By Sabrina Williams | Staff Writer
Johnson High School has made history again. In this year’s National History Fair, a regional competition of lengthy research papers, of which this year’s theme is “Turning Points in History”, Johnson sent the usual top two papers to compete to advance to state. Among 250 other papers submitted, Riddi Kumar and Cullen Shope’s papers were chosen based off of length, sources, writing skill, and uniqueness.
“This is the first time many of the students have ever written a paper that was this long,” Cullen Shope’s history teacher Adrian Viccellio said. “Usually papers in English class are three to five pages long, and this is now a seven to ten page paper.”
In fact, both Shope’s and Kumar’s papers are around the 15 page mark, including the bibliography.
“This is a collegiate level skill,” Viccellio said, “and we chose the two that really jumped out at us and had interesting topics also.”
Kumar chose to write about the development of scientific racism, and the effect it had on society.
“I tried to pick a topic that I thought was important, but no one really knew about,” Kumar said. “I do believe it was a significant turning point in the history of the world.”
Shope wrote about the advent of financial innovations, more specifically capital-based expansion. This is essentially the practice of banks taking deposited or invested money and continuously re-investing and loaning it out to others. The fall-through of these kind or contracts was a direct cause for The Great Depression that America experienced during the 1930s.
“I was looking at the causes for the economic recession that we’re going through, and the contraction of this ‘fake money’ was a big reason for it,” Shope said, “I thought it was really relevant.”
First, the two papers went to the regular Regional Competition, and underwent a city-wide selection process where only a few papers would be granted awards of fourth through first place, with a few honorable mentions. As far as Riddhi Kumar’s history teacher Justin Felux, Cullen Shope’s teacher Adrian Viccellio, and the competitors themselves knew before February 23rd, both papers had made it into the regional finals, but only one advanced to state. But on that Saturday, they attended an awards ceremony where Kumar won 3rd place, and Shope won 2nd place.
“I was really excited. I knew I was either going to be second or third, and second I went to state, third I didn’t,” Shope said. “That would have sucked really bad, but I got second, so I was pretty elated.”
Now, Shope has to undergo even more revisions and perfect his paper for state, and then hopefully for the national competition. But for the rest of the papers, not all hope is lost. The AP World History teachers have decided to compile a book of the best 20 other papers to publish on Amazon.
“Right now we’re in the process of reading through papers, weeding them out, and finding the best argumentative papers,” Viccellio said. “So we’ll have some published authors here at Johnson.”