Six Woodbury Students Excel at Academics and More

Six of Woodbury’s best and brightest students talk about their successes and share what they love about their hometown.
Abby Nuehring

Abby Nuehring // New Life Academy

Abby’s musical talents include singing and playing the piano and guitar; she was the lead in last fall’s The Music Man and is a member of the Morningstar select choir, and has competed in statewide piano competitions. “My favorite extracurricular activity is my high school’s theater productions,” she says. “I love the connection that every cast member has with each other; we all support and encourage one another.” Abby also tutors elementary students, is involved in the Buy a Coffee Buy a Well nonprofit, and volunteers at Regions Hospital and at her church.

Favorite class: Biology, because I love learning about living organisms and biological processes.

Favorite teacher: My math teacher, Mr. DeBoer; he’s hardworking, supportive and genuinely cares about his students’ success.

After graduation: I plan on going to school to earn a nursing degree.

Key to success: Hard work, motivation and a passion for what you do.

One of your fondest memories of growing up in Woodbury: Enjoying the Fourth of July celebrations at Ojibway Park and spending time with friends at Woodbury Days.

Favorite local restaurant:
Punch Pizza

Favorite place in Woodbury: I love to go shopping at Woodbury Lakes with friends.

Meghan Miller // Woodbury High School

With a third place at State and two section championships under her belt, Meghan is Woodbury High’s 11-dive record holder and truly passionate about her sport. “Diving is something different that not a lot of people do,” the All-American diver says. “I like the adrenaline rush I get after ripping a dive [doing a great dive], doing a dive off 7 or 10 meter or learning a new dive.” A member of Key Club and Link Crew, Meghan also enjoys babysitting and playing with kids. “I someday hope to become a pediatrician,” she says.

Favorite class: Science; it’s so cool to learn about new things going on in the world and being able to do research, test out hypotheses and do crazy experiments.

Favorite teacher: Ms. Lerud (Family and Consumer Science) because she is an amazing teacher and so friendly, kind and understanding.

After graduation: Go to a medium-sized college and dive, and then go on to medical school.

Key to success: Have fun! If you aren’t having fun, then you don’t want to put the time in to become better. If you are having fun, you want to keep going to get better and achieve as much as possible.

One of your fondest memories of growing up in Woodbury: Riding bikes with my friends around town and going to different parks to play on the playgrounds.

Favorite place in Woodbury: I love all the trails because I enjoy running. I can always choose a new route with new things to see.

Alicia Zhang // East Ridge High School

A well-rounded student with a 4.4 GPA, Alicia has participated in orchestra, debate, National Honor Society and Link Crew and played first violin in Minnesota Youth Symphonies and Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies orchestra. As team captain of East Ridge’s debate team, Alicia was an Elite Eight team member in the International Public Policy Forum debate competition, where she placed second. “Debate and speech are my favorite activities because they have taught me a lot about public speaking and research, and pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone,” she says.

Favorite class: The sciences, because they are always very cool to learn about and are incredibly applicable to everyday life.

Favorite teacher: Too many teachers I love to determine one favorite.

After graduation: Attend college for undergraduate and probably graduate programs.

Key to success: Set goals and achieve them by working hard and creating solid support structures.

One of your fondest memories of growing up in Woodbury:
Building a fort in the park with a friend, and spending hours there in the summers.

Favorite local restaurant: Akita Sushi & Hibachi

Favorite place in Woodbury: Colby Lake and the lower green pod of East Ridge.

Drew Bennett // Woodbury High School

Drew has built an impressive music resume with marching, jazz and pep bands plus pit orchestra, earning all-state and first chair honors. He is a drum major with the marching band. His academic achievements include Brain Bee, Science Olympiad, Math League and National Honor Society, and he’s also a founding member of WAVE (We Are Volunteering Everywhere), a group of neighborhood friends who have done a variety of projects to give back. “We’ve made sandwiches for the homeless, cleaned elementary school playgrounds, picked up trash at parks, painted birdhouses at a memory care facility, made cards for veterans and a lot of other things like that,” Drew says.

Favorite class: Band—I look forward to making music every day and getting to play the tuba.

Favorite teacher: I tell all my teachers they are my favorite. Why? My favorite teacher is the one teaching the class I’m in at the time.

After graduation: Go to college.

Key to success: The keys to success are hard work, study hard, never give up, and ask for help if you need it.

One of your fondest memories of growing up in Woodbury: When we came back and I went to school after living in Japan for a couple of years, it didn’t take long to make friends because the people in my class were so nice.

Favorite local restaurant: Bonfire. Their bull bite hash is awesome.

Favorite place in Woodbury:
I spend a lot of time at Woodbury High School, so I think that’s my favorite place.

One of your fondest memories of growing up in Woodbury:
Riding bikes with my friends around town and going to different parks to play on the playgrounds.

Henry George // New Life Academy

A member of National Honor Society who excels in his AP and College in the Schools courses, Henry has been an active participant in three sports at New Life: baseball, basketball and soccer. He also holds a job as an umpire for baseball games. “My favorite extracurricular activity is baseball because I love playing the game and I enjoy playing with friends,” he says. “And I am passionate about my relationship with God and spending time with friends.”

Favorite class: Math, because I enjoy using numbers and equations to find the answers to problems.

Favorite teacher: Mr. Simmons (Bible 2) because he likes to have fun which makes class enjoyable, but he also cares about us as well, which makes his classes very meaningful.

After graduation: Go to college and hopefully play baseball somewhere.

Key to success: Having a good work ethic is very important, because then you do everything to the best of your ability. And enjoy what you do because that makes it fun, and you tend to perform better when you like what you do.

One of your fondest memories of growing up in Woodbury: Winning the state baseball championship with New Life Academy in summer 2015.

Favorite local restaurant: Smashburger

Favorite place in Woodbury: Bielenberg Sports Center

Grant Ryerse // East Ridge High School

Grant is a three-sport letter winner (football, basketball and baseball) and also a Minnesota State High School League ExCEL Award winner for excellence in community, education and leadership. A member of Link Crew, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and an active participant in his church’s youth group, Grant has also volunteered for the Kicking for the Dream Cancer Research fundraiser, Feed My Starving Children and served as a football mentor and coach. He’s excelled at Project Lead the Way and Advanced Placement (AP) classes and also taken an online Latin course. Grant’s accolades in football, his favorite extracurricular activity, include captain, all-metro and all-state; he has committed to the University of Minnesota Gophers. “I enjoy football because it’s fun being around the team and the coaches,” he says.

Favorite class: Calculus; Mr. Virgin gives us great life lessons while making math interesting.

Favorite teacher: Ms. Kotz (civil engineering and architecture) because she is laid back and teaches with enthusiasm.

After graduation: Go to college to study biomedical or mechanical engineering and play football.

Key to success: Be focused on what’s really important and prioritize.

One of your fondest memories of growing up in Woodbury:
Going to the fireworks each Fourth of July.

Favorite local restaurant:

Favorite place in Woodbury: The East Ridge football field on Friday nights.