FORT JENNINGS — Alex Von Lehmden didn’t just get one accolade during a recent recognition banquet at Fort Jennings High School. Instead, five teachers felt he deserved their highest praise.
“There are kids here involved in everything possible. I did not expect at all to be recognized,” he said. “But it is nice.”
The honors go to students who standout at the school and Von Lehmden does, both in school and in the community.
He and his family help raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. As soon as Von Lehmden’s grandfather was diagnosed with ALS, the family went to work.
“The whole family became involved and then people in the community became more involved,” he said.
In just the group’s first benefit walk, it raised $20,000. From it grew the local “Playing Hardball for ALS” initiative. Von Lehmden and his family continue to raise money even though his grandfather died in May.
“I feel like I have an obligation to myself and my grandfather. It is a respect thing for him,” he said. “Even after he passed away, we still wanted to do it. We do not want other people to have to deal with this.”
Von Lehmden is close not only to his own family, but another from Bremen in northern Germany. His family hosted an exchange student two years ago and the student’s family visited Fort Jennings last summer. Before leaving, the family invited Von Lehmden to Germany for Christmas.
“It was really evident that our families got along really well,” he said.
Von Lehmden first spent time in Bremen and then the family took him to Austria to ski for New Year’s. New Year’s is a bigger deal there than Christmas, he said, talking up the fireworks show he saw as the new year arrived.
“Austria was a beautiful place. … Really, really neat,” he said.
The invite was a surprise to Von Lehmden, who had hoped to be able to visit some day, but didn’t necessarily think he would anytime soon.
“We had such a good relationship, I knew we would keep talking,” he said. “But I did not expect to be spending Christmas there. It was a nice surprise.”
With a 4.0 GPA, Von Lehmden is in the National Honor Society. He plays the drums in the marching, pep and concert bands and has appeared in this year’s school play. He will be in the upcoming musical too, but until this year just worked behind the scenes with the stage crew.
“With my senior year, I wanted to be a little bit more ambitious,” he said. “And after the play I realized it was something I enjoy.”
Von Lehmden was this year’s homecoming king and does a lot of the work for the school’s newscast. Students record school events and create skits to turn into videos. Von Lehmden does much of the editing and production. It comes easy for Von Lehmden, who plays, writes and records a lot of music at home. He also helped with the Facebook page for Fort Jennings’ bicentennial celebration last summer.
“It was not a huge job, but I felt like it was something I could do for the bicentennial,” he said.
Von Lehmden is headed to Ohio State University to study operations management. He has grown up around business. His mom teaches business at the high school and his dad runs a business from their home.
“I like the management part more than anything. I like to organize things,” he said. “It seemed like the best fit.”