Juniors Nominated for 2021 ExCEL Awards

Six SoWashCo Juniors Nominated for 2021 ExCEL Awards
Posted on 01/07/2021
Six South Washington County Schools students have been nominated for the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) ExCEL Awards. ExCEL (Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership) is a unique recognition program designed exclusively for Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, show leadership qualities, volunteer in their communities and are model citizens. East Ridge High School has nominated juniors Riya Bharti and Ryder Sitcawich, Park High School has nominated juniors Kate Townsend and Parker Hahn and Woodbury High School has nominated juniors Maria Kolb and Roger (RJ) Altman to represent their schools.

East Ridge High School’s Riya Bharti participates in swimming, debate, orchestra and speech. She is the captain of the debate team where she finished in sixth place in the National Qualifier and set a pool record for the girls’ swim team in 2019. She is also a member of Robotics Club, Tri-M Music Honor Society, National Honor Society (NHS), Student Cabinet, Youth Advisory Council, Philosophy Club, Brain Bee and the Math Team. Bharti volunteers within the community at SoWashCo CARES (Community Action Reaching Every Student), peer tutoring, National Honor Society blood drives, Relay For Life and a local homeless shelter. 

East Ridge High School’s Ryder Sitcawich participates in soccer, symphonic band, pep band and varsity band. He is the captain of his soccer team and earned a superior rating for his solo trumpet performance in band. Sitcawich is a member of the National Honor Society, Brain Bee, Ping Pong Club and Science Bowl. He volunteers in his community at Feed My Starving Children, Assuaged Virtual Volunteering, Kowalski’s, the holiday card committee and at the University of Minnesota virtual COVID-19 lab. 

Park High School’s Kate Townsend is the captain of the tennis team and has earned All-Conference honors as the #1 singles player. She is a member of Key Club, Link Crew, Leaders of the Pack and Female Leadership. Townsend is involved in community volunteering with her church, youth sports and at Northern Voices School for children with hearing loss. 

Park High School’s Parker Hahn participates in cross country, track and basketball. He is the captain of the cross country team where he qualified for the state competition. He volunteers in his community with Feed My Starving Children, Touch of Home and as a youth coach for the Cottage Grove Athletic Association in basketball and football. 

Woodbury High School’s Maria Kolb is a participant in speech, musical theater, theater and concert choir. She is a national qualifying participant in speech competitions. She is a member of Student Council, Key Club, Yearbook Club and National Honor Society. She is also involved in her community volunteering through her clubs and with her church. 

Woodbury High School’s Roger (RJ) Altman participates in football, hockey and baseball. As a sophomore, he earned an award as the football offensive player of the year. Outside of sports, Altman volunteers with the American Cancer Society for Coaches vs. Cancer, his church, at local food shelters, youth baseball teams and with Miracle League, assisting children with disabilities play baseball. 

This is the 25th year that the MSHSL has sponsored the ExCEL Award. An independent panel of judges from schools throughout Minnesota will select ExCEL Award recipients in January. Award winners will be announced via the League website in February and will be recognized on KSTC-TV during the broadcast of the 2021 winter state tournaments.