I heard about the Unsung Heroes art competition from a former colleague (featured in the video above) and thought it sounded like an awesome project. I decided to use "Heroes" as the first themed project for my high school graphic design class. Some students have taken the class 4 times and it's a first for others. The students could choose any medium to communicate their idea.
We started with a discussion of what a hero is and watched the videos from the Lowell Milken Center. Next, I asked students to brainstorm and research to choose a hero. They could choose a hero from the LMC website that would be pre-approved for entering the contest, they could find their own unsung hero from history and seek approval for entering the contest, or they could just focus on a hero without the contest. I had a few students email to ask about a relative who had served in the military being their unsung hero only to be disappointed when they found out their person didn't meet all the criteria. I encouraged them to go with their choice anyway since I wanted the project to be meaningful to them and the contest part was just extra.
The students who chose personal heroes seemed more engaged in their projects overall than those who chose from the Unsung Heroes list, so I'm glad that I didn't limit them to participating in the contest. The contest is an amazing opportunity with a great message and the largest monetary prize packages I've ever seen in a middle and high school art contest so don't let that deter you! It seemed that most of the students who chose from the Unsung Heroes list did so randomly just to meet the requirement where the students who did their own research or chose a family member did it because they cared.