Sophomores Ella Kamenstein and Lilly Polak proved to be formidable research partners, collaborating on an award-winning group exhibit in this year’s National History Day contest at Huntington High School.
The two high-powered teenagers titled their exhibit “The Communication of Equality: As the World Progresses, So Does Television.” It earned rave reviews from the teachers who served as judges for the competition.
This year’s National History Day theme is “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.” Participants in the competition can submit work in a variety of formats from individual and group exhibits and websites to historical papers and individual and group documentaries.
“When my partner, Ella Kamenstein and I heard about the theme, we both had some really good ideas,” Ms. Polak said. “We considered doing our project on Morse Code, movies and even social media. However, Ella and I both liked the idea of incorporating relevant issues along with a topic everyone would find interesting; this is how our topic came alive.”
The duo spent a considerable amount of time choosing their topic and figuring out how they would tackle the research and present their findings.
“We decided ultimately to talk about the progression and meaning of equality through generations of interesting and light-hearted shows everyone knows,” Ms. Polak said. “These shows include The Andy Griffith Show, Mister Rogers, The Ellen Show and Sesame Street.”
The two sophomores worked well together over an extended period of time, shifting through a substantial amount of information and trying to make sense of it all before creating a display to present their findings, analysis and interpretation.
“When we heard of this year’s topic of communication, we immediately thought of technology,” Ms. Kamenstein said. “In the world we live in today, the internet, whether it be through social media, television or radio has managed to be in every aspect of our lives. We decided to focus on television shows and how they communicate equality to the viewers. We focused on all different areas that television airs, such as equality for genders or ethnic backgrounds. It was extremely interesting because I feel we don’t realize what the message is behind many shows we watch. It could be a lack of diversity or even a song that has an important meeting.”
With the project complete and their award in hand, Ms. Kamenstein and Ms. Polak are decompressing from the pressure of completing their research and exhibit display.
“I would say we’re both extremely proud of our project considering the circumstances,” Ms. Polak said. “National History Day is something so fun to take part in and all the work pays off in the end.”
The COVID-19 pandemic was an obstacle the partners had to overcome as they went about researching their topic, but in the end, their work was exceptionally well received.
“I think our project turned out extremely well,” Ms. Kamenstein said. “Considering the circumstances, I think we were able to execute our project to the best of our abilities. It was a long, but exciting process this year and look forward to see what comes ahead for National History Day.”