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For their group exhibit titled, The Immoral Origin and Immortal Legacy of HeLa Cells, Caroline Banks, Uma Choudhury, and Zara Saliba, Staples High School rising juniors, received an honorable mention in their judging room at the 2024 National History Day (NHD) competition.

Held in June at the University of Maryland at College Park, the annual event hosts students in grades 6-12 who advanced through a series of contest levels to compete at the national event by demonstrating extensive research, conclusions, and evidence through papers, exhibits, websites, and more in a chosen topic area that advances a focus on history.

The group’s work focused on the biomedical impact (polio vaccine tests, cancer research) of HeLa Cells as well as the societal impact (unethical medical practices) of the discovery of HeLa Cells.

"Uma, Caroline, and Zara’s strong use of inquiry led them to see where scientific progress has both ethical and societal consequences,” said Nell-Ayn Lynch, social studies teacher at Staples. “Their ability to manage the magnitude of competing at NHD, along with the demands of the Honors U.S. History curriculum was exemplary. I am beyond proud of their hard work and dedication to their learning."

Before receiving honorable mention at NHD, the group received second place honors in the Fairfield Regional Contest at Sacred Heart University in March and first place honors at the Connecticut History Day competition at Central Connecticut State University in May.

Students Uma Choudhary, Zara Saliba, and Caroline Banks wearing National History Day medals

Pictured Left to Right: Uma Choudhary, Zara Saliba, Caroline Banks