Senior Spotlight - Class of 2022

It's time to shine a light on members of the Class of 2022.

These students have been an invaluable part of our Panther community and we're cheering them on as they pursue further education, a career or trade, take a role with the military or do something else altogether.

453 students started their K-12 journey in 2009. This Panther class includes our first graduating class of Spanish Immersion students. 14 are moving on to participate in band or choir in college, and 26 are playing their sport at the collegiate level next year. They’ve made us proud in so many ways and we know they will go on to do great things.

These last few months have been filled with end-of-year events and senior celebrations. Read about some of their future plans, favorite experiences and what makes them Panther Proud and browse the Class of 2022’s photo albums.

Senior Yard Sign Photo Album

Decision Day Photo Album

Class of 2022 graduation ceremony

Emma Helgerson

Emma Helgerson - Class of 2022

What was your favorite class and/or experience? My favorite high school classes were by far the ones I took through the OEC program. I took the full EMT and Nursing Assistant courses. They were the most engaging and informational courses I took during my high school career. I got to be a part of caring for others, learning basic life skills and started my passion for being a part of the medical field. 

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School? At Spring Lake Park High School, I loved to stay involved in the community, sports, and other activities. I was on both the fall and winter dance teams since seventh grade. I also stepped into a leadership role my senior year to help guide the team to our 19th year competing in the state tournament. I was also involved in the National Honors Society during my junior and senior years. It was an excellent way to volunteer and help my community, outside of school grounds. Being a leader on school grounds also held great value for me. I was a Panther Mentor during my junior and senior years where my main duty was to mentor and guide freshmen through their first year of high school. Helping my peers and students around me is something I always had a desire to do. To fulfill this, in my senior year I also was a Panther Peer Tutor, to aid struggling students. Lastly, I was a part of student council my senior year to really engage myself in all of the fun and exciting school events. 

Athletic and activity accomplishments:

  • Academic letter - 10th and 11th grade 
  • National Honor Society letter - 11th grade 
  • 2021 dance team section champion 
  • All-Conference Honorable Mention on the dance team - 11th and 12th grade
  • 4-year state dance team participant 
  • 4-year dance team varsity letter 
  • 1-year varsity track letter 
  • All-Conference Honorable Mention in track - 9th grade
  • OEC certifications 

What are your plans after graduation? I plan to attend the University of Minnesota after graduation. I’ve decided to major in biochemistry, along with a possible minor in neuroscience. I plan to go down the pre-med track, as it’s been a passion of mine for many years. 

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? What makes me SLP Panther Proud is the abundance of opportunities this high school has to offer. In specific, the career pathways. There is a wide variety of courses students can take to learn more about a career pathway they might want to pursue. I personally engaged myself in the Human and Health Services pathway by taking First Aid/CPR, EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), and the Nursing Assistant course. What’s even more unique are the certifications you can receive for college credit, and to jump right into the workforce straight out of high school. These classes are free compared to the thousands of dollars it will be if you took them outside of the high school. There are more pathways as well that relate to business, finance, and much more! Furthermore, there are many other college credit classes and AP courses to prepare and help save you money for college.  

Duc Trinh 

Duc Trinh - Class of 2022

What was your favorite class and/or experience? My favorite high school experience is definitely being on the Math Team. It enabled me to expand my mathematical knowledge beyond the classroom’s lesson. I was also able to meet and make many friends who share common interests in science and mathematics. We were able to go to state the last two years. My favorite high school class is obviously Calculus with Mr. Hilst, who is also my coach for the Math Team. The way he keeps math an interesting subject made me enjoy his class a lot. He made sure that everyone was able to understand his lesson. I will definitely miss his class and Math Team.

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School?

  • Math Team
  • Pep Band
  • Jazz Band
  • Band
  • National Honor Society

What are your plans after graduation? After graduation, I will attend the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and major in computer science.

