STUDENT PROFILES: Dakota Ridge junior always looking for opportunities to bring smiles, support to others

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Teachers and parents challenge students to engage in opportunities of community outreach in the belief that education extends beyond the mastery of content and accomplishment in athletics or activities. Working toward positive contributions as citizens in the community, students should experience an education that promotes empathy for one another as well as exemplary academic achievement.

Many times it's easier for high school students to ignore challenges faced in the daily lives of their fellow classmates, and so it is always meaningful to witness students taking on the harder challenge for actively making the lives of people around them better. Dakota Ridge High School junior Lexi Hoagland exemplifies the type of student who continuously searches for the opportunity to make someone smile.

As a leader within our student government, Lexi participated in the award-winning Day Without Hate Program — a student-led grassroots organization promoting nonviolence, respect and unity within Jeffco schools. She refuses to walk away from standing up to bullying in the hallways and believes the message of this program puts into perspective a belief in care and compassion, which should be a part of everyday experiences for students. Lexi’s commitment to leadership and outreach has led to the respect of her peers, as evidenced by her election as freshman class vice president and sophomore and junior class president. In her sophomore year, she led the school-wide Marine Corps Toys for Tots in collecting more than 400 toys. This year, she continued the theme of collecting toys for distribution during the holiday season, but this time in an effort to support our adopted sister school, Milliken Middle School, whose community and school were ravaged by the floods in northern Colorado. All the toys collected will be given to the school principal and members of the Milliken Middle School student government at halftime of an upcoming Dakota Ridge High basketball game.

Living and leaving a positive legacy 

Lexi leaves a positive legacy of empathy in our school, as well as in the community. She belongs to Bear Valley Church of Christ, where she has also discovered occasions to serve for the betterment of others. Another member of the church shared a story of a young man from Oklahoma who was born with only one functional kidney. He had an accident in which he fell off his horse and severely damaged his one functioning kidney to the point where the medical providers were required to amputate both of his legs. While in the hospital on an extended stay, he began to receive support letters from members of Lexi’s church. His poor luck continued, however, when he fell backward in his wheelchair and injured his head. He was obviously struggling with maintaining a positive spirit. Lexi continued to linger on ways to let him know that people were still thinking of him. Always the optimist and organizer, Lexi rallied her family and friends once again and raised enough money to send this young man a significant care package complete with games, magazines and food to keep him entertained and raise his spirits. At the time of this article, Lexi was bubbling with glee as she had learned that the young man was due to be released from the hospital in the next day or two following a stay lasting over a year. She hopes to be able to visit with him in his small Oklahoma town this spring.

The most impressive aspect of Lexi’s actions is not the fact that she would go far out of her way to support someone she has never met, but the reality that she feels he is her hero for being so strong in his commitment to stay positive in his recovery and adaptation to a very different way of life. She takes no credit for boosting his outlook on life but rather applauds him for raising her spirits.

Influences, advice and plans

Lexi’s smile is contagious and has the power to light up the room and brighten the day of those around her. She is thankful for the continual support of her parents, who always encourage and pray for her. She points to a past dance instructor who influenced her willingness to stand up for her beliefs via a poised confidence as well as a family friend and military veteran who provides power in words and actions through calm and controlled discourse. Most unique, however, for Lexi is that she is one of a set of triplets. She and her two brothers share school and community experiences as well as one car, which they rotate on a carefully scheduled weekly calendar. In her triplet siblings, Lexi again communicates the positive of always having a friend nearby when needed, though she did mention that it’s tough to secure a boyfriend under the ever-present protection of her brothers.

Following high school, she hopes to attend either Abilene Christian University in Texas, her mother’s alma mater, or Oklahoma Christian University. She is looking to major in broadcasting with an enthusiastic emphasis on sports broadcasting, especially baseball. In addition, she wants to follow her interest in the fashion industry.

Regardless of major or profession, Lexi made it clear she will extend her passion for community outreach by traveling to Ghana and working to eradicate child slavery with the Mercy Project. She loves her high school and advises others to stick up for their beliefs in becoming a positive change within the school. As her mom often states, “Bad company ruins good morals,” so Lexi encourages underclassmen to surround themselves with positive people, stand up for others in need, and to follow her lead in looking to always find happiness in making others happy.

Dakota Ridge principal Jim Jelinek profiles outstanding students at his school for the Courier.