By Lorae Vardas, Correspondent
The faculty selection committee has named Sarah Stangl and Ryley Smude as October Students of the Month at Pierz Healy High School. Among other things, they are being honored for their scholasticism, leadership skills, participation in school activities and good citizenship.
Randy Fischer, high school science teacher, characterizes Stangl with a quote from Olympic runner Gail Devers: “Dedication is not what others expect of you, it is what you can give to others.”
“Sarah has distinguished herself in high school by her intelligence and unparalleled work ethic,” he said. “She is extremely focused, impressing me with her depth of thinking and the high degree of excellence she constantly achieves. Her ability to master complex concepts and then transfer this knowledge to applied situations is outstanding.”
Stangl not only excels in the classroom, but is an accomplished musician and artist who belongs to concert jazz, earning superior and excellent ratings at the Minnesota State High School Visual Arts Festival. A very busy senior, her list of extracurricular activities includes Knowledge Bowl, National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Book Club, First Robotics team and track/field.
She said her favorite is Knowledge Bowl because it covers a wide variety of topics that normally wouldn’t be covered in class. “It also encourages quick and logical thinking,” she said. Winning a merit scholarship from St. Francis Music Center has been one of her greatest accomplishments to date.
“Joining the community string orchestra at St. Francis Music Center,” said Stangl, when asked about her most memorable experience. “I met people of different ages, talents, backgrounds and personalities. I learned how to adjust to working with different people. I was also able to play music from around the world and from varying time periods.”
Upon graduation, the daughter of James and Patty Stangl has set her sights on a double major in physics and engineering with a minor in mathematics. She is applying at both Princeton University and MIT. Family has always been a positive influence on her academically, especially older brothers Richard, a music major, Brian, a physics major, and Allen, a chemistry major. As a matter of fact, she models herself after Brian who introduced her to physics. “He also introduced me to the seemingly impossible, but interesting concepts of physics,” she said. Younger brother Peter, 15, rounds out the family.
Although Stangl is looking forward to graduation, she will miss being in a small school environment. However, she’s thinking big and would someday like to meet astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. She has set lofty goals for herself that Fischer thinks she can achieve with her sense of determination.
“She continually demonstrates to her peers that hard work, positive attitude and humility are a successful combination. Sarah also models the message to younger students that you can remain independent and not give into the cultural influences that are based solely on instant gratification,” said Fischer.
Smude has also developed a strong work sense and positive attitude over his high school years. An outstanding athlete, he is a member of the playoff bound Pioneer football team and captains the award winning wrestling team where he earned All-Conference.
When asked about his most memorable experience, he chose being a state participant in wrestling. “Going to state as a team in wrestling for three years in a
row and hopefully a fourth this year,” he said.
Dave Rocheleau, activity director and coach, describes Smude as a quiet leader. “He is a leader in class by modeling a focused work ethic to other students,” he said. “On the football field and the wrestling mat, Ryley leads by demonstrating hard work. He shows up every day and gives it all he has.”
The son of Jim and Cara Smude models himself after his father, who taught him the value of hard work. As evidence of that well-learned lesson, classmates elected him president of FFA. Smude has two older brothers, Cody and Josh, a younger brother Grant and sister Faith.
An Adam Sandler fan, Smude is going to miss seeing the friends he grew up with when he heads off to college. He plans to attend the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus in management. Until then, he too appreciates the simplicity of going to a small school and the friendships that have developed.
“Ryley will be missed here at Pierz Healy High School, but I believe that Ryley has developed the character traits to allow him to have success at whatever he decides to pursue,” said his coach.
As Students of the Month Stangl and Smude become eligible for $1,500 scholarships to be awarded in May.