Birukti Tsige and Felix Li. Photo from the Blue and Gold archives 2015.
Two of Malden High’s National History club members, Juniors Felix Li and Birkukti Tsige, had won first place in the National History Club’s Lessons of Leadership: Hometown Heroes contest. They had won with a documentary on Elisha Slade Converse, the first mayor of Malden. The prize for winning first place in the competition is $2,000.
Tsige said that when she heard the news that her and Li won first place, she was “really excited and called [Li] at the same time [he] called her. She stated that they were able to find out that they had won first place by email. She recalls how “[History teacher Damian Aufiero] told [them] about it near November of 2017 and [they] worked [on the documentary] for a good five to six months before [they had] submitted it.”
Li states that “[they] submitted [the documentary video] near the beginning of April and [they] did researching and reporting before [completing it].” He explains how “[they] decided on [Elisha Slade Converse] because it was [Tsige’s] idea first because the whole idea of the documentary was to choose a hometown hero and [they] thought that the first person to choose was the first mayor of Malden [They] wanted to choose someone that was really important and someone that not a lot of people know about in the first place.”
Tsige believes that “[it is] interesting because a lot of people know that converse company started out in Malden and it is like the pride of Malden.” While doing research, she “found out that the [person related to the founder] was the mayor of Malden, so [they thought] why not do it on him?”
This was the first time in five years that a documentary had won first place. Li believes that “[doing a documentary] was the thing that set [them] out from the rest of the applicants.” Tsgie explains that in the process of filming the documentary, “[they] went all around Malden [like] the police station, Waitts Mountain, and the Fellsmere Pond.” By doing this, Tsige says that “[they] think that [they] were able to encompass everything that our town was into the documentary.”
Some people who had helped Tsige and Li with their project are Aufiero and the librarians at the Malden Public Library, who gave them a variety of resources, such as archives detailing the history of Malden. They had also helped with finding places in Malden to film and Malden hospital site. Tsige explains that “most of [their] sources was from the 1800’s or 1900’s so [they] had to go back into the archives.” On searching through archives, Li mentions that “[he] was able to learn how to find sources from the past and digging through our local history. Today, it is easy for students to find information about things happening now and in the past but is it harder to find specific things happening in your local town history.”
Li and Tsige had learned a lot from their experience in making the documentary and entering it into the Lessons of Leadership. If they get a chance to enter it again next year they would and encourage people to join in to make their own film and submit it.
To watch their award winning documentary the link is below: