Students in the class of 2019 at Lakeville North High School have a lot of people to thank for the memories.
One of them is their classmate, Colby Locke.
As president of the Student Council this past year, Locke had a hand in planning Homecoming Week, the Neon Dance, the Mr. Lakeville North Pageant, a dodgeball tournament and more.
“Those are memories we were able to create that people will have throughout their lifetime,” Locke said. “You are going to remember those main events from your high school experience. … When people tell me that one of those was their favorite event, it makes me super happy.”
Locke said the members of the Student Council put in a lot of time and energy into making these events happen, in the hopes that people have fun, connect with their classmates and chase away the doldrums in the routine of the school year.
“Everyone is kind of having a rough time about January or February, so the Student Council created the Neon Dance to get people in a good mood and to have fun with it,” Locke said.
How could one not have fun at a black-lighted gym where students’ neon garb glows while dancing to heart-thumping pop songs?
Locke, the son of Troy and Emily Locke, has served on the Student Council after he said he went to the Activities Fair his ninth-grade year and signed up for a bunch of groups.
The Student Council was one that stuck due, in part, to its variety and since it includes students from all grades.
“It has been amazing,” Locke said. “I have met so many different people, and I’m friends with people in other grades because of it.”
One of the actitivites that the council runs that is special for Locke is the recognition program during Teacher Appreciation Week.
Locke said there are many teachers who go above and beyond their expected effort every day.
One of those is the Student Council adviser and his calculus teacher, Julie Cutshall.
“She is the most passionate teacher about her subject matter I have ever had,” Locke said. “I don’t know how you get so excited with AP calculus for so many years, but she still manages to be very excited about the material she teaches.”
He said she’s been like a second mother to him, as she has helped him through what is considered by many to be the most challenging high school subject.
“It is the hardest class I had in high school so I was happy I got her,” he said. “It made it a lot easier.”
He said Cutshall is at the school about 90 minutes before classes start and after they end so she can give her students extra help.
“She does it even though she doesn’t need to,” Locke said.
Locke said he enjoys math, biology and business, which he expects will lead him to his next endeavor.
A lot of 18-year-olds turn to YouTube to catch the latest viral video.
But Locke logs onto the website to watch videos of routine dental proceedures.
Locke has had a fascination with dentistry ever since he’s been going to the dentist.
Although it’s not everyone’s favorite, Locke said he feels like a brand new person after going to the dentist, and he’d like to help others feel that way, too.
Locke has job shadowed a local orthodontist, is interested in business and he’s also been a student aide at his alma mater Cherry View Elementary School in Lakeville, so owning a pediatric dentistry or orthodontic office are possible paths for him.
Locke will attend Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, this fall where he will working toward a pre-dental major.
He said the fact he even considered Creighton was a lucky turn of events.
His older sister, Taylor, a standout soccer player now a sophomore at South Dakota State University, visited the school when Colby was an eighth-grader.
He said at the time he felt he could see himself going to the school that is in the heart of Omaha.
When it was time for him to do his own college selection, Locke said he still felt it was a great environment and it had his major.
The fact that the school is close to his extended family in southwestern Iowa also helped.
“I’m sad to leave Lakeville behind, but I’m excited for what is to come in the next chapter,” Locke said.
Locke won’t be playing NCAA soccer at Creighton, which has one of the top Division I programs in the country, but he enjoyed his time on the Lakeville North team.
The squad has qualified for the state tournament for the past two years, which was a bittersweet experience.
Prior to the start of the 2017 season, the team’s assistant coach Seamus Trichler and starting goalie Joey Dokken both died.
Tritchler died of cancer in January 2017, and Dokken died unexpectedly in his sleep in early August 2017, days before the Panthers started fall practice.
“That really motivated us and brought us together as a team,” Locke said.
He said the team succeeded despite having a young squad.
“We thought this might have been a rebuilding season,” Locke said.
He said everyone had a connection to both Trichler and Dokken, which kept them in their minds as they tried to improve each practice and each game.
Locke said he had played with many of his teammates since he was a little boy, so helping the North soccer team advance to state for the first time in many years was awesome.
“When you play for your school, you feel like they are part of your family,” he said. “You are representing something bigger than your team or your school when you have so many people behind you.”
While the team lost in the quarterfinal rounds both years, Locke said representing one’s school also means showing and telling others what it means to be a Panther in winning and losing.
“It means helping each other out and always being there for each other,” Locke said. “We’ve had a lot of losses in our years, a lot of trials. … You give it your all at Lakeville North. We are a successful school not only in sports but in all activities. We have to take that into the real world and show people what it is to be a Panther. I have a lot of pride and I’m humble and happy that I get to tell them I’m from Lakeville North and to be that Panther role model.”
Tad Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.