SMITHVILLE — The National WWII Museum in New Orleans named Smithville student Rhiannon Maynes a 2021 Billy Michal Student Leadership Award recipient. The honor is bestowed annually to one student in every state who maintains 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 June 18.

During her time in high school, Maynes has dedicated herself to improving her school community through involvement in cross country, soccer, National English Honors Society and student council, along with playing alto-saxophone in the high school’s band and jazz band.

“She has held leadership positions in each of these organizations, including being senior class president. Not only has she worked to improve her school community, she strives to better the Kansas City area by assisting at multiple animal shelters across the Metro,” stated her mother, Amanda Maynes, in a social media post about the award. “Her and her family have even fostered over 50 cats and kittens for KC Pet Project. Additionally, she traveled to Peru as part of a service trip, volunteering at an elementary school. She assisted in the construction of a play structure and garden along with day-to-day school tasks.”

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 age 6, Michal helped his one-room school win a statewide scrap metal-collection contest during the war, proving that every citizen could contribute to victory,” states a release. “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.”

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at, 903-6001 or @myCTAmanda1 on Twitter.

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