He exhibits everything a deserving L-Cat graduate should and was awarded the Dick Soper Memorial Award and the Student of the Year award May 19 at Lake Mills High School scholarship night.

Cooper Buchholtz, son of Jason and Kari Buchholtz, exemplifies what it means to be a well-rounded student at Lake Mills High School.

While in school Buchholtz has been involved in football, wrestling, baseball, the musical, show choir and French Club. Buchholtz has been in Student Council and served as Class President all four years. He was a member of Tri-M and Link Crew, among other activities.

The Soper Award was originated by Glenn Rindfleisch, class of 1954 when he was sports editor of the Leader. He formed a committee of Soper’s classmates and did fundraising to purchase the trophy. The winner each year has his or her name added to the award.

The Soper Award is presented to a senior “based not only on their athletic achievements, but also their moral character, scholastic endeavor, leadership, contributions to school life, abiding of training rules and cooperation from coaches and faculty.”

In addition to his activities in school Buchholtz has served the community by volunteering at church, being a volunteer election worker and doing caroling, being the student representative at the Lake Mills City Council and the Lake Mills Area School District Board of Education.

He works as a groundskeeper at Trinity Pines and Chapter 2 Inc. and is an umpire for the Recreation Department.

In his free time, he enjoys playing board games, listening to musicals and watching movies. He also enjoys fantasy football and playing with his younger brothers Ben and Jaxon.

Every year, friends and classmates from 1947 honor Soper by giving an award to the athlete from Lake Mills High School who best exemplifies Soper’s character and abilities. He was a member of the class of 1947 and died in June 1947 due to complications from an athlete’s foot infection.

Richard Tarnutzer took over coordinating the award over 30 years ago and today the Tarnutzer family still facilitates the award.

“I feel it’s a big deal for a high school student to be awarded this award. Here is a large trophy that stays at the high school and the winner’s name is added to it. They are allowed to take it home for their graduation party and return it back to the school,” said Ellie Tarnutzer.

Currently there are 10 people on the committee: Mrs. Carole (Roger) Wollin; Atty. Kiessling; Dennis Hawkes; and the late Barb Petruska, teachers Glenn Schuenke; David Wendt; Jeff McFarlane; Gwen and Brent Hering and Lance and Ellie Tarnutzer.

Each committee member donates $20 and a check for $200 is given to the winner along with a plaque stating their name. The class of 1947 also donates an undisclosed amount of money to the winner.

Typically, the committee looks for a three sport athlete, like Soper was, who is in good standing with their teachers and school and someone who is involved in music and other activities.

Soper moved to Lake Mills from Elgin, Ill., his sophomore year of high school. He immediately integrated in the athletic program, earning letters yearly in football, basketball and baseball. His senior year, Soper earned honorable mention for the all-state football team.

Glee club, mixed chorus, golf, swimming and hunting also drew Soper’s interest, and he is noted for an outstanding performance as “the papa” in his junior class play, “Love Your Neighbor.”

To those who knew him as a friend and classmate, Soper’s sense of humor, cheery disposition, willingness to help others and his battle against the illness that took him are what keep his memory alive.w

Soper was the son of Arwin and Gertrude Soper, and brother to Robert and Carole (Mrs. Roger Wollin).

Buchholtz plans to attend UW-Eau Claire in the fall to study pre-med with an emphasis on radiology.

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