LAKE MILLS — Lakeside Lutheran High School in Lake Mills announces its Academic Top Ten from the Class of 2020.
Their profiles, in alphabetical order, follow:
Top Ten Annika Bilitz, daughter of Jon and Mary Bilitz, Cottage Grove, will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn a business degree in marketing. She also plans to study abroad for a semester.
Bilitz, a 2019 Badger Girls State representative, was part of the WHSFA State gold medal forensics team. A track athlete, she also was a member of the National Honor Society, Teens for Christ, and Operation Go, a mission trip program where students travel throughout North America to support churches.
She teaches Sunday school at her church, Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel in Madison.
“Although it wasn’t easy, transferring to Lakeside my sophomore year was one of the best memories of my life. Lakeside is filled with so many great students and staff that welcomed me in with open arms,” Bilitz said. “I’m thankful for the memories we have made — like taking a picture every day of senior year — and the many more to come, if we ever get out of quarantine.”
Salutatorian Isabella Collins, daughter of Clark and Tricia Collins, Lake Mills, is a member at St. Paul, Lake Mills, where she helps with vacation Bible school.
She will head to Eastern Illinois University to study political science and pursue a law degree. She also will play volleyball at NCAA Division I level for the Panthers.
In addition to an athletic scholarship, she has received the Presidential Scholarship — a full-tuition scholarship — at EIU, which was awarded only to 15 recipients out of 130 applicants this year.
Collins, a four-year varsity volleyball team member, was named Player of the Year this year. In addition, she was a member of National Honor Society and Teens for Christ, where she served as an officer for one year.
She also was accepted into the Senate Scholar Program, a week-long program which includes working in the Capitol alongside state legislators and participating in mock legislative activities. A piano player, she has won numerous Wisconsin Schools Music Association (WSMA) medals at both district and state festivals.
As for her time at Lakeside, Collins says, “I loved the feeling of being surrounded every day by people who share my same faith and want me to grow both academically and spiritually. I love the way the whole school feels like family, and the faculty cares so much for each and every student.”
Top Ten Gilbert Haw, son of Steven and Heidi Haw, Marshall, is a member of St. Paul, Lake Mills, where he played music in worship services.
A National Merit Finalist, he has been admitted to the Honors College at Valparaiso University in Indiana. He has received the Presidential Scholarship, and will study engineering and German.
While at Lakeside, he participated in the AV Club, STEM Club and band. He also was active in the Academic Bowl and multiple math meets, where he often scored the highest of all participants. He participated in robotics, and was part of the first-ever team from Lakeside to attend the state robotics competition.
Valedictorian Elise Meier, daughter of Bill and Cathy Meier, Watertown, plans to attend Wisconsin Lutheran College, where she earned the presidential scholarship. She plans to study cultural anthropology and Spanish with the goal of “traveling the world and experiencing all kinds of cultures, getting to know people and their stories” says Meier, who was born in Malawi, Africa. “It would be fun to be a missionary!”
A member of the National Honor Society and Student Achiever award winner, Meier also participated in drama productions, the school newspaper and the math team. With Teens for Christ, she served as the secretary her junior year and as president her senior year.
On Student Council, she was the class vice president and student body secretary.
“My teachers have been the most incredible and hard-working people I’ve ever met,” Meier said. “Even though they taught some tough classes, they only wanted to see us succeed.”
While at Lakeside, she participated in volleyball, cross country, softball and intramural basketball. She also played club volleyball, where she was the team captain.
A member of St. Mark, Watertown, she taught Sunday school and volunteered with the youth group. She also volunteered at Twice is Nice, a resale shop in Jefferson.
Top Ten Logan Pampel is the son of Jon and Julie Pampel, Johnson Creek. He will attend Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., to study economics. He plans eventually to pursue a law degree.
Pampel, a member of the National Honor Society, also was on the math team and served with Teens For Christ. A three-sport athlete, he played football, basketball and baseball. He received first-team all-conference honors for football and received an honorable mention for the 2019 Wisconsin State Journal All-Area football team.
About his days at Lakeside, he says, “I enjoyed all the memories I made in athletics with teammates and coaches, and meeting new people and strengthening my faith.”
A member of St. John, Jefferson, Pampel serves his church as an usher.
Valedictorian Megan Reinke, daughter of David and Tina Reinke, Watertown, received a presidential scholarship to attend Concordia University, Mequon. She will study education and math.
