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Viewpoint: What's right in District 833? Lots

On May 28 three recent graduates of local high schools described their experience gaining admission to America's most selective universities before a packed lecture hall at Woodbury High School.

Kevin Ig-Izevbekhai is a 2012 graduate of East Ridge High School and now a sophomore pre-med major at Yale University. Ashley Longseth is a 2009 graduate of Park High School and senior economics major at Wellesley College. Prithwis Mukhopadhyay is a 2011 graduate of Woodbury High School and freshman biomedical engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was one of 40 Intel Science Talent Search finalists in the U.S. Kevin and Prithwis are home from college and were present in the room. Ashley participated via video-conference from Wellesley where she awaits commencement in a few days.

Discussion was lively with plenty of advice on study habits, class selection, and extra-curriculars. Most impressive to me was the level of poise and intelligence exhibited by these future leaders. I have no doubt each will do much to make the world a better place. Their comments were positive and optimistic with the underlying message that District 833's younger students might find similar success with hard work, brains, and a little luck.

They credited their teachers and parents for helping them excel, though a couple said they had to do some catch-up work to compete with advanced students once they reached their selective colleges. Prithwis advised younger students to solicit help from high school teachers, even asking for extra reading and study. Kevin advised starting AP classes as soon as possible. Ashley advised focusing on accelerated academic classes. Prithwis said with the benefit of hindsight he now values the post-secondary education option more than AP classes and wishes our district would give University of Minnesota classes the same grade weighting as AP courses.

These students are clear examples of educational success in our school district. Something is going right.

The panel was sponsored by District 833's Gifted Education Department in partnership with parents. The moderator was Tina Van Erp, Coordinator of Gifted Education for District 833.

Menken is a Woodbury resident