Local Seniors Share Their Spark

by | Aug 2023

Natalie Miner

Natalie Miner. Photos: Chris Emeott

Local high school students bring the best of themselves to their schools and communities.

Part of what makes a community great is its commitment to education and offering its youth opportunities to explore their worlds by way of academics, the arts, athletics, other extracurricular activities, leadership opportunities, service programs and more.

To recognize some student leaders from the Class of 2024 in our annual Senior Spotlight article, we asked local schools to nominate students who best exemplified their school community.

We heard from their nominating school officials, who provided us with some wonderful insight into these young people. But we wanted to learn a bit more. Clearly, these students spend a lot of time hard at work, and we wanted to lighten things up a touch by asking a few not-so-series questions (along with other queries). We hope you enjoy the lighter side of these academic heavyweights.

Natalie Miner

Mound Westonka High School

“Natalie’s kindness radiates in every space she enters. She approaches challenges with grace and, even more importantly, encourages her peers to do the same. She is willing to stand against the crowd for what she believes is right, and I genuinely admire this quality in her. She is constantly offering support and encouragement to her peers, leading others to succeed alongside her. I believe that Natalie views collective success as being just as important as individual success. This type of leadership, one that is thoroughly unselfish, thoughtful and supportive, is a rare and appreciated trait that Natalie possesses. Natalie is an outstanding leader who undeniably changes and betters the community around her.”—Wendy Richards, science teacher

  • What’s your all-time favorite school lunch? Caprese pasta salad
  • What one item is always in your backpack? AirPods or something to listen to music with
  • What three words describe your high school experience? Exciting, challenging and inspiring
  • What person in history would you most like to invite to your graduation? Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is an inspiration to me because of her determination and the difference she has made in our society.
  • Speaking of graduation, what’s next after high school? I am planning on going to college outside of Minnesota. I am interested in studying math and business.

More about Natalie Miner

  • Soccer (captain, voted by teammates as the 2022 most valuable player, All Conference and four-time letter recipient)
  • Hockey (four-time letter recipient and assistant captain)
  • Track (four-time letter recipient)
  • Student Senate (communications officer)
  • DECA (officer and State Competition First Place recipient and international finalist)
  • Environment Club
  • Link Crew Leader
  • National Honor Society (junior officers)
  • Rotary Club
  • Like a Girl Community Project
  • Excel Award Recipient – MSHSL
Daniel Argento

Wayzata High School

“Daniel has demonstrated character and scholarship through his achievement, involvement and leadership at Wayzata High School (WHS). Daniel is involved in many facets of WHS, also taking a variety of rigorous coursework, including eight Advanced Placement [AP] courses, multiple accelerated math courses, business and IT courses and more. Daniel proposed our Course Ambassador Committee … and this program has since grown to over 50 students and was established to help families navigate course registration [300 options] at WHS … Daniel’s efforts have assisted families during our open house evenings, virtually, at middle schools, with counselors and one on one with students … His committee has been instrumental in adding course testimonials to our course catalog. He is looking to expand this idea to surrounding schools. Education is super important to Daniel. He has volunteered in many aspects, including high school, middle school and elementary school. He is studying linguistic support for multilingual students on the math MCA for his Honors Mentor Connection research project (in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education). Daniel is interested in pursuing education in his future; he aspires to be a college professor in a STEM-related field, particularly math and linguistics.”—Tyler Shepard, associate principal

Daniel Argento

  • What’s your all-time favorite school lunch? Southwest salad
  • What one item is always in your backpack? Apple Pencil
  • What three words describe your high school experience? Enriching, challenging and inspiring
  • What person in history would you most like to invite to your graduation? Steve Jobs
  • Speaking of graduation, what’s next after high school? Attend a four-year college and pursue a degree in STEM

More about Daniel Argento

  • Student Council
  • Tennis
  • Honors Mentor Connection Research with MDE
  • Alpine Ski
  • Math Team
  • National Honor Society
  • Prepare2Nspire (helping underprivileged students in Minneapolis with math)
  • WHS Volunteer Club
  • ACT peer Academic Mentor support/class
  • Camp Explore volunteer 
  • Course Ambassador Committee Program Manager
  • Presidential Volunteer Award (three years in a row)
Margaret (Maggie) Lundell

Orono High School

“Maggie Lundell is an amazing leader on and off the soccer field. I have observed Maggie lead a group of youth players at camps, I have watched her interact with her soccer teammates, I have watched her on the basketball court, and I have heard from Maggie’s teachers. In all of these observations and reports, Maggie is mature, selfless, humble, empathetic, integrous and virtuous. She seeks out ways to connect with younger players in the program and has a keen eye for finding ways to include everyone. Maggie has a strong moral compass. In any situation, Maggie is not afraid to stick up for what is right. Maggie is one of the most trustworthy players I have ever coached. Recently, Maggie reached out to me after she volunteered for Humanity Alliance and wanted to organize a volunteer opportunity with this program for our entire soccer program. This is Maggie in a nutshell, she puts her community and teammates on the forefront and is always looking for ways to leave her community better and seeking ways for others to have experiences that make them grow as individuals.” —Erin Murray, Varsity Girls’ Soccer head coach

Margaret Lundell

  • What’s your all-time favorite school lunch? Orange chicken
  • What one item is always in your backpack? … chargers, one for my computer and one for my phone, just in case. 🙂
  • What three words describe your high school experience? Exciting, fast and enjoyable
  • What person in history would you most like to invite to your graduation? Carrie Fisher or Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Speaking of graduation, what’s next after high school? After high school, I’m looking forward to attending a four-year college and, most likely, majoring in some sort of social science.

