Asked about her success at Math and Science Academy, Samantha Webster credits her parents for letting her blaze her own trail.
"I think it's partly that my parents weren't, 'You need to do that,'" she said. "They said 'Do your best.'"
Her best is pretty good. Webster, who lives in Maplewood, will attend Truman State University on a four-year Army ROTC scholarship, with a major in chemistry and a minor in forensic science.
She'll join her classmates June 7 at the charter school's graduation ceremony.
"I've been here since seventh grade," she said. "It's going to be a big change, but I'm ready for it."
That's not to say she won't miss the place that helped her excel as an athlete, scholar, mentor, coach, volunteer and activist.
"My younger sister goes here. And my mom works here, so I'm going to miss seeing them around," she said.
Webster is president of the National Honor Society, student council member and recipient of the Presidential Academics and Presidential Service awards. She co-founded a Community Service Club at the academy, coached the boys' volleyball team and leads the LINK team, who help incoming sixth graders adapt to their new surroundings.
"It can be intimidating to see high schoolers on the same campus as you," she said.
Webster ran track for two years before deciding that volleyball was a better fit. She was a member of the team during its first official season, when they were conference champions.
"We won our conference and that was pretty cool," she said. "It's cool to see it grow because our school is small and we don't have many sports."
Outside the classroom, she logged volunteer hours at the Washington County Library and the Minnesota Children's Museum. She's also pitched in at the Coral Reef and Rainforest Research Center in Belize and served on a mission trip to help communities in Appalachia.
She's held jobs as a student election judge, tutor and Woodbury Athletic Association baseball tournament director.
She said she probably wouldn't have stood out at a larger public high school. The Math and Science Academy has less than 550 students.
"I think it really helped because it's small. It helped me step out of my shell a little."
"It takes a tremendous amount of work," she said of her accomplishments. "Having a supportive group around you really helps."