Playing sports has always been a big part of Nick Burger’s life.
The Archbishop Bergan senior has been a three-sport athlete throughout his time at the local high school, earning Tribune All-Area as a football player during his junior year as well as serving as the Knights floor general on the basketball court and running for the track team.
When Burger, a quarterback-defensive back, tore the ACL in his left knee early on in the Knights football season it forced him to miss the remainder of his final season at the helm of the Knights offense as well as the entire basketball season.
But like a true competitor, the Nebraska Wesleyan recruit worked his way back to be healthy enough for track season, where he again showed his athletic prowess by becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer in track.
“I look at the list of people that have competed in track at Bergan before me and to be there at the top is very humbling,” Burger said. “I’m very thankful for all of the coaches. It is a great feeling to be up there with the best.”
Burger earned the record by placing third in the 400 meters and running a leg on the Knights’ third-place 400-meter relay team at the school’s invite at Heedum Field, breaking the late Scott Poehling’s mark that was set in 1976.
For Bergan football coach Seth Mruz, Burger’s willingness to work hard and better himself made him a role model for other students during his time in high school.
“He is not an overbearing personality,” Mruz said. “He is kind of a low-key kid, but his actions are so loud in what he does and how handles himself. Kids understand that is how they should be. They look to model his behavior.”
While Burger will continue his track career at Nebraska Wesleyan in the fall, his experience of dealing with a serious injury also opened his eyes to some of the other opportunities the future may hold for him.
“It was pretty difficult being my last year,” he said. “But it opens your eyes and lets you know what is really important in life. There is life without sports.”
Although those opportunities may not involve playing competitive sports, Burger plans on still being involved in sporting events as he heads to Wesleyan to study business and sports management.
Burger says his ultimate goal after attending college would be to work for the NSAA in Lincoln, and to organize and run athletic tournaments.
“When I visited Wesleyan and found out that was an opportunity I could purse there and something I can make a living off of,” he said. “I was just like of course I want to.”
And he already has experience doing just that.
“I actually held a Ping-Pong tournament last summer,” he said. “We had a Twitter page and live streamed it on YouTube and just invited a bunch of kids from all over the place.”
According to Burger, his first foray into organizing an athletic competition went well. Over 30 people participated, with one competitor coming all the way from West Point to play in the tournament that was held in his parent’s garage.
“It was actually the day before my parents left for three days to go to a wedding in Kansas, so they weren’t very happy about that,” he said.
Along with all of his sporting accolades, Burger has also been involved in a number of endeavors during his time at Bergan.
Burger was involved in the school’s annual musical during each of the last four years, including acting in lead roles during his junior and senior year. He also is a member of the National Honor Society, Bergan Chess Club, Peer Minister program and Student Council.
One of Burger’s favorite hobby outside of school and sports is playing Pokémon Go, which he picked up when he was recovering from his ACL injury.
“It’s not a very popular thing to do, but when sports were out of the picture I found that to be a fun hobby that allowed me to kind of relive my childhood,” he said.
Burger says he has enjoyed his time at Archbishop Bergan, especially getting to know lifelong friends throughout his 10 years in the school system, but that he is ready for the next chapter of his life.
“I’m going to miss these kids, I’ve been going to school with them since third grade,” he said. “But I feel that after these last 10 years I’m ready to move on to the next stage of my life – it’s really exciting.”
This year’s 22 graduates from the Fremont Learning Center have faced a diverse array of experiences, challenges, trials and triumphs.
But now, they all have at least one thing in common: a high school diploma.
The graduates and their families celebrated their accomplishments with a graduation ceremony on Thursday night. Learning Center teachers Lea Adler, Shannon Hageman, Erich Barthel and Carrie Kucera presented each student and told stories about their journeys.
The Learning Center is Fremont Public School’s education option for non-traditional students. It emphasizes an individualized curriculum and helps students who may be better suited to an alternative educational environment than a traditional classroom. Some students in this year’s graduating class left school and sought to return later, conquered personal or health obstacles that affected their education, or overcame behavioral or attendance issues.
All graduates received a voucher for a free class at Metropolitan Community College, which is given to students every year.
This year’s Leraning Center graduates were Autum Benedict, Angel Cutts, Kristina Frazier, Angela Garcia, Ashton Griebel, Alea Kern, Ashley Mallett, Caitlin Martens, Selena Mazariegos Carreto, Kylee Mueller, Tanner Nosal, Travis Prochaska, Austin Rennie-Fowler, Kelsey Sokolovsky, River Stoffregen-McKelvey, MaKayla Stonestreet, Kassandra Szabo, Emily Taulbee, Moncerab Tule Mejia, Taylor Tweedy, Devin Twohig and Kara Welbes.
The total number of graduates was “either on par with the most, or very close to the most” compared to previous years, according to Fremont Public Schools Superintendent Mark Shepard.
