News & Notes

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Saint Peter High School juniors Adrianna Bixby and Ian Gerstbauer were recently announced as the school’s 2021-22 ExCEL Award winners. 

Saint Peter High School juniors Adrianna Bixby (left) and Ian Gerstbauer (right) are this year’s SPHS winners of the ExCEL Award.

“Adrianna and Ian are outstanding representatives of Saint Peter High School,” SPHS Principal Annette Engeldinger said. “They are both student leaders who model to others the importance of being a well-rounded student. They are successful on the fields, on stage, and, most importantly, in the classroom.”

Established in 1988, the Minnesota State High School League’s ExCEL Award is sponsored by AAA-Minnesota and Fairview Sports and Orthopedic Care. The award goes to high school juniors who have a “B” or better grade point average (GPA) and participate in League-sponsored athletic and fine arts activities. ExCEL Award recipients are selected by a multi-level process involving the League's member schools and administrative regions.

Saint Peter High School’s ExCEL winners for the previous five years include:

  • 2020-21 – Josie Wiebusch & Shea Hildebrandt
  • 2019-20 -- Vanessa Krueger & Zach Taylor
  • 2018-19 -- Sarah Conlon & Ethan Niemeyer
  • 2017-18 -- Signe Alger & Isaac Peterson
  • 2016-17 -- Sienna Wiebusch & Rafat Solaiman

The following are brief profiles of this year’s ExCEL Award winners:

Adrianna Bixby

The daughter of Christi and Jim Bixby, Adrianna has a 4.03 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society. She also has been a regular on the A honor roll.

“I am very honored to win this year's Excel Award,” Bixby said. “I’d like to thank my parents, coaches, teachers, and mentors for their support. I am so grateful for everything they’ve taught me and how they continue to help me grow as a leader. I'd like to also give Ian a shout out for also winning this award!”

Bixby is very active in the SPHS fine arts program as she was a member SPHS choir program her 9th and 10th grade years and has shared her talents with her church as an instrumentalist and vocalist. She also expanded her musical talents by taking piano lessons all the way through her sophomore year.

Athletically, Bixby has been a varsity letter winner in three sports. She is a three-time letterwinner for the Saints’ varsity girls soccer program including serving as a team captain this past fall and also earning All-Big South Conference honors in 2021 and honorable mention status her sophomore year. She has earned two varsity letters as a member of the Minnesota River girls hockey team including being named rookie of the year her eighth grade year and Bulldog Award winner last season. Bixby is also a standout on the golf course earning a trip to state last spring where she placed 14th overall out of 88 competitors as well as earning all conference and all state academic honors.

Besides serving as a musician at her church, Bixby has also volunteered her time as a Sunday School teacher and helper, church greeter, and with the youth group. She has also been involved outside of school with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Mental Warriors Club and Peer Tutoring programs.

Her future plans are to attend a four-year college and major in nursing. 

Ian Gerstbauer

The son of Loramy and Fabian Gerstbauer, Ian has a 4.0 GPA and regularly is a member of the A honor roll as well as earning membership into the SPHS chapter of the National Honor Society.

“I’m very honored to receive this award, and I was very surprised when Roehrkasse stopped me in the hallway to tell me that I had won the (ExCEL) award,” Gerstbauer said. “It had been about a week and I hadn’t gotten any communication so I had assumed someone else must have gotten it. It was awesome to hear that I had been chosen. I always tried to do as many activities as I could and volunteer for things when I was available. I like to be busy and I enjoy the activities that I participate in.

“I would like to congratulate Adrianna on winning the award as well. I would like to give a special thank you to my parents for driving me around and supporting everything I do and to God who gave me the strength to be so busy. Finally a thank you to all the friends, teachers, and coaches that supported me and made me want to keep doing so many different things.”

Gerstbauer is very active in athletics here at SPHS as members of the Saints’ boys soccer and tennis programs. He also is a member of the First Tech Challenge and First Robotic teams, having competed in the state tournament his sophomore year.

The SPHS junior helps balance his time in the fine arts area by excelling as a member of the SPHS band program. Over the years Gerstbauer has earned high honors for his skills and talents in percussion as well as playing the piano. He also has taken part in the SPHS theater program through its fall play and one act play.

His volunteer activities outside of school includes serving as a Volunteer in the Park (VIP) participant, fourth grade tutor, FLL Mock Tournament, and being active with his church youth group’s student ministry team and working with miscellaneous community cleanup events.

His future plans are to attend a four-year college and major in something English related with the goal of eventually becoming a writer.

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Members of Saint Peter High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society helped area law enforcement/emergency services personnel, including St. Peter Police Department and Fire Department members, during the fourth annual Shop With a Hero event. The event took place on Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Mankato Fleet Farm store.

  SPHS National Honor Society members (front row
  l to r), Sky Gassman, Ryenne Pettis, Grace β€‹  ​​
  Remmert, Katie Gurrola, Morgan Petersen, and
  Jaiden Landsom, helped area law
  enforcement/emergency response personnel
  during the fourth annual Shop With A Hero event
  on December 4th.

The Heroes were able to take 14 area children Christmas shopping, thanks to donations from the Minnesota South Central Investigators Coalition, Fleet Farm, and charitable gambling donations from Blaschko's Embassy Bar, the Red Men Club, The Flame Bar, and the William R. Witty American Legion Post 37.  Additionally, a few NHS members were given the opportunity to shop and used a gift card to purchase presents that were donated to the local Toys 4 Tots drive, while Dunkin' Donuts provided coffee and donuts!  

“After the shopping was done, several of the National Honor Society members from Saint Peter High School helped with gift wrapping,” Saint Peter Public Schools’ School Resource Officer Jon Hughes, who helps organize the local volunteer effort, said. “A truly heartfelt thanks goes out to all of the organizations that donated time, facilities, money, and snacks.  Without you, we would not be able to hold such an important event.”

In addition to the St. Peter Police and Fire Department members volunteering their time, other area agencies participating included North Mankato Police Departments, Minnesota State Patrol, and a United States Army veteran. 

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

2020 alum Michael Moline earns prestigious American FFA Degree 

  Saint Peter High School FFA’s group attending 
  the recent National FFA Convention & Expo 
  convention included: (l to r) co-advisor Gena
  Lilienthal, Makayla Moline, Jesse Fast, Lauren
  Powers, Triston Krakow, Jaxson Witty, Daniel
  Klein, Michael Moline (SPHS alum), Colton Willaert,
  and co-advisor Michael Reeser.

Several members of the Saint Peter High School FFA chapter made the trek to Indianapolis to take part in the National FFA Convention and Expo which took place October 27-30.  The event was offered in-person with health and safety precautions after the cancellation of a physical event in 2020. 

Those Saint Peter High School students attending the National FFA Convention included Makayla Moline, Jesse Fast, Lauren Powers, Triston Krakow, Jaxson Witty, Daniel Klein and Colton Willaert, along with SPHS FFA alum Michael Moline and SPHS FFA co-advisors Gena Lilienthal and Michael Reeser. 

Minnesota students and supporters who attended the National FFA Convention, including those representing SPHS, found opportunities to connect with other members from throughout the nation, explore college and career options, engage in leadership and personal development experiences, and earn recognition. Our students attended award sessions, visited with agricultural exhibitors in the career expo, listened to motivational speakers, participated in an educational behind the scenes tour at the Indianapolis Speedway and attended a rodeo.  

Michael Moline, a 2020 SPHS graduate, also attended the convention where he was awarded his American Degree at the conclusion of the festivities. The American FFA Degree is the highest degree a student can earn as part of their FFA membership.  Students invest in work-based agricultural projects throughout their FFA membership and earn the degree after receiving their State FFA degree, holding active FFA membership for at least the last three years, completing secondary instruction in an agricultural education program and operating an outstanding supervised agricultural experience.  Community service, leadership abilities and outstanding scholastic achievement are also required.

Michael Moline's Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project consists of raising high quality show hogs.  To earn this degree he needed to invest a significant amount of earnings and recorded numerous years of hours of work towards his SAE.  Michael is only the second student from the St. Peter chapter to earn this award since the chapter's re-establishment in 2011. The other to earn the American FFA Degree was Alexia Riley (2014 SPHS grad). 

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

While the focus for high school students is often geared towards college prep courses, at SPHS, students can get plenty of hands-on experiences in industrial technology and building trades. These course offerings are part of the school’s overall CTE (Career & Technical Education) program, which includes agricultural science and FACS (Family and Consumer Science). (More information on those two programs will be shared in next month’s Highlights.

