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2013 Academic Team runners-up honored

Northeastern Wisconsin's top students

May 19, 2013
 

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In middle, Sonya Loberger, from Green Bay West High School, is all smiles as she gets some love from her parents, Rich and Sue Loberger, during the Press-Gazette Media's 25th annual Academic Team awards ceremony at the Hyatt on Main in downtown Green Bay on Monday, May 13, 2013. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media

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The 10 students selected to the 2013 Press-Gazette Media Academic Team were drawn from a pool of the area’s best and brightest.

Public and private high schools in Brown, Door, Shawano, Kewaunee and Oconto counties were invited to nominate one outstanding senior to the Academic Team. From that group, judges selected the top 10, considering factors such as academic records, volunteerism, extracurricular activities and a personal essay.

All of the nominees excel in their classes and in this community. Many who didn’t make the final 10 may have been on one or more judge’s list of favorites.

Press-Gazette Media has been featuring the 10 winners, also found at www.greenbaypressgazette.com/academicteam.

Here is a look at the runners-up, all of whom deserve congratulations for their achievements:

Sarah Waldron

School: Washington Island High School

Activities: Student council, yearbook, speaker at forum on international adoption, tutor, soccer coach for 9- through 11-year-olds, played high school soccer.

Honors: Badger Girls State.

Essay excerpt: “If I could emulate one person it would be Katie Davis, author of ‘Kisses for Katie,’ who had a life-changing experience her senior year of high school when she traveled to Uganda on a mission trip. Katie returned home, but her heart remained captive to Uganda, eventually leading her back to live among the Ugandan people ... Katie wasn’t afraid to be different; she chose to walk to the beat of her own drum by following her calling of a life of service in Uganda.”

Future plans: Attend University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s College of Science and Health.

Kadin Browne

• School: Kewaunee High School

Activities: Math Team, wrestling, junior varsity baseball, volunteer work at humane society and Paul’s Pantry.

Honors: National Honor Society.

Essay excerpt: “I would possibly want to emulate Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. This man was not only a mathematician, he had only done this as a hobby of sorts, he has had a great influence on biology, geology, linguistics and law. I would like to emulate his more varied understanding of science and mathematics. I would like to leave something behind that would influence people in some way, be known by more than just the scientific community.”

Future plans: Begin pursuing a dual-degree in mathematics and physics at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and complete the degrees at UW-Madison.

Caleb Benz

• School: N.E.W. Lutheran High School

Activities: Soccer, team captain; student council, vice president, 2012-13, and council representative, 2009-2012; math team captain, 2012-13; yearbook co-editor, 2013; pep band co-leader 2012-2013.

Honors: All-conference math team, 2012 and 2013; first team all-conference Packerland soccer, 2013; academic letter, National Merit Scholar finalist, 2012; and high honor roll 2009-2013.

Essay excerpt: “I would like to be like Galileo and challenge the established order of things with scientific observations. Galileo helped to discover new areas of science including kinematics. I want to be at the pioneering edge of new sciences that can be used to invent things and better the world ... I want to be known for my ingenuity, but also for my commitment to helping people and promoting what is right.”

Future plans: Study mechanical engineering at Valparaiso University.

Kendyll Cross

• School: Oconto Falls High School

Activities: Forensics play-acting; Hi-Q Quiz Bowl; band, vice president; Destination Imagination; Bible school teacher; community library volunteer; pep band; and volunteer meal preparation and delivery for elderly.

Honors: National Honor Society; solo ensemble, nine medal winner; senior class president; class salutatorian; 2013 class representative.

Essay excerpt: “Shawn Johnson is a female gymnast who has dealt with numerous personal obstacles and still manages to keep a smile on her face. When watching her at the Olympics in 2008, everyone could see her determination to reach her goals. Her determination is a quality I admire because anyone can dream of what might be, but it takes a champion to work hard enough to make those dreams realities ... Johnson’s trait that I personally wish to emulate is her confidence. Many people told her she was a wonderful gymnast throughout her lifetime. Her source of confidence lies somewhere else though: She believes in herself.”

