Abby Smith said being told she was one of Eden Prairie High School’s nominees for the ExCEL Award came as a surprise to her.
Smith, a junior, said she received the good news from Activities Coordinator Nancy Schmitt. Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (ExCEL), a Minnesota State High School League-sponsored program, recognizes juniors who are active in school activities, show leadership qualities and volunteer in their communities.
Smith has been an A Honor Roll student and involved with several school clubs and groups including DECA, National Honor Society, Key Club, Trace Tutoring and Friends Forever. She’s volunteered for several organizations such as River Valley Church, West Metro Miracle League and Special Olympics. She’s played soccer all three years in high school, lettering and being named Academic All-Conference. Smith has been a Nordic skier. She lettered and was named Academic All-Conference in track and field.
Smith responded to questions from the newspaper about her ExCEL Award.
How do you feel about being nominated for the award at Eden Prairie High School?
I am very honored to be this year’s female ExCEL Award recipient, I am so grateful to find out that my commitment and drive in all that I do has made a difference. Academics are a key tenant, but they are merely a portion of what represents true excellence. I am very excited to receive this award, EPHS is full of excellent leaders, students, and athletes, it is very honoring to be selected out of such an incredible group.
Tell us about some of your sports, volunteering, fine arts and general school involvements.
I have played soccer since I was 6 years old and I have been in love with it ever since. There’s something really special about standing on the field, sweat dripping down my face, and my competitive spirit raging. The field has always been my happy place. Additionally, volunteering has always been a prime component in making me the person I am today. I believe life is all about using your skills and talents to benefit and help others, and I am thankful for the opportunity to change lives through everyday activities.
How do you believe this award affects your future plans?
Receiving the ExCEL Award is a huge honor. It is so encouraging to know that my efforts in all platforms; School, leadership, athletics, service, involvement, etc. are noticed and appreciated. So often individuals get rewarded for one of these things, so it is awesome to see an award that speaks to individuals who go all in in all that they do, such as myself. I believe the ExCEL Award further encourages me to keep striving for excellence in all that I do, as well as it will set a bar in which I will continually strive to reach and represent.
What are your plans for your senior year and after graduation?
Senior year I plan on continuing to challenge myself by taking rigorous courses, and involving myself in all of my clubs. I hope to be an officer of several clubs, and continue to serve within my school and throughout the community. After I graduate from EPHS I plan on attending a good four-year college, majoring in marketing/communications and minoring in Spanish to secure a job in international business relations. I am very excited for what my future holds and I am very thankful for how well Eden Prairie has prepared me for greatness.
If you could give one piece of advice to younger high school or middle school students, what would it be?
Honestly as cliche as it might seem, do it all. Try out for that sports team, take that class, join that club, get involved in that movement, step outside of your comfort zone. Life honestly begins when you lose the care of being “cool” or “normal.” And once you begin to be unapologetically “you,” your high school experience changes from the typical going through the motions, to waking up each day excited for what every single hour, minutes and second holds.
Also people, value people. School gets really tough, especially if you take all honors and AP classes and are involved in pretty much every club ever, time slips away from you, but don’t let your business ruin relationships. Value people, value your friends, classmates, parents, teachers, etc. Because at the end of the day what really matters is the influence you had on others and what others could teach you, not the letter grade on a specific assignment or test.