Plymouth's Prep Elite 2011

Q&As with a handful of Plymouth’s high school students extraordinaire.

If excelling in high school were a job for which students applied and interviewed, then Plymouth would have a very deep candidate pool to choose from. There are so many students whose work reads as a what’s-what of accolades. 4.0? Check. State champions? Check. So we separated a few of these attributes into four main categories, and we “interviewed” the candidates. For your reading pleasure, the resumes of the future of Plymouth.


Arts: Matt Dole

School: Robbinsdale Armstrong

Grade: Senior

Age: 17

GPA: 4.0

Activities (past and present): Cross country, Nordic ski, track, Ultimate Frisbee, concert choir, National Honor Society, Link Crew, Madrigals

What people say about me: “Matt is highly respected by his peers and teachers: Not only is he very active and excels on the athletic field, but also in the classroom. Matt is known not only for his intelligence, but also his caring attitude toward his peers; he treats them with dignity, kindness and humor.” —Patti Weldon, athletics and activities administrator, Robbinsdale-Armstrong

Artistically, how do you amp up for a performance? Mostly by warming up with the rest of the choir, and also by goofing off with my choir friends to let off a little of the nervous energy.

What was your favorite aspect of Madrigal Singers? The community. We’re really tight-knit and that helps us make great music.

For all your musical endeavors, do you have any preparation tips/secrets to curbing the nerves? Usually I sit backstage, try to relax and run through whatever I’m performing in my head.

Do you have a pre-game ritual for your favorite sport, Nordic skiing? Wax my skis the night before and eat a ridiculous amount of food.

Outside of school, what are you passionate about? Singing and rapping.

What is your secret to balancing it all? Hard work, time management and a certain willingness to lose sleep.

Do you have any goals for the upcoming school year, musically? I want to get to the regional contest for choir.

What’s something people don’t know about you or would be surprised to know? I’m a rapper. People really don’t see it coming because I’m a 6-foot 3-inch white guy who lives in the suburbs, and they’re usually pretty skeptical at first. But after they hear me perform, their reaction is something along the lines of, “Whoa! I had no idea you could do that!”

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? A construction worker.

What are your greatest memories from high school (thus far)? Our concert choir tour in 2011 is definitely up there. I had a blast and got to sing in some amazing places, like the Capitol building of Colorado and the Air Force Chapel. The ski trip to Giant’s Ridge that I took the past two years with the ski team was also a ton of fun; we got to do a lot of skiing as well as goofing off and getting to know each other better.

What class are you looking forward to next year? Ceramics. I’ve always loved working with clay, and I’m looking forward to getting better at it.

Do you have a favorite school subject? Probably history or English. I like history because I feel like there’s a lot I can learn from the great men and women of the past, and English appeals because I get to express myself and learn how to write and speak better.

What’s your hidden talent? I speak pretty good Spanish. I love the language; it’s so much more beautiful than English.

What’s your guilty pleasure? Sugary food. I’m always eating, and even though I know it’s terrible for me, I can’t help but scarf down everything and anything sweet in my house.

What are two things you couldn’t live without? Music and my mom’s baked goods. You have not lived until you’ve had her cookies.

Do you have any phobias? Debilitating injury. I know it’s kind of a strange one, but my mental health is very much connected to my physical wellbeing, and I’m not sure how well I could cope with life if I was paralyzed or otherwise grievously injured.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Fish eggs. They were in some sushi I ordered and I didn’t realize what they were until my sister pointed it out to me. Oops.


What’s your favorite:

Book: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Food: A really good burger (preferably with cheese, bacon, lettuce, onion and barbecue sauce)

Color: Blue

Band/Musician: Lupe Fiasco

TV show: 30 Rock

Plymouth-area hangout? Caribou Coffee on 36th and Hwy. 169

Vacation destination? Chi-Town (Chicago, if you’d prefer)


Academics: Katie Nordick

School: Providence Academy

Grade: Senior

Age: 17

GPA: 3.98

Activities: AAU Minnesota Stars player, basketball, track, volleyball, National Honor Society, jazz band, symphonic band, pit band, assistant with middle school basketball and volleyball camp leader

Accomplishments: Nominated by Providence Academy for the ExCEL award in excellence in community service, education and leadership.

What people say about me: As a student, Katie Nordick balances the rigors of a college prep curriculum while maintaining one of the highest GPAs in her class. In addition, Katie is a three-sport athlete … earning conference as well as state recognition. In short, Katie is a tireless worker that invests deeply in her education and extracurricular, and we are very PROUD to have her in our school community!” Kurt Jaeger, athletic director, Providence Academy

How do you amp up for a semester, academically? I love to learn, and I get internally motivated by it.

It sounds like you’re interested in med school; what’s steering you in that direction? I love my honors math and science courses; I think these give me a good base. This past summer I volunteered at a hospital to get a sense of what that’s really like.

What, academically, has been your proudest moment thus far? I succeeded in getting into National Honors Society and received an academic letter  as a sophomore. I’ve consistently achieved the Headmasters List at Providence (3.67 GPA).

