'207's Best' for December honored for fine and performing arts

Photo of 207s Best December 2017
'207's Best' for December honored for fine and performing arts
Posted on 12/05/2017
Three seniors were recently honored by the Maine Township High School District 207 Board of Education as “207's Best.”  For the December honors, Helaine Ilacio, of Maine East; Elanor Kurutz, of Maine West; and Cole Ponsi, of Maine South, were recognized for excellence in Fine and Performing Arts.

At Maine East, Helaine has performed in two musicals, various concerts and in V-Show. She is a four-year Visual Arts student, having taken Art1/2/3 and currently taking AP Studio Art and Photo 1. She has taken orchestra all four years and has been a member of the Symphonic Orchestra for the past two years. She is working on a year-long service project, collaborating with East’s National Art Honor Society to create artistic stepping stones in the school’s butterfly garden. In his introductory letter, East Principal Dr. Mike Pressler quoted Art teacher Magdalene Eisenberg as noting that “Her confidence has grown and she wants to present a certain truth in her work, and this is why she devotes her talents to make art that has a purpose.” School counselor Nicole Rinaldi describes Helaine as “one of my most motivated, dedicated and driven students.” Helaine told the Board of Education that she will attend Oakton Community College after graduating and plans to pursue a career in art therapy.

In her introductory letter, Maine West Principal Dr. Audrey Haugan referred to Elanor as a “shining star” in Fine and Performing Arts and wrote that “Ella is admired by students and staff alike, for the beauty she brings to art, music and dance.” In addition to excelling in Concert Band, Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble, Orchesis, drawing and painting. Ella also excels in classroom work, where she has earned a 4.58 GPA through work consisting mostly of accelerated and Advanced Placement courses. Dr. Haugan quoted Band Director Bernie Gerstmayr, who noted that Ella “leads in a way that other students feel welcome. She talks through problems with her classmates, and makes them comfortable to make mistakes and learn from them.” Dr. Haugan also quoted Orchesis sponsor Lisa Jacob, who calls Elanor a “stunningly beautiful dancer with a keen talent for choreography.” Elanor told Board members that she plans to study industrial design or civil engineering in college.

At Maine South, Cole’s musical resume includes four years in Jazz Band, V-Show, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and Marching Band; three years in Stage Band, Pit Orchestra, Orchestra Wind and Wind Ensemble; and Accompanied Vocal Jazz.  In choir for little more than a year, he has been selected to the Illinois Musical Educators Association District Choir and for All-State Choir. In addition, he is active in National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society and Thespian Troupe.  Outside of school, he has created his own tutoring business for peers and younger students because of his enjoyment of mentoring. In his introductory letter, South Principal Dr. Ben Collins wrote that as he has gotten to know Cole, he has been impressed by Cole’s professionalism, along with his hard work and preparation as a musician. Cole told the Board that he will be studying biomedical engineering in college.

The “207's Best’ program recognizes outstanding students monthly throughout the school year.  Academic achievement awards are given in two months. Awards for community service, fine and performing arts, improved performance, elective area of achievement, technology leader/innovator and extracurricular achievement are given one month each. Teachers nominate students, and an executive committee makes final decisions. Honorees are then recognized by the Board of Education, which instituted the program.

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