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Lake County Virtual School student honored with national award for leadership and volunteerism

TAVARES – The National WWII Museum in New Orleans has named Central Florida student BenjaminMack-Jackson Mack-Jackson of Lake County Virtual School as a 2019 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 flown to New Orleans to participate in the Museum’s American Spirit Awards program taking place May 22-23.


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 paper 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 & 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 70 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.”


Benjamin Mack-Jackson has dedicated a significant part of his life to educating his generation about history, veterans, and giving back. In addition to being a junior in high school, he’s an educational and motivational speaker to people of all ages. Benjamin wanted to educate his generation about history from a young person’s point of view while preserving veterans’ stories, so he created the WWII Veterans History Project, which is now a 501c3 nonprofit organization. More than three years later, he has interviewed over 85 WWII veterans, created documentaries for his website,, spoken to thousands of young people at schools, and created the Traveling Museum of WWII.


Benjamin’s hard work, dedication, and around 1,200 hours of service have touched the lives of so many people from kids as young as 5 years old, to WWII veterans over 100 years old. He is showing his community that young people can and do make a difference when they follow their dreams.


The National WWII Museum’s American Spirit Awards – presented by Hancock Whitney – is a multiday 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 2019 American Spirit Award honorees include Vice President Richard Cheney and Senator Joseph Lieberman.


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. The 2018 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards ranks the Museum No. 8 in the world and No. 3 in the nation. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit