A passion for education inspires top honor students at LHS

Ryan Fitzmaurice
It’s a love of learning that has propelled three Lovell seniors to the top of their class.

Jordan Allen is the valedictorian for the Lovell senior class. Allen sports a 3.96 GPA as he closes out his senior year. He is a member of the Wyoming Academic Challenge team and played a pivotal role in the group’s state championship last year. He is also a two-time state champion with SkillsUSA, for which he serves as the vice president. He is also an all-state member of band, participates in National Honor Society, and is a member of the school’s cross country and track teams.

Allen plans to attend Sheridan College to a get a two-year degree In machine tool technology, and hopes to later return to a university to get a bachelor’s in chemistry and perhaps even a master’s degree in material sciences. 

 Rurik Olsen in the salutatorian. Also a two-times SkillsUSA state champion, Olsen also participated in cross country, speech and debate, Wyoming Academic Challenge and band. After attending Northwest, Olsen plans to attend a university to work toward a masters degree in electrical or biomedical engineering. 

Garrett Lillard, scoring a perfect 4.0 GPA, has been voted on by his class to be this year’s honors student. Lillard was this year’s student body president and was also a member of the Wyoming Academic Challenge team and the band. He plans to attend the University of Wyoming to work toward a degree in civil engineering. 

Despite the prestigious accomplishments of the three students, the common ingredient they all shared is surprisingly simple. They just enjoyed learning in school.

“It’s a love of learning,” Olsen said. “It always comes off as cliché’ but that’s because in reality, it’s just true,” Olsen said. “It’s about finding that passion to learn. As long as you love learning, you’ll remember what you learn. Do what you love and love to learn.”

Allen said it was the example of his parents that led him to his success.

“My dad instilled a love of learning for me. He’s a teacher here (Josey Allen). My Mom did too. They me taught me through all my youth that learning is good. It’s the most important thing a person can do,” Allen said. “Knowledge is power. Grow and study because the more you know, the better person you’ll be.”

Lillard recognized Lovell High School for being a positive place to grow and learn as a student. 

“It’s really awesome to learn. It benefits you in the long term. If you don’t learn, you’ll never grow as a person. You’re just nerfing (compromising) yourself and your future,” Lillard said. “It’s like an investment. You’re investing yourself in a career or a lifestyle you probably wouldn’t have if you skipped out on school or didn’t have the opportunity to have the educational facilities that we have. It’s important to take advantage of that. We have such a good facility and such a good staff.

“You have to look at places of poverty. You’ve got to compare their educational standards to ours. We’re really fortunate,” Lillard continued. 

Lillard said being recognized as this year’s honor student is meaningful to him because it’s a vote of confidence in him by his classmates.

“Since I was voted into this position, it makes me feel happy that my class feels I’m worthy of speaking on behalf of them and representing them,” Lillard said. “Hard work pays off. My goal was to get a perfect GPA and it shows anyone can do it.”

Both Jordan and Olsen approached their recognition with humility. 

“It’s not like I spent the last four years of my life trying to be valedictorian,” Allen said. “I just spent four years doing the best that I could, learning as much as I could and being the best student that I could.”

Olsen said he feels many of his classmates are just as worthy of being honored.

“From my point of view, I don’t feel like I put in the same amount of effort as others, because I’ve always loved learning. School always felt like learning about my favorite subjects. It never felt like I had to do a lot of work,” Olsen said. “I always feel bad receiving awards, because a lot of my classmates put in a lot of effort.”

Allen encouraged underclassmen to find balance and enjoyment in their learning. 

“Pursue your goals. Do what you love to do. Be what you want to be. But, don’t let it consume all of your time,” Allen said. “Don’t let others tell you what to do. Don’t let tradition tell you what to do. There’s only four years of high school, and you have to enjoy it. You need to spend time enjoying your life and having fun. You can still be successful.”

Olsen said the most important thing a young student can do is to embrace a positive mindset as a student.

“Devote a little bit of time to developing a love of learning. For a lot of people, learning is work. Changing that from a work mentality to a passion is important,” Olsen said. “This is a time of a lot of change, so it’s the perfect time to do that.”