Rahul and Emma Shine at National History Day Finals!

On Thursday, June 13, officials from National History Day (NHD) presented the awards for the national finals of the 2019 National History Day Contest, held June 9-13 at the University of Maryland, College Park.  Over a half-million students entered the competition late last year, and over 3,000 of them advanced through the regional and state rounds. Competitors represented 57 affiliate members, including every state, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and international schools in South Korea, South Asia, and China.  The contest required students to create themed research-based projects in one of five categories as individuals or group members: documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances, and websites. Only the top two entries in each category from each state or affiliate then went on to the national contest. The 2019 theme was Triumph and Tragedy.

The Wheatley School was represented at the national level by two students:

  • Rahul Ajmera with his exhibit The Real Housewives of the Lower East Side: The 1902 Kosher Meat Boycott
  • Emma Melnikov, who presented her entry in the performance category with A Murder to Make the Masses Seen:  The Tragic Romanov Fall Paving the Way for Bolshevik Triumph.

This was Rahul’s first time competing at the national level; it was Emma’s second trip to the elite competition.

In order to create projects, students engaged in months of historical research using primary sources found in archives and museums, books, and interviews.  Rahul and Emma also spent hours translating documents from Yiddish and Russian in order to accurately understand their topics. Both students were supported in their research by their teachers, Andrew Ardito, Courtney Clarke, Pat Clarke, and Dr. Scott Eckers, and their school library media specialist Jo Beth Roberts

Rahul Ajmera won 4th place in the nation, in addition to winning the “Outstanding New York Affiliate Award” sponsored by the National Park Service, and the Immigration History special award, a monetary award, sponsored by the Lombardo family.

Both Emma and Rahul have much to be proud of.  The Wheatley School congratulates them both on their tremendous achievements!

[Thank you to Jo Beth Roberts for the write-up!]

Dr. Staudt’s Class Goes Fishing!

On Tuesday, 4 June, Dr. Staudt’s College Regional Studies class went fishing as part of its Long Island Maritime Traditions program. For many of the students, it was their first time ever fishing and catching a fish.  Along with the crew of the Dolphin, Mr. Storck, Mr. Hurley and Dr. Staudt took the opportunity to not only teach our students how to fish but also lessons about the bayhouses on the south shore. They also discussed the marine life that is still abundantly populating our waters.

Altogether, the thirty seniors on the trip landed over 16 fish including fluke and sand sharks.  Students really enjoyed their day and many said it was one of the highlights of their senior year.

[Thanks to Dr. Staudt for the write-up and the photos!]

Rahul and Emma are Heading to the National History Day Finals!

As April Recess was winding down, students and faculty were preparing for the New York State History Day finals in Cooperstown. Five Wheatley students were accompanied by Mrs. Jo Beth Roberts, Mr. Patrick Shanahan and Dr. Scott Eckers, departing on Sunday, 29 April. The Wheatley competitors, who had winning entries in last month’s Long Island History Day at Hofstra University, were:

  • Ashley Vincenzo (Senior Individual Website):  The 1953 Iranian Coup:  A Tenuous Western Triumph, A Significant Global Tragedy
  • Aliza Virji (Junior Individual Website):  Operation Babylift:  The Triumph of Enduring Vietnamese Culture After the Tragedy of War
  • Benjamin Casella (Junior Individual Documentary):  The Space Shuttle Program:  A Cosmic Triumph with a Tragic End
  • Rahul Ajmera (Senior Individual Exhibit):  The Real Housewives of the Lower East Side:  The 1902 Kosher Meat Boycott
  • Emma Melnikov (Senior Individual Performance):  A Murder to Make the Masses Seen:  The Tragic Romanov Fall Paving the Way for Bolshevik Triumph

Our students were proud of the work they had produced over the past few months and excited to share their findings with judges, parents, and peers.  All five of our students made it to the run-off round, in which each category’s top four to six projects from the state competed again!  Both Rahul Ajmera and Emma Melnikov took first place in the state for their projects! As such, they will be competing in the National Finals at the University of Maryland in June!

