Students won first, second place in divisions

North Shore students shine in history competition


Two students from the North Shore School District were selected as finalists for the prestigious National History Day Program advancing to the national competition held in College Park, Maryland, from June 9 to 13.

Metta Pollio and Anne Kelly each excelled in their respective categories, representing the school and the Long Island region with their exceptional historical research projects.

The National History Day Program is an annual academic competition where students from across the United States conduct research on a specific theme and present their findings through various mediums such as exhibits, websites, papers, documentaries, and performances.

This year’s theme is “Turning Points in History,” and students explored American and world history to identify pivotal moments.

Pollio, a freshman at North Shore High School, won first place in the senior division in New York state for her website project titled “The Red Summer: A Turning Point in Racial Violence.” Pollio’s project delves into the racial riots of 1919, providing an in-depth analysis of the violent events and their impact on racial tensions in America.

At the time, acts of white supremacist terrorism occurred in more than three dozen cities across the country, which in several instances caused African-Americans to fight back leading to race riots in notable cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. Pollio said that while researching such a divisive period was difficult in some ways, it gave her a greater appreciation for the importance of learning the history of race and racism in the United States.

“I liked the research process and learning more about a topic I didn’t know as much about,” Pollio said. “The project was definitely stressful at times, but it was also fun and rewarding. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to compete at the national level.”

Kelly, an eighth grader, took second place in the junior division with her exhibit project titled “Test Tube Babies: How In Vitro Fertilization Changed Family and Fertility Forever.” Her research examined the history and impact of in vitro fertilization, including the first successful IVF birth in 1978.

“It was an incredible experience to learn more about the history of IVF and its influence on family planning and perceptions of infertility,” Kelly said. “I think this program is such a great experience for us because even if you don’t advance, it really shows how fun research can be, especially when you can choose your own topic.”

Seth Gordon, North Shore School District’s director of K-12 social studies, praised the students for their dedication and research skills. He added that both Kelly and Pollio showed a willingness to tackle their subjects that set them apart from thousands of other participants throughout the state.

“Both Metta and Anne have demonstrated exceptional talent and a strong passion for history,” Gordon said. “Their projects stood out due to their depth of research, clear thesis, and impactful presentations. We are incredibly proud of their achievements.”

Gordon highlighted the school’s focus on teaching research skills to students as part of the curriculum, particularly in eighth grade, to prepare them for projects like National History Day. The students learn how to vet sources, differentiate between primary and secondary sources, and develop a strong thesis supported by evidence.

“These research skills not only help students excel in the competition but also prepare them for future academic endeavors,” Gordon explained. “By the time they reach high school, students are ready to tackle more advanced research projects and explore topics they are passionate about.”

Both Pollio and Kelly expressed gratitude for the support they received from their teachers, who provided guidance throughout the research process. Their families also played a significant role in their journey to the national competition.

To reach the national level, both students had to place first in their regional and state divisions, even though Long Island is the most competitive regional division in the state. According to Pollio and Kelly, advancing to the national competition is not only a significant academic achievement but also an opportunity to further their understanding of history and share their work on a broader stage.