Neuqua Valley sophomore Darla Andoni exudes confidence, clarity and momentum beyond her years, a young woman with drive.
UNICEF, French Honor Society, Mawi Learning — selected for that potential-building program, she said, by no less than principal Bob McBride — are among her interests. In May she’ll compete in an accounting event in Orlando, Florida, representing Neuqua’s Business Professionals of America chapter.
Accounting competitions? They have those?
“We have plans for Neuqua,” Andoni declared, not in the context of accounting, but we still would have believed her.
Lake Park sophomore Jaime Zepeda’s style seems less bold, more introspective. Taking all honors and advanced-placement classes he said he has a 5.3 grade-point average on the weighted 6.0 scale. He had to miss track practice Tuesday to continue caddie training at Medinah Country Club, which ends with Friday’s “graduation.”
He packs socks, nonperishable foods and other goodies for soldiers with Lake Park’s Veteran’s Club, meets periodically with principal John Gouriotis in the Lancer Lead program. He’s also a football cornerback and a member of the West Suburban Renegades club baseball team.
Zepeda likes the little guy, “the people who don’t get noticed but who have extremely high leadership qualities,” he said, such as a friend who recently lost someone.
“She says she wants to impact people in a positive way,” Zepeda said.
That is the overarching goal of the JKB Experiential Education Foundation, which has evolved from the original J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation. As we’ve written annually, JKB was founded by Colleen Malany and her then-husband, Ken Braid, shortly after the suicide of their son, Kyle, during a steroid cycle to gain strength and size for high school football.
Over 23 years thousands of high school student-athletes formerly went to Colorado and now visit Monmouth College the summer entering junior year for a week of leadership training, team-building and constructive decision-making via classroom settings and outdoor activities. The students are then tasked to translate these lessons to their respective schools through their own ideas and programs.
Along with Andoni and Zepeda, this year’s JKB scholars include:
Downers Grove South: Abby Carlson, Kelly Lyons, Philip Pakowski, Parker Smith, Melissa Weidner.
Glenbard North: Katie Blakeley, Anthony Ferreri, Casey Fridner, Marc Muller.
Hinsdale Central: Kayla Byrne, Charlie Carter, Zach Drescher, Anna Glowniak.
Lake Park: Ariana Notardonato, Franco Presta, Abigail Rodriguez.
Naperville Central: Jacob Crawford, Maddy Engels, Luke Hallstrom, Olivia Howard, Jack Jopes, Nina Raab, Matthew Ranieri, Caroline Reedy, Benjamin Russo, Lucy Schmid, Sam Wichhart.
Naperville North: Michael Bruebach, Julie Cameli, Colin Iverson, Grace Selman.
Neuqua Valley: Matthew Hill, Jordan Matthews, Karsen O’Keefe.
Wheaton North: Briggs Cecil, Jenna Kortenhoeven, Jacob Schauer, Anna Warfield.
During the interview that is part of the selection process, Andoni was asked how she might connect with students once back in school. She suggested creating a “peer teaching system” with substance abuse as a possible topic.
“It’s definitely more effective if we can talk just as peers on a more local level and then hope to make a change that way,” she said.
On a local level there are a couple upcoming JKB fundraisers: a tapas and sangria party at Naperville’s Meson Sabika on June 7; and a White Sox game on July 30. Information and reservations for both can be made at JKBFoundation.org.
“I’m excited because it’s a noticeable program,” said Zepeda, whose cousin, Maria, also was a JKB scholar. “And I think it’ll be able to impact me in a positive way — and maybe others who weren’t as lucky as me to go.”
Congratulations to Downers Grove North senior track and cross country runner Emma Moravec. The all-state 800-meter runner with the 35 ACT score was among 26 students statewide selected to the Illinois High School Association 2016-17 All-State Academic Team, sponsored by Caterpillar.
Honorable-mention selections included Glenbard South’s Sean Cooke and Downers North’s Robert Falconer.
New head man
On April 13 we asked Wheaton Academy about progress toward hiring a new athletic director. Told details would be available “in the next week or two,” 68 minutes later the announcement appeared on Twitter.
Kevin Lubbers will become the West Chicago school’s athletic director effective May 1. He comes from Colorado Christian University where for the last six years he coached the men’s basketball team.
Engineering a dramatic turnaround of that program on the court while simultaneously emphasizing studies, Lubbers led the Cougars to National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Division 1 titles in 2015 and again this season.
A Michigan native, married with three children, before arriving at Colorado Christian Lubbers coached the prior two years at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, where he was an Academic All-America player himself before graduating in 2001.
Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1