A special award has been presented to more than 50 individuals over the past few years. 

For the most part, it has been somewhat quiet and was under our radar at the Pelican Rapids Press. 

With the New Year here, we thought it was a great opportunity to acknowledge the SMILE award, and those who have been recognized. Recipients received a SMILE for simple acts of kindness, like helping shovel out a snowed-in car; to raising thousands of dollars for a benefit.

 The SMILE award rose out of the “One Word” project that the Pelican high school started in 2014-15. The idea behind the “One Word” movement was to pick out one word that will inspire you to move your life in a better direction. Many times goals get lost— but one word is easy to remember and a way to easily remind yourself where you want to go with your life, explained Doug Bruggeman. He has a long career as an educator in the Pelican schools, plus long tenures as a coach and advisor to the student council. Bruggeman is also a founder of the famous Shada three on three basketball tourney, which further reinforced Pelican’s reputation as a “basketball town.”  His optimistic, upbeat style has endeared him to hundreds upon hundreds of students and Pelican area residents. 

 Past words used for a school year were: “Riser,” “Ignite,” “Be” (Students were encouraged to pick their own word to go with this).

 “I am a big believer in the power of a smile,” noted Bruggeman, who this year was promoted to an administrative position, as Dean of Students. “We came up with an acronym that made sense to me:






 “I create a certificate that states why the person is being recognized and then I have the bright yellow SMILE shirts to give the recipient,” stated Bruggeman. “We try to find unique ways to raise money to pay for the shirts and would always accept a donation to the “SMILE” campaign.”


Public invited to nominate SMILES Over the last three years, SMILE has recognized people for creating Special Moments. It started with just the staff and students nominating in the first year. Now we encourage anyone to nominate a person or group by email us at: smile@vikes.us 

Past Winners of SMILE honors 

Kate Martinez Implementing “Family Night”

Rudy Martinez Implementing “Family Night”

Brian Korf Organized Faith Out

Carol Johnson Empty Soup Bowl

Diane Erickson Empty Soup Bowl

Janet Lindberg Empty Soup Bowl

Mary Storrusten Empty Soup Bowl

Long Weekend Faith Fundraiser 4K+

Andy Rarick Buying Gloves for student

David Johnston Scrape Car Windows for GBB

Logan Petznick Scrape Car Windows for GBB

Justin Verdorn Scrape Car Windows for GBB

Levi Johnson Scrape Car Windows for GBB

Zane Brosowske Shovel out parked car

Jill Roisum Fundraiser empty Soup Bowl

Jed Carlson Jed bought teammate treat

Maddie Guler Energy she brings to events

Curt Michener MSHSL Math Tournament

Jerry Stigman Volunteer for Special Ed

Bob Satterlie Dedication to Community

Lisa Petznick Hosting Ice Cream Social

Louis Hoglund Press editorial regarding Somali students/graduation 

Teressa Schlieman Rock Unit combining high school and elementary

Tyler Prebie Media Center Help

Mitch Verdorn Helping a kid get ready for Choir

Hazel Haugrud Helping a kid and becoming a friend

Karli Kirkwood Coming to High School to hang with Juan (ZAP)

Preston Anderson Being a friend

Chris Coleman Tickets at the high school 

Cecilia Johnson Helping injured classmate

Kim Haugrud Wellness president and Sunshine leader

Maclain Hovland Helping a Special Needs kid in Elem

Aneli Zavala-Franco Helping with bball banners – Pride Hardworker

Katie Martinez Helping with bball banners – Pride Hardworker

Korinna Torres Stepping up and helping a teacher with technology

Cheri Lynnes Rocking the COVID-19

Emma Setter For being a big sister

Angela Westby Make a students day by being a twin

Enoch Pepper Making the elem happier by being a twin

Ariana Arntson Helping our Special Kids

Ibrahim Mohamed Helping our Special Kids

Latessa Matykiewics Helping Special Needs Kids

Becky Wontor Social Media Effort during Pandemic

Wendy Hoadley Adjusting to be great

Brittany & Mark Dokken Brody Seter benefit support

Tami and Joe Seifert Constant support for fundraisers

The Olson Family Brody support and Corn Field for Ed Richardson 

Hannah Richardson Taking a stand on racism

Cole Motz Reaching out to a new student

Van and Ruth Holmgren Ultimate Servant Leaders and great Mr. & Mrs Claus