The Minot CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition Proudly Presents

The American
Youth Character Awards

March 22, 2017


Awards Banquet
Award Recipient Archives

Awards Banquet

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Macy Christianson
Miss North Dakota

The American Youth Character Awards are the only national awards given to young people solely for strength of character. Under the direction of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the National CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, these awards identify and honor young people who are the real and proper role models for their generation.

These awards are not given for isolated acts of heroism or generosity, nor are they given simply for high grades, leadership posts, excellence in athletics or the arts. Rather, the American Youth Character Awards are designed to honor young people (regardless of their family background, race, culture, financial status, I.Q., or physical condition) whose lives and achievements demonstrate an enduring commitment to qualities associated with good character. The recipients of these awards are undeniable role models for our community.

The fifteenth annual Minot CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition American Youth Character Awards Banquet was held on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at the Grand Hotel. Miss North Dakota, Macy Christianson, was the Keynote Speaker for this event.

The Youth Character Awards banquet was sponsored by the Minot Character Count's Coalition. Mr.Ben Berg was the Master of Ceremonies for this event. The Flags were presented by the Minot High School JROTC Honor Guard under the leadership of Capt. Scott Evans.

Musical selections were presented by Shelby and Kevin Huston. Candid photos from the event are shown below. Photos are courtesy of Steve Beutler.

National Anthem and Flags presented by the Minot High School JROTC Color Guard


Musical Selections were presented by the Shelby & Kevin Huston.


Attendees enjoyed a fantastic dinner prior to the awards ceremony.

Mr. Ben Berg was the Master of Ceremonies for the event; Miss North Dakota, Macy Christianson delivered the keynote address;
and Miss Minot, Cassandra Stauffer assisted with presenting the awards.


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American Youth Character Award Recipients


The Minot CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition is proud to introduce the American Youth Character Award Recipients for 2017:
First Row from the left: Averie Hoffarth, Regan McNally, Reggan Dolbeare, Abby Nelson, Lincoln Ballew, Makenzie Haffner, and Ashley Nelson.
Back Row from the left: Emma Garber, Elijah Stewart, Hannah Candrian, Colton Cook, Je-Mario Jones, and Jacob Scheresky.
Absent: Karlee Zablotney.

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Lincoln Ballew

The quote “Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey” is very appropriate when describing Lincoln Ballew, as she has attended three different schools in three different states.  Nevertheless, Lincoln shares a spirit that encompasses character.  At Minot High, she is a student that stands out as she persistently greets others with a smile, reaches out to others, and strives to do the right thing wherever she is involved.

Throughout her life, Lincoln has tried to carry out the six pillars of character. She has tried to be a caring person who her friends and family are willing to trust with any issue.  She is a responsible citizen who cares about the environment, supports her father in the Air Force, and is proud to be an American.

Lincoln, daughter of David and Christina Ballew, has been involved in every community in which they have lived. She’s volunteered at the Air Force Charity Ball; at the Ecumencial Community Helping Others, putting together backpacks of schools supplies and bags of food for the less fortunate; and the Minot Air Force Base Thrift Shop.

Lincoln says a challenge she has experienced is how to best choose and connect with new friends, as she knows you become like those you associate with.  Starting over somewhere new is tough, especially without friends, so she forced herself to be more outgoing and learned how to reach out to others.

Recently, Lincoln encouraged a fellow student to follow the pillars of character. She was working on a school project with another student, who decided to plagiarize.  Lincoln encouraged him to delete the plagiarized information and use his own knowledge and skills to write his part.  As a result, both he and Lincoln felt the assignment turned out better when he used his own words.

Lincoln is honored to receive this award because it reflects how hard she has worked to maintain her moral, her character, and be a good person. The award recognizes how hard she has worked to maintain the six pillars of character and inspires Lincoln to continue to be a good role model for her younger sister. And this is why Lincoln Ballew is an American Youth Character Award winner.

