River Ridge’s top grads exemplify hard work

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Valedictorian David Nies and Salutatorian Jared Breuer

By Correne Martin


The top two students for the River Ridge High School Class of 2022 are Valedictorian David Nies and Salutatorian Jared Breuer.

David is the son of Kenny and Michelle Nies, whose address is rural Prairie du Chien. He plans to attend Winona State University in the fall and major in exercise science. 

While not helping on the family farm, David has been extremely active in academics, civic clubs and sports throughout high school. He has achieved high honors each semester and participated in the National Honor Society, Leo Club (junior Lions), FFA, Friends Helping Friends, Wellness Club and forensics. He’s competed in football, basketball, baseball and track, and served as captain on both the grid-iron and basketball court. David has also shared his musical talents via choir and band. 

David credits his work ethic in being able to overcome participating in and balancing so many different aspects of high school. He’s proud of his dedication and leadership in those areas. 

Reflecting on the past four years, he said Mr. Fox has been the one teacher who had the biggest impact on him. 

“He teaches sociology and history, which have given me a different perspective,” David said.

In addition, J.J. Watt has been his inspiration along with his parents. 

“They’ve inspired me to work hard and do things the right way so that I am humble and can help others too,” he stated.

If there was one thing he could change about his time, David said he would incorporate more interaction between the elementary and high school students. “The little kids look up to the high schoolers so much, and I think having more interaction with them could inspire them to work hard,” he shared.

His advice to other students mimics those wishes. He encourages younger students to “get their work done right away so it doesn’t pile up and seem too daunting.” 

Of course, he also advises undertclassmen to try a lot of activities in high school. “If you find something you love, it will make school seem a lot more fun.”

In college, David will play football at Winona. He’s looking forward to his college sports career and is ready to “hit the ground running with things I’ve learned ... while meeting new people along the way.”

David said he will miss his friends next year, as most of his group of friends are going to different colleges or staying close to home. 

“I have built some great friendships and it will be hard to let them go,” he stated. 

Jared is the son of Matt and Lea Breuer, of Glen Haven. He intends to major in agribusiness this fall at UW-Platteville. 

Jared has kept quite busy with activities and in the community throughout high school as well. He made high honors all four years and has been a member of the FFA, Future Business Leaders Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Wellness Club and the Outdoors Club. He was the FFA vice president and on the agronomy and soils team that made it to Nationals. Jared also played baseball for River Ridge and was a letter winner the past three years.

Aside from his commitments in school, he has worked on his family farm and at Economy Feed Mill in Glen Haven on weekends. In the summer, he has worked for Prairie Land Grain Systems, also in Glen Haven. Plus, he has worked roadside clean-up, served lunch at FFA Alumni events and volunteered at local church dinners and breakfasts. 

Jared recalled COVID-19 as being one of the toughest times of his high school career, not having that much-needed social interaction. But he’s proud that he and his class were able to overcome that difficulty and make it through it. 

“That made us stronger as individuals and as students,” he noted.

Considering his favorite people from the past four years, Jared said he’s truly appreciated Mrs. Esser for the impact she’s had. 

“She has always pushed me to do my very best and has counted on me for important things in FFA. She’s presented me with many opportunities that were very helpful,” he said. “She has taught me important life skills that I will use in the future to succeed in life.”

Also inspiring him, Jared’s mom has always been there for him, he said. “She supports me in everything I do and has taught me to be the young adult I am today. She has taught me to always follow my dreams and, if I fail, to try again because I can only learn from my failures. I thank her for being hard on me sometimes because everyone needs that. It only makes you stronger and more responsible for your actions.”

If Jared could change anything about his high school experience, he would like to see more in-depth classes in certain areas, like ag and business. “They are kind of broad at the moment,” he said.

He encouraged underclassmen to be involved, find what they enjoy, and to simply “show up, because the teachers love seeing everyone in school.”

As he looks forward to meeting new people, gaining new experiences in college, and getting a job he loves, Jared said he will miss the small classes at River Ridge and knowing everyone. 

“I think a small school like ours is something special because everyone knows everyone. The teachers truly care about every student they teach,” he said. “I will also miss the extreme support from the community. They always have the school’s back and will support us for sporting events, concerts and any other events the school holds.”

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