The Class of 2017 Closes the Door on High School

In this story, which was taken from the Summer edition of the Update, we profile three different seniors — London Lowmanstone, Seth Eliason, and Axumawit Brhane.
June 14, 2017

On June 1, 499 seniors graduated from Hopkins High School. Here in Hopkins, we believe success looks different for each student. In this story, which was taken from the Summer edition of the Update, we profile three different seniors — London Lowmanstone, Seth Eliason, and Axumawit Brhane — each of whom have defined their own personal path of success. We wish them, and all the 2017 graduates, the best of luck as they head out into the next stage of life.

London Lowmanstone: From Hopkins to Harvard
With so many talents, at first glance, you might assume that London Lowmanstone is someone who is effortlessly good at everything. He's in robotics, National Honor Society, math league, tennis, theatre, the band council, and choir, and he served on the Hopkins School Board as a student representative. To be clear, this is an ambitious list of activities, but all of his interests have a common theme: they involve him creating something that will impact others.

Lowmanstone is driven by a desire to positively affect those around him. Whether it's by composing music, programming, singing in the choir, or modeling kindness, he is determined to make the world a better place. His experience at Hopkins allowed him to explore many avenues, and his teachers were there to support him every step of way.

"It's rare to have a teacher at Hopkins who does not care about you as a person," Lowmanstone said. "All the things you can do here from robotics to tennis, there is a support system. The teachers want you to do well here and in life."

Curious from a young age, he spent a lot of time creating and exploring. When he was in second-grade, he knew he wanted to build robots that respond in natural disaster situations. It's a concept that continues to fascinate him, especially as first-responders are beginning to use existing technologies, like iPhones, to find survivors in rubble.

"I want to create designs and prototypes that help other people," he said. "I love programming because if the program does not work, you get an error message and can trace it back."

Being involved in so many activities requires time-management skills. Lowmanstone is still figuring out this formula and admits he does not always get it right. However, it helps that his free time is not spent watching Netflix. Growing up in a close-knit family that continues to reserve Saturdays as a family day, watching TV was never a value. This left more time to pursue other activities, like music composition. Applying the same principles he uses for programming, Lowmanstone enjoys creating music for others to experience. One of his proudest moments at Hopkins was when he wrote music for his junior high band to perform in concert.

This fall, Lowmanstone will head off to Harvard to study computer programming and possibly minor in music composition. Although the path is unknown, he is certain he will end up programming robots that make a difference and save lives. He jokes that he might "do a Mark Z" and drop out to create the next Facebook, only his will feature robots. But more likely he will use his Harvard connections to join or create an altruistic start-up.

Above all, he hopes he will stay curious and continue to surround himself with people who will challenge him. He wants to stay humble, approachable, and able to engage with others.

"I like to bewith people who are better than me, especially in areas where I need to grow," he said. "Getting big-headed does not help anyone. It's a fake confidence boost that leaves you detached from people instead of connected. I arrange things to make sure I don't have an ego."

Seth Eliason: Running to the future
This fall, Seth Eliason will attend Georgetown University on a full five-year running scholarship. He holds the school record, and likely the state record, for fastest cross-country 5K time (14:54). Last year, he competed on the cross-country team and went to nationals, and even received a mention in "Runner's World." You could say Eliason was born to run — except he wasn't. In fact, he had no interest in running, despite showing potential. His pre-teen self was content playing video games, but his parents had other ideas.

"When I started running in eighth-grade, I did not want to do it," Eliason said. "My parents got kind of sick of that and signed me up for cross-country. I got into it. I was good at it. I made friends. I found something to do that connected me and helped me become more confident."

Eliason is a talented athlete, but one of the biggest lessons he learned on the track is to be a student first. The same determination required to run 10 miles translated into stamina for studying and completing homework.

"Mr. Harris drilled this in me — you can be a talent, but even the most talented person will lose a race," he said. "You always want to be working harder than everyone else. If you do that, you have a good chance at succeeding."

Running opened him up and gave him a place, and because of that he enthusiastically jumped into Hopkins High School life, taking AP (Advanced Placement) classes (including AP U.S. History) his sophomore year. He maximized his high school experience by singing in the choir and skiing on the Nordic team.

Eliason describes himself as "kind of a nature guy." His AP environmental science class appealed to him and sparked an interest that will likely be his career path. This fall, he plans to major in environmental science and minor in political science at Georgetown. After college, he hopes to return to Minnesota and establish himself in the field by working for the Department of Natural Resources. His dream is to work for the Environmental Protection Agency.

In his mind, Hopkins has always been a second family. The diverse student population helped prepare him for the larger world, an especially useful tool as he heads out for the East Coast.

"The thing that I will miss most about Hopkins is the people and being part of the community," he said.

Axumawit Brhane: Around the world to Hopkins High School
The first day of high school rattles the nerves of even the most confident student, but when Axumawit Brhane attended her first day of school at Hopkins High School, she had no knowledge of American schools. Coming from Ethiopia, she did not speak the language, did not understand the culture, and did not know a soul. With bravery that few of us could understand, Brhane stepped into the unknown, determined to succeed.

Brhane made the decision to come to the United States after her father moved here from Ethiopia. She saw first-hand how people would come and receive a good education, and she decided that she wanted that for herself. Hopkins was a wonderful place for her to land. She describes the high school as both welcoming and invested in her success. 

"The biggest thing that I have learned is English and how to communicate with people," said Brhane. "When I first started here, I did not like reading, but now I love reading. Being able to speak English has changed this for me."

Brhane credits the English Language Learner (ELL) teachers, counselors, and the media center staff for helping her find her way in an environment that was completely foreign. Communication with staff was difficult at first, but the teachers were relentless and would use hand gestures and pictures to communicate ideas. Eventually, they began to understand each other. Brhane would stay after school. At times, her teacher would even bring her supper. She also took advantage of after school homework help options offered at the media center and through the Hennepin County Library program.

"I have learned that everything is possible if you put in hard work," Brhane said. "For us, people who come from different countries, we think everything will be hard, but when you put in effort and tell your mind, 'I can do it,' everything is easier."

Brhane will attend Normandale Community College in the fall. She plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota after two years and pursue a degree in science. She is not sure if she will be working as a nurse in the hospital or a tech in a lab, but she knows that science is where she will be focusing her interest.

"Biology was my favorite class at Hopkins," she said. "Hopkins inspired me to push myself and grow, and now I am going to college."

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