In LFHS’ Faces in the Crowd column, we recognize students at Lake Forest High School with unique talents. Capsules were written by Meghan McGrail.
Being one of three identical triplets, Nina Gendek has definitely found a way to make herself stand out among the crowd. Though her size and height may deceive you, Nina is definitely someone you do not want to mess with. In the fall of 2011, Nina began taking Taekwondo lessons when she was just 9 years old. Originally, she started it as a fun way for her to hangout with her friends while trying something new; but, the more time she invested in it, the more she realized how much she truly loved it. Not only has Taekwondo been a great stress reliever for Nina, but it has also allowed her to learn a lot about herself as a person.
What originally started as an after school activity quickly turned into something she felt as though she couldn’t live without. Nina shared, “Taekwondo has really characterized me positively as a person. Growing up, I had always been the shy kid in all my classes and I never wanted to do anything I wasn’t familiar with. But Taekwondo has shown me how to be confident with who I am and everything I do. I don’t know where I would be without it.” A huge inspiration for Nina was her instructor. He encouraged her to push herself and be the best she could be and through the hard work, the positive results would come.
Currently, Nina practices at Keumgang Martial Arts Academy in Mundelein 5 times a week. Through her long and hard work, Nina was eventually rewarded with a black belt on November 25, 2015. Along with her weekly practices, Nina also performs in front of numerous crowds all throughout the year. In tournaments, you can compete in either board breaking, forms, sparring, or all of them. As for Nina, she competes in both board breaking and forms in most of the tournaments. Though she loves both, her favorite part is definitely board breaking. Aside from tournaments, each summer Nina has participated in parades in Libertyville, Mundelein, and Vernon Hills. She also shows off her skills in the annual summer carnival in Mundelein.
While Taekwondo has become a huge part of Nina’s life, it’s not necessarily something she sees herself continuing her whole life. Just because she stops practicing though doesn’t mean she will forget what she has learned. Taekwondo has taught Nina numerous life lessons about herself and who she wants to be that she will use throughout her whole life.
Jeff Kitzerow, a senior at Lake Forest High School, was in need of a summer job at the young age of 14. What he originally thought was an easy way to get quick cash eventually led to him receiving a full ride to college for all 4 years. In the summer going into his freshman year, Jeff took up caddying at Knollwood Country Club with a few of his friends. It was a good way for him to stay outside and enjoy the sun while making some pocket money all at the same time. Day to day, it starts out with him being ready on the course at 6:30 in the morning. As for how long his day is, it really varies. Some days he could be done by 10:00am while others he won’t be able to leave until 5:00pm. It truly just depends on how busy it is and how many people show up to golf that day.
Caddying has given Jeff countless opportunities in ways he could never have imagined. Every day he is able to work with some of his closest friends and was able to meet countless people that he now works with each summer. Still, the best thing that came out of caddying for Jeff would definitely have to be receiving the Evans Scholarship. Originally, his only intention with caddying was the job, but when he found out about the Evans Scholarship, it became a goal of his and ultimately something he wanted to pursue.
Each year, over 800 caddies attend college on a full ride scholarship from the Evans Scholars Foundation. In order to qualify, caddies must be nominated by their club and meet four requirements. They must have a strong caddy record, excellent academics, demonstrate financial needs, and outstanding character. You must have caddied for a minimum of two years and, if granted, the scholarship must caddy at the sponsoring club during the summers in between his years at college. As for academics, applicants must have completed their junior year with above a B average in college preparatory courses and are required to take the ACT or SAT. Once they meet the above criteria, the scholarship committee will interview finalists and then select those they feel worthy of an Evans Scholarship.
For the next 4 years, Jeff will be attending Indiana University and he couldn’t be more excited
Though you may know Erisa as a classmate, student, friend, or familiar face down the hallway, there is a whole different side of Erisa that many have no idea exists. Since the day that Erisa Farimani was born, she has been infused with royal blood, instantly making her part of the royal family. She received the royal blood from her mother’s side, making both her mother and sister princesses as well. Her family comes from Iran, making Erisa a Persian Princess from the Qajar Dynasty of Iran. Erisa mentioned, “Being Persian is a large part of who I am and the way I live my life. Since Iranians have many traditions and values, being part of the Qajar Dynasty of Iran has had a huge impact on not only me but my family as a whole. Being born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, it’s extremely interesting to compare my Persian heritage and the American culture that I live in.”
