News Post

Winter and Spring 2018 Applause

Clubs, Teams and Individual Honors

Eva Motolinia '18 was recognized as state student debater of the year at the Minnesota Debate Tournament.

Sixteen Blake students qualified for and participated in the annual Minnesota DECA State Career Development Conference. Seniors Justin Gainsley and Kyle Meredith took second place for their business growth plan, and Gainsley also took third for his business services marketing series. Morgan Swigert '20 took second place in principles of business management and administration. The three will travel to Atlanta to compete with 20,000 students at the International Career Development Conference. The team is coached by Blake's Chief Financial and Operating Officer Dan Kelley.

The Science Olympiad team placed second in the state in the small school division and 11th overall. The top 10 finishers were:

  • William Pannell '18 and Cole Woerner '18, Astronomy
  • Pannell and Emmet Whitely '18, Chemistry Lab
  • Elisa Lopez '19 and Woerner, Dynamic Planet Jordan Dombroski '19, Sneha Sinha '18 and Sarah Weinshel '18, Experimental Design
  • Christopher Herr '20 and Whitely, Material Science
  • Lopez and Ajay Raman '19, Microbe Mission
  • Pannell and Woerner, Thermodynamics

Prior to state, the team placed fourth in the region and the following varsity squad members earned awards:

  • Gold – Lopez and Woerner, Dynamic Planet
  • Silver – Brandon Sun '19 and Woerner, Optics
  • Bronze – Lola Chamberlain '19 and Sonal Sinha '19, Hovercraft; Pannell and Woerner in Astronomy.

The team is coached by Upper School reserve teacher and substitute coordinator Eric Nystrom.

A contingent of 28 Blake Model United Nations (MUN) students traveled to Chicago for the MUN conference where they represented Paraguay and Chad. The students discussed global access to women's healthcare, African aid, nuclear proliferation, water scarcity and other world issues.

Fourteen Blake students attended the MUN Baltimore conference at Johns Hopkins University were they represented Bangladesh, Colombia and Lebanon and discussed the international media's impact on women, the effect of food production on climate change and the changing dynamics of international immigration. They also served on small historical councils involving disputed claims over Korea in the post World War II era and the War of the Roses in 15th century England. Gwyneth Alexander '20 won an award for her work as the Soviet leader Nikolai Bulganin in the 1949 dispute over Korea.

Blake's math team took second place in the Tri-Metro division and placed 17th at the state tournament. Ravi Chepuri '18 and Jason Wang '21 won individual awards in the Tri-Metro division and the team qualified for Blake's ninth consecutive appearance at the state tournament. The team is coached by Upper School math teachers Alex Fischer and Jonathan Osters.

Kareem Elbakkal '18 earned Eagle Scout designation, the highest ranking in the Boy Scouts of America. Nationally, less than 4 percent of Boy Scouts earn this rank. A requirement is to complete a service project benefiting the community. Kareem chose to give back to Blake, working with fellow students and the school's building and grounds team to restore the track shed near Chub Bettels' field.


Blake students received recognition in the 2017-18 Minnesota Scholastic Art Awards. Works invited for exhibit inclusion received the Gold Key Award, Silver Key Award or Honorable Mention:

  • Gold Key – Steven Nye '18
  • Honorable Mention – Eva Berezovsky '19, Lexi Fine '18, Elisa Lopez '19, Elle McCarty '21, Steven Nye '18 (2 awards), Sneha Sinha '18 and Kai Sovell '19 (3 awards).

Gold Key recipients are entered in the National Scholastic Art Awards competition where Nye's documentary "El Paquete Semanal" was named a national silver medalist.

Molly Vance '23, a member of the Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs, joined Leslie Odom Jr. in pregame festivities to sing "America the Beautiful" at the 2018 Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Sami Clark '20 was selected for the 2018 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall where she performed Soprano II in the Honors Women's Choir. Participation in one of the five honors ensembles is limited to the highest-rated high school performers from across the world. For five days, the performers learned from world-renowned conductors in New York City.

Violinist Franklin Linderman '18 was named to the 2017-18 Minnesota All State Orchestra and performed with them at Orchestra Hall.

Vladimir '24 and Dennis Eum '22 were selected to perform at highly selective MacPhail Center for Music recitals. Vladimir performed the piano piece "Scéne de ballet, Op. 100" by Charles-Auguste de Bériot at the Junior Honors Recital. Dennis performed the cello piece "Kol Nidrei" in D minor, Op. 47 by Max Bruchat at the Concerto and Aria Recital.

