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Topeka Students Claim $10,000 Top Prize in International Discove - KOAM TV 7

Topeka Students Claim $10,000 Top Prize in International Discovery Award Competition; LMC Gives out First-Ever Founder’s Award

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FORT SCOTT, KANSAS -

In their award-winning documentary on Tran Ngoc “Harry” Hue, a South Vietnamese soldier who fought alongside the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Seaman High School students Hailey Reed and Andrea Sodergren bring to light an Unsung Hero who saved numerous lives and helped recapture an imperative military headquarters during the Tet Offensive. The students chose to honor Hue because his “actions as a leader in the Vietnam War created an unparalleled legacy of heroism and devotion.” For their finely honed research and exemplary creative presentation, Reed and Sodergren have been awarded the $10,000 Grand Prize in the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes’ (LMC) 2015 Discovery Award competition (www.LowellMilkenCenter.org/2015-discovery-award-winners/). 

Additional winners in this international student competition discovered Unsung Heroes as diverse as an architect, photographers, a Holocaust rescuer, and a Polish linguist. The $2,000 Second Place Prize went to Ben Fischer at the Christian Learning Center in Kansas for his documentary, “Bridging Barriers and Building a Legacy.” The film tells the story of Horace King, a tri-racial slave born in the South who became a self-taught engineer, bridge-builder, businessman, and senator in the Alabama State Legislature. The $1,000 Third Place Prize went to Joplin South Middle School students Ben Koelkebeck and Grant Goltra for their documentary on Roy Stryker. Stryker organized a team of 11 photographers to bring the Great Depression to America’s attention and left a legacy of 160,000 photographs in the Library of Congress.

Students Julia Kerr, Zoe Self, and Drake Garcia received the $1,000 Outstanding Middle School Project award for their performance on Recha Sternbuch, a Swiss woman of Polish heritage who arranged the rescue of over 2,000 Jewish people during the Holocaust. The $1,000 Outstanding International Project award went to Polish high school students Igor Bojczuz, Stefauia Kossakowska, and Kinga Grabska for their documentary, “Lord of the Words.” The film shares the legacy of Karol Parno Girlinski, an artist and writer who created the first textbook for marginalized Roma children in Poland.

In addition, for the first time ever, LMC has awarded a student project with a $2,500 Founder’s Special Achievement Award. Awarded to Washburn Rural High School (Topeka, KS) students Avery Stratton, Lexi Balaun, Sarah Erickson, and Haley Swedlund for “Kodak in the Congo,” this inaugural award recognizes a multifaceted project on Alice Seeley Harris, a British missionary who at the turn of the 20th century waged one of the first international human rights campaigns. Using her Kodak brownie camera, Harris documented egregious violations being perpetrated by Belgian colonists in the Congo and traveled the world using her photographs to raise awareness. The project started as a painting by Balaun and blossomed into a collaborative effort that encompassed multiple creative forms, including a website, documentary, blog, social media campaign, and community outreach events.

LMC’s Discovery Award provides U.S. and international students in grades 4 through 12 a unique opportunity to use their creative talents to develop projects that feature Unsung Heroes from history who demonstrate the power that one person has to make positive change in the world. Projects can take the form of documentary/multimedia, performance, or website. In addition to robust research, an annotated bibliography and a process paper, projects must show potential for life beyond the development of the project and an ability to inspire students and others to take sustainable actions that carry out the legacies of their subjects. 

View All The Winning Projects

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