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Local students compete at national competition

By: Christina Lee
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Students from Vista del Lago High School competed at the national level of the 2018 National History Day Contest on June 10 through June 14 at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Juniors Solomon Lo, Ayushi Mittal, Sanika Walimbe and senior Lawrence Wong had moved past district, county and state rounds to compete at nationals.

The National History Day Contest allows students to conduct their own historical research and enter their project to local levels, with winners proceeding to nationals. In January, 26 Vista del Lago students had proceeded to the state competition.

Based on this year’s theme of “Conflict and Compromise in History,” Lo, Mittal, Walimbe and Wong created a documentary on the Cuban Missile Crisis for the “Senior Group Documentary” category, which encompassed student competitors from ninth to 12th grade.

Although they did not reach the finals, the students created unforgettable memories and learned lifelong lessons.

“One of the most memorable experiences for me was trading state buttons with contestants from all around the country and around the world,” Mittal said. “I received buttons from not only various states, but also from countries like Guam and Singapore. It was interesting to see that so many people attended the competition.”

Meanwhile, Lo enjoyed sightseeing during his time on the East Coast.

“We had many memorable experiences such as visiting the Newseum, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian and other museums,” he said.

Making it to nationals may be exciting for some, but Mittal did not let her guard down even after learning her group had moved on.

“I personally felt honored yet slightly apprehensive about moving on to nationals, as those who attend the national competition are generally far more experienced than my group is,” she said.

Despite Mittal’s worries, the Vista del Lago students performed well, being the only group from their school to reach nationals this year.

Walimbe, although unable to travel to Maryland due to personal reasons, shared what she believed to be the key to the group’s success in the competition.

“I think what made our group so successful was our ability to cooperate and work together. Each of us have such different personalities from each other, so I feel like we each could provide different opinions and perspectives,” Walimbe said.

Lo agreed, crediting the group’s cooperation to their successful performance.

“We all contributed an important part to our documentary,” he said. “The fact that we all worked hard instead of relying on a single person was also a huge factor.”

Lastly, Mittal shared a word of advice for students who would like to compete in National History Day.

“Choose a topic that fits the theme well and is fairly unique, but not unique enough that it would be difficult to find enough sources, interviews... It's always a good idea to connect that topic back to current events, which greatly enhances projects and demonstrates in-depth analysis,” she said. “Those who want to compete should always remember to have fun and be passionate about their topics.”