Alexa Steffl and Isaac Huiras of SEPS and Lauren Hoffmann of St. Mary's are local ExCEL winners.

Sleepy Eye High School announced that Alexa Steffl and Isaac Huiras are the school’s nominees for the ExCEL Award. St. Mary’s High School nominee is Lauren Hoffmann. These students are entered in the Minnesota State High School League’s annual ExCEL competition.

ExCEL—Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership—is a unique recognition program designed exclusively for Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, who show leadership qualities, and who work voluntarily in their community.

The ExCEL Award recipients will be selected by an independent panel of judges from schools throughout Minnesota. Each recipient will be recognized on KSTC-TV (Channel 45) during the broadcasts of the 2019 winter tournaments.

Alexa Steffl is active in athletics and school organizations and is an A Honor Roll student. In a letter of recommendation, one of her teachers said Alexa leads by example, demonstrating to younger students and her peers how a focused mind, compassion, and an awesome work ethic lead to all-around success in school and the community.

Alexa plays volleyball, hockey and softball. She belongs to FFA, the YES! Team and the Honor Society — all of which involve volunteer activity. Alexa said her favorite volunteer activity has been tutoring her peers in math. “This experience has taught me how to guide students, be patient, and encourage others,” Alexa said. “I hope I have made an impact on students’ lives through my volunteer work.”

Isaac Huiras is involved in athletics and school organizations, and is also an A Honor Roll student. One of his teachers wrote about his capacity for leadership in the classroom and activities. She said Isaac is always willing to put in extra time to ensure the success of his team or group, and his inclusivity and friendly demeanor set him apart.

Isaac plays soccer and track. He is very involved in in school theater productions—both one act and three act plays. Isaac belongs to the Honor Society, YES! Team, Knowledge Bowl team, Student Council and FFA. In addition to projects with those organizations, Isaac is also a volunteer in his church, where he helps set up for mass, is a mass server, and volunteers at dinners, CCD classes and other events. “Giving back to community, helping children and participating in church events has helped me become a better leader and a better friend to the community,” Isaac said.

Lauren Hoffmann is also active in her school and is an A Honor Roll student. One of her teachers noted that Lauren is a determined and hardworking young woman and scholar, who consistently strives to do her best no matter what is asked of her, working well independently and also in group situations.

Lauren plays volleyball and is on the cheerleading squad. She sings with the Schola group and is in the school musical. Lauren is on Student Council and is vice president of her class. She belongs to YES! Team and Honor Society. Lauren said volunteering with Food for Kidz, which she has done for many years with her family, has been meaningful to her. She said packing the meals brings her joy in knowing she is helping those in need. Lauren added, “This helps me to grow as a person, by reminding me to be thankful for what I have.”