Grad gets by on can-do spiritPublished 10:52am Wednesday, June 1, 2011 Updated 10:52am Wednesday, June 1, 2011
When Cody Lehmann graduates from Fergus Falls Public Schools on Friday, it will be a bittersweet day.
Though he will celebrate the completion of an education well done, Lehmann will do it without his mother, Wendy, who died of a heart attack on March 26 of this year.
“My mom passing away, that was probably one of the hardest things ever,” said Lehmann, whose father died when he was nine. Not quite 18 and with the end of high school on the horizon, Lehmann found himself in an uncertain and sad place, with a new perspective on what’s important and a feeling of unreality he still has trouble shaking.
“It still feels weird,” he said. “It feels like sort of like a movie, like it’s not real.”
But Lehmann is ready to forge ahead in his life, thanks to the support of family and friends and his undefeatable outlook.
Since his mom died, Lehmann has gotten a lot of support from his three sisters, Tina Smith, Tami Hanson and Torri Beiningen. Lehmann said he and his sisters have spent a lot of time together grieving and supporting each other during the last two months, and at least one sister tries to make every baseball game the standout Otter second baseman plays.
Right after his mom died, Lehmann knew he had to sort out his priorities. His number one goal was to finish high school on time, and he spoke with school officials about how to do that as he worked through everything associated with his mother’s death. The school was accommodating, allowing him to come to school just in the afternoons to take the classes he needed to graduate. He then worked mornings at Radio Shack, where he has worked in one form or another for four years.
Lehmann is always busy. When he’s not at Radio Shack, he can often be found working at Northern Aire Lanes or running lighting and sound for productions for Kennedy Secondary School, A Center for the Arts, M State, The Edge Dance Studio and more. It’s a job he fell into accidentally.
“When I was in middle school, Roy Anderson (media specialist with the district) asked me if I wanted to help out backstage, and I said sure,” Lehmann explained, adding that he loves doing light and sound because he meets all kinds of different people. “It just kind of evolved from there.”
In fact, it evolved so much that Lehmann decided to make some money doing it. A few years ago, he made a $7,000 investment in some equipment and started his own DJ business, City Lights and Sounds. Lehmann runs the operation and employs two people, and he’s DJed events from Moorhead to Perham, including his school’s Sno-Ball on more than one occasion.
“We have about six or seven weddings this summer,” he said.
Lehmann praised the Fergus Falls Public Schools, both for helping him through his mother’s death and for the education he received from his teachers, who he called “awesome.”
“If you needed help and some extra work, they were there for you,” he said.
One of Lehmann’s favorite parts about being an Otter has been playing for the baseball team.
“It’s my sport,” he said, adding that his teammates have been an excellent support system during the last two months.
Now that he’s done with classes, Lehmann is positioned for his college plan. He lives in a two-bedroom condo and will be attending M State in the fall to get his associates in art degree. Two years from now, he plans on attending Minnesota State University – Moorhead to double major in psychology and criminal justice. With those degrees, he hopes to get a job as a police detective or investigator, preferably close to home.
Lehmann is confident in his success. He said it’s that same confidence that has allowed him to own a business, work two jobs, go to school and play baseball while not melting down over the stress of it all.
“If I want to do something, I do it,” he said. “Nothing holds me back.”