The Echo

Meet the 2018 Valedictorians

Seniors reflect on high school experience

Muna Ali

Annabella Strathman:

What college are you planning on going to?

“I am going to Carleton College next year in Northfield.”

Is there anything you’re interested in studying?

“You know, it’s pretty open-ended right now. I’m leaning towards something with chemistry but I’ve always really wanted to study Spanish and continue using Spanish.”

What were your activities through high school?

“Throughout high school I did theater, I’ve been on Echo for two years, that’s kinda become my life. I’ve been on Student Council, I was a part of Natural Helpers, and I did the Math Team for the first couple years and I loved it but the time was just not working out.”

How do you feel being a valedictorian?

“I’m super excited. It has been one of my goals at the beginning of high school, I always knew if it didn’t work out it was gonna be fine, but I’m really excited about getting the opportunity. I’m just really proud of everyone, all seven of us, but it’s like a major accomplishment for me.”

Favorite high school memory?

“Honestly, Echo wake ups have been my favorite high school memory, because it’s the most fun and involved I’ve gotten to be in anything, so that and theater wake ups. It’s just been a fun tradition.”

Advice for lower classmen?

“Join Echo. If I have one thing to say, it’s join Echo. But also, you don’t have to do everything. Just find two things you love and go after them and go do them. I think that was my biggest mistake the first couple of years is trying to do everything.”

What motivated you to be where you are now?

“My parents have been really supportive and also my friends around me, I just have a very good group of people, everyone around me had really supported me.”

Thoughts on leaving high school?

“It’s kind of bittersweet, like I know I’m not gonna be that far away, it’s only 45 minutes, and I’ll probably be back, but it’s bittersweet overall. I’m excited to start on a new chapter of life, but I’m gonna miss everyone here.”

Mimi Fhima:

What college are you planning on going to?

“Chapman University, it’s in Southern California.”

Is there anything you’re interested in studying?

“Currently broadcasting, journalism and documentary. Then double majoring with environmental science or biological science.”

What were your activities through high school?

“I was captain of the tennis team, Echo, Med Club, and a little bit of soccer for the first couple years.”

How do you feel being a valedictorian?

“It feels really good to know that all the hard work I put in throughout the last four years is being recognized. I’m really excited to graduate obviously, and to share this with the other valedictorians who also worked very hard for it.”

Favorite high school memory?

“Probably the Echo wake ups.”

Advice for lower classmen?

“Prioritizing should be your best friend, and if you feel like you’re really behind you can always catch up at some point. Even if you don’t end up prioritizing in the first place, there’s always a turning back point, even as a second semester senior.”

What motivated you to be where you are now?

“My parents and my friends, they’re really motivating. Especially my parents because at a young age, they always motivated me to be the best that I can be. It’s a quality that they instilled in me, and I guess that’s why I am here right now.”

Thoughts on leaving high school?

“I’m really excited to go to college, I found a school that I really like and a program I really like. It’s gonna be sad leaving all of my friends and a lot of teachers I established connections with, but I’m really excited for what comes next and getting to travel and more freedom in the classes I’m taking.”

Caroline Green:

What college are you planning on going to?

“I am not sure yet.”

Is there anything you’re interested in studying?

“I think I wanna major in biology or astronomy, one of the two.”

What were your activities through high school?

“I’ve nordic skied since seventh grade and I made the ultimate team freshman year, and I’ve done that all four years of high school. I also swam this past fall, but then freshman and sophomore year I played soccer.”

How do you feel about being valedictorian?

“I’m pretty excited, it’s kinda nice for all your hard work to pay off. I mean I guess it really doesn’t matter but its nice.”

Favorite high school memory?

“I liked painting the wall, it was a fun thing to do, like the whole grade in our junior year.

Advice for lower classmen?

“Just don’t take it too seriously, it really doesn’t matter.”

What motivated you to be where you are right now?

“I’m really competitive. I like to compete with people and so that kinda pushed me to do well.”

Thoughts on leaving high school?

“I’m really excited.”

Alex Balfour:

What college are you planning on going to?

“I am going to the University of St. Thomas.”

Is there anything you’re interested in studying?

“Right now I’m pretty undecided, like in the Liberal Arts program so I can take a lot of classes, and just kinda go from there.”

What were your activities through high school?

“I’ve played soccer my past four years here, I’ve been a part of Echo, and I’m a member of Student Council.”

How do you feel about being valedictorian?

“I’m really excited. I guess I’ve been working since freshman year to keep my good grades so it’s really nice that it got to pay off and that I could keep it going throughout my whole high school career.”

Favorite high school memory?

“Definitely on the soccer field, just playing big games and big rivalries you know, it’s just really fun to play on our home turf. It’s a really cool way to be a part of the park.”

Advice for lower classmen?

