CHS Junior Aeris Stewart Exceeds Expectations at National History Day

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CHS Junior Aeris Stewart Exceeds Expectations at National History Day

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Every year CHS has History Day, a time-consuming project that take lots of preparation and that the sophomores at CHS participate in. It becomes an academic competition in which students assemble a project relating to a central theme through different creative outlets such as documentary, website, exhibit, and performance. Each year there is a general theme and the students are allowed to branch off from that specific theme and come up with their own topic of a time in history that was significant to that same theme. This project is intended for students taking either honors history or english. The competition has four stages which includes the school, county, state, and national competitions. CHS sophomore Aeris Stewart managed to make her way to nationals, but did not make the final round of the national competition.

Stewart chose to do a performance for her History Day project. The topic she chose was on the Vietnam War photojournalism, specifically “Napalm Girl” by Nick Ut. Her performance was a dialogue between a grandmother, who lived in Saigon during the war, and her granddaughter. The purpose of her project was to explain how media influenced and helped this particular photo become so famous.

“I chose my topic because my grandmother immigrated here from South Vietnam, so researching a pivotal interaction between the US and Vietnam was, in a way, connecting to my family’s history,” Stewart said. “Also, I’ve recognized the photograph for as long as I can remember, but I never knew the story behind it. I was curious as to why the image became as iconic as it did.”

Stewart struggled a little bit with the first round of competition, which was when she was competing with her fellow students. Despite feeling that her thesis was too broad and rushed on her script and even had to improvise part of her performance, Stewart still placed in the top two in her category. At the county competition, where she competed with students from other schools in the county, Stewart had a much smoother and prepared performance and placed in the top three. Upon moving on to the state competition, where she competed with students from schools across California, she did well in both of the rounds because she incorporated more detailed research into her script. She ended up being one of two individual performers to go to the national competition, which includes thousands of contestants from throughout the country. Despite not making it to the final round, she still enjoyed her experience.

“I am always so proud of my students the day of History Day CHS,” History teacher Mrs. Gomez said. “I love that they have the chance to show off their hard work to a larger audience. I also find it fascinating to see what students are able to accomplish when given the freedom to not only choose a topic of meaning to them, but also to present it in a way that showcases their unique interests and talents.”

All her hard work showed in her performances was because of how far she got in the competitions. Although she was not the most prepared at first, she put in effort to perform as best as she could. Many people feel stressed when the idea of History Day comes to mind, but Stewart believes it was all worth it once she saw the results. The most important thing about History Day is to learn from the experience and to have fun, and that is something Stewart definitely felt like she accomplished throughout the process.

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