SGH/Jan Lee Buxengard
Thomas Trehus was the speaker at the Spring Grove chapter of the National Honor Society induction ceremony.
SGH/Jan Lee Buxengard Thomas Trehus was the speaker at the Spring Grove chapter of the National Honor Society induction ceremony.
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High school juniors Lauryn Bohr, Hannah Borreson, Claire Bratland, Harlee Gavin, Christopher Lamm, Vandela Parker and Cullen Patterson are this year’s inductees to the Spring Grove Chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS).

They were inducted during a ceremony and evening dinner event held March 31 in the Immigrant Hall at the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center in Spring Grove.

Along with current NHS members, Grace Edgington, Kelsey Hermanson, Stine Myrah, and Devon Nerstad, others attending the event were family members of each honoree and members of the school staff and school board. NHS member Chase Grinde was unable to attend.

Nancy Gulbranson, school principal, and Julianna Lile, Spring Grove Chapter NHS advisor, conducted the candle lighting ceremony and presented membership cards, pins and congratulations to the new inductees.

Current members explained the meaning of each of the candles. The center candle represents the flaming torch in the center of the NHS emblem. Each of the four candles lit from the center candle symbolizes the organization’s four principles: Character, Scholarship, Leadership and Service.

School records show that since 1938, the Spring Grove Chapter of NHS has inducted 573 members to the organization. Through the years there have been generations of some families who have been honored.

The lengthy process of selection is taken seriously. Students with a 3.3 cumulative-grade-point average are asked to fill out data sheets.

School staff meets to look over the forms, looking at each and every applicant for the NHS principles. Every tenured staff member votes for five. Applicants need to be on at least three of each ballot to qualify for selection.

Once inducted, it is a lifelong membership, which can be helpful in job interviews and on a resume.

Thomas Trehus is guest speaker

Gulbranson introduced the guest speaker, Thomas Trehus of Spring Grove, who is a fifth-generation resident of Wilmington Township in rural Spring Grove and a 2009 graduate of Spring Grove High School.

Trehus earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2012, served as a staff member to Sen. Al Franken in Washington D.C., and currently serves on the Spring Grove School Board of Education.

In 2016, Trehus ran unsuccessfully for the Minnesota House of Representatives. He lives for experiences, trying new things, meeting different people, traveling to places not traveled and working to improve people’s lives, Gulbranson noted, adding, “We are blessed to have Thomas’ fresh, young voice on the School Board.”

“I want to talk about something we don’t typically celebrate or even bring up in everyday life,” Trehus began. “Though many of us do this often, sometimes every day, and even the most successful among us have done this multiple times throughout life – and that is, to fail.

“Failure isn’t exactly promoted in our society. Some even consider it a dirty word. We constantly play to win and are trained to growing up.

“Now I’m not saying that we should necessarily celebrate failure in each and every case. But as a society and as human beings we must, at times, recognize what it took to fail and the gains that have resulted from that. Because when we fail, we typically learn something.

“And those who rarely fail, usually, are not living up to their God-given potential. People who fail, are usually taking some calculated risk. And risk-taking is especially critical as young adults with a heckuva lot of potential like you guys.

“There will be times in your life where you should try to mitigate risk and limit failure. As parents or as professionals, our failures could have serious negative consequences on others.

“As young adults, however, with the world at your command and very little to lose, you are able to fail and you should not be afraid to do so.

“Last year, I ran for the Legislature from this district. Even though I lost in the traditional sense, I learned a ton and experienced things I would never have experienced otherwise. In other words, I grew.”

Trehus shared that when he was fresh out of college, he had no job offers and no particular place to go. With a degree in hand, he was clueless as to where he was headed or what career path he should take.

“I needed to clear my head and leave the comforts of Minnesota for awhile, so I went backpacking in Europe, mostly alone. While abroad for two months, I quickly built up some confidence and decided to move to Washington, D.C., once I returned home.

“I was told D.C. is one of the most brutally competitive cities in the world, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

“I remember having lunch with my mom shortly after I had made up my mind to move. ‘Are you crazy?’ she asked. ‘You don’t even have a job yet, and you don’t know anyone out there!’

“A few weeks later, I hopped on a train in La Crosse with two full suitcases, a backpack and about $9,000 from selling most of my possessions.

“Was this terrifying? Yes! Exciting, of course. Two people I knew let me crash on their couch for about two and a half weeks!

“After about a month or so, I received my first job offer to work in the United States Senate. I immediately took it. But before that phone call offering me the job, I was scared, lonely, mildly depressed and extremely uncomfortable.

“In college, a professor/ professional leadership coach I had used to repeat a valuable life lesson that stuck with me. He would say, ‘There’s no growth in the comfort zone, and there’s no comfort in the growth zone.’

“If you want to grow, you must step out of your comfort zone. You must take a risk once in a while in order to promote your personal long-term growth. You must not be afraid to fail.”

Trehus pointed out, “All of you are accomplished people, and all of you have bright futures ahead of you, if you want them. Some of you had to work extremely hard to earn your place in Spring Grove High School while others simply showed up and did the work with ease. Regardless of which category you fit into, here you are. And that’s all that matters.

“In the future, however, there will be moments where you don’t feel very smart or talented, or ambitious, or even unique. This is normal.

“There are over 7 billion people on earth and only around 343 in our entire (Spring Grove) school, and only a few of those are your competition.

“You’re going to have to work harder to stand out. You’re going to have to take some risks, and you’re going to have to be willing to fail.”

“If and when you fail, learn and celebrate what you’ve done. If you’re not afraid of failure, I guarantee success will come a lot easier,” Trehus concluded.