The top 10 students from Wrightstown High School were recognized by the Kaukauna Elks Lodge on May 8 at Van Abel’s of Hollandtown. Pictured are Past State President Jerry Brien, Derek Brewer, Emily Wyro, Haven Bader, Danielle Bruecker, Emery Peck, Tessa Recob, Connor Born, Tara Theunis, Principal Scott Thompson, Leah Uitenbroek, Lodge President Nathalie Kramer, Joseph Uitenbroek, and Kyle Schoenwalder.
By Brian Roebke
The Kaukauna Elks Club held its 59th annual Top 10 scholastic seniorbanquet at Van Abel’s of Hollandtown on May 8, where the Elks feted the top 10 students from the Heart of the Valley high schools in Wrightstown, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Little Chute and Freedom.
Jerry Brien, a member of the Kaukauna lodge and past state president, was the master of ceremonies for the event.
Collectively the Elks put more than $20,000 into the community every year in grants, scholarships, and community action.
“That’s not too bad for a lodge that has only 38 members,” Brien said, noting they are always looking for new members.
Principals from all five of the high schools spoke about their students.
Wrightstown Principal Scott Thompson appreciates the efforts of the Elks in holding the banquet every year in placing a priority on academics first.
“Today is a day of celebration,” he said. “The top 10 in all the classes will be celebrating due to the excellence displayed in your high school career.”
Thompson said they made this possible through persistence and hard work with internal and possibly some external motivation, and through their love of learning.
During the previous weekend, he thought of some things the students might find helpful as they move forward with the rest of the days of their life.
• Be persistent. “This means you are going to struggle at something before you ever get good at it,” he said. “It’s kind of like learning to walk as a child. When you start out you spend more time falling and getting back up than you actually do walking.”
Persistence is what keeps a person going and applies to almost every area of life.
• Find your next set of mentors as you move on. “Your parents filled that role initially and probably still do today,” he said. “Certainly most of you can point to countless teachers and other influencers who have had a positive impact on your life.”
Who students reach out to next in their new school and career and even afterward make a difference.
He had an undergraduate professor who was one of the primary reasons he entered the field of education, helping him see a path and direction that was consistent with who he wanted to be.
• Be happy. “What makes you happy now may not make you happy when you’re later in life,” he said. “Twenty years ago if someone told me that money would make me happy I would have had said they were crazy. Now I can’t imagine life without it.”
For him, happiness is finding balance in life. When his son was a senior in high school 10 years ago, he was coaching soccer and thought it was something he would do for a few years before moving on. “Win or lose, it is still one of those things that makes me happy,” he said.
• Find and follow your passions. “Those will likely change over time, stemming from intrinsic sources,” he said. “Passions are things you love to do constantly,” he said.
Understanding your passions can help you personally and professionally to understand who you are.
He’s very impressed by the top 10 Tigers in the Class of 2023.
“They are all leaders, whether they are the most outgoing and verbal or the quiet one who leads by example,” he said.
Thompson noted the lead in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and in the community.
“They lead by what they stand for and the choices they make,” he added. “They are all highly dedicated individuals who inspire teachers with their work ethic and constant quest for knowledge.”
He said they will be missed and he’s looking forward to the adventures they undertake.
“They set the standard for excellence both in and out of school,” he said. “Thank you Wrightstown
Top 10 for representing the school and community in the positive and motivated manner you do.”
Brien also presented certificates to the valedictorians from each school, who were recognized as Kaukauna Elks students of the year.