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Monday, June 3, 2013

Nashua High School North students learn about the 1960s at annual symposium

Students with an outstanding interest in history were presented with a day of topical fun at Nashua High School North.

On Thursday , the school held its fifth annual Social Studies Honors Symposium title “1968: Crucible of a Nation.” ...

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Students with an outstanding interest in history were presented with a day of topical fun at Nashua High School North.

On Thursday , the school held its fifth annual Social Studies Honors Symposium title “1968: Crucible of a Nation.”

The students, who were selected by their social studies teachers, were able to attend five different sessions throughout the day. Each session focused on a different aspect of this tumultuous period in American history, including race relations in America, national politics, and the Vietnam War.

Anish Loganathan, a junior attending the symposium, enjoyed the day’s topic as his Advanced Placement US History class spent little time studying the period because the AP test date in early May was quickly approaching.

“We really didn’t spend that much time on (the 1960s) because we were rushing to get through the book to study,” Loganathan said. “It’s unique because people are still alive from that period and can share their experiences.”

Loganathan said he preferred the perspective of the presentation on the Vietnam War.

“I thought the Vietnam War one was interesting because (Dr. Martin Menke) compared it to our own Revolutionary War,” Loganathan said. “I thought that was neat because (from a) global perspective, it’s the same kind of war, but we view it differently than what the Vietnamese do.”

Many students said they enjoyed the Race Relations session, including junior Helene Forney.

“I really liked the racial session,” Forney said. “Mr. Otocka is really great and it’s also really great to know about because it’s still something that we have today.”

Andrew Otocka is an American history teacher at Nashua North. He won the School District’s 2013 No Bell Award, which recognizes educators who go above and beyond in their work but don’t ring their own bell.

Students also enjoyed learning about the culture of the 1960s in a session titled Sex, Drugs, and Rock ’n Roll. Sophomore Courtney Stuart liked that session because it combined things that students already knew about the period, and then, went further in depth.

“The Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll (session) had things we’d already known about music and then learning about the politics, which I’m normally not interested in,” Stuart said. “It was interesting, though, because so many people were running against each other (for political offices).”

Each year the symposium chooses a new topic at the end of the school year, almost a year before the event. Planning begins in mid-March, headed by social studies teacher Charlie Ziniti. Presenters include Nashua North teachers and professors from local colleges, such as Rivier College.

Stuart, along with fellow sophomores Maria Clara Ramos and Megan McCoy, enjoyed the 1968 theme, but suggested that future symposiums focus on the 1920s or 1980s.