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Teaching from her mistakes

Katie L'Allier, sophomore, wrapped ribbon around the poles of "the pit" Friday at New Richmond High School. Students decorated the school as a part of "You're Not Alone Week," a week focused on reaching out to others and offering support. Photo by Jackie Grumish

Lea LeMire has spent two years turning her life around, but she's still paying for her mistakes -- now, she's making sure others don't do the same.

LeMire started high school as a social butterfly. She wanted nothing more than to make friends and be the center of attention -- even if that mean slacking off academically.

As a ninth- and 10th-grader, LeMire barely passed her classes.

"Every class was a D minus and that was good enough for me," she said.

That is, until she missed too many classes and wound up in court.

"That really made me think 'What am I doing?'" she said.

She started her junior year with a clean slate and finished the 2007-08 school year with a 3.6 GPA -- that's better than a B average.

Unfortunately, LeMire did too much damage in her underclassman years. Now, as a senior she's applying to colleges and finding it difficult.

"I've been rejected by two already because of my GPA," she said.

That means she'll probably end up at a two-year college somewhere until she can transfer to a larger school.

"I'm still paying for my mistakes," she said. "That's why I'm talking to the freshmen about it. I want to keep them from doing the same thing."

As part of Students To Students' "You're Not Alone Week," LeMire is talking to freshmen who are struggling with their grades.

"I've had a few come up to me and tell me that I've inspired them," she said. "I think they're more willing to listen to me than a teacher because I'm like them."

Her advice to those freshmen and sophomores?

"Don't wish your life away; it will go faster than you think. Live life to the fullest. Life is too short to not have fun while you can."

One student was so inspired that he's risen his grade from an F to a D plus, she said.

"You're Not Alone Week" focused on suicide awareness, depression and reaching out to one another.

Along with sharing LeMire's story with freshmen, STS sponsored a "knit off" to collect winter clothing, love baskets and several activities at the high school.

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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