  SPHS teacher Michael Reeser chats with
  Marshall Nicolai and Jeremy Plonske about
  the small engine they took apart and will
  eventually put back together as part of
  Automotive Mechanics class. 

SPHS CTE teachers Michael Reeser and Scott Robinson provide students with instruction in several areas of study, including Woodworking, Introduction to Engineering, Building Trades, Metalworking I, Metalworking II, Automotive Mechanics, and Introduction to Power Mechanics. Reeser has worked with the district since the high school opened in 2017, while Robinson is new this year, replacing long-time teacher Warren Peterson, who retired after the 2020-21 school year.

These courses are specifically designed to provide students with the skills and training necessary should they consider choosing one of these tracks as a field of study either through vocational/technical school or college or move right into a career path upon graduation.

Courses offered in the Manufacturing Lab include Intro to Power Mechanics, Principles of Metalworking I and II, and Automotive Mechanics. 

  SPHS woodworking teacher Scott Robinson
  works with freshman Johnny Kennedy on
  the design for his shelf project.

“Students enrolled in the Introduction to power mechanics course learn about outdoor power equipment and small gas engines with a basic overview of things to know when you own a car but may not necessarily plan to perform all of the maintenance yourself,” Reeser said. 

Students engage in various hands-on activities such as engine disassembly, engine components and systems identification, engine inspection, engine assembly, engine troubleshooting, and basic automotive components.

Automotive mechanics student’s hands-on opportunities include general vehicle maintenance items such as oil change, tire change, tire rotation, undercarriage repair, brakes, steering suspension, driveline, exhaust, and fuel systems.

“Principles of Metalworking I students learn to use the 4-basic arc welding process and 2-basic cutting systems -- shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, flux core arc welding,  gas tungsten arc welding, plasma arc cutting, and oxy acetylene cutting,” Reeser said. “Students in Metalworking II will be able to complete and pass the American Welding Society Welder qualification and certification test for industry recognized training as well as learn to fabricate from blueprints to create precise, inspected components.”

Robinson, who works with students mainly in the engineering/design lab as well as the woodworking shop, has enjoyed getting to know the students and staff here at SPHS since the start of the new school year.

“Being new this year I am excited to see all the opportunities our students have to develop skills in different areas,” Robinson said. “The community support for the school and CTE programs is really paying off for our students. St. Peter offers CTE classes that start with the basics and progress to the advanced skills that give our students an advantage going forward. Some will use these classes as a starting point for a whole career, some will find a new hobby and others will just go forward knowing that they can design, build, fix, cook or grow things when they want to. It is always exciting to see what students do with the skills learned in these courses and I am excited to have joined such an impressive team.”

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Saint Peter High School will celebrate Homecoming 2021 the week of September 20-24 with a full slate of events/activities.

  The 2021 SPHS Homecoming candidates
   includes: (l to r) Cooper Dean, David
   Zhang, Marway Abdi, Brogan Hanson, and
   Shea Hildebrandt; Back row, Grace
   Remmert, Ryenne Pettis, Eva Kracht, Sky
   Gassman, and Eleanor Winterfeldt.

This year’s coronation/crowning of the Queen and King will take place on Friday, Sept. 24, at halftime of the Saints football game vs. Jordan at Floyd B. Johnson Field, with the annual dance set for Saturday evening at SPHS. Plans are also being finalized for the annual Homecoming Carnival, where students will be able to participate in games and activities. More details will be shared on the dance starting time and Carnival festivities as they become available.

The Homecoming Parade returns this year, after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, and is set for Friday, Sept. 24th, at 3:30 p.m. The route will start on Broadway Avenue on the northside of Saint Peter Middle School/Early Childhood Center campus and head south to Third Street where the parade units will take a right and travel until the Grace Street intersection. There the parade route turns right again and heads west on Grace Street, eventually ending by the Middle School.

2021 SPHS Homecoming Dress Up Days
Monday, Sept. 20 - Adam Sandler Day
Tuesday, Sept. 21 - Skater vs. Cowgirl(boy) Day
Wednesday, Sept. 22 - Jersey/Sport Day
Thursday, Sept. 23 - Generation Day
Friday, Sept. 24 - Saints Day.