Thirteen students and two community members will be honored Wednesday during the annual Character Counts banquet at 6:15 p.m. in the Minot State University Student Union.
The award winners include Courtney Aarseth, Isaac Massey and Jacob Magnuson, all seniors at Bishop Ryan Catholic School; McKenna Jo Hodenfield, Chloe Rickards and Micaela Haider, all seniors at Minot High School-Magic City Campus; Eric Artz and Nathan Artz, both sophomores at Minot High School-Central Campus; Makiah Frederick, a seventh-grader at Our Redeemer's Christian School, and Kendra Cruff, a sophomore at Our Redeemer's Christian School; McKenna Beeter, an eighth-grader at Jim Hill Middle School, and Rhett Pederson and Brenna Tschetter, both eighth-graders at Erik Ramstad Middle School.
Community Character Builder Award recipients are David Fuller, president of Minot State University, and the Rev. Paul Krueger, pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church and Hope Village.
According to her biography, Courtney, the daughter of Jerry and Jill Aarseth, takes school seriously while helping to make the learning of others better. Courtney enjoys working with the younger students, helping them in making wise choices in their daily lives. She shares that nothing is more fulfilling than getting "hugs" from the little kids who really don't know you, but realize that you are someone that they strive to be like someday.
Courtney has been active in Honor Society, Student Council, Science Olympiad and Environathon. Courtney strives to be a positive leader in all that she does.
Her teachers report that Courtney is the student who will go above and beyond for anyone. When she sees that someone is in need, she will not only do whatever she can to help, but she will also get others involved. During a school blood drive, she did not just send around a sign-up sheet; she explained to people the need for the drive. Courtney has great compassion towards others. She recently shaved her head for "Locks of Love" to show her support by donating her hair to those who have lost theirs because of cancer treatments.
Eric has a twin brother, Nathan, who was diagnosed with cancer in November 2012. Although Nathan and his mother had to spend much of the year in hospitals for Nathan's cancer treatment, teachers report that Eric always did his best to handle chores at home and to keep up with his school subjects and other responsibilities. Eric and Nathan have always been extremely close, enjoying many of the same kinds of activities and supporting each other throughout their lifetime. Having his twin brother gone was extremely difficult for Eric, but Eric maintained a 4.0 grade point average in school while keeping up with his leadership positions in Boy Scouts, such as Chaplain Aid, Patrol Leader, Assistant Patrol Leader and Quarter Master. He also plays viola and trombone and serves as an altar server at Mass at least once every month. He also volunteers his time doing service projects like removing carpet for a local nonprofit center and doing painting. Eric helps in nursing homes, he collects food for food drives, works at local soup kitchens and a food pantry. He helped in picking corn and potatoes for the local food pantry, picking up garbage in the parks, helping to clean at the zoo, and also helping in the flood cleanup as he was able. Eric has volunteered his services for many Eagle Scout projects and landscaping projects in the Minot area. Eric learned how to deal with his brother's absence and his brother's treatment through learning to pray when he felt lonely. Eric became determined to help his brother through the cancer treatment and with his schoolwork whenever Nathan was strong enough to try completing his school assignments. Eric was Nathan's biggest supporter and became his brother's teacher. Although it has been difficult for Eric to continue in all activities that the boys have always pursued together, Eric has continued in band, orchestra and Boy Scouts. Eric decided to miss a Boy Scout National Jamboree rather than attend without his twin by his side. He felt his brother needed him more.
Teachers report that Nathan has battled cancer since November 2012, but has still been able to maintain a 4.0 grade point average in school and has finished the ninth grade course work, which was largely missed because of his treatment schedules in both Rochester, Minn., and Fargo. Nathan has been very active with Boy Scouts, which he loves. He has been involved with numerous community service projects and in leadership positions through his time in Boy Scouts. Nathan has served as an altar server at church, and helps with other church projects. Nathan has worked at local soup kitchens, he's collected food for food drives, picked corn and potatoes for the local food pantries, and helped with picking up garbage at our local parks. He also has assisted other Scouts in working for their Eagle projects. People said Nathan always is fair in helping his brothers, which in turn has brought much fairness back to him.
While battling his cancer, Nathan always shared with his family to just have "faith and trust." Nathan was able to keep his faith and trust along with his very positive attitude. Nathan's perspectives show his great character: "I know each and every one of us has an unique and gifted purpose in this world. I know that this was not mine; that this was just a needed and valuable lesson in my long journey called life." Nathan shared his perspective with others at the hospital who were battling cancer.
McKenna has been impacted over the years by her father's ongoing health struggles. Raymond Beeter first received a heart transplant in May 2006. Late last year, his body rejected the heart and he is again on a transplant list and is also undergoing kidney dialysis four times per week.
