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BELLEVUE – Conestoga senior Kelsi Weilage has constructed a towering display of positive talents during her high school career.

She added another building block to that list of honors in September with a prestigious student award.

Members of the Greater Omaha-Council Bluffs Area Council on Youth Leadership recognized Weilage on Sept. 15 with a Youth Salute Award. Seniors from 44 high schools in the Omaha area traveled to Bellevue University for the ceremony. Weilage said she learned a great deal from attending the event.

“The awards ceremony was very exciting, and it was really inspiring to be surrounded by so many students and adult leaders that have all done great things,” Weilage said. “Listening to speakers talk about leadership before the awards ceremony was really eye-opening, and it engaged all of us in the audience. I’m incredibly grateful that I got to be a part of something like that, and it was a great experience for me.”

Conestoga teachers and activity sponsors Jessica Schlichtemeier and Angie Hogue said Weilage has been a positive influence on many fellow students. Schlichtemeier has worked with her in speech, play production and academic activities, and Hogue has coached Weilage for the past four years on the CHS dance team.

“Kelsi has long been an outstanding leader both in the classroom and in her various activities at Conestoga,” Schlichtemeier said. “She is a quiet leader who does not tell others what to do, but shows them through her own strong work ethic and works alongside her peers to accomplish the end goal. Kelsi also never backs down from a challenge and is always willing to step up and do what is best for the greater good of a group.”

“When I think of Kelsi I think of a true leader!” Hogue said. “Someone that puts the needs of others before her own. Kelsi is not only intelligent but she is also extremely creative. Her problem-solving skills are out of this world. I can always count on Kelsi to think outside the box and to come up with solutions.”

Local residents formed the Greater Omaha-Council Bluffs Area Council on Youth Leadership in 2018. They wanted to create a non-profit organization that focused on promoting and recognizing youth leaders in the area. They are running the group in cooperation with the National Council on Youth Leadership.

Teachers, guidance counselors and principals at area schools could nominate students for the Youth Salute Award. Students had to be members of this year’s senior class and own a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

They also had to hold at least two leadership roles to which they were chosen by their peers or an adult leader within the last two years. The leadership positions could be in school, religious or community-sponsored organizations.

Weilage served as captain of the Conestoga girls soccer team last spring and is president of Conestoga’s FFA chapter. She served as vice president of her class in both her sophomore and junior years, and she was vice president of the CHS National Honor Society in 2018-19.

Weilage was a district finalist in speech in the persuasive category in 2018, and she scored points for the team at multiple speech meets last year. She has participated in one-act plays, earned an honorable mention award at the conference art show and played piano in district music competitions.

Weilage helped the Conestoga dance team win state championships in both 2018 and 2019. Hogue said Weilage’s leadership and positive attitude played a big role in the squad’s success.

“Kelsi has dealt with some hamstring injuries throughout her years on the Conestoga dance team, and even when she hasn’t been able to perform she always came to every practice with a positive attitude to help me ‘clean’ our routines,” Hogue said. “I credit a lot of our first state championship to Kelsi because having her by my side to help guide the girls to perfect their routine was huge!”

Weilage has earned state awards in FFA contests during her CHS career, and she has volunteered at the Conestoga PTO Elementary Carnival each of the past three years. She helps with Sunday School activities at Murray Presbyterian Church each week, and she has played piano during church services at Mable Rose Nursing Facility.

Weilage is planning to pursue a career in architectural engineering after graduating from Conestoga. She would like to obtain both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the subject before working in the field.

Weilage said she has been blessed to have great friends and teammates at Conestoga. She said they have helped her enjoy all of her experiences at the school.

“Being involved in activities at Conestoga has brought me a lot of joy, but the thing I’ve enjoyed the most would have to be the team atmosphere that I’ve been a part of in all of my activities,” Weilage said. “Growing and accomplishing many things as a team is really uplifting and I’ve met some amazing people through it.

“The people are what I enjoy most about each activity, because we all grow closer as we work to complete or accomplish things that we love to do.”

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