It was a night of celebration and community.
The Miller Mentoring program gathered for its annual Family Dinner on Wednesday, April 19. Approximately 270 people — including students, families, mentors, district staff and school board members and others dedicated to supporting Miller Mentoring — attended the event.
The annual event is a celebration of accomplishments and a positive way to honor and thank those who are committed to the success of Miller Mentoring, which matches community mentors with students at the high school and middle school. The mission is to provide not just academic, but also social and emotional support for students on their educational journey.
Alexa Frank was named the winner of the Sharon K. Suchla Memorial Scholarship. The $500 scholarship was awarded in honor of Suchla, a dedicated and vibrant long-time teacher and administrator for Winona Area Public Schools and a committed supporter of Miller Mentoring.
Caden Shively and Brayden Draheim received the It Takes Two Scholarship. The scholarship is given in memory of mentor Frank Utecht, who died in 2010. Shively received $500, while Draheim received $1,000.
The banquet concluded by presenting The Becky Kouba Outstanding Mentor Award to John Grattan, who has been a mentor for more than 10 years.
The award is named for Kouba, who was one of the program’s first mentors in 2001. Over the years, Kouba served as a mentor at the middle school and high school levels. She was committed, caring and hopeful. Though Kouba passed away in 2020, her legacy lives on. The Outstanding Mentor Award is awarded to a mentor who goes above and beyond and is faithful to showing up and encouraging each student.
We are so grateful to the donors of the scholarships and awards who continue to make these important recognitions possible. Sharon, Frank and Becky all left their own imprint on Miller Mentoring and it is a privilege to honor them through these awards and scholarships as they continue to plant seeds to a better future.
We are equally grateful to the Ben Miller Family. Ben Miller had a vision and an understanding that a flame burns within all of us to make the world a better place, and his family continues to support and encourage that vision year after year through Miller Mentoring.
The evening continued in the WSHS concourse, which was transformed into a family dining room, complete with decorations, senior dedications, and of course, a photo booth. The energy was contagious as families sat with mentors and stories and experiences were shared.
Stacy Cottrell, one of the Miller Mentoring Coordinators commented: "This is my 10th year being part of the dinner and I am always in awe and touched at watching our students, families, mentors, and district staff coming together in conversation and sharing a meal. It's truly a special evening not only celebrating our seniors but also what Miller Mentoring means to all of us."
As another academic year winds down, we look forward to the future connections and relationships that will be formed and will be celebrated at the next Miller Mentoring Family Dinner.