Top of the class

Published 11:05 am Thursday, June 3, 2010

All seven of the valedictorians of Albert Lea High School earned 4.0 grade-point averages — and they’re all girls.

Jill Jensen, Janet Lawler, Kate Buringa, Samantha Petersen, Kayla Hartmann, Gracie Thomas and Kacy Magnus were named valedictorians at ALHS, but they won’t be making speeches at commencement on Friday.

All the girls are also involved in many activities at the high school and outside of school. When all the activities of the seven girls are combined there are more than 40 different ways they were involved in the school and community.

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Jill Jensen

Jensen was captain of the dance team and an editor with the Ahlahasa. She was involved with Joyce Matthies Dance Centre for 14 years and was involved with 4-H, student council and the National Honor Society. She thinks being valedictorian is “indicative of what my future will hold.”

“I aspire towards excellence in all that I do,” Jensen said.

She plans to go to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and is undecided in what she will study though it may be something in English and Spanish.

She said “thanks to my family, especially my mother, for always believing and supporting me, and to my teachers, especially Mr. Lange, Mr. Worth and Mr. Haney for encouraging, inspiring and teaching me.”

Janet Lawler

Lawler was caption of the speech team and an editor with the Ahlahasa. She was president of the physics club, vice president of NHS and involved with the theater. She said being valedictorian was because of her good grades, and those also got her into a good school.

“I now feel I have the work ethic to do well in college,” Lawler said.

She plans to go to the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, and wants at least to get a doctorate. She has not decided on a major but might want to study abroad or teach at a university.

“I’d like to thank my parents and family for their constant support and undying encouragement,” Lawler said. “Also, all of my teachers and coaches I’ve had throughout the years; I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

Kate Buringa

Buringa was involved with the dance team, tennis, knowledge bowl, math team, band and track. She said being valedictorian has already helped her.

“It looked good on my college application, and I believe that it made me stand out for scholarships,” Buringa said.

She plans to go to the University of Minnesota-Morris, and major in pre-med and biology. She would like to be an anesthesiologist working at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

“I would like to thank my parents for pushing me to succeed and my favorite teacher, Mr. Haney, because he always shows a genuine interest in our lives.”

Samantha Petersen

Petersen was involved in choir, chorale, show choir, student council, NHS, 4H, tennis, link crew and her church. She thinks working hard to get good grades will help her in the future.

“It taught me to set my goals high and to work hard to achieve them,” Petersen said.

Peterson plans to go to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, for mechanical and aerospace engineering. She would love to work for NASA, Boeing or a company like 3M. She said her family has provided her with support throughout her life and have helped her through the good and the bad.

Kayla Hartmann

Hartmann was involved with band, jazz band, choir, show choir, tennis, track, NHS and musicals at ALHS. She said being valedictorian looks good on her transcripts. She is going to attend Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, for environmental science will a full academic scholarship. She doesn’t know what kind of job she wants yet, but wants something working with her hands and not behind a desk.

“Thanks to my parents for pushing me and my teachers for helping me develop an interest in learning,” Hartmann said.

Gracie Thomas

Thomas was on the speech and swim teams at ALHS. She also was involved in the Spotlight Dance Company in Minnesota Lake and helped choreograph for the all-girl SASS show choir. She hopes that being valedictorian will help her in the future.

“I’m hoping that it will open up opportunities for me in college that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Thomas said.

She plans to go to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and major in biochemistry. She doesn’t know what she wants to do for a career but would like to live in a big city.

“Mr. Haney, Mrs. Berhow and Mrs. Brenda Nelson were absolutely fantastic teachers, and I’ve learned so much from each of them,” Thomas said. “I’d like to thank my parents, of course, for pushing me and making me understand why it’s important to do well in school.”

Kacy Magnus

Magnus was the only valedictorian who was also a full-time post secondary student at Riverland Community College. She will graduate high school with a 2-year associate of arts degree from RCC. She was involved with Teens Involved in Drug Education, student advisory group, NHS and Phi Theta Kappa honor society at RCC. She also volunteered at Bible school with her church, Fountain Lake bookstore, Good Samaritan’s game night, the Salvation Army and a page at the Albert Lea Public Library, among other activities.

“I believe being a valedictorian is a reflection of my potential to succeed — the sky is not the limit,” Magnus said.

She plans to go to South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., to study pharmacology. She would like to eventually be a pharmacist in a small community in the Midwest.

“I would like to thank all of the wonderful teachers I have had over the years,” Magnus said. “I also would like to thank my library family for all the support they have given me over the years — I really do love my library.”