Kristen Akialis, Buffalo Grove High School
Hometown: Buffalo Grove
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Parents: Ron and Paula Akialis
Sponsor: Rich Schram, science teacher
Community service: Volunteer teacher in Costa Rica and a trainer for Amigos de Las Americas, which sends high school students to Latin American countries to further cross-cultural understanding and promote community development. Peer minister for junior high students at Holy Family Catholic Church. Tutors at a grade school; record keeper for BGHS girls basketball team.
Personal statement: "My 'bucket list' may not be extravagant and probably will not make it to the big screen, but it reflects my passions and values, and compels me to build relationships with others, step outside my comfort zone, and act compassionately. I look forward to the challenges and triumphs to come and using my accomplishments as the foundation for my future endeavors."
Sponsor's endorsement: "For three years I have had the honor to work closely with Kristen. She is one of the most driven, hardworking and intelligent students in our school, but more important, she is keenly aware of her responsibility to work to help others."
Tamar Alexanian, William Fremd High School
Hometown: Hoffman Estates
Parents: Mr. & Mrs. Armen B. Alexanian
Sponsor: Gina Enk, English teacher
Community service: Works with freshmen to acclimate them to the school; with SOS Club, organized Thanksgiving baskets for Palatine food pantry. Teaches about the Armenian Genocide at Carl Sandburg Junior High annually; volunteers at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School fun fair, variety show and multicultural fair. Junior adviser for the Armenian Youth Federation.
Personal statement: "My favorite event is the multicultural fair, where I run an Armenia booth to educate students about Armenian culture. I design the booth, oversee a hands-on activity for young students, and create posters, visual aids, and documents that younger students connect with, helping them learn about different, unique cultures."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Walking down the halls of our high school with Tamar is like being with a celebrity. Students of all ages and cliques call out, 'Hello' to her. She creates community wherever she goes. "
Katlin Allen, Palatine High School
Parents: Sue and James Allen
Sponsor: Susan Quinlan, counselor
Community service: Co-president of the Best Buddies chapter, planning events and fundraisers. Special Olympics volunteer for three years, coaching basketball, volleyball and powerlifting; Northwest Special Recreation Association volunteer; leader in integrated PE; interned in a special-needs history classroom, then Adapted Instruction for a Meaningful Education classroom.
Personal statement: "My involvement in the lives of students with special needs has prepared me to follow my dream of becoming a special-education teacher. ... From the time I coached our first tournament game, I knew I was hooked. To see the joy the athletes' experienced from playing and scoring, made me burst with delight to know that I was a part of the happiness they felt inside."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She is self-disciplined, dedicated and understanding of those with disabilities. She has dedicated her heart, time and education to special education, leading the way toward her goal of becoming an outstanding future teacher."
Jessica Giambarberee, Prospect High School
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Parents: Paul and Cindy Giambarberee
Sponsor: Jay Kyp-Johnson, school psychologist
Community service: Co-creator of Hurricane of Hope, which this spring will hold a walk to promote suicide prevention. Mentors at Erika's Lighthouse, which helps teens suffering from depression. She volunteers at Northwest Community Hospital; is a mentor with the Knights Way program and a LINK leader, helping freshmen.
Personal statement: "My main goal in life has been to help people. As I look back, though (my) achievements don't seem like a big deal, they formed me into who I am today. They prove I am capable of anything if I have the passion and put forth the effort."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Not satisfied with championing her cause just at our school, she has engaged professional staff and administrators in our district about having an all-district information and prevention program regarding depression and suicide. She is a hard working and compassionate young lady."
Kenneth Gonzales, Bartlett High School
Hometown: Carol Stream
Parent: Haydee S. Baesa
Sponsor: Stephanie Fullhart, counselor
Community service: Organized, advertised and enlisted fellow musicians for a coffeehouse benefit performance for pediatric cancer research; as choir president organizes choir's annual Adopt-a-Grandparent program; member, Goodman Youth Arts council; organized Halloween Dance for seniors at the Victory Centre and valentine card writing for residents from local nursing homes.
Personal statement: "My experience at the Goodman Theatre allowed me to realize where my passions in theater lie. It is my goal that after I attain a college degree in theater, I can open up a theater company to foster a safe learning environment allowing youth artists to attain their full artistic potentials."
Sponsor's endorsement: "He can best be described as a dedicated student, talented performer, remarkable leader and active community member. His community service clearly sets him apart from his peers. I give him my highest recommendation."
