A Sample of What a Few Hardworking Local Teens Are up To

Every year Edina Magazine spotlights a few high school seniors who stand out in the crowd. This year is no exception. The following young men and women pursue excellence in creative and thoughtful ways. They are good students, athletes, artists and community members. They recognize the benefit they have received from teachers, families and the city of Edina at large and have found unique ways to give back. Spend a little time with any of these 2018 Prep Elites and find yourself inspired by their desire to make the world a better place.

Deirdre O’Neill

Breck School
Lacrosse captain Deirdre is often outside enjoying athletics either on the field, on the slopes or on the tennis courts; but you can also find her in the ceramics studio. “I used to do painting camps in the summer at Edina Art Center,” she says. She then moved on to ceramics and has received awards for her work as well as being selected for juried shows. At Breck, she co-founded The Pottery Wheel club to mentor beginner students and has interned at the Edina Art Center. “I consider myself to be creative and independent, and art has always been something that fuses those two things together well, which is why I’ve been involved in some sort of art my whole life,” she says. While the list of her accomplishments and interests is quite long, she credits her success as arising from her internal drive.

“I don’t do anything to just get it done, but rather to learn and get better at things,” she says. She brings her pursuit of excellence to every endeavor, whether athletic
or artistic.

Matt Cavanagh

Edina High School
Football might be Matt’s favorite sport and he might be captain, but this multisport athlete (which over the years has included baseball, basketball, track and a little house-league soccer on the side) has a lot to say about what motivates him. It is his family. His mom and older sisters demonstrate dedication and hard work, but it was also his late father who showed him that pursuing excellence was a value worth having. “My dad was really good at self-motivation.

He excelled at school and at work. It is just part of my family to be the best you can,” he says. On or off the field, Matt believes good relationships start with trust. “People who will do the right thing when no one is looking are important to me, and I want to reciprocate that as well,” he says. He sings in the Mt. Olivet youth choir as well as working as a volunteer at Cathedral of the Pines Camp. “One thing I want to be remembered for,” he says, “is making a positive impact on the people around me.”


Jael Medzagoh

Edina High School
Jael proudly talks about her heritage. Her parents arrived in the U.S. from Togo and left behind family and familiarity for opportunity. Jael and her younger sister were born in the U.S., but she says of her family, “We are all growing up here together.” Her hero is her mom. “My mother is my backbone, my inspiration, my everything,” she says as she describes her mom’s hard work and dedication to learn English, get an education and a career.

Grateful for the many opportunities at EHS, she has become involved with both Edina Model UN and the Black Student Union. When asked about her favorite subject she lists math, history, science and biology saying, “I like to learn. There are new things I haven’t learned before. Great questions to explore.” Edina has provided both strong academics and has pushed her to perform well in school. She believes both positive and negative experiences have shaped who she is and her dreams for the future. She says, “I want to be remembered for the futureI create for myself.”

Grace Knoer

Benilde-St. Margaret
Grace started dancing when she was 3 years old and is now a part of the state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s dance team. “There is a huge community for me with dancing,” she says as she speaks about the many hours of training, the two tryouts a year and numerous competitions that encompass her time as a dance team member. “It was exciting to be a part of the state championship,” she says. Not one to shy away from the stage, she also performs with BSM’s acapella group the Red Knotes and was in the 2018 performance of Cinderella. She has also sought out her dream to become a surgeon one day through her involvement with the BSM Bio-Med program and a medical club. She says, “I want to be remembered for being a person who is welcoming and trustworthy,” no matter what her future holds, and she is grateful for a community and family that have supported her so well.


Shane Kretz

Edina High School
Coming from a family with a total of nine siblings, Shane had an audience pretty early on. “I always had so much energy I would do things in front of my family that would make them laugh,” he says. He has used his talent by joining the Hip-Hop Dance Team at Edina. This group performs at pep fests and other events and has given Shane the chance to hone his dancing skills. What he wants to be known for? “My backflip,” he says. He practiced the move over and over in his living room before bringing the signature flip to school. “When I do it, the whole gym fills with applause. Everyone’s eyes get huge!” he says. Performing in front of students goes hand in hand with his positive attitude. “I love making people happy in a good way,” he says. “Edina gave me the ambition to try new things.”

Caroline Sprenkle

Edina High School
Caroline credits her close-knit family for giving her a sense of the importance of helping others. Her parents, both physicians, are inspirational to her and so is her younger brother,“I feel lucky to have him in my life.  He is one of my biggest motivators because I want to be a role model for him as I demonstrate not only my work ethic but my love for those around me,” she says. This Edina High School soccer player, Alpine ski team captain and DECA participant also volunteers as a small group leader at Christ Presbyterian Church, she says, “to give back to the community that has poured into me.” For Caroline, Edina is “a town rooted in love for the kids who live here.” As she grows older and leaves behind the halls of EHS, she hopes to continue the tradition of inspiring others, whether in business or wherever her future may take her.