Perseverance is key for Pequot Lakes Student of Character – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal | Wender Mind Kids

Perseverance is key for Pequot Lakes Student of Character - Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

PEQUOT LAKES – Words like “perseverance” and “determination” may not be the first words that spring to mind for many when they think of high school students and academics, but Pequot Lakes High School graduate Delaney Westrich embodies those words Well.

After changing schools, temporarily homeschooling, and practically abandoning her academic career, Westrich turned it all around and worked hard enough to graduate on May 27th with the rest of her class.

This determination led to her being named one of Sourcwell’s character students for Pequot Lakes.

“My dad (Byron Westrich, assistant principal/activities director at Pequot Lakes High School) told me I was being called into the office about something and that it was a good thing,” she said. “I was just very surprised … I didn’t really know what it was, and then I wondered if I really deserved it. And then at the awards banquet, I literally felt like a celebrity.”

School interventionist Monica Sergent nominated Westrich in recognition of her tenacity and persistence in getting everything done on time for graduation.

“She has many character traits that make her a great representative of our school as a student of character,” said Sergent. “The award is designed to recognize students who have overcome adversity and persevered, and she has done just that.”

Westrich struggled most of the time in school, to the point where her parents tried to homeschool her during her early high school years.

“I grew up in a family where my siblings were very popular at school and great athletes and everyone loved them,” she said. “Growing up in this family and being different was really hard for me. I didn’t want to go to school. I thought it was a scary place and I didn’t feel happy or safe there.”

Delaney Westrich was nominated for the 2022 Student of Character Award by Pequot Lakes School Interventionist Monica Sergent, who credits Westrich for her academic success.


Enrolling at Pequot Lakes in 2020, Westrich was several credits behind her junior peers. Despite this – and with Sergent’s help – she buckled up and focused on her schoolwork as never before.

“Ms. Sergent was the one who got me to do all my stuff and then I went to summer school to get all my credits back… I was just really determined to get my degree. I think there is one A lot of people didn’t think I would ever do it, and I just had to prove everyone wrong,” she said.

That’s exactly what she did to prove her doubters wrong, and Westrich recalls feeling a tremendous sense of relief on Friday May 27 as she, along with her classmates, donned the cap and gown and her diploma received.

“She’s a very strong, positive role model for other students,” Sergent said. “She sees that they are struggling a bit, be it academically or socially, and she encourages them a lot. She tells them her story to motivate them to keep going. She is also very kind and reliable.”

Through all her catching up, Westrich has realized that she can’t learn everything a certain way and neither can everyone else.

“School is very different for everyone,” she says. “It depends on the struggles you’re going through and the type of person you are. In my senior year, school was definitely a lot better for me than ever.”

With high school in the rearview mirror, Westrich plans to attend Central Lakes College and become a registered nurse in a mental health department.

“I grew up with all my sisters and mom being nurses, and I want to work in the psychology department and be able to help kids — mostly teenagers,” she said.

On her journey to becoming a nurse, she hopes to remind herself that her goals require effort and determination to achieve them. She also hopes that she can remember the people who have helped her along the way.

“You always have to do your best, even if you don’t feel like you want to,” she said.

Students of Character is a program that awards scholarships to students in seven regional school districts “for their quiet leadership, perseverance and commitment to their community, school and fellow students.” The awards dinner was held on April 20th at Madden’s Resort on Gull Lake. Riley Smith also represented the Pequot Lakes School District.

Dan Determan, Sportswriter/Staff Writer, can be reached at 218-855-5879 or

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