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Student Leaders Honored at April Board Meeting

ISD 728 School Board Honors Leaders from Elk River Middle Schools

The ISD 728 School Board continued its tradition of honoring students who show outstanding leadership at the regular board meeting held Monday, April 12, 2022.

Honored were students from VandenBerge and Salk middle schools. Students who also earned spots in the 2021 National History Day competition were also honored at the meeting.

VandenBerge Middle School

Hayden Barziza

Hayden is very thoughtful and conscientious in all she does. She is always looking for the best in people, and can collaborate well with anyone. Hayden epitomizes what it means to be a part of the VMS Family. Her teachers describe her as “not only is an amazing student but  is beyond kind to all other students in our school especially our students with special needs.” We are truly amazed at her ability to keep up her excellent academic success while making a positive impact on our local community every Sunday from noon to 6 pm by volunteering for Arrows Heart Animal Rescue. They are a “no kill volunteer run animal rescue based in the Twin Cities Area.” Congratulations, Hayden for an award well deserved. 


Anneliese Blomquist-Smith

Anneliese is the President of the VMS Student Council, Secretary of the VMS Honor Society, and plays in the Jazz Band on Friday mornings before school. Her teachers describe her as “a fantastic leader. She is always looking to listen to feedback from her peers to make VandenBerge a better place for everyone! Anneliese takes time to teach students how to study by sharing her own techniques and is willing to help all her peers. She treats everyone the same no matter their social status.” Anneliese is always willing to lend a helping hand and shows the values of Ready, Responsible and Respectful to everyone! Along with all of her extra-curricular activities, she also volunteers her time every Sunday from noon to 6 pm to the Arrows Heart Animal Rescue and still is able to maintain a stellar academic record. Congratulations, Anneliese. We are very proud of you! 


Ayla Thorsbakken

Ayla is described by her teachers as “An amazing student and advocate for others. A true student leader whom other students look up to.” Ayla epitomizes being Ready, Responsible, and Respectful and a caring member of our VMS Family. Ayla also volunteers at the Arrow for Heart Animal Rescue every Sunday from noon to 6 pm, giving her time to her community while maintaining an outstanding academic record. The VMS staff are very proud of Ayla and all that she has accomplished. Congrats!!!


Salk Middle School 

Alex Ebert

Alex is an exceptional example of a problem-solver, and a solution-finder. His skills of thinking creatively, and through multiple lenses (big picture, and smaller details) is a great addition to any classroom and content area. We've enjoyed getting to know Alex, pushing his skill set to a higher level in our content areas, and seeing him grow through the challenges of Science Fair. His project utilized so many of Alex's academic talent talents, from engineering design to creative problem-solving to finessing the construction of his design, yet was challenging at the same time. We are looking forward to seeing Alex continue to exercise his STEM skills in all of his classes!


Anne Aaron

Anne leads by example at Salk Middle School and contributes positively to the educational environment. She was recommended by several teachers to be a student leader when Northwest Suburban came to visit Salk, and represented our school well by conducting a tour and answering questions to guests in our building during the visit. 


Our Salk staff has great things to say about Anne; the following is what some of Anne's teachers had to say about her: 


In band, Anne led her band ensemble group to learn their piece; she helped those along the way who didn't understand the music, always interacting in a kind and respectful manner, and ultimately led the group to a very successful performance. She is committed to working hard - she learned drum-set in practically a week when Jazz Band first started. 


In English, Anne is an incredibly deep thinker, an expressive writer, and an articulate speaker. Her short stories show a wealth of creativity and her poetry is poignant and expressive. 


In Advisory, Anne consistently brings a positive attitude, participates in all activities, and shares accurate and realistic perspectives. Further, she is helpful and welcoming of all students.


In Choir, Anne comes to class with a great attitude and is willing to try anything outside of her comfort zone in order to succeed. She also accompanied the 7th grade choir on piano at the most recent choir concert, which is pretty much unheard of for a middle school student. 


Thank you for making our school great, Anne! 



National History Day Contest - Salk Students


Ava Kallunki 

Elsie Ostmoe 

Ronny Hustvedt


Every year over 500 Salk STEM students in 7th and 8th grade participate in National History Day. This is a student-centered inquiry project where students choose a topic in history related to an annual theme and conduct in-depth research into their topic. Often the journey leads them to college level research that features interviews with people who lived and made history. Like running a marathon, finishing the project is an accomplishment onto itself, and we are very proud to announce that every year virtually every student who begins a project, successfully finishes one. The top projects advance to the regional, state and national contests. Salk's History Day program, led by the Social Studies teachers, is among the best in Minnesota, as well as in the country. Of the 30,000 Minnesota students who do History Day, only 60 get to move on to nationals. Last year, three students from Salk advanced to the national contest, ranking them as the top 1/4 of one percent of all students in Minnesota. We recognize them here today in celebration of their accomplishments:

  • Ava Kallunki and Elsie Ostmoe for their museum exhibit titled: "The Jane Goodall Institute: Promoting Understanding of Conservation Through Communication"
  • Ronny Hustvedt for his 10-minute documentary titled: "The Duck Stamp Story: A Communication Tool for Conserving Ducks and Wetlands." In the national contest, Ronny received an Honorable Mention for his project as one of the top 15 overall in the country. 


2022 MN YAM Exhibition Recognition includes ERHS Senior Ella Ovall

Elk River High School artists had their artwork virtually featured at the 2022 Minnesota Youth Art Month Student Exhibition “Art Connects Us.” This juried exhibition celebrates the artwork of some of our state's most talented Elementary, Middle and High School students. Recently, senior Ella Ovall was presented with the 3rd Place Award for her digital artwork "Embrace."

March is Youth Art Month and it is a celebration of the visual arts. The state-level program provides a platform for recognizing skills developed through visual arts experiences including: problem solving, creativity, observation and communication.

Participating ERHS artists include seniors Abby Berg, Emma Gangl, Emma McCort, Alyson Miskowic, juniors Mayci Larson, Rachel Ryan, sophomores Karabella Bergstrom, Gavin Schwartz and freshmen Corinne Andersen, Violett Funk and Beatrice Reynolds.

The YAM Virtual Exhibition displays the work of all Award recipients and participants, including YAM Flag Design Awards earned by ERHS students Beatrice Reynolds and Brooke Rocheford.

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