School Spotlight: Wayzata High School
The campus of Wayzata High School in Plymouth could easily be mistaken for a small college.
“It is officially the largest school in the state of Minnesota,” said Principal Scott Gengler.
At last count, the school had an enrollment of more than 3,400 students in grades 9 through 12.
“I know when I was a freshman, it was a little intimidating because you’re going from a middle school, which was just two floors and not very big, and all your classes were in one area, to this school, where they just added a whole new wing to it and everything,” said Michael Smith, a senior at Wayzata.
Principal Scott Gengler looks at the school’s size as a positive feature.
“The larger we are, the more we’re able to provide opportunities and meet the different needs of individuals,” Gengler said.
“If you talk to some of the students, many will say that they get acclimated quickly, in large part because of extracurricular activities.
“It doesn’t feel that big when you’re in classes,” said Ankita Kundu, a senior at Wayzata. “You have, like, these clubs and activities that really kind of create a bonding point for you.”
Kundu is part of an organization called Club YES, short for Youth Extending Service. More than 800 students are involved in Club YES and take part in service projects all across the Twin Cities.
“Many organizations in our community rely on Club YES volunteers,” said Brenda Badger, Wayzata’s youth service coordinator. “The IOCP food shelf and many of their initiatives heavily rely on Club YES, our elementary schools, many of our senior citizen living centers rely on Club YES.”
The service projects are not only a way for the students to give back. They also acquire some valuable skills in the process.
“Being leaders. Stepping up to solve problems. Stepping up to take initiative and make a difference where they see they can,” Badger said.
Which leads us to their current initiative: Super Kids-Super Sharing. At every school in the Wayzata School District, drop-off boxes are set up for people to donate books, school supplies, games, sports equipment and cell phones.
“We’re giving all of the materials to schools that are in need throughout the state,” said Smith, the senior. “So that’s really the main aspect of why it’s so cool to be giving back to other schools in need.”
Wayzata’s Super Kids-Super Sharing initiative is being done in partnership with the NFL and Super Bowl LII. Club YES students put together a video — with the school district’s help — to promote the program. Between now and Jan. 17, they hope to collect enough supplies to fill several trucks that will go to schools in need.
“We’re dedicating ourselves to the community and helping out,” Kundu said. “And this initiative is definitely a big part of who we are and just like, defines the culture within the school.”
While Wayzata certainly has a culture of giving back, the school also has a reputation of providing students with the tools they need to be successful.
“I’ve always had a supportive community from all the different clubs, and it’s been a very great experience,” Kundu said.
The Super Kids-Super Sharing event goes from now through Jan. 17. On Jan. 18, they’ll take all of the supplies to a drop-off site in Edina, to help benefit students in other Minnesota school districts.