Class of 2020 students Ethan Leslie and Declan Ortinau are continuing a rich family heritage in Rockwood as they graduate this spring.
Leslie, a Lafayette High
senior, is the youngest of 10 siblings to graduate from Rockwood schools. The eldest sibling, Angie (Leslie) Ortinau, is Declan's mother.
So yes, Ethan is graduating in the same class as his nephew.
"It was always a fun little story to tell when we went to school together at the Center for Creative Learning (CCL)
and Wildwood Middle
," said Declan, who is graduating from Eureka High
. "Being in the same grade and being able to say, 'This is Ethan. He's my uncle' to a friend or teacher, it's like a brain twister. He's a built-in best friend, in reality. Ethan and I have always been really close, and we always will be."
Of the 10 Leslie siblings, three have married spouses who also went to Rockwood schools. Dave and Angie Ortinau – Lafayette graduates – and Ryan and Beth (Klearman) Leslie – Marquette High
alums – have a total of four children who have graduated from Rockwood schools.
In total, the greater Leslie family has produced 17 Rockwood graduates … with four more currently in the pipeline.
"Rockwood has changed so much since we moved our family here in 1982!" said Marcy Leslie, the family's matriarch. "We have enjoyed being part of many of the district's firsts, including the inaugural year of the Talented and Gifted program and being one of the original families to open both CCL and Marquette High School. Rockwood has given us many wonderful memories, and we look forward to more as our grandchildren continue to be involved in sports, theater and music performances."
Declan will be following his Uncle Brendan to Missouri S&T University this fall, where he plans to study computer science. At Eureka, Declan was a captain of the Quarks robotics team, as well as being involved with student council, National Honor Society and Students with a Testament (SWAT).
Ethan plans to attend the University of Missouri and major in economics on a prelaw track. At Lafayette, he's been an officer in both the theater and choir programs, played volleyball and was involved in student council and National Honor Society.
Throughout their time in Rockwood, they both experienced recurring instances of meeting people who taught or went to school with multiple members of their family.
"Rockwood has been a great connecting force," Ethan said. "We all knew the same teachers, went to the same places, did the same things. It centered our whole experience throughout growing up. All 10 kids, we all had the same kind of experiences."
Caleb Leslie – Ethan's nephew and Declan's cousin – would have graduated from high school this year as well, but he passed away due to a form of pediatric cancer when he was a student at Crestview Middle
The communities at Crestview and Lafayette – along with the Rockwood community as a whole -- provided love and support for the family during that time.
"Beth and I knew Rockwood was a special place when we attended as kids," said Caleb's father, Ryan, "but seeing our own kids cared for not only educationally but emotionally cemented our appreciation for Rockwood's commitment to its students."
The Leslie Children
Angie (Leslie) Ortinau (Lafayette 1992)
Ryan Leslie (Marquette 1996)
Nathan Leslie (Marquette 1999)
Kevin Leslie (Marquette 2005)
Julie (Leslie) Hammack (Marquette 2006)
Abbie (Leslie) Chastain (Marquette 2008)
Katie (Leslie) Clark (Marquette 2011)
Brendan Leslie (Lafayette 2015)
Christie Leslie (Lafayette 2017)
Ethan Leslie (Lafayette 2020)
The Rockwood-Graduate Spouses
Dave Ortinau (Lafayette 1992)
Beth (Klearman) Leslie (Marquette 1996)
Kate (Talbert) Leslie (Marquette 2004)
The Next Generation
Becca Leslie (Lafayette 2016)
Maddie Rose Ortinau (Eureka 2017)
Drew Leslie (Lafayette 2018)
Declan Ortinau (Eureka 2020)
Corban Leslie (Lafayette Class of 2022)
Nolan Ortinau (Eureka Class of 2023)
Ezra Leslie (eighth grade, Rockwood Valley Middle
Lucie Ortinau (sixth grade, Wildwood Middle)