National History Day offers middle and high school students around the world with opportunities to investigate their interest in a historical context, express their research in different forms, and present it to others. NHD gives an annual theme to those students, which requires them to connect their chosen topic with not only history, but also the theme. Students are to choose the medium in which they will manifest their research: website, documentary, paper, performance, or exhibit. After researching about their topic and creating their entry in accordance with the guidelines and rules, participants gather at either the local or affiliate level and compete with those in their respective categories.
On February 27th, 2016, at KIS, NHD Korea was hosted and organized by Mr. Yanuzeski, one of KIS’s notable history teachers, and Ms. Gillette, the NHD Korea Affiliate Coordinator. They announced that for the first time in NHD Korea history, students competed in all ten of the categories. Students, not only from KIS, but also from SIS, DIS, KKFS, and many other schools, participated and took home various accolades. The top two teams from each category became eligible to go onto Nationals, which will take place at the University of Maryland in June.
This competition is an educational and entertaining one for most, as students are able to observe the amount of passion and fervor that all students possessed for their own projects. Many students took back home more knowledge than they had expected to—about creating a proper annotated bibliography and process paper, about delving deep and researching thoroughly about a topic they were interested in, and being able to present their research through a particular form of media. There were still parts of the competition that many students disliked: the opening ceremony was just too brief, there was a huge confusion about where to go and students from other schools were lost around the large campus, the waiting time was too long and wasted many students’ times, and there was a slight judging bias that was pretty clear but sly and caused an unfair advantage for some students. Despite these factors, however, overall, the competition turned out to be successful, as students earned knowledge and a deeper understanding of how to organize and present their research—which truly is the ultimate goal of this competition.
Although the competition was successful for most, there have been some suggestions on making the day even better. National History Day club has listed out several dislikes of the day and discussed possible solutions. One factor that they thought was a major issue was the extensive period students had whilst waiting for the results. Students had to remain in parts of the school from the time that their interview was completed to 2 pm wherein the results were announced. In order to avoid long periods, the club has proposed that there should be activities, trivia or games during the day. Hope Yoon, a KIS student who won the performance category, suggested that the judges could have been “ more objective or confer beforehand” so that the judging was fair. Holding the similar view as Hope, Celine Yoon, who placed 3rd in the Individual Website Category, advised that the same people should have adjudicate the same category so that bias and subjectivity can be reduced.
Regardless of the discrepancy in how the event went, it is definite that students have improved in critical-thinking, research, and problem-solving skills—which will help them in not only their school work, but also in future years. Best of luck to the 19 competitors from KIS who will be competing at Nationals on June 12-16!
— Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19) & Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19)
Featured Image: NHD Asia