History Fair puts past first


POSTED: Monday, February 02, 2009

The students of Mililani High School are no strangers to challenge. Of the many events going on around campus, one of the most pressing recently has been National History Day. After a semester of hard work in addition to the occasional summer assignment for those in the Advanced Placement courses that MHS offers, the efforts of hundreds of social studies students culminated in the Fourth Annual History Day Fair, held Jan. 14.





Trojan Times

Faculty adviser
Christopher Sato


Caitlin Kuroda


95-1200 Meheula Parkway,
Mililani, HI 96789




John Brummel







This year, 788 MHS students participated, a record number for the school. Of these, 112 students have advanced to the next level of the competition, districts.

Last year, 11 groups made it to the national level. One group of seniors—Mikela Caseria, Torri Ishihara and Nicole Painter—won in the performance category, earning them the Outstanding State Award. Other categories include research paper, documentary, display board and Web site.

Freshman Amanda Thomas, a first-time participant, approached the assignment with optimism, saying that this year's theme, “;The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies,”; was “;good and exciting.”;

But junior Lexi Kaneshiro, a veteran of past History Days, said, “;It's way harder because it's easy to start making it into a biography rather than an analysis of the person's actions,”; a sentiment shared by other participants.

“;It was a little more challenging than previous themes,”; said junior Vivien Lam, adding, “;In elementary school we were raised to only write biographies, and this theme required us to focus more on their actions than their life in general.”;

Kaneshiro, Lam and fellow junior Lindsey Carvalho made up a group that will advance to the district-level competition with their project on Samuel Adams.

Despite the difficulties, many still found this year's theme to be refreshing and enjoyable. Senior Max Chenevert said “;The Individual in History”; was “;easier to approach”; than last year's theme of “;Conflict and Compromise.”;

“;It's easier to find a legacy for a person,”; said Chenevert, speaking of one component looked for every year: historical impact.

Teachers were also worried about the theme.

“;I worried about students engaging in a process of heroification that would erase the messiness and complexity of historical agency,”; said social studies teacher Amy Perruso, who because of this saw the opportunity to “;attack that tendency in student historical work head-on.”; Perruso also considered another problem: “;I don't want my students to walk away with this faulty idea that we can wait for one individual to 'save' us, but rather that constitutional democracy depends upon citizens acting together for common purposes.”;

Though this is only the fourth year that Mililani students have participated in National History Day, teachers see the importance of having students be a part of the event.

“;In my view, teaching in a constitutional democracy is less about 'imparting' knowledge and information than it is about encouraging the development of a set of dispositions and skills,”; said Perruso, referring to “;historical curiosity and passion for 'truth-telling.'”;

Mililani High School's History Day Fair was supposed to take place on Dec. 11, but heavy rain and flooding postponed it.

The fair was moved to the second day of the new semester in January, allowing the hundreds of students who worked on a project to come back from the break and kick off the new year by admiring and evaluating one another's work in the school's cafeteria, library and classrooms.

“;I thought it actually ultimately went fairly well, considering the rescheduling constraints under which we were working,”; Perruso said.