IUSD Sends Most OC Students to Nat. History Day, Receives Top Honors

National History Day Logo

Natalie Miller of Lakeside Middle School won third place in the 2020 National History Day competition, which live-streamed this year’s awards ceremony from Washington, D.C.

Natalie took the honor in the Junior Paper category for her submission, “Ex Parte Mitsuye Endo: Breaking through Barbed Wire.” The project documented the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Ex Parte Mitsuye Endo, which ruled that the government could not detain citizens who were considered loyal to the United States.

Over half a million middle and high school students participated in National History Day contests at the local and state levels, beginning their research in late 2019. Working individually or in groups, they produced original documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances and websites reflecting the theme “Breaking Barriers in History.”

Like the Orange County Department of Education’s county-level event, the NHD National Contest shifted to a digital format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and about 3,000 young historians advanced. The final showdown included 11 history projects created by students from Irvine Unified and an exhibit created by two Capistrano Unified middle schoolers.

In addition to Lakeside's medalist, three other Irvine students and their projects were honored as finalists.

“To make it to the National Contest in a normal year is a remarkable achievement,” NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn said. “Given the unprecedented challenges that faced students over the last several months, I am even more impressed by what they achieved this year. They have shown an incredible level of fortitude and tenacity, and I am confident we will continue to see great things from them."

More than 400 historians and education professionals participated in the judging, which was also conducted remotely. More than 100 students earned honors in their respective categories and qualified for cash prizes between $500 and $2,000.

The full list of 2020 winners can be found at nhd.org//virtual2020winners, but here are IUSD’s top performers representing Orange County:

National Medalist

Third place, Junior Individual Paper
"Ex Parte Mitsuye Endo: Breaking through Barbed Wire"
Student: Natalie Miller
Teacher: Michael Clark
Lakeside Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

National Finalists

Ninth place, Senior Historical Paper
"A Penny for Your Thoughts: How the New York Penny Press Redefined American Journalism"
Student: Jihyun Won
Teacher: Wind Ralston
Portola High School, Irvine Unified School District

Eighth place, Junior Individual Performance
"Ruby Bridges: Breaking the Segregational Barrier"
Student: Louise Macatula
Teacher: Lianne Linck
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District

Fourth place, Junior Individual Exhibit
"Women Breaking Barriers at Langley"
Student: Riya Gupta
Teacher: Lianne Linck
Sierra Vista Middle School, Irvine Unified School District