Elite Eight Academic Award Winners

The recipients of the KORN News Radio/Q107.3/KORN Country 92.1 Elite 8 Academic Award presented by Poet have been announced. The eight boys and eight girls along with an edited narrative are listed below in alphabetical order by gender.

Isaac Estabrook – Mount Vernon HS
It is with the utmost pleasure that I write this letter of recommendation for Isaac Estabrook. Isaac has overcome lots of adversity to be the person and student he is today. His academic resume listed below speaks for itself. He has accomplished all of that despite being diagnosed with autism. He made it his mission this year to create a newsletter about his experiences with autism and educate others on his experiences as well as advocate for others with the same diagnosis. He is always willing to converse with you honestly and share his thoughts regarding being an ASD student. Honors & Distinctions: 3.96 GPA – Ranked 3rd in class; 35 Cumulative ACT score – 36 Super Score; National Honor Society (2020-2022); Oral Interpretation; 2022 CBH Quiz Bowl and Academic Festival Champions – team member. Eric Denning Principal – Mt. Vernon High School

Josh Grosdidier – Mitchell HS
Josh is one of those wonderful young men others just want to see succeed- primarily because he is so active in both school and his community. Academically Josh is one of the best of the best. He has taken many honors courses and continues to enroll in dual credit coursework during his senior year. Josh will leave Mitchell High School with 29 college credits, placing him at the level of college sophomore once he graduates from high school. His grade point average of 3.905, class rank of 37 out of 208 students, and ACT composite score of 30 are all tremendous indicators of this young man’s incredible abilities. Josh has also been active in our community with a variety of organizations. He participates in his Faith Formation Youth Group, he is an instructor teaching younger children how to ice skate, he has helped with youth football camps in the summer and fall, he participated in the Big Fish/Little Fish mentoring program, he has rung the bell for the Salvation Army, and he participated in a cancer fundraiser called “Pink the Rink”. He exemplifies all that is needed for success in our world and will be an incredible medical resource for a fortunate community. Erin C. Fowkes, Counselor

Baylor Larson – Ethan HS
Baylor has maintained a 3.94 GPA during his time at the Ethan School and has filled his schedule with dual credit classes ranging from Calculus to Robotics. He has done a fantastic job of balancing his rigorous schedule while also being involved with National Honors Society, All State Choir, One Act Play, participating in Boys State, HOBY, quiz bowl and serving as “Wooly Bully” the Ethan mascot at our basketball games, as well as other activities put on throughout the community. He continues to be an example of a scholar in the classroom and a leader in the hallways. His teachers and administration know that he can be counted on in almost every situation he’s needed and that he will analyze as well as take enjoyment in the task. He’s warm personality and his eagerness to learn will undoubtably allow him to continue his academic successes into his undergrad and beyond. Bryce Roth – Ethan High School 7-12 Principal

Riley McGinnis – Mitchell HS
Riley is a brilliant young man who does not hesitate to push himself academically. His grade point average of 4.0, class rank of 1 out of 211 students, and ACT composite score of 29 are spot-on indicators of this young man’s incredible abilities. Riley is an active athlete, engaging in numerous events including football, wrestling, and baseball throughout high school. In our community, Riley has made a difference for many other younger students. He has assisted in coaching young wrestlers in the sport and has also engaged in our Big Friend, Little Friend program where he mentors an impressionable and vulnerable young man who desperately needs a positive male role model. Erin C Fowkes, High School Counselor

Cade Mohling – Wessington Springs HS
I have known Cade since he started elementary school. I have had opportunity to be Cade’s Principal and also was his football coach during his freshmen and sophomore seasons. He is ranked first in his class with a 3.95 GPA. He is also a member of National Honor Society and involved in many activities such as football, basketball, FCCLA and community groups. Cade has always been a student that I can rely on to do odd tasks that need to be completed such as installing new seats on a bus and helped a local farmer cleaning up around his farm. Cade is very responsible and trustworthy and will be missed upon his graduation. Jason Kolousek MS/HS Principal Wessington Springs Schools

Doug Nelson – Hanson HS
Doug has maintained a 3.80 grade point average throughout his time here at Hanson High School. Doug has been a leader in our high school band participating for four years while playing the tuba in what is a very reputable band in our area. He has participated in many instrumental competitions throughout high school and gained various accolades through them. He is also very active in our high school choir and has been selected for All State Chorus for four years along with gaining other recognition in the area of vocal music. Doug has also been an active member in the Boys Scouts growing up as well as our National Honor Society chapter here at Hanson. Through both of these programs Doug has given back to our community by leading and taking part in many community service activities. Doug has been an academic standout and will be missed here at Hanson High School. Ray Slaba – MS/HS Principal Hanson School District

