National History Day California was held virtually this year with 1,698 students participating from 29 counties, including 82 from San Diego County. After months of intensive research and success at district and county-level competitions, champions were recognized at the 2020 National History Day – CA Virtual State Contest. Sixty-two students will represent California at the National History Day Virtual competition, June 14 to 18, including four from San Diego County.
The following students from San Diego County will represent San Diego and California at the National History Day competition in June. Jesse Smith won in his Senior Individual Documentary entitled "Home from the War; the Vietnam Veteran Experience" from Francis Parker School. Oliver Charat-Collins was named champion in Senior Individual Exhibit with his "Solving Smallpox: The Medical Breakthrough of the First Vaccine" from Canyon Crest Academy. Elsa Baumgartner and Addy Phillips were chosen champions in Senior Group Website division with their excellent website entitled "Printing a Revolution: Breaking Barriers to Scientific Advancement" from Francis Parker School.
In addition, three San Diego County students were chosen champions in the Elementary Poster division. They don't compete at the National History Day contest, as the category is only held in California. Champions included Waits Engval Spielman with his poster entitled "D-Day: Breaking Through the Nazi Fortress Europe" from Urban Discovery School. Darby Wright entitled her winning poster "WASPs Break Army Gender Barriers to Help Allies Win World War 2" from The Nativity School. The third champion was Bridge Han whose winning poster was entitled "Deaf President Now: The Protest that Shattered the World's Perception of the Deaf" from Ericson Elementary.
Selected Honorable Mention by the judges for the Junior Division (grades 6-8), was Sydney Mafong and Kaelyn Liu's documentary "The Original 9: Serving, Slicing and Smashing Through Gender Barriers" from Solana Ranch Elementary.
San Diego students took their share of Special Awards including Cate Hasler with her Senior Individual Exhibit winning the Conference of California Historical Societies Award. Eden Smith and Samantha Kim's Junior Group Website entitled "Breaking Gender Barriers: Women in Pants" won the 2020 Women's Vote Centennial Commission, History of Women's Suffrage Award along with Joanne Lee "Breaking Pride and Prejudice: Disrupting Social Conventions of the 19th Century Through Women Writers". The William E. Geary Award for Military History was won by Jefferson Smith with his Senior Individual Documentary "Home from the War: The Vietnam Experience."
More than 600,000 students nationwide participate in the year-long National History Day program. In California, more than 40,000 students participate in National History Day each year. More than 240 historians, educators, and other professionals evaluated their work online. Students were also awarded special prizes donated by sponsors including nine from San Diego County.
National History Day students engage in project-based learning as they choose their own topics of study connected to an annual theme and then engage in public history at competitions. This year's theme is Breaking Barriers in History. National History Day students research historic documents and artifacts, conduct oral histories, search the internet and libraries for information on their topic, and travel to historic sites. They present their work in a variety of ways including: museum-type exhibits, documentaries, websites, original performances, posters, or traditional research papers.
2021 National History Day San Diego will be held on Feb. 27 at the San Diego County Office of Education. The NHDSD Orientation for teachers and parents is scheduled for August and September. Please consult the National History Day San Diego website for more information.