National History Day Club Advances to Nationals After Competing at State Level


Christina Ji

(From top to bottom) National History Day OC coordinator Julie Hull, juniors Vismaya Sista, Rachel Kim, Bernice Hung, social studies teacher Wind Ralston, juniors Tyler Kim, Brian Kim and Ian Yoon celebrate their historic win at the regional competition. This marks a record number of entries to qualify for the state level in the club’s history, according to Sista.

Juniors Bernice Hung, Brian Kim, Tyler Kim, Rachel Kim, Vismaya Sista and Ian Yoon from the National History Day club competed at the state competition on April 14-16 at Sacramento State University. Rachel Kim and Hung won the Champion title in the Group Website category and the Labor History prize for their presentation on the Delano grape strike.

Rachel Kim and Hung will progress to the national competition on June 12-13 at the University of Maryland.

“I’m glad that my partner and I were able to move onto nationals this year, but I am also happier that Portola NHD, as a club, has been able to send so many people to state this year,” Rachel Kim said. 

Brian Kim, Tyler Kim and Yoon emerged as finalists in the Group Documentary category for their project on the cultural frontier of Hallyu in South Korea. Sista competed in the Historical Paper category with an essay on transcending 19th century communications limits through the use of Braille for the visually impaired.

NHD is an annual competition in which individuals or groups compete in one of five categories: performance, documentary, website, paper or exhibit. Students choose a topic in alignment with the central theme, with this year’s being “Frontiers in History: People, Places and Ideas.” The topic of frontiers encourages students to explore a broad range of inventions, people and movements that shaped the world.

Over 1,400 students competed, sharing their unique projects and love for history, according to Brian Kim. NHD provides students with a valuable chance to develop critical thinking and analysis skills, according to Sista. 

“I’m thinking about even majoring in history in the future, and I wanted to have more opportunities and resources and guidance to make a project that reflects an event in history that is truly meaningful,” Sista said. “I have the opportunity to present that in a project while working with other people who also enjoy history.”

Brian Kim said he is pleased with the outcome and enjoyed learning about history throughout the day, although his group could have made improvements to the project.

“We could’ve made our responses to the interview questions more complex and reflective about the contents of our documentary as well as the thematic connection,” Brian Kim said. “I’m satisfied with the state competition experience because it’s the furthest I have made with NHD and hope to compete next year for a nationals spot.”

Meanwhile, the NHD club is focused on increasing its membership for next year. Club members are working toward expanding the NHD program in middle schools so that eventually NHD at high schools will gain more participation, according to Rachel Kim.