There are some that do good, some that do great, and some that excel in all facets of life. What defines excellence is hard to pin down in most cases, but when it comes to schooling, there is a way that excellence is chosen and awarded. In February, 36 of these students are chosen by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) to be recognized with the ExCEL Award, and Tyler Smith of Norwood Young America was one of these students.
“I’m proud that I was chosen,” said Smith, a junior at Central High School.
The ExCEL Award stands for Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership, so there are a quite a few criteria that the MSHSL examines to choose these students. Students for this particular award must be juniors, and be in the top 50 percent of their class academically. They must also participate in a fine arts and athletic activity, hold a leadership position in the school, and volunteer in some way for the community.
That’s a lot to put on the plate of a student, and to stand out among hundreds of applicants is truly an accomplishment.
“It’s tough,” said Smith. “I’m lucky that school comes naturally and I love playing my trumpet.”
Smith is not only a straight A student, he’s also in a few college classes as well as PSEO classes that Central offers. His chosen fine art is band, though he doesn’t just participate in concert band, but also jazz, solo, and ensemble band. Smith participates in three different sports: cross country, basketball, and baseball. He’s lettered in all three, cross country multiple times, and is captain of the cross country team, which covers the leadership role.
As for the volunteering, he does a few things around the community. At his local church, he serves as an usher and musician playing his trumpet. He also works with a couple different sports camps around town, such as Youth Basketball, baseball and cross country camps. Smith also works with the local 4-H cleaning and planting in the local flower beds. When he has time, he also visits Peace Villa and The Harbor.
Oddly enough, Smith wasn’t aware of the award before the applications were handed out in November of 2019. All of the work and volunteering he does was done by his own volition, and he’s been doing them all for a while.
“I wasn’t sure I would win when they handed out applications, since the top third of the class was brought in,” said Smith. “Once I filled out it and tallied the points, I was a lot more confident.”
There are only two students that can be chosen from each school, a boy and a girl. The points Smith brought up are tallied based on what they do. Each thing accounts for different points. The two students with the most points are sent in, and from there the MSHSL determines the 36 winners around the state.
These winners will be honored on 45TV during the Girls’ State Basketball Tournament on Saturday, March 14. The ceremony is scheduled to take place at 2pm, though may be a little after that depending on the status of the game. Students will also be featured in The Bulletin, a magazine published three times a year by MSHSL.
“I’m thankful for the school for offering all of the college class options and activities,” said Smith. “It’s a great place to be.”
Smith will have another chance to win a similar award as a senior: the AAA award. This award is nearly the same, though only offered to seniors.