The Fort Atkinson Rotary Club on Sunday saluted 20 Fort Atkinson High School seniors as the Class of 2020’s Top Scholars.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic school closures, the seniors were recognized in a virtual ceremony that may be viewed at https://www.fortschools.org/Page/8911.
Introducing the honorees was high school principal Dan Halvorsen.
“This evening marks the 61st time that the Rotary Club of Fort Atkinson has provided this celebration to recognize senior scholars from the graduating class from Fort Atkinson High School,” he said. “The influence Rotary has in our community is positive, lasting and I believe we are a better community because of Rotarian support.
“Through your service to our community and your support of our youth, Rotarians send a strong message about the importance of our youth, their education and the power education has to influence our lives. Please reflect a moment to join me in thanking the Fort Atkinson Rotarians!
Halvorsen noted that the 20 students all have “impressive achievements” and “noble plans for the future.”
“As a school district, we are very proud of the young men and women we honor this evening,” he said. “Our mission seeks to provide students quality opportunities to help them achieve their academic and personal potential. I believe these students have taken full advantage of the opportunities they have been provided at school, in our community and those provided by their families.”
Speaking on behalf of all of the teachers and staff at Fort Atkinson High School, Halvorsen congratulated the seniors and their families.
“Thank you in advance for the important differences you will make as you continue your journeys through life,” the principal stated. “As you accept your award this evening, let it challenge you to live by the Rotary motto: ‘Service Above Self.’”
He emphasized that it is most fitting to recognize and honor the parents for “the powerful influence that provided for your child to be honored this evening.”
The 2020 Top Scholars are:
• Maggie Behlke: Maggie is the daughter of Dustin and Audra Behlke.
She said her most meaningful experiences are being a show choir crew member and iech crew for the high school musicals.
“She also enjoyed her advanced art classes,” Halvorsen said. “The high school memory that sticks out the most to her is being a part of the prom committee and being voted prom queen!”
Maggie will be attending Madison College to study event management.
• Emmigail Belzer: Emmigail is the daughter of Mason and Stephanie Belzer.
She said her most meaningful activities are girls swimming, being a Big Buddy and F-Club.
“One of Emmigail’s favorite school memories was Homecoming Week during her senior year,” Halvorsen said.
Emmigail will be going to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall to study kinesiology on the pre-physicians assistant path.
• Madeline Besch: Madeline is the daughter of Nate and Terri Besch.
“Madeline’s favorite memory in high school was being able to compete at the national level for the Fort Atkinson High School Archery Club,” Halvorsen said.
He added that she said her most meaningful experiences are Archery Club, Skills USA and being a member of the National Honors Society.
Madeline plans to study mechanical engineering at UW-Platteville.
• Lauren Bilau: Lauren is the daughter of Eric and Deb Bilau.
“Her most meaningful high school experiences are track and field, Interact Club and Big Buddy,” Halvorsen said.
“Lauren’s high school memories that will always stick out the most to her are getting close with her teammates during the cross-country and track-and- field seasons.”
Lauren will be attending UW-Madison to major in biomedical engineering and will be a part of their track and field team.
• Alexis Dudzek: Alexis is the daughter of Andy and Ann Dudzek.
She will be attending UW-Madison to study biology with a pre-medicine emphasis.
She said her most meaningful activities during high school are Varsity Swim Team all four years, Student Senate, and Interact Club.
“She has so many great memories, but the biggest memory that stands out to her was on the first day of her freshman year, the Link Crew leaders told the students ‘The next four years will go by faster than you have ever expected, and before you know it ,you’ll be graduating,’” Halvorsen said.
“She didn’t want to believe those words, but now as a senior, she reflects back wondering ‘where did all that time go?’”
• Kraymer Gladem: Kraymer is the son of Todd and Ann Gladem.
He said the most meaningful organizations in which he has been involved are Interact Club, boys volleyball, and participating on the track team, where he learned leadership, teamwork, community and international participation skills.
