Palmetto High School senior Sherry Zhang has a love for history. Zhang was a member of Palmetto’s Varsity B team for the National History Bowl that placed 33rd out of 155 teams. The B Team actually did better than Palmetto’s A Team.
“We would be the next team to get into the playoff round,” she says. “They took the top 32 teams.”
The difference between making it into the playoff round and going home was as little as a couple of questions.
Palmetto took two varsity teams and one junior varsity team to the competition. Overall, including the JV teams, there were 198 teams participating.
This was Zhang’s first year at the nationals although she competed for the junior varsity at nationals last year. However, she had to participate in another competition that same weekend, so she missed the History Bowl.
“I would really like to get into the playoffs next year,” she says.
The competition consists of both world history and U.S. history.
“Last year was tough and I hadn’t taken U.S. history yet,” she says.
This time, it was easier after being in Advanced Placement U.S. history. Zhang’s areas of expertise are music and European history. Zhang also represented Palmetto on the Euro Challenge team in a competition sponsored by the European Union. The team made a presentation on the welfare system in Germany.
“My team won first place in Florida and we were one of the 25 teams to compete in New York,” she says. “We presented to some important people from the Federal Reserve.”
Because of the rules, students can only participate in this competition once. At Palmetto the five-member teams are for sophomores.
Zhang is also accustomed to competing in piano competitions.
She has performed in recitals for the Miami Music Teachers Association Honors Recitals. She practiced a sonata movement by Alberto Ginastera for a year in hopes of winning the Hess Scholarship. She came in second place and won $100.
She has been taking piano lessons for 10 years. She has used what she’s learned to perform in the Palmetto High talent show, Panthers Got Talent.
“Last year I played colors of the wind from Pocahontas and I got second place,” she says. She has performed at Florida Federation of Music clubs playing a solo, a duet with Joanna Zhang (no relation) and as part of a quartet. Zhang is a member of the Social Science Honor Society and president of the Asian Culture Club. She’s also in Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society, and is in the Literary Society.
“I like reading,” she says. “I haven’t had as much time to read for fun since high school. We’ve had a bunch of different books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. And then went to see the movie.”
She volunteers at the contemporary Chinese School of South Florida on Saturday mornings.
“I went there, I graduated from there and I’ve been volunteering there since I was in the ninth grade,” she says. “I’m co-president of volunteering.”
Zhang has volunteered in China, teaching English to her cousin’s class.
“First I observed how they were being taught, I didn’t have a specific lesson plan,” she says. “We tried doing a tongue twister. We tried doing ‘Sally sells seashells by the seashore.’ They were really good at participating.”
This summer Zhang’s plans include checking out colleges. She’s going to apply to some Ivy League schools and to the University of Miami, where both of her parents are employed. She is undecided about her major, but thinks it will be social science related and in economics or law.
By Linda Bernfeld Rodriguez
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