by Lorrie Ham
Mound Westonka High School junior Leah Pinault has been awarded the Minnesota State High School League’s ExCEL Award for 2013. The ExCel Award recognizes high school juniors who are active in fine art and athletic activities, who show leadership qualities and who are model citizens in their communities.
Just 16 boys and girls are selected from across the state to join this very elite club.
"I am so proud of Leah, but I must say I'm not surprised she's being recognized at the state level,” said Band Director Gretchen Chilson. “She is exactly the kind of student who should be recognized by the MSHSL, and we're so excited that she's representing our programs and community."
Activities Director Dion Koltes added his congratulations.
“This is a huge honor and a great representation for the Westonka School District,” Koltes said.
ExCEL award recipients are selected by an independent panel of judges from schools throughout Minnesota. Award recipients will be recognized on KSTC-TV, Channel 45 during the broadcast of the Minnesota State High School League winter tournaments. They also will take part in an on-court award ceremony during the Girls' State Basketball Tournament in March.
“I feel extremely honored," Pinault said. "I always felt that those primarily involved in academics and arts aren’t recognized enough for their hard work like a state track competitor, for example, would be. To be able to represent the arts, particularly for Mound Westonka, is amazing. I'm so thankful for all the people who encouraged me throughout the years to get me to this point.”
Pinault has a lengthy list of Fine Arts activities at MWHS, including Wind Ensemble, Pep Band and several Honor Bands, as well as art. She is a member of both the track and field and the cross country teams. Pinault carries a 4.0 GPA and is a member of National Honor Society, the Literature Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also is a recognized leader in her class and has a long list of service to her community.
Leah is the daughter of Deb and Dan Pinault of Spring Park.