Post Eagle Newspaper


Apr 20, 2024

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High School Students from Poland Win
International Competition for Discovering An
Unsung Hero from History

Students from Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Henryka Sienkiewicza

In their documentary, “Lord of the Words,” Polish high school students Igor Bojczuz, Stefauia Kossakowska, and Kinga Grabska describe how discovering an Unsung Hero from history has changed the way they view marginalized populations in their society today. Their film shares the legacy of Karol Parno Girlinski, an artist and writer who created the first textbook for Roma children in Poland. For their finely honed research and exemplary creative presentation, the students have been awarded the $1,000 Outstanding International Project award in the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes’ (LMC) 2015 Discovery Award competition (

In photo: Igor Bojczuz and Kinga Grabska

Additional winners in this international student competition discovered Unsung Heroes as diverse as a war hero, an architect, photographers, a Holocaust rescuer, and a Polish linguist. The $10,000 Grand Prize went to Seaman High School students Hailey Reed and Andrea Sodergren for their documentary on Tran Ngoc “Harry” Hue, a South Vietnamese soldier who fought alongside the U.S. army during the Vietnam War and saved numerous lives. 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.

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 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.


Established in 2007, the Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes discovers, develops and communicates the stories of Unsung Heroes who have made a profound and positive difference in the course of history. Now in its eight year, LMC has reached over 1,100,000 students and 8,000 schools in all 50 states, with growing global reach. Learn more about LMC and the Discovery Award at Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes