MEAD — Mead High School senior Kristina Lu has a problem opening envelopes without tearing the contents inside.
So when the highly anticipated letter from the Boettcher Foundation came Wednesday, she passed it to her mother.
"The only thing we read was the first word, which was 'Congratulations,'" Lu said Thursday.
With that, the 18-year-old hopped in the car and drove back to school to tell her sister, Morgan, that she is one of 40 Boettcher Foundation Scholarship winners this year. And being a winner means she will attend college in Colorado, at no expense to her family.
Kristina Lu, a Colorado native, moved to Longmont when she was 5 years old, so she considers Longmont her hometown. She attended Mead Elementary School for first, second and part of third grade; Longmont Christian School for third through fifth grades; Flagstaff Academy for sixth grade; and Altona Middle School for seventh and eighth grades.
She started as a freshman at Mead High School when it opened, making her part of the first class to spend its entire high school career there.
Although she lives just minutes away from Mead High School, choosing to attend the school took a lot of thought.
She had been accepted to Niwot High School's International Baccalaureate program, and her friends from Altona were heading to Niwot, as well.
But the idea of being one of the first students in the school was appealing, Lu said.
Her mother, Mary Lu, said, "It almost felt like (we were) taking a chance, because the school wasn't open."
The family thought attending Mead High would be a good experience for Kristina and Morgan, a junior, Mary Lu said.
"We saw it as an opportunity to be a part of the development, to have leadership opportunities, and that turned out to be true," Mary Lu said.
After the first year, the Lus knew they'd made the correct decision.
"Clearly, this is where God wants us to be," Kristina Lu said.
One of Kristina Lu's opportunities was to participate in hiring the school's principal after James Sundberg announced his retirement.
"She interviewed me," principal Troy Snyder said, explaining that Kristina Lu was part of a student panel who met the candidates for the job he started in August.
Kristina Lu's other activities at Mead High have included president of the National Honor Society; jazz and concert bands; drum major and flute section leader of the marching band; drama; and volleyball, track and cross-country (until she broke her leg). She also leads worship services and performs in the orchestra at Calvary Church, and works at Chick Fil-A.
She likely will be the valedictorian of her class, and has a grade-point average of 4.264, according to school officials.
Although she has loved her time at Mead High, Kristina Lu is ready to move on, she said.
"I'm looking forward to being able to study things that interest me heavily," she said.
Lu, 18, plans to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder to study Spanish and, well, she's still deciding between environmental science and business — and she's thinking about a minor in Chinese as well.
The Boettcher Foundation's activities — part of the scholarship process — led Lu to CU, which she previously considered a backup school. The university hosted a reception for the scholarship's semi-finalists.
"I felt extremely at home at CU-Boulder," Lu said.
"Being right in the foothills is pretty awesome."
She continued to visit the campus, and continued to be impressed, she said.
"This is so much more that we ever expected," Lu said.