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The rewards of hard work were flowing Monday evening as members of the Columbus Public School Board offered pats on the backs to students for achievements during the 2017-18 school year.

It’s an annual rite to close out the year in which dozens of students leg it up to the podium to accept their honors for state competitions ranging from SkillsUSA to the University of Nebraska’s annual language fair, from instrumental and vocal music awards to the Prudential 2018 Spirit of Community Awards.

“We’ve got a lot of kids doing a lot really cool things," said Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz, summing up the estimated 200-plus students who paraded to podium picking up their honors on May 14.

The last board meeting during the school year in May, while also dealing with some end-of-the-year housekeeping issues, is primarily spent recognizing students for math, science, engineering, instrumental and vocal music, writing, business, voluntarism and technical skills they’ve developed.

“This is board members’ favorite meeting of the year,” smiled Loeffelholz while looking out to the throng of students sitting in the high school media room.

Columbus High seniors Joe Massman and Dylan Smith competed in Mechatronics, a combination of electronics and mechanical engineering, claiming the state title.

The tandem qualified for the National Leadership and Skills Conference next month in Louisville, Kentucky. The conference showcases the best in career and technical education across the nation with 16,000 participants.

Meanwhile, Spanish students had another banner year at the 42nd annual Language Fair in Lincoln. The Discoverers Spanish 4 and 5 students returned with superior rankings in six of seven possible first-place finishes and five of seven possible second-place ratings.

The CHS Winter Color Guard, in only its second year of existence, posted a first-place finish in the Heartland Winter Arts Association Championships in their classification.

The performers, coached by Cheryle Deal, included Carissa Deal, Makenna Elton, Marion Heindryckx, Madison Henderson, Anna Lindahl, Emily Pick, Gracie Pick, Alicia Purinton, Emilee Robak, Jenna Robak, Clair Thelen, Thalia Romo, Cassidy Wemhoff and Madelyn Zaura.

Madeline Hudnall was awarded the certificate of excellence by the judges in the 2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.

The sophomore's volunteer activities were judged to be among the top-10 percent of all those considered in Nebraska for the 2017-18 school year. Based on her volunteer hours logged, she was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

The middle school’s fifth-grade Destination Imagination squad made up of Lia Wickens, Duncan Rosno, Julianna Figge, Erick Alarcon, Madison French, Ryder Ebel and Emily Niles, qualified for the Global Finals.

Savannah Klee, fourth-grader at Centennial Elementary School, earned the most accelerated reader points for the second year in a row. She totaled 552 points during 2016-17 and so far this year she has earned 332 points.

The high school’s vocal music department boasted some pretty “superior” voices at the Division Two District Music Contest in small ensembles and solos.

The Quartet, made up of McKenzie Kallweit, Alexis Haynes, Alex Brandenburg and Gage Scmidt earned a superior rating while compiling a perfect score.

Two trios, one made up of Jessie Nelson, Hannah Haynes and Natalie Raimondo, and another including Reagan Gausman, Sam Hernandez and Karissa Gleeson, also posted superior rankings and perfect scores.

Jim Osborn is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at jim.osborn@lee.net.

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Jim Osborn is a news reporter at The Columbus Telegram.

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