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L-W Honors Valedictorians and Salutatorians

The high achieving students will lead their graduation classes onto the field to begin the Class of 2012 graduation ceremonies.

The Lincoln-Way High School District 210 Board of Education recognized its top academic students Thursday night, introducing the Class of 2012 valedictorians and salutatorians from Lincoln-Way Central, , and Lincoln-Way West high schools.

“It is with great pleasure and a great deal of pride that we honor our top two performing students from each school,” stated Dr. Lawrence A. Wyllie, superintendent.

The Class of 2012 represents the 51st set of valedictorians/salutatorians from Lincoln-Way Central; the 10th set from Lincoln-Way East; the third set from Lincoln-Way North; and second set from Lincoln-Way West.

The valedictorians for the Class of 2012 are:

  • Lincoln-Way Central -- Kaleigh Barrett, with a grade point average of 5.567. She is the daughter of Dave and Terri Barrett of New Lenox.
  • Lincoln-Way East -- Xue (Shirley) Zhan, with a grade point average of 5.748. She is the daughter of Mark Yong Zhan and Yafei Lin of Mokena.
  • Lincoln-Way North -- Raymond Michuda, with a grade point average of 5.542. He is the son of Ray and Ann Michuda of Mokena.
  • Lincoln-Way West -- Eric Staniszewski, with a grade point average of 5.458. He is the son of Martin and Alecia Staniszewski of Mokena.

The salutatorians for the Class of 2012 are:

  • Lincoln-Way Central -- Isaac Carrasquillo, with a grade point average of 5.491. He is the son of Angel and Elizabeth Carrasquillo of New Lenox.
  • Lincoln-Way East -- Jessica Meaux, with a grade point average of 5.353. She is the daughter of Dwight and Maribeth Meaux of Mokena.
  • Lincoln-Way North -- Nileema Patel, with a grade point average of 5.359. She is the daughter of Ambalal and Nayana Patel of Tinley Park.
  • Lincoln-Way West -- Cassandra Kirkland, with a grade point average of 5.448. She is the daughter of Thomas and Karyn Kirkland of New Lenox.

“We are most proud of our fine students who have earned the honor of leading their graduation class onto the field to begin the Class of 2012 graduation ceremonies,” stated Dr. Wyllie. “They are leaders in the classroom and leaders in school activities. They truly personify the best of the school’s mission statement to be committed to providing the experiences and opportunities necessary to maximize the academic and social growth of all students. We all wish them the best.”

The Class of 2012 graduation ceremonies are scheduled as follows:

  • Lincoln-Way Central - 7 p.m. May 31on Lashmet Field, weather permitting
  • Lincoln-Way West – 7 p.m. June 1 in the school’s sports stadium, weather permitting
  • Lincoln-Way North - 7 p.m. June 4 in the school’s sports stadium, weather permitting
  • Lincoln-Way East  - 7 p.m. June 5 in the school’s sports stadium, weather permitting

Kaleigh Barrett, valedictorian for Lincoln-Way Central, enjoys participating in a number of school activities, including softball, Link Crew, National Honor Society, Academic Assistance, Pi Sigma Pi and Mu Alpha Theta. She also works in Central’s bookstore. Her favorite teacher is social science teacher Matthew Bowden. In the community, Kaleigh enjoys playing travel softball for the Illinois Cubs and working at Pastimes Sports Academy. She has applied to attend Washington University in St. Louis and plans to major in psychology with a pre-law tract. She is a 2011 SWSC All-Conference Softball Player and recipient of the 2011 All-Area Honorable Mention award for softball. “This honor will help me to achieve my goals because it is proof that success is the result of hard work,” she said after learning she was Central’s valedictorian. “Therefore, I will continue my habits so that I can have a successful future.”

Xue (Shirley) Zhan, valedictorian for Lincoln-Way East, enjoys participating in a number of school activities, including Mathletes, badminton, Scholastic Bowl and International Club. Her favorite teachers are English teachers Tom Anstett and Patricia Walker, science teacher April Richter, and math teachers Donald Young and Jim Aiu. She plans to attend college and major in international relations. She is a National AP Scholar, PSAE All-Star, National Merit Scholar, Stellar Student and Illinois State Scholar. Xue is also a talented musician who placed 1st in Master Class Piano at the Granquist Memorial Music Competition. She credits her “support system” of family, friends and the family at Lincoln-Way East for her academic success. “Even though it’s nice to be acknowledged for my achievements, I still have a lot to learn and a lot to work for,” she said after being named No. 1 in her class. “This honor just motivates me to continue giving my all to reach my goals.”

