Nicholas Zahn, Vincent Grassi and Kieran Husselbeck collaborated on a group exhibit examining the Navajo code talkers, who played a vital role in the US effort in World War II. The sophomores captured the Native American History Award for their project, which vied in Huntington High School’s National History Day contest.
This year’s National History Day theme is “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.” Participants in the competition were able to submit work in a variety of formats from individual and group exhibits and websites to historical papers and individual and group documentaries.
The three sophomores titled their group exhibit, “Cracking the Code: The Navajo Code Talkers.” It impressed the teachers who judged the contest.
The Navajo code talkers were recruited because their little known language allowed them to develop a specialized code that allowed them to communicate important messages secretly. They played a key role in the war effort and were involved in many important battles involving the US Marines, including at Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal.
“We chose to research the Navajo code talkers because we wanted to do something different that would stand out since not many people have heard of them,” Mr. Grassi said. “Researching wasn’t super difficult because there was so articles and firsthand accounts from actual Navajo code talkers. I am very happy with how it turned out and the design as a radio from WWII that they would’ve used.”