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Hannah Candrian

Bishop Ryan senior Hannah Candrian exemplifies the pillars of character in and outside school. I am always impressed with the way she shows kindness and fairness to all students in our school, said her nominator, teacher Robin McCurry.

Hannah demonstrates the pillars of character in several ways. She shows trustworthiness when she works with kids in an afterschool program, responsibility by being a student and athlete, caring by showing her family and friends how important they are to her, and respect for her teachers, classmate and parents, Toni and Kerry Candrian.

Hannah is very involved in the community and at her school carnival. She most recently volunteered with Meals on Wheels delivering lunches. Through this experience, she met some wonderful people and learned a lot about herself as well.  Hannah is an individual who is active in faith activities and uses prayer and faith to help her with her decisions.

As an older sister, Hannah is very protective of her younger sister. She often encourages her to live by the six pillars of character.  Hannah specifically has tried to influence her younger sister on the importance of respecting their parents and apologizing when someone does wrong.

An obstacle in Hannah’s life was when her close group of friends drifted apart. The group of girls and boys started to fight and argue and the friendship that was there no longer existed. This loss lasted for a year, which was filled with sadness and bitterness because she lost some of her closest friends. Finally, they realized that the fighting and arguing were pointless and they started to speak again and hang out again. She is thankful they can enjoy their senior year together and as friends.

Winning this award is an honor for Hannah and knowing a teacher sees her portraying the six pillars of character makes her feel good.

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Colton Cook

Minot High senior Colton Cook is described as an exceptional student who excels at school, clubs and sports because of his effort and attitude.

Colton says his parents, Jesse and Cindy Cook, taught him when he was young to show the same kindness and respect to everyone. He was taught to show compassion and be empathetic, which has led to many opportunities to serve and lead people. He demonstrates the pillars of character every day and they are the foundation used to support his life.

Community involvement comes naturally to Colton as he’s involved in many food and clothing drives, has served community suppers at his church, and helped many people before, during and after the Minot flood.

A difficult choice Colton had to make was when his best friend of 13 years decided to start smoking and drinking. His friend became impulsive and made some bad choices and for months, Colton tried to help him and influence him to make healthy decisions. Eventually, Colton realized he could not control his friend’s choices and as a result Colton chose to limit his involvement. 


Colton’s involvement in different clubs and athletics puts him in the position of being someone people lean on. During track season last spring, one of his best friend from another community committed suicide.  In response, Colton reached out to support others. This past fall, one of those friends told him that the support he gave had saved their life.  Colton is an individual who believes it is important to reach out and help others letting them know you care.  Furthermore, Colton has found strength in his faith and the importance of taking it one day at a time.

Winning this award makes Colton very proud and is a testament to everything his parents have taught him. He said it means a lot to his parents, which helps him toward his goal of making them the happiest they can be every day.

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Reggan Dolbeare

Reggan Dolbeare, Central Campus sophomore, was nominated for this award because she is an amazing young woman who, despite personal adversity, has developed a compassion for others and an ethic for hard work, said Language Arts teacher Jacob Jenkins in his nomination letter.

Reggan, daughter of Brent and Marisa Dolbeare, demonstrates the pillars of character in her everyday life. She shows fairness by never judging a book by its cover and always getting to know people for who they are. She always finds the good in people no matter the person. She shows citizenship by always putting others before herself as she’d rather have everyone taken care of first.

Reggan volunteers as a kindergarten church school teacher and for God Works Our Hands and Feed my Starving Children. She also volunteered at three food pantries and adopt a highway.
Reggan is an individual who will reach out to others when they are hurting.  Recently an incident took place when Reggan and some friends drove past a woman sitting on the bridge. She sensed something was wrong so she asked her friend to turn the car around.   When she approached the woman, Reggan realized the woman was in need of help and was emotionally distraught.  Reggan provided support and the woman calmed and was appreciative that someone reached out to her.

