Students will shine at NJPA event

An upcoming event put on by the National Joint Powers Alliance recognizes students who may not otherwise receive any recognition for their efforts. The 25th annual Student Recognition Banquet is 5 p.m. Wednesday at Madden's on Gull Lake Town Hall...

Korleen Edmond
Korleen Edmond

An upcoming event put on by the National Joint Powers Alliance recognizes students who may not otherwise receive any recognition for their efforts.

The 25th annual Student Recognition Banquet is 5 p.m. Wednesday at Madden's on Gull Lake Town Hall, 11266 Pine Beach Peninsula. At the banquet, 48 high school students in Region 5 will be recognized for their hard work and dedication.

The event started in 1992, when a group of educators, board members and parents came together at the request of ECSU-5, now called NJPA, according to a release. Their goal was to help member schools recognize deserving students who might not otherwise receive any recognition for their hard work and dedicated service to their community, to their school and to their fellow students.

This advisory group decided to incorporate a Student Recognition Banquet into the Annual Meeting of the Representative Assembly. Each school district within Region 5 is invited to select one or two students in grades 11-12 to be recognized.

Korleen Edmond, Royalton, was recognized at the banquet in the spring of 2013, her senior year at Little Falls Community High School. In November of her junior year, her mother died of cancer after being diagnosed with stage IV bone, breast, lung, liver and skin cancer in July of 2010.


In order to help her mother, Edmond took post-secondary enrollment option courses online through Central Lakes College in her junior year before moving back to the high school her senior year, in order to graduate with her class. Taking classes at home was a "huge struggle," she said, "and not a lot got accomplished."

"It was very beneficial to have my friends around," Edmond said.

Edmond is an only child and her mom was a single mother, she said, so they were on their own together. Doctors gave her a prognosis of only two weeks and she died a year and a half later.

"She's definitely a fighter," Edmond said.

Edmond's extended family was "ecstatic" when they found out she'd be recognized by NJPA at the banquet, she said, and they filled out a table and a half at the banquet. She was active in speech in high school, but hadn't been recognized for her accomplishments before.

"It was kind of the light at the end of the tunnel," Edmond said. "Even with going through all that, someone recognized that, 'Hey, she's doing pretty good for going through all this.'"

Edmond is currently attending the Minnesota School of Business and will graduate with her bachelor's degree in business administration in March of 2017. She works at Abra Auto Body and Glass in St. Cloud as an account executive.

Edmond had planned on going to college after high school, but was planning to wait before enrolling. But she "spontaneously" registered for classes after graduating high school and started college the fall after her graduation, she said.


NJPA is a public service agency committed to providing cooperative solutions that assist government, education, and nonprofit entities as they strive for efficient public service. NJPA serves Cass, Wadena, Crow Wing, Todd and Morrison counties.

Those recognized this year are:

• Aitkin High School: Katie Teal,

• Bertha-Hewitt High School: CJ Baumgartner and Vanessa Eisenbraun,

• Brainerd High School: Jessica Mickelson and Nicole Brown,

• Browerville High School: Paige Callahan and Rakel Bryniarski,

• Cass Lake-Bena High School: Corvette Northbird-Raish and Nicole Fairbanks,

• Crosby-Ironton High School: Jeremiah Doerfler and Madeline Kertzmann,


• Eagle Valley High School: Mackenzi Riedel and Zackary Blumer,

• Freshwater Education District: Crystal Simmons and Nycole Iverson,

• Little Falls High School: Ben Hegna and Travis Stoner,

• Long Prairie-Grey Eagle High School: Cassandra Smith and Kierra Chavez-Ramirez,

• Menahga High School: Andrew Rockensock and Cara Ballantine,

• Northland Community High School: Bridgett Heinle and Michael Johnson,

• Pequot Lakes High School: Allie Dischinger and Mikayla Horgen,

• Pierz High School: Darian Fakhri and Jonathan Kasper,


• Pillager Area Charter School: Jordan Ausland,

• Pillager High School: Benjamin Dumbeck and Summer Alexander,

• Pine River-Backus High School: Jennifer Holm and Angela Pederson,

• Royalton High School: Monty Sieben and Ryan Klosowski,

• Sebeka High School: Austin Horton and Eva Nolte,

• Staples-Motley High School: Emilee Etzler and Obed Lozano,

• Swanville High School: Ethan Och and Kaleb Kjeldergaard,

• Upsala High School: Brandon Wolbeck and Noah Pundsack,


• Verndale High School: Kaitlyn Vertina and Molly Holman,

• Wadena-Deer Creek High School: Brianna Taggart and Madison Gedde,

• Walker-Hackensack-Akeley High School: Mara MacFarlane and Mckenzie MacFarlane.

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or . Follow on Twitter at .

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