The Forest Scout Friday Five

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The Forest Scout Friday Five is a weekly segment that celebrates five people making a distinct, profound, and positive difference in the Lake Forest High School community. To visit our most recent installment, click here.  To recommend a student, teacher, support staff, or community member for inclusion in The Forest Scout Friday Five, please email [email protected]

The Forest Scout Friday Five 58Mrs. Catherine Catanzaro: Mrs. Catherine Catanzaro, a mother of two, teacher of many and coach of a bunch more, certainly knows how to positively impact the students of Lake Forest High School. Commonly known as Coach Cat or Mrs. Cat, this Wellness for Life teacher has been at LFHS for four years now, has worked as the head varsity lacrosse coach since 2014 and coached field hockey at LFHS since 2006.

Walking into a school as big as Lake Forest High School, with multiple flights of stairs and endless hallways, can be scary to a confused 14 year old. The Wellness for Life program at Lake Forest replaces regular P.E for the the school’s youngest demographic and provides freshman with an experience of learning how the high school works by creating good habits while still maintaing a regular exercise and health class. This course is taught by Mrs. Cat and many more that help provide guidance. Mrs. Cat is the perfect fit for the job of molding freshman into responsible young adults. Sean Trkla, a student and T.A. in Wellness for Life for three years now, can attest to this. “Mrs. Cat is the warmest person in the high school. She is the most perfect person to handle freshman each year with her combination of patience and compassion.” Freshman year can, as we all know, be a lot to handle, but to have someone as special as Mrs. Cat guide and properly prepare us for the years to come is truly a blessing. A student who had her in his freshman year that would like to remain anonymous said, “She is really good with helping you settle in as a freshman. She will get on you about late assignments and putting your name on your paper. She really helped me adapt into high school.”

Last spring, Coach Cat got the job as the head varsity field hockey coach at LFHS. The team, who was coming off a IHSFHA State Championship, needed a coach like Catanzaro to rein them in and continue to improve. Coach Cat is the type of coach who knows when to have fun and when to work. There is a fine line between coach and friend and she draws, and enforces, that line perfectly. A junior on the team who has had Coach Cat for three seasons, Logan Hanekamp, explained Catanzaro’s coaching style in her own words. “Coach Cat is always energetic during practices or games and encourages everyone to do their best. She makes us work harder everyday and I love going to practice where I have a coach that has so much passion for the team.” All of Coach Cat’s players testify to her persistence and positive attitude that will make you a better player, yes, but also a better person. Senior field hockey player Sophie Metzger mentioned, “Coach Cat is always pushing you not only to be a better player, but a more well-rounded person by having everyone’s best interest at heart. I know I can go to her and get honest, sound advice.”

Playing sports, especially at the high school level, should not only make you a better athlete, but teach you lessons for life. Coach Cat is actively shaping young adults into strong characters who will do great things in the years to come. If you are lucky enough to be coached or taught by such a special educator, soak up her advice and you’ll be better for it.

The Forest Scout Friday Five 61Senior Olivia Douglass simply does it all. A dedicated member of both Cum Laude and National Honors Society, Student to Student, and Women’s Club; a diligent athlete on varsity field hockey, varsity basketball, and varsity lacrosse–she is the jack of all trades. Anyone who knows Olivia knows she stays on top of her game–both on the field and in the classroom–twenty-four-seven.

In the winter, Olivia’s focus switches from field hockey to basketball with essentially no time off. But the lack of a break in between sports doesn’t stop her commitment to the sport and her team. Caroline Skinner, a longtime teammate of Olivia mentions, “She is one of those leaders that’s not super vocal but lets her game and work ethic speak for itself. You can depend on her on and off the court, and she is such a good role model for the underclassmen.” Her leadership especially came in handy last year, when her little sister, Halle, made varsity as a freshman. “Olivia always made me feel comfortable around the team and always included me around her friends. Because of that, I became so close with all the girls on the team and even closer with her.” Halle confirmed. Naturally, these qualities transfer smoothly to the lacrosse season, where Olivia, once again, is a coveted team member.

Olivia, almost supernaturally, manages to juggle three varsity sports with a rigorous academic schedule. Not often do you see a high schooler with supremely gifted athletic abilities also challenge themselves in the classroom, and thrive. Mary Gregg, who has shared classes with Olivia, can attest to her knowledge on the field and in the classroom. “Olivia is someone I can always count on to help me study for tests and quizzes. She is very hard working and always does what she has to do to be successful in class.”

Aside from her three varsity sports and clubs, Olivia enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She is known for her charisma, affable personality, and positivity. “Olivia is never negative, she’s one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet, ” mentioned good friend Mia Johnson.

Clearly, Olivia Douglass has it all going on. Sports, extracurriculars, academics, a social life– you name it, she does it. Her enthusiasm in all facets of her life is unprecedented, and it definitely should not go unnoticed.

