BELLE PLAINE, Minn - Well, you have to admit, it wasn't something you see in school every day. There was a grown man, a TV reporter, on bended knee, reciting poetry to a high school student, in front of the rest of the class. And not just to any student either, but to an undefeated, defending state champion heavyweight wrestler.
"Happy Valentines day, Michael", said the reporter. "Thank you", the student managed. And, then, the poetry began. "Roses are red, violets are blue, I would be crazy to get on a wrestling mat with you! To Belle Plaine we have come from afar, not to make you my valentine, but to make you this week's KARE-11 Academic All-Star!
And, with that reporter dropped the box of candy and produced a giant check made out in the young man's name, while the rest of the class erupted in applause.
It's a good thing that Belle Plaine senior Michael Kroells has a good sense of humor. One of the top wrestlers in the state, Michael has also pinned down a 4.0 grade point average, and the top-spot in his graduating class, hence his selection for a little embarrassment, and this academic honor.
"For me it's special", said Michael. "Because I know I've had to really work at it with the other things that I have going on."
Besides being a 4-year member of the student council, Michael has gone on mission trips with his church, volunteered in the community and as a youth sports coach, earned All-State Honorable Mention two times in football, and is a state champion in wrestling, where he's All-State, Academic All-State, and turned down opportunities to attend Princeton and Cornell to wrestle at the U of M.
Said Michael, "Cornell probably has a higher average but the 'U' has a good engineering school, they have good science, they have good research, it's a good school no matter which way you look at it."
One other advantage the U had was sophomore heavyweight Tony Nelson. Like Michael, Tony's a local kid who came in as an under-sized heavyweight and has blossomed into an All-American on the mat, while excelling in Michael's chosen field of engineering.
"Knowing that he did it and he's pretty much in my shoes helped me a lot about thinking about the 'U", said Michael.
Before Michael dons the maroon and gold he promises there will be no "senior slide". He's determined to finish this school year and his high school career with straight A's, and he counts a spot on our team of Academic All-Stars as one more win.
Said Michael, "To be recognized in just a small group of 30 is a pretty cool thing to be a part of."
Even if it means having an old man get down on his knee and recite poetry to you.