National History Day Winner from South Huntington

Early in 2012 four Stimson middle schoolers had won the Suffolk County History Day Championships and then went on to win the State Championships as well. For one of those middle schoolers, the State Championship was a stepping stone. Eighth grader Derek Lap has been awarded first place in the National History Day Competition. Now preparing for his freshman year at Walt Whitman High School, Derek won the U.S. Constitution Award, sponsored by the National Archives at the National History Day Competition. “It was no surprise to anyone at Stimson when news came from the National History Day competition that Derek had won the prestigious Constitution Award, given to the student who used records of the federal government in a dynamic presentation,” said Stimson Principal Ms. Faye Robins. “Derek's documentary on the Freedom Rides in the South during the civil rights movement was a fantastic glimpse into an often overlooked bit of American history. Derek's creativity and attention to detail as well as his obvious love for American history have made the entire South Huntington community very proud.”  

“A few years ago I watched a documentary about how in the Spring of 1960, Ruby Bridges was the first African American to attend an all-white school and how she was the first to begin integrated schools,” said Derek. “That is what sparked my interest in the civil rights movement, and last year I worked on a documentary about Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. Then this past year, when I was looking for a topic of similar interest, I read that it was the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, and it seemed like a good topic for my History Day project.” 

Derek shares diverse interests that he will be able to fully explore as a student at Whitman. “I'm looking forward to pursuing many things when I get to Whitman,” said Derek. “I love history and the forensic aspect of research, and I’ve always loved science, so ultimately I think if I could combine my interests it could lead to something like what you see behind the scenes on a CSI program.”  While Derek has bypassed organized sports, his interest in martial arts led him a black belt in taekwondo. Derek is interested in video production as well and plays jazz saxophone. Such diverse interests could lead Derek in many directions. But whatever road he chooses, there is little doubt that he will excel and make the South Huntington community proud.