It has changed her outlook on life. She wants everyone to know that there is someone who cares and wants them in their life.  She also knows the importance of connecting with others.

Receiving this award would prove to Reggan that she is going down the path that is right and that she is making the right decisions in life.

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Emma Garber

IBishop Ryan senior Emma Garber works hard every day to improve her life and the lives of those around her. In fact, according to Robin McCurry, social studies teacher, the community is lucky to have such a hardworking, civic minded student ready to conquer the world.

Emma’s goal is to live life unselfishly; a life that includes caring and being responsible for not only herself, but also others. Emma, daughter of Judy and Nick Garber, believes that her formal education and family life have provided her with a strong base for the six pillars of character.

As a member of many school clubs and sports, Emma has put in many hours of community service. She also volunteers on her own time twice a month as a mentor for Teens Night Out, a social group for adolescents with disabilities, and feels that she has gained skills that she will take with her for the rest of her life. For the past four years, she also has mentored for a summer retreat for families with children with disabilities.  Emma is a leader on the volleyball team.  She sets a good example as she stands up for what is right while treating others kindly and fairly. 

Emma’s has future plans to continue practicing her faith and obtain a college degree in a helping profession. 

A challenge Emma has faced is how to save money to put toward her college tuition. She needed a job that would fit into her busy high school schedule. Since she’s always been interested in video and photography, she saved up her money to purchase equipment to start her own wedding videography business. In order to build up her portfolio, she filmed and produced three wedding videos for free. Slowing, people started to contact her and now she’s already booked for this summer. It has been an adventure and there’s more to come, but Emma is proud of her ambition and excited for what’s to come.

While receiving this award is a great honor, Emma feels we should not treat others with respect in search for an award; rather the norm should be treating every human with the love and respect they deserve.

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Makenzie Haffner

In the classroom, Makenzie Haffner, Our Redeemers Christian School freshman, is the student that teachers treasure. She is intelligent, resourceful and eager, said Ellen Redding, Our Redeemers science teacher.

Makenzie, daughter of Jolene and Chad Haffner, demonstrates the six pillars in various ways. For example, she is a caring person and has been raised on the verse in James that says “ for widows and orphans…”. Her family takes care of foster kids and she is an active volunteer.  Makenzie has three younger siblings and is responsible for watching them when needed.  She supported her parent’s decision to care for more foster children and agreed to give up some of her free time to help out around the house more. Her family adopted him and his brother in February, so she knows she made the right choice.

Makenzie’s favorite organizations to volunteer for are Project Ignite Light, Dressember, World Vision and A21. When she was in 5th grade, Makenzie made and sold bracelets for a dollar and raised $600 for Project Ignite Light, a nonprofit organization that helps abused kids. In supporting Dressember, Makenzie wore a dress every day in December to raise money to fight human trafficking.

In the last two years, she has raised just under $800 through sponsorships. She also volunteers at her church and goes on as many mission trips as she can.

Makenzie believes it’s her job to encourage her friends to be safe, healthy and happy and she has reached out to help friends that are experiencing challenges.  Makenzie knows all she can do is encourage her friends to make the right choices in life and it’s their decision whether or not to follow the advice she gives.

Receiving this award gives Makenzie the validation that everything she has been trying to do right has not gone unnoticed. She wants to be the good kind of different. Receiving this award gives her the extra courage to keep going and not go with the common crowd.

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Averie Hoffarth

Averie Hoffarth, Jim Hill Middle School eighth grader, is very respectful to her peers. She has patience and understanding when working with her classmates and has a special “knack” and “willingness” to help with special needs students, said Joel Lawson, Jim Hill technology and engineering instructor. She voluntarily invites them to her group to work with them whenever they have group projects or if they just need help understanding directions.

