DuPage County Leadership Team, 2016-2017
Jane Boettcher, Naperville North High School
Parents: Michael Boettcher, Irene Boettcher
Sponsor: Emily Richardson, instructor and learning support coach
Community service: The Merry Tutor, founded the nonprofit organization that provides free tutoring and offers high school students the opportunity to volunteer as tutors. Also created and designed the website at themerrytutor.org; The Field Museum Youth Council; Future Problem Solving Club, co-founder of the club at Naperville North
Personal statement: "I've learned, through projects like The Merry Tutor and Future Problem Solving, that so many people want to change the world. And that being a pioneer means more than leaving your own legacy. It means making people believe they can make a difference too."
Sponsor's endorsement: "At our particular high school, the majority of the students are high-achieving, ambitious, driven and very academically successful. Yet, Jane has a perspective that is both introspective and conscientious, allowing her to transfer information in a much more meaningful way."
James Doudourekas, Benet Academy
Hometown: Downers Grove
Parents: Mr. & Mrs. Konstantinos Doudourekas
Sponsor: Amy Wesley, college counselor
Community service: Boy Scouts of America-Troop 99; Wheaton Math Circle, volunteer teaching; Redwing Engineering and Design Team, founded team to initiate and execute engineering projects; Darien Park District and Indian Boundary YMCA, volunteer summer camp counselor; peer tutoring in physics
Personal statement: "I want to be a mentor to others during and after my engineering career. When I joined Boy Scouts, several older Scouts went out of their way to give me advice and teach me new skills. They also explained and demonstrated the integrity, morals, honor, and leadership that were expected of me. As a senior Scout, I greatly enjoy giving this knowledge to new members of the troop."
Sponsor's endorsement: "James has an old soul. If you have the opportunity to meet with him, I think you'll feel it, too, by his thoughtful conversation and willingness to know that he doesn't know it all."
Lilia Garcia, Addison Trail High School
Parents: Agata Kuczynska-Garcia
Sponsor: Mark Olson, social studies teacher
Community service: Field Museum volunteer; Marklund Children's Home; Blazer Ambassadors; Tri-M Honors Society; Relay For Life
Personal statement: "There has never been a time where I've felt happier than when I've helped another person. Volunteering is something that not only brings me great joy, but also teaches me about the importance of community among citizens. I've become much more appreciative of my own life, and I am able to understand difficult problems others may rather ignore. Being able to lend a hand to someone in need, or inspire a child to follow their dreams, and seeing how it improves someone's day, has inspired me to continue dedicating my time to serving my community."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Lilia is a top-notch young woman. Every day Lilia exemplifies the highest standard of which all others should attempt to reach academically and through her participation in various extracurricular activities."
Hometown: Both from Naperville
Class: Both Seniors
Parents: Lisa and Dan Gibbons; Bob and Jennifer Morrissey
Sponsor: Kim McIver
Community service: Started the Dodgin' 4 Lou Gehrig's Disease Dodgeball Tournament in 2011 when they found out their gym teacher's wife (Denise DiMarzo) had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. The annual event has raised more than $100,000 for the Les Turner ALS foundation.
Delaney's personal statement: "There are so many rewards from just volunteering, such as the satisfaction of helping others and fulfilling one's obligation to be a responsible member of their community. Volunteering often affords us an opportunity to understand how someone in need feels and what they go through."
Taylor's personal statement: "She (Denise DiMarzo) has taught me to never give up, to always stay positive no matter the situation, and, most importantly, not to take life for granted."
Sponsor's endorsement: "I am so incredibly proud of Delaney and Taylor. They are true role models."
Julia Hildebrand, Wheaton Warrenville South
Parents: Tom and Patty Hildebrand
Sponsor: Craig M. Lawrence, school English department chairman
Community service: J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation; Holiday boxes service project; Athletic Leadership Council; Ronald McDonald House Teen Advisory Board; Athletic Study Tables
Personal statement: "I strongly believe that my purpose in life is to use my strengths of compassion, selflessness, integrity, and reliability in order to care for others. It is my goal to dedicate my education and life work to supporting others during the most vulnerable and difficult times of their lives, and what I have learned from volunteerism will play a significant role in helping me achieve this goal."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Whether she is organizing hundreds of students to do service as part of our 'Tiger Day of Caring' event; collecting gifts for the families staying at our local Ronald McDonald House; or helping adults with disabilities open their presents on Christmas Eve each year, Julia always inspires me with her dedication to helping others."
