LAKE FOREST/LAKE BLUFF — Earning a place on the Images of Excellence mural facing Varsity Field on the Lake Forest High School West Campus is about more than athletic achievement.
It also takes academic credentials and demonstrated leadership.
Images of 19 members of the Lake Forest Class of 2017 were displayed on the wall for the first time August 25 at the half of the Scouts season opening football game against Glenbard East at Varsity Field in Lake Forest.
“They have to be more than good athletes,” said Billy Douglass, the president of the Lake Forest High School Boosters, which sponsors and funds the mural. “Some of the other virtues are academics and leadership.”
Along with athletes, Douglass said spots are reserved on the wall for the class president, the student council president and a member of the band. They are shown in graduation gowns or with their instrument rather than athletic uniforms.
In the case of the Class of 2017, both presidents are athletes as well. Colin Lynch, the former senior class president, played lacrosse. Lauren Abbattista, the student council president last year, was on the field hockey team.
The band member, Matthew LeMay, was depicted playing a clarinet. He also participated in a number of musical and theatrical productions at the school, according to a search of DailyNorthShore.com articles, and he was the class valedictorian.
Douglass said many of the honorees participated in more than one sport. He said they get to choose their attire for the wall. There are three football players, three swimmers and two basketball players. There is also one representative each from field hockey, track, golf, water polo, soccer, volleyball and cheerleading.
School officials go through a review process to choose the former students whose images are placed on the wall. The practice started with the Class of 2011, according to Douglass.
Once the selections are made, the honorees’ pictures are taken by Joel Lerner, the chief photographer for DNS and The North Shore Weekend. He also has a longstanding relationship with the high school.
“Hundreds of photographs have to be taken so it is done just right,” said Douglass.
The unveiling is not done by removing a curtain covering the images. Douglass said it is accomplished with the flick of a switch illuminating the wall, which was covered in darkness before halftime.
“It is very cool when the lights go on,” said Douglass. “The mural is a special enhancement to our campus and has become a source of pride and inspiration for Lake Forest High School and the community.”
Other honorees are Kevin Donahue, Ana Kohout and Maddie Smith, swimming; Andrew Athenson, Reed Thomas and Charlie Reinkemeyer, football; Brian Stickler and Justin McMahon, basketball; Libby Thompson, field hockey; Haley Click, track; Lena Benjakul, golf; Grace Donahue, water polo; Daniel Hanson, soccer; Jack Armstrong, tennis; Ashley Williams, volleyball and Annabelle Capstick, cheerleading.
Athenson and Reinkemeyer have also played baseball, according to DNS and Internet records. Stickler was a volleyball player, Thompson participated in lacrosse and Capstick was a gymnast.
“We hope they will serve as a role model to younger kids in the community who aspire to be on the wall one day,” said Douglass.
The illuminating of the images of the 19 alums was not the only thing changed at the game. In the bleachers, the LFHS student section was moved from the south side of the grandstand to the north side next to the band, according to Athletic Director Tim Burkhalter. He expects it to generate additional enthusiasm from the student body.
“It allows us to coordinate the cheerleading with the band,” said Burkhalter. “All the kids will be together”
Burkhalter said the north end was selected with the band at the far north extreme because it is the easiest way for the musicians to get on and off the field for their performances.