The Senior Spotlight series features interviews with Sibley seniors who have shown commitment to academic excellence and personal achievement. The series will highlight two seniors each week until graduation.
Son of David and Kristin Gantman of Mendota Heights
Since he was young, Sam Gantman has loved all types of sports. Growing up he played in the Mendota Heights Baseball Association and as a teenager he has spent summers playing on the West St. Paul Legion Baseball team. Sam was also part of the Henry Sibley Baseball Team last spring when they were the “Cinderella Story” of the State Tournament, winning the 2016 Class 3A Championship.
“We went 4-14 during the regular season and if someone had told me we were going to end up winning the state tournament after that, I would have said you’re crazy,” said Sam. “We just took it one game at a time.”
Sam, along with teammates Charley Hesse and Joe Ihrke, was named to the Class 3A All-Tournament Baseball Team for his efforts as a pitcher, at third base and in the outfield.
While Sam really enjoys baseball, his true passion is football and he is looking forward to playing at the collegiate level this fall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As a middle line backer and tight end for the Warriors he earned All-Conference Honorable Mention nods in 2014 and 2015. As a senior he was named All-Section and Academic All-State in 2016. Sam was also a team captain this year.
Sam devotes time outside of school to his Temple. He is on the board of the Temple of Aaron United Synagogue Youth. The group hosts social activities, community service projects and more.
“But it’s also about kids getting together and hanging out,” said Sam. “It might be cooking some food in the Temple kitchen, taking walks by the river or playing games … just hanging out.”
In the classroom, Sam has sought out the challenge of rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) courses including Biology, Chemistry, Calculus AB and BC, Language and Composition, Physics-Mechanics C, Psychology, Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. He earned AP Scholar honors in the fall of 2016 from the College Board after completing three or more AP Exams with scores of 3 (out of 5) or higher.
Beyond the classroom, Sam has been active on the Student Council and has been a member of the Business Professionals of America (BPA), National Honor Society (NHS) and LINK Crew at Henry Sibley. He has also found time to show his artistic side, singing and dancing in the Henry Sibley production of Grease in the spring of 2016.
At MIT Sam plans to study Mechanical Engineering. He hopes to one-day work for Tesla Motors.
Previously, Sam attended Mendota Elementary and Friendly Hills Middle School.
District 197: How has Sibley prepared you to succeed after graduation?
Sam: Sibley has done a great job of giving me the opportunity to explore what I want to do. I have been given the opportunity to do many different activities and take many different classes. This plethora of options has allowed me to find out what I'm interested in.
Who is your favorite teacher or what is your favorite subject?
I can't pick just one favorite teacher. My three favorites have been Mr. Guinn, Mr. Friberg and Mr. Bohacek. All of these teachers made a lasting impression on me because they were not only very passionate about what they were teaching, they made a point of taking an interest in their students. Yes, they wanted everyone to learn, but they wanted everyone to enjoy their learning and for their learning to stay with them.
What’s a memory from your time at Sibley that will always stay with you?
During my sophomore year, my choir class decided to surprise Mr. Lufkin. It was going to be his last year and we wanted to give him a nice surprise, so we all pitched together a little money and got him a gift basket. Another student and I were responsible for bringing the basket up, while the rest of the choir went outside and held signs saying words like “hope” and “courage.” We got the whole surprise on video and it was special. He teared up right away – it was really unbelievable. Mr. Lufkin has been one of my favorite teachers going through Sibley and a really good friend.
What advice do you have for younger students about high school?
Get involved in as many activities as you can because you won't know if you like it until you try it. Be respectful to everyone because you never know if they could help you one day. Challenge yourself in the classroom because it will pay off eventually. Make an organized schedule to give you the greatest opportunity for success. It doesn't have to be anything special, just something that keeps you in line.
Anything else you'd like to share about your time at Sibley?
I want to thank [associate principal] Tom Orth for being a great coach and mentor to me. He was an unbelievable help in my high school journey, and I will always be grateful.
Read about other achievements by students in the class of 2017:
- Dan O’Reilly and Alex Nilles named National Merit Finalists
- National Merit Semi-finalists and Commended - Dan O’Reilly, Alex Nilles, Sam Altshuler, Nicholas Crary, Joseph Dill, Victoria Garner, Willa Gegelman, Maya Levine, Greta Prokosch, Oren Rosenberg, and Jake Wendt.
- Greta Prokosch named Henry Sibley's 2017 Athena Award winner
- Ninety Sibley Students Earn AP Scholar Awards