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posted: 2/9/2012 5:00 AM

2011-2012 Fox Valley Leadership Team

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  • The 2011-12 Daily Herald Fox Valley Leadership Team, from left: Carol Feng, Crystal Lake South High School; Garrett Gust, St. Charles North High School; Stanley Yuan, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy; Zeba Hasan, Jacobs High School; Constance Melchionna, Marian Central Catholic High School; Blase Horn, St. Edward Central Catholic High School; Dana Lindenberg, Elgin Academy; Ellen Wildman, Geneva Community High School; Larisa Sica, Elgin Academy; Sarah Norman, St. Edward Central Catholic High School.

      The 2011-12 Daily Herald Fox Valley Leadership Team, from left: Carol Feng, Crystal Lake South High School; Garrett Gust, St. Charles North High School; Stanley Yuan, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy; Zeba Hasan, Jacobs High School; Constance Melchionna, Marian Central Catholic High School; Blase Horn, St. Edward Central Catholic High School; Dana Lindenberg, Elgin Academy; Ellen Wildman, Geneva Community High School; Larisa Sica, Elgin Academy; Sarah Norman, St. Edward Central Catholic High School.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Carol Feng

    Carol Feng

  • Garrett Gust

    Garrett Gust

  • Zeba Hasan

    Zeba Hasan

  • Blase Horn

    Blase Horn

  • Dana Lindenberg

    Dana Lindenberg

  • Constance Melchionna, Marian Central Catholic High School

    Constance Melchionna, Marian Central Catholic High School

  • Sarah Norman

    Sarah Norman

  • Larisa Sica

    Larisa Sica

  • Ellen Wildman

    Ellen Wildman

  • Stanley Yuan

    Stanley Yuan


Carol Feng, Crystal Lake High School

Hometown: Crystal Lake

Class: Senior

Parents: Zhuojun Feng and Yun Guan

Sponsor: Brian Adcock, math teacher

Community service: Habitat for Humanity, hospital volunteer at Advocate Good Shepherd, National Honor Society breast cancer fundraiser

Personal statement: "During my sophomore year of high school, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel over to the United Kingdom and Ireland for the summer, and at the time, the title 'Student Ambassador' just happened to be an incidental perk. But with every new town visited, every new friend made, every new hand lent, I began to see that while academia is essential to one's self-betterment, translating such self-betterment in order to benefit others is much more rewarding."

Sponsor's endorsement: "She is one of the most talented in individuals in the school in leadership ability, creativity, and the desire to serve others in need. She has been a member of WYSE Academic Challenge team since her sophomore year and was an integral part of the 2009-10 state-qualifying team, surprising even her teammates with an outstanding performance."

Garrett Gust, St. Charles North High School

Hometown: St. Charles

Class: Senior

Parents: Robert and Pamela Gust

Sponsor: Erin Manheim

Community service: TEAM Polaris, Relay For Life volunteer, adapted PE volunteer, turkey drive

Personal statement: "Throughout high school, I have become extremely involved with helping others. Whether it is volunteering my time every day in a class that helps students with special needs participate in Physical Education, or if it ends up that I organized and help lead a club that promotes acceptance and social opportunities for everybody with special needs. The end result has been monumental in both the lives of those that I help, and myself as well."

Sponsor's endorsement: "As the Assistant Director for Student Activities I've been able to witness him in his extensive role in our Team Polaris club, an organization that develops programming to include some of our disabled students in school activities. He has taken on a leadership role in this organization, not only planning activities such as our Dance Marathon (which benefits Special Olympics), but also presenting to local schools on how they, too, can include all students in extracurricular activities. "

Zeba Hasan, Jacobs High School

Hometown: Algonquin

Class: Senior

Parents: Ashfaq K. Hasan and Asra Hasan

Sponsor: Terri Dawson, teacher

Community service: Jacobs Safety Initiative, Rotary Interact, S.A.D.D., American Muslim Community Organization

Personal statement: "Presenting and selling ideas became second nature for me through my high school organization, Jacobs Safety Initiative, where I present all of the projects our group partakes in and initiates to hundreds of conference attendees. I was able to present our state secretary as the conference's keynote speaker and speak to him regarding his future plans of the Graduated Driver Licensing Laws."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Without a doubt, her most extraordinary accomplishment has come from her commitment to promoting Service Learning at Jacobs High School, within our district, within the State of Illinois and across the United States. Two years ago, the team received the top national honor, Best of the Best, for their teen safe driving initiative. Through Zeba's leadership and grant writing expertise, our school was awarded $45,000 in grant money for our safety initiative. "

Blase Horn, St. Edward Central Catholic High School

Hometown: Sleepy Hollow

Class: Senior

Parents: Peter and Amy Horn

Sponsor: Kerry O'Brien, adviser

Community service: Tutoring, Kairos retreat, vacation Bible school, S.A.D.D.

Personal statement: "Being involved in Big Brother/Big Sister has allowed me to help incoming students adjust to the new environment by answering questions and showing them around the school. By being a member of the student council and the National Honor Society, I am also able to make a difference in the community. For student council, I am able to serve the student body and have been involved in setting up charity events (Sock Hop for Socks, Candy Canes for Care, etc.) where the proceeds are donated to various organizations and charities."

Sponsor's endorsement: "He has been part of every play and every musical put on at our school for the last four years. He has been in front of the lights as well as behind them, putting in dozens of hours to perfect dialogue and assemble the sets. He brings this same sense of accomplishment to his volunteer work at the Fox Valley Theatre Company."

