Kamiak student takes passion for history to new heights

By Ian Davis-Leonard | Jul 25, 2018

Not many high school students spend their free time reading the old letters of Albert Einstein. Even fewer would choose to make a historical presentation on the man, and still fewer would perform as Einstein as part of a nationwide history competition.

Yet, that is exactly how Tyler Vold, who just finished his sophomore year at Kamiak High School, spent much of his time this spring; researching, practicing and preparing for the annual National History Day competition.

To compete in the National History Day Contest, students research and create projects on a historical subject that fits the year’s topic, before presenting their projects locally, with top performers moving on to the state and national competitions.

“It’s a way for students to delve into a historical topic based on whatever they’ve chosen as a topic and make a fun presentation on it to capture how much they’ve learned,” Vold said.

After hearing about the competition from his younger sister, Vold, who loves history and describes it as his favorite subject, knew he wanted to compete.

This year’s topic was “Conflict and Compromise in History,” and Vold decided to research the intrapersonal conflict of Albert Einstein, a lifelong pacifist who altered his standing and eventually recommended to President Franklin Roosevelt that a nuclear bomb be built during World War II.

Vold’s presentation, titled "Einstein's Letter to FDR: A Pacifist's Personal Conflict and Compromise,” provided a glimpse into Einstein’s thought processes that played a pivotal role in the United States’ bombing of Japan in 1945.

Having no idea what to expect from the competition, Vold chose Einstein’s personal conflict because he wanted to be out of the box and wanted to shed light on Einstein’s historical impact.

“Einstein is just a fascinating character,” Vold said. “Usually he gets covered, like, Oh Einstein was smart and did smart things,’ but he was very involved in the political climate. I thought it was really critical to capture what he did accomplish.”

Vold, who has an extensive background in musical theater, decided to perform his presentation in lecture format with himself playing the role of Einstein, an experience he described as difficult and nerve-wracking.

“Thankfully, because he’s extremely old, my quivering arms and legs were completely fitting with the character,” Vold said.

Despite his nerves, Vold proved successful at both the district and state level.

He won his category and was rewarded with an invitation to the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, in mid-June.

Since Kamiak High School does not regularly have contestants competing in National History Day, Vold believes he is the first Knight to make it to the national level.

At the National History Day Contest, Vold competed against 88 other students from across the country.

Despite the heat of competition, Vold said he met some especially nice people at the national level, which he described as the highlight of his experience.

While Vold didn’t make it to the nationals finals,, he was far from disappointed with his finish, seeing as he went into the entire National History Day Contest “very blind.”

Due to the amount of work the contest required, and the rigorous course load he will be taking in his junior year at Kamiak, Vold is unsure if he will compete again next year, but he has no plans to let his love for history dwindle.

“History is definitely going to be involved in my future in some way,” he said. “At the very least, I want to study it for the rest of my life.”







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