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Academics a big emphasis for Students of the Month

MARYSVILLE Now about ready to graduate, Blake Lovell, 18, admitted when he first arrived at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, grades weren't very high on his list of priorities.

In his first semester at the school, Lovell said he earned a 2.9 GPA. He upped that considerably to 3.9 in his second semester.

"I kind of realized I needed to get good grades," said Lovell, one of two students picked by the Marysville Soroptimist as the Pilchuck students of the month for April.

For Lovell's female counterpart, Sheela Vadset, 17, hard work with the books never was really an issue. Proof? The day after she graduates from Marysville-Pilchuck on June 5, she will receive an associate's degree in elementary education from Everett Community College. Next year, she plans on attending Western Washington University with an eye towards a teaching degree. Both students quickly credit their parents, especially their mothers, with motivating them academically.

"I had a talk with my mom about how high school is important," Lovell said, "about how it's important for my future."

Lovell is the son of Brent Lovell and Tami Wolfe of Marysville.

Sheela talked about watching her mom balance family life with work and volunteering around the community and at their church.

"I owe a lot to her," Sheela said.

Sheela is the daughter of Dean and Linda Vadset of Marysville.

Setting aside academics, Lovell has played several sports at Marysville-Pilchuck, though he mentions basketball first. He was a forward for the school for four years.

Lovell also played football for three years, ran track and field for a couple of years and played baseball one year.

Sheela's big jumpstart in her college career came via the Running Start Program. For her senior year at Marysville-Pilchuck, she took only two classes at the high school and spent the rest of her days at the Everett Community College.

"It's a lot of long nights, a lot of homework, a lot of reports," Sheela said. "It's a lot of remembering who wants what."

Besides all her schoolwork, Sheela holds two jobs, one helping children with signs of autism. She also spends a lot of time volunteering for her church, Mountain View Presbyterian. Several of this year's students of the month attend that church and like those others, Sheela has gone on a mission trip to Costa Rica, helping to build a home for a women with several children.

Because of her efforts and success, the student of the month award is not the first the Soroptimists have handed to Sheela. At the group's annual award dinner held last month, she was named the winner of the Violet Richardson Award, an honor named after the founder of Soroptimist International.

As part of her award, Sheela took home $500 for herself and $500 for donation to charity, which went to the Mountain View church.

For the future, like Sheela, Lovell plans to attend Western Washington. He hopes to major in some branch of communications, drawing inspiration from his involvement with Marysville-Pilchuck's Big Buddy/Little Buddy program.

Through that program, once a week, older students meet with younger students. Lovell said they play games and take part in other activities, but probably more importantly the older youths give the younger students somebody to interact with, somebody they can talk to about just about anything.

"It's just being a role model for the younger kids," Lovell said. The experience has given him assurance in his speaking skills.

"I just feel like I'm confident talking to people and I'm good at it," he said.

Like Lovell, Sheela said she drew some inspiration for her choice of future profession from her interaction with younger students. She has been involved with the Buddy program, but also tutors students at two Marysville elementary schools.

"I really like helping people regardless of their age, but I especially like working with kids because they are the future."

With all of her current activities, will full-time college actually mean slowing down a bit?

"I'll find new things to volunteer for," Sheela said.

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