Dana Lindenberg, Elgin Academy

Hometown: Geneva

Class: Senior

Parents: Kate McCracken and Randy Lindenberg

Sponsor: Sharon Williams, counselor

Community service: Marklund volunteer, NHS peer tutoring, NAMI subcommittee leader, Delnor Ortho-Kids

Personal statement: "I want to run my own nonprofit someday. This has been my goal for a long time, and every time I volunteer I am reminded of why I want to do this. Whether I am assisting clients at Marklund, or teaching a child a new exercise in the water at Ortho-Kids, an aqua-therapy class for children with neurological and orthopedic conditions, I am making an impact."

Sponsor's endorsement: "This nominee knows what she wants. Typically when teenagers inform us of their career choices we smile knowingly, anticipating that Plan B or even C is just around the corner. Not so with this student. She knows that she wants to be a lawyer, and that she wants to focus on representing the mentally challenged. She demonstrates an immeasurable sense of compassion and a level of empathy uncommon in one her age."

Constance Melchionna, Marian Central Catholic

Hometown: Lake in the Hills

Class: Senior

Parents: Ken and Linda Melchionna

Sponsor: Rebecca Reed, guidance director

Community service: National Honor Society, Evan's Life Foundation, Key Club volunteer

Personal statement: "I have learned more about myself in my high school career than I have in my entire life. Having the responsibility to do things that change people's lives, such as the Christmas Drive and Blood Drive, is a powerful thing. I have been able to witness firsthand how even the smallest gestures can add up to a huge difference for a person or organization."

Sponsor's endorsement: "She is very involved in extracurricular activities. She was selected by her peers to be this year's Executive Student Council President and has been a class officer for three of her four years of high school. She is responsible for directing many student-organized activities, including homecoming, the Christmas Giving Drive, Teacher Appreciation Week, and school spirit programs."

Sarah Norman, St. Edward Central Catholic High School

Hometown: West Dundee

Class: Senior

Parents: Tom and Carol Norman

Sponsor: Kerry O'Brien, counselor

Community service: Sherman Hospital volunteer, National Honor Society, retreat team leader, Big Sister volunteer

Personal statement: "My life goal is to become a pharmacist. My volunteer work that relates specifically to the medical field has had a big impact on me and taught me the value of continually giving back and helping others in their time of need. I enjoy helping at my school with Heartland Blood Center's quarterly blood drives. Every Tuesday night I volunteer in the Mother/Baby Unit at Sherman Hospital. It gives me great satisfaction to help a busy nurse, nervous new mother, or tired family member. Offering a helping hand with even small routine tasks makes a big difference."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Beginning this summer she is volunteering 50 hours at Sherman Hospital. Last year she worked one-on-one with an autistic girl her age, teaching life skills and implementing service goals under the supervision of a certified teacher. She is an exceptional person."

Larisa Sica, Elgin Academy

Hometown: Campton Hills

Class: Senior

Parents: Brenda Mattes-Sica and Joseph Sica

Sponsor: Sharon Williams, counselor

Community service: Outreach 360 orphanage outreach, PADS volunteer, Kane County 4-H ambassador

Personal statement: "After 18 years I have finally figured out the word 'no' is not part of my everyday vocabulary. I find it very difficult to say 'no' when it involves helping others, whether it is people or animals. There are some days I feel I am living two separate lives: my school life and my life through the Illinois 4-H program. Throughout time I have gained the ability to balance both lives and bring them together."

Sponsor's endorsement: "This nominee is a leader in numerous co-curricular activities, and ... she does them well. She has a knack for organization, which was quite welcome as she co-coordinated our prom committee and a schoolwide donation drive for our annual service trip to the Dominican Republic. She has given one week of her spring break for the past three years to participate, and is scheduled to join us again, serving as a student leader on our dental health team."

Ellen Wildman, Geneva High School

Hometown: Geneva

Class: Senior

Parents: Mike and Amy Wildman

Sponsor: Victoria Holbrook, counselor

Community service: Creator of Ellen's Excellent Sale for Lazarus House, Christian Appalachian Project, God Squad Bible study group

Personal statement: "My first mission trip was at the age of 7, to the impoverished town of CaliCali in Ecuador to work on building an outdoor retreat center. After that first trip, I was inspired. I would look for opportunities everywhere to help my fellow man, including starting Ellen's Excellent Sale at the age of 8, inspired by a trip to Lazarus House homeless shelter in St. Charles. In the last eight years, Ellen's Excellent Sale has raised over $60,000. "

Sponsor's endorsement: "Rarely do I find a student as selfless as Ellen. Her compassion for others and willingness to serve those in need is remarkable. Annually, Ellen organizes and runs a community garage sale to benefit Lazarus House, a local homeless shelter. She began this activity eight years ago and the event continues to grow and yield a generous contribution to this charitable organization."

Stanley Yuan, Illinois Math and Science Academy

Hometown: Naperville

Class: Senior

Parents: Li-Ping Yuan and Mary Yuan

Sponsor: Julia Husen, counselor

Community service: LEAD team coordinator, STARTALK Chinese language program, peer tutoring, library volunteer

Personal statement: "It all began with LEAD. My school has a mandatory leadership development class for all sophomores, called Leadership Education and Development, or LEAD. The unique thing about LEAD is that it's run by students -- upperclassmen facilitators teach each class. As a sophomore, I was inspired by the class. Now, I serve as one of two coordinators. As a junior facilitator, I learned the difficulties of teaching a class. As a senior coordinator I'm recognizing the challenges of directing the program."

Sponsor's endorsement: "He just cannot say no! If there is any fault to be found in Stanley Yuan it would be his interest in too many activities. Admittedly indecisive, yet hating accepting less than his best, Stanley has taken on the world both academically and especially in his extracurricular involvement at our school."

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