New group of students, staff inducted into Wall of Inspiration

Published 2:38 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

Parents, students and faculty gathered in the Albert Lea High School gymnasium Friday morning to recognize 11 students and staff for their outstanding achievements in the annual Wall of Inspiration ceremony, an accolade begun by Brian and Kathleen Kuphal in honor of their son Josh.

Josh was a graduate of Albert Lea High School, who died in 2002 at age 19.

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This year there were eight students and three staff members who were recognized.

The ceremony opened with one of the hosts, Jim Haney, talking a little bit about what the Wall of Inspiration means and what qualities it recognizes. He encouraged all students to “try to be the best person you can be in front of your peers and teachers.”

The recipients of this honor were Erin Boorsma, Christian Reichl, Hannah Veldman, Paul Dunn, Max Irvine, Anna Barclay, Gavin Hanke, Angel Welch, Evie Dawson, Sa Taw and Mason Attig. Kindness, selflessness, positivity and drive to achieve were just some of the qualities of the nominees of the Wall of Inspiration. The students and staff nominated are involved in a lot of activities in the Albert Lea community including athletics, National Honor Society, extracurriculars like chess club or FFA and church communities and other faith-based organizations such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Each student or staff member was given a brief introduction explaining a little about themselves and a sample from the nomination letter the Wall of Inspiration committee received.

For example, Boorsma was nominated for her positive leadership. Reichl was commended for being driven and overcoming medical challenges. Dunn is a teacher and coach who encourages students and young athletes to “just keep playing” as well as instilling the values of integrity and good character. Irvine displays kindness and strong faith in his role as an athlete. Barclay helps her peers through her joyful attitude and sense of humor. Hanke exercises discipline in his athletic career while still showing humility and encouragement to his fellow classmates and team members.

Welch is a language arts teacher and coach whose kindness makes learning more enjoyable for students. Dawson uses her skills as an athlete and musician to show Jesus Christ’s love to others.

Taw is a success coach at the school who serves in other roles such as assistant pastor and Albert Lea Police Department Reserve officer, all in which he advocates for the Karen community. Attig is positive and encouraging and has a passion for agriculture.

To close the ceremony, Wall of Inspiration recipients shared a short video presentation in which they each explained what they had decorated their special tile with and the reasoning behind their choices. They also all expressed thanks to those who had nominated them.