Crestview Middle seventh-grader Mary Hails and sixth-grader Rohan Deshpande are breaking barriers this spring. Both recently competed in the National History Day (NHD) in Missouri contest, and Deshpande earned first place in documentary and Hails placed third in the same category.
“I’m extremely proud of them,” said teacher Megan Burian. “These students have worked incredibly hard since September to complete serious academic research to write and create their own 10-minute-long documentaries.”
Both students participated through their after-school National History Day Club. The contest gives students in grades 6-12 an opportunity to explore the past by researching topics related to the contest’s theme, "Breaking Barriers in History," and creating papers, exhibits, performances, documentaries and websites.
Deshpande’s topic was “The Panama Canal: Breaking Barriers, Bridging Worlds.” His documentary explores the building of the Panama Canal and the effect it has had on transportation, trade and politics over the years. Deshpande also investigated its vital role in the world as technology and political structures continue to change.
“I love history and consider it a passion,” said Deshpande. “I learned a lot from this project. Mostly I learned about the Panama Canal, but I also learned about storytelling skills and the importance of organization.”
Hails' project, “Kicking Down Barriers Like It’s 1999,” focuses on the 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup team. She argued the team was crucial in overcoming obstacles for U.S. women's sports in terms of earning attention and respect.
“I had a lot of fun making the documentary and competing at the event,” said Hails. “I learned a lot about analyzing history to apply it in today's world. Though things might have happened a long time ago, they are still relevant, and we can still learn from them.”
Deshpande is now a Missouri delegate and will advance to the National History Day contest June 14-18 at the University of Maryland in College Park. Hails will serve as an alternate.
“All of the students who participated in the NHD after-school activity at Crestview this year dedicated a great deal of time and effort to follow their passions for history,” said Burian. “Beyond that, they offered support to each other through encouragement, feedback and genuine joy at the successes of their peers.”