Jacob Kelleher, Glenbard West High School
Hometown: Glen Ellyn
Parents: Bob & Pam Kelleher
Sponsor: Christine Lubinecki, counselor
Community service: Strike Out Cancer, spearheaded the planning of a fundraiser that raised $2,000; One Voice Outreach Choir, travels to area nursing homes to perform and meet with residents; Helped coordinate volunteer sessions where theatre club members performed at nursing homes; Glen Ellyn Children's Resource Center volunteer; Youth theatre volunteer at Hadley Junior High School
Personal statement: "I think one of the best parts about my life has been the luck I've had in being able to find what I love. From a very young age I've always known I've wanted to teach. Since the early age of seven, I've always appreciated my teachers as mentors and leaders. Since then, my love has only grown."
Sponsor's endorsement: "In my 25-plus years in education, I have encountered many amazing students. Quite simply, Jacob stands out from amongst them. He has enriched the halls of our high school and will no doubt be an asset to any campus community."
Renata Leighton, Glenbard East High School
Parents: Lauren Cheeks and Jason Leighton
Sponsor: David Krodel
Community service: Glenbard East Theatre Program, directed and produced a show to raise money for suicide prevention; Reality Illinois and the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists; Glenbard East Choir Program; Madison Elementary School, helped with classroom activities and school events; GBE Senior Leaders
Personal statement: "No matter what field of study I end up choosing to major in at college, and no matter what programs I become involved with when I leave high school, I am positive that my end goal in all facets of my journey will be to use whatever skills I develop to help others and create positive change in the world. Volunteering is not just something I do. It is how I live."
Sponsor's endorsement: "In the time I have known her, I have found Renata to be a student of diverse interests and varied talents and abilities who has a true passion for learning, an inherent curiosity about the natural world, a wonderful sense of compassion for others."
Natasha Nath, Neuqua Valley High School
Parents: Raj and Roopa Nath
Sponsor: Shawna Stanley, counselor
Community service: Mon Foundation (Kolkata, India), worked with autistic children in group therapy sessions; KidzPlanet, taught English at an NGO village school near Kolkata, India; (School) Helps Nepal, fundraiser to raise money for Nepal earthquake victims; (School) Helps Syria, fundraiser to raise money for the victims of the Syrian refugee crisis; Sovereign Pediatric Therapy, worked with developmentally disabled children
Personal statement: "I've learned through my diverse volunteering experiences that everyone, whether underprivileged or impoverished, has the potential to learn. It is my life goal to continue serving children both in my local community and around the world in hope that they will gain the resources to learn and to live a bettered life."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Natasha has a heart for service. Inspired by a family member with autism, she went to India over the summer to work with children with developmental disabilities in group therapy sessions."
AJ Panganiban, St. Francis High School
Hometown: Glendale Heights
Parents: Marlo and Tess Panganiban
Sponsor: Trudy Rigney, director of guidance
Community service: Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital volunteer; Boy Scout project, organizing effort to repair bleachers at school's tennis courts; Service project for a church; helped Community Emergency Response Team at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church; assisted an Eagle project
Personal statement: "My life goal is surprisingly the same goal I had as a child. I want to become a superhero. I longed for the feeling of special powers and the pride to protect everyone. Sadly, the world today only has those in movies, TV shows, and comic books. However, during my high school years, I realized that I can be still be hero: volunteering and doing service for others."
Sponsor's endorsement: "His character is top notch, he has earned the respect of his teachers and peers, and he serves as a terrific role model in his school and community. Furthermore, AJ has made volunteerism a big part of his life -- it's what he does."
Elizabeth Spurlock, Wheaton North High School
Parents: Lynne Pauly
Sponsor: Josh Coan
Community service: Kustom Team Kicks, started a business to raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer research and animal welfare; The Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation; The Ross K. MacNeill Foundation
Personal statement: "With each request for shoes for a sick kid or foundation fundraiser, I learn more about my causes and am further driven to continue pursuing my business mission. I share my fundraisers and individual stories on my business' Facebook page to cultivate awareness. As my business thrives, I continue to look for opportunities to expand the positive mark I can make on the world."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Liz painted a Blackhawks logo on a pair of Converse All-Stars, posted the picture of the shoe on the team's Facebook page. She was immediately inundated with requests. Rather than profit from her talents, Liz created Kustom Kicks, a charitable organization that raises money for animal welfare and pediatric brain cancer."