Mililani Student and Teacher Team Win Trip to Study D-Day in France

HONOLULU—A Mililani High School student-teacher team will visit Normandy, France, this summer with all expenses paid as part of the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute. This student-teacher team from Hawai‘i is one of only 15 teams selected nationwide to participate in this prestigious program conducted by the nonprofit education organization National History Day (NHD).

Mililani High School student Travis Afuso and social studies teacher Amy Boehning will work together on a course of study that concludes with a trip to Normandy, France to honor a WWII Silent Hero® who died during or after the D-Day landings. After months of research, Afuso and Boehning will first travel to Washington, D.C., in June to put the finishing touches on their project with help from historians and scholars at the National Archives. While in D.C. they will tour the World War II Memorial, attend a dinner sponsored by the White House Historical Association and prepare for their overseas trip. From there, they will travel to Normandy, France to tour numerous museums and historic sites and visit the beaches of D-Day to walk in the footsteps of their chosen hero. They will also visit the Normandy American Cemetery where Afuso and the other 14 students will deliver a graveside eulogy for the Silent Hero® he or she has spent time researching.

“With research assistance from their teachers, the students become deeply connected to their selected Silent Heroes,” said NHD Executive Director Cathy Gorn. “On that final day, when students read their eulogies, they memorialize someone they came to know, someone whose story they became responsible for telling. I am confident Travis will walk away with a powerful understanding of the sacrifice so many Silent Heroes made in World War II.”

As part of the program’s requirements, Afuso, under the guidance of Boehning, will create a memorial webpage that documents the story and sacrifice of their chosen WWII Silent Hero®. Afuso and Boehning will also be charged with presenting the story of their Silent Hero to local schools, community groups and veterans’ organizations. To date, the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute has helped to tell the stories of 90 Silent Heroes. The overall goal of the program is to teach a new generation of students about the sacrifices and challenges these heroic individuals faced during World War II.

The program is coordinated by National History Day® and is funded by Albert H. Small, a veteran himself. Small’s generous donation includes overseas travel fare, courses, materials, and room and board for each student-teacher team in the program.

About National History Day: NHD is a nonprofit education organization in College Park, MD. Established in 1974, NHD offers year-long academic programs that engage over half a million middle- and high-school students around the world annually in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. These research-based projects are entered into contests at the local and affiliate levels, where the top student projects have the opportunity to advance to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD also seeks to improve the quality of history education by providing professional development opportunities and curriculum materials for educators. NHD is sponsored in part by Kenneth E. Behring, Patricia Behring, 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

The Hawai’i Council for the Humanities is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to connect people with ideas that broaden perspectives, enrich lives and strengthen communities. In addition to its grants program, HCH conducts educational programs, including Hawai’i History Day and Motheread/Fatheread® Hawai‘i.