Upper Arlington High School sophomores scurried around the school's Learning Center on May 21, buzzing about Andy Warhol's soup cans and the impressive swing of both Roberto Clemente and Glenn Miller.

Upper Arlington High School sophomores scurried around the school's Learning Center on May 21, buzzing about Andy Warhol's soup cans and the impressive swing of both Roberto Clemente and Glenn Miller.

The occasion was National History Day, in which high school students around the country choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive research.

The focus at UAHS this year was on individuals who have made an impact on history.

"We thought this would be a vehicle for Upper Arlington High School students to do research papers and combine technology to do iMovie documentaries," said teacher Scott Shinaberry. "It's their capstone project at the end of the year."

Students explored subjects as diverse as Abraham Lincoln, civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall, sports legend Muhammad Ali, folk musician/activist Joan Baez, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey was the subject of a documentary by Jamie Baughan, Kelsey Store and Amy Thompson.

The group chose Winfrey because "she's so inspirational," Thompson said.

In the course of research, the students learned aspects of Winfrey's background of which they were previously unaware, such as the poverty and abuse the television star endured during childhood.

"She tries to help people who have experienced similar things when she was younger," Thompson said. "She built that school in Africa."

Some students said they chose subjects who aren't as celebrated as their historical peers. Taylor Hawes and Erick Apes discussed doing a project on Martin Luther King Jr., but instead chose to research the life of Malcolm X.

"I didn't know he was with the Nation of Islam," said Hawes, who is African American. "I had never heard of them."

The students were given wide latitude in choosing their subjects, said teacher Nate Palmer.

"You're probably going to do better research if you're interested in the person you're researching," he said.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com