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updated: 1/27/2010 10:39 AM

Daily Herald's Lake County Leadership Team

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  • The 2009-2010 Daily Herald Lake County Leadership Team.

      The 2009-2010 Daily Herald Lake County Leadership Team.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer


Northwest Suburban • Fox Valley • DuPage County • Lake County • Judges

Dylan Conn

Grayslake North High School

Hometown: Lake Villa

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Kevin and Leslie Conn

%%%%Sponsor: Chris Kubic, public service practicum teacher

Community service: March of Dimes; True/False Film Festival; Youth in Action; Ellis Fischel Cancer Center; student council; National Honor Society

Personal statement: "In May 2007, the social networking Web site Facebook introduced a section of their Web site dedicated to causes. I immediately searched for a cause that was important to me - the March of Dimes - but did not find one. I knew it was important to spread the message of the March of Dimes, so I decided I would create a cause myself, called Save Premature Babies. ... I was amazed to see the cause grow by the hundreds every day to its current size of more than 375,000 members from more than 65 countries."

Sponsor's endorsement: "His experience in community service and leadership is impressive and allows him to lead in unique ways. Dylan serves not to earn a high grade, but because he believes in the projects and knows that they will not succeed without consistent student support."

Christina Dana

Warren Township High School

Hometown: Gurnee

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Gregory Dana and Anne Fisher

%%%%Sponsor: Trini Hartley, guidance counselor

Community service: Wildwood Presbyterian Church youth group; National Honor Society; student rep to District 121 school board; Mother Earth's Concerned Students environmental club

Personal statement: "The one thing in the summer, maybe even the entire year, that I look forward the most is my youth group mission trip. Every summer, I travel to a different part of the country to help the less fortunate with about 50 of my closest friends. These experiences have completely changed my life and helped me realize the importance of helping others. Not only have these trips shown me how wonderful volunteering is, they also have real-life value."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Her teachers would tell you that she works exceptionally hard, has a genuine eagerness to learn, is passionate about her learning, and her grasp of academic material and ability to think critically is always outstanding. In addition to her involvement within the school, she has also had a positive impact on her community."

Kaitlyn Ellet

Mundelein High School

Hometown: Mundelein

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Lynne and Larry Ellet

%%%%Sponsor: Lauren Fagel, principal; Bruce Johnson, CEO, Nicasa

Community service: After School Coalition; Student Leadership canned food drive; Lake County Underage Drinking Prevention Task Force; Relay For Life; Future Business Leaders of America; SADD; National Honor Society

Personal statement: "I have gained so much from my volunteer experiences. Not only have I learned how important it is to give back to those who are less fortunate and to live by example, but I have realized that it is necessary in life to take risks. ... I have discovered that if I truly want to make a difference in this world, I must not be afraid to risk everything for something I believe in."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Ms. Ellet has been nothing less than an outstanding role model and mentor for her peers, younger children, adults and our entire community. Ms. Ellet is an exemplary student and exhibits many leadership and unselfish qualities that have benefited those associated with her.

Jack Hartnett

Carmel High School

Hometown: Hawthorn Woods

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: John and Barb Hartnett

%%%%Sponsor: Lynn Strutzel, principal

Community service: Carmel High School summer camp counselor; St. Francis De Sales religious education instructor; National Honor Society; Mu Alpha Theta; student council

Personal statement: "My volunteer experiences as a student coach have brought me out of my shyness and have a lasting impact on my career path. I was able to do a good thing with just a little portion of my time, and I realized aspects of myself that I would not have known without these experiences."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Leadership is a strong and consistent characteristic that has emerged in his classroom performance as well as through his extracurricular involvement. The foundation of his role as a school leader is his willingness to work hard and his strong sense of responsibility. Never satisfied with anything less than his best, this young man pursues beyond what is expected. ... His 4.36 GPA speaks of his ability to follow through on academic commitments. "

Karen Klass

Stevenson High School

Hometown: Buffalo Grove

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Renee and Michael Klass

%%%%Sponsor: Ted Goergen, director of student activities

Community service: Keshet Day School volunteer; Project Dance; Freshman Mentor Program; Give-A-Thon; Adaptive P.E. Leadership Program; student council; National Honor Society

Personal statement: "Thanks to my brother Ira, I knew from early on that my heart was in helping others, especially those who are not always able to help themselves. ... Striking a bat and hitting a home run is not half as rewarding as helping someone else do the same, seeing the appreciation and joy soar alongside that baseball."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Her service to others extends far beyond our campus. During the fall months she spends every Wednesday planning for Give-A-Thon, a holiday food drive that stocks the local food shelter for six months, provides gifts for 200 Lake County residents and baby supplies for mothers in need. ... She spends the little free time she has left volunteering to assist students with special needs at Keshet Day School."

