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The City Journals

Two Hillcrest High students to compete in National History Day

May 29, 2022 01:50PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

In amongst his finals and year-end assignments, Hyun Chun took a few minutes to look at his computer. 

The Hillcrest High sophomore was making revisions to his website on the “Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act: The Failed Economic Diplomacy.”

“There are some improvements I can make,” he said. “One of the main things is that I should put more of my analysis instead of using quotes from other people, so it really shows how I understand this topic.”

Chun learned that after attending a workshop to help him prepare for the National History Day, which is being held virtually June 12-16 this year.

Hillcrest junior Jayashabari Shankar also attended the workshop and made improvements in her paper on “The Power of Words: How Rachel Carson Sparked the Environmental Movement through Debate and Diplomacy” before submitting it on May 17.

It’s the first year both students have competed.

Chun said he was encouraged to enter from his older brother who also competed at nationals.

“I wanted to build a website because I like to be creative and I’m interested in technology; I thought this was the best way I can provide all my information,” he said about the project that took him about 50 hours on top of his other activities including FBLA, Key Club, cross country and orchestra.

Other forms of presenting the topics at National History Day include documentary, exhibit, paper and performance.

“I choose Smoot-Hawley because I’m interested in 20th-century American history and specifically, The Great Depression. I felt like it was a key contributing factor of The Great Depression and because the theme this year was ‘Debate & Diplomacy,’ it was perfect since the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act debated diplomacy,” he said.

Chun said through individual research, he learned that “the protectionists just wanted to focus on domestic industry and prevent competition with foreign industries. On the other side of the debate is free traders who wanted to liberate the market and trade internationally.”

From his research, Chun was able to explain the impact of tariffs and how it led to different effects such as increased globalization.

“I learned that the government should not impose tariffs otherwise it will be like Smoot-Hawley,” he said. “I also learned how much I really like history.”

Chun used a website maker and got advice from both his brother and Midvale Middle School teacher Sheradee Bradfield.

Shankar said Hillcrest High teacher David Veenstra gave her feedback on how to make her paper flow better.

She related her historical argument about Rachel Carson after learning how pesticides affected animal and human health in her high school class.

“In my textbook, it noted how the main cause of why the eagle population plummeted in the 1960s was because of pesticides,” Shankar said. “The more I learned, the more I was fascinated. At the same time, I was saddened to see the effects it had on an entire population. So, I researched more and read her book. It was really inspiring.”

In her paper, she explained “how Carson sparked the environmental movement and how that led to a lot of debate.”

Shankar takes both International Baccaulerate and Advanced Placement classes and is a 2022 USA Biolympiad semifinalist. She also competes with the school’s forensics team and participates in science club, but found time to work on her paper over several months.

“I really like writing; I think it’s a very effective way to convey your argument,” she said. “I feel this was the best way to convey my argument.”

In addition to receiving the state medal, Shankar earned a special award from the Utah STEM Action Center.

American Preparatory Academy fifth-grader Shloak Nakra also was a state champion with his paper, “The Effects of Westward Expansion: Success for Americans, but Damaging for Native Americans.” It was his first time competing in