You seem to be an incredibly and impressively busy person; what is your secret to balancing it all? I’d have to credit my ability to prioritize, a strong discipline and a sense of self-motivation.

What do you enjoy best about volunteering at places like the Humane Society, Feed My Starving Children and St. Therese’s? Volunteering helps you realize how fortunate and blessed you are to be able to help others. It puts life’s day-to-day issues in perspective.

What would people be surprised to know about Katie Nordick? Some weekends I work on my aunt and uncle’s farm in Wisconsin baling hay and straw.

What are your greatest memories from high school (thus far)? Going to state in basketball (fourth place) and achieving all-state in track; I was also voted by my teammates to be captain of the volleyball team this year.

What class are you looking forward to next year? College Latin.

What’s your hidden talent? Getting by on very little sleep.

What are two things you couldn’t live without? My dog, Kipper, and my family’s support.

Do you have any phobias? Germs.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Sushi.


What’s your favorite...

Book:  The Odyssey by Homer

Food: Chocolate chip pancakes and bacon

Color: Purple

Music/Musician/Band: Everything ’80s

TV show: Gilmore Girls

Plymouth-area hangout: Old Chicago, Culvers and Buffalo Wild Wings

Vacation destination: Disney World

 Katie Nordick, Plymouth Prep Elite 2011

Athletics: Amy Pannek

School: Benilde-St. Margaret’s

Year: Senior

Age: 17

GPA: 3.9

Activities: Students Against Cancer, gymnast at Twin Cities Twisters, Peer Ministry, Link Crew Accomplishments/Accolades: Highest honor roll each semester (3.7 or higher), Twin Cities Twisters team state champions (2006–2010), state beam champion (2010)

What people say about me: “Amy is a great kid from a great family.  She understands the whole process, that you have to be well balanced in all aspects of your life—sports, family, school, church and social—if you want to be successful.” —Mike Hunger, coach, Twin Cities Twisters

What classes are you excited about taking this year? I’m looking forward to taking physics and calculus, because those subjects are interesting to me and will help me in college. I’m also looking forward to film studies, because it’s supposed to be a really fun class.

What are your greatest memories of high school thus far? My greatest memories from high school are spending time with friends at dances and retreats, and with my team at out-of-town meets.

How did you become so involved in gymnastics? When I was little, my mom signed my two sisters and me up for classes, and I was the only one who stuck with it. I enjoy learning new skills, being able to do things most people can’t, and being part of a team where we push each other and work together to get better.

Your idea of the perfect snack? Pita chips and hummus.

Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? In first grade, my teacher brought calamari for us to try. It was definitely the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten.

One thing most people don’t know about you?  I don’t think people realize how dedicated I am to gymnastics and how many hours I spend practicing [20 hours/week].

What is the secret to your success? In order to balance it all, I spend most of my time either at the gym or doing homework. My coaches are really good about putting school first. With school and gymnastics, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with friends outside of school.


What’s Your Favorite …

School subject: Math

Color: Pink

Plymouth Hang-outs: Football and hockey games, Buffalo Wild Wings

Music: Justin Bieber

Amy Pannek, 2011 Plymouth Prep Elite 


Activities: Peter Larson

School: Wayzata High School

Year: Senior

Age: 17

GPA: 3.2

Activities: Super Mileage Team, Alpine skiing

Accolades: Raised more than $365,000 for Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners (IOCP), 2011 Prudential Spirit of Community nominee for the state of Minnesota at high school level

What people say about me: “I have watched Peter grow from an energetic 7-year-old with a smile as big as his heart, to an articulate, dedicated young man who thinks nothing of sacrificing his comfort for a month of nights outdoors in a cold box. One of Peter’s most wonderful traits is that he does not recognize what a hero he has become to IOCP and to the entire community.” —Jill Kohler, development director, Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners

How did you get so involved with IOCP and the sleep out? When I was in Cub Scouts we had our own sleep out in support of IOCP, and Bob Fisher came to talk to us about why he started the sleep out. Bob told us that every $675 he raised would keep a family in their home for one month. I was really inspired and decided that this was something I could do to help families.

What do you enjoy most about serving others? I like knowing that there are kids in my community that won’t become homeless, because of the money I’ve been able to raise. Two years ago I actually met a family that IOCP had helped stay in their home, and that was pretty cool.

Do you have goals for the upcoming year? My goal for my senior year is to design and build a car that gets over 200mpg in the Super Mileage competition.

How do you get around Plymouth? I just bought a 1974 fire engine-red Karman Ghia. I’m working on it, and it should be ready to drive by spring.

What’s your favorite food? My uncle Rick’s hot dogs. He owns a meat market in Hopkins that my grandfather opened in 1965. I typically eat four hot dogs at a time.

Two things you couldn’t live without? My computer and Mountain Dew—the real Mountain Dew, not that diet stuff.

What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever tried? Rattlesnake, at a ranch in Arizona.

Do you have any phobias? Spiders.


What’s Your Favorite …

School subjects: Math, science and engineering

Color: Charcoal gray

School event: Casino Night

Vacation: Skiing in Colorado

Peter Larson, 2011 Plymouth Prep Elite