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I am Panther Proud because of the opportunities at our school. The variety of courses, programs, and extracurriculars offered at our high school pushed me to a new limit. I am able to see what I can accomplish and what I want to do in the future. The extracurriculars pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me eager to involve myself more in the community.

Dian Castro

Dian Castro - senior spotlight 2022

What was your favorite class and/or experience? I’ve had over a dozen fun experiences during my time here, but my favorite memories are with the band, especially our Cuba trip. Exchanging music with Cuban band kids, learning how to salsa, riding around the streets of Havana in 1950s convertibles, and being immersed overall in a completely different culture, while also spending time with my closest friends, was an absolutely amazing experience that I will never forget. 

My favorite class by far would be AP Biology with Mrs. Crofton. Despite the challenging nature of the class, the material itself was interesting and was made more engaging and fun thanks to Mrs. Crofton, even when the end of our 10th grade year got a bit messy. I also hold fond memories of my group’s antics and weird conversations that Mrs. Crofton had to tolerate.

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School? I participated in a lot of extracurriculars during my time at SLPHS. I’ve been dedicated to the band program and its activities for all four years, participating in Jazz 1(10-12), Pep band (9-12), Patriots Marching Band (9-12), Pit Orchestra (11-12), and Flute Ensemble (12). This past year, I also got selected to participate in the NWSC honor band as a flutist. Across all band extracurriculars and the class itself, I have played a total of four instruments (flute, alto saxophone, piccolo, and soprano saxophone). Apart from band, I was a member of the National Honors Society (11-12), Science Olympiad (10-12), and Art Club (11-12), placing 1st and 6th in ornithology this past Science Olympiad season in our regions and state competitions respectively and becoming Vice President this year for Art Club. 

What are your plans after graduation? I plan on attending the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to major in Bioproducts Biosystems Engineering.

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? What makes me SLP Panther Proud is the many different types of clubs and organizations that SLP fosters thanks to its environment and faculty, providing lots of opportunities for students to get involved and explore their interests. The focus on academia thanks to the dedication and support of the staff has also helped me develop the skills necessary to succeed in the future and grow as a person. Both of these factors make SLP a wonderful community that encourages great connections and bonding between staff and students. 

Cassie Christian

Cassie Christian - Class of 2022 Spotlight Feature

What was your favorite class and/or experience? My favorite classes at SLPHS have been my science courses. All my science teachers over the past four years are willing to do whatever it takes to help us succeed, and push us in the right direction.

My favorite experience at SLPHS was the band and choir trip to Duluth. After two years of COVID, it was amazing to just spend time in fellowship with my classmates in the music department. While we were there, we visited the Great Lakes Aquarium, and it was awesome to learn about the variety of creatures in the waters of Minnesota. But the trip wasn’t just educational, the social aspect of the trip was healing for us all as we finally felt a sense of normalcy that we only dreamed of during COVID. 

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School?

  • Speech: 9th grade
  • Band: 9th-12th grade
  • Jazz Band: 9th-12th grade
  • Theater: 9th-12th grade
  • Panther Mentors: 11th-12th grade
  • Panther Mentor House Leader: 12th grade
  • Choir: 12th grade

While I was involved in many activities at SLPHS, I was heavily involved in the theater department and played many different roles in plays, one-acts, and musicals. Most notably, I was the Student Director for “Medusa’s Tale” and “Oklahoma!” I helped block and work scenes, made prop lists and trailers, and helped facilitate communication across actors, tech, and the adults involved to assist with a smooth running of the shows. Overall, it was this role that allowed me to become a strong and assertive leader that will serve me well after graduation. 

What are your plans after graduation? My plans after graduation are to get a Biotechnology degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Then I would like to get a Master Degree and Doctorate in hopes of working up to be part of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. 

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? What makes me SLP Panther Proud is the amazing student body that I am part of. My classmates are driven and accomplished young adults that are not afraid to be themselves, speak up for what they believe in and for what they deserve. Especially through COVID, I have seen my friends and classmates push through hardships and rise to the challenges of their lives.  