Future plans: Plans to attend the two-year registered nurse program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and also learn Spanish, to eventually move to a Spanish-speaking country where there is a need for Bible preachers.

Burke Minahan

• School: Sevastopol High School

Activities: Student council, president junior year, varsity soccer captain, forensics state qualifier, 2010-2013, math team.

Honors: National Honor Society, voted Outstanding Senator in Youth in Government, 2013; coaches MVP varsity soccer, 2012; perfect scores at state solo and ensemble.

Essay excerpt: “One such man is Elon Musk, a South African by birth, but an All-American entrepreneur by trade. At age 17, Musk left his home in Pretoria, South Africa, to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business. Rather than stop there, Musk also acquired a bachelor’s degree in physics, and even pursued a doctorate in applied physics and materials science. He dropped his pursuit of the doctorate to solve the ‘important problems that would most affect the future of humanity,’ which he believes are the internet, clean energy and space.”

Future plans: Pursue undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering.

Samantha Paider

• School: Southern Door High School

Activities: Youth leader, IGNITE Youth ministry, varsity volleyball, tutor

Honors: National Honor Society, class valedictorian, Academic Excellence award, seven semesters; earned gold and silver medals at state forensics, varsity letter (two years) for volleyball, student council secretary.

Essay excerpt: “There is one man who I really have to look up to. His name is President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. His leadership skills and strong morals are among his most admirable characteristics. Lincoln’s leadership skills are what made him become such a great president. He knew that a house divided would fall, so he worked to keep the South from seceding from the North. President Lincoln was known to exercise more executive power than any other president before him.”

Future plans: Attend four-year college with the long-term goal of becoming a physician assistant or a pediatrician.

Brianna Messner

• School: Seymour High School

Activities: Soccer, basketball, church youth group and Burgerfest volunteer.

Honors: National Honor Society, high honor roll, student senate vice president, Americanism and Government test scholarship winner.

Essay excerpt: “I have always wanted to be just like my dad by following in his footsteps and becoming a high school teacher and soccer coach. But I also want to become the person he is. He is someone who everyone admires. He works harder than anyone I know and he never takes a break. Throughout this time, not a complaint is to be heard. If there is anything that I or anybody else needs help with, he is always there. He is continuously able to motivate and encourage me to be the best I can be. He is also very fun to be around. Making jokes and having fun with whatever he does is just part of his nature. Turning simple tasks into games or competitions is one way he makes doing simple chores more fun for everyone.”

Future plans: Study education, math and Spanish at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Thomas (Will) Kitchens

• School: Sturgeon Bay High School

Activities: 2012 First Team All-Conference Soccer, All-State Men’s Choir, Youth in Government, Wisconsin Youth Governor, 2012-13, lead role school musical, Moravian Church Mission Team, Y youth indoor soccer, Door County Youth Soccer Association referee

Honors: Valedictorian, National Honor Society, student council class president

Essay excerpt: “When I climbed onto my grandfather’s lap, I was transported to another place and time amid his colorful accounts. Over the years, Granddad’s gruff voice described a wide variety of topics, from his childhood in Depression-era West Virginia, to battles in the Pacific during World War II, to his exploits in the FBI. Whether a daring mission or a somber tale, my grandfather’s stories never failed to captivate me. The stories accompanied me through all states of life and, regardless of the struggle I was going through, always lent invaluable insight.”

Future plans: Major in economics at Yale.

Kayla DeVares

• School: Gillett High School

Activities: Hi-Q Quiz Bowl, high school newspaper editor, grades 11-12, senior class officer, vice president, grades 11-12, dodge ball.

Honors: National Honor Society; Badger Girls State nominee; high honors, grades 9-12; FBLA state qualifier (placed first at regionals); Spanish club president.

Essay excerpt: “In today’s society people strive to outdo their neighbor and conform to what the rest of the world is doing. To me, that would be an incredibly boring and painful life to lead, unoriginal to say the least. When I can wake up every day and do what I want to do, act how I want to act, buy the things I want to buy, surround myself with people I want to be surrounded by, and then to go bed happy and put it all on repeat the next day, that is successful.”

