Five is the luckiest number

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2002

This year five is the magic number, at least when it comes to the number of valedictorians for the class of 2002 at Albert Lea High School.

Matt Entorf, Leah Lohse, Jena Lombardi, Stuart Ness, and Sarah Schleck are receiving the highest graduation award for their class, with perfect 4.0 grade point averages for their four years at ALHS.

All five have worked hard for their grades, and are the sorts of people who have challenged themselves to do their very best at whatever they do.

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They also have high praise for their teachers, especially as they’ve taken more advanced courses in their junior and senior years. Bob Rowe, in particular, was mentioned by several as a great influence and help to them.

&uot;For the past couple of years it’s been great, every class has a teacher I really like, even math classes, which I really hate,&uot; said Lombardi.

&uot;For what I’m interested in &045; math and science &045; there were very good instructors. I feel well-prepared for college,&uot; said Entorf.

The future looks bright for these five students.

Schleck spent most of her senior year completing college level courses at Riverland Community College. When she starts her undergraduate work at Colby College in Waterville, Maine next fall, she’ll already have nearly a year’s worth of college courses taken care of.

&uot;Being a valedictorian took hard work, dedication and patience,&uot; said Schleck. Her high school years included a term as a congressional page last year, and she plans on pursuing a degree in political science.

&uot;It’s due to her own thirst for knowledge and desire to be involved in things,&uot; said her mother, Annie Schleck.

Entorf is another self-starter, who has maintained his high grades while competing on sports teams and staying involved in choir, as well as being involved with the student group known as ‘the deadbeats’.

&uot;I’ve always been self motivated and strive to do my best. Once I start something I just go for it,&uot; Entorf said. He’s headed to the engineering program at Iowa State University in Ames.

Lohse has spent much of her time as a writer while at ALHS, where she has been co-editor of Ahlahasa for the last year. Earlier this year she was honored with a national award for her writing, and is considered to be among the top 30 high school journalists in the country.

She’ll be studying journalism at the University of Missouri next fall, and would like to work as a feature writer after graduation.

According to Ness, being a valedictorian is an honor.

&uot;It shows that you’ve done the necessary work, and then gone above and beyond that,&uot; Ness said.

&uot;It’s about managing time and being self-disciplined, although it always helps to get a reminder or two at home about responsibilities,&uot; he added.

He has plans to attend Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he’ll be studying computer science, math and music.

Lombardi attributes her academic success to her curiousity and perserverance.

&uot;I can’t say it’s because I study hard because I’m a living mockery of good study habits, but I do stick with the things I’m interested in and never give up,&uot; Lombardi said. She has worked hard during her years at ALHS to earn the grades she has now.

She plans on attending the University of St. Thomas in the fall, and will be studying languages &045; Spanish and Japanese &045; web design and music. Lombardi has no major yet, and is letting herself be guided by her dreams for now.

All talk about missing the friends they’ve made in high school, and their teachers. They know how things work here and are moving on to things that are less well-known.

&uot;I know I established a comfort zone here, and now I’m facing a whole new world in Ames,&uot; said Entorf.

Some have a message for the community, as well.

&uot;Education is the biggest part of person’s life. It’s through the learning opportunities we get that we become who we are, and schools play a major role in that,&uot; Ness said.