Caden Oberg

Caden Oberg - Class of 2022 Senior Spotlight

What was your favorite high school class and/or experience? My favorite class was certainly Pre-AP Chemistry with Ms. Enstad. That class was a huge inspiration for my plans after high school and Ms. Enstad always found a way to make the class enjoyable. My favorite experience would have to be my choir tour to Duluth. I went and saw a musical, worked with wonderful clinicians, and saw the sights with my friends. Nothing compares to making memories.

What activities were you involved in whilst in high school?

  • Choir: grades 9-12
  • Panther Mentor: grade 12
  • National Honors Society: grades 11-12
  • Parkairs: grades 10-12
  • Bass/Tenor Ensemble: grades 11-12
  • Theater: grades 10, 12

What are your plans after graduation? After graduation, I will be attending the College of Engineering at the University of North Dakota.

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I am Panther proud because of how wonderful it is to perform with and for the students and staff at SLP. There is nothing better than a “congratulations,” or “you sounded amazing” from your peers and the people you respect.

Obelyn Smith

Obelyn Smith - Class of 2022 Senior Spotlight

What was your favorite class and/or experience? Although I enjoyed all of my classes throughout high school, I especially cherish my English classes. I already had a passion for the subject, but the outstanding teachers I've had further cemented my love of literature and language. 

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School? I was briefly involved in Tech Crew for the play in twelfth grade. I was also involved in Knowledge Bowl where two of our teams advanced to sections in 2022. Additionally, I was involved in Speech, and I placed second overall in my category at the state competition this year.

I also submitted my poems and short stories to the Scholastic Art and Writing competition in my junior and senior years. I won 11 awards at the state level, one gold award at the national level and an American Voices Award. And due to my performance on AP Tests, I received the AP Scholar & AP Scholar With Distinction Awards from the College Board organization.

What are your plans after graduation? After graduation, I will be attending the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. My major is undecided, but I want to plan my life around my ability to create art. I am passionate about writing, and I would like to continue developing as an artist. I would love to potentially direct some of my screenplays or stageplays. However, I am also incredibly passionate about political activism. I plan to become more involved in politics, so I will likely also pursue political science or something similar.

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I am proud to belong to a community that cares. SLP faculty, despite whatever difficulties they may be facing, strive every day to improve the lives of the kids they teach. I have seen teachers make provisions for their struggling students and go above and beyond to make things easier for them. They know how crucial this stage is for overall health and emotional development, and they know there is nothing more important than mental wellbeing. This display of humanity should be standard everywhere, but unfortunately, it is not, and I am glad to have found it here. 

Eleanor Jeppson

Eleanor Jeppson - Class of 2022 Senior Spotlight

What was your favorite high school class and/or experience? I have had many incredible classes and experiences at SLP, but my all-time favorite has been AP US History with Ms. Johnson. She has been my teacher since 8th grade, coach since 7th and an incredible mentor for the past six years. For as long as I have known her, she has been present with advice and endless support, not only for me, but all the other students she comes into contact with. This class was consistently fun and engaging, both academically and socially. The positive environment, the interesting course material, and the teaching all contributed to me falling in love with the class and gaining a passion for history.

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School?

  • Student Council (9-12), Treasurer (10-11), President (12)
  • National Honors Society Officer (11-12)
  • Panther Mentor (11-12), House Leader (12)
  • Student Representative on the School Board (12)
  • Girls Tennis (8-12), Captain (12)
  • A-Honor Roll (10-12)

What are your plans after graduation? After graduation, I will be attending George Washington University in Washington D.C. and plan on majoring in political science. 

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I am Panther Proud because of all the wonderful opportunities our school has presented to me over the years. This district has surrounded me with teachers and staff who have endlessly supported me and taught me how to be a functioning person. I am so grateful for the academic and extracurricular options that I have taken advantage of. From AP classes to clubs and volunteering events, all have made me a more well-rounded student and community member. SLP has helped make me the person I am today and that makes me incredibly proud to be a Panther!

