By Yadira Betances
---- — METHUEN — Moumina Khan, Leena Hamad and Hana Illikkal have plenty of history together.
The girls, all students at the Islamic Academy for Peace in Methuen, are headed to the National History Bee in Atlanta June 1. They will compete as a team in the middle school division.
Moumina of Methuen is a sixth grader. Leena of Manchester, N.H. and Hana of Lowell, are both in eighth grade.
They have been hitting the books and taking special classes after school.
The National History Bee tests the knowledge of historical events in an academic competition for elementary and middle school students.
Participants must take a mandatory online regional qualifying exam at school or home under the supervision of a sponsor.
The top students from the online exam compete against each other in a buzzer competition in regional finals. Those top finishers advance to the national championships and compete for the title of National History Bee Champion.
“The material was familiar to us because we already had studied it in school,” said Leena.
In addition to their regular history lessons with teacher Amanda Cudmore, they meet Thursdays after school with Cudmore to study subjects not covered in classes including ancient China, Russian czars, the Mongolian empire and 21st Century events. The girls also study between 40 minutes and two hours on their own.
“We have to learn everything that has ever happened in history,” Leena said. “It will help us in the future as we learn from the past.”
The girls qualified at the regional competition in April held at the Pioneer Charter School in Boston.
“They’re incredibly hard working girls who succeed in school and everything they set their mind to,” said Cudmore who coordinates the competition.
Students from the Islamic Academy for Peace have also competed in the Jowdy Challenge at Lawrence Public Library.
The contest promotes geography education in three rounds of 35 questions.
They won first place in 2007 and came in second place three years in a row, from 2009 to 2011.