Ballard High School Senior Alicia Winterboer, 17, of Huxley, admitted that it’s sad to think she’s starting her last year of high school.

“It’s going to be sad leaving all of my friends and teachers,” she admitted. But she has big goals this year.

“I want to get good grades and kind of reach out to the underclassmen and be a role model for them. I want to assure them that [high school’s] not as hard as it seems. It’s actually super fun,” she said.

She recalls favorite classes through her years in high school, like U.S. History with Mr. Darren Herrold her sophomore year. “He made the class really fun,” she said. And she’s looking forward to being a peer helper in his room this year. “I’ll be going into his classroom to help him during fourth period … It’s a senior thing,” she said about peer helpers.

In addition to Herrold, she makes special mention of Chris Deason and High School Principal John Ronca. Deason, dean of students at Ballard High School, has been a friend of her family for years. “Whenever I’d have a problem at school, I’d go to him … I always looked up to him.” Ronca was a problem-solver, too, she said. “If I had a problem with my schedule or a situation with friends, he’d help work things out.”

Kids need those support systems, and they need things to enjoy while they’re going through school. For Alicia, her biggest enjoyment has been dance, though she’s also been involved in tennis, student council and the transition team.

Dance, however, has been something she’s taken part in both outside of and inside of school.

This will be her final year as a student of Amy’s School of Dance in Huxley. “I started there probably around the same time I started school when I was little,” she said. Dance comes naturally to her. “I’ve always had fun dancing to my favorite music.”

Last year, she competed for Amy’s School of Dance with a solo at state competition. She has loved competing against other area dance school students.

At school, since her freshman year, she’s been a varsity member of the Dance Team.

“Our coach (Alicia Ortner) works really hard to make us good. She puts a lot of time in on choreography. All my friends are in dance,” Alicia said.

Throughout this year, she will look forward to the variety of activities that the dance team takes part in.

“Homecoming is super fun; last year we got to ride on a fire truck.” The homecoming game is always a big night as the dancers perform on the field. “That is really fun.”

December will bring about state competition for the dance team. “It’s fun seeing the other teams around the state and competing with them. I love being able to dance at Wells-Fargo.” Last year, she said, the Ballard Dance Team got fifth in pom and second in lyrical.

Pom is Alicia’s favorite. “It’s all about the movements; you have to be sharp and hit it,” she said. Alicia also loves the Ballard sparkly dresses that the team wears for pom. “It’s so school-spirit oriented.”

In the spring, there will be a March show, where the team gets a chance to perform all its dances from the year, and before that, will be the basketball home game performances. “We have to learn new dances quickly because we perform a new one at every home game.”

Getting back to that goal of being a role model, Alicia said as a senior member of the dance team, she wants to be there for the freshmen members. “I want to set the bar; because I want the program to continue to be a success.”

As she’s listed all the things the dance team will do this year, she said it’s going to be hard to know she’s experiencing all of those things for the last time. “I want to soak it all in.”

In addition to dance and her other school activities, Alicia has worked during high school. She had a job earlier in high school at Fareway and more recently at Salon 101. Working, she said, “has taught me to be more responsible; it’s taught me time management and helped me make money to save for college.”

What are her college plans? She’s not quite sure, but she’s focused on two possibilities. “I want to be involved with dance in some way, either at Grand View University, where I could be on the dance team, or I’ll go to Iowa State, where I could be in a dance club.” She plans to study business with a marketing emphasis in college, and that course of study, she said, has been her goal ever since her freshman science teacher took a group of girls (herself included) to an Iowa State business conference. “Hearing the speakers talk … there was a girl who makes her own products. I want a job that will be fun to do; marketing seems fun. I like the creativity of it.”

As she starts out on her last year of high school, Alicia said she has to thank her parents — Chad Winterboer and Amanda Winterboer, both of Huxley. “They’ve done a lot for me growing up. They’ve gone to my events, even when I said they didn’t have to. I can’t thank them enough for shaping me to be the person I am today … a good person who looks out for others.”

Her advice to underclassmen is simple. “Get involved (in school) and talk to upperclassmen. Work as hard in your classes as you can because college will look at that. Make a lot of friends, because these are the people you will make memories with. My friend group has really been there for me through high school. It’s been really great.”