Seventeen juniors qualify for National History Day Contest


Malcolm Taylor

Ege Halac works with history teacher Cindy Jurisson on his National History Day project.

Téa Tamburo, Editor-in-Chief

Seventeen U-High juniors will advance to the national level of the National History Day contest, the most students to advance from one high school in Illinois this year. This is the tenth consecutive year U-High students have qualified.

The national contest is usually held in Washington, D.C., but due to the pandemic, this year’s contest will be held virtually. For the contests, students could work individually or in groups to create a performance, paper, documentary, exhibit board or website around this year’s theme: debate and diplomacy.

Katie Bai, Corona Chen, Livvy Jessen, Clare O’Connor and Lena Stole submitted solo projects. Group projects advancing to the national competition were done by Louis Auxenfans, William Tan and Serena Thomas; Charlie Benton, Jenna Kilkus and Myra Malkic; Jessica Daugherty, Ege Halac and Jack McRoberts; and Sara Kumar, Donovan Miller and Lauren Tapper.

History teacher Cindy Jurisson said she’s never taken this many students to nationals in her 15 years working at U-High.

“I feel like we’re doing our part to build, extend, deepen, strengthen American democracy, and that means the world to me,” Dr. Jurisson said. “What means the most to me is that every project that’s produced this year is really credible. It stands on its own and it accomplishes something.”

Livvy wrote her initial paper on the Apollo Space Test Project and its effect on international diplomacy during the Cold War. When creating her documentary project, Livvy further researched space analyst Eilene Galloway and her involvement in the Apollo missions.

It’s really cool to take a look at that work I did and then see people at a national level recognizing it.”

— Livvy Jessen

“I really like NASA, and I have for a while,” Livvy said, “so I really wanted to spend some time in the archives and it was just a matter of finding something that had to do with diplomacy that I found interesting.”

Jack, Jessica and Ege created a website for the 1992 Earth Summit, where they researched the causes for the summit and its impact on climate policy.

“It’s a really important website for the issues of today, and we’re just happy that it got to where it’s at right now,” Jack said.

The students are excited to take their work to the national contest.
“It’s just like a lot of validation to know that I put so much work into it,” Livvy said. “It’s really cool to take a look at that work I did and then see people at a national level recognizing it.”