This is dedicated to the kid sitting in the audience not wanting to go here because he just doesn’t care. I’ll let you in on a secret. I was that kid. When I first came to Illiana I was a fourteen-year-old boy with no friends because he came to a school where he knew no one. Now finishing up my senior I’m a seventeen-year-old boy who’s made a ton of friends. Illiana is a school very different from many other schools. I think me coming from a public school gives me a bit more insight on how different it actually is from other schools. I remember coming to preview my eighth-grade year and dreading every minute of it. I didn’t want to hear anything about Illiana, I didn’t want to give it a chance because the minute I started to cave in and deal with the reality of being in a place where I knew no one. Yes, when I came to Illiana it was very scary. The pressure of your first day of high school, making new friends, not knowing what to expect from a private school, figuring out why exactly we had a break period was very nerve wrecking; but with God’s help very fear I had faded away.
A few months in I managed to make exactly one friend. Yes. Had managed to go all the way to Christmas break making a total of one friend. Not because no one was willing, but I was stubborn but so was the kid trying to get me to be his friend. That kid doesn’t go here anymore, but when I came back from Christmas break of my freshman year something changed. I had no longer wanted to be at a different school, but I decided to give Illiana a true chance. If the murals on the wall weren’t enough to reel me in the fact that the teachers actually cared did. In my entire school career, I have never felt more genuinely from a teacher that they actually cared about how I felt. I’m telling you that’s not something to you’ll find at a public School. I can’t even remember all the times I heard this infamous line in elementary school “I get paid whether you learn or not.” Here it is I come to Illiana and the teachers here get paid less than any of my other teachers, and they actually cared. One of the ways I saw that they cared was the work they give. Illiana is an academically challenging school if I’ve ever seen one. It’s not that the work is undoable it’s just you have to care about it….And actually, do it.
Fast forward about a year later, I was settled in Illiana. I had quite a few friends by the end of my freshman year and I was even starting to show my true self. Funny thing that chapel theme my freshman year was “Take off the mask” and the whole time I’m just like “nope I’ll keep it on.” Getting back to the subject, I joined the drama department. That was something I cared about. I went from “Johnathan Lightfoot as Townsperson” to “Johnathan Lightfoot as Snoopy.” At Illiana, there’s a family of people who care so much more about you than you even realize. Teachers will stay after hours to help you understand the lesson you were struggling with. Students here will pray with you and stay up till twelve o’clock at night with you just so you feel like you’re cared about. I know what my problem was the first semester of freshman year. I was so used to people not caring, it was so hard to accept the fact that people do care about me. I’m not saying Illiana is the perfect school because if we were we’d probably be filled up to capacity. What I am saying is that here you’ll find people who care about you and I know from experience that’s something you’ll find in many places.