Vincent Vang

Vincent Vang - Class of 2022 Senior Spotlight

What was your favorite class and/or experience? My best experience I had at SLPHS was during my sophomore year when I went on a choir trip to New York City. Sure, the trip was pricey with it being just over $2,000, but it was worth every penny. The memories I made and the experiences I had will stay with me for years to come. I remember specifically going to the American Museum of Natural History with a group of friends. We bumped into a security guard and he gave us a tour of a small section of the museum. The way he explained the history behind each artifact and statue made the museum come to life.

My favorite class was definitely choir with Ms. Phelps. Ms. Phelps makes the classroom welcoming and feel like a family. That's something you don't get in every class. I've taken choir all four years of my high school career and I wouldn't have it any other way.

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School?

  • Choir
  • Parkairs 
  • Tenor Bass Group
  • Barbershop
  • Theater 
  • All-State Choir
  • Solo and Ensemble Contest
  • Boys Volleyball

What are your plans after graduation? After graduation, I plan to attend Anoka Ramsey Community College. I don't exactly know what I will be going to college for but I plan to take classes that align with my interests.

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I am SLP Panther Proud because of all the opportunities that were given to me. The opportunity to better myself as a person and as a student was huge. Knowing that I had the opportunity to take college classes through PSEO to complete college courses early and not have to pay for them was important. This community makes me feel welcomed and accepted. I've learned to understand and know my worth and I know SLP has been there throughout the entire journey. I know that this school district has given me the resources I need to succeed in life, and for that, I am forever thankful. 

Sabriin Mohamed

Sabriin Mohamed - Class of 2022 senior spotlight

What was your favorite class and/or experience? My favorite high school class was AP United States History, taught by Mr. Meier. It was our last true in-person class before the pandemic, but I adored it for many reasons. The coursework was challenging, and at times I felt it made zero sense, but the supportive environment of the classroom made me feel as though I could accomplish anything. It also helped that I had a lot of friends in that class, too! Mr. Meier knew how to keep the classroom engaged while ensuring we enjoyed what we were learning. We definitely annoyed him on more than one occasion (sorry, Mr. Meier), but he put up with us regardless with a smile, both in-person and virtually. My most precious high school memories arise from his classroom, and I will always remember that.  

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School?

  • DECA (Captain)
  • Genesys Works Young Professional (Advisory Board Chair)
  • Leo's Club (Board Member)
  • Dean Student Assistant (Salat)
  • Panther Mentor
  • Panther Peer Tutor
  • Black Student Union
  • Muslim Student Association (Founding Member)
  • Recipient of President's Emerging Scholarship (U of MN)

What are your plans after graduation? I plan to attend college at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in the fall. At the Liberal Arts College, I plan to pursue a dual degree in Political Science and Public Administration. After college, I plan to attend Law School.

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I am SLP Panther Proud because of the faculty and of the message Spring Lake Park presents. Entering SLP, I was nervous about enrolling at a large school. My middle-class sizes ranged from 6 to10 people, and I was afraid of making a poor impression. I struggled greatly and had a hard time catching up on coursework. But my support system of teachers, counselors, family, and friends aided me through it. I've grown significantly as a person. I couldn't be more glad to consider myself a Panther in my journey to finding myself and succeeding.

Celeste Espitia Banuelos

Class of 2022 Senior Spotlight  - Celeste E. smiling

What was your favorite high school class and/or experience? There were so many different memories and amazing experiences I had at SLP. I went to Spain through the Spanish program my sophomore year, and more recently to Duluth for a trip through the music program. One thing that I have always loved is spending time with my friends during lunch. Since the beginning of freshmen year, lunch has become one of my favorite social pastimes in school because it allowed me to hang out with friends.

