Saenz and Arneson chosen as ExCEL Award nominees at SEHS

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Sleepy Eye High School announced that juniors Arian Saenz and Brooke Arneson were selected as ExCEL award winners with their nominations sent to the Minnesota State High School League for consideration.

Sleepy Eye High School ExCEL award winners Arian Saenz and Brooke Arneson.

From the MSHSL website: "The ExCEL Award – Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership – is a unique recognition program designed exclusively for Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, leaders in their schools, and who demonstrate a strong commitment to community service. This award is sponsored by the League's corporate partner Wells Fargo."

Arian Saenz plays football and baseball at SEHS, earning placement on the East Sub-District football team this year and All-Conference honorable mention for baseball last spring. He also earned football Academic All District and baseball Academic All Conference honors. Arian had big role in the school musical "Frozen Jr." this fall and volunteers on the Prom Committee.

The application asks for the student's thoughts on leadership. Arian wrote, "Some qualities a good leader should have are being able to control emotion, push others to do better, show what to do through example, and do things to better the team and not themselves."

A short essay on volunteerism is also required. Arian wrote about working in the concession stand at Holiday Lights in Motion to raise money for the Prom. He said, "This helped me become more comfortable talking to strangers and working in a fast-paced environment. Now if somebody would ask me to volunteer I wouldn't hesitate to say yes."

The teacher who wrote a recommendation for Arian said, among other praise, that Arian is the most polite student he has had in 19 years of teaching, and represents the school, community and athletic programs very well.

Brooke Arneson plays volleyball, hockey and softball and is also a cheerleader. She is in band and held a lead role in "Frozen Jr." this fall. Brooke belongs to a number of school organizations—Knowledge Bowl, Minnesota Honor Society, YES! team, FFA, and is Co-President of the Student Council. She volunteers at her church and Holiday Lights in Motion.

Brooke wrote that a good leader must understand how to be empathetic in order to gain desire and trust from others, needs to have a goal in mind with a path to reach the goal, focus on ways to improve others before themselves, and have the ability to make logical decisions, even if they are hard.

Brooke enjoys helping to set up and take down Holiday Lights in Motion each year. "This experience has allowed me to form many new connections with community members of all ages who are dedicating their time for the same cause—to provide joy and happiness for others during the holiday season. [It] makes me feel proud of what our community has to offer and provide for others." 

The teacher who wrote Brooke's recommendation said she is a high achieving student, an involved member of the school and community, and demonstrates leadership skills. He said that as Student Council Co-President other students come to Brooke with their concerns and "she has demonstrated a capacity to listen empathetically and does her best to act on their behalf."

Award recipients will be announced via the MSHSL website on February 1, 2022. Each recipient will be recognized on 45TV during the broadcast of the 2022 winter tournaments. They also will participate in an on-court award ceremony during the Class AA championship game of the Girls Basketball State Tournament in March.

Next week the ExCEL nominees at St. Mary's High School will be featured.