Nebil Dawood squinted as he pondered a trivia question he’d been asked while onstage at the theater at West Las Vegas Library.
Dawood and his Valley High School classmates Mealkyas Futsun and Miftah Said, all 16, responded, then sank their heads as the moderator told them the correct answer. The group was participating in a practice session March 26 for the return of the African American History Challenge — a competition organized by Linda Dougan of the Summerlin area, the founder who was involved in the previous version of the competition.
“I think it’s important to learn about our culture,” Dawood said. “A lot of kids our age don’t know much about that. I’m trying to get as involved as I can and know as much as I can so I can pass it down to the next person.”
The African American History Challenge was held in the 1990s, before a hiatus, according to Dougan. She said all Clark County School District high schools were invited to field teams this year, and four schools are participating. Dawood and his classmates are among about 30 students in the competition, which airs April 22 on Vegas PBS Channel 10.
“Coming from an East African background, my parents don’t really ever speak about this — this culture,” Futsun said. “I should be well-rounded in knowing. After what we learned today, I realize there’s a lot I need to learn. We don’t go over this in our day-to-day history classes. We don’t have in-depth conversations about it.”
The competition is teaching the group consistency, according to Said.
“We’re putting ourselves out there and doing something because we want to do it,” he said. “And we want to perform well. This is a good thing for us — learning about this history. We could be home, doing anything else, but we’re here. This sacrifice is necessary.”
Dougan said she revived the competition because she saw a need. She may do the competition next year, she said.
“There were several people asking about it — encouraging me to do it again,” she said. “It was timely politically and academically — in the direction of where the school district is going.”