Twenty of the Princeton School District’s finest students have been honored at the 35st annual School Board Scholar Banquet at Princeton High School.

Nine eighth-graders and 11 high school seniors representing the top 5% of their classes were honored at the banquet.

Representing Princeton Middle School were Lauren Blavet, Paige Blavat, Elanor Gruber, Jolie Haataja, Haylie Huntley, Evan Marx, Van Nguyen, Jake Schmitz, and Elsa Wogen.

Representing Princeton High School were Alisabeth Foede, Audrey Lindgren, Charles Ellingson, Geoffrey Skeim, Gracie Kivisto, Haley Lupkes, Kaitlyn Laxson, Mitchell Schumacher, Natalie Andert, Rylie Turnquist-Culp, and Sydney Eckert.

Ben Barton, Princeton superintendent, shared how proud he is of the 20 students.

“You’re going to wonderful things,” Barton said of the school board scholars.

“We are proud to be a part of your ongoing journey,” Barton added.

Charlie Bakker, middle school principal, addressed the 8th grade honorees.

“Not only have you excelled in ways that are measurable paper, you have excelled as people and have excelled in the ways you have showed resiliency and some of the traits that really show where you are headed,” Bakker said.

“I’m really, really proud of you,” he said.

Princeton High School Principal Barb Muckinhirn addressed the 11 graduating seniors recognized as school board scholars, noting that they are a good example of the community of Princeton.

Muckinhirn introduced keynote speaker Sue VanHooser, a retired teacher and current member of the Princeton School Board. Muckinhirn called VanHooser a “Princeton treasure.”

VanHooser gave the students accolades for weathering the changes and challenges they faced during the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite all the things that life has thrown at you in the past year, you are still here. You have the quality and character to adapt to the circumstances you were given and continued to be successful,” VanHooser said.

“You did what was necessary to stay at the top of your game, and at the top of your class,” she said.

VanHooser told the students that success is not a ladder they can climb with their hands in their pockets. It takes effort and hard work to climb the ladder of success, she said.

Before closing, VanHooser also gave what she called a “Sue infomercial,” and gave a plug for her life-long career, teaching.

“If you get to the top of the ladder and find you put it on the wrong wall, consider being a teacher,” she said. “Or even better, consider teaching before you set the ladder.”

Congratulations and good luck, VanHooser said in closing.

Challenge to 8th graders

While Principal Muckinhirn was at the banquet to honor the high school seniors, she offered a challenge to the 8th graders.

She told them she looked forward to seeing the 8th graders in four years when they, again, might be honored as school board scholars as high school seniors.

The odds of that are quite good.

Seven of the 11 senior school board scholars were honored four years ago as 8th graders: Alisabeth Foede, Charles Ellingson, Geoffrey Skeim, Haley Lupkes, Natalie Andert, Rylie Turnquist-Culp, and Sydney Eckert.

Editor

Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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