Solidarity transcends sports at Lake Forest

SHARE Solidarity transcends sports at Lake Forest
SHARE Solidarity transcends sports at Lake Forest

For the teenagers who are living it in the here and now, athletics is an extension of the high school experience.

It’s not two separate things.

For example, there’s not a Lake Forest High School girls basketball team, and a Lake Forest High School.

The team is part of the school, and last week, everyone associated with the school got to see first hand just how much the team and the school matter to each other.

And no, this has nothing to do with winning because, truth be told, Lake Forest’s girls basketball team doesn’t do a lot of that.

But there’s a big difference between winning and being winners, and those associated with girls hoops at the school fell solidly into the winner category even though, on the court, they scored fewer points than Lake Zurich, which provided the opposition for the evening.

The proof was in the stands. There to watch the girls game were dozens of teachers at Lake Forest, all wearing matching “Lake Forest Scouts Basketball” T-shirts.

They were the same shirts the instructors had worn proudly throughout the school day as a reminder that though the teachers don’t make three-point shots or grab rebounds, they are very much an important part of the school lives of the players.

The event was Teacher Appreciation Night, and this is how it went down at Lake Forest.

Each of the Scouts’ girls basketball players on the various program levels invited a teacher to attend Thursday’s game. The teachers were given a shirt to wear around school, and at the ceremony, they were presented with flowers and a personalized letter thanking them for their support inside and outside the classroom.

Senior forward Annie Keller, who led the Scouts in the varsity game with 11 points and 14 rebounds, invited her French teacher, Heather Song.

“I think the teachers, at our school especially, are super-supportive of all of our students,” said Keller. “ All of my teachers on Fridays will ask, ‘What are your plans for the weekend?’ and ‘Who has a sporting event?’ or ‘Who has a theater event?’ Whether it’s a football game or a talent show, I always see teachers there.

“In the long run, what they do for us, it’s their livelihood. So, I think it’s important for us to recognize that. A lot of them come to games anyway, but we write a little letter to them, and choose a certain teacher to give a T-shirt.

“I know in this profession, it means the world just to be recognized, because they do so much, and there’s a tendency to just pass it off as part of their job. I think it’s very important to just give them a little shout-out to say, ‘I see what you’re doing. It means the world to me that you’re so supportive, and I’m just not another body in a seat to you.’”

Another Scout senior, center Kate Arnson, said this about the special night:

“We did it last year too, so we were really excited about tonight and who we were going to invite. It’s always nice to have your favorite teacher come and support you. A lot of times, we don’t have too many fans, but when it’s like it was tonight, it’s really a lot of fun.

“I invited Mr. (Steve) Aronson. He teaches my math and computer science classes. He’s an awesome teacher. I’m a senior, so it’s nice to see all of my teachers from earlier years too. This will also be one of my last home games, so for them to come out and watch is awesome.”

Lake Forest varsity coach Kyle Wilhelm said the idea took form when he was an assistant, working with head coach Phil LaScala and the Scouts’ varsity boys program.

“This was something coach LaScala and I talked about doing when I was over with the boys. In my second year (with the girls), we decided to capitalize on the idea, so last year was our first time.

“The kids write a letter to their teacher about why they chose them and the difference they’ve made in their lives. I think that’s probably the icing on the cake. The teachers will wear their T-shirts around school and get asked about how they got it and why they were chosen, but some of our kids write really nice things, and that’s the really big prize.

“I think the teachers do take it as a really nice honor. We had one who couldn’t make it because something came up last minute, but everybody says yes. I think it speaks not just to our faculty, but the kind of relationships the kids here form with our faculty, who want to be here and support them. They’re also grading finals tonight, which kind of gives you an idea of how much of their time they give to their students.”

And, in fact, one of the teachers was doing exactly that during timeouts and between quarters.

That would be Ariel Landvick, a Latin teacher. So, if you’re a Latin student and scored a 100 on your final exam for the fall term and don’t understand why the “zeros” in the 100 are colored in to look like basketballs, now you have the answer.

“You don’t get this kind of appreciation very often,” said Landvick. “It really means a lot to be told that what you’re doing does make a difference. I’d come see my kids play anyway, but to have somebody write me a letter and thank me for the role I play in their life is incredible.”

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