Carmel High School students to history competition

Carmel High School sophomore Shiva Vallabhaneni with his award. (Submitted photo)

Carmel High School sophomore Shiva Vallabhaneni with his award. (Submitted photo)

By Mark Ambrogi

It was natural that Carmel High School sophomore Shiva Vallabhaneni would mix his love of journalism and history for his National History Day project.

Vallabhaneni, who will be sports editor for the Carmel student newspaper HiLite in the fall, took first place in the Senior Individual Exhibit for his project on legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.

“The theme was leadership and legacy,” Vallabhaneni said. “So I went through the things he changed in broadcasting when he was in London. I talked about he changed history with the Cold War and with McCarthyism. I talked about his broadcasting from London sparked sympathy from the Americans, which helped Britain’s cause in (World War II) at the time.”

Vallabhaneni discussed the impact Murrow had on journalists today. Vallabhaneni included actual recordings from Murrow in his display.

“I tried to make it look attention-grabbing,” he said.

Vallabhaneni did a group project last year and didn’t get past the district competition.

“That was a bummer,” he said. “I decided to do individual because there is no time constraints for me to ask my friends to come over and I can make it however I want it. There’s no compromise.”

The first- and second-place finishers in each category of the junior and senior division will compete in the Kenneth E. Behring National Day contest on June 14-18 at the University of Maryland.

Sophie Miller, Hailey Adams and Jakob Salisbury, CHS freshmen, took first place in the Senior Group Performance in the state competition on April 25.

The group winner based around the story of the White Rose Society, a group of students that functioned in Munich, Germany that resisted the Nazis during WWII.

The performance focuses on the leaders of the White Rose, siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl. Salisbury played the part of Hans who started the White Rose and Miller played Sophie, who joined the White Rose after catching Hans in the act of creating Anti-Nazi leaflets. Adams played many different parts, such as the narrator, janitor, interrogator, and judge.

“The play focuses on the last few days of Hans and Sophie’s lives, showing how they were caught distributing leaflets in the University of Munich, how they were questioned by Nazi interrogators, and concludes with their trial where the Scholls were sentenced to death,” Salisbury said.

Salisbury said it started as a class project that we had been assigned to do for their freshman World History/Honors English block class. Miller approached them with an idea of doing a performance on the siblings. They wrote their own script and later were given the option by teachers of bringing the show to the National History Day contest. The group took first place at the district level as well as state.

“We were overjoyed and a little shocked,” Salisbury said.

“The experience is interesting and crazy fun because I have the opportunity to speak of these persons and do something I love: acting,” Adams said.

Matt Durrett, coordinator, Educational Outreach & National History Day in Indiana, said the “students get to practice valuable critical thinking skills often missing in traditional classroom assignments.”

Other Carmel honors from National History Day:

(Runner-Up is technically a third-place finish. In the event that the first- or second-place finisher in a junior or senior category cannot attend the national contest, the runner-up will be invited to compete.

Bailey Ward, Carmel High School (Carmel); Second Place, Senior Individual Exhibit

Nicholas Hartich, Carmel High School (Carmel); Runner-Up, Senior Individual Documentary

Kyle Curtis, St. Theodore Guerin Catholic High School (Noblesville); Second Place, Senior Individual Performance

Jessica Mo and Sophia Tragesser, Carmel High School (Carmel); Second Place, Senior Group Website

Sitha Vallabhaneni and Caitlin Harshberger, Carmel High School (Carmel); Second Place, Senior Group Exhibit

Max Toubin, Jay Natarajan and Ethan McAndrews, Carmel High School (Carmel); Second Place, Senior Group Documentary

Special Awards:

Bailey Ward, Carmel High School (Carmel); International History Prize (Senior Individual Exhibit)

Max Toubin, Jay Natarajan and Ethan McAndrews, Carmel High School (Carmel); McKoy Prize for Indiana African-American History (Senior Group Documentary)

Peter Haines, Laura Haines Woodwind Studio (Carmel); NHDI Career Award (Senior Paper)