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School? 
While being a student at SLP, I was involved in the LEO's Club, our schools' community service club, for all four years of high school. I was also on our schools' robotics team that was established in 2019 when I was a sophomore but we didn't get to finish the season because of the pandemic. As a matter of fact, we finally had the opportunity to participate in our first competition at the U this year and it was amazing! Junior year I added three more activities that I’m very glad I joined, which were throwing for track and field, becoming a Panther Mentor, and joining the Parkairs. I am really glad to have been able to find amazing friends and establishing such an amazing communities within each of these different activities. Whether it was helping new students adapt and enter successfully into a our school, or leaving the freshman with different sets of tools to help them overcome struggles, I really am incredibly grateful I was in position to help others and to become a better student, friend and leader. 

What are your plans after graduation? My plan for next year is to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston and to major in Professional Music in which I will delve into the world of music production and performance!

As I mentioned before, I was involved in Parkairs, which is a smaller choir with selected students from our larger choirs from the music department that meets outside of school. This group tends to have a repertoire that incudes less traditional choral music and more of a modern pop twist. Music has always been a part of my life as I grew up listening to music from my culture and am now creating my own music (not published for the whole world to see but more just for me). Music has always been able to help me convey the things that cannot be done in other ways. 

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? Honestly, what makes me incredibly proud is the community and the staff that have created such a welcoming and fostering environment for me. My teachers and almost every other staff member in the school have been so kind and I really can see that they want to see each student succeed. I am also incredibly proud of my friends and my parents for their sacrifices to ensure that I had an overall amazing experience in high school. Sure there were some ups and downs, but that’s just life. I really would just like to thank everyone who is, and has been, in my life for being so awesome and for sticking with me and for loving me despite all of my flaws. Thank you! It means more than you will ever know!

Ava Sciara 

Class of 2022 Senior Spotlight - Ava Sciara smiling

What was your favorite high school class and/or experience? My favorite class that I have taken at SLP is band with Mr. Wolf. You can tell that he really cares about each of his students and makes rehearsals both fun and productive. I always look forward to band class because it brightens my day to spend time doing something I love. This class has let me explore my creative side as a welcome supplement to my academic core classes. 

One of my favorite experiences throughout my high school career has been being a part of the student council. I joined the student council my freshman year and it has helped me to get involved with the school in a multitude of ways. Participating in the “behind the scenes” aspects of school events integrated me into the school community right at the start of 9th grade. I have great memories from decorating the school for spirit weeks and working the various events. Student council has also taught me a lot of important life skills like communication, organization, and event planning that I can take with me in my future endeavors. 

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School? At school, I participated in student council, NHS, Panther mentors, Science Olympiad, band, and the cross country team. Outside of school, I was a part of a competition dance team and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Students of the Year fundraising program and leadership team.

What are your plans after graduation? After graduation, I will be attending Vanderbilt University on an NROTC scholarship and majoring in mechanical engineering. 

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I am SLP Panther Proud to be a part of a school that offers so many opportunities for students to get involved in their community. There is a club, activity, or sport to join that caters to every student’s interests and hobbies. I have been lucky enough to be a part of many clubs and activities and it has really helped me to get involved in my school community. 

Collin Lief 

Class of 2022 Senior Spotlight - Collin Lief

What was your favorite high school class and/or experience? My favorite class was AP World History with Mr. Stephenson because it was always fun and interesting. Mr. Stephenson is a wonderful teacher and the environment he creates in his classroom is always positive and lighthearted. I learned a lot and had a good time doing it, so it's a class that I'll always remember.

My favorite experience was participating in sports with my friends. Running and skiing have taught me how to work hard, compete, and enjoy the process of training. Sports also introduced me to some of my favorite people in the form of close friends and amazing coaches. My favorite memories of high school were of hanging out at meets and going on runs and skis with friends.

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School?

  • Cross Country, Captain
  • Nordic Skiing, Captain
  • Track and Field
  • National Honors Society
  • Peer Tutoring
  • University of Minnesota Talented Youth Math Program

What are your plans after graduation? I will be attending Harvard College with a major in Applied Mathematics.

