National History Day Competitors Named Finalists at Regional Competition

Throughout the virtual ceremony on March 16, National History Day – Orange County coordinators presented various awards beyond the conventional individual and group awards, including the California Global Education Project awards. CGEP regional director Lisa McAllister presented this award, which was given to projects that fulfilled criteria regarding global learning and the United Nations sustainable goals. (Photo Courtesy of Rachel Kim)

Four National History Day club members placed as finalists at the first in-person NHD-OC Competition since 2019 on March 12. At the March 16 virtual awards ceremony, judges named vice president and sophomore Rachel Kim and secretary and sophomore Tyler Kim champions in the website category, and sophomores Brian Kim and Ian Yoon runners-up in the group exhibit category.

The event, hosted at the OC Department of Education, featured 150 entries from 246 student participants representing 25 schools across seven districts, according to NHD-OC. The contest allowed students to compete individually or in groups for five categories: website, exhibit, performance, paper and documentary.

Rachel Kim and Tyler Kim participated in a thirty-minute interview, presenting their website project titled “The Diplomatic Consequences of a Forgotten War: How Two Powers Pitted Korea Against Itself” to a panel of judges, according to Rachel Kim.

“Because Tyler and I are both Korean, we thought it would be important that we tie in our Korean heritage and really look into the history behind our own lineage or how interesting it is to be Korean American here and studying the Korean War,” Rachel Kim said. “It’s more than that because my grandparents were affected by the Korean War. So I thought it would be a nice memorial for them and for me to learn about their lives.”

Each year, NHD creates a theme for students to frame their projects around; the theme for this year’s competition was “Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, and Consequences,” according to the NHD website.

Brian Kim and Yoon focused their exhibit on the Little Rock Nine Crisis with visuals portraying how it exposed the horrors of segregation within the United States, according to Yoon.

“Honestly, from a student standpoint, the most fulfilling part is obviously getting awards,” Yoon said. “From a learner standpoint, the most fulfilling part is being able to portray a story—an important historical topic—to show what the significance of the topic is in history.”

As champions in their categories, Rachel Kim and Tyler Kim will advance to NHD State Finals at William Jessup University in Rocklin, California May 6-8, according to the NHD website.

“In terms of teaching students, the NHD competition not only educated and strengthened the critical skills of conducting accurate and thorough research and presenting it in a pleasing and captivating way. It was more than that,” co-president and senior Shreya Shah said. “It was forming connections with team members and falling in love with the subject over six months of work leading up to the competition.”