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Youths recognized with Red Wagon Awards

Ally Cross of Brewster, Tony Singsaath of Worthington, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, Miguel Jimenez of Worthington, Carrie Adams of the Nobles County Integration Collaborative, Sharon Johnson, coordinator of the Nobles County Integration Collaborative and Danny Rodriguez of Worthington show the Red Wagon Awards received Monday at the governor's residence.

WORTHINGTON -- Out of the 11 young people receiving the Lieutenant Governor's Red Wagon Awards for academic achievement, civic engagement and leadership Monday, five were from southwest Minnesota, including three from Worthington.

The awards were presented by the Minnesota Alliance with Youth, in conjunction with the office of Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, at the governor's residence.

"I was astonished," said Danny Rodriguez, a junior and one of the three District 518 students receiving the award. Neither he nor the other two Worthington students knew they had been nominated until they received a letter in the mail informing them they had won the award.

Miguel Jimenez, a Worthington High School senior, Tony Singsaath, a junior, and Rodriguez were all nominated by the Nobles County Integration Collaborative, which won a group Red Wagon Award.

Other winners from the area are Amanda Bierma of Fulda and Ally Cross of Brewster.

"We met the lieutenant governor," Jimenez said.

"She was really nice," Singsaath said. "She said congratulations ... she said she liked what we were doing, keep it up."

There's a lot to like in what the Red Wagon winners do.

Though Rodriguez said he sometimes procrastinates on his homework, he always finishes it and has maintained a 3.6 grade point average. Rodriguez participates in wrestling, track, football and the Link Crew, a volunteer group mentoring ninth-graders. He has also been part of the homecoming court several years in a row.

Rodriguez hopes to study engineering, but hasn't chosen a school to attend after graduating from WHS.

Jimenez tries to get his work done as soon as possible, doing about three pages of homework a day and preferring math to English, which is his second language. He participates in FCCLA, the AOK club, baseball and soccer, intends to join SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) this year and serves as a Circle Mentor.

Jimenez hopes to attend the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities or South Dakota State University to study architecture and design.

Singsaath doesn't procrastinate and has been especially diligent in taking notes and studying this year, having improved his grades almost an entire GPA point since he started high school. Singsaath serves as a Circle Mentor and is a co-captain and choreographer of the Six Steps Hip Hop group.

Singsaath intends to study radio broadcasting at Brown College School of Broadcasting.

All three of the students are in Dynamic 507, a student service organization focusing on civic engagement, leadership and volunteering.

"It's always fun. I like what we do," said Singsaath, who especially enjoyed helping younger students learn about diversity on Martin Luther King Day in Brewster.

Jimenez and Rodriguez especially appreciated volunteering with regional feeding ministries.

"There's a lot of people who need help, and anything small you do, they're grateful about it," Jimenez said.

"You get to know what's out there, from people who aren't as lucky as you. You think you have it bad? There's people that have it worse," Rodriguez said.