“Do as much studying as you can but at the end of the day if you need sleep, sleep. That’s something I’ve been working on a lot more this year is sleep when I need to.”

What motivated you to be where you are right now?

“I don’t know, I just have always been self-motivated. I always wanted to do the best I can and push myself to see how good I could do, if that makes sense. I don’t like sitting around that much so I’m always doing something.

Thoughts on leaving high school?

“It’s weird, but I’m really excited. I’m excited to figure out what I’m gonna do with my life because right now I’m just interested in a lot of things but I just haven’t narrowed it down, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to in college.”

Shoshana Altman:

What college are you planning on going to?

“I’m not sure yet but either University of Minnesota or Macalester.”

Is there anything you’re interested in studying?

“Yeah, I wanna be a neurologist, so neurology and then medical school.”

What were your activities through high school?

“I did a few different activities, I did band freshman year, and I did science olympiad a few years.”

How do you feel about being valedictorian?

“I’m really excited, I worked really hard. A lot of times I studied for test a long time and add a lot of hard work in it so I’m glad it paid off.”

Favorite high school memory?

“Friends. It’s cheesy, but they’re the ones who get you through the hard parts where its like you did bad on a test, or something is not going well, you’re down about it and it’s really sad and your friends come pick you up, then you’re not so down after being around them.”

Advice for lower classmen?

“Sleep. I said this also but sleeping is so important. Sometimes you’re tempted to stay up and finish a project, but really there’s psychological proof to back it up that sleep improves memory and achievement. Sleeping is important. Make sure to get that 8 hours.”

What motivated you to be where you are right now?

“I’m very competitive, I wanted to outdo my brother.

Thoughts on leaving high school?

“I’m excited, but I’m a little terrified. I went to private school before coming here so this is like the closest thing to the biggest school I went to. This is like my home now, so it’s bittersweet.”

Ella Trotter:

What college are you planning on going to?

“I don’t know yet, I’m choosing between Macalester and University of Chicago.”

Is there anything you’re interested in studying?

“I really wanna go to international relations and maybe human rights. Something like that.”

What were your activities through high school?

“I did volleyball, club in high school, I was a National Honor Society officer junior and senior year and other various volunteering activities.”

How do you feel about being valedictorian?

“I’m proud and excited. It wasn’t a long-term goal of mine, like it wasn’t ultimately my end goal, but I’m still really happy I got it.”

Favorite high school memory?

“High school volleyball team, I liked playing with them.”

Advice for lower classmen?

“Definitely get A’s freshman and sophomore year because junior and senior year is really hard, and focus on things that you’re really interested in because you’ll do better in those classes.”

What motivated you to be where you are right now?

“I have no idea honestly, I just really wanted to get A’s and make my parents proud.”

Thoughts on leaving high school?

“I’m excited to meet new people and take new classes and just leave, you know.”

William Phelan:

What college are you planning on going to?

“I’m planning on attending to Rice University, it’s in Houston, Texas.”

Is there anything you’re interested in studying?

“Yes, they have a major called mathematical economic analysis that I’m currently interested in studying”

What were your activities through high school?

“Throughout high school, I would say I was reasonably active. I was captain of the soccer team and played as the goalkeeper, I’ve been a nordic skier since freshman year, choir, I’m in Park Singers, I’ve been in a few musicals.”

How do you feel about being valedictorian?

“I feel good, I’m proud of myself. It’s definitely something that I have worked hard for. It’s something I—I don’t know, I don’t think it’s something I’ve really thought about that much. Before it was an actual goal, but now it’s something that would just help me get other things that I want.”

Favorite high school memory?

“This year in soccer, it was the Section quarter finals and we beat Minneapolis South, one of our biggest rivals, on penalty kicks. That was a really exciting moment for me because it was at home my senior year and it kept the season alive, it was an absolutely amazing feeling.”

Advice for lower classmen?

“Hit it hard from day one. For example, you step in freshman year and it’s a big change into this big school with big kids, but know what you do in freshman year matters. I have so many friends who had pretty low GPA freshman year and that is what’s really kinda coming back to bite them. Regardless of the rebound, if you really do have some lackluster academic performances freshman year that could hurt you, even comes to you if you turn it around, so hit it hard. Also I would say don’t necessarily just cram for tests because things build up. Things you learn this year, you’ll need next year, so actually learn things. Not only because it’s a good thing to do but because it’s gonna make your future classes easier to do as well.”

What motivated you to be where you are right now?

“I just want be the best at things that I do because there’s no reason for you to do things if I can’t work absolutely as hard as I can at them, so academics is really no different, I just want to push myself and kinda be the best I can be.”

Thoughts on leaving high school?

“I would say it’s definitely bittersweet, I loved my experience here at St. Louis Park High but I just can’t wait to go to college and to see what else is out there for me. I loved St. Louis Park High School though.”

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