Averie, daughter of Deb and Brad Hoffarth, demonstrates the pillars of character in many ways. She respects her teachers and all adults. She’s responsible and turns her homework in on time. And she has a soft place in her heart for family members and people at school with special needs. They have permanently impacted her heart.

She’s no stranger to community service and has volunteered at her church, picked up trash in the community, helped sandbag during the flood, tied blankets for baptismal families and donated food to the Salvation Army. Averie would like to start her own service project to feed the hungry.

Averie reaches out to others and does what is right.  If a classmate is being bullied, she will stand up for them.  If a classmate is feeling down, she will make sure they get help.  She is a true friend. 

An obstacle Averie has had to overcome was when she was struggling to read and had to attend Title I. She learned that by working hard in areas you’re struggling, you can improve. She’s happy that she has an A in her reading class now and doesn’t have to attend Title I any more.

Averie said that receiving this award means she has done her part in other’s lives but also has done well in her own. It also means she has made the right choices. She is proud of the things she has done and the people she has helped.

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Je-Mario Jones

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra” and Je-Mario Jones is a young man who gives that little extra to his endeavors and looks to do the right thing, said his nominator.  Je-Mario, a Minot High senior, is nice, kind, respectful, responsible, diligent, conscientious, caring and hard working.

The six pillars of character are a major influence in Je-Mario’s life. Je-Mario, son of Gary Jones and Anna Winters-Jones, shows respect by being as kind as possible and not being judgmental. He is responsible in the classroom and takes care of the things he needs to at home. He is fair in all of the sports he participates in and deeply cares about his family and friends and will do whatever he needs to in order to help them.

One of Je-Mario’s favorite community projects was representing Minot High football and assisting with the Dreamcatchers T-ball team. He said they got to put smiles on the kids’ faces and help them participate in the game. He got to meet some very amazing kids and have fun conversations with them while they played the game.

A big concern in Je-Mario’s life is his dad’s health. His father has battled cancer, has had to undergo operations on his spinal cord to fix multiple herniated discs, and was diagnosed with MDS, a pre-leukemia which affects the cells in the bone marrow. He recently had a bone marrow transplant is slowly recovering. It took time for Je-Mario to accept these things, but for now everything is looking up and he enjoys spending as much time as possible with his dad.

Je-Mario has to help out around his home and tries to encourage his younger brother to make good choices and to work hard at school. 

Je-Mario feels blessed to be considered for this award. It shows him that he truly has had a positive effect on the people around him and in the community. It also will continue to motivate him throughout the rest of his life to continue to make good choices and help those around him.

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Regan McNally

Regan McNally, Central Campus sophomore, uses the six pillars of character in her everyday life. She’s truthful to everyone; respects her classmates, teachers, coaches, and referees; she follows the rules and encourages others to do the same; she’s always kind and is involved in the community.

Regan, daughter of Chad McNally and Kristi Sanderson, volunteers at her church by serving cookies and coffee and watching children in the nursery during mass. She volunteers at a local soup kitchen and helped during the 2011 flood.

A difficult decision Regan had to make was during track season her freshman year. In middle school, Regan ran sprints but found a new for hurdling. During her freshman year, she suffered from shin splits from the impact of hitting the ground. She later found out the splits turned into cracks in her bone. She could either continue hurting her legs for the love of the sport or protect herself and stop running track. She chose to stop running track. It was a very tough decision, but she knew she had to take care of her body.

A time Regan encouraged someone was during freshman basketball when a teammate was

thinking about quitting. Using the six pillars, Regan encouraged her to continue playing. She explained she had a responsibility to the team and needed to think of what was fair to the team. She needed to trust all of her teammates and be proud of the team, win or lose.

Regan said being recognized for demonstrating the six pillars feels great and winning this award pushes her to be the best version of herself every day and always use the six pillars of character.

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Abby Nelson

Abby Nelson, Central Campus freshman, is described as a very caring person. A prime example is when she finished taking notes for a classmate who had to leave class for personal reasons. The girls weren’t close friends, but Abby took it upon herself to help, said Doreen Harvey, physical science teacher.

