Behind every outstanding student is someone influential—a person, key to that young scholars’ motivation to succeed. This year we feature three outstanding area students as well as the people who have “paid it forward” by investing in the success of someone else.
When Tasha Feigh walks down the halls of Osseo Senior High School there is no doubt that she loves her school. She serves on her class committee and as a student ambassador. She often wears the orange and black school colors, and her letter jacket is crowded with bars and awards. An 11-time letter winner and 8-time all-conference player of adapted floor hockey, soccer and hockey, Feigh is more than a team player, she’s a true leader.
“Before Tasha became part of the team she was quiet and withdrawn,” says her mother Mary Feigh, “now she is bubbly and out-going. She gives her all at each game and is supportive of her team mates.”
Tasha’s coach and mentor Kelli Waalk-Gilbertson echoes the sentiment. “Tasha doesn’t always get a lot of recognition because she’s our set-up player—the one that pulls the opponents in and quickly passes to an open teammate. She’s led our soccer and hockey teams in assists for the past three years by doing exactly that. In softball she is our lead-off hitter and puts herself in a position for the next batter to driver her in.
We have a saying for Tasha...‘Play like a girl and show the guys how it’s really done!’ She’s an amazing athlete,” Waalk-Gilbertson says. “I challenge you to find a less selfish, more team oriented player on any team, anywhere in the state,” she adds.
“My dad has by far made the largest positive impact on my life,” says Maple Grove Senior High School student Aditya Parikh. “Many kids, when asked how their parents teach them things, reply simply with "I get lectured by my parents;" however, my dad is different. Instead of lecturing, he provides me with insight on life, through his own life experiences of moving from India to the United States, in a conversation format this is interesting, appealing and friendly.”
Father Jayesh Parikh plays down Aditya’s affection, believing that “every parent talks to their children for the same good reasons”. He points to his son’s keen skills of observation, curiosity, listening and willingness to learn. “When Aditya just started to speak words and we were driving in the car he was saying the name of the company and model of every car passing by,” his father explains.
Aditya’s ability to observe and analyze makes him a standout in both debate and speech. Debate captain at his school, he consistently competes at the state level, bringing home numerous awards. Last year he was invited to participate in the invite-only prestigious Blake Round Robin, and he competed in this year’s national forensics tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. Aditya is also the president of Maple Grove Forensics, and currently holds the degree of "superior distinction" in the National Forensics League, a speech and debate honor society.
This mark of distinction proclaims that Aditya can speak extemporaneously in any given situation about any given topic and be able to articulate his thoughts concisely and fluently. So, whether it’s a Honda clarity or human cloning, he can name it or discuss it with ease.
“Throughout all of the debates we have had on the team, I have changed my personal viewpoints a number of times after researching more and more regarding the topic. This ability to accept new viewpoints after learning more about them will allow me to formulate my own best-for-me personal opinions as an adult,” says Aditya.
As an adult, Jayesh Parikh looks back on his life to name his major influences: his own father, Hinduism's Bhagavad Gita and other stories from the Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Autey is a goal keeper. She sets her sights high and is driven to achieve. She’s reached and maintained her goal of a near 4.0 GPA, is a literal goal keeper on the Maple Grove Senior High School soccer team and, due to the influence of a person she has never even met, she has her sights on a goal that might daunt others. She wants to be a filmmaker.
Casey’s got the right mental material and the generous support of her parents, but it is the “distant” mentorship of a YouTube vlogger, filmmaker and follower-of-his-dreams known as Shay Carl that has given her the confidence to pursue her dream.
“His family has been making a daily vlog on YouTube since 2008,” Casey explains. “His positivity has without a doubt impacted how I think about things and how I make my decisions.”
Shay Carl was a granite installer in Idaho with a big idea of posting a video online every day. He shares the honest interactions of his life, marriage and four young kids and, after reaching YouTube’s “Top 50 Most Subscribed List” began to support his family doing what he loves—being goofy and making videos.
He also seeks adventures in life. In a recent video he looks directly at the camera and advises “Every day do something you are scared to do” after which he takes a deep breath and plunges into an insanely deep ravine held only by two ropes. He definitely challenges himself! “Shay is always very grateful for his parents for raising him so well and he follows his religion with passion. Those two solid bases in his life have probably given him the personality traits he has used to persevere all these years,” Casey says.
Butler perseverance paid off and his example is contagious. “I realized I was so interested in film when I started to like the behind-the-scenes featurettes more than the actual movie,” Casey remembers. “I was fascinated with how they made movies like Titanic, and Iron Man...but the best part was that it was fun work! It looked like a blast and I wanted to have a job to express my creativity so I wouldn't be stuck behind a desk for the rest of my life,” she says.
Outside of school, her life is nowhere near a desk. Casey pays it forward by being a coach to young soccer players. She’s an all-conference player herself and captain of her high school team this year, but still finds time to volunteer and coach young kids. “I love spending time with kids who are just starting to play the position of goalkeeper,” she says.
Casey Autey sets high standards and surrounds herself with self-determination. “Shay is my proof that you can start from anywhere with any background and succeed in whatever you set your mind to. This mindset will be stuck with me wherever my life decides to go.”//