Catholic New World: Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago

Star students find many ways to shine

By Hilary Anderson

St. Francis de Sales High School senior Sean Kendall Keith Brooks could have made his life easier by transferring to a nearby school when he moved to his mother’s south suburban home.

But he decided the education St. Francis provided was too important a factor in his future success, so he made the commitment to spend nearly an hour and a half traveling each way from south suburban Lynwood to Chicago’s South Ewing Street, where the school is located.

“Having never taken public transportation, I’ll admit I was scared,” Brooks said. “Not knowing what high school would be like made me nervous and excited. But I was determined to succeed. I swallowed my fear and replaced it with confidence.” Brooks set goals for himself. He wanted to make the All-Catholic League team in basketball, graduate with honors and go to a four-year university.

“My goals in life guide me,” added Brooks. “As grand as it sounds, my primary goal is to be immortalized in history books but I expect the learning experience at St. Francis will help me figure out how.” Brooks is approaching his high school graduation, and he’s achieved some of those goals, having a 3.7 grade point average and serving as captain of the boy’s varsity basketball team. In the fall, he will attend Bradley University on a scholarship.

Jalisa Williams is another St. Francis star who has overcome many challenges on the road to success.

“The neighborhood I lived in going back and forth from my parents’ to my grandmother’s house was not very safe,” Williams said. “It had ‘hot spots’ that soon took over the neighborhood. There were various gangs fighting with each other. These soon resulted in daily cross-fires. They resulted in senseless killings.”

When Williams graduated from her elementary school, she and her classmates learned they had an opportunity to go to a private school of their choice through the assistance of Gary Comer, founder of the Land’s End Company. “I knew I needed to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. I had the hopes that being a Gary Comer Scholar would benefit me in various ways, the most important— preparing me for college,” Williams said.

Williams has maintained a 3.45 GPA, and moved into the honors English track for her junior year and AP English in senior year. She has become a member of the National Honor Society and the Student Ambassador Representatives Club. She frequently goes back to her former grammar school and tutors students there.

“When I graduate from high school and further my education by going to college, I will be the very first person in my family to do so,” Williams said. “I will go where there is no path and leave a trail!” Star grads can be found in all Catholic high schools from one end of the archdiocese to the other. Michelle Rosales, at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest has struggled with cancer the past two and a half years. Despite her many absences, Rosales has earned a 4.73 on a 5.0 scale GPA with a challenging course load every semester.

“I will never lose sight of the miracle of life, whether fighting for life or fighting to be the best I can be,” Rosales said. “ I believe that through seeing my anguish and suffering, my family and friends will also realize they are fortunate. I hope they will remember how positive I have tried to be through all the ups and downs. Life is too short to cry over what you can’t change.”

Woodlands’ Belise Rutagengwa is trying to change the world so others don’t have to face what she did. Her happy childhood ended at age 8, when she watched her parents, grandparents and many others become victims of genocide in Rwanda.

She lived in refugee camps before coming to the United States to live with her aunt.

Rutagengwa has used her painful experience to enlighten those around her and led a campaign to write letters to President Bush and other politicians to urge them to help end the genocide in Darfur.

She approaches academics and extracurricular activities with determination and a positive attitude.

“Living in an underprivileged country and then moving to America opened my eyes to opportunities people are given here [in the United States] and don’t even recognize.”

Following are more stars of the Class of 2007, as selected by their high schools:

Archbishop Quigley High School Seminary: Nicholas Arguelles is cited by teachers, athletic coaches, club moderators and fellow students for his hard work ethic and leadership. He is in the top 10 percent of his class, was elected treasurer of the National Honor Society and ASIA Club and has been a co-captain of the cross country and wrestling team. He will attend the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Andy Kirchoff’s four years at Quigley have had a profound effect upon his vocational discernment. He was involved in extracurricular activities including plays, the chess team and newspaper. He plans to attend St. Joseph’s College Seminary after graduation.

St. Benedict High School: Amelia Arce has been a Kairos leader, played softball for the varsity team, is a member of the Honors Academy and student council for three years and now is vice president of the executive branch of student government. She also traveled with the school to Spain, Morocco, Italy and Greece.

Brittany Edens is a member of the Honors Academy; serves as a student worker in the dean’s office; was a St. Benedict High School ambassador; and now is the senior class president .

Brother Rice High School: Patrick Vail is valedictorian and is receiving a senior gold medal in math and two in science. Vail has attained Superior Honors in all four years at Brother Rice. He is a National Merit finalist; an Illinois State Scholar and will attend USC.

Patrick Coughlin is salutatorian, a National Merit Letter of Commendation recipient and an Illinois State Scholar. He will receive senior gold medals in student leadership and as Brother Rice’s student-athlete. He also received honorable mention as an IHSA student-athlete. He will attend Notre Dame University.

Carmel Catholic High School, Mundelein: Tim Anastos has shown superior leadership skills. He served as the rector for the Kairos Retreat. He dons a pirate outfit and serves as the school mascot for assemblies and athletic contests. He shows a radical empathy for others, is intelligent, enthusiastic, perceptive, creative, courageous and insightful.

Christie George is a socially conscious, well-liked student with a 4.0 GPA. She is first vice president of her senior class and participates in National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and the varsity tennis team, and she was a leader in Carmel’s Eighth Grade Renewal Retreat. She volunteered for Lake Forest Hospital and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School: Yadira Vieryra was at an impasse with God five years ago, having just suffered the devastating loss of her uncle. Three years later she began to reconcile with God through service. Since then, Yadira has embodied the Jesuit mantra of being a “woman for others.” She dances with the school’s Ballet Folklorico Mexicano, is student body vice president, assists on the Kairos retreat team and is a member of Cristo Rey’s Ambassadors Club. She has acceptances to Holy Cross, Marquette University and Georgetown University.

Juan Vaca is co-valedictorian. This spring, Juan played Mr. Webb in Cristo Rey’s production of “Our Town.” Vaca hopes to become a “man for others … as someone who benefited from the fruits of someone else’s service, it is my turn to serve others who will be in need.” He will attend Marquette University, studying human resource management.

De La Salle-Institute Campus: Pierre Miller was a two-year peer minister and assists with the planning, setup and execution of many all-school celebrations. He reads at liturgies, sings and is in charge of all recorded music and the details of the worship environment. De La Salle-Lourdes Campus:

Dana Dalrymple ranks third in her class and is a member of the National Honor Society. She is a leader who is willing to share her knowledge with others. She participates in cross country and soccer; and is mayor of the student government association. She will attend Dominican University.

Fenwick High School: John Higgins has a GPA of 4.725 on a 4.0 scale. He was the rector of Kairos retreat; president of the National Honor Society; wrote skits for the school’s variety show; was a disc jockey for the radio station, was a member of the bowling team, video yearbook committee and the Dominican Youth Preaching team; and he works in the school concession stand. He is the 2006 recipient of the Archdiocese Catholic Leadership Award. Higgins plans to study biochemistry.

Ann Murray has a 4.73 GPA on a 4.0 scale. She has taken six years of math in high school. She is an AP scholar, scoring ‘5’ on six AP exams. Murray is a peer tutor; member of the National Honor Society, math team, engineering and science competitive team; a volunteer for Relay for Life, Global Alliance for Africa and Rebuilding Together. She qualified for state tournament in debate and speech. Murray plans to study physics and political science in college.

St. Francis de Sales High School: Sean Kendall Keith Brooks has a 3.7 GPA and is working to graduate with honors. Brooks is looking at careers that may include college athletic director, artist or an architectural engineer. He has been accepted at Bradley University.

Jalisa Williams is a Gary Comer Scholar with a 3.45 GPA; is taking AP English this year; was inducted into the National Honor Society; a member of the school’s Student Ambassador Representatives Club; and serves as a tutor at her grade school. Williams plans to attend college and will be the first in her family to do so.

Gordon Tech High School: Diana Data is valedictorian, an officer for the National Honor Society and Student Council; serves as a Student Ambassador and Big Sister. She is active in her home parish of St. Helen and in Chicago’s Polish community. She will attend De- Paul University.

Joe Jacks is an Eagle Scout, an honor he earned after years of service to his parish, St. Andrew. He is a member of the track team, the yearbook staff, big Brothers/Big Sisters, National Honor Society, Student Ambassadors and WKGTTV. He will attend Columbia College.

St. Gregory the Great: Jose Velez will be the first in his family to graduate high school. He struggles with learning disabilities and could barely read or write when he came to the school. He now works after school with his dad as a janitor at St. Greg’s. He also works with computers in the Protégé Program and has been accepted by DeVry University.

Ana Rivera is always helping, volunteering and mentoring. She was a varsity member of the volleyball team; secretary of the student government and also on the yearbook staff. She interns with the Protégé Program at Chicago Diversified, an environmental specialist. She will major in business at Northeastern Illinois University.

Guerin College Preparatory High School: Danielle Piagentini is salutatorian and a three-sport athlete, winning most valuable player and conference recognition in basketball, volleyball and soccer. Piagentini, who hopes to earn a degree in nursing and become a physician’s assistant, won the Bausch & Lomb Science Award as a junior. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the Italian Honor Society.

David Pinto is known for his work as a musician and artist. He is a four-year veteran of the band program, this year’s band president and member of the Symphonic, Jazz and Marching Bands. He is a member of the National Honor Society and was named the outstanding student in Italian in 2004. He will major in art and pursue an artrelated career.

Hales Franciscan: Maurice Bell is the valedictorian, a member of the National Honor Society, the National Scholars Society; Who’s Who among American High School Students; and was selected as Junior of the Year. He was a state qualifier on the school bowling team, has been captain of the chess team and has played baseball for three years. He also has worked while tutoring younger children.

Marcus Thomas won Microsoft’s “Making the Business: Young Challenge.” Now Thomas, along with four other students, has the opportunity to create a business with the backing of Microsoft. Thomas is a member of the National Honor Society; student council president; and a Daniel Murphy Scholar. Thomas was awarded the Chick Evans Scholarship and received a full scholarship to the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.

Holy Trinity High School: Catrina Patton is in the National Honor Society, helped start new programs like the debate club and finds excitement in new challenges. She volunteers with programs geared toward children and the poor. Patton has been accepted to Northwestern University and the University of Michigan.

Yasheima Williams is president of the National Honor Society and was a cheerleader and volleyball player. She volunteers at Geraldine’s Daycare, Visitation School, Franciscan Outreach, Misericordia Bakery, Chicago Food Depository, Ada Park and with the U.S. Post Office’s “Letters to Santa.” She will study accounting and law at Michigan State University.

St. Ignatius High School: Tom Van Grinsven is a top honors student who served as co-captain of the sectional champion boys’ varsity soccer team; is on the executive board of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps; was a student leader on a Kairos retreat and nominated for the IHSA All-State Academic team. He will attend the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass.

Ariel Johnson began developing her leadership talents in the St. Ignatius Higher Achievement program during the summers of seventh and eighth grades. She is an executive board member of Ignatius Students in Sisterhood; a student leader on Kairos and Snowball retreats; and had a role in the opera workshop production of “Beauty and the Beast.” She will attend John Carroll University, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

St. Joseph High School: Anne Liotine earned second place in her graduating class and had a prominent role in the newly formed Women’s Leadership organization and is a member of the National Honor Society; the Spanish Honors Society; the 2007 Prom Committee; and the basketball, volleyball and softball teams. She earned a scholarship to Dominican University.

Jose Gomez is the president of the student council and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD); a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Students for Peace and Justice. He also writes for the school newspaper and plays on the chess team. He has received several scholarships and will attend DePaul University to study law.

Josephinum Academy: Miriam Sanchez is a leader in the Spanish Club and senior class meetings. She is active in student council and is working on the senior prom. Sanchez takes academics seriously and enrolled in AP Spanish.

Cynthia Arevalo has consistently been on the ‘A’ Honor Roll and is a member of the National Honor society. In 2006, she was the recipient of the Goal 2 Award for Academic Excellence and is now enrolled in AP Spanish and AP English. She has served in Mexico with abused women and with Habitat for Humanity and in Seattle with formerly homeless children.

St. Laurence: David Karpiel is a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Program Gold Medal, which requires 250 hours of volunteer service in a year. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the Leader/Scholar program, peer ministry and Edmund Outreach programs, and is involved in the math team, Scholastic Team, football and track teams and the St. Laurence/ Queen of Peace Band. He will attend Benedictine University.

Keith Kierzek was captain of the soccer team, a member of the baseball team and lead snare drummer in the St. Laurence/Queen of Peace Band. He was a Leader/Scholar; student council representative; member of the National Honor Society; and tutor for fellow students, carrying the responsibility outside of school in cases of students with extended illnesses. He volunteers weekly at the Oak Lawn Public Library. He will study business or engineering at Bradley University.