Abby, daughter of Lisa Nelson shows the pillars of character by following the rules and laws and being active in her community. She shares her food with friends who don’t have any and shares hands-on learning opportunities with her lab partner. She completes her homework on time and spends extra time studying for tests.

As an animal lover, Abby walks dogs at the Souris Valley Humane Society and made dog toys for them when she was in the honor society in middle school. As a cross country runner, she and other teammates help at elementary school cross country races by counting places, setting up cones, encouraging runners to keep pushing, and rewarding the runners with their ribbons and a high five.

A time Abby had to make a difficult choice was when her friends were pressuring her to drive illegally with them (they only had permits). Knowing the consequences of breaking the law, Abby refused to participate even though it made them upset with her.

Abby is a good friend and classmate as she reaches out to help others.  A classmate was not motivated about his education and was barely receiving passing grades. Knowing how important education is, Abby encouraged and assisted the student to work on his academics. She congratulated him when he did well and encouraged him to work harder if he didn’t receive the grade he wanted.

Winning this award makes Abby feel complete and motivates her to work harder to be the best she can.

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Ashley Nelson

Ashley Nelson, Erik Ramstad eighth grader, is described as a kind, caring and empathetic student who is admired by teachers and respected by all of her classmates. She is a successful, talented young lady who also happens to have outstanding character, said Annette Stach, Erik Ramstad counselor and one of Ashley’s nominators.

Ashley, daughter of Tawyna and Jarald Nelson, shows respect by picking up other’s trash, not interrupting her teachers or peers, and making healthy choices for herself. She is responsible in having her school work done on time, making sure she has everything she needs before she goes somewhere and is accountable for her actions.

Ashley’s community involvement includes volunteering with the Dreamcatchers, Souris Valley Humane Society, and as an instructor with the Minot Swim Club. She also has helped plan and organize a charity dodgeball tournament.

Ashley will take risks, stand up for something that is right, and will look out for other students.  She willing to reach out and help others.  If Ashley sees someone being excluded, she will put forth that extra to include the individual.  Ashley encourages her sister to live by the six pillars of character.

Ashley shares that she has had to examine some of her choices she was making as she realized how unhealthy she was becoming by eating so much junk food. She became concerned and was determined to cut junk food out of her diet entirely.  Ashley joined an exercise program called APEX. She’s now happier and healthier than she’s ever been. She says no junk food tastes as good as being healthy feels.

Receiving this award shows Ashley that you don’t have to be a superhero to do well and that the average person can make a difference. She says the many positive influences in her life have shaped her character and for her character to be considered worthy of this award is an amazing honor.

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Jacob Scheresky

Jacob Scheresky, Our Redeemers Christian School junior, is well regarded by his peers with his kind, caring and quiet demeanor. And his leadership skills shine as president of FFA and his 4-H involvement, said his nominator, Stacey Ringoen.

Jacob, son of Barry and Ruth Scheresky, has demonstrated trustworthiness as treasurer or his 4-H club, where he’s had to manage funds, writes checks and check monthly statements. Responsibility shows through the livestock projects he’s been involved with. This started at a young age when his parents showed him how to take care of animals. Today, he owns 15 sheep and is responsible for feeding, foot trimming, vaccinating, hiring a sheerer and lambing them. These are just a few examples of how Jacob lives by the six pillars of character.

Jacob’s community involvement has included weeding a garden for a man with mobility issues and teaching elementary kids about agriculture through the Partners in Active Learning program.

Jacob shares various stories of how character has influenced decisions. One of the stories took place during deer gun season he came across a beautiful buck. The problem was, the buck stood on the crest of a hill in one of their pastures.

Jacob was well within range to hit him, but he didn’t know what was on the other side of the hill. One of the first things you’re taught in hunter’s safety is to never shoot when you don’t know what’s behind your target. He passed up on the shot, which he said was kind of a raw deal because he never saw the buck again, but he knew it was the right thing to do.