The Forest Scout Friday Five 59

Ryan Klein: When a sophomore boy is deemed “funny” by his peers, most roll their eyes and assume that he is a master of crude humor, slapstick jokes, or uses other people as a fodder for his comedy. Sophomore Ryan Klein, however, is an anomaly. “He would make speeches about policy in Model UN and they would be genuinely funny,” mentioned senior Will Steck, who took in Klein’s humor firsthand as a fellow member of the Model UN team.

For Klein, his sense of humor–which was also put on display in his improvisation classes at Second City this summer–is his most noticeable attribute. “He’s never inappropriate though,” said Will Davis, a junior student. “That helps his humor make its way to the classroom because he doesn’t have to sacrifice staying on task to lighten everyone’s attitude.” Aside fro being a crack-up, this 15 year old Lake Forest resident runs on the cross country team and, as mentioned prior, is an active participant in Model United Nations.

Using his reputation as a positive influencer in the high school, Klein’s leadership duties extend into CROYA, where he helps recruit and help kids open up through a variety of different events and activities.

It is clear to all that know him that Klein’s wisdom is blended with an effervescence for life that truly brightens the spirits of those around him. “He’s a breath of fresh air because kids enjoy being around him for the right reasons,” shared one teacher. “He can make his teachers and peers laugh with the same joke–that’s certainly special. But that’s just Ryan.”

The Forest Scout Friday Five 60Skyler Kreunen: If Lake Forest High School had a “Most Interesting Man/Woman in World” commercial slot, much like that of Dos Equis, the winner might be a fourteen year old girl, not a graying older gentleman. The class of 2021’s Skyler Kreunen certainly checks some of the boxes that would file as prerequisites for the contest. She takes Latin and Spanish, is a member of the varsity reading team, and is said to bake the best cookie in the school, according to fellow freshman Margot Pierce. Fellow freshmen Julia Chang and Whitney Wisniewski both credit Kreunen for keeping them motivated on a daily basis.She always finds a way to make you laugh, and is not afraid to invest in her passions. “She is someone that works hard, but plays harder. She always shows me how to find excitement in everything, even if it’s trying in school,” shared Whitney Wisniewski. Julia Chang adds, “No matter what situation, she is in she always managing to sneak in sass and her own pizzaz. From babysitting for crazy kids at a birthday party, to just the way she carries herself. Skyler is Skyler–there is no substitute.”

In her first month at LFHS, Kreunen has solidified herself as an academic while also investing thought in another one of her passions, beauty. “She’s a beauty fanatic, and loves adding a sparkle to things, whether it be school or to a face,” mentioned another freshman classmate. Before speaking about all of her academic and social success, however, all of Skyler’s friends and classmates made sure to make note of her inclusive nature as a person and how strong of a friend she is. “I’ve known Skyler since we were both five.  She is one of my best friends, and I am really glad that she is,” added freshman Margot Pierce. “She’s supportive, especially if I’m having a bad day, where she always helps me look on the bright side of things and pull me out of a low spot. She is also understanding, and if I want to gripe about homework or a class, she listens. Whenever she wants to go somewhere for an activity, be it a library craft or just hanging out, she asks me if I want to come too. Many times, she doesn’t ask just me, but other friends as well, and we always have a good time.”

For freshman, with four middle schools joining into one high school, it is important to know people that enjoy involving others and that relish each opportunity to meet a new person. Each class needs someone who is able to build bridges for people in order to link them into new social experiences and activities. For the class of 2021, they are lucky to have someone as inclusive and interesting as Skyler Kreunen.

The Forest Scout Friday Five 62Robert Salkin: If you see him in the hallways, you might mistake Robert Salkin as an intimidating, crude, football “hardo” due to his silent demeanor and imposing 6’4 frame. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone who knows Robert well knows he would never hurt a fly (off the field that is). Just ask his varsity football teammate Jack VanHyfte. “Salkin’s the best,” said the Scouts starting running back, “He’s the kind of guy that will make you smile off the field and you know will give 100% on the field”.

Others know of Robert as an automotive buff. “It’s crazy,” says teammate Sean Trkla, “he knows everything there is to know about cars. Every make, every model. If you need help looking for a new car, Salkin is your guy.” It’s fair to say that Robert is a well-liked, highly thought of, great character kind of guy, which is probably why his transition from the Cincinnati suburbs just over a year ago went so smoothly. “We love him,” says fellow junior and two year teammate Porter Weisberg. “He’s positive, he’s a smart kid and easy to talk to. He’s the kind of person you want to have in your community.” Indeed Robert embodies a keen self-awareness and enthusiasm that renders him simply a “likable kid,” which, as we can all attest, is not all of us all of the time. 

So don’t let Robert’s imposing figure let you write him off as the football-only narrow minded type of meathead. He’s a genuine good guy, one of the few that’s left, and he should be appreciated as such.