Pine River-Backus Student of Character rose above violence
Annual honor is bestowed on students who overcome challenges and excel
PINE RIVER — One 2022 Pine River-Backus graduate received recognition from Sourcewell's annual Students of Character program for her success in spite of hardship.
Mara Adams was in the Pine River-Backus School District for only a few years, but in that time she left an impression with her teachers.
Adams previously attended school in a different district. Her household was somewhat hectic. She came to PR-B after it took a dark turn.
Mara came to Pine River-Backus school in 10th grade - in the middle of some big changes in her personal and home life. Her teachers noticed right away her inner strength as she navigated her way through it. Mara is an asset to her school community. She is involved in many activities and is a leader within those groups, including music, theater, track, cross country and yearbook. A lot of things get done because Mara makes sure they do.
"I was living with my mom and my stepdad," Adams said. "I love my mom, but he ended up domestically assaulting me. That led me coming back here to Pine River after I left Bemidji. My dad got full custody of me and that's who I live with now."
She became engrossed in student activities ever since. For six years she ran cross country, serving as team captain for the last few. She was in softball for five years before recently shifting to track. Since seventh grade she's been shooting trap.
She's also president of the choir and section leader for the trumpets in band. On top of all that, Adams has served on committees and councils, including student council and the prom committee.
"I kind of put my feet into a little bit of everything here and there and get involved in all the mush," she said.
Adams said she doesn't have many recognitions to hang her hat on. In trap shooting, she's been the top shot from time to time. She was the 2021 second princess in the Miss Pine River Scholarship Pageant, though that was not her first thought when asked about her biggest accomplishments.
"I don't know if I was really recognized, but for trap shooting I got third at state in our conference," Adams said. "I thought that was a pretty big deal. It was amazing."
Adams keeps busy outside of school, especially during the summers.
"Since 2018, I've been working at Moondance Events," Adams said. "I've technically been out there since I was a baby, but I've been working out there helping maintain the grounds and helping with the events like concerts, weddings and things they have out there. For the last two years I've worked out at Trapper's Landing Lodge in Whipple until recently."
Adams is lined up to go to St. Cloud State University for a degree in hospitality and tourism.
"My dad's a chef," Adams said. "So I've always been around catering and doing events. I've always liked planning things and I'd like to see what more is out there. I thought, 'What if I can become a travel agent?' because I can do those exact things. I can bring people on tours and plan their trips kind of like what Ben Kinzer goes through with an agency for band and choir trips. I'd be that person that helps."
Her interest and talent in planning was among what was recognized in her nomination for the Students of Character award. French teacher Melanie Lindquist nominated Adams for the award, writing:
"Mara came to Pine River-Backus school in 10th grade - in the middle of some big changes in her personal and home life. Her teachers noticed right away her inner strength as she navigated her way through it. Mara is an asset to her school community. She is involved in many activities and is a leader within those groups, including music, theater, track, cross country and yearbook. A lot of things get done because Mara makes sure they do."
Adams said until she received the recognition, she was not familiar with Students of Character. After she received an email from Sourcewell, she and her father learned about the program together while trying to decide if the award email was legitimate. They realized it was real when they read about 2021 PR-B awardee Malachi Whipper's recognition.
"I feel pretty proud of it," Adams said. "I get awarded with some things but it felt like an honor to be awarded with something this big."
Adams said she enjoyed the awards ceremony because they were able to sit with other nominees and talk and get to know one another, but they also got to hear nominations for every other winner.
"I like how they read off what our highs and lows and backgrounds were," Adams said. "We got to know who the other students were and what they were going for. I think it was really nice to get that information."
She was grateful to have been selected.
"I want to say thank you to Melanie Lindquist, Madame, for noticing it," Adams said. "At the event she said, 'I know you mentioned before that you don't get acknowledgment for the things you do, and I thought you deserved that.' And that really meant a lot."
Students of Character is a program that recognizes students in seven area school districts with scholarships "for their quiet leadership, perseverance and dedication to their community, school and fellow students."
This year's awards dinner was April 20 at Madden's Resort on Gull Lake. Representing the Pine River-Backus School District were Adams and fellow senior Randall Yost.
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.