STAPLES — Several area high school students considered behind-the-scenes leaders are getting the recognition they deserve.

Forty-five students from 23 central Minnesota high schools will be honored virtually by Sourcewell Wednesday in a Students of Character “Celebrating Quiet Leadership” celebration.

The 30th annual Students of Character event starts at 5:30 p.m. and recognizes high school juniors and seniors in our region for their quiet leadership, perseverance, and dedication to their community, school, and fellow students. Honorees are selected by their school staff with the criteria that they are unsung heroes of their districts. The event celebrates the difference these students make and lets them know we appreciate and believe in them.

The students include Trevor Radke and  of Phiyapat Saeoung of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School, Kaydence Weimer of Northland Community School, Nikolai Olson and Deenaya Reams of Cass Lake-Bena School, and Avery Trout and Malachi Wipper of Pine River-Backus School.

Each student was selected by his or her school staff with the criteria that they are “unsung heroes” of their district — the behind-the-scenes students who receive little, if any, recognition.

WHA School

Trevor Radke

Nominated by: Thomas McIver: It’s simply refreshing to be around Trevor. He consistently puts forth his best effort and doesn’t complain when the going gets tough. He just rolls up his sleeves and puts in the work. Trevor leads by example and encourages his classmates. He plans to study heavy equipment operation and maintenance at Central Lakes College (Staples campus).

Trevor will receive a $500 scholarship from Central Lakes College.

Phiyapat Saeoung

Nominated by Thomas McIver: Phiyapat emigrated from Thailand to our community a few years ago. She had to learn English, make new friends, and adjust to a new way of life. She has an incredible sense of responsibility and rarely misses classes or school. Phiyapat is kind and routinely puts others before herself. She is still deciding what’s next for her after graduation.

Cass Lake-Bena School

Nikolai Olson

Nominated by Alisha Hillukka: Nikolai is involved in his school and community, working the concessions stand during sporting events, taking pictures for the local newspaper, and volunteering for the Chippewa Tribe triathlon. He’s been an advocate for his fellow students, attending many school board meetings and helping to ensure a safe learning environment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. He plans to attend Bemidji State University and study photography or engineering.

Deenaya Reams

Nominated by Alisha Hillukka: Deenaya has grown by leaps and bounds in the last two years, overcoming her shy nature and working hard to know herself better. She’s the senior class president and the student council secretary. She has regularly found new ways to engage others during distance learning, keeping her class connected. Deenaya plans to attend The Art Institute in Chicago and become a concept artist.

Northland Community High School

Kaydence Weimer

Nominated by Scott Peterson: Kaydence has experienced the loss of two important people in her life and has overcome bullying from classmates. She’s been an active member of student leadership, choir, and softball. She’s also very involved with her church. Kaydence works at the Remer Motel and plans to study mechanical engineering at Itasca Community College.

Pine River-Backus High School

Avery Trout

Nominated by Mary Sigan: Avery has a maturity and sense of empathy that are rare for her age. She’s experienced many challenges in the past few years – challenges that no student should have to deal with, ever. She is a gentle leader, fiercely loyal, and levelheaded. She recognizes the most important details in life and thrives by helping others. Avery plans to attend Bemidji State University and pursue a career in nursing.

Malachi Wipper

Nominated by Mary Sigan: Malachi is fiercely true to himself and incredibly kind. Even when he deserves most of the credit for a task, he is quick to share the spotlight. He’s intelligent and a self-starter. He’s committed to his faith and has a heart for service to his school and community. Malachi plans to study criminal justice at Central Lakes College.

Malachi will receive a $500 scholarship from Central Lakes College.

If you wat to watch the celebration, go to

• Log in, or skip the step by selecting, “Not Now”

• Scroll down until you see a Premiere box titled, “Students of Character – 2021 Virtual Celebration”

• Click on the box to start watching

• Can’t join us live? No problem. Watch on demand on Sourcewell’s Facebook page after April 14

About Sourcewell

Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) is a self-supporting government organization, partnering with education, government, and nonprofits to boost student and community success. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota’s nine service cooperatives, we offer training and shared services to our central-Minnesota members. Throughout North America, we offer a cooperative purchasing program with more than 325 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.


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