I’ve been having a lot of conversations about Wayzata High School lately. No doubt, our community has strong opinions on this topic. And while I’ve heard many different ideas about how the district should manage our growth, there is a common thread running through every conversation; passionate advocacy for what is best for our kids. I think this fiery enthusiasm from parents is part of what makes Wayzata schools so strong. I wanted to hear about high school issues from someone who lived through it, a recent grad. I spent some time visiting with Jillian Benzen to hear her perspective on WHS. We talked about the size of the high school, academics, extra-curricular activities and how WHS prepared her for college and beyond.
Jillian graduated from WHS in 2009. She attended Winona State and graduated in four years with a degree in Advertising/Marketing. She recently landed her first job at Target as a Project Coordinator in Property Development. (Congratulations, Jillian!). On her transition from high school to college, Jillian commented, “I quickly realized that I did not appreciate the great preparation WHS had given me for college. True, the high school is so big, but that’s what really prepared me for the real world”. She also described how the size of her class at the high school taught her that “if you want to stand out, you have to work really hard and be willing to ask for help”. She gave the example of her struggle with math and how the block scheduling gave her the opportunity to “ask a lot of questions, reach out to the teacher and feel confident. The time spent in class was so valuable, the block scheduling was awesome!”. Jillian was also grateful for the high school’s wide range of academic options. “It’s great that anyone is free to take honors and AP classes. Also, the exposure I got through my marketing and business classes in high school prepared me to declare my major at college sooner than most of my peers”.
In addition to concerns about the high school’s size, I’ve been hearing worries regarding students’ opportunities for extra-curricular involvement. I asked Jillian about her experiences in this area. In addition to her studies, Jillian was on the swim team, the synchronized swim team, volunteered through Y.E.S and worked for the high school’s Trojan Tribune. “It was easy to get involved, I loved every minute of it!”. I asked Jillian if there was anything she didn’t like about her WHS experience? She said she “sometimes wondered what it would be like to know everyone in her class”, but that it didn’t really bother her because the class numbers were normal for her, she never experienced anything other than that. Her college friends asked her if she minded being a little fish in a big pond at WHS. Jillian said she never felt like a little fish at Wayzata High School, however, she believes that “life is a big pond and you have to be ready! The real world is competitive and I was prepared”.
If you know someone in the district I should talk to, please respond to this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.