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Nothing routine about Lotspeich’s effort

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(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Michael Lotspeich might be on the sidelines as a cheerleader for Thursday's SVM All-Star Classic, but the Bureau Valley graduate is hardly on the sidelines of life. He's already completed 40 credit hours at Illinois Valley Community College.

Drive to Naperville. Present to the Illinois State Board of Education in the hopes of improving students' academic prospects for years to come. Drive back to Dixon. Perform in the SVM All-Star Classic.

Bring it on. It's just another day in the life for Michael Lotspeich.

After all, this is the same Bureau Valley senior who completed his last class at Illinois Valley Community College before last Tuesday's practice for the all-star gala at Sauk Valley Community College.

With the course's completion, he finished off 40 credit hours and, effectively, his first year of college.

"Bureau Valley had run out of my curricula, so I decided I would challenge myself," Lotspeich said.

He will be one of 12 cheerleaders performing at the annual sendoff for the area's standout seniors in hoops and, for the first year, music and school spirit.

Breaking ground is routine for Lotspeich, who also ran cross country and track for the Storm, in addition to becoming the school's first male cheerleader.

His fellow Stormer, Cortnie Riordan, is inspired by her base.

"If he's going to take the leap and be the only male cheerleader who's ever come through Bureau Valley, then I can go and do a cartwheel or something that I've never done in front of people," she said. "If he can make such a big change, it makes it so much easier for the rest of us to make small changes.

"He's kind of like the leader of our whole school."

And he's a pretty doggone good cheerleader, too. In fact, Lotspeich will cheer on scholarship at Division-II University of Illinois-Springfield next year. Despite his prowess in virtually every challenge he's addressed in high school, there had to be one goofball foolish enough to mock him for cheerleading, though, right?

"Literally, I have not gotten any crap for it to my face," Lotspeich said. "It surprised me. I expected a lot more of a bias against it."

He said cheering Friday nights and then grabbing a little bit of sleep before running cross country meets Saturday mornings during his junior year helped him transition into cheering.

"My cross country team definitely helped me along with the process, and I'm grateful for them," Lotspeich said. "And I'm grateful for the accommodations [cheerleading] coach [Emily] Matko and the squad has made for me … but I didn't get much sleep through high school."

The second-youngest of five siblings, Lotspeich takes after his mother, Ellin, the superintendent of the Bradford School District. But then, all of the Lotspeich kids take after her, in their own ways.

"We're all … unique," the diplomatic Lotspeich said when asked if they're all go-getters like him. "We all share my mother's personality, but we're all very unique people."

As for that appointment in Naperville, he's a student advisor to the state's education board. They'll be presenting to the board their systematic examination of issues that impede the quality of education in Illinois schools. The hot-button hurdle?

"Financials," Lotspeich said with a grin that suggests he relishes the chance to take on such a global challenge.

He "was screaming" when he found out he landed an interview to be part of the prestigious group. At the time, he was in Spain, part of a trip to Europe with Kewanee High School.

The young man's been a lot of places. Including in the credits of Katy Perry's 3D movie, "Part of Me." He produced, directed and filmed the 10½-minute Bureau Valley lipdub of her hit single "Firework." More than 350 of the 386 students at the school took part.

"One thing I really saw my sophomore year was that we were combatted with a time of change within the high school administration and within the district administration," Lotspeich said. "There wasn't a lot of getting along between a lot of people. I saw it impeding the educational process."

Paramount Pictures picked up his video for the movie, and you can watch it by visiting YouTube.com and searching for "Bureau Valley lipdub."

But you can see him in person Thursday night, as he holds flyers high in the air and thrills the crowd at Sauk.

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