Auburn High student honored with national award

Photo by Mindy Seidman

Contributed by Auburn City Schools

 The National WWII Museum in New Orleans has named local student Izzy Seidman of Auburn High School as a 2021 Billy Michal Student Leadership Award recipient. The national honor is awarded annually to one student in every state who has maintained a strong record of volunteerism, demonstrates school and community activism and helps implement creative solutions to recognized problems. Each honoree will be virtually recognized at the Museum’s American Spirit Awards program taking place June 18, 2021.

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 six years old, Michal helped his one-room school win a statewide scrap metal-collection contest during the war, proving that every citizen could contribute to victory. Michal’s achievement demonstrated the positive impact the American spirit could have on the home front war efforts, and he continues to inspire students across America today.

“It’s extremely gratifying to recognize students throughout the nation for the wonderful contributions they make to their local communities,” said Stephen J. Watson, president and CEO at The National WWII Museum. “During World War II, our country needed everyone to come together for a common goal of securing freedom and democracy around the world. Much like Billy Michal’s contribution over 75 years ago, our student honorees prove that their positive actions, no matter how big or small, can make a difference in their communities. We are proud to honor their accomplishments.”

Seidman is a senior at Auburn High School and will graduate in May. She plans to study public health in college. When confronted with antisemitism in her English class, Izzy chose to take her pain and generate change. She knew she was not the only one who felt marginalized; she wanted to give voice to all the students who needed one. She created the first-ever Diversity Council at her school. In the short time since its creation, the council, through Izzy’s leadership, has put Auburn High on the path to become the first No Place for Hate school in Alabama, brought the ADL in for a teacher training and secured a five-year diversity action plan from the district.

The National WWII Museum’s American Spirit Awards — presented by Hancock Whitney — is a multi-day event consisting of 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 2021 American Spirit Award honorees include World War II veteran Richard Duchossois, world-renowned presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., Ph.D., Military Historian Victor Davis Hanson, Ph.D. and former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor the Honorable Henry Kissinger.

Proceeds from the American Spirit Awards will support educational programming at The National WWII Museum, including the ongoing development of classroom materials and professional development opportunities for teachers in schools across the country, as well as online experiences that bring the museum and its resources to students around the world.

For American Spirit Awards ticket information and additional event details, visit or call 504-528-1944 ext. 334.

The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world — why it was fought, how it was won and what it means today — so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit


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