North Branch Student Wins ExCEL Award

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 at 6:15 am

The Minnesota State High School League and AAA Minneapolis today announced the winners of the 2009 ExCEL Award. ExCEL-Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership-is a unique recognition program that is given annually to high school juniors who are leaders in their schools and who work voluntarily in their community helping others. AAA Minneapolis is the award sponsor.

“The ExCEL program seeks to recognize students who consistently shine with a strong sense of school pride and community loyalty,” said Lisa Lissimore, League associate director who oversees the award program. “Their success is not measured by finishing first or having the highest grade point average. Rather their success is measured by the
contributions they make to their school and community.”  KSTC TV, Channel 45, the League’s broadcast partner, will recognize the 2009 ExCEL award recipients during its broadcasts of the League’s winter tournaments. Each student will also participate in an
on-court award ceremony during halftime of the Class AA girls’ basketball championship game on March 21.

“As a responsible, proactive community partner, AAA Minneapolis is a leader in teen traffic safety initiatives, including driver education and safety awareness,” said Dawn Duffy, AAA Minneapolis spokesperson. “We congratulate the 2009 ExCEL Award winners and applaud their efforts as they, too, lead by example as responsible, proactive
community citizens.”

The 2009 ExCEL award winners have participated in a variety of community service projects, including food and blood drives, Adopt-a-Highway programs, and 4-H and FFA outreach activities. Many have shared their musical and theatrical talents at community events, while others coach Little League teams, teach Sunday school, and tutor other

The ExCEL award program began in 1996. Award recipients are selected through a multi-level process that involves League member schools and an independent panel of judges from schools throughout Minnesota. Nearly 3,000 students have been recognized with this award.

Two-hundred and forty-two students were nominated by their schools this year.  additional information about the 2009 ExCEL Award recipients may be obtained by visiting the League’s Web site at

Following is the list of the 2009 ExCEL Award winners:

Miranda Charley, North Branch
Ann Aitken, Cass Lake-Bena
Kristen Beste, Melrose
Casey Boerner, Watertown-Mayer
Aric Carpenter, Tracy Area
Hahn Chang, Maple Grove
Madison Collin, Southwest Star Concept
Erik Curry, New Ulm
Abby Fragodt, Benson
Natalie Gadbois, Tartan
Michael Hanson, Cass Lake-Bena
Glenn Hartman-Mattson, Ely
Andrew Hatling, Watertown-Mayer
Heather Heilman, Mound-Westonka
Jackson Henrich, Morris Area
Nicholas Hoelmer, Waseca
Iliya Hoffert, Two Harbors
Spencer Jacobson, Alexandria
Bret Johnson, Grygla
Brooke Johnson, Spring Grove
Mary Kading, Park Rapids Area
Spencer Knott, Westbrook-Walnut Grove
Leah Lax, Sleepy Eye-St. Mary’s
Jill Lundeen, Evansville
Kayla Mathiowetz, Cedar Mountain
Sahmad Nakumbe, St. Paul Humboldt
Sarah Peper, Alexandria
Samantha Petersen, Albert Lea
Dakotah Rostad, Spring Grove
Nicholas Sandager, Luverne
Jacob Sandry, Bloomington Jefferson
Michael Storm, Sibley East
Alyssa Temte, Rosemount
Jalani Traxler, St. Paul Highland Park
Brett Ubl, Sleepy Eye-St. Mary’s
Anna Mae VanDien, Norwood-Young America

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