2020 Academic All-Stars

D2 ACADEMIC ALL-STARS Mayor’s message to the 2020 Academic All-Stars THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2020

smarter than we are or more talented than we are, but these are the people we can learn from. My mom had a saying on her wall for years: “Some of the ques- tions I ask may sound dumb but if I act smart, I won’t learn as much.” We are not expected to have all the answers; HOWEVER, we ARE expected to an- swer all the questions. We need to be able to rely on others to help us answer some of those questions. Surround your- self with people who can and will work as a team; build a team that focuses on each one’s strengths. We ALL have talents; we ALL have strengths that are specific to us, our experiences and our studies. A group of knowledgeable and talented peo- ple will enhance our personal strengths and knowledge and will help us grow. I like Dale Carnegie’s quote on using other people’s ideas: “The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates, I swiped them from Chesterfield, I stole them from Jesus, and I put them in a book. If you don’t like THEIR rules, WHOSE would you use?” I had the honor of speaking at a law enforcement and firefighter awards ban- quet. Part of my message touched on this very subject: the importance of working together and forming bonds with people with similar and different gifts. I want to share the same message with you here to- day because although your experiences will vary, I truly believe this is relevant and important to everything we do. “As we all continue to work togeth- er, this bond allows for the development of lifelong friends that know you better than anyone else; we are blessed with peo- ple who not only say they will have your back, both on and off duty, but those who have proven it. It is then we know it won’t be necessary to call for backup because they already are standing by our side.” NO ONE is here today because they did it on their own! You are ALL here to- day because someone believed in you and gave you strength. Don’t miss ANY chance to pay it forward. As part of your payment forward, treat people with re- spect and compassion. I have always believed in treating peo- ple with respect and compassion; it is important, no matter WHO they are. As a result, I have had a number of peo- ple I ARRESTED during my career in law enforcement approach me later in life to thank me for treating themwell; it was important to THEM to let ME know they had turned their lives around and they were now law abiding citizens of our community. Since I was elect- ed Mayor TWICE following 38 years in

Thank you to the North Platte Telegraph for sponsoring this program honoring Academic All-Stars fromNorth Platte and surrounding communities. This is my MESSAGE to the 2020 North Platte Telegraph Academic All- Stars: Things haven’t gone

LAWENFORCEMENT in our communi- ty, I must have done RELATIVELY well in this area. I want to share a quote fromOprah Winfrey: “Follow your instincts. When you do what you KNOW is the right thing, you will always turn out okay… and the truth is, you ALWAYS KNOW what the right thing is to do. Make the right decision, EVEN when nobody’s looking, ESPECIALLY when nobody’s looking, and you will ALWAYS turn out okay!” As you head out into the world, whatev- er choices YOUmake or whatever choices are made FOR you, love what you do, and do your best. I URGE you to AVOID doing things for the sake of personal ac- complishment or self-indulgence. I have a plaque on my desk with a quote from Ronald Reagan as a reminder to myself: “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Whatever you do, do it because you LOVE it and you BELIEVE in its IMPORTANCE. Have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. I want to share some wise words from Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the WORLD needs. Ask what makes YOU come alive and GO DO IT. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” AND finally, a quote from the BRILLIANT Dwight Livingston. Many of our children can repeat this quote perfectly. This may be one of the most important things you take with you on your life’s journey. Okay, READY? – here it is … “EARLY is on time, ON TIME is late, and LATE is unacceptable.” Remember this, and it will serve you well in all that you do. I will leave you with this final piece of advice. You are all smart, you are all talented, you are all still allowed to say “I don’t know,” and you are still allowed to say “let me get back to you on that.” This knowledge will come in handy when your parents ask you when you plan to move out of their basement; you can answer, “I don’t know. Let me get back to you on that.” I wish you ALL love, prosperity, suc- cess, and much laughter. Congratulations and May God Bless you all. Dwight L. Livingston Mayor City of North Platte

one of them COVID-19!

