Students of Character are often viewed as “unsung heroes” - a description some would certainly attribute to Thomas Taylor.

The Pequot Lakes senior was recently named a Sourcewell Student of Character for his efforts to help those in school who need it.

“I’m kind of a quiet person, but I’m a behind-the-scenes player,” Taylor said. “I try to help when someone needs help … I’m a very dependable person. If you need me at a certain point, I’ll be there and I’ll give you my best.”

Taylor, the son of Kristi and the late Thomas Taylor, is active in both 4-H and the school’s robotics program - both of which play into his passion for design.

“I like to build and design stuff,” Taylor said. “I have a 3D printer, and if I have something I want to make, I can design it and print it out. It’s just cool to see the whole design process with that.

“To build a robot every year - trying to build a good one around the game they give us - and just working with all of the mechanical and electrical stuff is pretty cool to me,” he said.

--- --- --- --- ---

“He is involved in quite a few programs and doesn’t get a lot of recognition. He is just a very pleasant student and a very helpful one.” - Spanish teacher Christine Palmer

--- --- --- --- ---

In everything he is involved with, he makes it his goal to help others without drawing much attention.

“He is involved in quite a few programs and doesn’t get a lot of recognition,” said Spanish teacher Christine Palmer, who nominated Taylor for the award. “He is just a very pleasant student and a very helpful one.”

While he was familiar with the Student of Character award - a friend was a Student of Character in 2019 - Taylor admits being nominated for the honor was never something he foresaw.

“I was surprised by it,” he said. “My principal just told me that I had won an award and we would talk about it later, so I was kind of confused. When I found out what it was, I just thought it was awesome.”

Taylor’s father passed away roughly five years ago. While a situation like that can have a tremendous impact on a child’s well-being and demeanor, Taylor does his best to find the good in any situation he finds himself in.

“He never complains about anything,” Palmer said. “He is always very cheerful and upbeat. I really appreciate that about him.”

The reason for that is a simple one: He is simply trying to be like his father.

“My dad was very happy and positive, while being really calm,” Taylor said. “I kind of took those qualities he had and I try to apply them to me. It’s kind of hard, with him not here, but I just always try to be happy and have the best day possible.”

After graduating this month, Taylor plans to attend Central Lakes College to earn an associate’s degree in robotics and automated systems, with the intention of becoming a robotics technician.

--- --- --- --- ---

“My dad was very happy and positive, while being really calm. I kind of took those qualities he had and I try to apply them to me. It’s kind of hard, with him not here, but I just always try to be happy and have the best day possible.” - Pequot Lakes senior, Thomas Taylor

--- --- --- --- ---

“Companies would hire you to service or build their machines,” Taylor said. “Since they would source those jobs to employers all around the world, I would get to travel and see some cool places.”

Regardless of where life takes him, he admits his outlook is slightly altered by knowing good deeds do not always go unnoticed.

“I didn’t really think any teachers or staff members saw my efforts to be helpful, but now I know they have been watching me and seeing me grow throughout the years. That’s cool to see … It’s a special award, since I was nominated by staff members. I always try to give it my best, and it is cool to know they saw my effort.”

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 dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.