Learning Leadership and Legacies

  • Learning Leadership and Legacies

    for National History Day


    Sayville Social Studies students in ninth and tenth grades participated in a little bit of history this year.

    They along, with their parents, attended Sayville High School’s First Annual National History Day Evening Showcase that displayed the research projects the students had prepared for the National History Day competition; this year’s theme was “Leadership and Legacy.”

    National History Day (NHD), a national academic program, holds an annual, historical-research based competition that encourages students to delve into serious historical study.  

    According to National History Day website: “Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances, and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state, and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.”

    While this is the second year Sayville has submitted entries into the National History Day competition—last year Emily Sneddon was given a special award for her project on the Holocaust—this is the first year the Social Studies organizers offered an event for the parents.


    To compete in National History Day, the Sayville social studies students did more than just look up a few facts about the past. Rather, they engaged in critical thinking and problem solving while honing their research, reading, and writing skills. By thoroughly learning their subjects, they became genuine authorities. This was quite evident during the evening showcase, when the students confidently answered questions about their presentations.  


    “This  evening event was a huge success,” noted Social Studies teacher LynnAnn Perlin, who along with Steve Aronsen, coordinated the event. After acknowledging the other Social Studies teachers who participated (Brian Bennett, Sue Hart, Mike Pace, Sabine Loriston, Deb Armendinger, and Alyssa Kremer) Ms. Perlin also added, “Our First Annual History Day event far surpassed our expectations in terms of what it has provided our students.  The night offered students a rare opportunity to research a topic of their choice, create a visual presentation, and share the finished product with both their peers and members of the community.  In the future, we hope to see this event grow and continue to provide students with a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

    By the end of the evening, prizes were awarded to the top projects, and nine students advanced to the Regional National History Day competition at Hofstra University, scheduled for March 8th.


    Jaren Bergen, who loves history so much he participated in the competition as an independent study even though he is a Junior, summed up the experience. “National History Day provides students with the chance to extend their interests in the social sciences beyond the classroom. Being able to study a topic of personal interest, while simultaneously cultivating research skills, engages students in taking ownership over their own learning.” Jared, who was part of a partnership that created a website about Robert H. Jackson, will move on to the Regional competition along with eight other students.


    Kudos go to all the students for the efforts, with special congratulations to the nine students who will compete at the Regional level: Philip Rinaldi, Thomas Faughnan, James Velasquez, Sean Barry, Michael Pace, Michael Steck, Gianna Scoleri, Jared Bergen, and Emily Sneddon.

    UPDATE FROM REGIONAL COMPETITION: At the Regional National History Day Competition, Hofstra University,  Emily Sneddon and Jared Bergen placed 2ND in the Senior Group Website category. They are now eligible to compete at the state level on April 27TH, 2015 in Cooperstown,NY. The two students worked hard researching Robert H. Jackson and his legacy with the Nuremberg trials. Their research included interviews with survivors from more recent atrocities such as Sierra Leone and Rwanda, as well as Jackson’s living relatives.

    Congratulations, Jared and Emily, and good luck!


    Sayville studens also earned special awards at the  Regional National History Day Competition at Hofstra University: Thomas Faughnan, Philip Rinaldi, and James Velasquez all received the "Outstanding Achievement Award" for their website on Tesla. Great job!,