Meet Anthony Paglia

%28Courtesy+of+Anthony+Paglia%29

(Courtesy of Anthony Paglia)

Kate Vittore, Staff Writer

  After four successful years of high school, Anthony Paglia, a senior here at LHS, is one to watch in his activities, accomplishments, and personality. Heading off to college next year, he has gone far above the expectations of his teachers and peers when it comes to his achievements. Paglia has seen much success, and is expected by mentors to see even more in his future. In addition to all of this success, Paglia is also out of the closet as a gay man.

  Paglia has been given the Illinois Principals Association award, after being nominated by a compiled group of his teachers. This award is a recognition that specifically highlights students with outstanding work ethic and individuality inside and outside the classroom. He was informed by Ms. Amy Belstra, the school’s college and career counselor, of his achievement earlier this year. Paglia and Elise Houcek (one of DOI’s editors-in-chief) have received this award as a reward for their involvement and activity in school.

  “Anthony was really funny, and was just a kind, very honest, hard-worker,” said English teacher Ms. Melissa Gorski, who had Paglia in AP Language class his junior year. “Everything was just done to absolute perfection. He was a lot of fun in class. He sat right in the front, so I would constantly see him participating and getting involved with everyone. He’s the kind of student that every teacher would want in class.”

  Ms. Gorski is not surprised whatsoever to see Paglia receive the Principals Association award: “Anthony is one of those students that in a few years, I will hear about all of the great things he’s doing, and I won’t be surprised. That’s just the kind of person he is.”

  Senior Mariah Wilbat, a friend of Paglia’s, was also not surprised to hear that he won the award from the Principals Association. “You just notice his personality right off the bat. He’s really outgoing and fun to be around,” she said. “I wasn’t surprised to hear that he won that award; he’s the perfect choice.”

  Paglia moved to Libertyville when he was seven years old, having lived in Boston beforehand. Anthony has two sisters, Audrey, a freshman here at LHS, and Abby, a seventh-grader at Oak Grove.

  “During my free time, I watch Netflix,” said Paglia. “When I’m not here at school, I’m working at Mariano’s.” He works as a cashier at the grocery store here in Libertyville, where he has worked for a little more than a year. Paglia works 28 hours a week, a great amount of time for a student.

Having come out as a gay man when he was a sophomore, Paglia is currently in a relationship with Austin Sipolt, a senior at Vernon Hills High School.

  “We met at the beginning of junior year; a mutual friend introduced us. We’ve grown not only to be one another’s best friend, but our families are also deeply connected,” Paglia said. Paglia and his partner plan to attend Roosevelt University in Chicago for college in the fall. “I can say undoubtedly that a love and compassion is there.”

  Paglia came out to his parents in November of his sophomore year, and came out publicly in January of the following year. “It’s kind of difficult because people judge you based on the fact that you’re not only dating another male, but that you plan to attend college together and build a life around one another. I constantly get asked who is the woman in the relationship and who is the man,” Paglia said. “I know people may not understand, but this question is actually quite offensive. We are both men.

  “When people use terms that sort of criticize gay people, I feel very belittled,” Paglia said. When it comes to bullying, he doesn’t stand for it. “It’s as if you were using the word ‘retarded’ in front of an individual with special needs. With so many other words in the English language, I feel as if this is a ridiculous issue. In utilizing ‘gay’ in that context, you are essentially insulting the lifestyle of a broad group of people who are no different and no less than yourself.”

  When it comes to gay rights, Paglia explains that presence is the simplest form of representation. “I believe the most powerful thing one can do is show the community around them that they live a normal human life,” he said. “It’s about making others realize that you are indeed a human being as well who is undoubtedly deserving of the legal and social rights that many straight people wouldn’t even consider rights; they just consider it normal.”

  Paglia was on this school year’s Turnabout Sweet Sixteen, along with fifteen other select senior boys. “My interests vary greatly from the others that were chosen. The other students that were chosen were great,” he said. “I just feel as though there is an invisible barrier up between gay guys and straight guys. I’m hoping that in my lifetime this social wall crumbles.”

  Looking towards the future, Paglia said, “I’m always back and forth on my major but it’s going to be something science-based. And I wanna earn a few minors so that I can be attractive to medical schools.”

  Paglia said his top choices in study would have to do with gender studies or sociology. “I’m fascinated by any subjects with pertinence toward equality in our world, since I ultimately want to be a pediatrician specializing in infant care.