South Orangetown Central School District

Six members of Tappan Zee High School’s History Honor Society placed in the Virtual Lower Hudson Valley Regional History Day Contest and advanced to the New York State competition! This year’s theme was “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.”

Junior Aleexa Mansoor placed fourth for her exhibit, “Blood in the Ink: The Story of the Bangladesh Language Movement.” “My family comes from Pakistan and I’ve always been pretty proud of that. But I’ve found that sometimes people who are proud of where they come from ignore things that their country has done; they can be blinded by their beliefs. Bangladesh was formerly East Pakistan and the Bangladeshi were not treated equally because their culture was more closely connected to Indian culture rather than Persian culture,” she reported. “One of the reasons I pursued this project was because of the parallels in modern American history. There is not enough effort to understand others’ point of view. Patriotism isn’t about blindly following. A patriot is someone who is willing to look into the details on all sides of an issue and to fight against antiquated ideals to make her country better.”

Senior Calan Ibrahim placed fifth for his website, “Communicating to America: How Radio Brought a Nation Together.” “I was inspired by how mediums of communication can influence groups of people,” explained Ibrahim. “Radio was a game changer. It was a more inclusive medium because listeners didn’t need to be literate to get information. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used his Fireside Chats to rally the country when it needed a strong leader. By speaking directly to the people, he made the presidency part of people’s everyday lives.”

“The Great Communicator: Reagan and the AIDS Epidemic,” a performance skit created by seniors Stephen Chin, Adam Garvey, Noah King and Tobias Stone earned an honorable mention. “It took a lot of brainstorming to come up with our topic,” said King. “We had ideas that wouldn’t work because of the platform requirements for the virtual competition. At some point, Toby Googled ‘the Great Communicator,’ and it clicked.”

“Although he was known as the ‘Great Communicator,’ Reagan missed the mark when it came to HIV/AIDS by keeping silent. If he had communicated earlier, it could have changed the trajectory of that global epidemic,” Garvey noted.

“What sold me on doing this project was the focus on why misinformation is important and how miscommunication by the government affected people for the worse. It was really interesting to see how it paralleled historically,” said Chin. “In reading the transcripts of press briefings, we found that AIDS was being joked about. Its importance was diminished. There were so many lives ruined because of misinformation and stigma.”

“This topic is important to me because it covers an ongoing epidemic which is still widely stigmatized and misunderstood to this day. Choosing to display this subject as a performance piece is the best way to reach audiences in as emotional and subsequently memorable fashion as possible,” Stone said. “While it is an uncomfortable subject, these topics must be discussed to ensure that there is no confusion or lack of information, allowing for complete transparency for the safety of the public. If it weren’t for years of miscommunication enabled by the President and his staff, the public would have understood far more about the virus earlier on and thousands of lives could have been saved.”

“Each of these projects were well-researched, highly informative and indicative of meticulous planning,” noted History Honor Society advisor and social studies teacher Matt Robertson.

Congratulations to all!

Regional History Day winners