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Kayla Lang took top honors of Outstanding Senior Award during the Detroit Lakes graduation May 29. (Brian Basham/Record)

Lang is Outstanding Senior

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Detroit Lakes Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Sitting at Detroit Lakes High School's Saturday commencement ceremony, graduating senior Kayla Lang opened her program and wondered aloud about who would win this year's Outstanding Senior Award.

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"I bet it's you," said friend and fellow graduate Brittney Thomson.

"It's not me, it couldn't be me," Lang said, insisting it would be her friend instead.

"I bet you a dollar," Thomson said.

Within two minutes, Lang was on stage accepting a glass plaque to a gymnasium's worth of wild applause.

Accomplishment is no new feat for Lang, who received a letter of congratulations nearly a month ago for the John Bridges Post 15 School Award, which will add her name to a plaque kept in a trophy case at DLHS.

Like the Outstanding Senior Award, the School Award is chosen by DLHS faculty, and has been given to a graduating senior for nearly 45 years based on leadership, courage, honor, patriotism, scholarship and service.

A member of Target, National Honor Society, Awanas and the Solid Rock Youth Group, Lang has also competed with the swim and track teams. She volunteered as a Link Crew leader at the high school and is a Children's Liturgy of the Word teacher at her church. She also worked at the Detroit Lakes Community Center as a lifeguard, swimming instructor and Sunfish coach.

Add in a challenging course load at the high school and a three-way tie for 10th place in senior class rank, and it is impossible to doubt that she is worthy of winning both awards.

"I've worked hard all four years of high school," Lang said, adding, "I'm involved in a lot of different things."

In an obvious understatement, Lang claims her involvement keeps her from being bored.

"I like helping people and staying busy," she said. "Sometimes it does (become overwhelming) when a lot is going on at once, but I manage."

Ironically, Lang was unable to attend the John Bridges Post 15 meeting last month where she was to receive her certificate, medallion and $100 check for the school award due to a track meet she "couldn't miss."

Somehow, Lang does find free time amidst her busy list of activities.

"For fun I like going four-wheeling and I like to read and hang out with friends," she said.

Lang is also the happy recipient of sizeable scholarships, including the prestigious Paulson Scholarship from Dollars for Scholars, and two leadership and academic scholarships from Southwestern Minnesota State University in Marshall, where she will attend school this fall for elementary education.

"I'm pretty pumped," Lang said of the scholarships, which will allow her to go to college virtually for free.

Nonetheless, Lang accepts her success with remarkable modesty.

"I guess I'm surprised because I never thought I was anything special," she said of all the attention she has received in the form of awards and scholarships.

Lang calls Mike Labine, the head girls track coach, initiator of the Link Crew program, DL math teacher, and Lang's neighbor, one of her mentors.

"He's a really cool guy and he's always encouraged me to do my best in sports and in all that I do," she said.

"Mr. Labine found out (about the Outstanding Senior Award) just beforehand and he told my mom to get her camera out," she added, noting that when her mother realized what it was for, she began to cry.

As much as she has done so far, the excitement is far from over for Lang. She will be traveling to Europe this summer with AP European History teacher Wade Johnson, and then to Kentucky with her youth group for 2010's Life Conference.

But, most importantly, has Lang paid back her lost gamble from graduation night?

"I have not yet, but I will," Lang said.

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