All district social studies teachers should be commended for working so diligently with all our students.  Their efforts helped support a high level of historical inquiry and writing—critical skills that transcend high school social studies classes.

Congratulations again to Rahul and Emma!

Next year’s National History Day theme is “Breaking Barriers in History.”  There is already buzz about possible topics!

[Thanks to Dr. Eckers for the write-up and photos!]

Wheatley Students Remember the Holocaust Through Two Remarkable Presentations!

On Thursday, April 11, all students in grades 7-12 had the opportunity to participate in a day of Holocaust education.  In the morning, students in grades 7-9 assembled the Wheatley auditorium to see the play “From the Fires:  Voices of the Holocaust.”  This play traced the life of a Berlin teenager from 1937 to 1945 and helped students understand the events of the Holocaust in an age-appropriate and accessible way.  Following the performance, students had the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session with the playwright, Jeff Sanzel, and the ensemble.  The cast was thoroughly impressed with the maturity of the students and their ability to ask high-level questions.

At the same time, students in grades 10-12 listened intently to Felice Katz, who gave her mother’s testimony of surviving the horrors of the Holocaust.  Audience members were so touched by her family’s story that Ms. Katz stayed to talk to several upper-classmen who were free the following period.

In the afternoon, the older students watched “From the Fires” while those in grades 8 and 9 heard Evelyn Altenberg tell the story of her parents, survivors from Germany.  The connection between the historical fiction they had seen in the morning and the true story of one family’s survival was quickly apparent.  Seventh graders heard Ms. Katz speak at Willets Road School.

Throughout the day and into Friday, students reflected on the presentations with their teachers and peers.  Thank you to the entire East Williston school community for supporting programming that touches upon difficult yet important topics such as genocide and tolerance.

Thank you to Dr. Eckers for arranging this most impactful day.

[Thank you to Dr. Eckers for some of the photos.]

Wheatley Students Compete in Long Island Regional History Day!

On Sunday, 31 March 31, 43 students from Willets Road and The Wheatley School participated in Long Island History Day at Hofstra University, presenting 30 historical research projects in a variety of formats, including paper, website, exhibit, performance, documentary, either in a group or as an individual project. Long Island History Day is the regional contest of National History Day, a contest that encourages more than half a million students around the world to conduct historical research on a topic of their choice, through the lens of a specific theme. This year the theme is Tragedy and Triumph in History.

Students who are advancing to the state competition at Cooperstown on 29 April are:

  • Ashley Vincenzo: 1st place, ​Sr. Individual Website—The 1953 Iran Coup: a Tenuous Western triumph, a Significant Global Tragedy
  • Rahul Ajmera: 2nd place​, Sr. Individual Exhibit—Got Beef? The Women’s New York Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902
  • Emma Melnikov​: 1st place​, Sr. Individual Performance—A Murder to Make the Masses Seen: The Tragic Romanov Fall Paving the Way for Bolshevik Triumph
  • Ben Casella​: ​3rd place​, Jr. Individual Documentary—The Space Shuttle Program-A Cosmic Triumph with a Tragic End
  • Aliza Virji​: 4th place, Junior Individual Website—Operation Babylift-The Triumph of Enduring Vietnamese Culture after the Tragedy of War

Additional recognition (but do not compete at Cooperstown)

  • Garima Jain: 3rd place​, Jr. Individual Performance—The Triumph and tragedy of the Warsaw Ghetto and Uprising
  • Jason Koty: Sr. Paper—Muhammad Ali: The Ring of Triumph and Tragedy was recognized with the African American History Award sponsored by the African American Museum of Nassau County
  • Frederick Lin​: Sr. Paper—The Broderick Terry Dual-American History Award sponsored by the Huntington Historical Society

Additional student participants include: Derek Zhang, Annelise Belle, Amir Agarwal, Brenda Zhong, Mahdi Bhalloo, Riya Mittle, Emma Rosenberg, Eliana Duffy, Brenden Resnick, Ansh Jhaveri, Eric Chu, Sonia Patel, Grant Callahan, Skylar Blechner,Emma Novak, Lana Cale, Jessica Shaw, Kayla Rogan, Amelia Crosby, Tobey Hirsch, Ely Hahami, Christian Azzara, Ben Krittman, Aaron Raja, Rahul Dawar, Maahir Kasliwal, Allison Hacket, Anika Chabria, Julia Savy,Daniel Dayter, Kieran Laffey, Priscilla Shin, Benjamin Friedrich, Lauren Tavolacci, Amanda Werney and Skye Blau.