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I'm SLP Panther Proud because of the opportunities I've been given that have prepared me for college. Since I enrolled in the district, I've been helped and encouraged to reach my full potential and pursue whatever interested me. Participating in PSEO for the last two years would not have been possible without the education and resources I received at Spring Lake Park. I feel prepared and excited as I move on to the next chapter in my life.

Larissa Snyder

Class of 2022 - senior spotlight - Larissa S.

What was your favorite high school class and/or experience? My favorite high school experience was traveling to Florida with my softball team. We made so many amazing memories together that included playing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, visiting all Disney parks, and going to the beach. It was such an incredible experience that brought me closer to my teammates as players and friends.

My favorite high school class was AP Calculus with Mr. Hilst. I loved being in his class because he always asked about my interests outside of school, such as sports and friends. He made me feel incredibly supported both academically and personally, and always wished me good luck before my softball games.

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School? At SLP, I split my time between the Indigenous and softball communities. I attended Native American Advisory Committee meetings and participated in different educational opportunities like cooking classes. Athletically, I started playing softball at SLPHS in 8th grade and volunteered regularly at tryouts, concessions, and practices throughout my high school years. Outside of SLP, I stayed engaged in both of these communities through other volunteering experiences that included learning more about my culture, working at ceremonial events, and coaching younger softball players.

Accomplishments:

  • 4-year Academic Varsity letter
  • 4-year Academic A-Honor Roll
  • 2-year PSEO student
  • 4-year Softball Varsity letter
  • All-Conference Honorable Mention (11th grade)
  • Defensive MVP (11th grade)

What are your plans after graduation? I plan on attending the University of Wisconsin-Superior where I will play softball and major in biochemistry. I hope to pursue the pre-med/pre-physician’s assistant track. I also plan to continue volunteering with Dream of Wild Health, a local Indigenous organization, and hope to stay involved in the softball community through coaching opportunities.

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I am SLP Panther Proud because of all of the amazing support and opportunities Spring Lake Park has provided me over the past four years. As a student-athlete, being supported as a person rather than just a student or player has given me feel a sense of belonging at SLP. I feel welcomed and supported by the amazing faculty, coaches, and students I have been able to interact with while attending SLP. Academically, SLP has prepared me for college by helping me be a successful PSEO student. Attending college as a high school student has been a difficult transition, and the support I have received from SLP faculty has been key in helping me succeed. SLP has taught me the importance of being a self-advocate and pursuing my dreams while helping me along the way.

Brianna Kiriago

Class of 2022 Senior Spotlight - Brianna K

What was your favorite high school class and/or experience? My favorite high school class would most likely be Chemistry with Mrs. Enstad. The class was very engaging and allowed me to think deeper about the topics we explored. Mrs. Enstad was extremely supportive and helpful of each individual student and also challenged us beyond our self defined limits. I also took the class when we had just returned to hybrid days after Covid, so she allowed for flexibility with everyone and catered to each student's needs.

What activities were you involved in while you were a student at Spring Lake Park High School? I was on the varsity track and field team for all 4 years, I managed the boys basketball team for 3 years, I was a NHS member for 2 years, and a student council member for my senior year. My most notable moment within those activities would most likely be being named captain of the track and field team my senior year. 

What are your plans after graduation? After graduation, my plan is to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Global Health with a Pre-Med track.

What makes you #SLPPantherProud? I am SLP Panther Proud because of the opportunities the district provides for all students, as well as always pushing their students to their highest potential. I have been given many opportunities to advance my academic learning here at SLP, such as the Gifted and Talented program, Honors and AP courses, as well as the chance to earn college credit as a high school student free of charge. I am SLP Panther Proud because SLP saw a spark within me indicating that I could bring myself to a higher potential, and that ignited a fire within myself to always push myself beyond my limits anywhere, even outside of school.