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  • Wheeling siblings Luis, 15, and Alondra Arreola, 14, have their sights set on careers as professional soccer players. Luis is in the player pool for the U.S. national team, and Alondra has caught the eye of scouts for the Mexican national squad.

    Wheeling siblings have World Cup dreamsJun 19, 2014 12:00 AM
    As the World Cup plays on the Brazil this month, young soccer players from across the suburbs are dreaming that they might one day represent their country on the international stage. For siblings Luis and Alondra Arreola of Wheeling, those dreams might just come true. Both are soccer standouts who've already caught the eye of national team recruiters from the U.S. and Mexico.

     
  • Alejandro Molina Hoyos of Pingree Grove leads the student advisory committee of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and was an honors student at Elgin Community College.

    Pingree Grove immigrant learns to excel at ECCMay 15, 2014 12:00 AM
    Alejandro Molina Hoyos' family fled violence and turmoil in their native Colombia more than a decade ago to start over in the United States. Despite the many challenges he's faced since, Alejandro's hard work and perseverance have made him a respected leader among his peers. “My goal is to have the ability to give someone the same experience I had, have someone really enjoy their time in college and really develop themselves professionally."

     
  • Timothy Zhou, 17, a junior at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, is a National YoungArts Foundation honorable mention winner in music, an accomplished chess player and a fledgling mathematician. Recognizing patterns, he says, is key to succeeding in all three disciplines.

    Bolingbrook teen finds patterns of success across fieldsMay 1, 2014 12:00 AM
    Timothy Zhou excels at music, math and chess. While that may seem like an unusual combination, the Bolingbrook teen is quick to explain the three disciplines are much more similar than people may think. "There is beauty in patterns and logic which plays into not just chess and math, but also music," he says.

     
  • Tim Gruensfelder of Mount Prospect is an active volunteer at his parish and with Feed My Starving Children. A senior at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, he was awarded the Chicago Wolves' Breslin Memorial Scholarship and a full-tuition scholarship from St. Louis University.

    Mount Prospect teen wins Wolves scholarshipApr 24, 2014 12:00 AM
    Those who know Tim Gruensfelder agree on two things: He never lets anything stop him, and he never shows how much his battle with a rare tumor might affect him on any given day. Despite his challenges, Tim is an All-American wheelchair athlete, accomplished archer, honors student and active volunteer for many causes. “I just do what I love to do,” he says.

     
  • Shreya Mangalam, 10, of South Barrington, studies her opponent Matthew Li during the Illinois K-8 Chess Championships at the Hyatt Regency in Schaumburg last month. Shreya placed first in her age group.

    Barrington chess champ among nation’s best young playersApr 3, 2014 12:00 AM
    Playing chess is all about being like a fox, 10-year-old Shreya Mangalam likes to say. “I always try to do tricks that people can’t really see,” said Shreya, a fifth-grader from South Barrington. The tactic has paid off for Shreya, who is the top-rated female chess player under 16 in Illinois, and the third-rated girl under the age of 10 in the entire country.

     
  • Twin sisters Courtney, center in blue headband, and Ashley Quigley traveled to Guatemala last year to help build a home for a needy family. The 17-year-old Barrington High School seniors are the organizers of a fashion show in Barrington that benefits families and children in Guatemala.

    Barrington teens help kids in GuatemalaFeb 20, 2014 12:00 AM
    From inspiring fellow students to engage in service, to giving new homes to poor families in Guatemala, two Barrington sisters have been spreading a lot of good around the world lately. Twins Courtney and Ashley Quigley, 17-year-old seniors at Barrington High School, are the organizers of “Hope's in Style,” a student-led fashion show that raises money to help build homes for poor families in Guatemala.

     
  • Daniel Smrokowski, 25, of Westmont is the founder and executive director of Special Chronicles, which aims to give respect and a voice to people with special needs. He podcasts disability stories from his insider's perspective.

    Suburban man gives a voice to the special needs communityFeb 6, 2014 12:00 AM
    Communication is Daniel Smrokowski's biggest passion, but it's also his biggest struggle. The 25-year-old Westmont man is the founder and executive director of Special Chronicles, which produces podcasts, news and opinion pieces featuring the voices of people with special needs. "People need to hear our stories and our abilities," Daniel says.