Cathryn Morette

Woodlands Academy

Hometown: Winnetka

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Jeanne Morette and Robert Morette

%%%%Sponsor: Madonna Edmunds, head of school

Community service: Haiti Youth Group; Catholic Charities; American Indian Foundation; Juvenile Justice; Partners for Progress; school newspaper; yearbook; Service Day leader

Personal statement: "Service is all about affecting change: envisioning potential, both physical and emotional. One person can bring about serious change, sometimes big, sometimes small, and it is with this idea that I embark on my volunteer work. One person cannot change the world, but one person can affect change. And the second I saw the need for change in Haiti, it became my focus, my goal for change."

Sponsor's endorsement: "It was her work in Haiti which had a tremendous impact on her world view. It is from this moment that her desire to pursue a career in international business and economic development was born. She wants to assist struggling countries to develop a sustainable and competitive economy."

Stephanie Oehrlein

Grant Community High

Hometown: Round Lake Beach

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Jeffrey and Grazyna Oehrlein

%%%%Sponsor: Justin Strebel, social sciences teacher

Community service: Student council; National Honor Society; Prince of Peace religious education and altar server coordinator; referendums committee

Personal statement: "I want to make volunteering an even bigger part of my future than it is in my present. I have come to fully believe St. Francis of Assisi when he said, 'It is in giving that we receive.' By helping others, I have bettered myself so much; I could not ask for anything greater in return."

Sponsor's endorsement: "This student is the complete package, a true asset to her school and her community. She consistently puts the needs and wants of others before her own while still keeping her head high above water to assure her own success. ... In years past she has been instrumental in assuring the success of community service projects. ... If it needs to be done, Stephanie isn't content to just do, she is driven to excel."

Elizabeth Oldenburg

Libertyville High School

Hometown: Libertyville

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Nancy Powers

%%%%Sponsor: Wanda Gongol, math teacher

Community service: Student Council Executive Board; Gardens for Gambia; First Class adopt-a-family project; Hands and Toes clothing drive; student representative to school board; National Honor Society; Model United Nations

Personal statement: "I had the privilege of collecting more than 35,000 canned goods, impacting more than 600 lives by running two blood drives, and organizing a 9-11 vigil in honor of those who lost their lives. Overall, I donated more than 270 hours of my time last year to support student government activities and community service... I learned how to create a sound school-life balance and certainly enjoyed the experience."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Of the many students that I have known at this high school, she ranks in the top 3 percent. She would never go back on a commitment and would devote as much time as necessary to meet her goals. She is mature beyond her years and is well aware of who she is and where she wants to go in life."

Ruchee Patel

Grayslake Central High School

Hometown: Grayslake

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Vasant and Dharmistha Patel

%%%%Sponsor: Dustin Chierico, public service practicum teacher

Community service: Student council; National Honor Society; Key Club International

Personal statement: "I still vividly remember the aches and pains from collecting and sorting more than 55,000 pounds of food last year, but the day we delivered the food to the community was the best balm and therapy one can imagine. A single mother with two young children, ashamed to cry in front of her own kids, could not bear to look me in the eyes; this vision remains with me to this day as a remembrance of why I put my time and effort into helping others."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Ruchee is not only a leader but a tireless worker. Consistently, she is one of the students that brings in the most food during the food drive. She is always looking for more ways to participate and help the cause. What is more, Ruchee is always the first person to show up and the last person to leave. ... She is given a job to do and does not let anything stand in her way."

Samuel Rong

Vernon Hills High School

Hometown: Vernon Hills

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Peiyi Rong and Kelly Tang

%%%%Sponsor: DeAnn Firnbach, counselor

Community service: First Class adopt-a-family project; Xing Xuan Academy of Primary Education, teacher; National Honor Society president; yearbook

Personal statement: "I saw for myself how education fosters the development of new ideas. Principal Chui hoped to mix Western and Eastern teaching styles together. He linked this with me. I used my own knowledge and shared it with the teachers in training. They then moved on to teach their own students. This, I think, is how the world works. One person's idea may expand onto many other people."

Sponsor's endorsement: "This student understands that some of the best learning occurs outside the walls of the classroom. ... He often spends summers in China, reveling in cultural differences and deepening his understanding of the role that culture plays in shaping our perceptions and values. The richness of his international experiences has played a key role, no doubt, in his development into a flexible-minded, culturally aware young person."

