Harmon wins top award as Uni celebrates student achievements
Published: Friday, May 21, 2010 - 9:55am
When & Where: Wednesday, May 18, in Uni Gym
Student of the Year Award: Rachel Harmon
Director's Award: Isaure Hostetter
June Mank Award: Vivian Robison
Matt Wilhelm "Service With a Smile" Award: Tianna Pittenger
Other awards: Tuesday afternoon's ceremony featured a wide range of awards, with each department having a chance to recognize outstanding achievements. A complete list will be mailed out in the coming weeks.
URBANA — Senior Rachel Harmon was named Student of the Year at Uni's annual year-end awards ceremony, which took place Wednesday at Uni Gym. Director Jeff Walkington announced the awards.
Harmon, the Student Council executive president, was selected by the faculty for her academic success, participation in extracurriculars, creativity, and dedication to helping greater causes.
A complete list of awards and honors earned by Uni students this year will be mailed out in the coming weeks. Sports honors will be announced at the spring athletic ceremony 5 p.m. Sunday at Uni Gym.
The following are some of the awards given at Tuesday's assembly, with an emphasis on those whose winners were announced for the first time.
STUDENT SERVICES AWARDS
Kiwanis Club of Champaign-Urbana Vic Shaul Award
Chumin Gao, senior
The Champaign-Urbana Noon Kiwanis Club started a scholarship program in 1989 in honor of one of their club's finest members — Vic Shaul, a member from 1945 until his death in 1993. This $500 scholarship recognizes Shaul for his contributions to the C-U community and its young people. Gao, who was one of only 10 students named to the Chicago Tribune's All-State Academic Team, will study public health at Johns Hopkins University.
Junior League of Champaign-Urbana Volunteer Scholarship Award
Maria Gao, senior
Each year, the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana presents a $500 scholarship to one young woman from each of C-U's six high schools. The recipients are selected by their high school’s internal process based upon their volunteer service to our community. Gao plans to study business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Christopher Bannister Memorial Award
Zack Goldberg, senior
This award is given by the fine arts department in memory of the late Christopher F. Bannister, a member of the Uni High Class of 1955. He was a master harpsichord builder who believed that Uni High was a unique and ideal place in which to grow and stretch one's mind in many directions while still allowing one to specialize in particular interests.
According to Bannister, "There’s something 'immediate' about our society — learning the discipline of almost anything has fallen out favor. But be it in music or photography or anything else, subtlety and appreciation only come from self-discipline and study. And it's very rewarding if you make that effort."
Goldberg, a standout performer in Uni stage productions, will attend Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind.
Emma Koenker Award
Katherine Allen, senior
Isaure Hostetter, senior
Loic Hostetter, senior
Emma Koenker, a member of the Uni High Class of 1998, died on Aug. 16, 1995, as the result of a brain tumor. In her memory, the foreign languages department presents the Emma Koenker Award each year to an outstanding foreign language student who displays enthusiasm about learning languages and has a spirit of adventure and shows an eagerness to try something new.
Allen will study architecture at Tulane University. Isaure Hostetter plans to study Spanish, biology, and a premed curriculum at the University of California at Berkeley, while her brother Loic will pursue Middle Eastern and North African studies at UCLA.
Illinois Science Teachers Association Award
Daniel Cheng, senior
This award, sponsored by the Illinois Petroleum Resources Board, goes to a junior or senior who has a strong science background. The student must have good leadership abilities, excellent laboratory and study skills, be able to solve problems, and have a strong scholastic rank. He or she must have an interest and desire for a career in science.
Cheng started his Uni science experience researching black holes as a subfreshman. In addition to participating in Inventors Club and ExploraVision, he completed an Independent Study in cell biology as a junior and worked in a cancer biology lab as a senior. Cheng plans to major in biomedical sciences and music at the University of Chicago.
Bausch and Lomb Science Scholarship Program Award
Zach Korol-Gold, junior
This award goes to a junior who has demonstrated superior achievement in all of the sciences and who has shown exceptional skill in laboratory experimentation, and who possesses the qualities requisite to a future career in the sciences.
