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Burnsville High School junior receives award for school involvement, leadership and service

Lisa Lake

Burnsville High School junior Shreyas (Shrey) Pothini is the 2021 recipient of the Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (ExCEL) award.

Sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), this unique recognition program is designed exclusively for Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, who show leadership qualities, and who work voluntarily in their community.

Shrey, who has volunteered more than 2,000 hours of service during his years at Burnsville High School, is widely known in the One91 community for his volunteering since an early age. At three years old, he launched Towels for Teens, a donation drive that collects new bath towels for a local homeless youth shelter. In third grade, he founded the service club at Harriet Bishop which was eventually expanded to all elementary schools, and as a fifth-grader he brought a city-wide day of service to Savage, now called Service Day Saturday which happens annually.  

“So many people go through their life waiting for the right time or opportunity to improve the world, but leaders see those opportunities everywhere.”

- Shrey Pothini

As an eighth grader at Eagle Ridge Middle School, Shrey was honored by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, receiving $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to join with other state honorees for four days of national recognition events.

Shrey has played on the Blaze basketball, tennis and football teams and been involved in orchestra and theater. As a National Honors Society member and honor roll recipient, he excels academically. Shrey also serves as a mentor to incoming freshmen as a Link Crew leader and is involved in Student Council as “Sparky” the mascot.

“Shrey has dedicated his spare time to improving the lives of his classmates, himself, and the city of Burnsville,” said Youth Services Coordinator Courtnee Jackson-Floback. 

She added: “He is an active leader in the majority of our school equity work. As a key member of our student organization, he has planned events and created a sustainable framework for equity programming within our district. Shrey has made a conscious effort to diversify himself in regard to his academic, athletic, extracurricular, and service lives. He is a mover and shaker for his generation; he will change the world because he has so much passion, determination, and the ability to think beyond the norm.”

In his application, Shrey shared his favorite leadership quote: “How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” This quote is special to Shrey because it was Anne Frank who said this while being surrounded by hardship and tragedy.

“So many people go through their life waiting for the right time or opportunity to improve the world, but leaders see those opportunities everywhere,” said Shrey. “Anyone can step up to lead in a situation where they have a strong motivation to help others.”

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