GES students win $1K prize, award


The award-winning group of fifth grade students of Garapan Elementary School pose with their teacher Peter Loken, left, yesterday. The students were honored with the Outstanding International Project Award by the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes’ 2019 Award competition for their documentary “Guy Gabaldon: The Pied Piper of Saipan.” (MARC A. VENUS)

A group of fifth-grade students at Garapan Elementary School has won a $1,000 prize for a research documentary they did on the World War II exploits of Guy Gabaldon, who is known as the “Pied Pier of Saipan.”

The students—Edward Becina, Aiden Camacho, Cody Gamboa, Jed Gilboy, and Shane Manicad—won last Tuesday the Outstanding International Project Award in the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes’ 2019 Discovery Award competition

They were advised by their fourth-grade teacher and LMC Fellow, Peter Loken.

The recognition comes with a $1,000 prize.

The students’ documentary, titled “Guy Gabaldon: The Pied Piper of Saipan,” told the story of Guy Gabaldon, a U.S. soldier stationed on Saipan during World War II.

According to a statement from the Lowell Milken Center announcing the award, it said that the students’ documentary showed how Gabaldon used his ability to speak Japanese to help the U.S. forces capture Japanese soldiers by convincing them that they were surrounded. He also used his linguistic skills to stop many Japanese people from jumping off Banzai Cliff. His actions led to the capture of 1,500 Japanese soldiers and saved countless lives.

The students gathered information from primary resources and used strong multimedia skills to create this documentary, the announcement added.

Of particular note, Loken said, is that the students tried to obtain sources other than the internet and actually got to meet and talk with Guy Gabaldon’s son as he was interviewed by the students.

“This project was mostly about letting the students do more project-based learning, instead of using the textbook since the competition required students to utilize primary resources like conducting interviews. …I believe that the real quality of learning came as soon as they knew how to find these primary resources,” Loken said.

Camacho said that each of the students did research on certain aspects of Gabaldon’s life and started to make scripts after, as all five narrated the documentary. The students were also responsible for creating the video as they were given the opportunity to choose the pictures for the documentary.

One challenge that Gamboa recognized was analyzing the information that was given to them, since putting them together took some time.

The students were able to complete the documentary by the last week of classes last school year, and Loken was able to turn in the documentary right before the July 1 deadline.

LMC’s Discovery Award provides U.S. and international students in grades 4 through 12 a unique opportunity to use their creative talents to develop projects that feature Unsung Heroes from history, demonstrating one person’s power to make a positive change in the world.

New York middle school student Michelle Dong won the $6,000 grand prize for his entry, “Caroline Ferriday and the Ravensbruck Lapins,” which tells the incredible story of philanthropist Caroline Ferriday. In 1958, Ferriday rallied American support to bring a group of Polish survivors from the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp to America for rehabilitation. Dong is an eighth grader at Jericho Middle School in Jericho.

The $3,000 second place prize went to Priscilla Sanchez, Jacqueline Vega, Kevin Jackoby, and Charles Brooks from New Technology High School in Napa, California. Their project, “Eileen Nearne: An Unsung Hero,” is a documentary about 23-year-old Nearne, a S.O.E. British Intelligence Officer who managed to transmit 105 messages, revealing Germany’s plans back to Great Britain, before being captured.

Learn more about LMC and the Discovery Award 

Marc Venus | Reporter
Marc Venus is the Saipan Tribune's public health and education reporter. He has an associate degree in Applied Sciences in Computer Applications and is working on his bachelor’s degree at the Northern Marianas College. Contact him at

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