WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fifteen student and teacher teams from across the country are being given an extraordinary opportunity to tell the story of a fallen WWII hero with the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute. Each team will embark on a year-long course of study that concludes with a journey to Normandy, France to honor a WWII Silent Hero who died during the Normandy Invasion. Courses, materials, and international travel are paid for by the generosity of Mr. Albert H. Small.

Teams select one Silent Hero from their hometown or state who is memorialized at the Normandy American Cemetery. Using primary sources such as war records, draft cards, or interviews with descendants, teams conduct in-depth historical research on the life of this Silent Hero.

In June 2018, teams will travel to Washington, D.C. to finish their research with help from historians and college professors. While in D.C. they will tour the World War II Memorial, conduct research at the National Archives, and prepare for an expedition to the beaches of D-Day. The final leg of their journey is to Normandy, France where they will tour Omaha and Utah Beaches, walking in the footsteps of history. After visiting museums, sites of historic battles, and churches that were used as field hospitals, the journey will conclude at the Normandy American Cemetery. There, each student will deliver a powerful graveside eulogy for the Silent Hero he or she spent the year researching.

“This program is helping a new generation of Americans understand the sacrifice for freedom made during Operation Overlord,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “Nothing relates the significance of the sacrifices made in Normandy better than a personal connection. Students become well acquainted with their Silent Heroes, often referring to them as a friend or family member. The eulogies they deliver are often tear-filled, powerful, and incredibly moving.”

The Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute is coordinated by National History Day and is funded by a generous donation from Mr. Albert H. Small, a veteran himself.

Throughout the program, teachers and students create a digital memorial for their Silent Hero. After the conclusion of their travels, teams use these digital memorials in presentations to local community groups, schools and classes, and veterans’ organizations.

“These digital records of the life and actions of a Silent Hero will live on long after these teams return,” said Gorn. “They serve as a digital monument to the sacrifices made by the fallen.”

To date, the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute has told the stories of over 100 Silent Heroes. Each of these heroes lives on in the digital memorials created by past participants and remains a powerful memorial to the sacrifice of Americans in WWII.

Congratulations to the students and teachers selected for the 2018 Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute.

Students are listed first, followed by the teacher, city, and state. Participants are listed alphabetically by state.

  • Aubree Lopez and Erik Peterson from Santa Ana, California
  • Isabella Perry and Jeannine Meis from Tallahassee, Florida
  • Evelyn Johnson and Clinton DeMooney from LaGrange, Georgia
  • Liam Hesting and Kristin Rentschler from Columbia City, Indiana
  • Nicholas Katsikas and Doug Logan from Union, Kentucky
  • Dylan Steele and Craig Windt from Bay City, Michigan
  • Autumn May and Marcia Roline from Red Lake, Minnesota
  • Allison Strength and Elizabeth Green from Pascagoula, Mississippi
  • Rebekah Page and Amy Page from Moriarty, New Mexico
  • Joshua Fox and Andrew Screptock from Holland, Ohio
  • Alaina Nypaver and Joshua Elders from McMurray, Pennsylvania
  • Ashlynn Malone and Rebecca Byrd from Sevierville, Tennessee
  • Jacob Simmons and Eden Ellingson from Sandy, Utah
  • Haley Broga and Kate Corrado from Chantilly, Virginia
  • Cecelia Zielke and Matthew Bayens from Kohler, Wisconsin
  • About National History Day® (NHD):
    NHD is a non-profit education organization headquartered in College Park, MD. Established in 1974, NHD promotes an appreciation for historical research among middle and high school students through multiple annual programs. More than half a million students participate in the annual National History Day Contest. These research-based projects are entered into contests at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD provides professional development opportunities and curriculum materials for educators of all levels. NHD is sponsored in part by HISTORY®, Jostens, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, the Joe Weider Foundation, and the WEM 2000 Foundation of the Dorsey & Whitney Foundation. For more information, visit

    Lynne O'Hara
    Director of Programs
    Phone: 484-919-2595