LAKEWOOD — Alex Jensen has spent much of his time in high school trying to become the best leader he can be.
He’s been voted ASB president, mentors younger students, and is on the school’s basketball, track and cross country teams.
Jensen, 18, is a senior at Lakewood High School and grew up in Arlington. He hopes to someday become a science teacher and return to his alma mater.
He’s in Running Start at Everett Community College, and is on track to earn his associate’s degree by the time he graduates high school.
Question: So you’re ASB president this year?
Answer: Yeah, last year I was ASB vice president, and the year before that I was sophomore class vice president.
Q: How did you get involved with that?
A: Our cross country coach and leadership teacher, he’s pretty cool. So I kind of got into it through him.
We go to leadership camp at Mount Adams. That’s with Character Strong, so that got me involved with leading.
Q: What’s Character Strong?
A: It’s a character-based curriculum for learning to serve and lead.
I thought it would be cool to do videos on our (Lakewood ASB) social media, like Instagram and stuff. So every Sunday I come out with (a new video), talking about ways to improve your character or school culture.
Q: Have you seen people step up to be leaders?
A: A little bit, it’s more of the school culture is going in a positive direction. It’s kind of just the atmosphere now, it’s just more positive. And if we can keep that rolling, that would be awesome. Because right now I think a lot of people are enjoying coming to school, instead of not wanting to come. And that’s a huge part of success in school and in life.
Q: You said your coach and teacher Jeff Sowards got you into leadership?
A: Yeah, just every day how he acts, I want to be exactly like him. What better way to serve my school than do that, but every day he leads by example. I have a few classes with him, and being the cross country and track coach I get to spend a lot of time with him. Just the way he carries himself, I want to be like him.
Q: You’re on the track and cross country teams, and play basketball. How long have you been doing those?
A: Track and cross country since seventh grade, and basketball since I was like 3.
Q: Have you tried other sports?
A: First it was soccer, then I started doing cross country. Soccer and cross country go hand in hand. Cross country is just soccer without a ball.
So I kind of fell in love with cross country and stopped doing soccer. I did do baseball, but that was a little too slow. I really like running.
Q: Wait, have I talked to you before? Did you do the Arlington Turkey Trot 5k a couple of years ago?
Q: You finished first, right?
A: Yeah, (Sowards) was the coach running with me.
Q: Do you do that every year?
A: The one where you interviewed me, that was the first one we did at Arlington, but we did it again this year.
Q: Did you come in first again?
A: No, I got third.
Q: Who won?
A: It was (my teammate) Gabe Hatch. Gabe got me. It was fun.
Q: Do you plan to keep doing sports?
A: Yeah, I plan to do cross country and track in college.
Q: What are your plans after high school?
A: I want to hopefully come back here and be a science and leadership teacher, and then coach track and cross country.
Q: Why come back to Lakewood?
A: Everyone is so nice and caring, it’s kind of like a family. I still want to be part of that family when I come back.
Q: Have you applied to any universities?
A: I’ve applied to Seattle U, Gonzaga and Portland. But I’m kind of keeping my options open to see where I want to run.
Seattle U gave me a chance to get a full ride leadership scholarship, so I applied for that.
It’s a couple of rounds. First you fill out the application and send it in, and if you make it past that round you go down to Seattle U and write an essay prompt. Then if you make it past that round it’s a video call. Nine people are chosen for the full ride.
(So far, he’s made it to the second round.)
Q: So they reached out to you?
A: Yeah, it was pretty cool. And the full ride part, I was like, jeez. I applied to school, then they emailed seeing if I wanted to apply for the Sullivan Leadership Award.
Q: What are some of your favorite high school memories?
A: Probably every day in sports, that’s always fun. My coaches are great and teammates are fun, so that’s awesome.
Then my dad always being here. He’s the booster club president for the school, and he shows up quite a bit. It’s kind of fun to have him around, and all the students know him.
Q: Most memorable game or meet?
A: Probably state cross country. Two years we’ve gone to state for cross country.
I went this year, and my teammate (junior) Gabe Hatch made his first appearance. He works so hard so it’s fun to see him make it and share the experience with him. That was awesome.
Q: Any challenges so far?
A: It’s hard to stay on top of it, with sports and school, and trying to be the best servant leader possible. You can go through the motions and be average, but if you actually work at it to be great, I think that’s the hard part.
The difference between mediocrity and greatness is extra effort, and I live by that every single day. If I’m not giving 100% there’s kind of no point, you have to work hard every day to improve other people’s lives and improve the school culture and teams. It’s a collective effort for everyone. Staying on top of that is exhausting sometimes, but it’s worth it.
Q: What do you think you’ll miss most about high school?
A: Probably every day seeing my friends. It’s cool seeing everyone and making new relationships. I think that’s what I’m going to miss most, the family feel of Lakewood.