“It really doesn’t matter to me whether you graduate in four, five, six or seven [years]—the key is whether or not you graduate, and that’s the real purpose of this evening,” Shepard said. “If you look at the statistics, it’s absolutely amazing and astonishing the difference between a person without a high school diploma and a person with a high school diploma and what that does for the future.”
Graduates had a variety of plans for their futures, with many considering colleges or full-time employment. Selena Mazariegos Carreto, for instance, is working full time at Fremont Beef and is planning to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the fall to major in business.Travis Prochaska is working full time but he hopes to eventually work in cosmetology or interior design. And Emily Taulbee is pursuing a career in a medical field, and is a recipient of the Nebraska Achievement Scholarship. That will cover her entire tuition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was based on grades, state test scores and the Taulbee’s personal statement.
There were 346 students across the state who were awarded the scholarship, Adler said, and 172 covered full tuition. In Fremont, 33 students received the scholarship, with six getting full tuition, including Taublee.
“You’ve changed our worlds and your families’ worlds, and we are releasing you to change the worlds of others,” Adler said told the entire class. “We’re so proud of you.”
In this year’s race for Dodge County register of deeds, two challengers — Michelle Growcock and Terry Synovec — will look to unseat incumbent Carol Givens in the May 15 primary election.
The Fremont Tribune spoke with all three Republican candidates about each of their platforms and qualifications for the position.
Incumbent Carol Givens said her extensive experience and innovative use of technology have defined her tenure in the position.
“The obvious qualification is my experience and the real estate knowledge I have gained over the past 25 years,” she said. “I take a sense of pride in having the knowledge and experience to put the public at ease when they have a question concerning their real estate.”
Givens began working with title insurance and as a Realtor in 1973, and then became deputy register of deeds. She has been register of deeds since 1992.
According to Givens, one of her biggest accomplishments during her time as register of deeds has been the digitization of records and her work designing the current register of deeds website that allows for a number of electronic filings.
“I’m the first register of deeds in this office to computerize all the documents and design a website to use that computerization, and pick a software and office procedures to make it user-friendly. I am quite proud of that,” she said.
Givens also addressed talk of combining the register of deeds with the Dodge County assessor, which would effectively eliminate the position of register of deeds within the county.
“If we proceed in that direction, you need people trained that know what they are doing with legal descriptions and to match that with the assessor’s office,” she said. “On one hand I can’t see the point of wanting to eliminate a position I’m holding, but on the other hand, if it goes that direction I am the only one that has the experience to make it a smooth transition.”
Michelle Growcock is the vice president of lending for Fremont First Credit Union, and says her 35 years of experience within the mortgage lending industry makes her an ideal candidate to head up the register of deeds office.
“I have worked with different title companies here in Fremont and am very familiar with mortgage documents and practices,” she said. “I collaborate really well with the title companies, I’ve been working with them for a number of years and I think that is really important in this position.”
Growcock says that the residents of Dodge County deserve a “hands-on” register of deeds and vows to be just that if she is elected to the position.
“I truly believe that we need a hands-on register of deeds, someone that will be there to help the citizens and be able to help them with any problems they may have,” she said.
Growcock is also focused on bringing more efficiency to the office, by way of continued digitization of records and services.
“Streamlining processes to increase efficiency will be a top priority, all while serving the public in a very courteous and professional manner,” she said. “If you are looking for a very conscientious, detail-oriented hard worker with integrity, I would love to bring my qualifications and knowledge to the office.”
She also addressed the issue of merging the register of deeds office with the assessor’s office, saying she would work to do what is best for the citizens of Dodge County.
“I am going to learn the office and if it goes down the road further and shows that the register of deeds and the assessor’s office can be combined, if I feel that is the best move for the county, I will do the best I can to make that happen,” she said.
Terry Synovec is a former member of the Dodge County Board and is the owner of 30 Bowl in Fremont.
Synovec is running on a platform that you don’t often see in political races. He wants to eliminate the position he is campaigning for and merge the office with the Dodge County assessor’s office to save the county money.
“I’m not sure we need the register of deeds and that is actually the platform I am running on,” he said. “I believe that it is really technology driven and once we get all the deeds scanned and online, so they are easily accessible to every taxpayer, we can eliminate the office.”
Synovec served on the Dodge County Board and was a member of the finance committee, security committee and technology committee during his time there. He also has served on the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce board, and the Fremont Planning Commission.
Synovec says that by digitizing all records related to the register of deeds office and eliminating the position he believes he can save the county a substantial amount of money.
“I want everything online to make it easy for the public, which mostly includes construction people, realtors, bankers, to make that easily accessible to them,” he said. “Once that process is complete, we need to merge the offices and save the county a quarter of a million dollars.”
Synovec says that out of 93 counties in Nebraska, 80 no longer have a dedicated register of deeds office, and that his goal is to move the county forward by merging the office with the Dodge County assessor’s office or county clerk’s office.
“We are still going to have to keep records, but we need to move forward,” he said. “If I can do that with the assessor’s, I’m hoping I can make that happen if I am elected. Otherwise, I will work with the county clerk and maybe merge it that way.”