Editor's note: This story is part of a series highlighting outstanding graduating seniors. Find more profiles here

LAKE CITY - During school awards night on May 9 at Lincoln High School, Ariana Carlson walked away with four scholarships.

That money will help with her plans to major in music education at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Carlson, who is ranked No. 1 in her class, finished her high school career with a 3.98 GPA and will be one of two student speakers at her commencement on June 3.

She started piano lessons in third grade and found out she was good at it. "Playing piano helped me learn the basis for notes and patterns in music," she said.

She also thought it was fun. "I realized I could take music and fun and put the two of them together and make a career out of it," she said.

Carlson, who also plays guitar, ukulele and trombone, chose the university in Eau Claire because the school has a high rate of placement for music teachers.

Involved in multiple choirs and bands through all four years, Carlson also took four years of Spanish and hopes to minor in that language.

"I love to sing in different languages," she said. "I sang a solo in German, and I had to ask for a lot of help from people in the community who speak German, so I could get the pronunciations right."

"Ariana is very focused and extremely creative at the same time," said band director Paul Holland. "She is thorough and complete with everything she does. Regarding music and academics, she spends a lot of time on them. She understands that practice and time equal success."

Her singing also got her involved in acting. She played Rusty, the best friend of the lead actress, in "Footloose" this year. "It was singing and dancing. It was a lot of fun," she said.

In last year's school play "That's The Spirit", she had the lead role of Irene Lockwood.

"I enjoy being on stage," she said. "I like the spotlight. I take pride in my performances."

In addition to acting, Carlson has given several speeches for special events at school and in the community. "Speech team helped me crawl out of my shell," she said. "Public speaking is not scary anymore, but it is harder to speak at school in front of my peers than for other groups."

"Ariana is a dedicated, mature, and very talented student in Lake City," said Greg Berge, school principal. "She is very humble in all she does and represents our school and community in great ways. She has excelled in the classroom, is an AP and School Board Scholar, is a member of many service and leadership organizations, and has excelled in her extra-curricular activities."

Holland added, "She is kind and caring and exhibits many of the qualities of a great leader. She is a model student to say the least."

With an active life, Carlson has had to learn organization skills. "I have to balance things, handle my schedule," she said. "Being involved helped me meet a lot of people and have bonding experiences with them because of our shared activities."

Being involved also taught her an important life lesson. "It helps you find out where you fit in and where you don't."