"During his subfreshman year this nominee first investigated the absorbency capacities of paper towels," said Walkington of Korol-Gold. "For his next research project he determined the best goat cheese for the average household consumer, which culminated with a stellar poster presentation entitled 'Goat Cheese Chompin.'"
Korol-Gold has also participated in ExploraVision, he and his teammates winning honorable mention twice and first place this year.
Philip Anderson Outstanding Science Student Award
Tej Chajed, senior
Ben Suslick, senior
This award honors Philip Anderson, who was a member of the Uni High Class of 1940 and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1977. This year, the award was shared by two members of the senior class.
"[Chajed] has been an outstanding math and science student, worked with engineering professors on campus, been involved in Inventor’s club and has been a leader on his ExploraVision teams over the past four years, including last year’s national winning team," Walkington said.
Chajed, who received the Bausch and Lomb Science Scholarship Program Award last year as a junior, will major in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The other recipient, Suslick, researched properties of black tea for his subfreshman science project. Since then, he has been named a national semifinalist in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search and has published work in the journal Analytical Chemistry. Suslick will major in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.
James Tobin Award for Excellence in the Social Sciences
Rachel Harmon, senior
The James Tobin Award for Excellence in the Social Sciences was established in honor of Uni graduate James Tobin, an economist who won the Nobel Prize in 1981. The Tobin Award is given each year to a graduating senior who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the questions and principles of the social sciences.
In announcing the award, Walkington said Harmon demonstrates "a clear grasp of historical concepts, superior critical thinking skills, and careful attention to detail and causation. In addition, [she] displays a remarkable ability to synthesize the lessons of history with personal exploration and commitment to social change. [...] And most impressively, she is able and willing to act on what her investigations of history have taught her."
Harmon will attend Cornell University and study industrial labor relations.
SPECIAL AWARD FROM OUTSIDE UNI
Illinois Elementary School Association and State Farm Scholar Attitude Award
Mara Dolan, subfreshman
This award recognizes excellence in academics and outstanding participation in school and community activities. One of the main expectations for this award is that the student demonstrates positive sportsmanship, ethical behavior, and integrity. Said Walkington, "Dolan in her first year at Uni has demonstrated all three along with a strong commitment to Uni athletics and Uni academics." As a subfreshman, Dolan made the IESA state finals in both cross country and track.
Ella Leppert Award
Bill Sutton, history teacher
This award is named in honor of Dr. Ella C. Leppert, a long-time social studies teacher at Uni High and recognizes outstanding teaching. Selection is made by the senior class. The recipient shall receive recognition by having his name engraved on the permanent plaque displayed at the school and a cash honorarium of $100. Sutton, who holds a doctorate from the University of Illinois, teaches American history and organizes the annual Habitat for Humanity trip to the Mississippi Delta.
Iris Chang & Peter Kolodziej Writing Awards
Sindha Agha, senior, and Eleni Yannelis, junior, first place, nonfiction
Katayun Salehi, junior, first place, fiction
Kathy Qiu, sophomore, honorable mention, nonfiction
Jenny Cooke, junior, honorable mention, fiction
These awards honor the memory of writer Iris Chang, Class of 1985, and scientist Peter Kolodziej, Class of 1979. Peter's younger brother, Daniel, worked with Chang on the Unique student literary magazine. He established the awards in recognition of the central role that good writing played in the lives of both Iris and Peter. First-place winners in each category receive $100, a book award, and a plaque.
Agha and Yannelis won the nonfiction award for their article "Dealing with Disorders: Stories from Uni Students." Salehi won the fiction award for her story "A Fire Truck Can Also Be a Submarine." Honorable mentions went to Qiu in nonfiction for her article "Era of the Diving Diva" and Cooke in fiction for her story "Destroyer of Worlds."
Wylde Q. Chicken Award
Lisa Sproat, junior
Victoria Wong, junior, runner-up
The Class of 1972 established this award 12 years ago to honor students for their unbidden creativity and their willingness to challenge orthodox ways of doing things. The full title of the award is the "Wylde Q. Chicken Spontaneous Generation Award for Coloring Outside the Lines" and it was presented this year by Scott Wyatt on behalf of the Class of 1972.