Leo High School: Antonio Topps was inducted into the National Honor Society in his sophomore year. Topps played on the basketball team all four years and received the title of captain for his toughness and courage to lead.

DeAndrae Haynes is a member of the National Honor Society and the “Sons of the Lion” Leadership Club of Leo High School. He has maintained a 3.9 GPA while performing in the Leo Choir and school band. He is an accomplished musician.

Maria High School: Annette Roland is one of 15 siblings. All of her sisters attended Maria and like them, Roland maintains an ‘A’ average. She is editor of the school paper; president of the National Honor Society; played various roles in Maria plays and is on the soccer team. She received the Vicariate V Youth Leadership Award for Advocacy/Prayer and Worship.

Rose Eileen Dalcamo is following in the footsteps of her mother and sisters who all graduated from Maria. She maintains a ‘B’ average; is a talented artist; a eucharistic minister; a Kairos leader and plays volleyball. She received the Vicariate V Youth Leadership Award for Community Life.

Marian Catholic High School, Chicago Heights: Tim Spear’s exceptional musical talent and personal qualities positioned him as a president of Marian Catholic’s award-winning 260-member band. In addition, Tim has maintained a 4.773 cumulative grade point average.

Katherine Gray, with a GPA of 4.798, is one of the school’s most intelligent students. As one of five Dominican Preachers, she has served as a model and mentor within the student body to lead a Christian stance against the ‘isms’ that discriminate against persons of color, women and innocent victims of violence.

St. Martin de Porres High School, Waukegan: Nikeshia Gardner maintains the highest GPA in her class, despite the unexpected death of her mother in March 2006. She is active in basketball, softball and volleyball— serving as team captain during senior year. She is a member of the Drama Club, Ambassadors and prom committee. Gardner is active in her church youth group and takes part in service projects. She will attend HBC Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, Fla.

Jessica Borjon has excelled academically despite health issues, which include 20 surgeries. Borjon has served as president and vice president of the Ambassadors and helped develop the Cross Cultural Club and became its president. She is a member of the Student Ministry team and participated in the National Hispanic Institute and service projects. She has been accepted by Loyola University Chicago and the University of Dayton.

Mother McAuley High School: Stephanie Seweryn has a leadership role in Student Ambassadors, choir, the International Thespian Society, liturgical musician and chorus. She balances nine classes in a school day that only allows for eight. She maintains impressive grades in her Advanced Placement and Honors level courses even with all of her activities.

Rebecca Pikula has served all four years as a liturgical dancer. She choreographs the dances she and her classmates use for school liturgies. Pikula has an ability to bring out the best in others and is able to get others to join her. She volunteers her time to teach dance to young children and classmates. Mount Assisi Academy, Lemont:

Christina Yang is valedictorian and is involved in the National Honor Society, Student Council and yearbook. A major contribution she made this year to the school community was the on-line production of the school yearbook, Assisian.

Lori Fuchalski is salutatorian and has contributed to several organizations, including the National Honor Society, Student Council, International Club and sports. Fuchalski also is active in her parish and retreat work with young people. She has assisted in the Kairos program at school and also is a student recruiter.

Mount Carmel High School: Eric Myjak ranks first in his class with a GPA of 4.98 and is a member of the National Honor Society, a participant in the Senior Leadership Seminar, four-year letterman in baseball and a valuable member of the 2006 football team.

Frank Pucci, Student Council president, oversaw a complete reorganization of the council and helped establish a variety of new activities including a “Taste of MC” festival and “St. Baldrick’s Day” fundraiser for Children’s Cancer Research. He is the recipient of a $1,000 award from the Illinois State Historical Society for his Chicago Metro History Fair research paper, “Rumble in the Wigwam,” which focused on the 1860 Republican Presidential Convention. He is a member of the National Honor Society and will attend the University of Chicago.

Nazareth Academy, LaGrange Park: Robert Paniagua holds a 3.8 GPA. He served on class board for four years, participated in Campus Ministry, the retreat program, Snowball, Youth Initiative, drama productions, newspaper and school yearbook. He traveled to Belize with a group of Nazareth students to run a soccer, volleyball and arts and crafts camp. He will attend the University of Iowa and major in business administration/law.

