By Lorrie Ham
Juniors Sam Abegglen and Nikki Wharram have been selected as the Mound Westonka High School recipients of Minnesota State High School League’s ExCEL Award. ExCEL—Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership—is a unique recognition focused on state high school juniors who are active in school activities, show leadership qualities and are model citizens.
This is the 19th year that the Minnesota State High School League has sponsored the ExCEL Award. An independent panel of judges from schools throughout Minnesota will select ExCEL Award recipients in January, and award winners will be announced via the League website on Feb. 2. ExCEL winners will be recognized on KSTC-TV (Channel 45) during the broadcast of the 2015 winter tournaments.
Abegglen is heavily involved in the Mound Westonka band program. He is a two-year member of the Wind Ensemble and a one-year member of the Concert Band. He also participated in the pit orchestra for the fall musical two years; including the 2013-2014 orchestra, which earned a SpotLight Honorable Mention Award. He earned a superior rating as a member of a brass quintet and an excellent rating as a member of a brass ensemble in the Solo Ensemble Contest. He has also taken art and drawing classes.
Abegglen is a two-year member of the cross-country team, has been named captain for next year and earned the Commitment to Excellence Award this year. He is the captain of the Nordic ski team and received All Conference Honorable Mention last season. As a two-year member of the tennis team, he participated in the state tournament as a sophomore. He also lettered in soccer as a freshman.
Abegglen is on the “A” Honor Roll, chairperson of the Fischer Committee and a member of Link Crew. He is a two-year member of Student Senate and chairperson this year of the Coronation Committee.
Outside of school, Abegglen serves as a race volunteer. He also participates in Feed My Starving Children, the City of Lakes Loppet and National Night Out.
“The qualities that I believe make a good leader are determination, patience, tolerance and confidence,” said Abegglen, who is especially proud of his work in organizing National Night Out events in his neighborhood.
Band director Gretchen Chilson nominated Abegglen for the ExCEL award. “I nominated Sam because he stands out amid many talented students in his junior class,” she said. “When I think of Sam, I think of a well-rounded student who works diligently and excels at all he does, to include academics, athletics and music endeavors.”
Sam is the son of Gene and Gretchen Abegglen of Mound.
Wharram is a three-year member of the volleyball team and varsity captain this year. She has earned three Spotlight on Scholarship awards and two White Hawk awards. She is also a two-year member of the basketball team and earned a pair of Spotlight on Scholarship awards. She was named Rookie of the Year in track and field and earned a Spotlight on Scholarship award. She also played softball as a freshman, earning another Spotlight on Scholarship award.
Wharram is on the “A” Honor Roll. She is three-year member of Student Senate and serves as Public Relations Chair this year. She is also a member of the Fischer Committee, Link Crew and National Honor Society.
A three-year member of Concert Choir, Wharram earned an excellent award in ensemble. She also plays piano for the section leader in Women’s Honor Choir.
Wharram puts her musical skills to work at her church, playing piano for the children’s choir, singing and being the song leader for Vacation Bible School. She also coaches volleyball during the summer and participates in Feed My Starving Children. She took part in a mission trip to Tennessee and helps out at the food shelf.
“A leader makes those around them look better and be more successful just by doing what they are doing,” said Wharram. “They don’t want just the best for themselves, but for those who follow them and look up to them.”
Social studies teacher and middle school volleyball coach Bob Kuehl nominated Wharram for the ExCEL award. “Nikki has a positive attitude that everyone around her feeds off of,” he said. “I see firsthand how my young volleyball players gravitate towards Nikki and want to emulate her and her positive traits. She brings a positive vibe that makes our school setting a better place to be each day.”
Nikki is the daughter of Dominic and Linda Wharram of Independence.