Each year LocalTies receives assistance collecting and compiling the information from students for an annual GRAD feature. From Wayzata High School, members of the COMPASS class met with me weekly this past spring semester, and Orono High School was represented by Mikayla Burns. Thank you all for your contributions and efforts. It’s been a pleasure getting to know these future community leaders.

Mikayla Burns

Mikayla Burns said, “The factor that compelled me most to volunteer was that it has been such a crazy year for everyone and the class of 2021 lost out on so much, so I viewed this as a way to help recognize the graduating seniors and help show their accomplishments.”

Sydney Polencheck

Sydney Polencheck learned during her sophomore year in high school that she has an interest in business. “I liked my accounting and marketing classes, and had learned that COMPASS was an experience for high school seniors to really get out into the business world.” Sydney said she would 100% recommend the course, “If you like people and even if you are not interested in business, it’s such a good opportunity to learn about so many different things that other classes just don’t give you – it’s been super interesting.”

Nick Gebhart

Nick Gebhart shared how the students in the COMPASS Career Studies class were broken into smaller groups with whom they’d work with for the spring semester. “One of the first things we talked about was our colors, how we work and react to things. The charter groups were based on that.” Nick described the test they took and how to use the results. I asked for an example, “Reds want to lead, there can’t be a group made up of all reds who would argue all the time, so we were split into groups of colors who could work with one another. No other class has brought that into play.”

Mason Moore

Having met with a variety of business people coupled with working on their own “business” team, the LocalTies junior editors have a better understanding and sense of the direction they’d like to take. “We’ve done things that we’ll need in the future,” Mason Moore added. “I have a good resume now and a LinkedIn profile with connections already.”

Jackson Snyder stated, “COMPASS provides a different style of learning, you get to work with real companies, to actually perform a task that gives you real life experience versus just learning from a book.”

Jackson Snyder

COMPASS Career Studies is available to juniors and seniors at Wayzata High School. There are different areas of concentration – the business focus course is the only COMPASS class currently limited to high school seniors. All four LocalTies junior editors said they enjoyed meeting the local business professionals who came into the class to speak on a variety of topics. “It’s really interesting hearing their perspectives and the advice they have for students.”

ADVICE for Middle School and Underclassmen

Mikayla: Create relationships and bonds with the teachers and staff of your school. It will make your life so much easier when you know them on a personal level.

Sydney: Don’t freak out over high school. I think I had a lot of anxiety going into high school, especially my junior year. It’s a big leap, you have all these SATs and ACTs going on – definitely don’t freak out, take a step back and just enjoy it because it literally flies by. I’m graduating in 40 days and I’m thinking, ‘oh my gosh, where did time go?’”

Nick: Take the COMPASS class. We actually applied what we learned, I had a lot of fun in my group and in the class.

Mason: The biggest thing is if you have an opportunity and you’re debating it, do it. If a part of you wants to do it, there’s definitely something you can take away from the experience. If you find out it’s not for you, at least you tried.

Jackson: Get your work done on time and get involved with clubs and activities. You’ll meet people and make friends – it’s a giant school. Being able to walk past people in the hallway and know them from all the different activities I’m involved in helped make the high school experience a positive one.


Mikayla: I would like to extend a thank you to my family, especially my parents who have supported me tremendously throughout my high school career.

Sydney: My mom and dad have been a huge help for everything. I’m in a couple different clubs and sports, driving me, supporting me and pushing me to get straight A’s. I wouldn’t have been the best student if it wasn’t for them.

Nick: Growing up my dad introduced me into business and encouraged me to talk with people. He works in sales for Cambria, the owner there has taught me a lot too. From a young age my dad taught me the importance of greeting people, conducting oneself with proper manners and how to just be a good person.

Mason: Earlier I was talking about opportunities. I have a tendency to doubt myself, and when I told my dad I didn’t know if I could handle lacrosse and COMPASS (Mason thought there would be a lot of work outside of class time), my dad said, “You gotta try!” I found out I could make it work.

Jackson: Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all you’ve done for me. It’s crazy that it’s all coming to an end.


As the school year winds down, the five students shared their plans for the upcoming fall. Mikayla will be attending the College of Saint Benedict with plans to study nursing.

Not surprisingly, the Wayzata COMPASS students all have business in mind for their continuing education. Sydney will be attending the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University to study marketing and graphic design. Nick plans to study business with an emphasis in marketing at Iowa State University. Mason will be going to Texas Christian University for business. And Jackson will be studying marketing at the University of Alabama.