By Lorrie Ham
Juniors Lauren Kelly and Charlie Reinhardt have been selected as the Mound Westonka High School recipients of the Minnesota State High School League’s ExCEL Award. ExCEL – Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership – is a unique awards program that recognizes Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, show leadership qualities and are model citizens.
This is the 22nd year that the League has sponsored the ExCEL Award. An independent panel of judges from schools throughout Minnesota will select state ExCEL Award recipients in January, and award winners will be announced via the League website on Feb. 5. ExCEL winners will be recognized on KSTC-TV (Channel 45) during the broadcasts of the 2018 winter tournaments.
“Both Lauren and Charlie are outstanding leaders and great students who are highly involved in school activities and our community,” said Westonka Activities Director Jeff Peterson. “Congratulations and good luck as they move on to the state level of competition.”
Kelly is a three-year member of the auditioned Wind Ensemble. She has earned three superior ratings in solo/ensemble competition and two superior ratings in large group contest. She is a member of the band council this year and is also a section leader.
A three-sport athlete, Kelly is in her third year on the dance team, where she has earned two Spotlight on Scholarship awards and two coaches’ awards. She was a member of the state tournament jazz and kick teams last year, after earning conference and section championships. She is also a team captain this year.
A two-year member of the tennis team, Kelly earned a pair of Spotlight on Scholarship awards and JV Player of the Week honors. She earned two additional Spotlight on Scholarship awards for her participation in track and field.
Kelly is a three-year member of the “A” Honor Roll. She is a member of National Honor Society and Link Crew. She is also a member of DECA, where she competed in the state finals.
Outside of the classroom, Kelly has volunteered her time at Hilltop Octoberfest, Feed My Starving Children, the holiday band boutique, the Shirley Hills carnival, the Running of the Bays Half Marathon and the Grandview Halloween Party. One of her favorite activities was volunteering at the Mound tree lighting event.
“At the tree lighting, I was helping to serve cookies and hot chocolate to community members while also doing small tasks in order to help make sure the event ran smoothly,” said Kelly. “Although I walked into this volunteer experience believing that I was simply there to help fill places to make sure a community event could run smoothly, I walked out knowing that volunteering was truly more than that. This experience was the first time I realized that even the most simple and easy actions that people do may mean the world for others.”
Band director Gretchen Chilson said, “Lauren shows her responsibility and maturity by managing her time wisely and prioritizing her many activities appropriately – she finds a way to be responsible and dependable to everything in which she participates. Simply put, Lauren always does the right thing. She is a phenomenal role model for her peers, and a positive influence on our school culture.”
Lauren is the daughter of Margaret and James Kelly of Orono.
Reinhardt has a lengthy list of athletic honors to his credit, due to his participation on the cross-country, Nordic ski, tennis, and track and field teams.
In his three years with the cross-country team, Reinhardt has received numerous awards, including All-Conference and All-Conference Honorable Mention, Commitment to Excellence, Athlete of the Week, Runner of the Year, Spirit Award, Most Improved, Practice Award and Heartbeat of the Team. He was also co-captain this year.
Reinhardt also co-captains the Nordic ski team, where he has earned All-Conference and All-Conference Honorable Mention and Heartbeat of the Team honors. He was named Rookie of the Year as an eighth-grader.
Earning a letter in his first year in track and field as a sophomore, Reinhardt was named Rookie of the Year. He also earned a letter in tennis as a freshman and has earned multiple Spotlight on Scholarship awards in each sport.
Reinhardt has been on the “A” honor roll for three years, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He is a member of Student Senate, Harbor Group and National Honor Society. He is a Link Crew leader and served on the Principal/Student Advisory Committee as a sophomore.
In addition to his school activities, Reinhardt has been on two mission trips, serves as a church video tech and volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. He also worked on the Theodore Wirth Park erosion seeding project, the LNR Loppet Games and the Luminary Loppet. Reinhardt also volunteered at various community road races and is involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Participating in a mission trip to Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming left a lasting mark on Reinhardt.
“Despite their desolate situation, the people of Wind River entered each day with a sense of possibility and opportunity, believing that tomorrow would be better than today,” said Reinhardt. “I was amazed at how they found happiness in the midst of a bleak environment. Wind River taught me to find joy in everyday life and to not allow today’s circumstances to dictate the future of tomorrow.”
English and fine arts teacher Kate Schilling said, “Charlie is one of the kindest and most genuine students I have had the chance to teach in my career. He is a leader among his peers, and other students look to him to set the tone in the classroom. He positively influences others and serves as a role model to many at MWHS.”
Charlie is the son of Mark and Sarah Reinhardt of Spring Park.