Receiving this award shows that Jacob uses the six pillars of character in his everyday life and he is honored.

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Elijah Stewart

An outstanding student and citizen is how Elijah Steward, Bishop Ryan senior, is described. He has a foundation that is built on honesty. Although he is a fierce competitor, he holds mutual respect for his competition, said Clifford Davis, Bishop Ryan counselor.

Eli, son of Julie and Pete Stewart, said a lot of the character he has received in his life has come from his experiences in sports. Trustworthiness, respect and responsibility play a large role in sports, especially as a team captain. He said caring is a great trait to have because when you care for someone, you make them feel very special. Eli is a good student and applies character in the classroom.  He is responsible, respectful and works hard in his classes.

Eli is very involved with his school and volunteers at the school carnival and the Andrew Crockett Tournament. He volunteers at Our Lady of Grace Church and the Special Olympics.

One occasion where Eli encouraged someone to make the right choice and follow the pillars of character was when a football teammate would skip morning weights. Eli encouraged him to come because self-sacrifice is what it take to become a better athlete and just a better person overall in life.

A difficult time for Eli was when his grandfather died. He was the first person Eli was close to who passed away. Instead of mourning his death, Eli decided to celebrate his life, which helped get him through the difficult time.

Receiving this award means the world to Eli because it shows him that he had been going through life the right way and it has paid off to build strong character and lead others by example.

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Karlee Zablotney

Karlee Zablotney

Karlee Zablotney, an Our Redeemers Christian School junior, is a leader of character because she quietly and carefully influences others around her for good, said Erica Gade, Our Redeemers English teacher.  Karlee is the daughter and Travis and Kerri Zablotney. She is very reliable and always does what she’s supposed to, as she sets a good example for others. Karlee is kind, responsible, and caring.  She demonstrates citizenship by obeying the laws and respecting authority.

As a member of the National Honor Society, Karlee does service projects throughout the year. She is a regular blood donor, and gives to Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child, Pennies for Patients, and local food pantries. She volunteers with her family at church. She also loves random acts of kindness, with her favorite paying for the person behind her in a drive through. She knows even small things like this can make someone’s day.

Karlee said she hasn’t had to make a super difficult decision in her 17 years of life because people know where she stands in her decisions. She has always been a leader and not given into peer pressure.  She believes that if you set boundaries for yourself to follow and make them known, you won’t have to make difficult choices because people won’t put you in that position. She knows, though, that the time will come when she will be faced with a difficult decision.

Karlee believes death is the most tragic event in a person’s life. You never want to let the ones you love go, even if you know they’re going to heaven. A little over a year ago, Karlee lost one of her biggest role models—her grandpa. He was known for his contagious smile and always being kind to everyone. He died of acute leukemia very suddenly; no one expected it. She wishes she could have said good-bye, but his leukemia took him in a matter of one day. I will never forget his last words: “Let me go to God.” Being raised in a Christian home, I have always found comfort in God in my family. I am assured I will see him again, so I find comfort in that. God is my refuge and my strength.

Receiving this award is a great honor to Karlee because she focuses on her character and how she treats people every day. People will always remember you for your character, no achievements, so having a good Christian character and setting good examples for people has always been one of Karlee’s top priorities.

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Character Builder Award Recipients

The Minot Character Counts! Coalition realizes that building character doesn't take place in a vacuum and that it takes many people pulling together in order to make lasting character changes in our community.  The Minot Character Counts! Coalition is pleased to recognize the numerous accomplishments of the 2017 Character Builder Award recipients, Laura Mihalick & Chuck Kramer.

Laura Mihalick

Chuck Kramer

In addition to the Character Builder Awards, a Character Pillar Award was presented to Steve Beutler.

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This page was created by Steve Beutler on May 3, 2017.