Each year, almost 100 SEP High School students are recognized as Bill Burch Humanitarian Nominees. Each student nominee has shown compassion, dedication, and a willingness to help others while in high school. However, only one senior is chosen by the high school staff as the student who best exemplifies the personal qualities of Bill Burch. This year that student is Patrick Tunks. Not only does he best exemplify the personal qualities of sincerity and compassion toward others but is also hard-working, respectful, and an advocate for others. He has been a constant positive influence for other students by being empathetic, helping other students in need, and being a person of high character.
Patrick is a model student and active participant in many activities who has earned the respect of staff and students due to his dependability, ability to connect with many people, and taking an idea and putting it into action. He’s willing to sacrifice for the good of the group and inspires others to be their best and do good for others while displaying a great deal of empathy for all students. Members of our high school staff emphasized that Patrick is someone who possesses a great deal of compassion to go out of their way to include others.
As a Rambassador (students who help in the high school guidance counselor office), Patrick is someone our counseling staff can count on to meet our new students, show them to their classes, and make all students feel welcome. As a member of the student council, he created a group to clean up the outside grounds at school and super-headed the Diversity group, now known as SEID (Students and Staff for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity). As a leader in Best Buddies for three years, he has spoken in front of our student body numerous times about inclusion, participated in numerous Best Buddies events, received Iowa’s Bestie Award, and last year developed a Buddies & BBQ fundraising event that will thankfully be held this year on April 10, 2021. Congratulations Patrick for your humble and kind leadership. We look forward to following your continued success in life!
Bill Burch was a school counselor at Southeast Polk High School from 1974 until 1992. The Bill Burch Scholarship and Recognition Breakfast was named after Mr. Burch in honor of his commitment to the students and adults of the Southeast Polk community. He was known as a man of compassion and integrity who took the time to relate to students and adults alike. The Bill Burch Humanitarian Award represents a long-standing Southeast Polk tradition that dates back to 1993 and is presented to the student who best exemplifies his character, sincerity, and compassion toward others. What makes this award such an honor is that the Southeast Polk High School faculty selects the senior recipient who best represents Bill Burch’s personal qualities.
At the Bill Burch Scholarship and Recognition Breakfast, held annually at the Za-Ga-Zig Shrine Temple, typically, junior and senior nominees, along with their parents are recognized. Unfortunately, we were not able to hold this event last year and this year, only the 40 seniors and their parents were able to attend. Each year a guest speaker addresses the students inspiring them to continue to maintain these high standards of excellence. This year’s speaker was SEP Alum and 2014 Bill Burch Winner, Jessica (Cole) Christensen.
Our high school counselors always put on a wonderful event to honor and recognize these exemplary students. Congratulations to all of you for leading the way to a better world!