By Lorae Vardas, Correspondent
Claire Reardon and Lukas Otte were named Students of the Month for May at Pierz Healy High School. This concludes the 2016-2017 scholarship program sponsored annually by Farmers and Merchants State Bank featuring recipients in the Morrison County Record.
Reardon is the daughter of Michelle and the late Jim Reardon. Otte’s parents are Thomas and Kathleen Otte.
The senior classmates have much in common with high GPAs academically, as leaders among their peers, good all around citizens and participants in a variety of extracurricular activities. For example, both are members of the Student Athletic Leadership Team (SALT), and Where Everybody Belongs (WEB).
Ruth Stuckmayer, business instructor and Pierz Gearz school store adviser, has known Reardon for years as a hardworking individual who pushes herself to do her very best.
“Because of her talent and determination, she has been a great leader in the business courses she has taken. She has also been an asset to Pierz Gearz in managing every sport during the school year,” Stuckmayer said.
“I can always count on Claire,” she said. “I am impressed with her ability to manage her schedule during the hectic times of high school. She comes in each day with a positive attitude. She follows through on every task and takes pride in her work.”
Besides the classroom, much of that work took place in the band room on the volleyball court and the softball field captaining the varsity team.
“My most memorable experience was my junior year softball season because we were one game away from going to state. It was a lot of fun playing with seniors last year. I really looked up to them,” Reardon said.
Along with the great outdoors, family and friends are central to her general well-being.
“I like going hunting, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, beach volleyball and other games,” Reardon said.
”I am going to miss the connection I have with some teachers, my classmates and underclassmen. I do not want to let go of any of my friendships,” she said of the group who knows her by her contagious laugh.
“My greatest accomplishment is being able to graduate with honors,” she said. “I am really proud of that because school does not come naturally easy for me. I have to work and study really hard for my grades.”
Reardon anticipates missing her mom as she heads off to St. Cloud Technical Community College this fall to major in cardiovascular technology.
“I want to work with the heart because my dad died from a heart attack, so I feel called to work as a cardiovascular technologist to help people with preventing heart attacks and heart diseases,” she said.
The one person she would like most to meet now is her father as a young man.
“He died before I got to the age where I was interested in hearing stories of his younger self. Although I know who my dad was, there is a part of me that feels like I do not fully know his whole life,” Reardon said.
In the interim, Reardon modeled herself after her Grandma Mary. “The best person I know,” she said. “She is always so deep into her faith and would give the shirt off her back for anyone. She enjoys life and lives every day to the fullest.”
“Lukas Otte has been a model student and an absolute joy to work with in my two years as band director at Pierz. He works extremely hard in everything he does and is one of the most kind and respectful students I have ever know,” said teacher Joel Pohland.
Along with serving as vice president of band, Pohland’s assessment aptly characterizes Otte as a stellar tri-sport athlete in baseball, football and basketball. His exemplary involvement in academics, the arts and athletics earned him the prestigious AAA Award. In addition, he holds Healy High’s ExCEL Award issued by the Minnesota State High School League, for excelling in sports, fine arts and the classroom. Peer Helping is another activity he enjoys doing.
Although a man of few word, Otte obviously knows what he likes. “Baseball, because it is outside and fun to be with friends,” he said. Otte would like to meet Kirby Puckett and said his most memorable experience was playing in the new Vikings stadium. He names his greatest accomplishment as winning the AAA Award.
He said his father is his role model because, “He does what he wants and has fun doing it.”
Otte said his friends would describe him as “Hardworking and energetic.” He will miss being with his friends every day after graduation.
Otte plans to attend St. John’s University after graduation.
The band director had a few more observations regarding his star musician. “He is genuine, honest and a great role model for his peers and younger students. Lukas will excel in his future endeavors; I have been honored to be his teacher,” Pohland said.
Earlier this month, Healy High graduates Lane Girtz and Abby Athman were named Students of the Year and winners of the two $1,500 college scholarships from Farmers and Merchants State Bank.