The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 2, 2013

The Free Press Academic Excellence Team recognizes ... The best, the brightest

Winners dedicated to academics, extra-curriculars

Robert Schultze has lots of academic accolades to his credit.

He's got a 4.18 GPA, an ACT score of 35 out of 36, and he's a National Merit Commended Student, among other things. In the fall, the East High School senior is off to St. Olaf College, where he's planning to major in biomedical studies, on his way to a possible medical degree.

So it's seems a little counter-intuitive that, among Schultze's numerous achievements, acting in “Aida” the musical in high school stands out the most.

“That was probably my favorite,” said Schultze, who admitted he's usually not as outgoing as others who enjoy taking the stage. “Last fall, my choir director asked me to (audition), actually. I don't do a fall sport, so it worked out.”

Schultze is the winner of The Free Press Academic Excellence Team competition, coming in first in the Big Schools division as well as being selected as the overall winner. He said a lot of people contributed to his drive to excel in school.

“My family was really supportive, and I had really great teachers at East,” he said.

Schultze's accomplishments have included being a Triple A winner recognizing students who excel in academics, arts and athletics), all-state in swimming both his junior and senior years, and participation in the National Honor Society. He's also in jazz band and chamber choir, experiences that have added a great deal to his high school experience.

And those experiences are also in line with the advice that he'd give to kids in high school hoping to stand out and do well — “Stay involved.”

Sarah Peller, a senior at Loyola High School, was the winner of the Small Schools division of Academic Excellence. Peller also did very well in school, earning a 4.13 GPA and a 34 on her ACT.

Like Schultze, Peller's been actively involved in school. She was captain of the soccer team for three years and earned her varsity letter in seventh grade.

Peller was in speech, too, placing fourth at the section tournament two years. She also was involved in her school's and community's fair trade efforts, among other activities.

In the fall, Peller will study biology at the University of Notre Dame.

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