Raymond Michuda, valedictorian for Lincoln-Way North, enjoys participating in a number of school activities, including varsity tennis, Scholastic Bowl, Pi Sigma Pi, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Spanish Honor Society and Science Honor Society. He also enjoys participating in the Mokena Park District baseball and basketball programs and volunteering at the Frankfort Food Pantry. Raymond is a member of the Lincoln-Way Tea Party and hopes to become a national politician someday. Academically, he is a National Merit Finalist, Illinois State Scholar, PSAE All-Star, AP Scholar with Distinction and Scholar Athlete. He has applied to attend Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, Purdue and Notre Dame and plans to major in engineering. “I really like all of my teachers (at Lincoln-Way North),” he said. “They all have provided me with an excellent opportunity to succeed.”

Eric Staniszewski, valedictorian for Lincoln-Way West, is involved in Varsity Soccer, Mathletes, National Honor Society and Pi Sigma Pi. His favorite teacher is math teacher Tim Barry. Outside of school, Eric enjoys participating in club soccer and completing community service projects. He has applied to attend Notre Dame, MIT, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern and plans to major in mechanical engineering. He is a National Merit Finalist and Illinois State Scholar. After learning he was West’s valedictorian, Eric stated: “It’s sort of the reward for working so hard in high school, and because of that, I have the motivation to continue doing my best in the future.”

Isaac Carrasquillo, Lincoln-Way Central salutatorian, has participated in many school activities, including Mathletes, Scholastic Bowl, National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. His favorite teacher is social science teacher Colin Hopper. Outside of school, Isaac enjoys volunteering at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. He plans to attend the University of Illinois and major in engineering physics. He is an AP Scholar with Distinction, National Merit Commended Scholar, Illinois State Scholar and 2011 National Hispanic Recognition Program recipient.

Jessica Meaux, Lincoln-Way East salutatorian, is active in many school activities, including Marching Band, Madrigals, Pep Band, Pit Orchestra, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and Tri-M. Her favorite teachers are English teacher Rich Kolimas, math teacher Donald Young and music teacher Cary Ruklic. When she has time, Jessica enjoys volunteering at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. She has applied to attend DePaul, Lawrence University and Indiana University and plans to double major in flute performance and chemistry. She is an Illinois State Scholar and PSAE All Star. She was selected for the Illinois Music Educators’ All-State Orchestra. “Lincoln-Way East has been the perfect place for me to explore different fields of study,” she said. “I feel well prepared for college, and I feel especially lucky that I have been part of the excellent music department at East. I would also like to thank my mom for her immense love and support through the years.”

Nileema Patel, Lincoln-Way North salutatorian, is active in a number of school activities, including Mathletes and Student Council, because they allow her to interact with other students out of school and to organize dances and major events at Lincoln-Way North. Her favorite teacher is English teacher Paul Lovegren. She plans to attend Loyola University Chicago and major in psychology or biology. Nileema is an Illinois State Scholar and has been recognized as a Standout Student by her school. “Through student council, I have participated in several food drives for the local food pantry along with other drives. We have also helped local families in need, which is what I love about student council. It feels great to know that you are making a difference.”

Cassandra Kirkland, salutatorian for Lincoln-Way West, enjoys participating in a number of school activities, including tennis, Mathletes, Link Crew and National Honor Society. Her favorite teacher is science teacher Michelle Laack, who she credits with inspiring her to pursue a career in science. “I am continuing with science because she made it interesting,” Cassandra wrote of Mrs. Laack. Outside of school, Cassandra volunteers for the New Lenox Public Library Summer Reading Program as well as the St. Jude’s Vacation Bible School. She has applied to attend the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois and plans to major in biology with a concentration in neuroscience. She is a PSAE All-Star, a National Merit Finalist, Illinois State Scholar and Scholar Athlete for Tennis.

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