McKenna and Kadon Strong, and Lindsey Windschitl and Jacob Lux are Sleepy Eye's nominees for the MSHSL ExCEL award.

Sleepy Eye High School announced McKenna and Kadon Strong are the school’s nominees for the ExCEL Award. St. Mary’s High School nominees are Lindsey Windschitl and Jacob Lux. 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 winter sports tournaments.

Twins, McKenna and Kadon Strong, are the children of Carmen and Travis Strong. Both are A Honor Roll students, who keep busy with athletics, band and other school activities.

McKenna plays hockey, volleyball, and softball, as well as being part of the cheerleading squad. She is on the YES! Team, Student Council, and Honor Society. Among her many community volunteer activities, McKenna wrote in her essay about the value she finds in being a Sunday School teacher for three-year-olds. “Not only are the kids learning from me, but I’m learning from them as well,” wrote McKenna. “They remind me that sometimes I need to think and act more like a kid: be creative, optimistic, ask questions, and dream.”

Kadon has played baseball, hockey, and football throughout high school. An injury early this fal took him out of his much-loved sports this fall and winter. The teacher who wrote a letter of recommendation for Kadon, mentioned his positive attitude, strong drive and work ethic to recover from his injury.

Kadon is class president, belongs to the Honor Society and enjoys being on the FFA trap shooting team.

For the past couple years, Kadon has served as bugler with the Sleepy Eye Honor Guard. In his essay, Kadon wrote that he finds this to be one of the most rewarding experience someone can have. He called it a privilege that helps give families closure. “Seeing peoples’ emotions while playing the bugle is something I’ll always be deeply appreciative of being involved in,” wrote Kadon.

Jacob Lux is the son of Matt and Maria Lux. An A Honor Roll student, he is in the band and Schola Choir, as well as participating in school musicals.

Jacob plays basketball and baseball. He is on the Knowledge Bowl team, Student Council, and is a member of Honor Society. He volunteers at Food for Kidz, as a Mass Server, and helps with scorekeeping at elementary and junior high basketball tournamentsIn his essay, Jacob wrote about leadership qualities, based on a quote by motivational speaker Jim Rohn. He wrote about strength, kindness, pride, humility and humor. “You have to be able to do the right things without needing praise or attention,” explained Jacob. “When you receive recognition at school for an athletic accomplishment, doing service, or being recognized by your peers you should be proud of yourself, but shouldn’t brag about it.”

Sydney Windschitl is the daughter of Jason and Barb Windschitl. She is an A Honor Roll student and a busy athlete who also finds time to sing in Schola Choir.

Sydney plays volleyball, basketball, and softball, plus is a cheerleader. She belongs to the Honor Society and YES! Team. Both organizations offer volunteer opportunities and she also volunteers at the church festival. Sydney helps keep score at elementary and junior high basketball tournaments, as well as coaching at elementary volleyball and basketball camps.

In her essay, Sidney wrote about the impact volunteering at Food for Kidz has on her. “It is easy to take for granted the simple things in life, such as food, but there are many people in the world that do not have that privilege,” wrote Sidney. She said it has made her realize how blessed she is, and wrote: “This experience helps me realize the importance of taking time to help those not as fortunate as I am.”