The good news is, we have the power to grow from those challenging expe- riences. The first thing I would like to share with you is this: there is no clear path to success! Ultimately, success is a matter of judgment, choice and your ability to improve any situation life throws at you. MY first lesson that life doesn’t always go as planned, was when I joined the United States Air Force to become an air traffic controller. At the end of boot camp when every- one received orders for the school they would be attending, my orders read: “Security Police.” I thought to myself, this can’t possibly be right. I looked at the top of the page to make sure I didn’t have somebody else’s orders; I saw my name and I saw my military ID num- ber. I then very calmly advised my COMMANDING OFFICER of “their er- ror,” since I was going to become an air traffic controller. CLEARLY, he lis- tened … the next day … I began my career in law enforcement. Although it wasn’t my chosen profes- sion, law enforcement served me well; it was at that point in my life that I learned you CANNOT do life alone. As you navigate through your life, be open to col- laboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are sometimes better than your own. I have personal experience on this one. My first night in Vietnam, my base was getting hit with rockets, mortars and small arms fire. It was pitch black but when trip flares were set off, they lit up the area which made it look like daylight. Helicopters providing ground support were firing down and every few rounds they would fire a tracer round which looked like a steady stream of red from the helicopter to the ground; it almost looked like a 4th of July fire- works display. I was in awe of all the sights and the sounds, but it became VERY real when a rocket exploded VERY close to my location. A fellow soldier tack- led me, took me to the ground and explained in words that I will not share with you today, that if I wanted to survive my first night there, I had BEST GET DOWN! His idea was a whole lot better than mine! As you progress with your EDUCATION and your CAREERS, find a group of people who challenge you, who inspire you, and spend a lot of time with them. It is very easy to become in- timidated by people we see as being

exactly as planned to cel- ebrate all of you for your accomplishments thus far throughout your educa- tional career. COVID-19 temporarily has changed our way of doing things. I sincerely empathize with the pain and tur- moil (both human and economic) that COVID-19

Dwight Livingston

has caused throughout our country and across the globe. However, I am confident we will all emerge with stronger family values, a deeper devoted faith, and great- er appreciation of our freedoms. The PLAN, (you know the old saying … “Man Plans and God Smiles”) was that I would have the honor of being with you in person and sharing some thoughts I believe may be helpful as you begin your new journey into your bright future. SO, I still will do my part in this celebration … the COVID-19 way! Since you will not be able to see my smiling face or hear the emphasis in my voice, I have designed my message to help you visually and audibly participate in my presentation. So, have a seat, envision me standing in front of you — honored to have the op- portunity to deliver my words of wisdom to you … and … here we go … I am very impressed with the outstand- ing youth we have in North Platte and our surrounding communities; here YOU are, the Academic SUPER Stars that rose to the top. I am quite sure I cannot compete with any of you regarding academic ex- cellence. However, I DO have some life les- sons and personal experiences I can share with you that I hope you will keep in the back of your mind as you go through your journey in life. I have learned a lot, seen a lot, and although details will vary in reference to what life can throw at YOU, … “I have been there, done that, and I have the T-shirt.” There are so many challenges facing your generation. While I am confident you will be able to meet those challeng- es, life involves struggles and it surely can bring some headaches … let’s name

Maranatha Bible Camp craft shop, Hershey el- ementary chemistry demonstration, Cody el- ementary fun night, Hershey Public Schools track invitational set- up, Hirschfeld’s Prom Shoppe Crowns and Gowns ambassador, orga- nized fundraiser dance at Hershey Public Schools, North Platte Berean Church community Easter egg hunt. Most influential teacher: Cynthia Elliott, Hershey High School. “I have taken Mrs. Elliott’s classes now for all four years of high school. I remember my first day of freshman year at a new school, she ... told us that these next four years would go faster than we could ever imagine. She warned us not to take them for granted and to en- joy the ride. That was just her first piece of helpful advice that she would give me over the next sever- al years. She was also my NHS and FBLA sponsor. Mrs. Elliott has always been the teacher that I can talk to and trust. ... She pushes each and every one of her students and wants all of them to succeed. ... Mrs. Elliott also traveled to San Antonio with me as a sponsor when I made it to FBLA nationals.” Jack Carlson North Platte High School Jack is the son of Lance and Vikki Carlson of North Platte. He plans to study music educa- tion at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Goals: I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mu- Please see Page D3

Esmeralda Acevedo-Barrios Lexington High School Esmeralda is the daugh- ter of Vicente Acevedo and Magdalena Barrios of Lexington. She plans to study elementary edu- cation at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Goals: I plan to re- turn to my hometown and find an open teaching po- sition in one of the four elementary schools. After teaching for a few years, I plan to return to college and work toward a mas- ter’s and doctorate. My ultimate goal is to become a superintendent. I plan to assist my parents to pay off the mortgage of our current home to ease their strain of work as they grow older, all while sav- ing for my own home. In her own words: “My mother and father were both born in a ru- ral area of Zacatecas, Mexico. Both their lives were dominated by the poverty that was in their region. Consequently, my parents were forced to dis- continue their education. As their child, I am often told of the endless stories and hardships my moth- er and father had to face to be in the country. Their struggles have been the everyday motivation that has driven me to be the student I am. I constantly remind myself of what my parents did for me to be in a place of freedom and opportunity. Lexington is known to be one of the very few towns of Nebraska where diversity exists. Within these eth- nicities, an individual can see noticeable differences between the lives of these