The Qajars ruled from the 1780’s to the 1930’s making them the second to last dynasty to rule Iran. Her great-great grandfather was Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, the King of Persia from September 5th 1848 until May 6th 1896 when he was assassinated. He was the third longest reigning monarch in all of Iranian History. Since Iran is no longer run by a monarchy, her mom, sister, or herself could never really become queens to the throne. Even though that may be true, they are still all known as princesses. If the Qajars ever come back into power, the presumptive leader would end up being a distant male cousin of Erisa’s, making her family the primary leaders of Iran again.
Erisa’s favorite aspect about being a part of the royal family is that she is able to know all about her family’s history and where she comes from. Many people are mixes of different origins from countries all over the world and can be unsure of his or her heritage and where they are from. For Erisa, that is not the case. She was able to learn all about her heritage and her ancestors throughout her whole life. She knows exactly where she is from and what role her family has played in the world.
As for the future, Erisa will always have royal blood, making her indefinitely a princess by our standards. Even though the Qajar Dynasty is no longer in power, the descendants of the Shah’s, or kings of Iran continue and will always play a major role in Iran’s history.
Hunter Weiss, a sophomore at Lake Forest High School, has debatably lived more of his life on ice than he has anything else. Way before Hunter was born, his dad’s family lived and breathed hockey. It was inevitable that hockey would quickly become a fundamental part of who Hunter is. When he was just 11 months old, Hunter’s dad laced up his first pair of skates on his small, baby feet. His dad would put him between his legs and drag him around the ice until he eventually learned how to do it on his own. Alongside Hunter, he grew up with two older sisters who were largely involved with hockey as well. Their passion for the game, along with his father’s, were both key factors that ignited Hunter’s love for hockey. Due to the fact that he was immersed in hockey before he even turned one, hockey became some of Hunter’s earliest and happiest memories. It truly has been something that he has always loved to do.
At the age of 13, Weiss started playing club hockey. Due to the fact that this commitment would ultimately take up a majority of his time and energy, most would take this as a very difficult decision. But for Hunter, it was an easy one. Hockey was something that he couldn’t live without. Deciding he wanted to pursue the sport at a much more competitive level was one of the easiest decisions he ever made and one he knew he would never regret. There is nothing that Hunter loves more than a super close and competitive game. Based on that, he knew that club hockey was something that could present him with what he needs.
Currently, Hunter plays for the Chicago Mission AAA program and has played with them for the last 3 years. Hunter alone is a 6 time state champion and has won the last 3 championships with his current team. Along with that, his team won the Pat Quinn Classic held in Vancouver this past December.
With Hunters hard work and constant dedication to the sport, he was able to have all of this dreams come true last August. Hunter committed to play hockey at the Notre Dame and he couldn’t be more thrilled that he is able to continue what he loves most for 4 more years beyond high school.
Mr. Osing, a current English teacher at Lake Forest High School, truly has a passion for books. He grew up around books and he can safely say that he loves everything about them. He loves their heft, the way they smell, old leather bindings, and so much more. Along with being surrounded by books in the classroom, Mr. Osing has found a way to spread his love for books beyond the walls of the high school. In 1994, Mr. Osing happened to be walking through an art store and came across some hand made marbled paper that–for some odd reason–he felt the need to purchase. He had heard of bookbinding in the past but never really thought much of it. After purchasing the intriguing paper, however, he thought he would put his hands to work and give it a try.
Originally, Mr. Osing taught himself how to bind books all on his own. It’s created with little stacks of paper; then you simply fold it over, and stitch it up. These little “packets” are called signatures because they often have a signature label on them so that binders stack them in the correct order. After binding multiple books himself, he later found a chapter from a book on how books are properly bound. Most recently, he took a course in 2 vellum bookbindings from Barbara Korbel, who had worked at the Newberry Library as a book conservator. Vellum, is “paper” made from a goat, sheep, or calf. Parchment is the same thing, but refers to calf only. After taking this course, he began acquiring the tools to do things properly. A sewing frame, book press, and a “plow” which is used to even out the edges of the pages in a book. Not only is this making things much easier for him, but it also benefited his results.
Osing, who is in his last year teaching at the high school, shared, “After looking up how a book was put together I just decided to dive in. It sounds so simple but there is nothing like seeing something that you’ve seen in your mind’s eye and having it turn out the way you’ve imagined. It’s honestly such an amazing feeling.”
Due to the fact that Mr. Osing will be ending his teacher career at the end of this 2017 school year, book binding will certainly begin to take up more of his free time. Not only has it allowed him to stay connected with books on a deeper level, but it’s ultimately a new hobby that he loves to do.