“I am excited to share my love of math with future students,” she says, “as well as work with kids and watch them grow in their knowledge.”
Reinke also received the Arne Engebretsen Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to a high school senior who plans to major in mathematical education.
She is a member at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Watertown, where she plays in the church band and has volunteered as a teacher’s aide for Sunday School. She also volunteers at Twice Is Nice Resale.
At Lakeside, Reinke has been involved with mission trips for Operation Go and Teens for Christ, serving as the secretary her senior year. As a member of National Honor Society, she was treasurer her junior year and vice president her senior year.
She also has participated in A Cappella Choir, math team, track and field, marching band, Academic Bowl, and attended the Lake Mills Optimist Club’s Annual Leadership Breakfast. She received a perfect score at the State Forensics Fest her junior year, and received a “1” rating at Wisconsin Schools Music Association for piano solos and duets.
“Attending Lakeside Lutheran blessed me with many opportunities. I was able to travel across the country on mission trips and tour with choir and the band,” Reinke says. “I have learned you can work hard and have fun at the same time. Lakeside has prepared me with a firm Christ-centered foundation for years to come.”
Top Ten Owen Schoenherr, son of Terry and Lisa Schoenherr, Cottage Grove, plans to attend UW-Whitewater to study accounting.
A member of the National Honor Society, Schoenherr also wants to get married, have children and travel to Europe. He serves as an usher for worship services at Peace Lutheran Church, Sun Prairie.
“What I liked most about Lakeside is all the friends I made when I was here,” he says. “I loved hearing the Word of God every day.”
Valedictorian Lauren Thiele is the daughter of Dan and Teresa Thiele, Poynette. A member of Teens for Christ, she has joined in “New Friends” afternoons, prepared care packages for soldiers, helped with Christmas Gifts for Kids, and made tie-blankets for hospitals.
During her four years on Student Council, she helped organize the Lakeside blood drives, mission offerings and participated in Homecoming planning.
She also was part of the Society for Women Engineers-Lakeside Lutheran chapter and helped this spring with a workshop for elementary-aged girls. As a member of National Honor Society, she participated in highway cleanup, Twice is Nice volunteering and a mental health awareness event.
Thiele played volleyball for two years and was a four-year varsity basketball player and track team member. She earned second team all-conference honors her senior year in basketball and was on several state relay teams for track.
“One thing that I found special about Lakeside was the feeling of high expectations,” she says. “The teachers always pushed me to be faithful in my work, the coaches would not settle for second best, and the student body was always full of kids that I could look up to.”
As a member of Holy Cross, Madison, Thiele has volunteered with her church for summer vacation Bible school and camps. She plans to attend the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities at the Carlson School of Management to study finance.
Salutatorian Kirsten Thundercloud is the daughter of Valerie Clark and Josh Thundercloud, Jefferson.
“I liked the friendships I made and the sense of community that a small school like Lakeside offered,” she says. “Even though we came from all over, I was able to meet so many new people. Since we had a smaller class than some schools, I was able to get to know each of my classmates over four years and I had the comfort of knowing that we were all united in the same faith.”
While at Lakeside, Thundercloud participated in basketball for one year; National Honor Society, piano, band and the math team. In her community, she has been a member of the Fort Atkinson Swim Team (FAST) since sixth grade.
A member of St. John Lutheran Church, Jefferson, she has committed to Dartmouth — receiving the Dartmouth General Scholarship — and is hoping to be accepted into its gap year program so she can volunteer, work, “and save a bit more money for tuition,” she says. Her goal is to “earn a degree in psychology and become a clinical or school psychologist.”
Valedictorian Grace Westrate, daughter of Bill and Shela Westrate, Lake Mills, will be attending Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa, where she has received the presidential scholarship, the Bridge scholarship, and an honors program scholarship.
She will major in business and minor in entrepreneurship with the goal of having “my own business in the future, something where the majority of the profits could go toward helping different causes,” she says.
Westrate, the vice president of the student body, played volleyball for three years and was named second-team all-conference in 2018. She has been involved in Teens for Christ and National Honor Society, and was named a Lake Mills student Rotarian as well.
A member at Door Creek Church, Madison, Westrate loves “the friends I’ve made at Lakeside and since it is a smaller school I get to see them every day!” she says. “Also, to be able to be surrounded and learn with people that share my beliefs and genuinely care about each other as people has been such a blessing.”