Connecting through History

Her students are from across the globe, but have connected with their new country and each other through the National History Day (NHD) program.

Esther Perez–Zemmels teaches English as a second language (ESL) at John Q. Adams Middle School and believes that her students’ participation in the program helps them “grow as citizens of the world and their new country.”

As part of NHD, students from across the country choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries.

Six of Perez-Zemmels’ students are winners of the state competition, the theme of which was “Turning Points in History.” The six students will attend the national competition at the University of Maryland from June 9-13, 2013.

First place winner in the Junior Individual Performance category, Nohemi Lugo, titled her presentation “Perspectives of the Louisiana Purchase.” Lugo, who is from Honduras, developed her characters, wrote the scenes and designed her costumes.

Three students from across the globe became a team and won second place in the Junior Group Exhibit for their interpretation of “Significant Turning Points in the Battle of New Orleans.”
Hadeel Kasji is from Palestine, Naima Mohadi is from Algeria, and Pamela Caseres is from Honduras.

“We picked the topic because we’re from different countries and we wanted to learn about the battle of New Orleans and how it united people from different cultures,” said Kasji.

The students did extensive research and visited the Chalmette Battlefield, the Historic New Orleans Collection, and the French Quarter.

Minahil Khan and Elisabeth Garcia, the final pair of winners from Adams, chose to develop a website with video and audio because they wanted viewers to experience what it was like to be there.

The topic that the students chose was “Turning Points in the Central Pacific: Ambush in Pearl Harbor.” They were awarded second place in the Junior Website category.

Khan, who is from Pakistan, said that they compiled their research from the library and the National World War II Museum. Garcia, who is from Mexico, said that the team is anxious to go to nationals and looking forward to a big win.

Perez-Zemmels said that the students are currently raising funds for their trip by hosting different activities at school, including an international candy and bake sale.

To help the students reach their fundraising goals, contact Perez-Zemmels at