2015-2016 Fox Valley Leadership Team

  • The 2015-16 Fox Valley Leadership Team gathers at Gail Borden Library in Elgin. From left, they are: Karl Rauschenberger of Elgin Academy; Molly McQueeny, Geneva Community High School; Cameron McCall, Huntley High School; Emily Laughead, Rosary High School; Bryan Giannone, Harry D. Jacobs High School; Allison Holloway, Larkin High School; Lucy Gruber, St. Charles North High School; Sydney Cavanaugh, Batavia High School and Elnora Burzlaff, Harvest Christian Academy. Not pictured: Jyotsna Bitra of Illinois Math and Science Academy.

      The 2015-16 Fox Valley Leadership Team gathers at Gail Borden Library in Elgin. From left, they are: Karl Rauschenberger of Elgin Academy; Molly McQueeny, Geneva Community High School; Cameron McCall, Huntley High School; Emily Laughead, Rosary High School; Bryan Giannone, Harry D. Jacobs High School; Allison Holloway, Larkin High School; Lucy Gruber, St. Charles North High School; Sydney Cavanaugh, Batavia High School and Elnora Burzlaff, Harvest Christian Academy. Not pictured: Jyotsna Bitra of Illinois Math and Science Academy. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
Posted1/14/2016 5:14 AM

Jyotsna Bitra, IMSA
Jyotsna Bitra, IMSA
Jyotsna Bitra, Illinois Math and Science Academy

Hometown: Bloomington, Ill.

Class: Senior

Parents: Anantha and Dayanandam Bitra

Sponsor: Julia Husen, coordinator of college and academic counseling

Community service: Allies program, Student Committee for IMSA Advancement, Student Ambassador

Personal statement: "In the Student Committee for IMSA Advancement, I addressed legislators and spoke with alumni and donors promoting my school and the opportunities it brings students across Illinois. I have learned how to speak professionally as well as convince others why IMSA is like no other high school across the state. As the Legislative Director, I have given tours of the school to legislators and alumni."

Sponsor's endorsement: "She is a tutor for her peers on campus and for underprivileged students through the IMSA Early Involvement Program. Jyotsna's leadership skills and positive attitude were recognized nationwide when she was elected the Illinois representative by the other delegates at the Youth Leadership Council in Washington, D.C., and by her IMSA peers when she was chosen as a Wing Guide in her resident hall."

Elnora Burzlaff, Harvest Christian Academy
Elnora Burzlaff, Harvest Christian Academy
Elnora Burzlaff, Harvest Christian Academy

Hometown: Elgin

Class: Senior

Parents: Jeff and Andrea Burzlaff

Sponsor: Jill Nolan, English teacher

Community service: Student council, Kids Hope USA mentor, volleyball team captain

Personal statement: "Serving has always come as a natural drive to me; I find enjoyment and satisfaction by serving for and leading those around me. Through volunteering and leading, I have learned many valuable lessons. I have found that volunteering and serving is only worthwhile if you don't expect anything in return."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Ellie has attended Harvest Christian Academy all four years of her high school career and has made it her ambition to engage in after-school activities and school leadership responsibilities. Past contributions include captain of the varsity volleyball and soccer teams, class representative of student council for several years, and a member of the National Honor Society. A natural leader, Ellie has been able to increase student involvement in events at Harvest Christian Academy and has displayed true, committed and selfless leadership to underclassmen."

Sydney Cavanaugh, Batavia High School
Sydney Cavanaugh, Batavia High School
Sydney Cavanaugh, Batavia High School

Hometown: Batavia

Class: Senior

Parents: Bill Cavanaugh and Tiffini Zimmerman

Sponsor: Steven Lesniak, counselor

Community service: OrthoKids, HC Storm tutoring, Athletes Against Hunger, Feed My Starving Children

Personal statement: "Volunteerism has helped me a lot when it comes to deciding what to do with my future. With my service, I have discovered how much of a people person I really am. I love being able to help people, and when I can fix things for others I do whatever I can to do so. This is when I realized that a career in the medical field would be great for me. Ortho Kids has helped in my decision to follow a career in physical therapy. If I was never able to go and help at this event, I do not know if I would have fully discovered my passion for becoming a physical therapist."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Sydney is on the executive board of Interact Club, an organization whose motto is 'service above self.' I cannot think of words that better describe Sydney. Her kindness and compassion are without measure."

Bryan Giannone, Harry D. Jacobs High School
Bryan Giannone, Harry D. Jacobs High School
Bryan Jeffery Giannone, Harry D. Jacobs High School

Hometown: Algonquin

Class: Senior

Parents: Charles and Gina Giannone

Sponsor: Julie Krepel, science teacher and lacrosse coach

Community service: JDRF walk, lacrosse team captain, National Honor Society, Project Hope

Personal statement: "My volunteer work with the JDRF has inspired me so much that I hope to one day create a cure for diabetes, or at least make it a more manageable condition. Due to my strong loyalty to the organization: I hope that I can one day intern in one of their research labs in college, or possibly work toward a cure with the nation's leading diabetes research organization."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Bryan's leadership began to emerge at our preseason conditioning, where he set the example by out working others and pushing everyone around him. Once morning practices began, he consistently showed up early and was a mentor to our younger players, demonstrating what it meant to play Golden Eagle Lacrosse. He always volunteered to show a drill and made sure others understood how it ran."

