Loup County High School student wins international competiton

Local4 News at 11:30
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 11:48 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The Lowell Milken Centerfor Unsung Heroes (LMC) announced that Gracie Conrad, a junior at Loup County High School in Taylor, Nebraska, won the $6,000 grand prize in the 2022 international Discovery Award competition. The competition inspires students to develop primary and secondary research projects which share the stories of Unsung Heroes from history whose accomplishments remain largely unknown to the public. Conrad’s documentary, Betty Goudsmit-Oudkerk: Teenager, ResistanceMember, Unsung Hero, commemorates Goudsmit-Oudkerk’s legacy of saving more than 600 children out of the crèche (Dutch for “daycare”).

The Award was presented during a celebration for LMC’s 15th Anniversary and the Grand Opening of its new park, located in Fort Scott, Kansas.

“Conrad’s project is exceptional in every way. The Betty Goudsmit-Oudkerk documentary shows a brilliant quality of work, telling of the unique and inspirational bravery of the Unsung Hero,” said Norm Conard, LMC’s chief executive director. “We look forward to sharing this story in an exhibit for our Hall of Unsung Heroes.”

At 18 years old, Goudsmit-Oudkerk worked at the crèche when it became part of the Jewish deportation apparatus during the Holocaust. Having built relationships with the children, Goudsmit-Oudkerk was asked to join a group of workers who helped smuggle more than 600 children out of the crèche. Because of her heroic acts, Conrad notes, “hundreds of people are alive today.

Conrad’s documentary, supervised by English teacher Megan Helberg, stood out for its originality, extensive research, and impressive use of primary sources – including finding and interviewing Goudsmit-Oudkerk’s daughter Judith Goudsmit.

“When I was announced as the grand prize winner of the Discovery Award competition, I felt a flood of pride. The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes is an amazing organization, and I am happy to have submitted a project and see how far I have grown from making the video to being here today in Fort Scott, Kansas,” said Conrad in accepting the Award. “When Betty Goudsmit-Oudkerk was my age, she put herself out there. She was unique to help save all those children. It is important that we think deep down in ourselves that we need to be ourselves. You are you, and you are all you have.”

“We are so thankful to the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes for providing opportunities like this for students,” said Helberg, who is also a 2021 Lowell Milken Center Fellow. “I am incredibly proud of Gracie for taking this opportunity and running with it. Taylor, Nebraska, has a population of 190. This competition shows that students, regardless of where they are from or their background, can do big things.”

Conrad is among ten students – encompassing six projects – that will receive a collective $15,500 in Discovery Award prizes this year. The fellow five winning prizes will be announced this Thursday, September 15.

“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.”

LMC’s Discovery Award provides a unique opportunity for U.S. and international students in grades 4 through 12 to research primary sources and use their talents to develop projects that showcase the power of one person to make positive change in the world. The actions which define the Unsung Hero’s legacy as a role model must have occurred a minimum of 20 years ago, and the project must demonstrate the impact made over time as a result of those actions. Students must create a documentary, performance or website featuring an Unsung Hero, accompanied by an annotated bibliography and process paper. The prize money can be spent at students’ discretion.

Submissions for the next competition season will open February 15, 2023.