The students were supported in their endeavors by their dedicated teachers Patrick Shannahan, Ronald Roaldson, Jerry Pokrywka, Diane Ilkiw (​Judge​), Dr. Scott Eckers
(Judge), ​Courtney Clarke ​(Judge),​ Gena Topping, Andrew Ardito ​(Judge), ​Matt Haig, Mike Haig, Dr. John Staudt​ (Long Island History Day Academic Coordinator and Judge), ​Jo Beth Roberts (​Long Island History Day Academic Board member and Judge Captain).

[Thanks to Jo Beth Roberts for the write-up and Scott Eckers for some of the photos.]


AP Human Geography Students Experience the Cultural Landscape of NYC!

On 30 January, Mr. Clarke’s AP Human Geography class visited the Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side. The trip provided the class with the opportunity to experience the cultural landscape of New York City. In the heart of the Lower East Side, the synagogue provides a window into the world of Jewish immigrants over 100 years ago. Additionally, our walking tour highlighted Jewish sites as well as the changing world emerging now. We walked along Grand Street, the heart of Chinatown.

Additionally, the class took the LIRR and the subway to the city. This previewed our upcoming urban geography unit.
Thanks to Pat Clarke and Paul Chisholm for accompanying the students. Thanks as well to Pat Clarke for the write-up and the photos!

Wheatley 8th Graders Complete “Round 2” of their Real World Learning Trip to New York City!

On Friday, 25 January, our 8th-grade students enjoyed “part two” of their New York City trip.  Students in Dr. Eckers and Ms. Clarke’s classes arrived at the memorial pools of the World Trade Center before ascending 102 flights to the observation decks of One World Observatory.  On the way up, students experienced interactive walls showing the transformation of Manhattan Island from prehistoric times through today, including the Dutch and English colonial eras, Federalist Era, Industrial Revolution, New Deal, and construction of the original towers.  At the top, students viewed important historic and cultural sites of New York City, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Battery Park, Empire State Building, Broadway, City Hall, and Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Manhattan, George Washington, and Verrazzano Bridges,.  The sunny day truly enabled students to “see forever” atop the building.  We were treated to some spectacular views of New York Harbor, the Hudson and East Rivers, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and New Jersey.  Students were impressed with the aircraft flying lower than the building!  After lunch, we walked to and across the Brooklyn Bridge, learning about Roebling, suspension bridges, and the effects of linking two of the world’s great cities in the late 19th century.

Students in Mr. Haig’s and Mrs. Topping’s classes visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where they worked with educators and docents to understand what life was like in immigrant neighborhoods of New York City.  By studying artifacts and walking through the cramped living and working spaces, students could see firsthand the difficulties of “making it” in America.  Perhaps the streets weren’t all “paved with gold,” as the old anecdote goes.  Outside the tenements, our own Mr. Patrick Clarke took groups of students on walking tours of the neighborhood, pointing out famous and significant sites such as the Jarmulowsky Bank, Forward Building, Seward Park, Loew’s Theatre, historic schools, eateries, and streets that were once jam-packed with pushcarts.

All eighth-grade students recently completed units in immigration and city life at the “Turn of the Century,” focusing on the Progressive Era and the growth of New York City.  These trips were excellent opportunities for students to explore the people and places in their textbooks and classroom lessons.  Students in all classes have now taken both trips and are ready to move on to units featuring the United States as a world power.

Thank you to Dr. Eckers for the write-up of this trip! Thank you as well to Dr. Eckers and Mr. Gadamowitz for the photos below!