Rotary Club honors top academic students

NEW ULM – Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter had encouraging words for the honored students at the New Ulm Rotary Club’s Scholars Recognition Banquet. The banquet honors the academic top 15 percent of the graduating classes at Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School, New Ulm High School, and Cathedral High School in New Ulm

St. Peter assured the students and assembled guests that the Twins are going to be better this season than they have been the past couple of years, and that the young talent coming up through the minors will become familiar names in the next couple of years.

St. Peter said he flew back from Fort Meyers, Fla. to Minnesota for the for the New Ulm banquet, and given the weather, “I had to wonder about the wisdom of that.”

But he said it was an honor to come to New Ulm, a town he considers a “hotbed” of baseball in Minnesota.

“We’ve had a tough couple of years, in case you hadn’t noticed, and we’ve added a guy from New Ulm named Terry Steinbach to the coaching staff to help fix that.”

St. Peter’s main message was about himself, and how he came to work for the Twins. He said exemplified the idea that “you can do anything you want to do,” he said.

He grew up in Bismarck, N.D., was an average student in high school with no idea that he would be working in professional sports, let alone with the Minnesota Twins.

In college, at the University of North Dakota, he began to formulate a plan for his future, focusing on his passion, sports, and combining it with his interests and abilities in communications and journalism.

“I began finding ways to improve myself academically for that mission, and also finding ways to involve myself outside of the classroom. I volunteered for different activities and organizations. By the time I graduated and I moved from Fargo to the Twin Cities, I had an opportunity to get my foot in the door with an internship with the Minnesota North Stars, and that led to the Minnesota Twins.

St. Peter said students could also do anything they wanted, to follow their passion, but it involved a few things.

Academics was first on his list. “The fact that you are here shows you are miles ahead in this department,” he said.

In addition, St. Peter recommended participation and engagement in activities outside of the classroom. They can lead to experiences and contacts that are very important in the future.

A solid work ethic is important. “My mission when I came to the Twins was that no one was going to outwork me,” he said.

With that comes attention to detail. “Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Don’t be left wondering what you could have accomplished if you had paid attention to detail.”

“Be accessible,” said St. Peter. “That means returning phone calls and e-mails, make the contacts. Don’t hide behind your phone. Have great communication skills, and I don’t mean with 140 characters. Learn to write a complete sentence, a complete paragraph, a complete letter or memo.”

Build relationships, said St. Peter. “You will go nowhere without them. Work on building relationships every day. You only have a short time in college to build relationships. They will take you far.”

Finally, attitude is important for anyone who wishes to be successful. St. Peter encouraged the students to be confident, be able to sell themselves and what they can do, but at the same time be humble, and realize you may have to start at the bottom rung and work your way up the ladder.

“A lot of young people don’t want to do that. But the ones who do are the ones who will climb.”

As part of the evening, the Rotary Club recognized one student from each school with its Service Above Self Award. The students were selected by the teachers and administrators at their schools for exemplifying Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self” in their activities in and out of the classroom, and in the community. The students receive a $500 scholarship from the Rotary Club.

The students who were selected are:

From MVL, Abigail Koelpin, daughter of Paul and Becca Koelpin. She is involved in soccer, speech and choir, and will be attending Martin Luther College to study elementary education and Spanish.

From New Ulm High School, Mikyla Denney, daughter of Mark and Tracey Denney. She is active in SPOTS, Character Counts, Student Council, band and choir, Knowledge Bowl, has been active in Girl Scouts for 13 years and volunteers her services throughout the community.

From Cathedral High School, Moniz Illikman, daughter of John and Sharon Illikman. She is active in soccer, track and Knowledge Bowl, and in many activities in the school and church, serving as an example to younger students in the school.

The top 15 percent in each school for 2013 are:

New Ulm High School

Noah Anderson, son of Timothy & Kay Anderson; Jenna Braam, daughter of Daniel & Nancy Braam; Mikyla Denney, daughter of Mark & Tracie Denney; Bree Friedman, daughter of Troy & Diana Friedman; Elizabeth Guggisberg, daughter of Anthony & Marie Guggisberg; Hannah Innvaer, daughter of Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer and Stein Innvaer, Hannah Jakel, daughter of Scott D. & Cyndi Jakel; Connor Johnson, son of Brian & Tammy Johnson; Robin Kolstad, daughter of Kevin & Laurie Kolstad; Madison Kral, daughter of James & Beth Kral; Courtney Lang, daughter of Patrick & Melanie Lang; Hendrik Louters, son of Herman & Margaret Louters; Abigail Matthews, daughter of Jeffrey & Patricia Matthews; Alexi Moreno, daughter of Francisco & Melanie Moreno; Christopher Mulder, son of Michael Mulder & Debra Pribyl; Sarah Nelsen, daughter of Todd & Pat Nelsen; Michael Nosek, son of Tami Nosek; Katie Ringle, daughter of Dean &. Maria Ringle; Sydney Schuck, daughter of Brian & Shelly Schuck; MacKenze Vogel, daughter of Amos & Marianne Vogel; Ellen Wiederhoeft, daughter of Larry & Cynthia Wiederhoeft; Leslie Wiltscheck, daughter of Randy & Carol Wiltscheck.

Cathedral High School

Kimberly Berg , daughter of Dennis & Donna Berg; Monica Illikman, daughter of John & Sharon Illikman; Emily Lewandowski, daughter of Ryan & Maria Lewandowski; Meghan O’Brien, daughter of Jerry & Dana O’Brien; Paige Pautzke, daughter of Mike & Dino Pautzke; Kylie Walterman, daughter of Jay & Liz Walterman.

Minnesota Valley Lutheran

Laura Albrecht daughter of Kirby & Ann Albrecht; Stanley Draper, son of Kevin & Sallie Draper; Abigail Koelpin, daughter of Paul & Becca Koelpin; Emily Luehmann, daughter of Joel & Denise Luehmann; Carlie Maasz, daughter of Paul & Judy Maasz; Michaela Otterstatter, daughter of Michael & Teresa Otterstatter; Ryan Plath, son of Tim & Deb Plath; Shelby Smith, daughter of Mark & Vivian Smith; Matthew Tessmer, son of Paul & Deborah Tessmer.

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