Spring Grove juniors Harrison Speltz and Elizabeth Johnson are two of only 32 students in the state of Minnesota to be honored with the 2014 ExCEL Award. PHOTO: JON SPELTZ/SPRING GROVE HERALD
Spring Grove juniors Harrison Speltz and Elizabeth Johnson are two of only 32 students in the state of Minnesota to be honored with the 2014 ExCEL Award. PHOTO: JON SPELTZ/SPRING GROVE HERALD
High school students can be very busy people from participating in sports to musical groups to volunteering and belonging to various clubs. For 18 years, the Minnesota State High School League has recognized high school juniors "who are active in school activities, who show leadership qualities, and who are model citizens" by awarding them the ExCEL Award-Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership.

Every MSHSL member school is invited to nominate one girl and one boy for the ExCEL Award. The nominees need to be juniors in high school, be making satisfactory progress toward graduation, be participating in a MSHSL fine arts and/or athletic activity, be holding a leadership position(s) in their school, and be volunteering in their community.

The nominees from Spring Grove High School are Elizabeth Johnson and Harrison Speltz. They are not on the nominees, but they are also two of the 32 final recipients.

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth is the daughter of Kari and Dan Alstad and the late Mark Johnson. She has been active in three sports each school year including volleyball, basketball, and track. She has been and is on the Varsity squad in each sport. She has received the Academic-Athletic All-Conference Award in volleyball and basketball and has lettered in all three sports.

She is also very active in fine arts. She is a member of the concert band, marching band, pep band, and jazz band. She was also part of the Southeast Conference Honor Band and a member of the Dorian Honor Band. She has participated in Solo/Ensemble contest and has been a member of the pit band for the high school's musicals.

Her music activities also include choir. She is a member of the concert choir, chamber choir, and the women's choir. She has also participated in the Solo/Ensemble contest as a singer and an accompanist. She also accompanies the school choirs at their concerts.

As well as an accompanist, Elizabeth has participated in the Dorian Keyboard Festival, the La Crosse Area Music Teachers Association Contest, Piano Guild, and the Minnesota Music Teachers Association State Competition.

Elizabeth also spends a lot of time volunteering in her community and her school. She is a member of the adult choir and praise band at her church, as well as a Sunday School assistant, and confirmation volunteer. Her 4-H club, Newhouse Norsemen, has also kept her busy. She has been the vice president and secretary. She has had many champion and reserve champion projects and animals. She was also the Houston County Fair Princess. At school she is a member of the FFA Club, Youth Development, the Yearbook Committee, and Knowledge Bowl.

Harrison Speltz

Harrison Speltz is the son of Gloria and Jon Speltz. He has been active in sports during his high school career including baseball in which he has played on the varsity team and lettered and football in which he also played on the varsity team, lettered, was team captain, and also All Conference Honorable Mention. He also received the Athletic Academic All-Conference Award in football. He is part of the powerlifting team and was a national qualifier.

He is also involved in fine arts activities including band where he is a member of the concert band, marching band, pep band, jazz band, and the pit band for the high school's musicals. He has also participated in Solo/Ensemble contest.

His music activities also include choir where he is a member of the concert choir, chamber choir, and men's group. He participated in the Solo/Ensemble contest and was awarded Music Academic All-Conference.

At school, he is a member of the Knowledge Bowl team, FFA, student council, and Youth Development. He is also involved in his community as a member of his church's praise band, a Sunday School assistant, a flag football helper, and a Boy Scout.

The Award

The ExCEL award program began in 1996. Recipients are selected through a multi-level process that involves MSHSL member schools and an independent panel of judges from schools throughout Minnesota. KSTC- TV, Channel 45, the League's broadcast partner, will recognize the 2014 ExCEL award recipients during halftime at the girls Class AA state basketball championship on March 22. Each student will also participate in an on-court award ceremony. Each winner's family receives tickets to the game, hotel, and meals for this special awards ceremony.

Elizabeth Johnson - "The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential...These are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence."

Harrison Spletz - I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games, 26 times. I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And this is why I succeed." ~Michael Jordan