In addition to being a support for her parents, McKenna helps other families of heart transplant patients. She watches two small children for a woman who is waiting for a heart and lung transplant and also visits and checks on a 23-year-old woman who has experienced two heart transplants. In addition, she volunteers at the Humane Society, helps out at a local food pantry, and is part of the Police Explorer Post program. She enjoys walking the neighborhood dogs. Those who nominated her said she has a good sense of humor, a ready smile and a genuine concern for others.
Kendra likes to help others. This past summer Kendra went to Minneapolis to serve on a mission trip where she helped teach Vacation Bible School to children. She also assisted in cleaning Sibley Park, and she was able to participate in Feed My Starving Children. Kendra also has been a student leader at her church's youth group. She has been teaching a small group and she feels happy doing this and that this opportunity has been a great learning experience to her.
Kendra looks for ways to help make positive differences in her time at school. Recently, at a volleyball game Kendra observed a fellow student taunting and making fun of the losing team. She spoke up that she didn't think the taunts and teasing were right and she asked the person to please stop. Kendra is willing to risk herself in these kinds of situations.
Like so many families, Kendra's family lost their home in the Minot flood. She shared that losing everything and living in a FEMA trailer for two years was difficult, but that she learned to keep a positive outlook throughout this challenging experience.
Kendra is involved in her school's chapter of National Honor Society, she serves on the school's Chapel Committee, and is involved in the United Way Youth Board.
Makiah is always looking for new ways to reach out to others in school, the community, and at her church. Makiah helps her dad when he needs to talk on the telephone because her father is hard-of-hearing and has difficulty communicating with others by phone. Makiah also volunteered for a Thanksgiving outreach this past November to Inner City Christian Ministries in Minneapolis to serve and feed people who are homeless. Makiah also volunteers with a truck and trailer ministry called "About The Father's Business." This ministry shows love to others through acts of kindness such as caroling and handing out Bibles and candy canes during the holiday season to those impacted by the Minot flood. Makiah assisted in raising money for "About the Father's Business" by giving away beverages to individuals coming to the family's annual garage sale. She also raised money for "Speed the Light," which helps provide needed equipment for missionaries by making and giving homemade Norwegian pastries away at her church. She was able to raise over $200 for these worthwhile ministries.
Makiah assisted many individuals impacted by the 2011 Souris River flood. She also helps with her church's nursery, Little Kids Church and Junior Bible Quiz. She also worked with "Feed My Starving Children," which packages food for starving or malnourished children in third-world countries. Makiah also has been a buddy to her cousin, Kayla, who plays baseball for the Minot Dream Catcher's. Kayla has epilepsy and Makiah has assisted with helping Kayla on different occasions.
Micaela is described an organized, resourceful and responsible young lady who is constantly thinking about how to help others and make her school and community a better place. Macaela is willing to take on any new challenge to see positive results helping others.
Those who nominated her said Micaela is responsible, respectful, caring and hard working. She is employed at Barnes & Noble and still finds time to participate in school, community and church activities. Micaela is a member of National Honor Society, Student Council, Magic City Renaissance Team, Operation Orientation, Art Club, Key Club and Character Counts! Club.
Micaela enjoyed her community service projects of helping with the YMCA Halloween party, and taking part in the yearly Operation Christmas Child. She also had major commitments for helping plan Homecoming week. Micaela is involved at her church from a very young age and now she serves as an usher. Micaela also has taught dance to young children at the Minot Academy of Dance and Cheer, which she found very enjoyable and rewarding.
Micaela was extremely involved with supporting the family of her aunt Colleen Couture who passed away after a battle with brain cancer. Micaela helped with the three children while her aunt and husband were so heavily involved in medical treatments. Micaela states that Aunt Colleen's youngest daughter, Natalie, has shown her what incredible strength one can have throughout her mom's battle with cancer. Micaela says that Natalie is her inspiration and will be for the rest of her life.
McKenna is described as a person who gives 100 percent of herself in all that she does. She is a 4.0 student. She is active in school, church and community. She is involved in National Honor Society, orchestra, student council and soccer. In her church, she takes leadership roles with youth activities and service projects to help others. Words that come to mind in describing McKenna are nice, kind, respectful, responsible, giving, diligent, conscientious, caring and hard working. Currently, McKenna is president of her Lutheran Youth Organization. She realizes how important being a positive role model for younger students is in this leadership position. This past year her group raked leaves at the zoo, helped with science day at the library, made tied blankets to help others and numerous other smaller service projects. Through National Honor Society and Student Council, McKenna volunteered at the YMCA Halloween Party, she passed out flyers about an upcoming weekend canned food drive, filled a box with goodies for kids for Christmas, and helped with the Thanksgiving food basket project at her school.