Most influential teacher: Andy Seamann, Brady Schools. “He has always pushed me, wanting me to reach my full potential. He was my weights teach- er, but his coaching didn’t just stop in the gym. He constantly held me accountable in the class- room, along with sports. Mr. Seamann gave me tips for sports on ways to im- prove myself and ways to become a better teammate and leader to my team. But he also was a listening ear when I needed someone to listen, about anything (even when he probably didn’t want to hear it). Mr. Seamann will forever be a role model to me.” Bethany Burklund Hershey High School Bethany is the daugh- ter of Brent and Holly Burklund of North Platte. She plans to study pre- med and biology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Goals: I plan to become a physician. I am unsure what specialty yet, but I have some interest in der- matology and infectious disease. I would love to come back and practice in Nebraska long-term. However, I desire to join an organization such as Doctors Without Borders and travel the world to pro- vide medical care to those in need for a few years be- fore settling down. In her own words: “Ever since I was a young child, I’ve always been considered busy and mo- tivated. I always was and am doing something, thinking about something

or working on something. I’m a very goal-oriented person. When I have a goal in mind, I will put my all into reaching that goal. I’m very determined with a drive to succeed. From a young age, I recognized the importance in educa- tion and getting involved. I knew that I wanted to have a successful career and, in order to do so, I would have to put forth my best effort into school. My parents really pushed me when I was young to vol- unteer and get involved in my community. I saw the effect that it had in growing me as a person. Volunteering really gave me a passion for helping people. This is a lot of the reason I’ve chosen the ca- reer path I have.” Achievements and awards include: Honor roll four years, second and third place in business communication at Inter- High Day, fifth place in health care administra- tion and personal finance at state FBLA, national FBLA qualifier, Hershey School student of the month. Activities: National Honor Society, FBLA vice president, Quiz Bowl, one- act play, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, tennis, art club, Health Careers Academy, Nebraskaland University, UNK health sciences camp. Community and volunteer service: Great Plains Health JV Ambassador, North Platte Berean Church screen projection, Rape and Domestic Abuse Program Peer Advocacy Group, Royal Family Kids Camp, Hershey Public Schools backpack food program,

plans to study nursing at Mid-Plains Community College. Goals: Become a hos- pice nurse and simply be happy, healthy and sur- rounded by loved ones. In her own words: “I’ve lived in rural Brady my whole life. My life has been enriched by going to a small school and liv- ing in a small community. Here in Nebraska, I have grown to be the person I am because of the people in my community build- ing me up, supporting me, investing in me and believ- ing in me. Nowhere else, I feel, can students reach their full potential than in a small town. I want to make my school proud by being the best version of myself that I can be. My parents and communi- ty members support me in everything I do, which makes me want to push myself for them.” Achievements and awards include: National Honor Society, hon- or roll with distinction four years, valedictori- an, President’s Award, Academic All-State in multiple sports, math achievement award, American history award, personal finance academic achievement award, FSC excellence and leadership award. Activities: National Honor Society, volleyball, basketball, band, FCCLA, one-act play, speech. Community and volunteer service: Community Halloween, community Santa Night, family fun night, Christmas historical vil- lage, blood drive, youth tournaments referee, vol- unteer at public library.

groups. These differenc- es, along with my parents’ hardships, have been the reason that has further driven me into pursuing an education.” Achievements and awards include: Valedictorian, honor roll four years, distinguished scholar four years, Kearney Bound schol- ar, Spanish honor roll, National Society of High School Scholars. volunteer service: Community food pantry, community trash pick- up, volunteer with the youth tennis program, teacher aide, volunteer at community movie the- ater, Spanish translator at school conferences. Most influential teacher: Jerry and Terri Wylie, Lexington Public Schools. “Two of the teachers I will always remember are Mr. and Mrs. Wylie. These teachers took the time to Activities: Tennis. Community and get to knowme as a stu- dent and child. They have been sources of inspira- tion to pursue a career in education. These ed- ucators not only made me enjoy the time I spent at school, but also made me feel welcomed and es- sential. They evoked happiness and peace whenever I was in the classroom. Both of them let me know that no matter where I came from, I’d be accepted and cared for un- conditionally.” Kate Axthelm Brady High School Kate is the daugh- ter of Jason and Sharon Axthelm of Brady. She

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