ExCEL award ceremony fulfills childhood dream for Albany junior

Albany High School student Mitchell Kollodge was one of 32 Minnesota juniors honored with the ExCEL award in March.
Albany High School student Mitchell Kollodge was one of 32 Minnesota juniors honored with the ExCEL award in March.

By Jennie Zeitler
Staff Writer
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During halftime at the Minnesota state girls basketball championship game Saturday, March 16, Mitchell Kollodge and 31 other ExCEL Award winners of 2013 were presented with their etched glass trophies by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).

“I was just amazed at all the people who were watching,” said Kollodge (pronounced Koll – od’ – gee). “I always wanted to be on TV; it was a childhood dream fulfilled.”

Kollodge’s father videotaped the ceremony and his sisters took photos as he was given the award for “excellence in community service, education and leadership.”

Kollodge was notified late in 2012, that he had been nominated for the award.

“Each school chooses one junior boy and one junior girl,” he said. “I had to accept. Then I had to fill out a lot of forms, writing about my activities.”

The nominations were sent to MSHSL, from which 16 girls and 16 boys were chosen. The results were announced Feb. 1.

“Right when I got home from school, I got on the Internet and checked,” said Kollodge.

Kollodge’s community service includes helping with bazaars, breakfasts and lunches at his church; volunteering with Albany’s National Honor Society and the Albany Public Library. He and his twin sister, Emily, started the Math Master program for Albany’s fifth grade students this year.

“When we were in sixth grade in Holdingford, we were in Math Masters and really liked it,” he said. “The fifth graders in Albany took a test and letters were sent to the top scorers inviting them to join. We have 11 kids.”

The two Kollodges play games with the kids, use flashcards and give timed tests to teach them how to do math problems. The youngest of the three Kollodge siblings, Amanda, is one of the group’s members.

As first-time coaches, the Kollodges received a packet of tests from Math Masters of Minnesota, but had to develop the rest of the activities.

Kollodge’s academic achievements include earning straight As in all of his high school classes.

His leadership experience includes the Math Masters program as well as being part of the “Captains and Leaders” group at school.

“It’s a group of kids recognized by the teachers,” said Kollodge.

“The Captains and Leaders group is made up of leaders in our school organizations, sports and activities,” said Maury Meyer, athletic director. “Most of them have participated in workshops on leadership skills and they meet to discuss leadership issues.”

Kollodge is also active in cross country, track, Letter Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Come Alive Read 25 and tutoring.

In his summer free time Kollodge enjoys water skiing, wake boarding, knee boarding and boating with his family on Kings Lake or Two Rivers Lake.

Kollodge also enjoys reading. “The Hunger Games” is one of his favorite books.

“The book is better than the movie, because it’s so much more detailed,“ he said.

His favorite challenge is building things from whatever materials are available.

“I just like to build stuff,” he said. “I’ve used Legos, Tinkertoys, K’nex, Erector sets — anything that is lying around.”

Last year Kollodge assembled a remote-controlled boat using Styrofoam, an old printer motor and a remote control from a toy car.

“It worked — it moved,” he said. “It wasn’t very fast, but it floated.”

He would like to build a toy flying plane or helicopter from scratch.

Kollodge is looking for a university engineering program and would like to combine it with a track scholarship. He has looked at North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“I really want to be building machines like robots,” he said.

“It’s a great accomplishment for him to win this state award,” said Meyer.

Kollodge is the son of Bill and Jean Kollodge of Albany.