McKenna was requested to take on a nanny job for a young autistic girl. After spending the day with this girl who was only 7 and could not talk, McKenna shared with her mom that she wasn't sure that this challenging job was something she could do. After visiting with her encouraging mom, McKenna accepted the nanny job and has been caring for this girl over the past year, and she loves this girl and job. McKenna believes that family and friends are the best things in life.
Jacob is involved in many community happenings. He is a participant in both varsity basketball and baseball for his school and the American Legion, is a football player and is in the National Honor Society. According to those who nominated him, Jacob always strives to do his best in academics and to help others do their best and is admired by his classmates and his teachers. Jacob can always be counted upon to do what is right. Jacob shares his outstanding reading and speaking abilities with his church as a Mass lector. He has been an altar server since second grade. Jacob is one of the assistant chaplains at Bishop Ryan. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a group for Catholic men who do service work within their parish. Jacob has made spiritual pilgrimages to Medjugore and Rome. Jacob is considering joining the seminary and would like one day to become a priest. Jacob volunteers at his school's annual carnival and he volunteers cleaning and decorating at his church four or five times throughout the year.
Jacob's home was filled with 4 1/2 feet of water in the 2011 Souris River flood. He and his family lived in a two-bedroom apartment with five people while he helped with the cleanup and rebuilding of his home. Jacob never lost hope and he reached out in helping other families through their rebuilding experiences following the flood. Jacob and his mother assisted a family needing help with painting their home.
Isaac is described by those who nominated him as an outstanding young man who has learned the value of leading by example. Others look up to Issac and have trust in his leadership capabilities. He is president of his class and also the student body president and is in charge of numerous meetings of members who must organize activities and events for the school. He is described as a fair leader who listens to everyone's opinions and ideas before reaching consensus on a plan of action. Isaac was instrumental in organizing a pancake breakfast benefit for the father of one of his friends, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in August. Following a week of fundraising, over $1,000 in donations were raised and more were coming in prior to the conclusion of this collection. Isaac is a member of the Assistant Chaplains at Ryan High School where his committee organized Catholic Schools Week. Isaac also volunteers at the Red Cross as needed. Isaac assisted many friends and their families in cleaning out their homes following the 2011 Souris River flood. He is a member of the National Honor Society. Isaac was nominated for homecoming king and North Dakota Mr. Tennis. He gave tennis lessons to children between the ages of 5 and 12 last summer. Isaac also regularly visited his grandmother in the nursing home after she suffered a stroke and continued to do so until she passed away, even though communication was difficult.
Rhett is described as quiet, but someone whose actions still speak volumes. Those who nominated him said he is polite, courteous, and accepting of others. People enjoy being around Rhett because he makes everyone around him feel good. Rhett is involved with the school newspaper, Science Olympiad, and serves as vice president of the Honor Society. Rhett is heavily involved with Boy Scouts and his church youth group. He also ushers at his church and helps out in any needed capacity. Rhett is involved with athletics and wrestles at the junior varsity and varsity levels. His involvement is not for attention or recognition, but rather to truly make things better and be a positive role model for others. Rhett can always be counted on to do his best and to be there for others when the need arises. Rhett helped other families during the flood recovery. He also likes to volunteer at a local soup kitchen and at the zoo. Rhett and his friend painted the gazebo at the zoo.
Chloe is described as very involved in school and community activities. In school she takes part in the National Honor Society, Science Club, Thespian Society, Peer Tutoring and the diving team. Those who nominated her describe her as an exceptional student who takes challenging classes and is currently at the top of her senior class. Chloe's teachers share that she is an exceptionally motivated, responsible, mature young lady. Raised in a military family, Chloe has lived in eight different states and has learned to make these transitions to new schools and new communities in a most graceful way. She is a young lady that persistently works hard at everything she does and she reaches out to others and she always strives to do the right thing wherever she is located.
Chloe has enriched Minot High with the addition of the Model United Nations Club, which brings fresh perspectives of global events. Prior to coming to Minot, Chloe was instrumental in organizing and running Camp Sunshine which was a program offering outdoor activities, crafts and sports activities to inner city children in Montgomery, Ala.
Brenna is described as a natural leader who is a gifted student and athlete, yet remains humble and modest about her gifts and abilities. Those who nominated her said she has a contagious smile and makes others around her feel good. Brenna is a member of Honor Society, Student Council and many of Ramstad's athletic teams, while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.
Those who nominated her said other students seek out Brenna because she is listens to them and cares for others. They said she has a big heart and cares deeply for her family and friends and always cheers for the underdog. Brenna also reached out to other families in their flood recovery helping them in so many varied ways. She assisted in a dodgeball tournament where the school was able to raise $2,000 that went to a school devastated by the Colorado floods, just as Ramstad had been devastated by the Minot flood. Brenna has been active with the student council in "Feed My Starving Children."
Along with playing volleyball, Brenna manages to coach her sixth-grade sister's volleyball team. She also is active in church and community activities.