Wong was the runner-up for her essay on a poem by David Citino. According to the nomination by English teacher Elizabeth Majerus, "After turning in a standard rough draft that was well developed and perfectly serviceable, this student then wrote her final draft in the form of a poem — a 200-line poem complete with footnotes."
Sproat took the top honor for her daily sketches of history teacher Bill Sutton as a historical figure from each day's lesson. Said Walkington, "Mr. Sutton, the model for this student’s artistic outbursts, has been thrilled to appear in the guise of figures as diverse as Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Huckleberry Hound."
Illinois Principals Association Award
Rachel Harmon, senior
Elizabeth Russell, senior
This award recognizes students who have exhibited excellence in a variety of areas, including grades, co-curricular activities, and involvement in community activities.
Harmon was selected for her grades, participation in extracurricular activities such as United for Uganda, Student Council, and athletics, and for generally being a positive role model at school. Said Walkington: "She is a leader and go-getter. Rachel is a young woman on the move; she will be a positive force in the future."
Russell was chosen based on her GPA, participation in extracurriculars such as Inventors Club, athletics, and Habitat for Humanity, and for being a leader and all-around good student. "Her work for Uni and her class has been noticeable and appreciated," commented Walkington. "This is but one of many honors to come in her lifetime." Russell will attend Washington University in St. Louis.
Matt Wilhelm Memorial “Service with a Smile” Award
Tianna Pittenger, senior
Matt Wilhelm, Class of 1999, was a dedicated member of the Uni student body who was constantly helping others. Each year, the Matt Wilhelm Memorial “Service with a Smile” Award is voted on by the faculty and goes to a member of the Uni student who, like Matt, went above and beyond the call of duty to serve the Uni community.
Pittenger has been a driving force in Uni theater since her subfreshman year, having stage managed nearly every show. Said Walkington in announcing the winner, "We will miss her skill at making things run smoothly, keeping her peers on task, and her 'Thank you's and 'Is there anything more you need me to do?'" Pittenger will major in stage management at Boston University.
June Mank Award
Vivian Robison, senior
June Mank was the bookkeeper for Uni High from 1972 to 1988. She served on the Champaign City Council from 1979-2003. In her spare time she drove cancer patients for treatment, delivered meals on wheels, and served on various neighborhood committees, plus church activities.
This award is voted on by the faculty and given to a student who most shares June’s supportive role in the interest of Uni High. The student may have a long-term commitment to a single project, a short-term commitment to a variety of projects, or is engaged in service to the school without being asked.
Faculty comments about Robison included: "She has taken mostly small roles, but has proved that there are no small parts. She has a way of doing things without drawing notice to herself and is always very peasant about everything she does. She’s a talented seamstress and a fine human being."
Robison will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Isaure Hostetter, senior
This award is given at the discretion of the director. The award is intended to recognize a student who exhibits strong character and is a good role model for others both in the classroom and outside it.
Said Walkington of Hostetter, who will attend Berkeley: "In addition to being a strong student and committed athlete, she combines love of languages and love of science with love of service, and has been involved in almost every service activity here and is known for her generosity of spirit and her friendliness, initiative, selflessness, as one teacher put it 'learning, laughing, listening.'"
Student of the Year Award
Rachel Harmon, senior
This award is determined by the faculty. The following are the criteria used to select the winner:
- 1. The student demonstrates respect for the dignity and worth of the individual.
2. The student is sensitive to the needs of his/her school and community and initiates constructive action without seeking self-glorification.
3. The student is willing and able to operate as a leader or follower as the situation demands.
4. The student is creative and demonstrates ability to inaugurate and carry out original proposals. The student is not bound by tradition.
5. The student has a strong interest in and commitment to their academic program.
Faculty comments about Harmon, who will attend Cornell, included: "This student is committed to learning and committed to sharing her love of learning with others. … Any time she prepares a presentation, she goes far beyond the requirements of the assignment and teachers the class about her topic with depth, complexity and creatively. … Her work is often connected to her passion for social justice. … She gets along well with peer and adults across a wide spectrum of backgrounds. … She routinely devotes her talents to greater causes without seeking credit. … This young woman has enriched Uni in myriad ways in her time here."