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Anderson chosen as NDHSAA Distinguished Student finalist

By Sue Sitter - | Apr 24, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Rugby High School junior Brooke Anderson is a finalist for the North Dakota High School Activity Association’s Distinguished Student Award.

The North Dakota High School Activities Association and Farmers Union Insurance have named Rugby High School junior Brooke Anderson as a finalist for the 2021-2022 Distinguished Student Award.

Anderson said she was “kind of shocked for a while” when she learned she had been selected as one of six finalists among students nominated by more than 170 high school principals throughout North Dakota. “I didn’t actually think I was going to be a finalist,” Anderson added.

Anderson lives with her parents, Steve and Kim Anderson, and her brother, Cole, on a family farm near York. She said she’s been attending classes on the Rugby Middle and High School campus since seventh grade.

A statement released by the NDHSAA said, “The NDHSAA Distinguished Student program was developed to recognize deserving young people who are the ‘backbone’ of interscholastic activities, not necessarily the leader, but the individual whose participation in high school activities strengthens the program? for participants, the school and the community.”

The statement said the students considered for the award, which includes scholarships, “are entering their senior year.”

“The student must be a good citizen and role model to his/her peers as well as a contributor to his/her school and community,” the statement added.

Anderson said, “The winner gets a $2,000 scholarship and they get to marshal the Parade of Champions. The runner-up gets a $1,000 scholarship and all the finalists get a $500 scholarship.”

The NDHSAA Parade of Champions usually takes place during the state boys’ basketball tournament.

Anderson said she would head to Valley City for interviews and the final selection process April 28.

“We each have a half hour scheduled interview where they’re going to ask us questions about our lives and just anything,” Anderson noted.

“The interviews will take about half an hour,” Anderson said. “After the interviews, we all go to a lunch together where they announce the winner and shortly afterwards, they post it online.”

“I believe there are 174 member schools in the state,” Rugby High Principal Jarek Blikre said of the NDHSAA. “Every principal nominates a junior for the award. The students write an essay component and they get some recommendations and explain all the activities and things they’ve been in and done and how extracurricular activities have impacted their lives.”

“It’s always tough to pick one kid,” Blikre added. “There are a lot of kids that are deserving of this but Brooke just stood out in some of the things that she’s done.”

After Blikre and Anderson submitted their essays and applications, a panel of judges chose six finalists. “And Brooke’s a finalist,” Blikre said, adding, “She’s the first finalist since I’ve been at this school.”

“We’re super-excited for her,” Blikre said of Anderson. “She’s so deserving of this. She’s a great kid and a hard worker. She goes above and beyond to help her team and teammates and she’s mature beyond her age and will do whatever it takes to accomplish her goals.”

Blikre said finalists are chosen using a variety of criteria instead of only academics, “but it does matter. They have to be a leader in the classroom, on the court, in the community, that’s what you’re looking for and that’s what she is – a leader in all those facets.”

“Another thing she did was to start the Voller ND guide,” Blikre said, describing how Anderson used her time while school was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic to put together a guide to high school volleyball teams throughout the state. “She went out and contacted all the coaches in the state,” Blikre said, adding, “That’s a big deal. She’s so driven.”

Anderson, who participates in several sports at Rugby High, said volleyball is her favorite.

She has plans to attend college and study pre-medicine after she graduates in 2022.

“I’m still looking around (at colleges) right now,” Anderson said. “I think Valley City State’s where I’m looking at more. Otherwise, I might head out of state. I’ve looked at and toured ASU down in Arizona and I’ve looked around at some of the pre-med colleges. I haven’t really looked into too many.”

Anderson said she was happy she applied for the Distinguished Student Award.

“I’m still trying to comprehend (being chosen as a finalist),” she said. “When Mr. Blikre told me to send in an application, I was like, ‘Why not? There might be a chance I get chosen.'”

“I just want to reiterate that is a big deal to be a finalist to this,” Blikre said. “Big deal. We’re super proud of her.”

Other finalists for the award are: Sloane McCray, Hazen; Mason Lemer, Drake-Anamoose, Matt Ellingson, Dakota Prairie, Jacob DeVries, Wahpeton and Skylar Uglem, Northwood.

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