Class of 2012 will be first to graduate from Spectrum’s new school building

Click here to read one teacher’s reflections on the Spectrum High School Class of 2012.

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

Spectrum High School's graduation is June 7 in Elk River.

Spectrum High School in Elk River will mark a milestone when the class of 2012 graduates this week.

It’s the fourth graduation for the public charter school, but the first one in the school’s new building at 17796 Industrial Circle.

The new school was completed last fall.

“We moved in quickly and late in the year and after a month, we felt comfortable,” Executive Director/Principal Vanessta Spark said.

The school had been located in portable classrooms at a site along County Road 12 in eastern Elk River.

“I think a lot of us really now appreciate having a actual, solid school,” said senior Kacie Wystepek.

Besides being the first graduating class in the new building, Spark said the class of 2012 will be remembered for its quiet leadership skills and as the first class where some of the students will graduate with 25 to 35 college credits. Spectrum has a program where students can take classes at Spectrum for college credit.

This is also the first year high school students have shared a school with middle schoolers. Spectrum added sixth, seventh and eighth grades last fall.

Six of the seniors are exchange students 

A number of Spectrum seniors sat down with the Star News this past week to reflect on their year.

Among them were three of Spectrum’s six exchange students.

One is Shaniqua Pulungan, who is from Indonesia.

“All the students accept us and want to know us better,” she said. The teachers have also been nice and kind, she said.

After the school year ends she will return home and then start college at the University of Indonesia, where she plans to major in law.

Niklas Vetter and Ricardo Molina are two other exchange students. Molina is from Mexico and came to Spectrum for the second semester. He found people to be “really, really  friendly.”

Vetter is from Germany and said coming to Spectrum and Elk River was kind of a culture shock at first.

What was different?

“Almost everything,” he said with a smile.

But he said Spectrum has been an awesome school and the community welcomed them. “I think all of us really enjoyed our year,” he said. “… We as exchange students are really thankful that Spectrum welcomed us so nicely.”

Top student has eye on clinical  psychology

Brian Prigmore is the top student in Spectrum’s class of 2012.

He plans to finish his associate’s degree at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and then go to Brigham Young University to get a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Prigmore said he wants to help people with drug and alcohol abuse issues.

Sam Scherer will speak at graduation. He was chosen in a vote by the senior class honor students.

Scherer said he plans to talk about traits that are good to carry on through college and life.

After graduation he intends to go to college to become a secondary education teacher in either math or science.

Asked about any memorable moments from high school, he drew laughs from his classmates when he said: “I got to go to a dodgeball tournament dressed in a kilt.”

For Emily Owens, participating in cross-country has been memorable. She has been involved for several years but last year was the first year Spectrum had its own team.

“I’ve just been able to walk through that journey of building that team,” she said.

Her senior project is another good memory.

Every senior has to complete a project. Owens and Emily Nyquist did a Bible study over the summer and then raised about $800 to make care baskets for pregnant women in crisis. The baskets were donated to Abba Pregnancy Resource Center in Elk River.

For his senior project, Alexander McDonough made bracelets like the one on the left to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Other students also had some interesting senior projects.

Alexander McDonough made survivor bracelets out of parachute cord. He sold them for $5 each and raised $740, which he donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Jarae Ehr did a car care clinic focused on fathers and daughters. AJ’s Complete Automotive in Elk River donated the use of its facility, and the clinic was a chance for girls to work on cars together with their dads.

“It was a fun day for sure,” Ehr said.

She plans to go to medical school and minor in Spanish.

McDonough will attend St. Cloud State University and major in graphic design.

Owens is off to Wheaton College in Illinois, where she plans to double major in Spanish and elementary education. She’d like to work in a Spanish immersion school.

For other seniors, the military is calling.

Leah Jackson, who came to Spectrum from Rogers High School two years ago, will be attending Army National Guard basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Connor Bresnahan will be going to Army basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.

Bresnahan came to Spectrum part way through his senior year. He had been attending a military academy.

“It was a pretty hard transition because this is more of a college prep school,” he said. “… At the school I used to go to they were kind of focused more on physical education and yelling at you.”

He said he found the people at Spectrum to be very accepting and nice.

He also became involved in the school, building the set for Spectrum’s musical as his senior project.

Spectrum High School graduation

• 7 p.m. Thursday, June 7 at the school, 17796 Industrial Cir., Elk River

• 57 seniors will participate in graduation. Six of them are exchange students who will receive certificates of attendance.