MSMS participants take top spots in National History Day Competition


Courtesy of Amy Zhang, Amanda Zhou, and Jessica Yan

MSMS Students win big for National History Day with projects about the lesser known hero’s of history.

Caleb Jenkins, Copy Editor

We don’t often get to hear history from someone who lived it, but MSMS junior Nathan Guy did. For his National History Day project, Guy explored the use of “tap code” by American soldiers in North Vietnamese prison camps during the Vietnam war.

“While creating my project, I was actually able to interview Vietnam veteran, former POW and code-introducer Col. Carlyle Harris. Even in his 90s, he was able to easily express how important it was to have a connection between allies and friends, in addition to a connection with God,” Guy said. “Through this project, I have been able to genuinely consider the human side of things like this — the living, breathing aspect of history that builds who we are today.”

Every year, The Mississippi National History Day competition gives students around the state an opportunity to delve into the past and present their findings in a creative manner. This year, eight MSMS students entered, and, under the guidance of history teacher Julie Heintz, all eight of them earned a top-three spot in various categories at the state competition.

“I had a great group of students this year that spent many hours putting together their projects. Their hard work paid off and every MSMS student who entered placed in the top three in their category. I am very proud of them,” Heintz said.

With his documentary, “Tapping in the Heart of Darkness;” Guy was the first-place winner of The Military History Award, sponsored by the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The theme for the 2021 competition was “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding,” and students had the option of five different formats for their presentation: paper, website, performance, exhibit and documentary.

Juniors Amanda Zhou, Amy Zhang and Jessica Yan placed first with their website, “Hello Girls: The Trailblazers of Telecommunication in WWI,” and juniors Khushi Patel, Nina Patel, Kinjal Patel and Kashama Mehta won third with their website, “The Diversity of Indo-Aryan Languages in India.”

Nina Patel said of their project:

“It was a great experience and it brought me closer to my culture and heritage,” Patel said. “I feel like events like this are important for today’s youth because they can bring great knowledge about [our past].”

Zhou and her group members showcased the little-known contributions of a group of women of World War I.

“My group and I chose to create a website about the Hello Girls in WWI– an all-women unit of telephone operators who served in France and was crucial in the success of the US in the war. The US government long refused to formally acknowledge them as veterans, and most people didn’t know about their operations in France,” Zhou said “Sixty years later, the Hello Girls finally received their long-overdue government recognition, but their efforts were still largely unknown. Our website highlights their crucial role in communications during the last stretch of World War I and spreads awareness of their deserved recognition.”

Zhou, Zhang and Yan were recognized as the runner-ups for the Women’s History Award, sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Those who placed first or second will have the opportunity to compete at the National History Day competition in June, with third place honorees serving as alternates.

“Programs like this help not only the participants to learn about the topic they are researching, but also help them realize the importance of history’s parallel with the current world and the long-lasting injustices that have been deeply rooted into society,” Zhou said.