Nicholas Rowley and Bryce Vitulli have a flair for making history come alive. The two Huntington High School juniors vied in this year’s National History Day local competition and captured the Best Topic in American History Award for their documentary website on the riots that swept Los Angeles following the police beating of Rodney King in 1992.
“Nick and I had been doing a lot of research regarding potential topics, but then a friend of mine told me about the LA riots,” Mr. Vitulli said. “I started looking into the topic and I thought it was incredibly interesting and I definitely knew that it was something that I wanted to work on for National History Day. Working on the project itself was actually a lot of fun, I was fascinated by nearly every aspect of it. Learning about the unspoken tension held within the city, the economic inequality, the Rodney King tape itself, everything.”
Engaging in research, developing a website to publish it and attending to all of their other academic and personal responsibilities can be quite stressful for National History Day participants, but Messrs. Rowley and Vitulli handled it all flawlessly.
“In all, I had a great time working with Nick to create a project that we’re both proud of,” Mr. Vitulli said. “Winning the Best Topic in American History Award was so surprising to both of us. It was fantastic to know that our project captured such an important part of American history.”
Mr. Vitulli is never too busy to neglect thinking about his future. “I’ve always loved the sciences,” he said. “Environmental engineering seems like a very interesting career to me because I think the environment is fascinating, so I want to figure out how I can make it better.”
A member of the high school’s Key Club chapter, Mr. Vitulli is also in the robotics and science research clubs. He has been inducted into Huntington’s National Honor Society as well as the Science honor Society, Math Honor Society and Social Studies Honor Society.
The two teenagers worked very well together on their research. “I’m very happy with how my National History Day project came out this year,” Mr. Rowley said. “Bryce Vitulli and I put hours of research into the topic of Rodney King and the 1992 LA Riots and created a project that reflects this effort. This topic is not only very interesting, but also important in modern times considering the continued racism by some policemen, leading to more protest, like Ferguson.”
Mr. Rowley is on the executive board of the high school’s Key Club chapter and is also a member of Huntington’s Art Honor Society. He recently participated in a 10 Day Film Challenge project with a group of classmates who are all outstanding young filmmakers. He is interested in a career as an animator.
“It’s important to look into the past to realize how events can escalate and become very harmful,” Mr. Rowley said. “With such an interesting and important topic to research, it was difficult to do it justice, but I believe that Bryce and I, through hours of research and website building, created a captivating project.”