Every year Plymouth Magazine features a select few of our accomplished high school students, kids who have excelled at their schoolwork as well as on the playing field. We’ve been wowed by soccer stars, National Honor society members, musical prodigies, basketball champions and more. The students’ academic and athletic achievements are undeniably impressive, but who are these young adults, really? What inspires them? How do they handle conflict? What do they fear? We asked this year’s group of superstars—who, in a feature first, all happen to be young women—a few questions, and what we found out about their thoughtfulness and humility, as well as their insights into high school life, might surprise you. MADDIE HONKEWayzata High SchoolMaddie Honke is a member of the varsity dance team, performing at soccer games, football games and the homecoming parade. Last school year, Honke received the all-conference, coaches and all-state awards. She’s captain of the 2013–2014 team and is currently Miss Dance Team Minnesota and Miss Dance Drill Team USA runner-up. Her favorite subjects are AP biology and AP psychology, the latter of which she hopes to one day study in college.How do you overcome setbacks?The only way to get through difficult times is to keep your head up and push through. Whether it is a lack of sleep or high school drama, I know that I can get through it if I just keep moving forward. This helps me at school when I am struggling at grasping a concept … This also helps me with dance. When my timing is off or I am lacking confidence in a particular move, I practice it over and over until I am confident. What is your idea of happiness?I believe that happiness is determined by your outlook or mindset. Life can throw us obstacles, but we can choose to stay positive. Happiness to me is doing what you love, being with people you care about and keeping a positive attitude. With happiness, you can achieve anything.What do you appreciate the most in your friends?I appreciate that all of my friends are different in their own ways. Some are always honest, while others are always caring. I also love how I can trust my friends. They help me through my obstacles, and I help them through theirs. I especially love my friends from dance. We can all get along so well, and every practice we leave with a smile on our face. I know I can count on them to make my day brighter.What is your “happy place”?My happy place is the stage. When I perform my solos, I feel at peace and completely calm. I feel like the world has been lifted off my shoulders. I am myself on stage. I even go there by picturing myself on stage as I rehearse my dance.JENNIFER WALTZProvidence AcademyJennifer Waltz has claimed a spot on the headmaster’s list (GPA 3.67–4.0) for four years running. She is a student ambassador, peer tutor and part of Friends in Transition (FIT), a group that helps new students assimilate at Providence Academy. Musically talented, Waltz is on multiple honor bands, earning superior and best of site awards in Minnesota State High School League Solo and Ensemble Duet. Cross country accolades include an all-conference mention, the most valuable runner award and being named 2013 team captain.When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?When I grew up, I wanted to live off of my younger sister (who would, of course, marry a prince). We would both have our own mansions that connected, and I would spend my free time writing and illustrating books in the pasture, with the horses as my muses. It wouldn’t matter if I couldn’t make any money off my books, because my sister could just give me more money. Then I realized that I really hate writing and that using your younger sister to support you is pretty sad.Is there anything you do regularly to help you feel good about yourself?Running helps me feel better about myself, as do ab[dominal] workouts. Also, I love to bake some extreme cake of some sort (most recent is a four-layer cake made with two boxes of cake mix and two batches of frosting). What is the last book you’ve read? Would you recommend it?The last book I read was Introduction to the Devout Life (for school), and I would definitely recommend it. It has definitely made me think about how to strengthen my faith life. The last book I read on my own time is Deadline. I read it during spring break, on a cruise from Florida to Mexico, and ended up crying on the airplane.Do you have any specific rituals before a race?I get really nervous and I pretty much quit talking, and instead I think about how I want to run the race, and I picture myself finishing the race (of course with a PR [personal record]). I also like to be alone, I never really noticed that I kind of separate myself from the group I warm up with until I saw a bunch of photos of me off by myself with some super-intense face and biting my fingers.MARI VERBETENRobbinsdale Armstrong High School Mari Verbeten participates in cross country, hockey and lacrosse, all while maintaining a 3.934 grade point average. She is in the marching band and National Honor Society. Verbeten’s awards include all-conference honorable mention for hockey in 2013, all-tournament team in the Holiday Classic and first-team in the Northwest Suburban Conference 2012 for lacrosse. She was also named to the all-state girls lacrosse team selected by the Minnesota Coaches Association. Symphonic band, drumline, marching band, link crew and leadership council round out Verbeten’s busy schedule.What is one of the best things that happened to you this past year?During the hockey season, my team made it to the second round in section play. We were elated because it was the first time our team had made it past the first round in a long time.The building was bouncing with energy; the pep band was there, all the parents and relatives were there, and fans from both Armstrong and Cooper were there. Usually, our two schools are total enemies, but that night was different. We got so much support from both sides. It was inspiring to see how well the two schools worked together. Even though the game didn’t end up in our favor, our fans supported us ’til the final buzzer. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?If someone didn’t know me very well, they would be surprised to learn that I am fluent in Spanish. Starting with kindergarten, all of my classes—with the exception of English—were 100 percent in Spanish. Even though the amount of time I spend immersed in the language each day has dwindled to two periods, I am still able to have a conversation, read, listen and comprehend all things in Spanish.Name a hero in your life.My mom is definitely my hero. She is such a strong, beautiful, outgoing woman, and she is exactly what I strive to be when I’m older. She is also good at everything; she is able to come up with a solution to every problem, and I’m amazed at how talented she is. I love her to the moon and back, and even though we have our disagreements, I know that she just wants what’s best for me, and sometimes I just don’t see that. She is the most inspiring person I know.
Plymouth’s Prep All-stars: Maddie Honke, Jennifer Waltz, Mari Verbeten
Behind the scenes with three of Plymouth’s elite high school students.