Melanie Ottenbacher, Selby Area School
  Nominated by:  Robin Jung and Mark Sampson
  Excerpts from Melanie's Nominee Information Form:
  • almost 400 hrs of community service in the past 2 years
  • Co-founder of the SD Anti-Tobacco Education Board
  • Teens Against Tobacco Use - working with elementary children active in 4-H
  • active in her church - choir, Sunday School teacher
  • represented SD in Israel, Jordan, France, Spain, and Morocco through the  Hugh O-Brian Youth Leadership Award
  • band, piano, chorus, Girl's State, FHA, track, volleyball
  • Melanie plans to begin her pre-med coursework next fall 
Kerry Konda, Sisseton School
  Nominated by:  Teresa Meland and Tom Jastram
  Excerpts from Kerry's Nominee Information Form:
  • a very conscientious young man  who has been and continues to be an asset to my class and my club; has demonstrated his leadership abilities, ...promotes his goodwill be being active in community service projects.
  • National Honor Society Member; 2002 Voice of Democracy district winner; 2002 Boys State representative; 4 yr member of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America); 4 yr member of IMPROV(a group that performs skits to help kids deal with and discuss troubled situations.
  • Teens against tobacco use at Sisseton High; honor roll all 4 years of high school.
  • To summarize, Kerry is an intelligent, hard working, and friendly individual whom people trust and admire.
Dena Steward, Northwestern High School
  Nominated by:  Roberta Eisenbeisz and Ray Sauerwein
  Excerpts from Dena's Nominee Information Form:
  • Dena  is confident and self assured without being arrogant or boastful.  She  sets very high goals and is not afraid to work hard at achieving them.  Her strength and desire to succeed come from her strong faith.  Dena "Walks the Talk: and is a positive role model to other students.
  • Straight A Honor Roll all 4 years of high school; strong background in science and math; Her achievements are not limited only to academics - she also excels in writing, speaking, art and music.  Dena would like to become a missionary after college.
 Kelli Hammer, Northwestern High School
  Nominated by:  Roberta Eisenbeisz and Ray Sauerwein
  Excerpts from Kelli;s Nominee Information Form:
  • Kelli demonstrates trustworthiness, honesty and concern for others.  She has demonstrated great leadership abilities. promotes goodwill by being active in community service projects.
  • Received the Girl Scout Gold award and Silver award due to extensive community service.
  • Received the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence.
  • Participates in track, volleyball, band, chorus, oral interpretation, journalism and school play, has been a religious education teacher, assisted at youth summer camps - all of this while still maintaining a 4.0 grade average.
  • She graduates as a Regent Scholar.
 Sarah Heilman - Aberdeen Central High
  Nominated by:  Char Ackerman and Jan Palmer
  Excerpts from Sarah's  Nominee Information Form:
  • Sarah is an outstanding academic student, she has provided much leadersip to Central's extracurricular activities, and she lives by her values which includes service to others.
  • Extra curricular and community activities include Brown County Teen Court member, Keystone National Honor Society membership, Gifted Education, Environmental Club, LINK-Crew Member, Girls' Connection, Science Quiz Bowl team member, and volunteer Connection  She has also been very involved in CHS SADD chapter by serving as their president and secretary.
  • Sarah has taught 1st grade Sunday School, worked wtih the Moose Youth Awareness Program, and worked on Relay for life.  She has done SEARCH church retreats, served as a peer tutor, Sertoma Club Festival of Lights, assisting with Boys Scouts, collecting donations for Safe Harbor and raising money for the March of Dimes.
  • Sarah is one of those exceptional young women who managed to balance her education, volunteer activities and school activities and excel in all that she does.
  • Sarah ranks 5 out of 266 seniors at Central
2007 Hannah Wickard - Ipswich High School -
  nominated by Jordan Tolton and Trent Osborne
  excerpts from Hannah's nomination form:
  • Hannah is an honest student who is always willing to help out her classmates when they have problems with assignments.  A positive role model for others.
  • active in many extracurricular activities both school and non-related. 
  • Involved in several sports and clubs
  • She is a leader
  • volunteers as church nursery worker, church multimedia technician, youth Bible study leader, church"kids for Missions" teacher 2 years; preschool Bible School teacher 4 years, 6th grade basketball coach


