Upon entering Lake Forest High School in the fall of 2014, Kyle Levin received some valuable advice from his parents, Rich and Sally:
Be the most well-rounded person you can be.
Levin took the words and ran with them — and not because the Deer Path Middle School graduate happened to be a cross country and track runner.
The recommended course of action sounded like a sound one to the youngster.
“They pushed me, encouraged me,” Levin recalls. “They told me, ‘Try as many things as possible during your high school years and see what sticks.’ ”
Levin tried athletics, church-related and extracurricular activities and a variety of opportunities with volunteer organizations.
What stuck: a lot.
And his grades never suffered because of his crowded plate. Levin graduated with cum laude honors earlier this month.
“My parents,” he says, “have always inspired me. Both have worked really hard in their lives. What I learned in sports, especially in cross country, is that working hard will get you places.”
The Boston College-bound Levin served as a two-year varsity captain in cross country and a varsity track and field captain this past spring. LFHS cross country coaches chose Levin to guide runners as an assistant camp coach this summer.
Levin has gone more — way more — than the extra mile in volunteerism, having racked up nearly 570 hours of volunteer and community service time in high school. The 2018 recipient of the Jim Thiel Award for Exceptional Community Service at LFHS and a multiple Presidential Service Award honoree, Levin was a Lunch Bunch youth mentor and teen board member at Waukegan-based Beacon Place; an 847 Hoops camp counselor/basketball coach; and an intern, from 2015-17, with Ragdale Foundation, a nonprofit artists’ community located in Lake Forest.
Levin, a three-time Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Rotary Club Youth Volunteer selectee, also somehow found the time to throw himself into leaderships roles at First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest. The youth elder and senior high school youth group leadership team member joined the church’s finance and faith formation committees.
“That was interesting, seeing what goes on behind the scenes, the inner workings, and learning what it takes to keep a church running,” Levin says of his time spent in finance committee meetings. “I had the opportunity to experience similar details during my time with Ragdale.”
Summertime work trips with First Presbyterian Church teens, sometimes as many as 60, enlightened and lifted Levin. The group drove to underserved areas in Michigan, Kentucky and Missouri and helped each community enhance a number of homes. The volunteers completed reroofing projects and built house frames and decks.
“We once stayed at a campsite and slept in dirty bunk beds,” Levin says, adding the throng from the church plans to return to Michigan for a work trip this summer. “There are religious aspects to each trip, and we usually bond by playing basketball and volleyball in our free time. But the trips are mostly about helping people improve what’s important to them — where they live.
“They’re grateful,” adds the former Latin I and AP Computer Science teaching assistant. “They let us know how appreciative they are. A big focus at Boston College, a Catholic school, is community service; it’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to going there.”
His early academic plan at BC is to take business classes and intro courses “and then see what I like.” No doubt he’ll go for an occasional run in between study sessions and commitments to community service organizations to stay in shape, to stay mentally sharp.
“Running is a good time to think, and some people say running is a form of meditation,” Levin says. “It also can clear the mind, something I usually experienced near the end of a seven-mile training run.”
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