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Who says there’s no good news about young people?

That was the message being shared Wednesday evening during the 2017 Extra Effort Awards reception at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

“I see that myth shattered every day when I come to campus,” said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt. “Every day we see young women and men working hard, juggling jobs and academics and taking on leadership roles with a maturity that astounds us.”

This year, 15 students from 14 Chippewa Valley high schools were honored with the Extra Effort Award, which recognizes students who have overcome obstacles or provided exemplary service to their communities.

That includes Keenan Hartzell from Cadott High School. He has epilepsy, along with a rare neurological disorder that affects his speech and social interactions. He plans to study computer science at UW-Eau Claire and was awarded a scholarship to the school from Chancellor Schmidt on Wednesday.

And Alexis Dixon from Cornell High School, who overcame challenges growing up that included depression and a suicide attempt. She now has 3.9 GPA, plans to pursue a career in health care and received a scholarship from Chippewa Valley Technical College President Bruce Barker on Wednesday.

And Valerie Yang from Elk Mound High School. She grew up in a large Hmong family and overcame a fear of public speaking while working to improve her English skills. She now wants to help others and plans to major in psychology at UW-Stout. She was awarded a scholarship to the school from Chancellor Bob Meyer on Wednesday.

“I’d like to challenge all of us today to share these good news stories every time we hear someone telling us that young people today just can’t measure up,” Chancellor Schmidt said at the reception. “Because we know they can — and they do in so many inspiring ways.”

Keynote speaker Barbara VanDoorn from Lake Holcombe School District, echoed that sentiment in her speech, adding that family members and educators also play a key role in the success of students who are having troubles. VanDoorn is the state’s Special Services Teacher of the Year.

The Extra Effort awards are sponsored by Chippewa Valley Newspapers, in partnership with UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and CVTC. Each year, area high schools nominate a student who they think exemplifies the spirit of the award, and their stories are told in the Chippewa Herald and the Dunn County News throughout the school year, culminating in the awards reception and scholarship announcements.

The other winners of this year’s Extra Effort Awards were:

Mason Kolwitz, New Auburn High School

Newlife Xiong, Eau Claire Memorial High School

Amanda Wright, Stanley-Boyd High School

Samuel Forden, Eau Claire Regis High School

Brianana Strzok, Lake Holcombe High School

Brooke Hetke, Bloomer High School

Brielle Pain, Eau Claire North High School

Daniel Dachel, McDonell Central Catholic High School

Tyler Miller, Menomonie High School

Maya and Mara Grant, Chippewa Falls High School

Abigail Erickson, Boyceville High School

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