Tomo Lazovich is salutatorian with a GPA of 4.79. He will attend Harvard University. His ability to lead as president for his junior and senior years and participate in math, science and chess clubs while being an editor for the school newspaper makes him stand out.

Northridge Prep, Niles: Daniel Moore is valedictorian and will attend Notre Dame University. He is an outstanding actor and has been a leader in the school’s Pro-Life Club and spent two summers involved in a service project helping to improve San Isidro, an impoverished mountain town in Michoacan, Mexico. A prize-winning bagpipe player, he also has entertained crowds at home basketball games and other events.

John Powell is salutatorian and will attend Northwestern University. He was awarded Honorable Mention to the All-State Academic team by the IHSA. A three-sport standout, Powell competed as a state finalist in golf and received Second Team All-Conference recognition in basketball. Powell has dedicated all his achievements to his mother, who passed away from cancer in his freshman year.

Notre Dame High for Boys, Niles: Phillip Szachowicz was captain of the varsity soccer team, a member of the National Honor Society and a Hesburgh Scholar. His volunteer work enabled him to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. He will attend Loyola University.

Brian Peltrine is a member of the Hesburgh Scholars and the National Honor Society. As NHS service chair, he led efforts to raise money for breast cancer awareness and helped lead Notre Dame’s “Adopt-a-Kid” program at Christmas. Peltrine is a four-year member of the Notre Dame band and competes on the cross-country and volleyball teams. He also has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He will attend Marquette University.

Notre Dame High School for Girls: Sa’mone Murphy ranks sixth in her class with a GPA of 4.608. She is president of the National Honor Society. She will attend DePaul University, where she was awarded a grant for $4,000 and the Msgr. Egan/HopeAward for $14,000 a year. Murphy will major in business administration.

Dominique Moore is 10th in her class with a GPA of 4.3. She is a member of the National Honor Society. She has never served a detention while at the school and feels very prepared for the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her dream is to become a doctor.

Our Lady of Tepeyac: Carolina Carmona traveled to this country alone as a high school sophomore, determined to seek a better education. She worked and paid for some of her own tuition, while maintaining strong grades. She also represented her school at area grade schools and at OLT’s annual benefit. She will attend UIC.

Maggie Martinez is the first in her family to attend a Catholic high school. She tutors students at St. Paul Grade School. Martinez came to OLT as a quiet, reserved student and is graduating with a stronger voice and greater determination to be successful in college. She will attend Northern Illinois University.

St. Patrick: Gregory J. Platt is the spirit behind the school’s Lasallian Youth program. He organized the school’s Thanksgiving Food Drive 3-hour famine experience and volunteers in several soup kitchens. He is a participant on the school’s campus liturgy team, football and track squads, National Honor society, Spanish National Honor society and Spanish club. He will attend the University of Illinois at Champaign.

James M. Ridgeway was the IHSA 100-yard breaststroke champion for 2006 and 2007 and a 2006 member of the USA Swimming Scholastic All-American team. He is a member of the National Honor Society and president of the French National Honor Society. He will attend the University of Michigan on a full Division 1 Athletic Scholarship.

Queen of Peace High School, Burbank: Nicole Paprocki ranks first in her class. Her participation in numerous clubs includes Amnesty International. She is a St. Catherine of Siena Scholar, whose four-year research project focused on the effects of a vegetarian diet on the immune system. Paprocki intends to pursue a career as a pediatrician.

Katherine Peplinski is characterized by a passion for dance and strong faith. She holds the Sinsinawa Dominican values of community and partnership. Peplinski plans to attend Marquette University to major in speech pathology.

Regina Dominican High School, Wilmette: Elizabeth Ave Maria is Regina’s strongest academic student. She is a member of the National Honor Society and participates in activities such as French Club, Mathletes, TRI-M and the Environmental Club. She also runs cross-country and track.

Amelia Salutz adds insight and a synthesis of ideas to her work. Salutz has been a swimmer all four years and is a leader in the National Honor Society, Class Council and school orchestra. She is rated a master violinist.

