2019 Plattsmouth STARS Banquet honorees

Plattsmouth students and educators were honored at the annual Plattsmouth STARS Banquet April 28 at the high school. Students chose one educator from Plattsmouth Community Schools to join them at the banquet. They chose educators who had made a significant impact on their life. Students in the photo are standing behind the educator they chose to be their guest for the evening. Front row from left, Eilene Rodriguez, Bob Dzuris, Monica Olsen, April Brodersen, Deeny Nielsen, Andrew Wessling, Brenda Frahm, Maris Gregg, Meri Sedlak, Bruce Price, Kyle Graves and Steve Owens; second row, Alyx Curran-Lewis, Nathan Konkler, Rachel Widick, Kelby Meisinger, Hailey Heikkila, Careen Hudson, Claire Albers, Hee-Chan Han, Tynan Rackley, Haylee Heim, Brenna Simoens, Ethan Warrick and Jayden Wooten; not pictured, educator Thomas Howard.

PLATTSMOUTH – Students in the top ten percent of Plattsmouth’s academic class have secured many accomplishments both in and out of the classroom.

They added a bright item to their resumes in late April with their participation in the annual Plattsmouth STARS Banquet.

Thirteen PHS students gathered at Plattsmouth High School April 28 for the prestigious event. Plattsmouth Education Foundation (PEF) members held the banquet to honor the academic achievements of students who finished in the top ten percent of the Class of 2019.

Each student could invite and honor one educator from Plattsmouth Community Schools who made a positive impact on their lives. Teachers could be from any building in the district.

PHS seniors Alyx Curran-Lewis, Nathan Konkler, Rachel Widick, Kelby Meisinger, Hailey Heikkila, Careen Hudson, Claire Albers, Hee-Chan Han, Tynan Rackley, Haylee Heim, Brenna Simoens, Ethan Warrick and Jayden Wooten participated in the event. All 13 students have earned a wide variety of academic awards during their PHS careers. They have also participated in many extracurricular and community activities.

Plattsmouth Class of 2015 graduate Andrea Hardesty provided the keynote speech for the evening. Hardesty graduated cum laude with a business administration degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in December 2018. She will begin law school classes at Drake University in Des Moines this summer and will study criminal law.

PEF Vice President Brian Harvey said he felt Hardesty’s message resonated with the students. He said she provided useful pieces of advice for the teenagers in many areas of life.

“Andrea’s message to the STARS students was very insightful and aimed at helping them through the transition from high school to college and life beyond high school,” Harvey said. “She encouraged the students to take their own path in college as everyone faces different challenges throughout the transition.

“She reminded them they are big fish in a little pond now but will soon be little fish in a big pond and that every single college student has that ‘humbling moment.’ She gave them a top 12 list of tips to survive college that she wished someone would have given her four years ago.”

Curran-Lewis nominated Eilene Rodriguez for the STARS honor. Rodriguez has taught Spanish at PHS for the past 12 years. Curran-Lewis said Rodriguez had supported her in Spanish classes and had provided excellent advice to her in many life areas. Curran-Lewis will attend Morningside College and will pursue a nursing major and Spanish minor. She is planning to later enroll in graduate school.

Konkler nominated Bob Dzuris for the STARS award. Dzuris is a physical education teacher at Plattsmouth High School. Konkler said Dzuris had encouraged him both as a student and an athlete and had become a great friend. Konkler will attend Northwest Missouri State University and will pursue an exercise science major. He will also obtain a minor in either teaching or nutrition.

Widick nominated Monica Olsen for the STARS award. Olsen has taught Spanish and introduction to education classes at Plattsmouth High School for eight years. Widick said Olsen had been a strong encourager, mentor and confidant. Widick will attend Colorado Christian College and will pursue an education major.

Meisinger nominated April Brodersen for STARS recognition. Brodersen has taught first grade at Plattsmouth Elementary School for the past 17 years. Meisinger said Brodersen had impacted her life in a positive way by showcasing a positive attitude and being a good role model. Meisinger will attend Kansas State University and will pursue an elementary education major and dance minor.

Heikkila nominated Deeny Nielsen for the STARS honor. Nielsen has taught biology, anatomy/physiology and earth/environmental sciences at Plattsmouth High School for the past 17 years. Albers said Nielsen had been a great friend and had provided lessons about study habits and work ethic. Albers will pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Nebraska Methodist College.

Hudson nominated Andrew Wessling for the STARS award. Wessling has taught both industrial arts and English at Plattsmouth. Hudson said Wessling had impacted her life a great deal by listening to her and understanding her concerns. Hudson is planning to work in an agricultural trade for one year before returning to school to obtain an associate’s degree.

Albers nominated Brenda Frahm for STARS recognition. Frahm has taught family and consumer sciences and health at Plattsmouth Community Middle School for the past 25 years. Albers said Frahm had shown her a great deal of kindness and support. Albers will attend Dordt University and will pursue a degree in psychology. She is planning to later enroll in medical school.

Han nominated Maris Gregg for the STARS award. Gregg taught music at Plattsmouth Elementary School for 26 years. Han said Gregg had given him many piano lessons and had encouraged him in all of his educational pursuits. Han is planning to obtain a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Rackley nominated Thomas Howard for the STARS honor. Howard has taught in both the science and math departments at Plattsmouth High School. Rackley said Howard had challenged him and had helped him grow as a person. Rackley will first attend Metropolitan Community College and will later enroll at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He is planning to pursue a major that blends computer science and fine arts.

Heim nominated Meri Sedlak for the STARS award. Sedlak has taught art at Plattsmouth High School for the past 27 years. Heim said Sedlak had been a positive influence on her life and had helped her with her art skills. Heim will pursue bachelor’s degrees in both pre-architecture and business at Dordt University. She plans to later obtain a master’s degree in architecture.

Simoens nominated Chief Master Sergeant Bruce Price for the STARS award. Price has taught in the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Plattsmouth High School for the past five years. Simoens said Price had helped her develop leadership skills she will use in the military. Simoens will complete Air National Guard training this summer and will enroll at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She will pursue a double major in mathematics and computer science.

Warrick nominated Kyle Graves for the STARS honor. Graves teaches English at Plattsmouth High School. Warrick said Graves has been one of his biggest role models because of his creativity and positive energy. Warrick will attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Engineering and will major in computer engineering.

Wooten nominated Steve Owens for the STARS award. Owens teaches history, geography, sociology and economics at Plattsmouth High School. Wooten said Owens has been a positive role model by displaying kindness, work ethic and integrity in his life. Wooten is planning to obtain a bachelor’s degree in biology and will later enroll in medical school. He would like to become a physician’s assistant and specialize in orthopedics.

PEF members presented each student and educator with small gifts at the end of the evening to acknowledge their hard work and dedication over the years. The organization has sponsored the Plattsmouth STARS Banquet each year since 2004.

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