SHS Senior, Sjoen Munk was recognized as the February Youth Rotarian during the Seward Rotary Club’s noon luncheon meeting on Wednesday, February 14th held at the Jones Bank in Seward. He is the son Darcy Tromanhauser and Jon Munk of Bee, Nebraska. He was introduced to the club by Rotarian Anita Foor.
Sjoen is an excellent student. His cumulative GPA is 4.1 and has been on the Honor Roll at SHS all 13 consecutive terms of his high school career. He has taken many dual credit and AP classes during his high school career and scored a perfect 5 grade on the AP Human Geography Test. His ACT score is 34 out of 36 points and is PSAT score is 1420. He is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist and received the College Board National Rural and Small-Town Recognition Award. He also won the Lincoln Elks Lodge #80 Special Recognition for Outstanding Performance in a Foreign Language.
He loves the Arts and has been selected for the Nebraska All State Chorus for both 2022 and 2023 as a Tenor I and a Bass II. He participated in the UNK Honor Choir, The Concordia Honor Choir and the Concordia Summer Chamber Choir. He is a member of the SHS Select Choir, The Seward High Jazz Choir and participated in many District Music Contests-receiving top awards. He received the peer voted SHS Choir Leadership Award and enjoys singing in German. Sjoen was a member of the SHS Jazz Band for two years.
Sjoen is a member of the SHS Speech team – on the Varsity Level-competing in Poetry. Last year he was a District Finalist.
He is the captain of the successful SHS Quiz Bowl, placing first at the Concordia University History Quiz Bowl, Second at the Nebraska State Fair Quiz Bowl (twice) and first at the Central City Quiz Bowl. He was Captain for the SHS Academic Decathlon Team, and placed as the top score for the local SHS Team. He was in the Honors Division and won two medals at the Regional level, and the team qualified for the State Contest-placing second overall in the Large School Division-only to be beat by Omaha Skutt.
Sjoen was the SHS Seward Representative to Boys State in 2023 and a Delegate and an Advanced Leadership Delegate for Launch Leadership Workshops. He now serves as a volunteer staff for the program.
He is one of the long time veteran members in the SHS Key Club and co-chairs a host of events, including the annual Multicultural Fair for the area Elementary schools. He enjoys the service projects and working the concession stand. He is an active member/leader for the SHS Skills USA program and competed in state contests at the annual conferences in team and solo technical events dealing with computer software.
He is currently employed at the local Seward Civic Center as a night Assistant On-Site Manager, assisting with the various groups that meet there.
Sjoen’s volunteer efforts include weekly visits to the Ridgewood Senior Living and Rehabilitation Center as a Life Enrichment Volunteer, working with memory care residents, and volunteering through the service projects of the local Key Club and Skills USA-collecting food, blood drive promotions and other various hands on activities to help others. He is also a volunteer staff for the Launch Leadership youth leadership camp for Middle and High School students.
He plans to attend Colby College in Waterville, Maine this fall and Major in Chemistry.
He will be recognized again at the Honors Night at SHS in May and will receive a book scholarship at that time. He will also be a finalist for the annual Seward Rotary “Service Above Self” Award and Scholarship announced in May. He was presented a bag of Seward and Rotary Information and a Rotary Banner.
Applications are still being accepted for the Youth Rotarian-as one student is recognized monthly and can be obtained through the local SHS Counselor’s office.
Ken Schmieding was the Seward Rotarian of the Week/Program Chair for Wednesday, January 24, 2024
and he introduced SHS Sophomore Avery Rodocker and Esten Johnsen, an SHS Junior, They spoke on a
variety of leadership opportunities at Seward High and promoted the various avenues of service
available at SHS. Avery is the daughter of Sarah and Tony Rodocker of Seward and Esten is the son of
Steven and Angela Johnsen of Seward. They both presented an overview of the many organizational
opportunities at Seward High and then focused and promoted the Hugh O Brian Youth Leadership
Program (HOBY) and the Sophomore Pilgrimage Program as well.
They commented that there are five service groups/organizations at Seward High: Key Club, which
involves Youth Service and sponsored by the Seward Kiwanis Club, the Family Community Career
Leaders of America (FCCLA) has a focus on Family Consumer Science, Skill USA which is under the
umbrella of the service, technology and assorted vocational skill areas and the Future Business Leaders
of America (FBLA) has a very real business/technology aspect as well. The SHS FFA program was
formerly the Future Farmers of America and has since changed to FFA, although there is still a major
focus on Ag and the various opportunities in Ag today. All of the current service directed groups have a
major element of Leadership and Character Development in their programs, with outstanding faculty
sponsors working with each group.