Congratulations to the casts and crews of the Upper School and Middle School theater departments' spring musicals. See photos from the Upper School's "Once On This Island" and the Middle School's "Over the Moon."

Cheryl Minde '20 won first place in Minnesota's state competition for Poetry Out Loud. In three rounds of recitations at the Loft Literary Center's Open Book, she stood out among the six state semifinalists and will represent Minnesota at the Poetry Out Loud National Competition in Washington, D.C.

Seniors Sydney Ethen, Daniel Haakenson, Julia Hertzberg and Emily Kranendonk performed a musical act at the MacPhail Center for Music's Prelude Program Cabaret.

Max Hankins '22 will perform as first tenor in the 2018 Middle School Honors Performance Series Honors Junior Choir at Carnegie Hall in New York City under master conductor Sally K. Albrecht. Max's performance with the American Choral Directors Association state choir for the past three years prompted his invitation to audition for and then be selected to perform with the Performance Series choir.


Chloe Lipham '23 gathered crayons, colored pencils, markers, paper and other art supplies and donated them to Zimbali Retreat and the E.A.C.H. organization in Jamaica, which provides assistance to local children. Pictured is one of the E.A.C.H founders, Empress Alicia, who met with Chloe and thanked her by saying, " From the few with many to the many with few."

Aeon Bashir '28 started the nonprofit Aeon for Ocean to raise awareness of ocean conservation and marine life and encourage peers to join him. Pictured is Aeon sharing conservation information with Blake's Highcroft kindergarten classes.

Blake juniors Olivia Bizal, Maddie Tix and Grace Vojta, and senior C.C. Wallin were recognized by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners for their work to combat sex trafficking.

Blake highlighted stories of connection through #BlakeTag, a social media campaign. Community members, including students, alumni, faculty and parents "tagged" those who have made their time at Blake special. The hashtag along with photos from the traveling photo booth were shared on Facebook, Instagram and Flickr.


Blake's winter athletic teams had a great season. See highlights on on the Blake Bears website.

Kate '23 is the 2018 Minnesota State Figure Skating Championships pre-juvenile silver medalist. She also placed sixth at the 2018 Upper Great Lakes Regional Championships.

Sydney Dorvil '23 performed at the Celebration of Champions event after winning the 2018 Minnesota State Figure Skating Championship for juvenile girls.

Sara McClanahan '18 is Blake's Athena Award winner for her accomplishments in sports, community service, academics and leadership.

Nora Fox '21 (second row, far right) and her 8-hand girls céilí team won first place at the Mid-America Oireachtas Irish Dance Championships, beating the longstanding world champions. Nora will compete with her team and as a soloist at the North American Irish Dance Championships in Orlando, Florida, against dancers from around the world. Nora is in her third year as a member of Kickin' it Irish, a professional dance and music ensemble that recently performed at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre and Fitzgerald Theater.

Kevin '24 and Sean '26 earned Black Belts in Taekwondo from World Taekwondo Academy.

Derek Hitchner '18 was featured in Minnesota Golfer magazine after being named Minnesota 2017 Junior Boys' Golf Player of the Year.

Charlie Egeland '23 represented his Aquajets swim club at the Age Group State Meet where he was the top performer in the 11/12 age group, won five individual events and placed second in two. Last year, he ranked in the top 10 of 11-year-old U.S. swimmers for 200 breaststroke.


Lower School Spanish teacher Lisselin Díaz was selected as the Best of Minnesota presenter at the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures (MCTLC) conference for session, "Pair Activities." Lisselin earned a trip from MCTLC to represent Minnesota world language teachers at the Central States Conference 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.

Taher Food Service Director Nicolle Thomas joined Taher President Bruce Taher and 15 other Taher chefs on a trip to Athens, Greece and Cairo, Egypt. Nicolle visited local eateries and learned about new flavors and methods for Blake menus.

Sandy Berkowitz, communications and Senior Seminar teacher, was inducted into the Emory Gold Key coaching society. Read more here.

As co-coaches of the United State Debate team, Blake's Communications and Senior Seminar teacher Sandy Berkowitz and Director of Forensics Shane Stafford led Team USA to a third place finish at the World School's Debating Championships and first place at the EurOpen Tournament.

PK-12 Director of Service Learning Nan Peterson was presented with the Stellar Award from the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) at the 29th annual NYLC conference. The award recognizes a service-learning leader who inspires and equips young people to lead and serve others.

Frank Sachs, Blake college counselor and social studies teacher, was elected to the State DFL Central Committee at the Congressional District 2 Caucus. The position is a two-year term with eight districts and 32 statewide representatives.

To submit an item for the spring/summer edition of Applause, email