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District U-46 recognizes award-winning students

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 recognized a pair of sophomores with certificates of achievement at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 20.
  Zuzanna Lapa, who attends the Beacon Academy of Media and Digital Arts at South Elgin High School, was recognized for earning the top prize at an international historical competition held by a Polish organization, and Streamwood sophomore Jeremy Johnson, a member of the U-46 Blue Stars, was recognized for his gold medal earned at the Illinois Special Olympics Summer Games.
  Lapa was awarded first place in the film category in a competition held by the Remembrance Committee of Captain Witold Pilecki for her Polish-language short film on Danuta (Inka) Siedzikówna. She and her family traveled to Poland in May to accept the prize.
  “It was phenomenal,” Lapa said. “I got to see children from the Polish background and other backgrounds from around the world that were internationally just trying to spread the history and ideals of the Polish culture, and it was phenomenal.”
  The committee that organizes the competition is named after a captain in the Polish Army who fought in World War II who eventually was executed by Communists.
  The subject of Lapa’s film, Siedzikówna, was orphaned in World War II and joined the Polish Home Army at 15 as a medical orderly. She also was executed by Communist authorities at the age of 17, just days before her 18th birthday.
  “I created a film that makes the viewer exercise their conscience and put themselves in Inka’s shoes so they could see what a phenomenal person she truly was,” Lapa said in a U-46 press release.
  Lapa added: “In my project I was trying to present the heroine as a normal teenager who had a strong love for her country but also as a girl who in those horrible times dared to care for people with enormous dedication and compassion. Inka showed so much bravery and power over oneself that I felt like I needed to show her story to people in a much different way.”
  For Johnson, he won the gold medal at the Special Olympics in Bloomington-Normal in June with a time of 31.47 seconds in the 50-meter run. After receiving his certificate of achievement from the board, a smiling Johnson gave his father a big hug.
  Johnson has Down syndrome as well as other orthopedic issues requiring the use of a walker and wheelchair at times according to the district press release.
  “Seeing him overcome the medical complications he had when he was younger is a really big thing for our family,” Jeremy’s mother Cheryl Johnson said in the release.
  Johnson is also a bowler and basketball player for the Blue Stars. His coach Lindsey Reynolds said: “There’s not been one time we’ve asked him to do or try something and he has refused. He always gives a head nod, a smile, and an ‘ok.’ He’s also one of those athletes that if he sees another athlete or even a competitor on the sidelines, he actively goes out of his way to involve them. He’s incredible.”



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