More about Margaret Lundell

  • Varsity Soccer  (captain, Spotlight on Scholarship award and two-time letter recipient)
  • Varsity Basketball  (Spotlight on Scholarship award, two-time letter recipient and captain for the 2023-2024 season)
  • Letters of Love Club  
  • Orono Well-Being Club  
  • Art Club
  • Orono Giving Back
  • Volunteered as a youth soccer coach 
  • Mentor to youth girls basketball team  
  • Member of National Honor Society 
  • One of eight girls to be selected to represent Orono at an International Women’s Fair 
  • Co-manager of the Boys’ Lacrosse Team
Curtis Ying

The Blake School

“Curtis is a student who personifies a love of learning and has demonstrated a high commitment to improving the community both in and outside of Blake. His achievements in music, mathematics and numerous volunteering and leadership experiences paint the picture of a true renaissance person. His creativity manifests itself in the arts and sciences and allows him to make cross-curricular connections that deepen his understanding of complex concepts to help guide other students toward mastery. Throughout the school, Curtis is extremely respected by his peers and teachers for his commitment to service and his ability and desire to collaborate to find the best solution to problems. His work tutoring younger students in Bear-to-Bear Tutoring and his President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award recognition emphasize the impact Curtis makes on students in our school and people in our community. They value his ability to communicate and the care he takes with all of his interactions. He is an excellent example of a Blake student, who is inquisitive, engaged at a deep level and committed to being a servant leader.” —Brian Lukkasson, advisor and Upper School instrumental music teacher

Curtis Ying

  • What’s your all-time favorite school lunch? Grilled cheese, tomato soup and a brownie
  • What one item is always in your backpack? Wite-Out pen
  • What three words describe your high school experience? Excitement, challenge and learning
  • What person in history would you most like to invite to your graduation? My great-grandparents
  • Speaking of graduation, what’s next after high school? Major in applied mathematics in college and get a master’s degree

More about Curtis Ying

  • Event Prediction Club (mathematical modeling club and founding president)
  • Blake Math Team (captain and qualifier for Minnesota State High School Math League invitational competition)
  • Blaker’s Dozen (student lead vocal ensemble)
  • Environmental Community Service Board
  • Bear-to-bear Tutoring
  • Alliance of Youth Leaders in the Twin Cities (student-led community service organization and founding president)
  • Singer in VocalEssence Singers of This Age choir
  • Singer in MMEA All-State Mixed Choir (this year)
  • President’s Volunteer Service Award (Gold) 
  • AIME qualifier for AMC 10 
  • Dean’s Choice Award 
  • Finalist in COMAP’s High School Mathematics Contest in Modeling (HiMCM)
Karla Fernanda Arreola-Lucio

Minnetonka High School

“When Karla (Fern) Arreola-Lucio arrived from Toronto after her ninth grade year, I knew we had a real firecracker on our hands. Full of energy, Fern takes on all challenges with aplomb, never wavering even when the demands of multiple AP and IB classes become extensive. A speech and debate captain for two years, Fern quickly saw a need to foster these programs in the middle school setting. Within a year, Fern developed and implemented speech and debate teams at East and West Middle Schools, working with 55 students. Fern values a strong sense of community, too, so she helped develop a summer experience for the speech and debate students … Fern also volunteers at myHealth, a community organization that helps teens and families in the west Metro, including Minnetonka. [She presents] to middle school students, as well as the Boy and Girl Scouts, about vaping cessation and prevention. Fern works with Youth Day on the State Capitol, promoting community health to our legislators … all this while managing the most challenging course load and a 4.3 GPA to boot.”—Brad Burnham, school counselor

Karla Fernanda Arreola-Lucio

  • What’s your all-time favorite school lunch? My comfort lunch meal, going 12 years strong, is leftover lentil soup in a bright pink thermos. (Bonus points if I packed apple sauce pouches!)
  • What one item is always in your backpack? I always carry an extra pair of clean, fuzzy socks with me everywhere! My feet are constantly aching for some reason, so having cozy socks with me is a must!
  • What three words describe your high school experience? Spontaneous, healing and rewarding
  • What person in history would you most like to invite to your graduation? Antonia Novello, [M.D.], the first female and first Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General. She has been one of my biggest inspirations since I was in fifth grade and wrote a paper on her. I think having her at my graduation would continue to motivate me to embody her ideals in my future endeavors, whether through helping others succeed or showing others that hard work does pay off.
  • Speaking of graduation, what’s next after high school? I am currently in the process of being a licensed EMT and will likely pursue a premed track in college with a minor in math. I hope to continue volunteering along with building a community wherever life leads me next.

More about Karla Fernanda Arreola-Lucio

● Debate Team (two year congressional debate captain, MSHSL State Debate; two-time qualifier and 2023 finalist and two-time varsity letter)
● Speech Team (current captain and two-time varsity letter)
● Advisory Board Member at myHealth
● Minnetonka Ambassadors
● Hispanic Student Union co-founder/leader
● Blake/Minnetonka Varsity Synchronized Swimmer (MSHSL state qualifier and varsity letter recipient)
● Minnetonka Model United Nations (current two-time captain, varsity letter with distinction and Minnetonka Best Delegate Recipient)
● Kumon Math and Reading Center advanced English and math instructor
● Volunteer Department aide at Chanhassen Park Nicollet
● Vacation Bible School leader at St. Hubert’s Catholic Community
● National Honor Society Member
● Volunteer at COPAL MN
● National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) Academic All American
● Minnesota Debate Teachers Association All-State Award
● Presidential Volunteer Service Award Silver Award
● In the process of becoming a registered Emergency Medical Technician
and CPR/First Aid instructor


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