District 64 ELF Taps Ethical Student Leaders for 2012 Snow Award
The Elementary Learning Foundation (ELF) of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 has selected four eighth grade students to receive the 2012 Judith L. Snow Ethical Leadership Award. “All of the students chosen are exemplary ethical leaders. Each student knows his or her core values and has the courage to live by them in all parts of their lives in service to the common good,” according to ELF Trustee Kathleen Hagenlocker, selection committee chairman. “Each is a principled ethical leader who leads with integrity, selflessness, dependability, caring and fairness,” she added.
The annual award is greatly respected among District 64 students and its announcement is one of the year-end highlights for eighth graders, according to Superintendent Philip Bender. “The award spotlights students who are outstanding examples of ethical leadership in our middle schools, and reinforces that young students can be powerful role models for each other even as they navigate the challenges of adolescence and peer pressure,” he added. “We are very grateful to ELF for partnering with us to support our Civil Behavior program, which helps students develop awareness and the skills they need to be respectful and caring members of their homes, schools and communities,” Dr. Bender stated.
The four students received their awards at the June 11 Board of Education meeting. Their names will be engraved on a plaque displayed at their middle schools. The 2012 winners are:
- Colin Besetzny, Emerson Middle School – Besetzny is the son of Jeanne and Kevin Besetzny of Park Ridge. Teachers describe Besetzny as a cheerful student who works hard, asks for assistance when needed, and waits patiently for help. His teachers feel that other students learn a lot from his example. Selected as an Emerson Soaring Eagle this year, he helped shepherd incoming sixth graders using patience, respect and direction. Besetzny is a long-time Boy Scout and serves as a Patrol Leader. He plays volleyball and is an accomplished musician, who also participates as a Junior Board Member for the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra. For several years, Besetzny also has been a weekly volunteer reader for a younger boy who has Down Syndrome and was recognized by the Kohl’s Cares scholarship program for this dedicated service. Reflecting on how to live each day as an ethical leader, Besetzny says: “An ethical leader is a practical leader who not only has good ideas, but is one who is willing to remain honest, fair and respectful of the laws and rules of life, while striving to keep the best interests of his/her peers in mind at all times.”
- Julia Sirvinskas, Emerson Middle School – Sirvinskas is the daughter of Susan and Michael Sirvinskas of Park Ridge. Sirvinskas says her main core value “is to always stay true to myself and what I believe in.” She also feels that it’s important to allow yourself to make mistakes, to be willing to try new things, and to forgive yourself if you don’t do everything perfectly. Sirvinskas plays in the school’s Symphonic Band and was also a Soaring Eagle guide for incoming sixth graders this year. She is also very active in sports, including basketball and volleyball. In addition, she has volunteered for four years in the Baseball Buddy program with the Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation, where she helps children with disabilities play the game and is noted for making each child feel comfortable and accepted as part of the team. She also works as a Park Ridge Soccer referee. In reflecting on how she lives her life, Sirvinskas says: “I do not think you need courage to live out your core values, you just need to truly believe in the