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St. James High School welcomes in new members to the National Honor Society

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

On Sunday afternoon, the St. James High School chapter of the National Honor Society inducted ten new members to its ranks.

The induction was supposed to take place in April but was pushed back due to COVID-19. 

"The biggest thing about this is that we are able to do it," said activities director Les Zellmann.

Students who were inducted last year were also in attendance and received pins that they were not given upon their induction.

Each of the ten students had a member of St. James Middle School/High School staff present kind words and anecdotes about the inductees.

"I love positivity," said high school math teacher Scott DeMaris. "I really enjoy being around positive people. That's one of the reasons I really enjoy it when Emma Anderson walks in my classroom because she's full of positive energy."

Anderson is involved in tennis, choir, band, and volunteers at the Watonwan County Humane Society.

Science teacher and volleyball coach Jodi Geistfeld introduced Mackenzie Christensen. Christensen is active in volleyball, softball, and other extra curricular's at St. James High School.

"Mackenzie's leadership skills are being shown more and more everyday and she becomes more comfortable at St. James High School," said Geistfeld.

Geistfeld also highlighted Christensen's character as her strongest attribute.

Zellmann introduced Jaelyn Haler.

"The biggest characteristic I will say about Jaelyn is in reference to a motto that we use in our tennis world, and that is NGU. NGU means never give up. Whatever you see of her, is she's going to go hard in whatever she does all the time. Whatever she has is going to be her best."

Haler is active in St. James through tennis, basketball, softball, and choir.

Northside gym teacher and head boys basketball coach Spencer Monson introduced Hayden Jones.

Monson shared a story of his original meeting with Jones prior to his freshman season, and how Jones wanted to be an immediate contributor. 

"He's now become a leader in our program," said Monson. "Someone that people look up to and someone that's willing to help out whenever we need him to." 

Monson also shared a story of Jones cleaning up the bench area following a tough loss against Blue Earth last winter.

Guidance counselor Steve Witcraft introduced Chloe Mickelson. 

"I would say that Chloe is very determined," said Witcraft. "And I would say that of the four pillars, Chloe character strikes me as her strongest attribute."

Witcraft noted Mickelson's positive attitude through the struggles the girl's basketball team has gone through in recent years and motivated her to become a better basketball player as she heads into her senior season.

Mickelson is also involved in Step It Up with First Lutheran Church and participates in volleyball, and softball.  

Social studies teacher and tennis coach Brian Bluedorn spoke of Sailor Mohlenbrock's determination and sense of humor.

"Like many people, Sailor wants to do her best in everything she attempts, but what sets her apart from the rest is that she is able to do the heavy lifting day in and day out to get there," said Bluedorn.

Mohlenbrock is active in tennis, basketball, and track.

Softball coach and Northside gym teacher Sam Baumgartner welcomed Torri Mohwinkel, and broke down how Mohwinkel exemplifies the four pillars of the National Honor Society.

"Torri has been exposed to many instances to find who she really is," said Baumgartner. "At her core, she is someone who is dedicated to whatever she is doing. She has a passion to give her best effort. She shows resilience in the face of adversity, and she does the little things that almost no one notices that are vital to long-term success."

Outside of school, Mohwinkel volunteers at church, helping senior citizens, and at sporting and school events.

Tanner Olson was inducted by agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Becky Cronk. For the past two years, Olson has served as a historian for FFA, and this year is vice president.

"He is constantly showing great leadership by encouraging young members to get involved and cheering him on when they do," said Cronk.

Olson participates in a variety of athletics, including football, basketball, baseball, and trap shooting.

FFA president Jacob Runge was introduced by ag teacher Jeremy Spitzner.

"If you ever need anything done, Jacob is your guy," said Spitzner. "He is going to put the effort into it. It's going to be done right. It's not going to be done halfway and mediocre, he's going to do the best he can on everything."

Spitzner also emphasized Runge's positivity and overall character.

Destiny Sawatzky was unable to attend, but she was inducted by health teacherSteve Chapin.

"The thing I admire most about Destiny is her focus," said Chapin. "Her focus in class is clear. Her smile and eye contact in class shows her engagement. Her ability to help others with class material is a common trait." 

Sawatzky is part of volleyball, student council, TeamUp, limited edition and volunteers around the area. She has also earned her CNA license and helps out at the Good Samaritan Society in St. James.

St. James Middle School/High School Principal Karla Beck shared final thoughts following the induction ceremony.

"This is always a great day for us because we get to ho able to honor those who have exhibited the four pillars of the National Honor Society," said Beck. "We count on your leadership. I don't think you realize how much the younger students look up to you."

The ceremony was held at the St. James High School football field.