Honorable mentions

Nicole Buchholz

Lakes Community High School

Hometown: Lake Villa

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Shari and Tyler Buchholz

%%%%Sponsor: Katie Plese, school librarian

Community service: Open Arms Mission; Key Club; Halloween Howl; Free Friday Night Concerts; National Honor Society; peer tutor

Kathleen Burch

Grayslake North High School

Hometown: Grayslake

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Mary Miller, Daniel Burch

%%%%Sponsor: Jeffrey R. Schagrin, social studies department

Community service: Special Recreation Association of Central Lake County; Nicasa; Tri-M; Girl Scouts

Charley Dever

Lake Zurich High School

Hometown: North Barrington

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Scott and Teresa Dever

%%%%Sponsor: Craig Lehigh, school counselor

Community service: Love, Light and Melody mission work; Interact; National Honor Society; Lake Geneva Youth Camp; Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Elizabeth Anne Duckworth

Lake Forest

Hometown: Lake Forest

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Tom and Connie Duckworth

%%%%Sponsor: Andrew F. Poska, associate dean of college counseling

Community service: Church of the Holy Spirit; Lake Forest Bank and Trust board member; Harvesting Hope; Lake Forest Park Department volunteer coach; peer leader; peer tutor

Cynthia Esqueda

Round Lake High School

Hometown: Round Lake

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Silvia Esqueda-Stiverson

%%%%Sponsor: Tammy Freund, school counselor

Community service: Karing for Kids; Skills U.S.A.; Toys for Tots; student council

Morgan Mekertichian

Woodlands Academy

Hometown: Winnetka

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Edmond and Beverley Mekertichian

%%%%Sponsor: Sister Megan McElroy

Community service: Kenilworth Union Church service project; Catholic Charities; American Cancer Society; Project HUGS

Alyssa Mol

Lakes Community High School

Hometown: Lindenhurst

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Mike and Joyce Mol

%%%%Sponsor: Heather Marzullo, English teacher

Community service: St. Mark Lutheran Church youth group; Feed My Starving Children; Trinity Lutheran Church Sunday school teacher; Open Arms Food Pantry; National Honor Society

Maggie O'Connor

Lake Zurich High School

Hometown: Lake Zurich

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Mary and Steve O'Connor

%%%%Sponsor: Gerry Sansone, social studies teacher

Community service: Peer Ministry; National Honor Society; American Cancer Society Relay For Life; student council

Shivani Parikh

Libertyville High School

Hometown: Libertyville

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Jayesh and Harshida Parikh

%%%%Sponsor: Kristi Robertson, history teacher

Community service: Condell Hospital volunteer; Lake Forest Hospital volunteer; Teen-Aiders; Winchester House volunteer; National Honor Society; student council

Andrew Sipes

Grayslake Central High School

Hometown: Grayslake

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: James and Susan Sipes

%%%%Sponsor: Sydney J. Klocke, principal

Community service: Catalyst; Grayslake Central Code of Conduct Committee; Grayslake Central Public Service Practicum; National Honor Society; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; peer mediation

Maria Skorcz

Carmel High School

Hometown: Round Lake

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Mark and Shari Skorcz

%%%%Sponsor: Lynne Strutzel, principal

Community service: Catholic Heart Work Camp; St. Gilbert's parish vacation Bible school; Carmel High School Student Athletic Training Program; Kairos Retreat Leader; St. Gilbert's Teen Ministry; student council; National Honor Society

Steven Sprieser

Vernon Hills High School

Hometown: Vernon Hills

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Eric and Maureen Sprieser

%%%%Sponsor: Becky Bellito, school counselor

Community service: Student council; Children's Outreach and Vocational Education Alliance; St. Mary of Vernon Sharing Hands Ministry and PADS Ministry; First Class; National Honor Society

Joshua White

Grant Community High School

Hometown: Ingleside

%%%%Class: Senior

%%%%Parents: Mr. and Mrs. David White

%%%%Sponsor: Ellen Corey, school counselor

Community service: National Honor Society; Partnership for Academic Excellence; Adopt a Family; North Suburban Leadership Conference

Full list of teams

• Daily Herald's Northwest Suburban Leadership Team

• Daily Herald's Fox Valley Leadership Team

• Daily Herald's DuPage County Leadership Team

• Daily Herald's Lake County Leadership Team

• Daily Herald's Leadership Team judges