Lakeside sending more students to National History Day finals than any school in California


Next month, the top National History Day projects from schools across the country will make their way to Maryland for a final competition on the national stage.

California is sending 18 of its best projects (along with the students that created them). And no fewer than three will come from IUSD’s own Lakeside Middle School.

Lakeside’s Grace Son and Bella An earned Co-Champion honors in the Junior Group Exhibit categoryThat’s right, Lakeside is sending more teams and more students to the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest than any other school in the state.

“It was definitely a good year for us,” says Jon Pang, Lakeside’s history and social science department chair. “A lot of kids who participated last year in the seventh grade came back and did it in eighth grade, and that really helped them a lot.”

“Every one of these students was very committed,” he added. “They had to be motivated to meet with teachers during lunch and after school seeking feedback.”

Each year, more than 500,000 elementary, middle and high school students from the U.S. and beyond participate in National History Day competitions at the local, state and national levels.

For those unfamiliar with the program, students select a historical topic based on the year’s theme and conduct extensive research. Some visit libraries, archives and museums for their projects. Others conduct interviews and visit historical sites. Once the source material has been analyzed, the young researchers draw conclusions about their topics and present their findings in the form of a paper, an exhibit, a performance, a website or even a documentary.

Schools generally hold National History Day competitions in the spring, and county and state contests follow. This year, projects from a number of IUSD middle and high schools advanced to the California State Finals, which were held in Riverside in late April. All expounded on a topic connected to the 2014 theme, “Rights and Responsibilities in History.”

Cullen Darius, Thomas Jacobsen, Scott Armstrong and Mitchell Cronin earned honors in the Junior Group Documentary category of the state National History Day competition.Lakeside’s Grace Son and Bella An — they’re pictured above — earned Co-Champion honors in the Junior Group Exhibit category of the state competition, earning the duo a trip to Maryland. Cullen Darius, Thomas Jacobsen, Scott Armstrong and Mitchell Cronin — pictured to the right — did the same in the Junior Group Documentary category, and Stuti Agrawal punched her ticket as a Co-Champion in the category of Junior Historical Paper.

“It’s just so amazing what our kids do,” Lakeside Principal Gina Cuneo told us this week. “This is all extracurricular, so they do this on their own, and yet they do it with such passion — it is just inspiring.”

From Sierra Vista Middle School, the team of Rebecca Yu, Kiana Wang and Justin Yee earned Co-Champion recognition in the Junior Group Documentary category, meaning they’ll also be eligible for the national contest. Sierra Vista’s Cole Kawanami was a runner-up in the Junior Individual Documentary category, and Rancho San Joaquin Middle School’s Michael Wu was named a runner-up in the Junior Individual Website category.

At the high school level, Wei-Web Hsu, Margaret Huang, Tiffany Hu and Tina Sato of Woodbridge High earned a special honor, the Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research (SHHAR) History Award, for their entry on Hispanic history. University High’s Ohshue Gatanaga was named a runner-up in the Senior Historical Paper category.

The 2014 Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest will be held June 15 through June 19 at the University of Maryland, College Park.