South Orangetown Central School District

Two South Orangetown Central School District students excelled in the March 13 Lower Hudson Valley New York History Day Competition and will advance to judging at the state competition in Cooperstown next month.

Tappan Zee High School senior Brian Curtis placed first in the Senior Division for “The Other Man: Peter Norman’s Never-ending Race,” a biographical website profiling the Australian sprinter who placed second in the 1968 Olympics and was ostracized for expressing solidarity with the Black Power protest on the podium. “I thought Norman’s story was astounding,” said Brian, who discovered the sprinter through a YouTube video. “He could have stayed quiet and gone home a national hero, but he chose to support the protest and it ended his career. It took special courage and bravery to make that stand.”

South Orangetown Middle School eighth-grader Matt Tobin placed second in the Junior Division for his historical paper, “The Triumph and Tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” “I wanted to write about something that I’d heard about but didn’t know a lot about,” Matt noted, adding that he learned that President Harry Truman relied heavily on the advice of his generals through declassified documents obtained through George Washington University.

The theme of this year’s National History Day competition is “Triumph and Tragedy in History.” Entries are evaluated on historical quality, relation to theme and clarity of presentation. Brian developed his website entry as his History Honor Society project; Matt researched and wrote his entry as a Challenge Lab project. “I enjoy academic competitions,” said Matt. “With academics, there’s no limit to how well you can do. You can always learn more as an individual and excel at competition–and that’s exciting.”

Congratulations to Brian and Matt–and good luck at States!

Two boys wearing medals