Advancing onto the next stage of history


This year, five Diamond Bar High School students explored their interests in history in the National History Day competition held on March 12. 

NHD is a competition focused on fostering an interest in historical topics. Every year, participants are presented with an annual theme. They must then select historical events or figures that best correspond with the theme—the competition entailing a physical presentation along with a detailed research paper and educational website. Students can choose to work in groups or as individuals.

Wanting to research World War II, juniors Skye Chao, Max Zhu and Emily Qi decided to talk about Joachim von Ribbentrop. 

“After learning about the topic of the competition, which was ‘Debate and Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, Consequences,’ we first browsed the internet, initially thinking about researching World War II,” junior Skye Chao said. “We realized that one of the main reasons [for WWII] was [the] dismantling of a diplomatic feat called the Treaty of Versailles.”

The group chose Ribbentrop as their research subject because of his quick ascent from a simplistic winemaker to becoming an influential figure in Hitler’s campaign as a diplomat.

To gain more insight on their project, they conducted meetings over the weekends, researching and developing their argument collaboratively.

“We researched secondary websites and resources, then we started looking through professional autobiographies and a book that [Ribbentrop’s] son wrote,” junior Max Zhu said. “We also researched [about] the actual Treaty of Versailles to learn more about him.”

The month-long project came with plenty of hurdles for the team, mainly concerning website design and time management.

“I’d say one of the difficulties of this project was designing the website since the NHD board specifies using a specific website maker so sometimes it’d take a long time to just adjust a button,” Zhu said.

Despite these struggles, the group surpassed the regional competition against 70 other schools. They now anticipate the state competition in May in which they will go head to head against 34 other counties across California.

“It’s a bit scary seeing what [the team] is about to get into,” Chao said. “However, with a bit more preparation, I think we could do it.”