Levi Nightingale – White Lake HS
Levi is a hard worker and takes pride in setting high standards for himself. He has maintained a 3.95 GPA while taking the most grueling educational path, the Advanced Honors Endorsement, which puts him in position to receive the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship. He has excelled in wrestling, football, track, choir, and instrumental music. He has represented White Lake each year of high school as an All-State Choir participant. He has earned the Excellence in Academics Award, Honor Society his junior year, selected by the White Lake American Legion as a boys’ state delegate, and selected to represent White Lake High School at the Governor’s Leadership Luncheon. He is a member of his church youth group and has volunteered many hours officiating youth wrestling tournaments and football games, helping to clean the church, and volunteering during community service days. Robert Schroeder – Supt./K-12 Principal White Lake HS

Aiden Patrick – Mitchell HS
Aiden is an extremely strong academic student. His grade point average of 3.787, class rank of 57 out of 211 students are strong indicators of this young man’s abilities. Aiden is also active in Boy Scouts- about to earn his Eagle Star. He engages in several fund raisers with his hockey association, tennis organization as well as his church youth group. He places flags early in the morning and takes them down late at night as another community service for the Mitchell Exchange Club. He has also helped in the management of the girl’s tennis team, working as an instructor for younger students. Aiden is one who has great integrity and desire to do more. He has decided to enlist in the Air Force to once again serve others in his country. Erin C Fowkes, Counselor

Iris Anderson – Mitchell HS
She has been setting goals for herself since she was little always pushing to do more and to do better. Before beginning her senior year, Iris had already earned 29 college credits with plans to earn an additional 6 credits prior to graduating from Mitchell High School. Iris’s grade point average of 4.0, class rank of 1 out of 206 students, and ACT score of 33 are all indicators of Iris’s incredible ability. While taking numerous honors courses, Iris took on the task of learning college level Chinese and to this day continues taking these courses. During her sophomore year, Iris spent two weeks in Hunan, China to visit and help physically and mentally disabled children. The majority of Iris’s school and community activities include work with our Band, Show Choir, and Theater. She has dedicated hours in an attempt to make each of these organizations top notch. Her passion will be missed next year, but I truly believe our world will be a better place because of Miss Iris Anderson. Erin C. Fowkes Mitchell High School Counselor

Josephine Brok – Howard HS
Josephine is a National Honor Society member and current president with 130 volunteer hours throughout junior and senior years. Student Council member and the senior class president and member of the basketball team. Josephine has been awarded the Presidential Academic Achievement Awards; A-Honor Roll Award and 4.0 GPA; ACT Super score: 30; and Spanish I & II Award. She volunteered at the local food pantry. Josephine is an excellent example of a focused student. She will graduate as our valedictorian while balancing an outstanding collection of activities and working on her parents’ dairy farm. Her investment in dual credit courses is staggering with her work almost exceeding that of a college freshman. Josephine is planning on a career in medicine and is very focused on helping others as her life mission. T.A. Aslesen HS/JH Principal Howard School District

Morgan Clites – Corsica/Stickney HS
Morgan is a student-athlete who understands the importance of an education and who appreciates the experiences a school environment has to offer. Morgan has found herself in leadership positions within all of her Jaguar athletic teams, along with Corsica-Stickney’s FCCLA and NHS chapters organizing food, clothing, hygiene, and blood drives in addition to fundraising campaigns for the Aurora and Douglas County food pantries, the Mitchell Safe House, and Feeding South Dakota. Just last week, Morgan’s FCCLA hygiene drive earned the opportunity to compete at the national level. Morgan has been on the A honor roll all four years of high school, finishing with a GPA of 4.09. Morgan is ranked 2nd in her class, earning her Salutatorian honors. Morgan has left her legacy on Corsica-Stickney High School. She will be missed. Brittney Eide 7-12 Principal/AD Corsica-Stickney

