Oak Ridge Student Gains National Attention … Again

Nikolus Dean “Indy” Linnenkugel of Oak Ridge Elementary rises to the top again as he advanced to the national level in the National PTA Reflections Program for the second year in a row.

Last year Indy took first place at the state and national levels with the Overall Award of Excellence in his art category of Film Production. Indy also placed first in the state of Texas this year. The National PTA says that of those students who submit an entry in the Reflections Program, only .01% go on to place at nationals. For Indy to have qualified two years in a row is a rare feat.

When asked how he felt about making it to nationals two years in a row, Indy said, “It’s really exciting. Like a fireball exploding through my mind because I’m so excited.”

This year’s video submission by Indy was Buzz Off Hunger and he talks about bees and how they can help with the world’s hunger crisis.

“Last year Indy used his video to share his story with others, but this year he said he wanted to share a story that was important for everyone,” said Jordan Eicher Linnenkugel, Indy’s mom. “For a young person, he has such a big vision. I’m glad he’s found such an effective way to communicate his message, something that many people struggle with deep into adulthood. No great thing is accomplished without good communication.”

“It is something that I can do for the future; be a film maker,” said Indy. “Also, I can use my imagination and I can teach other kids about making videos and making the world a better place.”

As the state first place winner, he was honored with others at a ceremony in Las Vegas. Indy was asked to be the featured film at another ceremony at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. where U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was a keynote speaker. He was also asked to perform the ribbon cutting for the National PTA Reflections traveling art exhibit, which launched at the U.S. Department of Education.

“I think it’s awesome that he’s been able to make it to the national stage two years in a row,” said Nikolus Linnenkugel, Indy’s dad. “We were pretty excited the first time around. There are around 300,000 entries in the Reflections Program each year, so we know he has a real talent to repeat the same results this year. He’s so passionate about the things he researches and he’s such a great storyteller.”

The best part about winning for Indy is “to tell others about the world hunger crisis.” “It’s not the same in other places. People all around the world feel hungry but we don’t,” said Indy.

While at the nation’s capital, Indy met with U.S. Representative for Texas District 19 Jodey Arrington. Mr. Arrington was very gracious and spent time talking to Indy about his dreams and aspirations. He even arranged for Indy to tour the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s private balcony in the Capital Building and a private tour of the Kennedy Center. Mr. Arrington recently presented Indy with a US flag that flew over the nation’s capital in Indy’s honor.

“We are just super proud of him and can’t wait to see what he does next!” said Jordan.