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Congrats to Our Students of Excellence

posted May 4, 2015, 9:37 AM by Ryan Cox   [ updated May 4, 2015, 9:43 AM ]
By Sandra Cordie
Director of Educational Programs
Resource Training and Solutions
Even though the weather was a perfect April evening, it didn’t keep 154 high school seniors from heading indoors for the 28th Annual Students of Excellence Banquet and Recognition Ceremony.  The event was Wednesday, April 29, at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud with over 600 attending including parents, favorite teachers, and school administrators.  As the crowd gathered prior to the event, students greeted one another and visited about spring sports, prom, plans for college and just wondered what this evening would be about. On the other hand, parents talked about their children leaving for college in the fall, the weather and if the Minnesota Twins would win that night. The foyer was filled with laughter and warmth.  The evening’s presentations began with Dr. Rob Cavanna, Executive Director of Resource, referencing the movie Dead Poet’s Society. English teacher, John Keating played by Robin Williams, uses unorthodox teaching methods to get his students to think differently, to use their imagination and knowledge. Cavanna used Keating’s command to “carpe diem” as his own challenge to honorees.  “Use your time wisely, take advantage of opportunities and challenges and to help others along the way,” Cavanna added.

Paul Durand, Rockford School District, served as the presiding superintendent for the evening. He brought words of congratulation on behalf of the superintendents in the Region. “You are the messengers we send into the future,” he said. “We are confident our world will be in good hands ” The keynote speaker, Renee’ Rongen, shared her thoughts about dreams and aspirations.  “Parents have dreams for their kids. But, kids have their own dreams and goals,” she said.  Rongen selected Brittney, a young lady in the front row, what is her dream.  Brittney said she wanted to be a marine biologist to work with dolphins, whales and especially sharks. Rongen went on to say that in order for Brittney to fulfill that dream it will take hard work, surrounding herself with positive people and learn from failures or disappointments.  The evening was dedicated to honoring the top 154 high school seniors from than 38 Region 7 high schools. The honorees were nominated by their school or district and received a plaque recognizing their accomplishment and a certificate from Governor Dayton. Over the past 28 years there have been 4,394 honored seniors.

Ken Anderson, Board Chair at Resource, extended congratulations and a word or two of advice to the honorees. Additionally, Anderson took a moment to thank Dr. Cavanna for his dedication to the students and staff as he will be retiring in June. The audience agreed with a standing ovation in recognition of Cavanna’s 30 years of service.  Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education, Dr. Brenda Cassellius, was unable to attend but sent a congratulating message honorees. 

Criteria for selection to the Recognition Event is at the discretion of each school but based upon recommended guidelines. Schools can choose two to four seniors and have the option to invite favorite teachers, coaches and administrators.  The event is sponsored by the participating school districts, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Resource Training & Solutions.  Sandra Cordie, Director of Educational Programs for the agency, organizes the event. Next year’s Students of Excellence recognition and awards ceremony will be April 27, 2016. Schools will be contacted in early March, 2016 with nomination information. 

“Every morning I look in the mirror and ask myself, ‘What am I going to do today with this wild and precious life? How can I better today for me, for my family, for those I can touch?’ ” concluded Rongen.