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Truscinski recognized as state ExCEL Award winner

At the April 8 Badger School Board meeting, Superintendent Tom Jerome presented Badger junior Kennedy Truscinski with her state ExCEL Award— one of 36 students across the state to earn this award. Truscinski couldn’t accept the award in person at a state girls’ basketball championship game on March 16, deciding to stay back to help her robotics team win its own championship, a Great Northern Regional title that same day in Grand Forks.

Badger High School junior Kennedy Truscinski had a decision to make. Should she accept her Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) ExCEL Award at halftime of a girls’ basketball state championship game at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, or remain with her robotics team to compete at the Great Northern Regional in Grand Forks? Both fell on the same date: March 16.

When she found out about this dilemma, she thought, “Oh no, what am I going to do?”

She explained how her brother Alex and dad Alan were pushing her to go to the robotics regional and her sister Madison and mom Val were pushing her to go accept the award in person. Stressing out about it, she ultimately came to a decision.

“But then it hit me that I should be there for my team,” Kennedy said.

She did indeed decide to stay with her team to help it capture its second regional title in as many weekends.

“I’m the team captain, project manager, head electrical (person), and the driver, or co-driver for our team, so if I wasn’t there, they’d be missing a big chunk of the team, so I realized that it wouldn’t be right of me to go receive the award.”

She knew they would still send the award to her in the mail and she would still be recognized during the award ceremony.

This decision received support from many, including the organization (MSHSL) that gave her the award. Kennedy’s mom Val explained to the MSHSL why Kennedy wasn’t going to be at this awards ceremony and the MSHSL responded.

“They (MSHSL) replied, ‘She made the right decision. It sounds like this is one of the reasons why she was nominated for this award, that she’s there for her team,’” Kennedy said.

According to the MSHSL website, the ExCEL award stands for Excellence in Community, Education, and Leadership. It recognizes high school juniors who not only are making “satisfactory” progress towards graduation, but also are participating in MSHSL fine arts and/or athletic activities, holding a school leadership position(s), and doing community volunteer work. To read Truscinski’s and other award winners’ complete bios, go to, click on “Recognition” along the bar on the top of the page, and then click “ExCEL Award”.

A total of 36 students are selected for this award at the state level, not separated by school size. Truscinski found out she was one of those students on a snow day, discovering the news not from her school, but the MSHSL website.

“I was really excited because there actually hasn’t been anybody who won from my school since my sister (Madison) did,” Kennedy said.

Her sister won the award at the state level in 2014 and accepted the award on March 22 of that year in person at the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena during halftime of a Minnesota state girls’ basketball championship game.

Regardless if she was there to accept the award in person or not, winning it still meant much to Kennedy. This award did more than just recognize her as a leader, something she thought was “special” in itself. It also recognized her as similar to a person special to her in her own life.

“It just feels so good to even follow in my sister’s footsteps because a lot of people thought she was such a great person in our community and a good leader,” Truscinski said. “So to be able to receive the same award as her felt really good because then I knew that people also see me just like her.”

To see the complete story, read the April 10 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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