by Bob Grawey
“Gifted and determined.” That is how Spectrum High School Director Vanessta Spark describes the charter school’s third graduating class.
It is also the biggest class at 66 graduates, compared to the first graduating class of 28 students.
Of this year’s graduating class, 10 students finished their high school years with perfect 4.0 grade point averages (GPA).
Music is another area students excelled in, and an area where Spark calls the class gifted. She says more students than ever received a “Superior” rating when they competed at the Minnesota State High School League in February.
Athletics gave the school another milestone. Senior Jessie DeZiel captured first place in the gymnastics floor event and first place in all around gymnastics competition at the Junior Olympics National Championships May 14 in Long Beach, Calif.
DeZiel, who already received a full gymnastics scholarship from the University of Nebraska, will study nursing or physical therapy next fall.
Determination is also part of the class of 2012’s character and moral fiber.
“This is a class that doesn’t give in to negative peer pressure,” Spark says. “They set the standard high and they affect the culture of our school in a very positive way.”
Senior projects served as a good role model. Spark says this year’s graduates raised more funds for charity than any class before them. Over $10,000 was raised and donated to various charities through the work of seniors like Laura Ness, who sold her splatter paint creations for a cumulative $1,000.
This class seems sure-footed as well, as seniors look beyond their caps and gowns to make plans for their future.
Both Advanced Placement Scholars, Clara Ford and Ashton Loehr, are pursuing careers in nursing, with Ford adding art to her career pathway.
Each has been involved heavily in school activities. Ford, who is the class vice president and the student speaker during graduation ceremonies, says Spectrum has provided an atmosphere of learning to help her become a high achiever.
Loehr points to the school’s mandatory service learning groups.
“The community service learning groups we have at Spectrum have really taught me to help people who aren’t as fortunate as I am,” Loehr explains. “It has taught me that I can really make a difference, and I feel like I can do that in nursing.”
Spectrum’s first foreign exchange student, Giulio Borghi, also learned from being involved with service learning.
“It helps you understand the world around you,” Borghi says, “and how you can help people.”
The Italian says he has learned a lot from the relationship between Spectrum teachers and students.
Classmate Peter Schultz echoes Borghi’s sentiments. He is a transfer student from Rogers High School and says teachers at the charter school have smaller classes that give them more time to invest in students.
“That aspect changes the whole chemistry of the school,” he adds.
A high achiever himself, Schultz was chosen as the lead in the musical “Godspell.” The director came from California and when he found a Rogers High School student was unable to perform the lead role of Jesus, Schultz was chosen for the part.
That seems to be a likely fit for the 2012 graduate, who plans to attend Crown College in the fall. He will major in either worship arts or in education, but his ultimate goal is to serve on the mission field.
Spectrum is also taking a new path next fall as it breaks ground soon on a new campus and has applied to add a junior high. Spark says it positions the charter school to continue providing an excellent atmosphere of learning for a long time.