“His high school memory that he will never forget is the moment spent around the long/triple jump and high jump pits with his teammates,” Halvorsen said. “Despite the competitive environment and independently natured mindset of track and field, his jumper crew stood together shoulder to shoulder, always clapping and cheering for one another as the last minutes of daylight faded away while team members prepared to jump their qualified final.”
Kraymer will be attending UW-Madison to pursue a career in either pharmacy or dentistry. He hopes to join an intramural team, and looks forward to pursuing his goal of studying a semester abroad.
• Madelyn Hansen: Madelyn shared this celebration with her mother, Christine Hansen.
She said her most meaningful activities have been track and field, Interact Club and Student Senate.
“Her high school memory that sticks out the most to her was her track and field state championship, when her team traveled to La Crosse to compete,” Halvorsen said.
Madelyn will be attending the United States Air Force Academy, while majoring in biology and competing for its track and field team with plans to serve her country someday as a flight physician.
• Brooke Hartwig: Brook is the daughter of Steven and Heather Hartwig.
“She said she will always remember her senior night of swim, her friends decorated signs for the seniors, family and friends all came to the meet to support her, and she swam her fastest times she ever had in the home pool that night,” Halvorsen said.
She said her most meaningful activities have been swim team, being a National Honor Society member and the organization’s president, and volunteering in her church youth group, LIFT.
She will be attending UW-Madison to study neurobiology.
• Marta Huss-Lederman: Marta is the daughter of Steven and Susan Huss-Lederman.
She said her most meaningful activity has been volunteering more than 350 hours at SMILES therapeutic riding, where she loves making a difference in people’s lives. SMILES has become her second home and said she truly cherishes her time there.
“A high school memory that sticks out to Marta the most is the ‘surreal feeling’ she felt, standing under the lights at UW-Whitewater’s Perkins Stadium in her first finals for marching band,” Halvorsen said.
Marta plans to attend Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. She is undecided on a major, but hopes to pursue a degree in general sciences with a concentration in environmental studies.
• Reyne Kincaid: Reyne is the daughter of Robert and Josie Kincaid.
She will be attending UW-Milwaukee, where she plans to major in nursing. She hopes to get her bachelor’s of science in nursing and work iin a hospital emergency room department.
“She said her most meaningful activities during high school have included football, which taught her some life lessons like connecting with classmates (friends), working hard and teamwork (working together),” Halvorsen said.
In addition, he noted that she said the the CNA class Reyne took at Madison College helped her develop as a person and found her love for health care.
“Reyne gave much of her time and efforts to her schoolwork and work life,” Halvorsen said. “We wish you well, Reyne.”
• Maya Kish: May is the daughter of Jason and Robin Kish.
She cited being a team member on the cross-country team and her art classes as her two most meaningful high school activities.
“One of Maya’s memories that sticks out the most was being a link crew leader and helping incoming freshmen in their transition to high school,” Halvorsen said.
Maya will be attending UW-Madison, where she will double major in biology and art.
• Kathleen Koehler: Kathleen is the daughter of Jim and Lisa Koehler.
She said that her most meaningful activities in high school have been orchestra, being a member of the cross-country team and French club.
“Kathleen’s special memory that she will always cherish in high school is going to cross-country camp her senior year,” said Halvorsen.
She will be attending Tricoci University in Janesville to study esthetics in the fall.
• Jadyn Krause: Jadyn is the daughter of Ben and Amy Krause.
She said her most meaningful experiences in high school have been volleyball, FFA and F-Club.
“Her high school memory that sticks out the most is being a part of the volleyball team in her senior year,” Halvorsen said.
Jadyn will be attending Carroll University in Waukesha to study exercise science in the direct admission to the physical therapy program.
• Hailey Prager: Hailey is the daughter of Robert and Rebecca Prager.
“Hailey has several good memories of high school, but her favorite memorable moment is when her robotics team won the Wisconsin regional competition and qualified for the world championship for two years in a row when she was a robot operator and team leader,” Halvorsen said.
