Molokai High students prevail at National History Day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011 By Mark Hayden

Cold War Winners

Michael Kikukawa and Michael Onofrio, sophomores at Molokai High School (MHS), went from Cold War rookies to winning first place at the National History Day state competition in Honolulu on April 9. Next up: nationals.

“We had high expectations, because we worked hard, but we didn’t think we’d win first place,” Kikukawa said.
Michael Kikukawa (left) and Michael Onofrio are heading to a national competition this summer to present their history project about the Cold War Photo by Mark Hayden.Michael Kikukawa (left) and Michael Onofrio are heading to a national competition this summer to present their history project about the Cold War Photo by Mark Hayden.
For this year’s National History Day project at MHS, students based their projects around “Debate and Diplomacy,” presenting their projects in five different categories: poster, documentary, skit, essay or website. Kikukawa and Onofrio decided to build a website, presenting their project on March 2.

The two Michaels were influenced by Onofrio’s father, “a Reagan fanatic,” according to Onofrio. He added that they didn’t know anything about the Cold War before beginning their project.

Kikukawa and Onofrio estimated they spent about 14 hours of research on the United States and Russia’s involvement with the Cold War. They project mainly focused on the last phase of the Cold War, from the time former President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981.

“We didn’t know how close it had come to a nuclear warfare,” Kikukawa said. “So it was interesting to learn how much could have gone wrong.”

At the state level competition at Windward Community College in Honolulu, there were 125 students in all from around the state – 25 from each category. Kikukawa and Onofrio’s website was selected as the best in their category, and head to Maryland June 12-16 with 10 other students from Hawaii.

“It was interesting, because we think about [our project] as history, but the judges talked about it as if it happened yesterday,” Onofrio said.

Before heading to Maryland, the students will make improvements to their website and fundraise for the trip. They currently need about $2,000 each to take a week-long trip, where they also plan to visit historical landmarks around Washington D.C.

Their history teacher, Laura Buller, has been guiding the students’ way since the projects began in January.

“Both of these students are highly motivated and care about their work,” she said.

If community members would like to make a donation to the Kikukawa and Onofrio’s cause, donations can be made to Friends of Molokai High and Intermediate School, or contact Laura Buller at Molokai High School–( 808) 567-6950.

Article Contributed by Molokai Dispatch