Brownsville team wins third place at National History Day - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Brownsville team wins third place at National History Day

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Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2019 8:30 pm

A team from Veterans Memorial Early College High School placed third in its category Thursday at the National History Day National Contest at the University of Maryland in suburban Washington, D.C.

The team was one of two from VMECHS that competed in the senior performance category. Members learned they had placed third during the Parade of States and Affiliated Organizations and awards ceremony, and in a message from NHD Executive Director Cathy Gorn.

“We all feel like we won together. It’s a mutual feeling of success among our Chargers,” Rod Garcia, a history teacher at VMECHS and NHD adviser to the two teams.

The team that Garcia dubbed his “sophomore sensations,” all rising juniors, did its performance around the Battle of Okinawa during World War II. The capture of the island of Okinawa was considered a vital precursor to a ground invasion of the Japanese home islands as the war neared its end. Instead the allies dropped the atomic bomb.

The team performed a second time Wednesday morning after learning it placed in the Top 10.

“It was great to have an audience of more than 100, and based on the thunderous applause received they definitely engaged their viewers,” Garcia said. “It’s an exciting time for all of us.”

The performance involved a visit to a WW II Pacific Theater museum, when the curator suddenly is interrupted by a WW II veteran who recounts his first-hand experiences,” Garcia said.

En-route to the return flight to Brownsville Garcia credited everyone involved, particularly Emma Montiel, team member Mathew Montiel’s mother, and his grandmother Rosa Higareda, who drove from Brownsville to College Park, Maryland, with most of the props and supplies for the performance.

Assistant Principal Josie Montes accompanied the two teams.

“I can tell you that it was so nerve wracking waiting for the winners to be called. When we heard Brownsville being called the students and I just stared at each other for a couple of seconds before the screaming began,” she said in a text message on the way to the airport.

“These kids have worked endless hours, with the support of their parents, and it was such a joy to see them reap the benefits. We are so proud of our Chargers,” she said.

The project earlier garnered first place at Texas History Day competition. It was titled “The Triumph and Tragedy of Operation Iceberg,” It addressed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among the soldiers and the decision to drop the atomic bomb among other topics.

On the team were: Aiden Anzaldua, Montiel, Andrea Urbina, Joel Santivañez and Monserat Sandoval-Malherbe.

The other project that went to nationals was “Triumphant Paintings of Tragedy: Artemisia Gentileschi.” Gentileschi was a late Renaissance-early Baroque painter. The project was about her struggles in a patriarchal society. Alexandria Sikes and the brother-sister duo of Alejandro and Lauren Cuevas were on the team.

Garcia said this team “educated the judges about Gentileschi.”

glong@brownsvilleherald.com

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