Resurrection High School: Annie Peterson’s activities include campus ministry; National Honor Society; Kairos leader; vice president of Diakonia; Student Ambassador; Principal’s Advisory Committee; Spanish Club; lector and eucharistic minister at St. Thecla Parish. She received the 2006 Archdiocese of Chicago-Vicariate II Youth Leadership Award for community service and social justice. She will attend Lewis University and plans to become an oncology nurse.

Kelsey LeFevour’s activities include National Honor Society; Thespian Honor Society; student council representative; Principal’s Advisory Council, Student Ambassadors; campus ministry; Kairos leader; Drama Club; Health Careers Club; Broadcasting Club and theater stage crew. LeFevour uses a wheelchair because of scoliosis, but the condition has not affected her enthusiasm. She is a recipient of the Sister Georgine Marie Faith Witness Scholarship. She will attend the University of Denver.

St. Rita High School: Jonathan Lopez is valedictorian. He is an Illinois Sate Scholar and an Illinois Merit Recognition recipient. He serves as co-captain of the chess team; editor of the school newspaper, The Ritan; and member of the Hispanic Club. He will attend Notre Dame University.

Andrew Janik is salutatorian. He was named to the IHSA’s All- State Academic team. Janik is an Illinois State Scholar and Illinois Merit Recognition recipient. He is active in soccer, volleyball and the Knights of Augustine. He will attend the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he has been accepted to the Honors program at the College of Business.

St. Scholastica Academy: Catherine Marek has completed the International Baccalaureate program and has participated in many campus ministry projects. She is president of the Societe Honoraire de Francais chapter and a member of the dance troupe, chorus and musical ensemble. She received the Presidential Scholarship from both Bradley University and the University of Dayton.

Renee Sassana is valedictorian She has been involved in campus ministry, serving as cantor at many of the school liturgies. She also volunteered at Misercordia Home for the last two years. She will attend Knox College or Illinois Wesleyan University where she plans to major in English.

Seton Academy, South Holland: Lougwin Spann starred on the school’s first boys’ varsity basketball team and was named to the Illinois Times and Daily Southtown All-Area teams, the Chicago Catholic All-Conference team and All-Academic team. He will attend East Central University, Ada, Okla., on a basketball scholarship, majoring in computer programming.

Katie Abbott received merit scholarships each year at Seton for ranking as one of its top five students. She served as a member of the National Honor Society. She participated in both tennis and softball all four years. She is a peer mediator, shadow leader and stage manager for theatrical productions.

Trinity High School: Lauren Fafoya is an academic leader, editor- in-chief of the yearbook; co-editor of the school newspaper and member of the National Honor society. She has received recognition for outstanding achievement in biology. She has a strong faith, quick sense of humor and a warm heart.

Jennifer Baecker is active in Amnesty International, working to protect human rights; and on student council and swim team. She also worked on service projects for Misericordia; Hepzipah Home, a childcare organization; and Katrina relief by raising money.

St. Viator, Arlington Heights: Peter Bernacchi suffered a stroke at age 14. He spent nearly a month in the hospital and years recovering. The stroke left him unable to read, speak or write, and he had to start again at the first-grade level. This year, he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. Bernacchi looks forward to going to college and majoring in business and economics.

Katie Drolet serves as co-president of the Inter Class Student Council, president of the Ambassadors Club and is involved with the Campus Ministry program. She received the Archdiocese of Chicago Youth Vicariate Award, the Peacebuilder Award and the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership International Award.

Willows Academy, Des Plaines: Alexa Tanglis has matured into a special young woman. She has worked steadily and successfully in her academic endeavors and been a reliable employee. She has been able to juggle an all-honors and Advanced Placement curriculum with other demands on her time. She applied to eight colleges, was admitted to all eight.

Neda Bahrani reaches out to people in need and makes them feel special. The balance she is able to maintain between her studies and social life is enviable. Bahrani has spent her high school years gaining the attributes that she feels will stay with her throughout her life: determination, hard work and perseverance.

Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, Lake Forest: Belise Rutagengwa was born in Rwanda. At age 8, she watched her parents and grandparents die in the genocide. She has never let her past discourage her, and used her painful experiences to enlighten the Woodlands community about the tragedy in Darfur. Her peers elected her to class office.

Michelle Rosales has inspired the Woodlands community during her struggles with cancer for the past 2 and a half years. Rosales attends class whenever possible. Despite her many absences, Rosales has earned a 4.73 on a 5.0 scale GPA with a challenging course load every semester.