Future plans: Pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Noelle Metoxen

• School: Oneida Nation High School

Activities: Volleyball, basketball, softball (captain and MVP).

Honors: Student council president, honor roll, Press-Gazette Media Scholar of the Week.

Essay excerpt: “The most crucial person I would most like to emulate would have to be my mother. My mother has had many struggles during her lifetime. She has been down in the dirt and lost everything she had. The remarkable thing is my mother didn’t let it shut her down. She used it as a fuel to light her inner fire and she was able to move forward. Today my mother is a Native American Advocate. She is currently working toward her master’s degree in social work, and would like to one day work in prisons, where helping people who are in the same spot as she once was, but pulled through.”

Future plans: Major in criminal justice and minor in psychology at college.

Megan Vande Hei

• School: Wrightstown High School

Activities: Varsity cross-ountry, team captain, varsity track, Future Business Leaders of America, educational acting troupe, MATADA, counselor at Camp Hope, coach at Young Tigers volleyball camp.

Honors: Valedictorian, Academic Excellence Award, National Honor Society.

Essay excerpt: “I would most like to imitate my mother. She has had a tremendous impact on my success in the past four years academically, athletically, and as an individual. She has always pushed me to surpass my boundaries and has supported me during difficult times. When asked to describe her, so many positive traits come to mind: caring, compassionate, hardworking, cheerful and smart. Even though she has had to overcome many hardships such as losing her mom at a young age, she is still a genuinely happy person, and I hope to possess her strength and fortitude. I know I can come to my mother for anything, and she places the utmost care on her family. Although she has so much to do, she always places caring for her children first, which is something I admire most about her.

Throughout my school years, she has always been my biggest fan and is even proud of me when I am not. Every sporting event, even if no one else was there, I always had her on the sidelines cheering me on. As someone who will stand up for anything she believes in, my mom has taught me to be true to myself.”

Future plans: Pursue a degree in physical therapy at Creighton University.

Brandon DuPrey

• School: Green Bay East High School

Activities: Bowling team captain, tennis, Skills USA, math team, worked as a disc jockey assistant and sales associates

Honors: Valedictorian, high honors every semester.

Essay excerpt: “The world has possessed a myriad of people with exceptional talent and success, but the one person I wish to emulate is Albert Einstein. Einstein was a man of unparalleled intellect and exceptional talent. His passion for science and curiosity of the world led him to make numerous scientific contributions and discoveries that have revolutionized the world we live in. He was one of the few people who dared to challenge what everyone else thought to be true. Despite criticisms and failures, Albert Einstein never gave up. His perseverance and inquisitiveness is something we all should admire.”

Future plans: Major in computer engineering at Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Samuel Beschta

• School: Lena High School

Activities: Captain of varsity teams: wrestling, football and golf. Student council, one year.

Honors: National Honor Society, valedictorian, Hi-Q quiz team member, four years, all-conference football and wrestling.

Essay excerpt: “During the Great Depression, all were hurting for money, my great-grandfather included. People would come into his barbershop in need of a haircut without the means to pay. He would say, ‘No problem, pay me when you can,’ and would continue to cut their hair. When people came back to pay, they would bring him payment in the form of bushels of apples, sacks of potatoes or whatever else they could gather. Frank would accept these with a smile and say thank you. He understood that they had no money. The food was just as good for his family and he was grateful for it.”

Future plans: Enter a pre-med program at UW-Oshkosh or St. Norbert College, then attend medical school.

Andrew Zeller

• School: De Pere High School

Activities: Key Club; junior varsity cross-country; co-founder and mentor, Resurrection Catholic School Robotics Club; video system technician at Resurrection Catholic Church.

Honors: National Honor Society, University of Alabama Presidential Scholarship, FIRST Robotics judge’s award, Paper Converting Machine Co.’s robot design contest winner, ASM Foundation scholarship to attend materials engineering summer camp.

