Juniors Laurel Bonn, Talia Addeo and McKenna Buffa won first place in the group website category and frshman Emily Kustera captured second place in individual performance to pace a strong showing by Huntington High School students in the State History Day finals.
The four talented teenagers will now advance to the national championship round of this year’s National History Day initiative. The finals are usually held at the University of Maryland at College Park, but due to COVID-19, the championships will utilize a virtual format.
Ms. Bonn, Ms. Addeo and Ms. Buffa grabbed top honors for their project titled, “The Chinese Exclusion Act: How the Debate Over Chinese Immigration Sparked Diplomatic Tensions.”
Ms. Kustera’s project was titled, “The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra: Changing the World One Note at a Time.”
The State History Day contest saw three other Huntington students win honors. In the group website category, Huntington’s Hillel Linker and Shaina Linker garnered third place for their project titled, “The Camp David Accords: A Road to Lasting Peace.” Haileigh Smith also finished in third place for her individual website titled, “The Civil War: Diplomacy Across The Map.”
“We are beyond proud of ourselves and our project,” Ms. Bonn said. “Placing first in New York State is a major accomplishment and now we will compete at the national level. Although our freshman year website made it to nationals and didn’t place, we believe that this year’s website has a chance to be a top competitor.”
The 2022 National History Day contest theme is Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences.”
“This is our second year attending nationals and we are so excited to represent Huntington,” Ms. Addeo said. “The three of us are so proud of how much we’ve grown and how far we’ve come these past few years. We can’t wait to finish it all off on a high note.
Social studies teacher Lauren Desiderio coordinates the district’s National History Day initiative and serves as History Day club advisor. She was delighted with how well Huntington students did at the state finals.
“I am so proud of all of our students who represented Huntington UFSD and Long Island at this year’s New York State competition,” Mrs. Desiderio said. “The time, effort and dedication our students have put into their projects for the last several months is commendable. For several students, such as Emily, Hillel and Shaina, this was their very first time competing at this level. I am thrilled for Laurel, Talia and McKenna who are heading back to the national competition as they competed as freshmen two years ago. Their website on the Chinese Exclusion Act is incredibly well-researched and their knowledge of coding and website design is top notch. Their website is certainly one I will be sharing in the future when it’s time for my students to learn about this important topic in United States history.”
Hundreds of Huntington UFSD participated in this year’s National History Day program, developing projects for a local level competition.
“What I also love about the National History Day experience is being gifted with the ability to learn something new myself,” Mrs. Desiderio said. “This couldn’t be more true than when I watched Emily Kustera’s individual performance, which highlighted the creation of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and its desire to break down barriers by bringing Israeli and Palestinian Arabs together through music despite their political differences. Emily expertly engages the viewer and after watching you are in awe when you realize she is just a freshman! She surely has a phenomenal future ahead of her.”
Huntington social studies who mentored contest participants were also energized by how well district students did on the state level.
“I am very proud of all of the students moving on to the national level,” teacher Peter Crugnale said. “They worked really hard on their projects and did so with a great deal of independence. I’m so proud of all of my colleagues who participate in National History Day as well. We have worked to earn Huntington a very impressive reputation within the National History Day community.”