Huntington UFSD students turned in a strong showing at the LI National History Day finals.

Huntington Captures Honors at National History Day Regionals

Huntington UFSD students turned in a strong showing at the LI National History Day finals.

March 28, 2022

In one of Huntington UFSD’s best performances ever at the National History Day Long Island regional finals, 13 students qualified for the State History Day championship round, including Haileigh Smith, who captured first place in the individual website category and Emily Kustera, Rylee Davis, Talia Addeo, Laurel Bonn and McKenna Buffa, who all garnered second place honors for their projects.

 Haileigh Smith grabbed first place in the LI National History Day individual website category.
Haileigh Smith grabbed first place in the LI National History Day individual website category.

“Out of the three National History Day projects that I’ve done over the years, this one definitely seems to be the most polished,” Ms. Smith said. “After gaining some experience through previous years, I felt secure in how to approach this website, which allowed me to build what I feel to be my best project yet. I’m very happy with the way it’s performed so far and no matter what happens from this point forward, I’m extremely grateful to be ending my National History Day experience on a high note.”

“Each year, National History Day frames students’ research within a historical theme,” according to the sponsoring organization. “The theme is chosen for broad application to world, national or state history and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past. The 2022 theme is Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences.”

The Huntington students vied against some of Long Island’s most talented and accomplished teenagers. Students qualified for the regional round following earlier competitions at their respective school.

This year’s senior division (grades 9-12) drew 106 projects submitted by 187 students. The junior division (grades 6-8) featured 173 projects completed by 303 students.

Huntington UFSD students have achieved notable success over the years in the National History Day initiative. Huntington High School social studies teacher Lauren Desiderio, who serves as the History Day Club’s faculty advisor and who coordinates the district’s NHD program, hopes to continue the sensational tradition.

Huntington’s LI regional award winners will now advance to the state finals. Results will be announced on May 2. The top finishers will qualify for the national championships.

The Long Island regional honorees include:

Senior Division (Grades 9-12)

Haileigh Smith: First Place – Individual Website
Project title: “The Civil War: Diplomacy Across The Map”

Ruby Meidenman: Third Place – Individual Website
Project title: “Iran Hostage Crisis”

Emily Kustera: Second Place – Individual Performance
Project title: “The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra: Changing the World One Note at a Time” 

Rylee Davis: Second Place – Individual Exhibit
Project title: “Minnesota Semi-Starvation Study: Working Towards Relief”

Sophie Bradford: Third Place – Individual Exhibit
Project title: “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization: From Idea to Reality” 

Talia Addeo, Laurel Bonn, McKenna Buffa: Second Place – Group Website
Project title: “The Chinese Exclusion Act: How the Debate Over Chinese Immigration Sparked Diplomatic Tensions”

Hillel Linker, Shaina Linker: Third Place – Group Website
Project title: “The Camp David Accords: A Road to Lasting Peace” 

Markella Markotsis, Renee McKean: Fourth Place – Group Exhibit
Project title: “Women’s Army Corps Achieving Diplomacy” 

The award recipients were thrilled with the news they would be advancing to the state level contest. “I can’t wait to continue in competition with my group,” Ms. Addeo said. “This is our third and final year participating in National History Day together and I’m so proud of how far we’ve come since we started.”

The teenagers relished the feeling of satisfaction that all seemed to possess. “I feel proud of what we accomplished since this is our last entry into National History Day,” Ms. McKean said. “I’m excited to see what happens next.”

Hopes are running high for success at the state finals and beyond. “We are very proud, to say the least, and are ready to prepare our website for states,” Ms. Bonn said. “This is our third year placing at regionals and we hope to make it to nationals again.”

Most of the honorees were mentored along the way as the developed and refined their projects and they were grateful for the assistance. “With the guidance of my teacher and advisor, I worked very hard on making sure that my project this year was in-depth and engaging,” Ms. Bradford said. “I am very excited to move on to the state competition and am hoping to go even further.”

The Huntington scholars were happy to learn late Friday they had qualified for the state finals. “It was really nice to move on because this was our last National History Day together,” Ms. Markotsis said. “We’ve done NHD together since freshman year and I’m really excited to see what happens at states for us.”

Junior Division (Grades 6-8)

Jordana Boxer: Third Place – Individual Website
Project title: “Debate and Diplomacy in the Achille Lauro Hijacking”

Ms. Boxer, a Finley eighth grader, was mentored by social studies teacher Jarrad Richter, who is the faculty advisor for the school’s Yorker club. “Seven years of growing the program along with this success is to be recognized,” said Joseph Leavy, chairman of humanities for Huntington UFSD. “This award follows long hours and hard work by Jordana and specialized guidance from Mr. Richter.”