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Isle students, teacher bring home honors from national history competition

Students from Laie Elementary and Moanalua High placed first and second, respectively, in their divisions and an Aiea Intermediate School teacher won a teacher of the year award at  the National History Day competition in June.

Laie Elementary School students Kamaile Aluli, Kaylee Alana Miller and Truman Spring received first place and a $1,000 cash prize in the Junior Group Website category for “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: the Battle over Hetch Hetchy.”

Moanalua High School students Janal Kim, Keri Ann Nagaishi and Kelly Zakimi won a silver medal and $500 in the Senior Group Display project for “Creation of Pakistan.”

Robert Tajibe of Aiea Intermediate received the Patricia Behring Teacher of Year Award, Junior Division, which included a $10,000 prize. 

Tabije, a 50-year-old Wahiawa resident, has been teaching at Aiea Intermediate since 2002 and has been involved with the Hawaii History Day program since 1998. 

“He comes in during the summer to mentor students,” said Tom Kurashige, Aiea Intermediate principal. “He has provided transportation to interviews and is very encouraging in supportive. This is well-deserved.”

At Aiea Intermediate, Tajibe’s students have qualified for the National History Day competition for the past eight years. 

“I encourage students to think about their passion,” Tabije said. He uses technology, art, and working in groups to enhance history lessons. “Students learn history because it’s about the human condition. They learn who treated people fairly and who treated people well and they learn from the success and failures,” he said.

“He engages students and makes the past come alive through their historical research,” said Robert Buss, executive director of the Hawaii Council for Humanities.

The annual contest was held June 12-16 at the University of Maryland. Fifty-five Hawaii students from public and private schools participated.

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