June is certainly the month to recognize achievements of outstanding folks here in Whiting, ranging in age from 18 to 80+.
We attended the Buckley Wall of Fame dinner Sunday. Established in 2005, the Buckley Wall of Fame is dedicated to Whiting High School graduates who have overachieved in their accomplishments and successes, contributing to society in the areas of academics, athletic and civil accomplishments.
This year's inductees are the late James Homco (class of 1941), Jack Jaros (class of 1955) and William Fortin (class of 1956).
Fortin earned a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University and had a career in law. Jaros has had a career in education and had the privilege of being the Whiting High School commencement speaker this year. Homco had not only been a teacher at WHS in the late 1940's, but later spent most of his professional career at Amoco/BP refineries in Whiting and Mandan, ND.
What the three have in common was the way they spent their time beyond their careers. Two were involved in the Marian Theatre, and all three were involved with their churches and nonprofit organizations. Each used his talents to make his community a better place to live.
Congratulations to Whiting High School's 2013 valedictorian, Mason Markovich, and salutatorian, Mary Gundich, as well as Hammond Clark High School valedictorian, Kaitlyn Syler and salutatorian Victor Haro Jr. I recently had a chance to interview these four academic high achievers for an article I was writing.
Their credentials are impressive. Naturally, they are all bright. Future plans include pediatric medicine, biochemistry studies and a degree in mechanical engineering. They'll be attending Indiana University, St. Mary's College at Notre Dame and Purdue University in West Lafayette. Collectively, they have received many scholarships and grants to help finance their higher education.
But what is more impressive is how well-rounded these four students are. Being involved in track, dance team, basketball, Science Olympiad, band, soccer, peer mentoring, any number of clubs as well as the National Honor Society, these young people have many interests in addition to their studies.
When most colleges and universities select students for scholarships, they look beyond grade point averages, which are all impressive, seeking students who are involved and have interests besides academics. They're looking for students who will add to the life and spirit of their universities.
The three Buckley Wall of Fame inductees and these top graduates at our local high schools have much in common. While there is a great difference in their ages, their approach to life is similar.
While the high school students received their accolades at graduation and the others achieved their public accolades much later in life, they all know that outside interests, volunteerism, sports, involvement with their church and participation in the arts has made them more interesting people.
In turn, they will help make their community, their high school, their university, a better place to live.