Lucy Gruber, St. Charles North High School
Lucy Gruber, St. Charles North High School
Lucy Gruber, St. Charles North High School

Hometown: St. Charles

Class: Senior

Parents: Wendy and Gary Gruber

Sponsor: Matt Ruckoldt, English teacher

Community service: Senior class president, Rejoice Lutheran Church Youth Ministry, Downtown St. Charles Partnership student representative, Peer Leadership mentor program

Personal statement: "My name is Lucy. I'm 18 years of age. I struggle to pass my physics tests most of the time even if I study for hours on end. I do my best to keep my room clean, but most of the time you can't see my floor. I watch hours of YouTube videos on people that document their good deeds and travels around the world into the wee hours of the night in hopes that it will be me one day. I'm Lucy and I want to change the world."

Sponsor's endorsement: "I could begin this letter by listing all the things she has accomplished and highlighting her academic abilities, but it is who she is that makes her special. She puts a smile on your face. Watching her interact with her peers is amazing because you see how much they both like and respect her; people gravitate to her because of her spirit and personality. "

Allison Holloway, Larkin High School
Allison Holloway, Larkin High School
Allison Holloway, Larkin High School

Hometown: Elgin

Class: Senior

Parents: Mark and Tracy Holloway

Sponsor: Tony Sanders, District U-46 CEO

Community service: Connie-a-thon, Student Advisor to Board of Education, New Covenant Bible Church children's ministry

Personal statement: "Volunteering for things like Connie-a-thon and Mr. LHS, along with smaller events like Feed My Starving Children, all play into my desire to make a difference. Connie-a-thon has definitely been one of my greatest accomplishments. Through this event, we have raised awareness for organ donation and helped save lives. It has taught me that the smallest thing you do can have a much bigger impact than you know."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Give Allison twenty seconds of your time and she will overwhelm you with her energy. Give her five minutes and she will impress you with her intelligence and level of maturity. When you get to know her as I have, you will realize there is a lot more to Allison. She has a motivation and purpose that is nearly impossible to describe in words."

Emily Laughead, Rosary High School
Emily Laughead, Rosary High School
Emily Laughead, Rosary High School

Hometown: North Aurora

Class: Senior

Parents: Amy and Jim Laughead

Sponsor: Kerry Shay, English chair

Community service: Emily's Hope, Interact Club, JDRF Children's Congress, Feed My Starving Children

Personal statement: "In 2005 my family and I started the organization Emily's Hope, Type 1 Diabetes Education and Awareness. I have a website that teaches those who are newly diagnosed or do not have the disease what I have to do to live a healthy life and how to take care of myself. On the website there are different topics such as educational comic strips, facts about diabetes, and links to articles about medical breakthroughs regarding Type 1 Diabetes."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Diagnosed with diabetes at an early age, she learned to cope and make the best of her condition. Emily is determined that the disease will not define her; rather, she chooses to define herself. Emily's Hope is a not-for-profit organization developed by this amazing young woman while she was still in grade school. The goal of her organization is to spend 100 percent for JDRF research and therapy. To date, Emily's Hope has raised over $62,000."

Cameron McCall, Huntley High School
Cameron McCall, Huntley High School
Cameron McCall, Huntley High School

Hometown: Huntley

Class: Senior

Parents: Steven and Valerie McCall

Sponsor: Melanie Lyons, science teacher

Community service: National Honor Society president, Link Crew mentoring program, Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County

Personal statement: "My junior year of high school I decided to gain additional volunteering experience through working my community's Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. After a very successful interview, the site coordinator asked me if I would feel comfortable working with a special-needs case. The child's name was Tyler and he had been born prematurely with brain hemorrhaging that had left him incapable of verbal communication, with the exception of the most basic words. I agreed, believing I was doing him a service. Instead, the year I spent with Tyler ended up being the best gift I have ever received and changed my life."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Cameron has made it a goal to work with children as a career. He plans to study child development and pre-med with a career goal of being a pediatric psychiatrist or pediatric intensive care doctor."

Molly McQueeny, Geneva Community High School
Molly McQueeny, Geneva Community High School
Molly McQueeny, Geneva Community High School

Hometown: Geneva

Class: Senior

Parents: Patrick and Nancy McQueeny

Sponsor: Asma Afridi, school counselor

Community service: Mission trip to Appalachia, Key Club, senior class president, Spanish National Honor Society tutor, volunteer work at marathons

Personal statement: "One of the life skills I have learned through my volunteer work is communication with people of all ages. A testament to this life skill is Appalachia Service Project, a mission trip that I have participated in during each of my high school years. Every summer 80 volunteers from my church travel to the Appalachian Valley area to repair homes to make them warmer, safer, and drier. Ages on this trip range from 13 years all the way to the mid 80s. My favorite part about this trip is that the age barrier is broken down, forgotten, and of no importance on this trip."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Molly embodies all the qualities we would like to see in our youth today. She is an all rounded student, excelling in academics, sports, and citizenship. Molly also possesses leadership and teamwork skills, both of which are highlighted throughout her high school career."

Karl Rauschenberger, Elgin Academy
Karl Rauschenberger, Elgin Academy
Karl Rauschenberger, Elgin Academy

Hometown: Elgin

Class: Senior

Parents: Keith and Cindy Rauschenberger

Sponsor: Doug Sept, principal

Community service: Outreach 360 mission trip, PADS, soup kitchen volunteer, Big Brothers Big Sisters

Personal statement: "Outreach service stirred my interest in community service. Since spring break service trips happen only one week a year, I found ways to serve continually. I decided to try volunteering with my school at PADS, and I have enjoyed this service opportunity immensely even though it means waking up every Thursday at 5 a.m. to serve breakfast and clean the shelter before school starts."

Sponsor's endorsement: "Karl is the rare student who has attended spring break service trips, dating back to his middle school years. He has tutored young children in English at orphanages in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Karl also volunteered this summer to work with me in teaching middle-school students how to use 3-D printers. He was instrumental in installing these devices throughout the school and mentoring other students in their use."

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