Brenden Lannue will graduate from McDonell-Central High School next week. Brenden lived with his grandmother for about three years before she died in January 2019. He then moved in with his older brother in Altoona and commutes to school daily.

CHIPPEWA FALLS — “If I had to describe my life story with one word, it would be ‘confusing,’” says McDonell Central High School graduate Brenden Lannue.

Brenden smiled frequently and didn’t hesitate to talk about some of the obstacles he’s had to overcome the past six years. He grew up in Chippewa Falls and attended Parkview Elementary. When he was in eighth grade, he began having problems with his parents.

“Things became unstable with my living situation, so I went to live with my grandmother,” Brenden said.

Brenden, and his twin brother Brady, made the move at the same time to live with Maripat Loiselle. Even now, he barely sees either of his parents.

“She had an important standing in our lives,” Brenden said of Loiselle. “When things went downhill, she recognized it and had us come live with her. She was our second mom.”

However, Loiselle died in January 2019, and it left Brenden and Brady with a difficult choice on where to live next. Brenden said returning to either parent wasn’t really an option. Brady moved in with an uncle in the Twin Cities; Brenden moved in with his 24-year-old brother, Pierce, in Altoona, in February.

So, for the past year, he has made the daily commute to Chippewa Falls to go to school at McDonell Central. Loiselle left enough money to cover tuition his senior year.

“Grandma always wanted me to go here; she pushed me to go here,” Brenden said. “It’s nice because it’s so small, and you get to know everyone really well.”

Social studies teacher Steve Roesler said he had Brenden in five classes throughout high school.

“He has an almost ever-present smile,” Roesler said. “Everything that’s happened in his life, he’s been able to take it in stride. There was an adjustment made (when Loiselle died). That living arrangement came with difficulties. It’s a testament to him and his abilities. It didn’t dominate his life; he was able to move on.”

Brenden played baseball his sophomore year, and has worked at fast food restaurants throughout high school. He said he always had enough money for basics, but if he needed something extra, he had to pay for it himself. When he isn’t working, he enjoys hanging out with friends and playing games online.

Brenden says he enjoys schoolwork focused on technology. He took an IT software development class at Chippewa Valley Technical College, and he plans to attend UW-Stout to study computer science.