“Celebrating our Backgrounds” is a weekly column by senior Tori Velazquez, one of the leaders of LFHS’ new EmbRACE club. Each week, she will discuss issues surrounding race, ethnicity, and equality with people in the LFHS student body.
Katherine Jemian is a junior at Lake Forest High School who plays the French horn in the band for the high school as well as being involved in many other things, like Holiday Brass, Pit Band for the Spring Musical, while also being junior representative for the Band Leadership Team (BLT). She’s also a member of Big to Little, which volunteers in North Chicago schools to help kids to their homework after school. She has also been a member of the Armenian Dance Company of Chicago (ADCC) for nine years. She volunteers with many organizations like Salvation Army, her church, and other organizations. Katherine enjoys the outdoors, traveling around the world, and helping others in any way she can. Other than being an active volunteer and being committed to her extracurricular activities around her community and in school, Katherine is a very down-to-earth woman, always stepping in and going above and beyond when it comes to helping others.
Where are you from originally?
“I lived all my life in lake Bluff. I’m a third generation American born but I’m also Armenian and Swiss.
My family traveled to this country because they were escaping the Armenian genocide. Forty people in my family were killed and executed. They fled to this country taking any route they could possibly take. But even on their way out, many of them died.”
What’s your family like?
“We always uphold religious and traditional celebrations from our Armenian background. For example, we have 3 Christmases. We just enjoy keeping the traditions alive to remember our heritage.”
What’s your favorite thing about being at Lake Forest High School?
“I like the diversity and how much opportunity this school gives us. It gives me the ability to branch out to do whatever interests me and I really enjoy that. I’m able to find clubs, groups, etc. that best fits me.”
How do you feel when you walk into the front doors of your high school?
I feel really welcomed, nothing like the movies. I really do believe I couldn’t have a better experience being at another high school.
How do you think LFHS could improve when it comes to racial equality?
“I think LFHS is doing an okay job but one thing LFHS could improve on is involving different heritages and different cultures, and reaching out to the minorities so that their experience at LFHS is better. We need to highlight that it’s not just the stereotypical Caucasian population that everyone sees.”
Do you ever feel like an outlier in the community? When and how?
“In the community, they do a really job incorporating every heritage. I’ve never really felt like an outcast in this community. For example, Lake Bluff does a great job doing different events like the tree lighting that brings everyone in the community together, which creates some sort of a bond within everyone in Lake Bluff.”