2008 Eric Hout - Aberdeen Central High School -
  nominated by Jan Palmer and Jason Uttermark
  excerpts from Eric's nomination form:
  • Eric has provided much leadership and has won numerous awards for achievement in both academics and activities.
  • Eric ranks first in his high school; has earned a "5" on AP exam, which is the highest possible score.
  • Eric has given approximately 525 hours of community service though out his high school years to Brown County Teen Court; Aberdeen Humane Society, Safe Harbor, St. Paul's Youth Group, SADD; volunteer connection, Salvation Army, Special Olympics Bowling, Kids Speak Youth Forum, Keystone Honor Society, Drama Club, Environmental Club, Living Christmas Tree and the list goes on and on. 
  • Eric says his primary goal is to help people in any and every way possible.  Eric wishes to focus the rest of his life on helping others.
2009 Olivia Hollan - Aberdeen Central High School
  nominated by Charles Hermansen

excerpts from Olivia's nomination form:
  • outstanding student, honest, hard working, intelligent, kind and very enthusiastic about math and science.
  • what sets this person apart from the rest of the students is her work ethic, preparation and attitude.
  • Member of the school golf team, SADD and Future Problem Solvers, leader of many other activities.  She has organized quiz bowl matches and a program to send aid to Africa.  Very active in her church youth group organizing many service activities..  While doing all of this she still ranks in the top 5% of her class.


Amanda J Finley - Northwestern Area High School

  nominated by Denise Clemens


  • Very dedicated student.  Challenges herself and others in choosing a rigorous course of study while continuing to maintain an outstanding FPA.  A take charge person.
  • top of her class, especially in the area of science.
  •  volunteers her free time and even her lunch hour to help the younger students understand their research projects.
  • An active member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle helping other students lead lives of character and integrity.


2011 Austin Eggers - Rosholt High School
  nominated by Patrick Schuette

excerpts from Austin's  nomination form:
  • a leader in and out of the classroom.  Positive role model for younger students and his peers alike giving freely of his time to just talk or listen.
  • work ethic is commendable.  He is self directed and creative in planning and organizing tasks.
  • community service is important part of this person's life. - such as playing piano at church every week and on special religious holidays; plays taps for military funerals in the area; helped clean up the local park and helped with a local blood drive.  This person has won awards at spelling bees, oral interpretation, band and lettered in various sports.  This person has his own lawn mowing business and helps out at the family business.


Rebecca Gaikowski - Waubay High School

  nominated by Donna Herrick
  excerpts from Rebecca's nomination form:

top academic student in her class and one of the most respected members of her class.  Strong organizational skills - strong leader in high school.

strong sense of commitment, desire to succeed, and the motivation to accomplish her goals.  Faithful and trustworthy to her friends, dedicate to school and work, and sincere to her ambitions.

Rebecca is active in volleyball, basketball and track.  Drama Club, W Club, national Honor Society, Band, Chorus, Play, Student Council, FFA, Oral Interpretation and is President of the senior class.  In the summer she is nanny for 2 sets of twin boys, ages 5 and 2.

Rebecca is a lector at her church and a  member of the youth group.  She is also a member of the Webster swim team and the local 4H club. 

          2013 Jenna Duncan - Northwestern School-Mellette, SD
                 Nominated by Denise Clemens
                 excerpts from Jenna's nomination form:
                Ranks in the top 3rd of her class, challenging herself academically as well as athletically in choosing a rigorous course of study, while continuing to maintain an outstanding GPA.  this person if responsible, loyal and a dedicated individual.  This person's true character is found in  how she dedicates herself to extra curricular activities.  She is active in various activities such as volleyball, track, band, future business leaders of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Tri-Parish Youth group and various missions trips.  She does volunteer work, coaches younger teams at different events and helps lead charitable events such as food drives,  mission trips  and  community work.  She volunteers part of her study hall to work with a 6th grade student on his physical therapy 2-3 times a week.