While other leadership opportunities abound in other areas of SHS, such as the music, arts, drama,
speech and sports programs, the service organizations also that have specific leadership programs that
have competitions to develop the leadership even more. Many, if not most of these contests, happen at
the state level-at the conferences and workshops, with students also qualifying for national leadership
One of the Leadership Programs that both students focused on at SHS was the Hugh O Brian Youth
Leadership program. They noted that one student of each school is selected to represent the school at
the annual state HOBY Conference. This year’s HOBY Conference will be at Northeast Community
College in Norfolk, NE-last year it was hosted at Concordia University in Seward. Esten Johnsen was the
SHS student representative that attended last year and Audrey Rodocker was selected to represent SHS
this year in Norfolk, Nebraska.
“HOBY programs are conducted annually throughout the United States, serving more than 10,000 local
and international high school students. HOBY programs allow students to participate in unique
leadership training, service-learning and cultural experiences,” said Esten Johnsen-last year’s HOBY
Delegate. “The State Seminars are for High School Sophomores-hoping that they can then go back and
make a difference in their schools. It was started by actor Hugh O’Brian decades ago, with Seward
High’s Jennifer Kruse, selected to be the first HOBY student from SHS.”
“Each school selects their student in a different way-some appoint a student, some have students write
an essay, but Seward asks the student to make a written application and attend a personal interview
with a panel of judges-selecting the winner,” noted SHS Sophomore Avery Rodocker. “It puts a face with
the application and the selection committee can get to know the student a bit more than just a written
The SHS HOBY program is underwritten by the School District of Seward’s High Ability Learner Program
(HAL) and endorsed by the various national/international service groups in the community-The Seward
Rotary International, Kiwanis, GFWC Seward Woman’s Club and the GFWC Seward Junior Women’s
Club. These groups each have individuals from their groups who serve on the selection panel.
The students that do not get selected for the HOBY program are still honored and selected for the
“Sophomore Pilgrimage” leadership seminar in the spring in Lincoln at the State Capitol, with Mr. Trevor
Menke as the group’s faculty sponsor. Last year Esten was able to attend the “Sophomore Pilgrimage”
Program as well as HOBY. The group spends the day at the State Capitol in Lincoln and meet a variety of
the elected officials during the event. The Sophomore Pilgrimage Program is sponsored by the GFWC
Nebraska Federation of Women’s Clubs and sponsored locally by the GFWC Seward Woman’s Club and
the GFWC Seward Junior Women’s Club.
“We are blessed to have a large offering of leadership learning opportunities at Seward High and I know
that the students are stronger and more confident for having participated in one of the wonderful SHS
programs,” commented SHS Junior- Esten Johnsen. “I am excited to be part of a variety of these
leadership learning events this year and know that this summer’s HOBY will be outstanding. It is all
about personal growth and these leadership programs make that growth meaningful. Thanks to all who
make these leadership opportunities a reality?”
Seward High Junior, Esten Johnsen finished in Third Place at State American Legion Oratorical Contest in Kearney on Saturday, January 20th 2024 at the Kearney Convention Center. The contest was held in conjunction with the Nebraska Department of the American Legion’s Conference held in Kearney. There were four State Finalists- and each was required to present a ten minute speech on some aspect of the US Constitution and then draw one of four US Constitution Amendments and speak to that Amendment for three to five minutes. Esten is the son of Steven and Angela Johnsen of Seward.
The topic of Esten’s ten minute memorized speech on the US Constitution was “We the People” and he drew the 23rd Amendment which extends the right to vote in the presidential election to the citizens residing in the District of Columbia by granting the District electors in the Electoral College, as if it were a state. He was required to speak on that topic for three to five minutes in an extemporaneous format.
The winner of the contest was Joshua Mammen of Omaha Creighton Prep HS, First Runner up was Katie Summers from Valentine, Esten Johnsen of Seward High was third and Reagan Choat of Osmond was Fourth. Esten won a $500 cash scholarship check from the American Legion for Third Place and a certificate and a state trophy. He and his family also were given a free night’s lodging at the convention hotel.
He was representing his American Legion District 12 and Region 3 in the State competition. He is sponsored by the Seward American Legion Post 33-with Joe Ruzicka serving as the Seward American Legion Commander.
Photo: L-R State Winners in the American Legion Oratorical Contest included Joshua Mammen of Omaha Creighton Prep HS, First Runner up was Katie Summers from Valentine, Esten Johnsen of Seward High was third and Reagan Choat of Osmond was Fourth.