Huntley Man's Award Honors Huntley High's Outstanding Students
Award recognizes teens out doing good things in community.
Thomas Jurs gets frustrated when all he sees in the media are stories about kids getting into trouble.
“What you hear about is this kid getting arrested for that,” the Huntley businessman said.
But he knows teens are doing good things, especially in his hometown.
Every month, he presents the Jurs/Raider Way Outstanding Students of the Month to kids who aren’t necessarily A students but who are exceptional.
“It’s very rewarding to meet these kids and see what good they are doing in their community,” he said. “I get a lot of satisfaction in giving it, and it helps the students have pride in themselves. It’s a real good program."
Huntley High School teachers nominate a boy and girl for the monthly award. Nominations are forwarded to counselor Patty Zacharias to double-check grades and activities.
Nominees must have a C average, participate in extracurricular activities and perform some type of community service, Zacharias said.
“I think the everyday, average student probably is not as recognized as we would like them to me,” she said. “This is a very special award in that it really does recognize them.
Katie Girard and Jakub Petyniak are two Huntley High School students who recently were recognized. Girard, a member of the school band and cross-country team, maintains high grades. She does community service through her church, according to the school. Petyniak was nominated after a community member wrote a letter about him. He cuts senior citizens’ lawns and helps with chores but never accepts money for what he does, school officials said.
Other recognized include freshman Madison Paez, junior Max Pilkerton, junior Michael Geheren and senior Olivia Stepp.
The award, which Jurs started in 2003, comes with a trophy and a plaque. Jurs purchases and engraves the trophy at his own expense. The school has a small ceremony where the items are given to students.
“When they receive the award it’s really special for them,” Zacharias said. “It really boosts their confidence. I think they feel honored and appreciated.”
Jurs gets a lot of satisfaction in giving the award and seeing the pride students have, he said.
He also takes pride in the program. Jurs moved to Huntley in 1971, working as a Realtor for many years. He still lives in town but works in Woodstock. He has two daughters — both Huntley High School graduates — and a grandson.
“What Mr. Jurs does for us is really unique and really special,” Zacharias said.
“I have found him to be a very gracious, encouraging and outgoing person who really enjoys surprising the kids,” she said, adding, the kids enjoy the honor and are enthusiastic.
Most winners do not have a clue why they were called to the office, Jurs said. “We had one poor thing just scared to death. She thought she was in major trouble.”
“They are really taken aback because they are caught off guard. Just seeing the look on their faces makes my day,” he said.
There’s another bit of prestige to the award: recipients who can drive get to park in the student-of-the-month space.