Local students win Discovery Award inspired by unsung heroes

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 11:06 AM CDT
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FORT SCOTT, Kan. (WIBW) - A Washburn Rural Middle School student and a Seaman High School student have won the Discovery Award competition grand prizes.

The Lowell Milken Center of Unsung Heroes says Allison Reed, Washburn Rural Middle School student, and Megan Allacher have won its annual Discovery Award competition. It said Reed learned over Zoom that she is the recipient of the $6,000 Grand Prize.

According to the Center, through research and a compelling documentary, Reed’s entry, “All the World Loves a Baby” highlights the actions of Martin Couney, a man that set out to save premature babies in an unusual way. It said in 1920 premature babies were assumed by the medical establishment to be a lost cause, but by placing the tiny infants in incubators displayed in carnival sideshows to fund the endeavor Couney saved thousands of lives and hospitals eventually followed his lead.

Norm Conard, executive director of the Lowell Milken Center, said All the World Loves a Baby is exceptional in every way. he said Reed assembled a documentary showing a brilliant quality of work. He said Couney’s story is unique, unsung and inspirational and he looks forward to expanding the story in an exhibit for the Hall of Unsung Heroes. He said he also congratulates Reed’s teachers, Lindsey Dowell and Alice Bertels.

LMC said from its home in Fort Scott, it awarded elementary, middle and high school students$13,000 in cash prizes in this year’s Discover Award competition. It said the international competition is meant to inspire students by prompting them to conduct primary and secondary research projects on unsung heroes from history whose accomplishments are not well known.

According to LMC, the $2,000 second Place award went to Elaine Jiao, Dayoung Lee and Zara Qizilbash from Jericho High School in Jericho, New York. It said the students looked through court cases, used book research, conducted interviews and created a documentary that told the story of Ann Hopkins in Ann Hopkins: Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Employment. It said Hopkins was denied partnership at an accounting firm, Price Waterhouse, for not dressing or acting feminine enough. It said in 1982, she sued the company and her case went to the Supreme Court, where it was settled in her favor and established a precedent for discrimination in the workplace. It said their teacher is Valerie Conklin.

LMC said the $2,000 Outstanding High School Project award went to Megan Allacher, of Seaman High School. It said Allacher used internet research and created a website to highlight the story of Jackie Ormes in Jackie Ormes: First African American Female Cartoonist. It said through her art, Ormes portrayed real-life issues African Americans faced and was an activist for racial and gender equality. It said her teachers are Nathan McAlister and Susan Sittenauer.

According to the Center, the $1,000 Outstanding Elementary School Project award went to Nicholas Turco, a Carolina Park Elementary School student from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. It said Turco’s research led to his documentary Discoveries for the Centuries which shared thoughts, struggles and achievements of Mary Anning. It said Anning deified sexism in the scientific community as a successful fossil collector and paleontologist making several discoveries changing paleontology forever. It said his teacher is Mary Huffman.

The Center said the $13,000 in case prizes can be used in any way the recipient sees fit. It said due to COVID-19, the students were notified of their winnings via videocall.

LMC said its Discovery Award gives U.S. and international students in grades 4-12 a unique opportunity to use artistic talents to develop projects showcasing the power one person has to make a positive change in the world. It said projects can take the form of documentary/multimedia, performance or website and require intensive research, an annotated bibliography and a process paper. It said the stories must reflect the potential for life beyond the development of the project and an ability to inspire students and others to take sustainable actions carrying out the legacies of their subjects.

“Real heroes tower and guide,” said LMC Founder Lowell Milken. “But their stories need to be discovered and heard. And when we do, we have the opportunity to motivate new generations to aspire to values that are essential during the challenging times we face individually, as a nation and as a world community.”

According to LMC, submissions for the next competition season will open mid-2021.

To see the winning projects, click here.

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