     
  •  A business owner at just 17, Breje Whitt plans to make a career in the music industry. The Elgin teen three months ago launched Diamond Cut Productions, a sound/lighting/DJ business, mostly with money he earned while performing with BarlowGirl, an acclaimed Christian rock band.

    Teen entrepeneur from Elgin takes on music industry Jan 23, 2014 12:00 AM
    At age 15, Breje Whitt was playing onstage with a nationally renowned Christian rock band. At 17, the Elgin teen started his own DJ, sound and lighting company. Where he goes next is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure — music is going to be his life. “Music is what I want to do, but I don’t know where it’s going to go,” said Breje, a senior at Westminster Christian School in Elgin.

     
  • Vinay Nayak

    Oak Brook native travels route from shy kid to Rhodes ScholarJan 9, 2014 12:00 AM
    Vinay Nayak once was so shy that his teachers asked — not entirely in jest — for a home video to prove he was a normal, talkative boy as his mother claimed. Now relaxed and confident, the 21-year-old Oak Brook resident never forgot what it feels like not to have much of a voice. “I’ve tried to find a way to express myself and help other people find their voice too, both politically and outside of politics,” said Vinay, a senior at Yale University and one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

     
  • Suburban Standouts from 2013 included, clockwise from top left, Breanna Bogucki of Cary, Kevin Bickner of Wauconda, Wilbur You of Aurora, Megan Bozek of Buffalo Grove, and Cassidy Williams of Downers Grove.

    A look back at some of our most amazing Suburban Standouts Dec 26, 2013 12:00 AM
    This year we profiled dozens of young people in the suburbs who are inspiring us all through their hard work, commitment and talents. Today, we take a look back at a handful of our amazing Suburban Standouts -- from Wauconda, Cary, Buffalo Grove, Naperville and Downers Grove -- and catch you up on what they're up to now.

     
  •  Daniel Souvigny, 13, of Hampshire is quite the musician. Although he’s the most impressive on piano playing ragtime, he’s also a skilled violin player, and plays guitar and drums.

    Hampshire teen gives new life to old music Dec 5, 2013 12:00 AM
    Ragtime music might conjure black-and-white images of a bygone era, but to 13-year-old Daniel Souvigny of Hampshire there’s nothing better in the world. Playing ragtime piano is all about improvising and making pieces your own, said Daniel, one of the best young ragtime performers in the country. “It feels like I finally break loose and improvise to my heart’s content. I can do anything in any point in time to any song in ragtime.”

     
  • Four-time national champion go-kart racer Kyle Kalish with one of his karts at his Wauconda home.

    Wauconda teen winning as pro go-kart racer Oct 24, 2013 12:00 AM
    Kyle Kalish looks like he's been through the wringer after finishing a go-kart race. The four-time national champion sprint racer is bruised, exhausted and mentally spent. But the Wauconda teen relishes every moment. “A lot of kids think it's a Six Flags theme park type of thing where you just drive around in circles. There's a lot more to it than that.”

     
  • Fremd High School graduate Renata Wettermann is making it her mission to improve the quality of life for people in Haiti.

    Fremd grad makes a difference in Haiti Oct 17, 2013 12:00 AM
    Those first images of abject poverty in Port-au-Prince, Haiti — each scene teeming with people living without the most basic of human needs — are burned into Renata Wettermann’s memory. The Inverness teen knew right then her life's work would be to help the people of the Caribbean nation. She’s enrolled in the prestigious Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program in Houston, an eight-year program that accepts just 15 “scientifically competent, compassionate and socially conscious” students.

     
  • Mountain bike riders Will Darling, 11, of Vernon Hills, front, and Nate Knowles, 12, of Batavia, were introduced to the sport by their fathers. USA Cycling ranks Nate second and Will third in their age group in the cross-country mountain biking category.

    Young mountain bikers ranked 2nd, 3rd in nationOct 3, 2013 12:00 AM
    Nathan “Nate” Knowles and William “Will” Darling may be the best of friends, but that hasn't stopped the pair from becoming fierce competitors on the national mountain biking circuit. Nate, 12, of Batavia, and Will, 11, of Vernon Hills, are ranked the second and third, respectively, best cross-country mountain bikers in their age group by USA Cycling.

