Students of Excellence honored at April 25 banquet

“Academic success is the last true partnership,” stated Matt Bullard, presiding superintendent at the Students of Excellence Banquet and Recognition Ceremony April 25.

Rush City (l to r): Supt. Vern Koepp, Marissa Belau, Assistant Commissioner of Education Rose Chu, Dr. Rob Cavanna, Executive Director for Resource Training & Solutions, Trista Sarago and John Roerig. Photos supplied

He continued saying that it takes the parents and guardians, educators, students and community leaders with vision and exceptional leadership to create opportunity for students to stretch and succeed.

Bullard encouraged the young adults to say thank you to those who encouraged and helped them achieve, in particular, their parents and guardians.

Over 650 people attended the event honoring the area’s top 171 high school seniors who will soon graduate from 41 high schools in the Central Minnesota region. Schools can choose two to four seniors at their own discretion and can invite favorite teachers, coaches and administrators.

North Branch (l to r): Patrick Mork, Supt. Deb Henton, Samantha Brannick, Assistant Commissioner of Education Rose Chu, Dr. Rob Cavanna, Executive Director for Resource Training & Solutions, Melinda Richard, NBAHS Principal Coleman McDonough, and Branden Heidelberger.

Executive Director for Resource Training & Solutions Dr. Rob Cavanna welcomed the students saying,  “You are about to begin a true journey in life.”  Cavanna commented on a few of the top 20 life rules culled from graduation talks around the country.  “First rule find your passion.  You can Google for an answer, a mate, or a career,” he said.  “But, you can’t ask Google to find your passion.”

Keynote speaker, Bill Collar told a story of his granddaughter practically forcing him to go on a horse ride.  He reluctantly climbed in the saddle, turned to check out his granddaughter, fell off the horse, bumped his head and yelled for help.  Everything turned out fine when the store manager shut of the electric merry-go-round.

Everyone had a good laugh but Collar used the story to compare perception (getting up on a fast horse) versus reality (it was merely a merry-go-round).

“There is a perception in this room that all of these students have accomplished a great deal,” Collar said.  “But reality is you are going to accomplish a great deal more.”

At the conclusion of the keynote address, Collars said, “Great achievers often fail. When you look in the mirror at night, ask yourself what did I fail at?  Challenge yourself, listen to your intuition, find your passion,” Collar urged.

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