Erik Flores and Hannah Roberts are exceptional in their own right, but when the two Huntington High School sophomores joined forces to form a research team that proved to be downright remarkable.
Mr. Flores and Ms. Roberts studied bilingual education in the United States and created a highly regarded website on the topic for this year’s National History Day contest, which resulted in the pair capturing the Latino-American History Award. To visit the website click here: https://site.nhd.org/35347273/home
“My partner and I chose the topic of bilingual education because it fit into this year’s National History Day theme of ‘breaking barriers in history,” Mr. Flores said. “My whole family comes from El Salvador, so I knew what bilingual education was and my partner had been enrolled in the dual language program since she was little. After we settled on this topic, we gathered as much information as we could from the web. At first, we did not know how to begin because the topic revolves around an Act of Congress and there was a need to talk about its background and other topics involving bilingual education. Then we began putting our information together piece by piece.”
The partners discovered the process of developing a research project is quite challenging, to say the least. But the duo soldiered on and the final result is a testament to their persistence.
“It was a very arduous task since we couldn’t really work at the same time,” Mr. Flores said. “If we worked and saved the updates, it would often not save what the other was doing. We faced various challenges due to the fact that some of the information got deleted because we were working simultaneously with the document opened so one of us would save over the other’s work. It was hard to keep an eye on everything.”
There were several other difficulties that also had to be overcome. It’s an example of why teachers say the National History Day initiative is so valuable. Students learn how to go about conducting high end research and navigating past stumbling blocks, sometimes through trial and error.
“It was my first time working on a website and it took us a long time to figure out how to work the system out,” Mr. Flores said. “We eventually ran out of time and left out a lot of the information that we wanted to be there. For instance, we did some research about US Senator Ralph Yarborough and added the information to our website, but I did not save and it was time to submit the website so we couldn’t add it back in. I really believe that we could have done better. But in the end, we believe that planning before transitioning to the website is a good strategy.”
Ms. Roberts also made significant contributions to the project. “Erik chose our topic,” she said. “English is his second language and I was in the dual language program so it seemed fitting for the both of us. We’ve both been through different versions of bilingual education so we were able to provide different points of view for the project. We used court cases, books from the library and documentaries for our research. We met up most weekends and after school to work on the project together while working independently at home most weekdays. I personally loved the way our project turned out. We are both very proud of our work.”
Mr. Flores is enrolled in three Advanced Placement courses this year, including AP Biology, AP World History: Modern and AP Spanish Language and Culture. He’s in the Latin Club, United Amigos and a variety of academic honor societies. The teenager is also on the staff of The Dispatch student newspaper and in the yearbook club. Before the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on the spring season, he was practicing with the track and field team.
The sophomore emigrated from El Salvador when he was 12 years old. He started his Huntington UFSD experience as a J. Taylor Finley Middle School seventh grader.
“I was also involved in Science Olympiad and the New World mentoring program, during which I helped teachers and ENL students both during and after school,” Mr. Flores said. “I believe my favorite subject is science. My favorite teacher is Mrs. [Eileen] Gonzalez, who helped me a lot when she was my ENL teacher.”
Ms. Roberts has been in Huntington UFSD since she began kindergarten at Flower Hill Primary School. She participates in the New World club and the drama club and plays high school volleyball with the Blue Devils. She’s a member of three different academic honor societies.
“Chemistry is my favorite subject and Mrs. [Lori] Kenny has been my favorite teacher,” Ms. Roberts said.