How We Identify the School


Megan Wolter

LHS is viewed by students and the staff members in many different ways. They have formed opinions based on the clubs and activities they are involved in and the other community members they interact with.

The Libertyville High School community is composed of students and staff who have formed opinions about the school that shapes its identity and makes LHS what it is today.

To some, LHS is a place of familiarity and comfort.

“You spend so much time in that place with students and staff and community that it becomes just like a second home,” expressed Student Activities Director Mrs. Jennifer Uliks.

Having worked at a different school for the first seven years of her career, Mrs. Uliks said that while every school has areas to improve upon, LHS thrives in certain areas.

“Here it’s different. [With my job,] I reach such a larger [variety] of students like Link Crew students and sophomore leadership students, Life of a Wildcat, and Student Council and all these various clubs that have leadership and participation,” she conveyed. “I really like how we have community involvement [and] support here in Libertyville.”

Junior Amanda Peter agreed about Link Crew, saying it made a difference in her freshman year.

“Link Crew helped me a lot, and it also introduced me to Naviance too, which I still use today,” she stated.

Peter noted sophomores through seniors have the shared experience of Link Crew to connect them, helping the sophomores transition out of freshman year: “That’s kind of how the sophomores blend in with [upperclassmen].”

Mrs. Uliks notices a dynamic among students she didn’t witness at her first school.

“Not only does our community support us in our mission and the things that we need to accomplish [it], but I think kids support kids,” she said earnestly. “When students are having a tough time, when [they] need the support of [their] peers, I think [they] are there for each other and that is really cool to see.” She cited the example of Caring for Cambodia events, where many students show up to give encouragement and support for the club.

Mrs. Meredith Tarczynski, an English and LHS alumna explained that over her years here, the students have become kinder.

“It’s amazing to me that when my students leave my classroom they say ‘thank you’ and they say ‘have a good day’ on their way out the door,” she said.

For others, however, LHS feels like a closed-off environment where they don’t have a lot of opportunities to branch out. When not doing schoolwork, sophomore Thomas Hubbard spends a lot of school time with people who he is already close with and playing in the band.

“I don’t know [if I] like the school a lot. Like, I hang out with my friends, [but] I didn’t go to any sports games other than [for] marching band,” he divulged.

Peter said that while she likes the sense of comfort she has through the closeness at LHS, it can be difficult to act in a way others don’t expect from her, since she’s been going to school with some of the people at LHS since she was in elementary school.

“When you go into Libertyville you meet new people, but after a while, it’s just the same people over and over again, and that’s kind of the downside of going to a small school,” she expressed.

Despite this, Peter mentioned, “we’re a tight community, and we’re close-knit.”

For Mrs. Uliks, her experience with LHS through the past 18 years has allowed her to form bonds with many students.

“You develop such great relationships with the people that you work with and with the students. What is super cool is the longer that you spend here, [the more] connections [you make] with students who have loved their experience here,” Mrs. Uliks gushed.

She added that she enjoys talking and meeting up with students who’ve come back to visit the school.

“[Former students] share what they’re doing now, whether it’s work or college or getting married or all those things, which really sort of reinforces that whole family feel,” she said.

Mrs. Tarczynski expressed the importance of being able to listen to her students each day to know what their needs are. In turn, she said it helps her create a greater bond with each individual.

“As teachers, I think we need to tap into what they are thinking, feeling, what their concerns are and…they vocalize those things every day. So it’s good to embrace them and talk about it,” she said.

A major misconception Mrs. Uliks has worked to fix at LHS is the treatment of freshmen.

“At one point, something got out there that all these bad things happen to freshmen on the first day of school, and we have worked really hard to try to squelch that so that kids don’t think that they’re coming into the parking lot and being [attacked] with water bombs and water balloons,” she said.

According to her, Link Crew is just one way the school tries to connect upper and underclassmen. Some underclassmen believe a major difference between grade levels is the level of familiarity and comfort they have with the school.

“The juniors and seniors sometimes [are] talking about colleges and they seem really stressed, but they still know what they’re doing,” freshman Allison Parker stated.

Uncertainty is often associated with freshman year since they are, for the most part, still figuring out the goings-on of the school. Hubbard agreed, saying, “Freshman year, you’re new, like you kinda know what to expect, but not really, and then sophomore year is harder in terms of school work, but it’s easier [because] you know what you’re doing.”

Parker, who is involved in stage crew at LHS, noted the discrepancies between theater and sports, which she said she isn’t sure is a general high school issue or specific to LHS.

“People focus a lot on sports stuff and the performance stuff is not as recognized,” she expressed.

She noticed students are drawn to sports games, but the theater program is also filled with hard-working and skilled people who deserve just as much credit.

“With basketball games, the stadium is filled, and then for the last play that the juniors and seniors did, only the first seven rows of the auditorium [were] filled,” she stated.

Mrs. Uliks attested to the hyper-focus on sports.

“So much of the way a school is perceived is based on the success of their sports teams first and foremost,” she agreed.

At the end of each interview conducted for this story, people were asked to describe the LHS community as a whole in one single word; these were the responses: