Isaac Gerber didn't always feel like a natural leader, but over his years at Pequot Lakes High School, he found comfort and ease in that role. This did not go unnoticed by his community, and Gerber was selected as a Sourcewell Student of Character for Region 5.
"You know, it actually felt good, because I always thought that I was trying to lead people in a good direction and it feels good that some people actually saw that," he said.
Students of Character are nominated by school staff and chosen for their quiet leadership, perseverance and dedication to their community, school and fellow students. Marc Helmrichs, school activities director, nominated Gerber
"Isaac is a warm and genuine young man who demonstrates the characteristics of kindness and humility every day," Helmrichs said in his written nomination. "Easy in conversation, Isaac can be found in deep discussions around problem solving the next challenge he faces with the Robotics team. Beset with some difficulty in his school experience, Isaac has shown the fortitude that makes us proud to call him a member of the Patriot family."
Gerber attended the Students of Character celebration event Wednesday, April 10, at Madden's Resort on Gull Lake, along with the 40 other honorees. The event included a dinner and award ceremony. Gerber got the opportunity to speak to several other recipients from around the region. He recalled the event being "fancier" than he expected.
"They were all very cordial people," he said. "They were very good to talk to."
Gerber is a conservation club volunteer and a teacher's assistant for robotics instructor Keith Lumley. He said he barely sleeps from January to May each year because he throws himself wholeheartedly into the world of robotics.
The FIRST Robotics Competition, in which the Pequot Lakes Patriotics team participates, is essentially a large team building exercise between schools that form alliances to complete tasks during a match.
"We've actually gone to the world tournament twice over four years of competing, and went to the state tournament, which is arguably harder to get into than the world tournament, our second year," he said.
Gerber enjoys taking on a leadership role within the team, and often spends hours beyond official team meetings working on and perfecting what they make. He believes Helmrichs noticed him working with the younger students as well.
"He saw that I'm trying to build these kids up to fill in my place when I'm gone," said Gerber. "There's definitely a higher standard for leaders among the FRC community because everything is more professional, and everyone is expected to act at a higher degree than they do at school. So it definitely makes me feel happy that people are recognizing me as a leader."
Gerber said he settled in as a leader much more comfortably after he stopped trying so hard to become one.
"At first I put myself to it," he said. "But it appeared better when it just happened naturally."
Gerber will graduate from Pequot Lakes High School later this month and will join the U.S. Air Force soon after. He already enlisted, and was sworn in Nov. 22. He wants to follow after his uncle, a U.S. Army veteran.
"I felt that since I admire him, and he gave me such a sense of self-duty and all that stuff, I thought that finding a branch that would fit my ideals and what I'm good at would be perfect," said Gerber.
Helmrichs commented on this aspect of Gerber's future in his recommendation for the Students of Character honor.
"An Air Force commit, Isaac has given his future the same thoughtful consideration he has given his studies at Pequot Lakes High School, leading him on a path of distinguishment for exemplary service," he said.
Gerber said he is honored to receive the award, but he feels that more students should be able to get the same recognition.
"I wish it could go to more students," he said. "I know there are definitely some that go unnoticed."