Interview by Larissa Chelius Nomination & Photography by Heather Wanninger of Sweet Lemonade Photography Illinois
The Nomination: Jordan is a 3-sport athlete in high school while also taking grades seriously and being highly involved in church, youth group and volunteering among other activities. He is strong in his faith and quick to share what lessons he learns through studying the bible. He's a great all-around young man!
What three sports do you play? I play football, basketball, and baseball.
How has being in youth group changed you? It has made me a better leader. In youth groups, there are times where people don’t feel comfortable sharing their ideas or beliefs and I have learned to step up and throw in my opinions and ideas. This creates a more comfortable atmosphere for everyone because now people feel better about sharing what they have to say. Youth Group has also changed the way I go after a religious lifestyle. This occurred in 7th grade church camp; this was the moment that I truly realized I needed a savior. I have been raised in a family where my grandparents were pastors and my whole family was very faith-based. I always understood to believe the stories of the bible, but at this camp, I finally learned that it is about our relationship with Jesus that makes us different. I figured out that I had to invest in a relationship with Jesus like I do with everyday friends. This has been vital in me developing as a Christian and making me joyful with this newfound hope I had.
What volunteer projects have you taken part in? My favorite volunteer project that I have taken part in is when my church ran a vacation bible school (vbs) in a trailer park. We spent one day walking door to door to meet people and give them flyers about the event. This event was completely free and ran solely by my church and the volunteers. I was able to help with moving things around and organizing/setting things up as well as participate as a teacher in one of the ‘stations’ we did for the children. This was a great experience because it helped me get out of my comfort zone as well as learn that all the glory of those events truly goes to God. No one person claims or asks for credit, we just all give it to God.
Would you recommend others to take part in youth group? Yes, it will change your life; you get to meet new people that are so genuine and care about you as a person. It gives you confidence to go into your school as a Christian and to be different because you see that you aren’t alone. One of the biggest helps from youth group is that when you’re around multiple other God-loving people that invite God’s presence into the room, God will speak through them. If everyone allows God to speak through them and put things on their heart, the atmosphere is so awesome, and you are directly hearing from God.
Do you have a saying or a story that you like to live by? If so, what is it? “Rules without a relationship lead to rebellion”; I love this saying because it shows that when we go into life without God on our heart and mind, we are bound to break His commandments for us. God has these set in place to protect us and to keep us pure and holy with Him. When we are daily in His word and actively pursuing a relationship with Him, it will make following His commandments so much easier.
Interview with Zoe D’Angelo Nomination & Photography by Heather Wanninger of Sweet Lemonade Photography llinois
The Nomination: This girl lives and breathes dance. She has spent 6-8 hours a day after school daily dancing, then going home to study and then back to school again. She is strong, mentally tough and just amazing how she can still maintain a balance. It's incredible. As a freshman last year, she actually studied in NY with Conplexions contemporary ballet dance company as a pre-pro. The teachers back home in IL worked with her to provide her school work and give assistance online when necessary. She trained all day, then went to her hotel room and did her school work to ensure she didn't fall behind. That work ethic is incredible.
How were you introduced to dancing? I started dancing at 3 years old and dancing competitively at 4 years old. After my first time performing on stage, I realized that dance made me the happiest.
Tell me about your Freshmen year in New York? I was asked to join a pre-professional dance program for one month in New York City with Complexions Contemporary Ballet. At first, I thought it would be impossible to step away from everything for a month during the school year. I sat down with my parents, school, and dance studio and came up with a plan to work it out. With the graciousness of my family, my school, teachers and dance studio we got everything organized and planned out and soon I was packing to leave. Once I made it to New York I was overwhelmed, being a small-town girl in such a big city. I did school work in my hotel room during the day and trained with my pre-professional group every evening. The school work was a huge challenge considering I was working on my own each day with communication via email with my teachers. Every evening I would train with the founders of Complexions Contemporary Ballet and my pre-professional group. It is like a high school football player training with the NFL players. I never thought I would have the opportunity to be in such an amazing dance environment. We also worked on a performance piece which we would perform at the end of the month at the Complexions Gala. It was a dream come true, this opportunity to perform and share the stage with the Complexions dancers whom I have admired and looked up to for years. The day of the show was surreal. I was stretching and preparing alongside the professional dancers. The feeling of performing that night was one I will never forget. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. What I learned from that one month away was more than just dance. I learned what it means to work hard for what you want, what it takes and the life of a professional dancer, and the strength it takes to be independent and take ownership of yourself and your dreams.
What are some ways that you balance your school work, dance life and personal life? Pre-planning and organizing my days, keeping focus at each task and continued reevaluation of my goals. This allows me to have time for all three which are very important to me.
Do you plan on continuing to dance in the future as you become older? Yes, I would love to major in dance and my dream job would be to be a company dancer at Complexions Contemporary Ballet.