Don Lugo High exchange student heads home to Norway

(Submitted photo)

Don Lugo High foreign exchange student Sofie Jacobson poses for a photo while holding the American flag prior to her departure home to Norway Monday. With the coronavirus pandemic closing Chino Valley schools through at least May 1, Sofie decided to head home.

She never got the chance to say goodbye.

With the Chino Valley school district closed at least through May 1, and possibly longer, because of the growing coronavirus pandemic, Don Lugo High foreign exchange student Sofie Jacobson left Monday for her home in Norway, taking back with her tons of memories and experiences at the Chino school.

“Unfortunately, my exchange year is coming to an end sooner than expected,” Sofie posted Monday on her Instagram account. “I’m heartbroken, but also thankful for the all the memories I got. I want to thank Don Lugo High School, the cheer team and all my friends who were a part of making these months unforgettable.”

Because of the state mandated “stay at home” order, she never got to thank Don Lugo cheer advisor Tisha Partida or cheer assistant coach Irene Hensley, or her cheer teammates, in person.

Goodbyes were sent by electronic message.

“She really loved being here,” Mrs. Hensley said. “She’s been awesome. She has been just amazing.”

Sofie really wanted to be a cheerleader when she arrived last summer at Don Lugo, saying cheerleading isn’t a thing in Norway.

She never missed a practice, never missed any cheer functions and her host family attended every event Sofie took part in.

Mrs. Hensley said Sofie came to her and her daughter — Mrs. Partida — and wanted to be a cheerleader.

“She wasn’t really coordinated, but she picked it right up. She worked hard,” Mrs. Hensley said. “She never gave up and she had good spirit. We are really going to miss her smile and her attitude.”

Mrs. Partida agreed, adding how impressed she was with Sofie’s improvement during the year.

“She loved the Milk Can football game, the CIF playoff games,” Mrs. Partida said. “Those were intense games. She said they don’t have those in Norway.”

Other Don Lugo cheerleaders were impressed with Sofie’s leadership and loved having her on the team, she added.

Sofie said her life “completely changed” for the better having attended Don Lugo and taking part in cheerleading.

“Thank you for welcoming me to this country with kindness,” she wrote. “I can truly say I got a second home. People told me leaving would be the hardest part, but I didn’t know it would be this hard. All of the people I have met this year will always have a big part in my heart.”

Sofie, a senior, was expected to graduate with her Don Lugo classmates in May.

“The year is over, and it looks like we may not go back to school this year,” Mrs. Hensley said. “Her year is up right now, so she’s headed home. But she promised to come visit us next year.”

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