammer said he did not expect to win an award.

“My category and my name were the last announced,” Lechpammer said. “Understandably, I freaked out when I heard my name, and needless to say it was pretty exciting.”

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