By Colleen Sparks
A Sunnyslope High School graduate who was in the top three-percent of his class, with a passion for swimming is ready to dive into his studies at the United States Naval Academy in the fall.
Johnny Lemke, 18, a North Central resident, received nominations for the Naval and Air Force academies and the United States Military Academy (West Point) from U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton. He was accepted to all three academies.
Lemke had a 3.9 grade-point average at Sunnyslope and lettered in swimming, track and field and cross country. He was a member of the varsity teams for all three sports every year he participated. Lemke competed on the swim and track and field teams for four years and the cross country team for three years. He earned the school’s Viking Award for his leadership on the cross country team and made the 2018 All Academic State Cross Country Team. Lemke also was chosen as the 2018 Outstanding Distance Runner for track and field.
While Lemke served as team captain for track and field and cross country, swimming is his favorite sport. He began swimming 10 years ago and was a state qualifier for that sport. Outside of school, Lemke is a lifeguard and CPR certified and works at the Sunnyslope Pool. He also worked as a swim coach for children and teens in north Scottsdale and he has his PADI Scuba Diver certification.
“My parents definitely encouraged me to do sports,” Lemke said. “It’s nice that I can jump in (a pool) and it’s my performance that matters. I can execute and do well.”
A highlight of his scuba diving adventures was when he stayed with his cousin and her husband during his second semester of fifth grade on the island of Grenada. They spent a lot of time scuba diving in the Caribbean Sea.
While at Sunnyslope High, Lemke also was a member of the National Honor Society and vice-president of the Spanish National Honor Society. He represented Sunnyslope High as the ambassador to the Glendale Union High School District governing board. Lemke’s favorite subject is biology and he is grateful to his former biology teachers Troy and Pandora Linnartz, who are husband and wife. They were “extremely helpful in my journey,” he said.
His grandfather had served in the Navy and two years ago Lemke’s parents bought him a trip in a glider aircraft, which confirmed that he wanted to be a naval aviator someday. His visit to Annapolis, Md., to the Naval Academy helped him select that school.
“Annapolis is a beautiful town,” Lemke said. “There’s a wide berth of opportunities when you commission as a Naval officer.”
While he has not had an opportunity to meet Stanton in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he spoke to the congressman on the phone and said he is “super nice” and he is grateful for the nominations.
Stanton said it was an easy decision to nominate Lemke for the military academies. A committee made up mostly of retired military members reviews candidates and recommends students it believes Stanton should nominate.
“I’m so excited that a young person of his talent wants to join the military,” Stanton said. “He’s exactly the kind of person we want to be leading our military institutions in this country. He’s a modest kid. He handled it all in stride. This is a kid that could go to any college or university in the United States of America and he has chosen to enter a military academy, which is a training ground to serve as a military leader.”