This year’s ExCEL Award recipients for Tracy Area High School are Brooke Christian and Cobey Anderson.
ExCEL is a recognition program that highlights high school juniors for their contribution in three fields: community, education and leadership. MSHSL schools are invited to nominate one girl and one boy for the award. Nominees must make satisfactory progress toward graduation, take part in a MSHSL fine arts or athletic activity, hold a leadership position in their school and work voluntarily in their community.
This will be the 23rd year the MSHSL has presented the award, which is sponsored by Wells Fargo.
Students are required to fill out an application and write an essay about their experiences. Each student also has a letter of recommendation written for them.
Christian is the daughter of Jim and Melissa Christian, both graduates of Tracy Area High School. She is active in three sports: cross country, basketball, and track and field and was a state track alternate. She is a three-time letter winner in cross country.
Christian has been a member of the school choir for three years, was a soloist her sophomore year and has been on her church’s praise team for three years.
In the classroom, she has made the A honor roll three years straight and is a member of the National Honor Society. She also received an academic star. Christian is a member of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and has been a Peer Helper and Big Buddy for the last two years.
Christian listed over 600 hours worth of community volunteer service in her application. Her volunteering includes at a nursing home, for her church, for a food shelf and for 4-H.
In her student essay, Christian highlighted her work with the House of Charity in Minneapolis where she helped set up and handed out cookies.
“Many of the people experiencing homelessness smiled as I smiled and handed them their cookies,” she wrote. “I had the pleasure of talking to Scott. He shared many Bible stories as he decorated a little tin can with colored construction paper. He was so happy to have a conversation with me. Looking back on my experience makes me appreciate everything that I take for granted.”
Christian was nominated for the award by Marie Hanson, English teacher and head track and cross country coach. Hanson said Christian “has exhibited a unique ability to positively lead her peers through her actions” and that she demonstrates a strong work ethic and responsibility in the classroom.
Hanson said Christian is a leader in both cross country and track and is always willing to help her younger teammates.
“Brooke Christian positively influences many of her peers through her remarkable ability to quietly lead through her actions,” Hanson added.
Anderson is the son of Chad and Darci Anderson. He plays football and basketball, and has earned numerous letters in those sports, as well as in track and field.
Anderson is also a member of the school’s marching band, concert band and pep band and received an Excellence in Art award his freshman year.
Anderson’s academic record includes a spot on the A honor roll for the last three years. He has also earned an academic letter and academic star. He is a member of the Tracy Area FCA and is a member of Peer Helpers, Big Buddies, FFA and the Spanish Club.
Anderson’s volunteering includes service as youth vice president/president-elect and teacher/helper for his church’s Sunday School. He is also in the church choir and praise team choir and is a youth Wednesday teacher and scripture reader. He has worked with the food shelf, has taken two mission trips and helps youth football players and has amassed more than 640 hours of community service.
Anderson’s essay centered on his mission trip to Minneapolis where he worked at a homeless shelter. One takeaway from the trip, he shared, was something one of the instructors said: “They are not homeless people. They are people experiencing homelessness.” He said those worlds helped him better understand people who experience struggles.
Anderson’s letter of recommendation came from Heather Kamrud-Rice, TAHS science teacher and track coach. Kamrud-Rice wrote that Anderson is a “serious, honest, enthusiastic and creative” student who has had his eye on the future ever since she first began teaching him.
“He has been diligent in his preparation. Cobey leads in the classroom with his work ethic, but he also leads with his sense of humor and his ability to work with anyone in his classes,” Kamrud-Rice wrote. “He is dependable, compassionate and fun.”