Trista Fuerst – Mitchell HS
I have known Trista throughout her time in high school, and she is such a delightful young woman. Trista is a strong academic student, having earned a grade point average of 4.0, class rank of 1 out of 211 students, a 23 on her ACT composite, as well as a Gold rank in her NCRC National Career Readiness Certificate program. In school Trista has been an active member in our Yearbook program, participated in Volleyball her freshman year, and is a participant in 4-H. Outside of school, Trista has collected donations for Habitat for Humanity, played bingo and made Chiti for LifeQuest residents, made tie blankets and donated them to the Mitchell Police Department, and assisted in the LoveFeast, every year allowable other than our COVID shut down. Another activity depicting Trista’s character is she helped children in the Christmas Shopping for Kids- a wonderful program in the Mitchell Community. She is a deserving candidate who chooses not to draw attention to herself but deserves many accolades! Erin C. Fowkes Mitchell High School Counselor

Christa Glanzer – Mount Vernon HS
I cannot begin to express what an outstanding individual she is. Some of her honors and distinctions include: 4.27 GPA; National Honor Society; Superior Rating at SD State B Oral Interp Festival; Senior Class President; Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award; and Homecoming Queen. She is involved in basketball, volleyball, golf, jazz band and marching band. On top of that, she is a great role model for the youth of our community and sets an outstanding example. She has an uncommon drive to do well, and she is unafraid of the hard work and discipline it takes to succeed. On top of all of her efforts in the classroom and in extra-curriculars, Christa is also very involved in helping make the world a better place. She has actively led mission trips to Haiti and Mexico and contributed to many efforts locally as well. Eric Denning Principal – Mt. Vernon High School

Cora Heidinger – Corsica/Stickney HS
Cora is a very determined individual who takes advantage of every opportunity a school offers. Due to prioritizing academics, Cora is ranked 1st in her class and is the 2022 Corsica-Stickney Valedictorian. Cora has a 4.21 GPA on a 4-point scale, and her ACT composite score is a 30. Cora is very active at Corsica-Stickney high school where she has been a 4-year member of the volleyball team along with participating in band and choir. She has been an active member of the school’s FCCLA and National High Society chapter where she has served many officer roles. Additional honors earned this year include earning an opportunity to compete with her hygiene drive project at the National FCCLA Convention this summer and earning a silver level recognition for her academic accomplishments from the South Dakota High School Principals Association. In Cora’s very limited spare time, she is involved with volunteer groups in and out of school through FCCLA, NHS, and her church youth group. Cora is a fantastic individual and an exemplary member of Corsica-Stickney High School and her community. There is little doubt that Cora has an incredibly bright future in front of her, and I believe she will make an excellent representative of your award. Brittney Eide 7-12 Principal/AD Corsica-Stickney

Aleya Kizer – Howard HS
Ms. Kizer has been a very active member of our school through her activities and volunteering. Aleya has been an active member in the community as well as becoming an NHS officer her senior year and allotting well over 100 hours of community service. She has organized/partaken in community potlucks, church camps, volunteer work, and confirmational studies through St. Agatha Catholic Parish. She has volunteered at vacation bible school, worked with youth volleyball and taught skills regarding teamwork and technique. She personally led the Howard High Food Sorting Project that sorted more than 50 boxes of packaged covid-friendly foods donated to Children’s Care Corner. Aleya made more than 1,000 bags around Christmas for the Feeding South Dakota Backpack Program in Sioux Falls. What is equally impressive, is her reaching out to other volunteer areas, i.e. Sioux Falls, to develop an even more rounded list of contributions. Lastly, her work involvement with senior citizens is a testament to her willingness to do the work that is so hard to fill with quality people who truly care for the comfort of our elderly population. T.A. Aslesen HS/JH Principal Howard School District

Taylor Schroeder – Hanson HS
Taylor has maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout her high school career while taking on a challenging course load throughout. She is involved in many school activities like volleyball, basketball, track & field, chorus, band, Skills USA, Student Council, Quiz bowl team, and National Honor Society. Through being involved in National Honor Society she has had the opportunity to get involved in many community events like Easter egg hunts and other activities for young people as well as other community service events that the group takes part in. She has also been involved in Love Feast which provides meals for the less fortunate. Taylor also currently volunteers her time to mentor elementary students in our school during the little free time that she has during the school day. She is also very active in church activities and the youth group associated with her church. Taylor was also nominated by our staff as one of the Hanson High students for “Character on Track” in which helped lead activities for younger students explaining the importance of character in their lives. Taylor has been blessed with great academic abilities but more importantly has shown the drive, work ethic, and character in all that she does that I find little doubt that she will go on to do great things in her life. Ray Slaba – MS/HS Principal Hanson School District