Lake County Leadership Team, 2016-2017
Aparajitha Adiraju, Vernon Hills High School
Hometown: Vernon Hills
Parents: Srini and Malini Adiraju
Sponsor: Nicholas Austin, counselor
Community service: Volunteer tutoring program coordinator and tutor for Each One Teach One at the Aspen Library; National Honor Society president; coordinated an Indian Classical Carnatic music concert to raise money for the Satyarthi Foundation, which fights child labor worldwide; District 128 School Board student representative; co-creator of "IT day" for local middle schoolers
Personal statement: "Tutoring mathematics and managing an organization has (helped) my perspective on education, giving me greater appreciation for the wonderful teachers and community that have supported me, and inspire me to go into a field that will allow me to help others."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Both her leadership experience and her leadership potential are off the charts for a high school student. In Aparajitha, you get a young woman of many talents, whose accomplishments throughout high school are dwarfed only by her ambitions for the future."
Gracie Bouker, Antioch High School
Parents: Cherie & Jay Bouker
Sponsor: Principal Bradford Hubbard
Community service: Leader in the Sequoit Sidekicks, school club that helps all students feel accepted; Vacation Bible School leader for three years; Student Ambassador for students new to ACHS; helps seniors maintain their homes and property by volunteering for ShareFest, sponsored by Northbridge Church; National Honor Society
Personal statement: "There is always someone who has more than you. But, there is also always someone who has less, and with that comes the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate. Community service has shown me firsthand that gratitude is an overlooked virtue; I've learned to not take my body, my mind, or my ability to accomplish tasks for granted."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Gracie is one of Antioch's most influential young leaders, whom others look up to as a role model. She is outgoing, compassionate and selfless. She greets anyone she meets with warmth, and tries to make the people around her feel comfortable."
Adriana Feijoo, Mundelein High School
Parents: Mario and Chiara Feijoo
Sponsor: Michelle Didzbalis, teacher
Community service: Created Fighting Back Against Cancer, a nonprofit that raises money and gives grants to local families affected by cancer. Head coordinator of Relay For Life, this past year raised $18,000 alone; as junior class president involved the class with Operation Christmas Child, where volunteers the world over collect toys and hygienic necessities for poor children; teaches on youth ministry team at church; volunteers for Project Linus
Personal statement: "From a very young age, my parents taught me that simple acts of service can make a positive difference in someone's life. My accomplishments through my volunteerism have shown me that my small acts of service can go a long way and change the lives of the people around me."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Hardworking, committed and dependable, when Adriana says she is going to do something, it will get done. Her passion for serving and leading seems to stem from strong family values -- she will carry such traits for the rest of her life."
Jack Gelinas, Lake Zurich High School
Hometown: Lake Zurich
Parents: Matt Gelinas & Jenny Gelinas
Sponsor: Catherine Norberg, teacher
Community service: Organized school badminton tournament for Alexander Leigh Center for Autism; organized blanket tying project for sick children; organizing school auction wall for Partners for Progress, a therapeutic riding center in Wauconda; volunteers at Alpine Runner races and events; volunteers at the local Emmaus House dinner for the less fortunate
Personal statement: "I have grown to recognize that volunteerism is not merely participating in organized events; it is a lifestyle, a choice that we make every day to improve the lives of others. By taking that extra minute to aid the struggling student or drive the timid underclassman home, I have embraced this philosophy."
Sponsor's endorsement: "In my 15 years as a teacher, he stands above and beyond all other students I have encountered. I have been blessed to watch the development of this amazing young man. His positive attitude, no matter what the situation, and his kindness toward others are an inspiration."
Mario Giannini, Grayslake Central High School
Parents: Peter & Melissa Giannini
Sponsor: Dustin Chierico, social studies teacher
Community service: President of National Honor Society, oversees community projects, dedicates 80 hours of service each year; led effort to get donated food for annual Veterans Day breakfast at GCHS; charter member and leader of Rams Dedicated, school club promoting mental and physical wellness; directed the silent auction at annual breast cancer research fundraiser; co-founder of Santa's Sleigh Ltd., to make merry with children stuck at Lake Forest Hospital over the holidays
Personal statement: "I aspire to live my life as an inspiration for those who wish to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Collaboration is a talent that I have found. My ideals define me, and I live them out through my actions."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Mario is genuine, positive, inspiring, candid and reassuring -- sometimes the leader, other times he does the tedious work to make the project a success. He finds ways to bring together people from different backgrounds to work as one."