Essay excerpt: “Two years ago, in the midst of the 2011 FIRST Robotics Competition build season, I met Eric Diehr, when he came to mentor my school’s robotics team and help us complete our robot in just six weeks. Eric had recently graduated from Michigan Tech and was working as a mechanical engineer at Paper Converting Machine Co. I was a sophomore that year, and Eric began to show us how we could use mechanical engineering to create a simple solution to our challenge of climbing up a pole; one which brought us to the quarterfinals at the regional competition.”

Future plans: Attend the University of Alabama to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.

Lucas Connelly

• School: Ashwaubenon High School

Activities: Mixed choir, math team, brotherhood member of the order of the arrow, retail sales position.

Honors: National Honor Society, Eagle Scout, Scouting’s National Honor Society, Wisconsin School Music Association state honors.

Essay excerpt: “While it might be true that aesthetic experiences do not frequent us very often, I know that some people experience them more often than others. Despite this, there is one thing I know for certain: An aesthetic experience lasting only an instant only comes after hours of dedicated toil. When the pursuit of passion grants such an experience, the state of being it brings over the mind and soul is worth every hour invested beforehand. Abraham Lincoln, I think, knew this very well. He took the passions closest to his heart and allowed each to inspire him in different ways, using different parts of the brain. A great desire burned in his chest, his desire to make a difference. To someday be a part of something spectacular, something that would change the world. And change it he did. I, too, strive to change the world, but not in the usual way, for the world isn’t made of inventions. It isn’t made of corporations, sales pitches, interest groups or even nature. The world is made of people, individuals who above all else desire compassion and decency.”

Future plans: Pursue an engineering degree from a four-year university and continue to participate in music at the collegiate level.

Andrea Nelson

• School: Gibraltar High School

Activities: Volleyball co-captain, track and field co-captain, school newspaper managing editor, mission work and volunteer work with the Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church, waitress.

Honors: National Honor Society, AP Scholar with honors, highest honor roll, National Merit commended student, varsity letter.

Essay excerpt: “I am inspired by my English teacher and volleyball coach, Mrs. Bremer. I have been associated with Mrs. Bremer since my freshman year of high school. She was my volleyball coach while I played on the junior varsity team. I was impressed by her dedication to our team and making us individually stronger in order to strengthen us as a whole. Since then, I have twice had the privilege of playing under her leadership on the varsity team. She is a focused and knowledgeable coach who is willing to push us to attain our highest levels of performance. She encourages us to set goals — both long-term and short-term — and then work to make them a reality. Mrs. Bremer has applied this to her own life as well; a few weeks ago she ran in a marathon in Orlando. Her commitment to her own training is a strong example for her team.”

Future plans: Study English and secondary education at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Lauren Sipple

• School: Denmark High School

Activities: Student council secretary, varsity soccer captain, all-conference honorable mention, Future Business Leaders of America vice president; band section leader, 4H secretary, waitress.

Honors: Badger Girls State delegate; National Honor Society; Brown County Teen Leadership program graduate; Press-Gazette Media Scholar of the Week; Michigan Technological University’s Women in Engineering scholarship camp participant.

Essay excerpt: “To be successful in life, I need to be able to build relationships with others. For this reason, I emulate my grandmother, as she is able to accomplish this more effectively than anyone I have ever met. My grandmother has seven children, which in itself could not have been very easy. This family has had to face hardships head on. My grandma navigates through tough situations by using her morals to guide her, rather than acting on impulse. For example, my cousin was in a devastating car accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury. His speech was impaired and doctors were unsure if he would ever walk again. Instead of becoming frustrating and pinning blame on someone, which she could have easily done, my grandma took this painful situation, and turned it into something positive. She and other family members instituted an annual event known as Kade’s Klassic.

This benefit assists families with a member suffering from a long-term injury or disease. The amount of time she dedicates to these families is inconceivable, most of whom she has no previous connection to, none of this is for personal gain, rather she humbly does it from the goodness of her heart.”

Future plans: Attend University of Wisconsin, either at Stout or La Crosse, to study food science, health or business.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

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15%
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I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1017 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

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Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports