Sophomore duo prepares for History Day

Katrina Filer, Editor-In-Chief

Extensive research. Late nights cutting and gluing. Terrifying judges. High competition. These are just some of the obstacles sophomores Brigitte Larkin and Maddie Neyland have overcome to win first place at the History Day Regional and State competitions, and now they are ready to do it all one more time for the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Larkin and Neyland started competing for their first time in the Group Exhibit division this year after being encouraged to take their World History project to the next level—competition. The prompt this year was “Taking a Stand in History”, and they researched the Chipko Movement in India to fit this prompt.

“[Indian women] were protesting against commercial tree filling in the Utar Pradesh region, and they hugged the trees,” Larkin said. “It was one of the first non-violent protests during that time in India.”

To present their research, Larkin and Neyland made an exhibit by mounting their documents and images on a spinning board designed to look like a tree. They will ship the board to D.C. and re-assemble it once they arrive on June 10.

History Day Club advisor, JoAnn Olsson, suspects that the pair will get a lot of new ideas for their project next year by looking at the other exhibits presented.

“It’s important to see the level of national level projects, set a goal, and know what the target is. It’s huge when doing History Day projects to understand what can be done, especially in the visual ones like the exhibits,” Olsson said.

Olsson also has seen past students gain valuable friendships in the dorms, during meals, and through activities like the dance held there. Neyland and Larkin will also have plenty of opportunities to explore D.C. as tourists with their families, including an interview with Senator Patty Murray.

Such extensive participation in History Day has honed many of Larkin and Neyland’s skills, particularly research, which Olsson believes will benefit them in the future.

The skills that you get in doing research will help you the rest of your life, no matter what you’re doing, especially in college. You’ll always know that if you don’t understand something, you have the skills to find the correct answer yourself,” Olsson said. “There’s always multiple perspectives to everything, but you can gather the information to come to your own conclusions.”

Overall, the sophomore duo is excited for the opportunity to show their skills and their hard work to a national audience, especially since this is their first year participating.

“I’ve never really done any extra-curricular academics, so I feel like this shows how dedicated I am, and I haven’t been able to show that before. This is the first time I’ve been able to do something and be good at it,” Neyland said.