Maddie Johnson, Lakes Community High School
Hometown: Lake Villa
Parents: Joe Johnson & Basia Johnson
Sponsor: Nicole Repa, counselor
Community service: Key organizer of Key Club service projects; comanaged a major fundraiser for Prince of Peace Church; volunteered and helped organize an event for the LCHS tech department; student council; organizes and manages groups in the homecoming parade
Personal statement: "My ultimate goal in life is to make a positive difference in people's lives. I am even planning on becoming a doctor so that I can help people every day. Volunteering my time has taught me how important one person is and how big of an impact they can truly have."
Sponsor's endorsement: "As a freshman, she participated in so many activities just to have different experiences. Every year since then, Maddie has done a great job trying new activities and committing and prioritizing what activities are most important to her. Maddie leads by example, always treating herself and others with respect and compassion."
Nathan Metz, Warren Twp. High School
Parents: James Metz, Wan-Yin Chou
Sponsor: Betsy Sagala, counselor
Community service: Taught music at a church camp in San Antonio; devoted a week to a small, poor community near Monterrey, Mexico; stepped in to volunteer as church choir director for several months this fall; his Eagle Scout project built a shelter and fence, providing a secure location for food pantry
Personal statement: "During my mission trip, I learned how to properly measure a plot of land and measure metal beams and erect them upright to secure an overhang. I learned to not jump to conclusions -- what's on the outside doesn't always reflect what's on the inside. However, these lessons paled in comparison to my true take-away -- that a little work goes a long way."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Students look to Nathan for leadership. He loves to help others as much as possible, whether encouraging his teammates, teaching piano to children, or volunteering in the community. His volunteering has had a profound impact on him, increasing the gratitude he feels for all he has in life."
Nikol Safronova, Stevenson High School
Hometown: Buffalo Grove
Parents: Vladimir Safronov, Elnara Safronova
Sponsor: Brett Erdmann, community service coordinator
Community service: As president of National Honor Society oversaw the organization of Streetfest, benefiting three charities that unite the school -- raised more than $10,000 and attendance rose by more than 2,000 people; in charge of schoolwide Give-A-Thon, with gifts for 360 families, restocking food pantry and donating baby items to Lake County PADS; Volunteer guitar teacher for inner city students; student leader for service outreach trips to community kitchen and to help kids living in shelter with homework
Personal statement: "By seeing the hardships people faced and the joy that they received from things many of us usually take for granted, I developed a zeal for service."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Nikol has a proven track record of high performance and exceptional leadership in challenging situations. In addition, she is one of the nicest students I have every worked with, and is mature in her interactions."
Ashley Schenk, Round Lake High School
Parents: Al Schenk & Sheri Schenk
Sponsor: Penina Noonan, counselor
Community service: A Head Leader for Panther Crew, helping freshmen transition successfully to high school -- in charge of her own group of freshmen but also overseeing Panther Crew events and workshops; community service projects with National Honor Society; 4-H leader/role model for at-risk kids in Lake County; Fox Lake/Round Lake Rotary Club
Personal statement: "Volunteering has no limit. There are endless ways to help someone, and the feeling that I get from working with others to make our society a better place is euphoric. I am captivated by the lessons you learn from volunteering and it is something I look forward to the rest of my life."
Sponsor's endorsement: "In everything she does, Ashley absorbs as much information as is provided to her. As a result, she has become a leader in many of the programs she has joined. She takes the initiative in every activity that she is a part of, from her extracurricular activities, to her work at Sammy's, to her academics and home life."
Aakash Setty, Vernon Hills High School
Hometown: Vernon Hills
Parents: Anand and Chaya Setty
Sponsor: Rebecca Bellito, counselor
Community service: Creator of the Mobile App team to make volunteering easier; initial launch will connect 40+ clubs at VHHS and then expand to other schools; founder of the Future Medical Professionals of America club, today has 70+ members and one of VHHS's top five clubs; student representative to the District 128 school board; volunteered at the Hindu Mandir of Lake County since middle school; volunteer at Winchester House in Libertyville for four years
Personal statement: "'Create and serve' defines me. From a young age, I have been passionate about identifying needs and creating solutions. This has led me to pursue becoming an organ transplant physician."
Sponsor's endorsement: "Aakash is the single most impressive student I have worked with in my 15 years as an educator. The weight of all his responsibilities would cause most adults, let alone teenagers, to be frazzled (but) his calm, confident approach makes him an effective leader whom his peers and advisers trust implicitly."