The fourth-graders in Connie Willadsen's class know they're getting a treat when Dennis Stille shows up to read or work with the kids.
There would be few better examples of how to get the most of your education and the subsidiary opportunities.
"Dennis is one of the few boys who come every day to read to the kids or talk with them about a school subject," Willadsen said. "There are times they get off topic to talk about wrestling or football, but you can tell the kids really look forward to being with him. He's a terrific role model in so many ways."
Stille has pretty much done it all at Ashland-Greenwood High School. A 4.0 student, tops in his class of 75, he earned a 33 on the ACT and a Regents Scholarship to Nebraska. He won a state wrestling title (Class B, 195 pounds), played defensive end and wide receiver in football, competes in four events (shot put, high jump, long jump and 1,600 relay) in track and plays center field and third base in the summer on the Ashland American Legion team. He also plays summer league basketball.
"I guess I like to keep busy," said Stille, who was 37-0 in wrestling this year and received all-state honorable mention in football. "Pretty much I wanted to try everything I could and try to do my best. I'm a pretty competitive guy. I have to lift a couple of times a day or I don't feel right. I try to give everything I've got no matter what — class, wrestling, working as a teacher assistant, video games."
Ashland-Greenwood principal Brad Jacobsen said Stille was taking college composition, trigonometry and physics and still getting top grades.
"He took an ACT when he was a sophomore and scored in the 30s, and that was after he took the ACT predictor test as a freshman, and it figured he'd score a 27 or so," Jacobsen said. "It shows that reading, working and studying can pay off in a lot of ways. He is always willing to accept a challenge."
Wrestling often put a strain on grades and class work.
"By the third quarter, when I'm in the thick of wrestling, I find a little slip in my understanding of, say, calculus, but I pick up the pace," Stille said.
He wrestled the same way.
"I might get through the first period a little sloppy, smile at the coach like everything is all right, and then go get the pin," he said. He pinned 35 foes this year.
Stille will attend Nebraska this fall. He plans to major in civil and environmental engineering. "UNL's Water for Food program is the kind of thing that seems pretty attractive to me."