Jim Elliot High School's three valedictorians have some things in common: They are each athletic, smart and involved with as many school activities as they can squeeze in.
Tyler Nuss, Alis Sokolova and Andrew Cotton filled their four years at the small high school with junior varsity and varsity sports, doing hours of more-than-required school work and helping others, whether it was tutoring other students or having fun with community service.
It's not often you meet a teenager like Tyler Nuss, who knows exactly what he wants in life. The Jim Elliot graduate, who will start his freshman year at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in the fall, has his mind set on a management position as an industrial engineer.
With his organization and leadership skills, he wants to help companies be more efficient.
It was in his favorite classes that he realized industrial engineering might be his calling.
"My two favorite classes are math and science — that's what I excel in," Nuss said. "That's how I decided what I want to do in life."
Though he's excited about the future, Nuss admits he'll miss high school.
"I'll cherish the memories I've had, the relationships I've built, the sports," he said.
Nuss was very active in Jim Elliot's sports. He played on the varsity golf team for four years and was team captain, and also played basketball the first three years. Though he doesn't have plans to play sports at Cal Poly, he wants to get involved with intramural basketball.
In the four years at Elliot, Nuss was also active in student government and numerous clubs. One thing he's proud of is founding the high school's investment club, which had 12 members. It taught students about money and how to make smart investments. He was also active with the Storm Drain Detectives, which tested water in the Mokelumne River. Their findings were used by the county and city.
With everything he's done, being accepted into Cal Poly is one of his biggest achievements because it is a huge reward after four years of hard work.
Andrew Cotton didn't spend his high school career volunteering and being active on campus just so he could revamp his resume. He did it from his heart.
"I enjoy serving; it's what Jesus commands us to do," Cotton said.
Throughout his high school career at Jim Elliot High School, Cotton's schedule was jam-packed with everything from sports to student body activities and leadership.
With finals behind him and the college acceptance letters in, Cotton is looking forward to studying political science or business at Pepperdine University.
Cotton looks back at his four years at Jim Elliot High School with good memories. Through sports, he earned a second family in his teammates. Each year, Cotton busied himself with team sports: He played cross country, baseball, basketball and, in his senior year, soccer.
As student body president, Cotton was also one of the most involved students on campus. He was a member of California Scholarship Federation (CSF), tutoring club, Interact club and the investment club.
One of his favorite high school experiences was with the Interact club. While members of the club often played Bingo with the elderly, the group volunteered at the Special Olympics held at McNair High School. There, Cotton was influenced by students participating in the day's events.
"I love seeing the joy on the kids' faces," Cotton said. One student was so excited that he kept running up and hugging Cotton.
Before he moves out of Lodi for Southern California, Cotton is going to stay in town to play Lodi Legion baseball, work during cherry season and be a camp counselor at Hume Lake.
If Alis Sokolova has it her way, she will be a surgeon soon enough.
As one of three valedictorians graduating from Jim Elliot, Sokolova has the drive to make it happen.
Sokolova moved to the United States from Uzbekistan when she was 8 years old. Since she was a child, she has always looked up to her father, who had to start from scratch when the family relocated to the United States.
"His drive has motivated me … to see how much he's done over the past 10 years has motivated me," Sokolova said.
Sokolova will start school at Pepperdine University in the fall. Her plan is to major in biology and get on the pre-med track to medical school before becoming a surgeon.
"I'm just really looking forward to making the next step toward my educational goals," she said.
But even with the excitement of college, Sokolova will miss her small high school and the support of the school's staff.
"I'm going to miss all the people and the atmosphere that they make it," she said, speaking of how the school feels like family.
While at Jim Elliot High School, Sokolova was involved with sports and student council. During her freshman year, she was president of her class. She was academic representative her junior year, as well as vice president of her senior class.
She was also a member of Interact club, tutoring club, investment club, the robotics team, water team and she played on both varsity volleyball and basketball teams.