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Benck's story like music to the ear

Enthusiasm, exuberance, excitement.

If these traits exhibited by Jessica Benck are contagious, graduates in the Ellsworth High School Class of 2010 will go far.

Music has come to the forefront of the EHS senior's life. She said that as early as fifth grade at the former Lindgren Elementary School, when her class played recorders for music teacher Mrs. Lee, she's enjoyed playing flute and still does. In fact, she likes music in general.

"I like to sing, too," she said with a smile.

Yet Benck's interests and skills vary, she told the Pierce County Herald.

Besides music, she said she was in forensics at EMS. She was one of a group in theatre reading and later was in speech individually.

The high school senior now tutors some of her peers, she said. An aide for Mrs. Rumpel, she assists math concepts II students with post-algebra topics like theorems and perimeters.

"It sometimes helps if someone else explains it," she said, noting the tutoring started this quarter because she's had an open block (in her course schedule).

Additionally, she tutored a sixth grader last year, beginning with math and expanding to several subjects, she said. This year, she goes to Hillcrest Elementary School several days a week to tutor a third grader in such areas as multiplication, cursive writing and word problems.

Meantime, she's an avid outdoors fan, saying she likes to go fishing and hunting, and hoping she gets a turkey during the season. She expressed disappointment the fishing opener has coincided with the state solo ensemble contest she was to again attend at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire the past few years. She'll also never forget a fishing trip to Canada when she was a fifth grader.

"I caught a 35-and-a-half inch northern," she said, mortified when she learned it was a half-inch too short and had to be thrown back.

All the while, Benck has continued pursuing music. She's been in four musicals at EHS over her high school years: in the chorus of "Godspell" with fellow sophomores Jeff Stress and Josh Books as the only non-upperclassmen, in the pit on flute for "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," again in the chorus for "Zombie Prom" and in the pit on flute again for "Spelling Bee." She said she's been drum major this school year, too.

This fall, she'll attend Northwestern College in Roseville, Minn., intending to become a music teacher, she said. More immediately, she's to begin training in June for a fill-in job at the Ellsworth Care Center, where she's done volunteer work monthly for the last six years.

Whatever her future holds, Benck is bound to be prepared. She implied another of her efforts got her ready for last week's interview.

"I've been writing my autobiography," was one of the first things she said.