     
  • Singer Brisila Barros, 15, of Round Lake Beach finished fourth on “El Factor X,” a Spanish-language version of the television singing competition “X Factor.” Brisila finished fourth on the show and has high hopes for a singing career.

    Round Lake Beach teen enjoys brush with stardom on 'El Factor X'Sep 26, 2013 12:00 AM
    Once so shy she couldn't even sing in front of her family, Brisila Barros is still reeling from her brush with stardom over the summer as a finalist on "El Factor X," a Spanish-language version of Simon Cowell's TV franchise. The Round Lake High School sophomore spent five weeks in Mexico City filming. "I felt so special, like I wasn't even from this world," she said. "The whole thing is so humbling.”

     
  • Cassidy Williams, a senior at Iowa State University, had an internship this summer in iOS development with Intuit in Silicon Valley. The Downers Grove native, who's also interned at Microsoft, hopes to get more girls involved in computer science.

    Suburban wiz wants to lead women into tech world Sep 18, 2013 12:00 AM
    Cassidy Williams was the only girl in her AP computer science class at Downers Grove South High School. Now she is one of only five women majoring in computer science, along with 57 men, in Iowa State University's Class of 2014. It's a trend the Downers Grove native hopes to urge girls to change. “If we don't have women in computer science, we're only seeing half the picture,” Cassidy said.

     
  • Laura Zeng, 13, left, of Libertyville and Camilla Feeley, 13, of Lincolnshire take a ballet lesson during a recent training session at the North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastic Center in Deerfield. Both are members of the junior national team and Laura is the reigning national junior champion.

    Libertyville, Lincolnshire gymnasts find winning rhythm Sep 11, 2013 12:00 AM
    When watching rhythmic gymnasts Laura Zeng of Libertyville and Camilla Feeley of Lincolnshire, you’re not sure whether to be awe-struck or completely baffled as to how they do it. Each of the 13-year-olds has a promising future in the sport. "Laura and Camilla have the psychological ability to show their best when their heart is beating out of their chest,” coach Dani Takova said.

     
  • Shane Cloonan, 12, of Elgin uses a wood burner to make scales on a wood carving of a smallmouth bass during class at the Guge Institute of Wildlife Art in Gilberts. Shane took up wood carving only about eight months ago, but he's already has established himself as one of the nation's best in his age group.

    Elgin boy carving name for himself on national level Sep 4, 2013 12:00 AM
    Wood carving takes extraordinary patience, rigid discipline and remarkable diligence - traits not often associated with an active 12-year-old boy. Yet just seven months after taking up the craft, Elgin's Shane Cloonan already has estanlished himself as one of the best young carvers in the nation. “If you looked at (Shane's) carving, you'd be surprised that a kid made it. You'd think it was an adult,” instructor Josh Guge said.

     
  • Barrington High School senior Rosie Julian-Simoes and horse Proteus train at the Flying Dutchman Farm in Barrington Hills. She's among the country's top-ranked dressage competitors in her division.

    Barrington Hills teen flourishes in dressage Aug 22, 2013 12:00 AM
    While many people are unfamiliar with dressage (rhymes with garage), considered to be the highest expression of horse training and the most artistic of the equestrian sports, Rosie Julian-Simoes doesn't know a life without it. The Barrington Hills teen has been riding all her life, and now she and horse Proteus rank among the country's top competitors in their division.

     
  • Isabelle “Izzy” Hanson, 17, of Glen Ellyn says participating in pageants has built her self-confidence. She has been a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra since third grade.

    Glen Ellyn pageant teen finds beauty in music Aug 15, 2013 12:00 AM
    Don't tell Isabelle “Izzy” Hanson that she participates in beauty pageants. Yes, the 17-year-old from Glen Ellyn won the title of Miss Illinois' Outstanding Teen in June, and now is in Florida competing in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen. But those are not beauty pageants, she says. “What I gain from the pageants is growing within myself,” she said. “

     
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