Capt. Timothy Grenke, a safety officer with the Missouri National Guard and mayor of Centralia, presents the Guard Student of the Week award to Heath Bishop, a junior at Centralia High School. (Photo by Sarah E. Lupescu, Missouri National Guard).
By Matthew J. Wilson
CENTRALIA, Mo. - A local Missouri National Guardsman has joined with the Centralia Fireside Guard newspaper to help recognize outstanding high school students in the area.
Capt. Tim Grenke, commander of Company B, 311th Brigade Support Battalion, of Fulton, has donned his Class A uniform three times this year to present awards to top students at the Centralia, Sturgeon and Hallsville high schools to promote the National Guard Student of the Week program.
"The intent of the program is to recognize local students that have stood out amongst their peers in the areas of honesty, integrity and good citizenship," said Grenke, who works as a safety specialist for the Missouri Guard at Ike Skelton Training Site, of Jefferson City, during the week.
The partnership was setup by Sgt. 1st Class John Wolfmeyer, a Missouri Guard recruiter in the area who recently retired. With Wolfmeyer no longer available to carry out the program, Grenke, who is not only a Centralia resident, but its mayor, was the natural choice to replace him.
"The newspaper was trying to find who the next recruiter was, and they asked me if I would be interested in making the presentation, and I said, 'Yeah, that's fine,'" Grenke said.
Students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, are nominated by teachers and faculty. They then vote as to who receives the award.
"I'll present the award to the student and the newspaper will take pictures of it," Grenke said. "I do know a lot of students ask why is the Guard here and what's going on, trying to figure out why this person is getting this award. So I think it generates some interest in the National Guard."
Grenke said he is pleased to have the opportunity to present the awards.
"I'm honored to do it and help these students stand out ahead of their peers," he said. "When they do something that is significant enough to be recognized by their faculty and their teachers, I'm honored to be able to present that to those students."
The partnership is also good for the Guard, Grenke said.
"I think its good exposure for the National Guard to get involved in the high schools," he said. "Having that presence at the high schools gives a good impression to these students. Sometimes first impressions are lasting impressions. Putting them in contact with the National Guard, hopefully we'll generate some enlistments out of that."
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