Sometimes, making connections with others can make all the difference.

Pequot Lakes senior Lola Rysavy was recently named a Sourcewell Student of Character, not only for her academic efforts, but also her efforts to “make connections with her peers and advisors.”

“I was pretty surprised when I was named (a Student of Character),” Rysavy said. “I was called down to the office - kind of stressed out, because I had no idea why I was called down - and Mr. (Aaron) Nelson (principal) just explained the whole thing to me. I was just so surprised by that.”

Rysavy, the daughter of Addie and Jeff, has done her best to stay involved in school outside of the classroom. Along with playing on the Patriots’ girls basketball team, she served on the prom committee in her junior year and the leadership program - with the goal of “making Pequot Lakes High School a better place” - and frequents after-school activities in support of her classmates.

She does all this while maintaining a GPA of around 3.8.

“I feel pretty proud,” she said. “I have worked pretty hard in my school career, and it’s just nice to see that acknowledged.”

She was nominated for the award by special education teacher and prom adviser Sarah Johnson, who said Rysavy “represents what it means to be a true Patriot.”

“I got to know Lola during her junior year when she joined the prom committee,” Johnson said in an email. “I really appreciated that Lola was always willing to step in and help with the different tasks that the committee was asked to do. Even as a senior and no longer on the committee, Lola would bring ideas she had to try and help out. Lola is a great role model for younger kids and always has a positive attitude.”

After graduating from Pequot Lakes, Rysavy intends to attend the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, with the intention of pursuing a career in journalism.

“The whole aspect of (journalism) just interests me,” she said. “I just enjoy writing and coming up with questions and things like that.”

As she takes that next step, she does so with a newfound understanding that good deeds - and the efforts made to do them - do not always go unnoticed.

“I started to realize more people have noticed the things I do,” she said. “I didn’t think anyone noticed the connections I was making. It makes me think about whether I would be happy if people knew about the things I was doing.”

Sourcewell, in Staples, honored 43 Students of Character from 22 central Minnesota high schools at a virtual recognition banquet in April, including two students each from the Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus school districts.

The Students of Character Celebration is held each year to recognize students who are quiet, behind-the-scenes leaders and may otherwise be overlooked for scholarships. Each was selected by his or her school staff with the criteria they are “unsung heroes” of their district.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at