            2014 Kayla J. Breske - Waubay School - Waubay, SD
                 Nominated by Donna Herrick
                 excerpts from Kayla's  nomination form:
                Ranks first in her class of 17 students.  She has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
                She  is active in Volleyball, basketball and track.  She also finds time for the drama       Club, national Honor Society, band, chorus, play, student council, oral interpretation and is
 president of the senior class.  Kayla is also very active in her community and church. Kayla is
 not one to complain.  If she wants something, she goes out and works to earn it.  Kayla
 demonstrates integrity by doing what is best for her family and community regardless of her
  personal interests.  Ms. Breske has developed into a fine young lady and exhibits an
  excellent work ethic, high degree of integrity and has dedicated herself to her educational
  endeavors.  She has gained the respect and administration of her fellow students as well as
  the respect of the school faculty and community. Kayla holds the value and balance of
  academic and activities to the very highest standard.

2015 Lydia Wieger - Waubay High School-Waubay, SD
                 Nominated by Donna Herrick
                 excerpts from Kayla's  nomination form:
               This student works very hard and has maintained a 3.65 GPA average while being enrolled in 2 duel credit college classes plus working part time.  In addition to her studies, this student is active in extra activities and community service.  She is a member of the National Honor Society, student council,  and Sr. class officer. She collects Toys for Tots and assisted with 3 community blood drives. Achievements include local and regional snow queen, HOBY representative, Girls state representative 2014-2015 hometown hero and 2014 homecoming queen.  Community activities are almost as numerous as her high school actives.  She is active in church youth groups, Sunday school and vacation bible school teacher,  participates in a weeklong mission trip with her church to México.  She has scheduled another mission trip to Chicago, IL  where  she will work in soup kitchens to serve the homeless of the Chicago area.

  This young lady says her childhood was different from her classmates.  Beings her parents were missionaries, she lived in Africa until the age of 11.  As a young age she knew she wanted to work with children because she  saw the hardships and struggles of  children in Africa. Therefore her college plans are to get a degree in Early childhood Development.

2016 Samantha Raile - Eureka High School - Eureka, SD
                 Nominated by Anne Jo Erdmann
                 excerpts from Samantha's nomination form:

This student is involved in many school related activities (sports, music, STEM, FCA) as well as very involved with her church - while still maintaining a 38 average during her high school years.  As one person put it - they have always been impressed with her abilities but in addition to those abilities, they have also been impressed by her personality and character.  A very honorable young lady with great integrity and a bubble personality and great sense of humor. She has demonstrated leadership and teamwork skills.  She has high expectations for herself and able to reach those goals through hard work and extra time College plans are to go into the medial field and possibly having her own Physical Therapy clinic someday.


2017 Jenna Larson - Waubay School - Waubay, SD

                         Nominated by Donna Herrick

                                 excerpts from Jenna's nomination form: 

Sports is a big part of this person’s life, as well as excelling in high school –being on the straight A honor roll all 4 years of high school with 4.0 gpa.  Selected outstanding student 3 years out of the 4.  Held various class offices.  Also in various extra activities – oral interp, plays and choir and pep band.  Also has done several community activities in addition to all of the above – delivering meals to elderly, working at community benefits, organizing a blood drive – to name a few.  Also involved in her church community.


                         2018   Sadie VanderWal - Northwestern School - Mellette, SD

                                                   Nominated by Denise Clemens

                                             excerpts from Sadie's nomination form:

What can I say - this person obviously loves science - doing science fair projects the last 7 years while also this year completing a research project outside of the classroom.  This student is a take-charge person who is able to successfully develop plans and implement those plans to enrich the lives of those around her.  Quoting one of the people that nominated her - "Her unwavering devotion to her community exemplifies strong moral fiber and character."

Even though this student is involved and instrumental in many areas in school and outside the school setting, she is more instrumental in showing others how to lead by example.  She is willing to help others with difficult projects, lead others in challenges and encourage students to excel beyond what they believe they are capable of.  This person is a humble, responsible young adult that shares her talents first with others and lastly with herself.