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New Tech Junior Places 1st at National History Day Competition

A Belton ISD student won first place at the National History Day competition last weekend.

Aditi Bhat, a junior at Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow, earned top recognition in the “Senior Individual Websites” category for her project “‘Deeds Not Words’: The Suffragettes, Women Breaking Barriers.”

Bhat is the first Belton ISD student ever to place at the national level of this competition.

“I am so proud of Aditi for the work that she put into the project, especially with the way the competition unfolded this year,” said Timothy Potts, a New Tech world history teacher who served as Bhat’s advisor. “Her winning came as a surprise originally, and then as it sank in it was more like, ‘Of course she won. Who could have beat that?’”

National History Day is a yearlong program that turns students into historians as they explore local, state, national and world history. This year’s theme was “Breaking Barriers in History.”

The program culminates in three levels of competition - regional, state and national - in which students showcase their rich knowledge and present their work to a panel of judges.

Due to COVID-19, the state-level competition was moved online in April and the national competition, held June 14-20, was also moved to a virtual format rather than being in person at the University of Maryland.

“As a teacher, I consider it to be a huge honor just to have had the opportunity to teach Aditi and help her in any way that I could,” Potts said. “She is an amazing young lady.  It feels very rewarding to know that I may have had a small part to play in her success. I can say that everyone at New Tech is so very proud of the hard work and accomplishment that Aditi put into her project.”

Chris Lemley, Belton ISD’s social studies coordinator, said the competition promotes informed citizenship, a value the district hopes to cultivate in its social studies courses.

“Students must access competing first-hand accounts of historical events, balance them against available secondary source material, and then use their research to draw informed conclusions about their topic. Research often takes them to exclusive historical archives and leads to in-person interviews,” Lemley said. “At the conclusion of their research, students must present their finding in a meaningful, compelling fashion – a skill that is more important in today’s multimedia environment than ever. On competition days, students must interact with judges who are free to interrogate any aspect of their project.”

Hearing about Bhat’s achievement was thrilling, Lemley said.

“Success in NHD is primarily a testament to student passion, effort, and determination,” he said. “But a win at the highest level demands support from family and a larger educational community.”

Caroline Moehlenbrock from New Tech and Hope Bovell from North Belton Middle School also represented Belton ISD at the national competition.

A broadcast of the award ceremony is available at https://www.nhd.org/virtual2020awards. For a full list of winners, visit https://www.nhd.org/winners

Q&A with Aditi Bhat

How did you come up with your topic/idea?
Human interest stories, especially those of personal struggle in overcoming societal obstacles, have always fascinated me. Hence, when this year’s National History Day theme of ‘Breaking Barriers’ was announced, I immediately thought of the women’s suffrage movement, and further research led me to the Suffragettes. Initially, it was their unique name that sparked my interest, but as I learned more about their immense courage and sacrifice in fighting for enfranchisement, I was confident that this was exactly the trailblazing story I was looking for.

What was your reaction as you won at each level of the competition and then most recently at nationals?
At each level I won, I was happy and excited to move on. At the national level, I was thrilled to even be named as a Top 10 Finalist. When they announced my name as the first place winner of my category, I was shocked and overjoyed!
 
How do you think this experience will help you in the future?
From this project, I have learned we should make the best use of the rights and freedoms that we presently enjoy and not waste the hard work and sacrifices that individuals have made in attaining them.
 
Would you recommend this activity to other students?
I wholeheartedly recommend that students participate in National History Day. This competition would give them the opportunity to learn about historical events, leading to a better understanding of the present and, hopefully, the improvement of the future.

 

June 22, 2020