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Kamehameha Schools was founded by the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha the Great.

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HomeI MUA Newsroom National competition sparks history appreciation in students
KS Kapālama US History teacher Daina Enabe (second from the left) cultivated a passion in history in her students Elizabeth Coleman, Kamaile Patton, Vance Farran and Jostlyn Watson during a National History Day Contest in D.C. KS Communications intern Kamaile Patton shares her story below.
National competition sparks history appreciation in students

For the past seven years, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama has partnered with the Hawaiʻi Council for Humamnities and the Daniel K. Inouye Foundation to give qualified high school students the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to compete in the annual National History Day Contest (NHD)

U.S. history teachers like my own, Daina Enabe, institute the History Day project as a core part of their curriculum, beginning in the second quarter of the school year. Ms. Enabe calls National History Day a successful teaching tool that sharpens students’ research skills. She also said that it helps them learn how to analyze information and develop strong arguments.

This year, my partner Anela Johnson and I decided to center our project around America’s implementation of eugenics, an ideology developed in the late 19th century aimed at creating a more genetically pure nation. 

The movement discouraged reproduction by people who have genetic defects and other “undesirable” traits. We demonstrated that although eugenics has its roots far back in history, that its presence is still largely felt in today’s world.

With the support of our teacher, Anela and I went all the way through to the state round, where we placed first in the Senior Exhibit category, providing us the incredible opportunity to compete at the national level.

Being a girl from Kāneʻohe, Hawaiʻi, competing in the national competition seemed fairly intimidating at first but I slowly became more confident about the notion. I arrived in DC, anxious and curious, to set up my project amongst the other display boards. Immediately I was blown away by the elaborate displays that neighbored mine.

As I began to peruse the area, I noticed the immense diversity of topics that had been extensively researched, which ranged from war brides to the development of modern video games. Walking around the hall, I made an important observation about history and the NHD project itself. I realized that learning history is key to making decisions about the future so as to not repeat mistakes of the past.

The connection between the history we as students had been investigating in our projects and the displays exhibited by the many Smithsonian museums we visited over the course of the trip became very clear that day. History is embedded in every aspect of our lives and is being created every day.

Although we did not win the contest, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience a level of high competition and to deepen my appreciation for history and the many values and lessons that it holds within its infinite layers.

Kamaile Patton will be a senior at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama and participated in a two-week summer internship with the KS Communications Group. Post-high, she hopes to attend college on the west coast and pursue a degree in social justice studies or sociology.

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