The Stories of Plymouth's Prep Elite

Left: Mariah Luksan, Right: Alyssa Walberg

Mariah Luksan
Benilde-St. Margaret’s

plymouth magazine: What are you interested in studying in college?
Mariah luksan: Ever since I was little, I’ve been really drawn to the law field. I’ve been thinking about minoring in psychology and going down a pre-law track to be a lawyer. But I’m also very interested in becoming an OBGYN. I love babies, and I think the process of watching a baby form, how it affects the mother and the emotional and physical changes that happen are really cool.

pm: What have you learned from volunteering with Hold Your Horses?
ML: I learned a lot about patience and not judging a book by its cover. Some of the kids that I saw there were some of the brightest, happiest, smartest kids I’ve ever seen. The smallest achievements that I would consider were the biggest things to them, just because they’ve had to work so much harder. I’ve had my own setbacks this year, and working with them made me appreciate those.
pm: Tell us more about Irish dancing.
ML: I’ve been dancing ever since I was in kindergarten. This year, I ended up having to quit because of an injury. I’m doing physical therapy for it and hoping that I’ll be able to go back. The community within it was my favorite.

pm: What do you like best about Benilde-St. Margaret’s?
ML: The community. I went to Benilde’s junior high and shadowed and visited a couple other high schools to see if I wanted to make a switch. In doing that, I realized that Benilde has a very strong community and sense of unity. Even someone who is shadowing at our school or just comes to a sporting event feels the school atmosphere. I am very close with most, if not all, of my teachers. I have never seen a clique-y group. It’s more of a community here, which I haven’t seen or felt at any other schools.

pm: Who inspires you and why?
ML: My mom and dad. I’ve been very close with them ever since I was little. There’s never been anything I feel like I can’t come to them with, whether it’s a problem at school or doing bad on a test or just teenager things that happen while you’re growing up. I’ve also been really lucky to have who I call my two adopted moms. They’re both my best friends’ moms. One of them is a single mom and is the strongest woman I’ve ever met. No matter what challenge is thrown at her, she overcomes it with the most grace I’ve ever seen. The other one is one of my friends’ moms and my nutritionist. She’s helped me learn how to balance my fitness and emotional being and how to get through life’s curveballs.

Activites: Cross country, lacrosse, golf, competitive horseback riding, mock trial, medical club, president of Knightlife, Red Knight volunteer corps, National Honor Society, link crew, highest honor roll, Hold Your Horses, O’Shea Irish Dancing

Alyssa Walberg
West Lutheran

pm: You’re very involved at school—how do you keep all your commitments balanced?

Alyssa Walberg: I try to keep on top of everything, especially with schedules. I go back and forth from yearbook to basketball to play practice. I try to keep a positive mind and just keep going through everything.

pm: What do you like best about West Lutheran?
AW: I love how close everyone is due to the small school size and how I can make good relationships with all the teachers and students.

pm: What inspires you?
AW: My parents definitely inspire me, because they always tell me to keep going in life, and they’ve taught me to never give up. They help me keep my faith and keep growing spiritually. They’re great role models, and I look up to them.

pm: What’s your favorite memory from high school?
AW: It’s hard to choose! I think as a whole, it’s been so much fun being here and getting to know everyone through sports and drama and things like that.

pm: Where do you see yourself in five years?
AW: I see myself with a steady job that I love and beginning to start a family.

Activites: Soccer, basketball, track, student council, National Honor Society, drama, musical, western accents, performance choir, church (usher, Vacation Bible School volunteer, youth group), Feed My Starving Children volunteer

(Left to right: Zainab Hasan, Matthew Jaeger, David Kramer)

Zainab Hasan
Wayzata High School

pm: What drew you to the Club Y.E.S. Leadership Board?

zainab hasan: Y.E.S. stands for “Youth Extending Service,” and it’s a huge volunteer organization. When I got to Wayzata, I didn’t know where to go or how to meet people. When I was in elementary school, I knew a lot of people who came from Club Y.E.S. to volunteer, and I thought they were so cool. When I got to high school, I joined and made a lot of friends through it. It helped me get connected to the school, and I want to help other people who are just like me get connected as well.

