Smart blondes

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 2, 2006

By Kari Lucin, staff writer

All six of Albert Lea High School’s valedictorians this year are girls. Five of them are going into the sciences, and one into speech therapy. Two received National Merit Awards.

And all six of them are blonde.

Clearly they prove the dumb-blonde jokes are wrong.

&8220;Take pride in everything you do, so you know it’s the best,&8221; said Bethany Zogg, this year’s first chair violin in the Albert Lea High School Orchestra.

The other girls agreed.

&8220;I never did anything half,&8221; said Kaeli Wayne.

Most of them had a hard time remembering all the scholarships they received, a problem many seniors graduating tonight would love to have.

April Balsley will attend the William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and though she has not yet decided on a major, she is considering going into speech pathology. She received a music scholarship for $5,000 a year and an academic scholarship too, as well as a local scholarship of $850.

&8220;I like the variety of classes and people and options,&8221; Balsley said of her experience in

high school.

Anna Claussen will go to Iowa State University for a degree in engineering. She’ll get $6,000 from the school as well as $4,500 from its college of engineering, and she also won the John M.

Morrison Scholarship for $1,500 a year and the National Merit Award of $2,000 a year. The Elks gave her $500, the Daybreakers Kiwanis gave her $500, and her church, St. Theodore’s is sending her off with $300.

&8220;I guess I want to learn how to get along with anybody, and not just have my specific group of friends, but do homework with anybody or talk to anybody, to expand my horizons,&8221; said Claussen.

Leah Matheson will head to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She hasn’t decided on a major, but will go into the medical field as either a nurse or a doctor. From Luther she got $9,000, and $1,000 from the Naeve Nurses Alumni as well as $750 from the Albert Lea Medical Center. Her church, Grace Lutheran, is giving her $1,000, and the Exchange Club gave her $250 and named her Student of the Year.

She had some advice for incoming ninth-graders.

&8220;I think you should spend as much time as you can with your family and friends and not worry so much about school. Find a good balance,&8221; Matheson said. &8220;I think that your memories are going to stick with you more than your grades.&8221;

Allison Nelson will study at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities next year with the Honors College of Biological Sciences. She’s getting $7,000 that’s renewable every year from the university, as well as $1,000 for her freshman year and $1,000 to study abroad. She may go to New Zealand. She also received a $1,000-a-year Albert B. Cuppage scholarship, $500 from Grace Lutheran and a National Merit Scholarship of $2,500.

Her first year of college is paid for and she’s looking forward to living in the city; she hopes to work in genetics.

&8220;Celebrate every day like it’s Christmas or your birthday,&8221; Nelson said.

Wayne is heading for Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, where she will study medicine. She’s getting $7,500 from the school, $1,000 from the Naeve Nurses Alumni and $500 from Ascension Lutheran. She chose Gustavus because of its small-town atmosphere.

&8220;It reminds me of Albert Lea a lot, but there’s Mankato nearby,&8221; Wayne said. &8220;It’s a small campus, I think I can make friends quickly.&8221;

Zogg will go west to Augustana in Sioux Falls, where she will study chemistry in hopes of becoming a doctor, perhaps a dermatologist or an orthopedic surgeon. She’s getting $3,000 a year to play the violin in the orchestra and $10,000 a year for academics, and she also received a local scholarship of $500.

Zogg will miss Albert Lea, but she’s looking forward to her time at college.

&8220;I really like how friendly everyone is, when you walk down the street you can greet everyone you meet, everyone is a friendly face,&8221; Zogg said of Albert Lea. &8220;Everyone’s really friendly there too, so it’ll be a nice transition.&8221;