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Nine KS Kapālama seniors took part in the 2017 National History Day (NHD) competition in Washington D.C. In June 2017, they spent a week at the University of Maryland, presenting their projects, which they advanced through a series of competitions at the school, district and state level. In addition to the competition, students and their kumu were able to visit the many museums and historical learning spaces that the D.C. area is known for. It was an enriching week, filled with experiences that will last a lifetime. They were part of a Hawaiʻi team sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities, of around 37 students from Hawaiʻi. For more information on NHD, visit

KSK students head to National History Day competition in D.C.

June 8, 2018

Contributed by Shaundor Chillingworth

Nine students from KS Kapālama qualified for the 2018 National History Day competition at the University of Maryland to compete with 3,000 students from across the U.S. and select international delegations in their ability to display, cite and understand their chosen topic.

This year’s theme is Conflict and Compromise.

Students work on these projects through their U.S. history classes taken junior year. They choose their topic as well as the medium they would like to present their work (exhibit display, essay, website, performance or documentary). They then go through a series of school, district and state competitions to earn the right to represent Hawaiʻi at this presigious competition.

The Hawaiʻi History Day state competition is sponosred and organized by the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities. Around 40 Hawaiʻi students advance to the national competition in both junior and senior divisions. The results from the 2018 state competition senior division has the following KSK seniors advancing to nationals:

  • Phillip Amona - 1st place, website
    “Kamehameha Schools: Forming a Hawaiian Language School”
  • Shannyn Soliven - 1st place, documentary
    “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: A Political Scar”
  • Lehuanani Kanahele-Santos - 1st place, exhibit display
    “A Living Restoration: The Diverse Roles of ʻIolani Palace”
  • Evan Gates- 1st place, essay
    “The Franklin Petition: Igniting the National Slavery Debate”
  • Hauhere Peters & Theresa Ahuna-Turqueza – 2nd place, performance
    “The My Lai Massacre: Compromising the Values of the U.S. Military”
  • Brooke Baba and Haley Silipa- 3rd place, website
    “Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party”
  • Doulton-Lee Ho- National Qualifier, individual exhibit display
    “The Oneida Community: The Problem with Perfect Love”

In addition to the national qualifiers, the following students received special awards for their Hawaiʻi History Day projects    

  • Sarah Santos received 3rd place honors as well as the Historical Research Award for her essay, “Pentagon Papers: Publishing for Press Prerogative”.
  • Gates received the Chaminade University of Honolulu (one half-tuition) scholarship
  • Makana Kanaiapuni, Lori Char and Mehana Piena received the Bendon Family Foundation for outstanding projects in intellectual, artistic or literary history for their website “Singing and Composing During the Civil Rights Movement: Nina Simone, An Advocate for Equality”.
  • Mackenzie Plunkett received the Pacific Tsunami Museum for noteworthy projects dealing with nature in the history of the Hawaiian Islands for her exhibit display “PALILA V. HAWAII DLNR: A Fight for Flight”.
  • Kanahele-Santos also received the The Robert Douglas Memorial Award for outstanding projects that highlight the impact of philanthropy.
  • Ho received the Johanna I. Wurst Award for outstanding projects focusing on the history of textiles or fashion industry.

KSK has had a history of success in the Hawaiʻi History Day competition, frequently sending multiple students to compete at the national level in consecutive years.

History teachers Sarah Razee and Daina Enabe would like to thank the following co-teachers who were critical to the success of the students in this endeavor:

  • Kelly Vuikadavu and Moya Donahue
  • Kawika Mahelona and Hoʻomano Pakele
  • Leah Kihara and the faculty and students at the Student Studio
  • Stacy Naipo and the Kamehameha Schools Archives
  • Hawaiian Language Teacher Mapuana Kobashigawa 
  • For their valued research support: Shari Chan, Dani Gardner, Kauwela Valejo-Novikoff,  Laʻakea Cumberlander and the library staff

The competition itself is a memorable and formative experience for students. Last year, several students reflected on what the NHD competition and process to compete at the national level did for them and their growth as kānaka. Watch that reflection on the KS YouTube channel or below.

KSK students and kumu celebrate a successful Hawaiʻi History Day competition

Lehua Kanahele-Santos makes final adjustments to her exhibit board with help from visual arts kumu Kawika Mahelona.

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