pm: What’s the most challenging aspect of figure skating?
zH: I think it’s the self-drive, because it’s an individual sport. Every day when you go to practice, you have to motivate yourself, and you don’t have other people with you to guide you through that. You’ll get a 30-minute lesson, but for the other hour and a half, you have to figure out how to manage your own time and stay motivated by yourself to meet your goals.

pm: What’s your favorite subject in school and why?

zH: My favorite class is history. I like the group discussions and the cultural aspect because I’m very interested in social movements.

pm: How do you spend your free time?

zH: School and figure skating take up most of my time! But other than that, I always find time for friends and family. My family and I love to travel, and I like exploring things outside of my little bubble. We went to Tokyo a few years ago, and that’s probably my favorite trip because it was very unique.

pm: What would you like to be doing five years from now?
zH: I’ve been thinking about going into biology, but I also love being active in political and social movements. They’re on two opposite ends of a spectrum, but I would hope to have a balance of both in my life. A goal for me is to get into medical school and preferably become some sort of doctor, but I would love to continue being involved in politics and journalism.

Activites: Club Y.E.S. leadership board, National Honor Society, Three Rivers Figure Skating Club

Matthew Jaeger
Armstrong High School

pm: You’re on both the football and tennis teams at school—how have sports shaped your high school experience?
matthew jaeger: I’ve definitely always been an active guy, so sports are a way to get out my energy and focus. Being on the football and tennis teams helps me focus on school and connects me to a lot of new people. I’ve made a lot of friends through sports, and it has kept me active and involved.

pm: What role has music played in your life? What drew you to joining the Madrigal Singers group?
mj: I’ve been a really musical person ever since I was little. I knew a couple friends in Madrigal Singers and wanted to try out, too. I like being able to share something like that with them. It’s easy to connect with the people there, because everybody wants to accomplish the same things, and they all like pursuing music.

pm: Do you have a favorite choir memory?

mj: We went on a concert choir tour to Chicago earlier this year, and that was probably the most memorable thing for me. You got to see another side of the people in choir, which you sometimes don’t always get to see just because you’re not always in the same classes.

pm: What drew you to the Best Buddies program?

mj: Best Buddies gives special needs kids an opportunity to have friendships with other students at Armstrong and in the district. It provides a setting and places for activities for kids from all around to get together, be friends and help out people in need. I like helping people and being in the community, so
I joined, and it’s been great ever since.

pm: What’s your dream job?
mj: A long shot is the NFL, just because I’ve been playing football, but something else I could see myself doing is owning a business or being a personal trainer.

Activites: Football, tennis, Madrigal Singers, concert choir, Best Buddies

David Kramer
Providence Academy

pm: You started a non-profit initiative, Bats and Hats for Kids, when you were 15—what inspired you to do so?
david kramer: Bats and Hats for kids collects, organizes and sends used baseball equipment to underprivileged youth in the Dominican Republic.  My parents have always told me, “When you want to make a difference in the world, make sure you are doing what you love.” Baseball is my passion, and I hope to share that love with others in a way that makes a lasting impact.

pm: What do you like best about playing baseball?
dk: The analytical and strategic part of baseball is what makes it unique. Each baseball game consists of short bursts of focus and decision-making. Every situation provides a new decision and opportunity to succeed.

pm: What motivates you to be involved in your community?
dk: I believe that love is a crucial part to any beneficial service and leadership. Realizing that a kid their age can make a visible difference in their lives inspires the Dominican players to act in their own community. Seeing their happiness and love for the volunteers who deliver what most people in America would throw away inspires me to continue to spread love to communities that could use it the most.

pm: You’re a classical pianist and often play for residents of local memory care facilities—do you have any special moments from those recitals?
dk: It’s so meaningful and special to see how the faces of the residents light up when I arrive. Those living in memory care appreciate any visitors, but music has a unique ability to speak to others in ways that words can’t. The smiles I receive in the process make it worth just as much to me.

pm: What are you most looking forward to about life after high school?
dk: Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve dreamed of working in Major League Baseball. I hope to find an internship with an MLB front office during my time in college and look forward to completing the final steps of my education that will help me reach that dream.

Activites: Hockey, baseball, photography, Bats and Hats for Kids founder, Washburn Center for Children volunteer, Feed My Starving Children volunteer, pianist