Huntington High School students shined in this year’s State History Day contest, which this departed from its traditional showcase in upstate Cooperstown to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Freshmen Talia Addeo, Laurel Bonn and McKenna Buffa captured second place and a spot in the national championships in the group website category for their exceptional project titled “Miracle in the Mold: Penicillin Breaks Barriers in Medicine.” To view the website, visit this link: https://16149378.nhdwebcentral.org/.
“I am so proud of this group of Huntington students,” said social studies teacher Lauren Desiderio, who coordinates the district’s National History Day program. “They created an outstanding entry. National History Day is certainly not an easy undertaking, especially for ninth graders and this group of young women certainly rose to the challenge. Their hard work and the time and effort they dedicated to their website was well worth it. I’m inspired by their willingness to continue with the competition despite our current unpredictable circumstances and look forward to working with them over the next few weeks to ready their project for the national stage.”
Conducting the research, sifting through it, editing it down and developing the website took an incredible amount of time and effort.
“It is so awesome to see all the long hours spent working on our project pay off,” Ms. Buffa said. “We ran into some bumps along the way, but we were able to overcome them because the three of us work really well together as a group. It is so amazing that we have the opportunity to participate in the national contest this year and it’s even more exciting since I get to share the experience with two of my closest friends.”
Much of the material was technical in nature and the research team had to put it into a form that is easily understood, interesting and pleasing to the eyes. The group succeeded on all counts.
“I was very confident in our website and had a feeling that we had the potential to move on, but I was still shocked when I got the official e-mail,” Ms. Bonn said. “I, along with my group members, Talia Addeo and McKenna Buffa, are extremely proud of what we have accomplished and are excited for June’s national contest.”
The three research partners are all students in social studies teacher Peter Crugnale’s Global History 9 Honors class. Mr. Crugnale gave the group’s members encouragement and support along the way.
“I am beyond excited that the hard work that my group and I put in paid off,” Ms. Addeo said. “This is my second year competing in the National History Day contest and I am grateful to participate in such an amazing program. This year I am working with McKenna Buffa and Laurel Bonn, who are likeminded friends of mine. I am so thrilled that our group is moving on to the nationals. Last year, a different group and I only made it to the regional competition at Hofstra University, but did not move on. It’s so great to see improvement this year.
The State History Day virtual competition drew more than 750 entries from across New York. Huntington High School’s competitors were an especially strong group.
Huntington’s honorees in the state competition also include:
Erin Ye, Valerie Rogel, Ella Siepel and Andrew McKenzie: Placed fifth in the group website category for their project titled: “Evolving Standards of Decency: The Rise and Fall of The Death Penalty For Minors.”
“I was incredibly thankful to opportunity to participate in National History Day at the state level virtually in lieu of the Cooperstown competition and I extend my congratulations to the group that is moving on to the national level,” Ms. Rogel said. “I’m incredibly proud of my group members for the hard work we put into our website. Ultimately this year’s project gave me a valuable opportunity to enhance my perspective on how we perceive the death penalty in American society.”
The four partners engaged in high level research that would have made a college professor proud. Everyone made substantial contributions to the final product.
“I’m really proud of all of the hard work we put into our project,” Ms. Ye said. “We learned a lot from the process and are happy that our research and effort were recognized by the judges.”
Assembling the voluminous research and editing it down to the essential details was no easier task. The work took countless hours, but the website that the group created was dramatic.
“Though it may have been disappointing for my group not to move on to the national competition, I think this year was ultimately an amazing learning experience and I’m proud of what we accomplished,” Ms. Siepel said. “We overcame many struggles throughout the course of my project and I myself have learned much about the death penalty through extensive research.”
While the research team was striving to advance to the national championship round, finishing fifth in New York State is quite an accomplishment.
“Although we were hoping for better, fifth place is still an accomplishment to be proud of,” Mr. McKenzie said. “It was a great project and I’m very proud of my team.”
Sophie Bradford: Placed fifth in the individual exhibit category for her project titled, “Alan Turing: Breaking the Enigma Code.”
“I feel proud that my hard work on my project paid off,” Ms. Bradford said. “I am excited to participate in National History Day next year and to explore more fun and interesting topics. I am glad that they held the online contest so that I had a chance to move on.”
Grace Wildermuth: Placed sixth in the historical paper category for her project titled, “Malverne, New York: How School Integration Failed to Break Barriers.
“I was surprised to see that I placed,” Ms. Wildermuth said. “I’m proud of the work I put into my research this year and I’m happy with the paper I’ve written; contest or no contest.”
This year’s national championships will also feature a virtual format rather than the traditional competition on the University of Maryland, College Park campus.