Four local students recognized as All-American Kids

From left, Ratayia Bias, Abby Biswell, Drew Klauser and Amanda Zehnle
Posted: Mar. 8, 2013 10:09 am Updated: Mar. 22, 2013 1:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Four local students received All-American Kid awards Friday for excellellence.

The award program recognizes students up to age 14 who have excelled in one of three interest areas. The awards were to be presented at noon Friday during the Quincy Exchange Club's weekly meeting at America's Best Value Inn.

Amanda Zehnle received recognition for her athletic abilities. Drew Klauser earned praise for his accomplishments in the math and natural science fields. Ratayia Bias and Abby Biswell were both honored for their musical abilities with the arts and humanities award. Each winner will receive $200 toward their education fund and a commemorative plaque from Bank of Quincy.

The All-American Kid Award has been given to 100 students since 1983. Bank of Quincy and the Quincy Society of Fine Arts sponsored the award this year.

Amanda is a daughter of Greg and Melanie Zehnle. She's an eighth-grade student at Liberty Junior High School. Amanda participates in basketball, track, softball, cheerleading and marching band. She said sports have taught her leadership skills, teamwork, and ways to express herself.

"One of the most important things I have been taught is to be fair and kind to others," she said. "If we treat each other with respect and kindness, it is a win-win for everyone."

Amanda has a 4.0 grade-point average and volunteers at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. She has dedicated time to a project that promotes reading among younger students. She served this year as drum major for the school marching band, qualified for the all-district choir and was selected to sing at Western Illinois University.

Drew, a son of Todd and Kelly Klauser, is an eighth-grade honor student at St. Dominic School in Quincy. He competed on the seventh-grade math team that earned second place in the Payson math competition this past year. He qualified for early algebra at Quincy Notre Dame High School and scored 96 percent on his entrance test.

"No matter what you do, math is always involved," Drew said. "Math is in every profession and in every way in life."

Drew enjoys football, roller hockey and Boy Scout activities. He serves as a member of the school Leadership Council and on the Students Working to Advance Technology team.

Ratayia is the youngest local student to receive the All-American Kid Award to date. She is the 8-year-old daughter of Heather Altgilbers and Richard Bias. The third-grade honor student at Berrian School in Quincy is a gifted singer. She had the lead in the Berrian production of "Christmas at the OK Corral." Her favorite song to sing is Miley Cyrus' "The Climb." She's been practicing it since she was 4 years old and recently performed it for her school.

"I like to sing, because when I sing, I can be myself," she said.

Ratayia also enjoys writing her own stories and songs. She goes to Hope Lutheran Church and sings in the children's choir.

Abby, a daughter of Matt and Lori Biswell, is an eighth-grade student at Quincy Junior High School. She has pursued her passion for the arts from a young age. She began taking voice lessons in the second grade and has taken dance lessons for 11 years. Abby received the Quincy Community Theatre's Burning Flame Award in 2008. She earned a QCT QUILTA performance award in 2012 for her role as Virginia in "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Clause."

"Theater has totally given me more confidence," Abby said. "It's gotten me to not worry as a much about standing out, because theater's all about being outside of the box, taking a risk."

Abby also serves as president of her class student council. She's a member of the National Junior Honor Society, and she carries a 4.0 grade-point average. Abby volunteers at her church, nursing homes and the Quincy Humane Society.