Hailey cited her three most meaningful activities while in high school as running cross country, FIRST Robotics Team 6574 in Whitewater and volunteering at Camp Friendship.
Hailey will be attending UW-Platteville to major in environmental engineering.
• Joseph Stiemke: Joseph is the son of Michael and Jody Stiemke.
He reported his most meaningful experiences during high school as participating in Interact Club, being a member of the National Honor Society, playing on the volleyball team and participating in track and field.
“The high school memory that sticks out the most to him is going on the accounting day fieldtrip to Whitewater,” Halvorsen said. “Being with close friends and experiencing school on the next level was so much fun — plus he had time to play some ping pong!”
Joseph will be attending UW-La Crosse to study accounting.
• Klaire Trieloff: Klaire is the daughter of David and Sheila Trieloff.
She will be attending UW-Whitewater, where she will major in marketing.
Klaire reported that her most meaningful activities during high school have been paying on the varsity tennis, basketball and soccer teams, Student Senate, National Honor Society and F-Club.
“Her favorite high school memory was helping to plan and set up prom; homecoming and Sadie Hawkins dances were great memories, too,” Halvorsen said.
• Timothy Voelker: Timothy is the son of Wade and Kelly Voelker.
“Timothy’s most meaningful memory is a person, Mr. (Dean) Johnson, who changed his life forever,” Halvorsen said. “Mr. Johnson taught and inspired Timothy’s desire to pursue a career in software development, and he considers himself lucky to have been Mr. Johnson’s student.”
He added that Timothy has too many wonderful high school memories to share just one.
Timothy will be attending UW-Madison to major in computer science to become a software engineer.
• Aidan Wagner: Aidan is the son of Alan and Julie Wagner.
He cited his most meaningful classes during high school as Advanced-Placement Computer Science and all the art classes he has taken, especially his sculpture class.
“His high school memory that sticks out the most to him was taking AP computer science with Mr. (Dean) Johnson,” Halvorsen said.
Aidan will be attending Madison College in Madison to study mechanical design technology.
• Natalie Yandry: Natalie is the daughter of Douglas and Pamela Yandry.
She cited her most meaningful activities as having been volleyball and FFA.
“She will always remember being a part of FFA and the lifelong friendships she’s built across the country, attending national conventions and the Washington Leadership Conference,” Halvorsen said. “She has learned great leadership and responsibility skills.”
Natalie plans to attend Madison College to earn an association registered nursing degree while working at the UW Health American Center. She hopes to someday earn her bachelor’s of science in nursing.
• Hayden Zachgo: Hayden is the son of Brian and Tara Zachgo.
He said that his most meaningful activities in high school have been being a team member of the cross-country and track and field teams.
“The memory that sticks out to him the most was his AP computer science class with Mr. (Dean) Johnson,” Halvorsen said.
Hayden will be going to UW-Stout in Menomonie to study packaging and running on its track team.
In addition to recognizing the Top Senior Scholars, Halvorsen took a moment to thank Jamie Knutson, his administrative assistant in the main office.
Calling her “the glue that helps hold many of our high school programs together,” he said Knutson’s steadfast work and excellent sense of humor help provide for accomplishment while maintaining a sense of balance and positivity throughout challenging times.”
Halvorsen also thanked School District of Fort Atkinson District Administrator Rob Abbott for “your leadership, dedication and fellowship to this community and our Rotary Club. Your support, involvement and presence at so many of our students’ events and activities has not gone unnoticed and is greatly appreciated.”
In addition, he thanked the Rotary Club and its president Paul Johnsen, for their “unwavering support of education and for recognizing our top academic scholars.
“This proud tradition carries much prestige and honor and I thank you for the many ways you play a role in student’s lives,” he said. “Although it was a different venue and format this year, your continued support is greatly appreciated.”
Finally, Halvosen thanked the students and their parents.
“Parents, thank you. You all should be very proud,” he said. “Students, you have worked very hard and made the most of your education … we know you will leave Fort High and make us even prouder as you continue your studies and positively influence those around you. Congratulations to each of you.”