AURORA — A high school freshman was recently given the 2020 Billy Michal Student Leadership Award, which is sponsored through The National WWII Museum.
Leo Diamantis was honored with the award, which is given annually to one student from each state and the District of Columbia who demonstrates the American Spirit in his or her community.
Each honoree and a chaperone are flown to New Orleans to participate in the museum’s American Spirit Awards program which takes place this year from June 11 through 12.
"I was overjoyed and felt honored when I found out I had been selected to receive the Billy Michal Student Leadership Award, and had a little five-minute celebration with my mom," Leo said.
To apply, Leo said he had to write an essay on his volunteerism, leadership activities and other awards.
"I have never been to New Orleans before, and I am very excited to be going to see the awards," Leo said. "I am very excited to be on the behind-the-scenes tour of the museum, and I hope to be able to see many of the historic sites, such as the French Quarter, in New Orleans."
According to information provided by the National World War II Museum, which is in New Orleans, is an active participant in a wide variety of school clubs and has helped with blood drives, bake sales, after school activities and Safety Town. He was a member and officer of the Junior Beta Club, President of Student Council for 2 years and President of Choir for 3 years.
Leo helped collect donations for animal shelters, churches, Volunteers of America and food pantries, according to information provided by the museum. He collected books, clothes, shoes and coats for local organizations. Leo routinely assists with his younger brother’s sports activities from soccer to basketball. At the Walker Building Senior Center, he assisted seniors with technology issues every week. Leo was in charge of Miller Magic, as part of the Junior Beta Club, helping kindergarteners do crafts and activities weekly. Last year, as part of Math 24 Club, Leo was selected to move on to the County Finals where he won first place out of all districts competing. In May of last year, he received the Tommy Dankelson Good Samaritan Award.
At the high school, Leo is involved in many clubs, including Drug Free Club and Interact Club. He collected over 1700+ toiletries and baked brownies for the Homeless Hookup, donated warming blankets and toys.
The leadership award, which the museum first presented in 2017, was created in honor of Billy Michal, who was a child living in Louisiana during World War II. At only 6 years old, Michal helped his one-room school win a statewide scrap metal collection contest during the war.
The National WWII Museum’s American Spirit Awards is a multi-day event which includes a patron reception, premier gala, and awards luncheon and leadership forum, which is where the Billy Michal students will receive their awards. In addition to the Billy Michal winners, the recipients of the Museum’s American Spirit Award, American Spirit Medallion and Silver Service Medallion will be honored throughout the event. The 2020 American Spirit Award honorees include World War II veteran Richard Duchossois and world-renowned presiden al historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Proceeds from the American Spirit Awards will support educational programming at the museum.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, email@example.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC.