By Lorae Vardas, Correspondent
The final two Students of the Month at Pierz Healy High School for 2014 are Ashley Gross and Matt Athman. The faculty selection committee singled out the senior classmates for their high academic standards, participation in a variety of school activities and personal integrity as students.
Gross is the daughter of Steve and Gwen Gross. Family members include Lynn, Kevin, Samantha, Jeff and niece Addison. Athman is the son of Bill and Lynn Athman and has four younger sisters, Laura, Abby, Kami and Brooke.
Gross credits her Mom for much of her success to date based on her outgoing and hardworking personality. “She works a full-time job, yet has the time to cook meals and keep the house in great condition,” she said. “When I grow up, I hope I’m at least half the woman she is.”
Athman models himself after his Dad because he’s fun to be around. “I love comics, humor and jokes,” he said,
Gross is proud of the fact that she has never missed an honor roll. “My greatest accomplishment is maintaining a job (15 to 20 hours per week) since seventh-grade, while also being on the “A” and/or “B” honor roll,” she said. Still, she made time to be an academic tutor this year working with individual students needing help with English.
Science Club was a favorite extracurricular activity. Over the years, she encouraged elementary students to get involved in science by conducting experiments and teaching them how the body functions.
“My most memorable experience was being able to go on the senior class trip to Washington, D.C. and New York,” she said. “Going from small town Pierz to big city New York was a life-changing experience that I hope everyone can have someday.”
Dean Dahmen, social studies instructor who accompanied the students on the trip, thinks the sky is the limit for Gross. “She is a very polite and respectful person,” he said. “She works hard for her grades and that work ethic will pay off in whatever field she chooses to enter. Ashley has a positive outlook on life and that approach will take her wherever she wants to go. She is very responsible and conscientious about others and their needs.”
Those are the qualities one needs for a career in health care. Gross plans to attend Central Lakes College in Brainerd to become a registered nurse. “I chose an RN because they have great responsibilities to uphold. They interact and are more involved with the patients and care about the needs of everyone they meet,” she said.
Athman certainly knows all about challenges and arduous work routines having survived a serious car accident Nov. 1, 2013 that left him in intensive care for weeks, followed by months of rehabilitation. The 6-foot, 8-inch Healy High basketball star, described by friends as tall, quiet and funny, graduates with classmates on May 30.
“Matt’s positive attitude and relentless work ethic not only ensures his academic success, but has served as an inspiration to our entire community,” said Jeremy Payne, assistant basketball coach.
Among the activities Athman enjoyed were basketball, golf, band and Knowledge Bowl. Basketball was a favorite because it required hard work and teamwork, besides being fun. Winning the MYAS tournament in seventh-grade stands out as a most memorable moment.
His greatest accomplishment as a student, he said, was recovering from the life-altering car accident last fall.
Upon graduation, Athman plans to attend Augsburg College, but is unsure about a course of study at this point. Initially, he set his sights on becoming a physical therapist, but after undergoing months of therapy himself, changed his mind.
This concludes the Student of the Month series for the 2013-2014 school year. On May 7, Christopher Ortman and Raelin Reuck were named Students of the Year and recipients of $1,500 scholarships courtesy of Farmers and Merchants State Bank program sponsors.