Sparking an interest in history for middle school students can be a daunting task. However, one of Rancho Viejo’s history teachers, Samia Muhareb, may have found the secret to not only spark an interest, but keep students engaged. She learned that the secret is to add a dash of passion, a sprinkle of independence, a pinch of competition, and a platform to allow students to express themselves in new and exciting ways!
Muhareb, a newer teacher to the district, wanted students at Rancho Viejo to participate in the National History Day competition. Muhareb said she has participated in the competition both as a student and as an assistant advisor for her previous school. She said the competition allows students to think outside the box and introduces them to new subject matter.
This is the first year Rancho Viejo or any school in the district has participated in the National History Day competition. In order to compete, students needed to write a paper, create a documentary, exhibit, website, or performance that followed the theme of “Taking a Stand”. Muhareb asked two of her classes to build a project based on a group or person taking a stand. Two students were chosen to advance to the county competition on Saturday, March 18, at Ramona High School in Riverside.
Cameron Canada chose to create a documentary on the Black Lives Matter movement. His goal was to change the perception on people of color in America and hopefully raise awareness of some of the inequality black people face in today’s world. Cameron said, “The Black Lives Matter movements is doing more than taking a stand in history, they are creating history so others can have the courage to create it also.” He hopes that after seeing his documentary that people will see the protest as purposeful and not just to cause chaos and disruption. The documentary he created was 9:58 seconds long, just two seconds away from the limit. Cameron found that the project allowed him to express himself in a new way and find a voice on a topic he feels very passionate about. The judges were impressed by his passion and the depth of his research.
Habib Jaffer wrote a 16-page paper on the former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, and his involvement of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He said the topic was easy for him to choose because he grew up learning about it from his mother who lived near Russia during this time. Habib said he has always been interested in the drastic divide of communities that lived on either side of the wall and how much the falling of the Berlin Wall impacted the world. He said the project allowed him to research a topic that has always interested him and was impressed with the amount of work and time he put into the project. “I didn’t have to stress about the project because it was something that I wanted to do and learn more about,” said Habib.
Thank you Samia Muhareb, for sparking an interest in history in these students and for creating a platform for them to express themselves. Best of luck to Cameron and Habib as they compete at the county level on March 18!