Rachel Hasler, Hoffman Estates High School
Parents: Jeff and Carol Hasler
Sponsor: Maureen Marienthal, counselor
Community service: President of Student Council, leading projects for school spirit, school improvement, WINGS, Toys for Tots, Life Source. Feed My Starving Children event collected money to feed 4,166 children. Volunteer and organizer for Phil's Friends, sending care packages and cards to cancer patients, was team leader for the Summer Card Ministry Project, which sent 6,300 cards; choreographer for girls 9-14 at Trinity Lutheran School, Roselle.
Personal statement: "As a frightened new freshman, I made a couple of promises to myself: I would not change the good in me to please others; I would step out of my comfort zone and introduce myself to every person sitting next to me; I would try different clubs. I found my niche in student council. Now, it is my turn to be the leader of change."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She utilizes her caring personality in everything she does. Besides being a sweetheart, she is motivated to do her absolute best at everything."
Daniel J. Horstmann, St. Viator High School
Hometown: Hoffman Estates
Parents: Dan and Julie Horstmann
Sponsor: Principal Eileen Manno
Community service: Established Praise Project, musicians and animators who develop activities to foster spiritual growth and relationships; for Eagle Scout project enlarged the area around Our Lady of the Moon statue and incorporated flowers and shrubbery; leadership roles in Boy Scouts of America; St. Hubert youth ministry leadership team; mission trip to Cincinnati.
Personal statement: "I have discovered that to be a successful leader one must become a servant leader -- not separate himself from those he is leading, but rather envelop and immerse himself in the group. A good leader can get the task done no matter what; a great leader can succeed at his goals and build lasting relationships at the same time."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I am pleased to recommend him for this award for many reasons, but most importantly because of his ability to motivate classmates to become involved in projects that provide significant service to other people."
Jennifer Krick, Bartlett High School
Hometown: Carol Stream
Parents: Thomas and Lynn Krick
Sponsor: Dave Marszalek, counselor
Community service: Tutoring freshmen who are in jeopardy of failing; volunteer youth volleyball instructor, working to improve the kids' skills as well as their understanding of "team"; clothing drive chairwoman; freshman orientation classroom leader; historian for the high school Spanish Club; volunteer at PADS shelter, Our Savior Lutheran Church.
Personal statement: "If I only touch the lives of a few students, my efforts will be worth it. The connection I gained with the boy as we studied his math book on Wednesdays is something I could never trade. I am not sure where my career path would have led me if I was not lucky enough to ... impact lives."
Sponsor's endorsement: "She is one of the most altruistic people I have ever met. She has given of her time and talents to everyone she has come into contact with. She has been instrumental in organizing volunteer events. Her attitude is that since she has been blessed with a life that is relatively comfortable she is humbled and enthused to be able to help others less fortunate."
Moriah Mulroe, John Hersey High School
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Parents: Mark and Diane Mulroe
Sponsor: Jim Miks, English teacher
Community service: Organizes parties, fundraisers for A Safe Haven, a homeless shelter and drug/alcohol rehabilitation program. Helped watch refugee kids from Haiti temporarily housed there after the earthquake, since Moriah speaks French and many kids were there without parents. Helped establish the Race to End Homelessness. Religious education teacher at St. Edna Catholic Church; counselor at Camp Soar for kids with special needs; peer tutor at Hersey; mentor for incoming freshmen.
Personal statement: "Through my service accomplishments, I have discovered an intellectual goal as well as a moral goal. While I am still undecided about which college I am going to attend or what specific career I wish to pursue, I do know the person I want to be."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I have been teaching for 18 years and have taught thousands of students. I have never seen a student bring so much humor and spirit to civic engagement. With regard to empathy and joy for others, she is the best student I have ever taught."
Parth Shah, Schaumburg High School
Parents: Jagdish and Anjana Shah
Sponsor: Cindy Dvorak, psychology teacher
Community service: With Students Helping Others club ran Halloween food drive, SHOCase of the Bands concert, fundraisers for Red Cross and American Cancer Society; manages front desk at St. Alexius Medical Center; Relay For Life team captain, also led entertainment committee; team leader for school's Siemens "We Can Change the World" project; Field Museum unpaid internship.
Personal statement: "In the end it's the amount of change you bring to the table, not the dollars you earn. My goal, ultimately, is to encourage greater social responsibility and a commitment to change practices that are inefficient, ineffective and unnecessary. Ideas are everlasting and bring about change, which breeds new adventures and a passion to explore. This is the real American dream."
Sponsor's endorsement: "His caring personality and ability to work well with others, combined with his determination and desire to excel lead me to believe he will find great success."