Senior speakers lead third-annual Wildcat Summit


Eva Fahrenkrog

85 students take part in the third annual Wildcat Summit. The summit covered important topics including healthy discourse, healthy bodies, healthy relationships, and healthy minds.

On Wednesday, Jan 25th, Libertyville High School held the Wildcat Summit for the third year since it began in 2020. The Summit was held in the Crawford House with a total of 85 students attending. It was a student-organized event led by seniors Leah Chudy, Peter Chalifoux, Sophia Chalifoux, Jeanette Jenkinson and Sarah Wuh. Prevention and Wellness Coordinator Dr. Brenda Nelson also supported the leadership team.

The symbol of the Wildcat Summit is a torch that represents four key elements of well-being: healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy discourse, and healthy relationships. Eight senior speakers, consisting of the leadership team, as well as Ben McDonald and Charles Verkoulen, gave valuable insight and spoke about their personal experiences learning to incorporate all four of these elements into their everyday lives. 

In addition to the speaker’s sharing, participants were organized into small groups where they could share their ideas about the topics being discussed as well as work together to complete activities related to ideas of healthy bodies, minds, discourse, and relationships.

Seniors Sarah Wuh and Charles Verkoulen lead the discussion about the importance of healthy discourse and the “golden rule”: Respect, Understand, Listen, Explain. (Eva Fahrenkrog)

The event kicked off with Wuh and Verkoulen, who discussed the importance of healthy discourse. They explained how healthy communication is key and what ways students can establish healthy communication with friends and family using the “golden rule”:” Respect, Understand, Listen, Explain. 

Following the golden rule discussion, Wuh and Verkoulen led an activity where students each wrote or drew parts of what made up their identity on a piece of paper. The group members then passed their papers around and connected with parts of other group members’ identities by writing down how they related, or something they and the other person had in common. This sparked conversation between group members and encouraged healthy discourse.

Seniors Leah Chudy and Felix Amyot use a trivia game of fun facts and fruit snacks to inform students about taking care of their bodies and living healthy lifestyles. (Eva Fahrenkrog)


After Wuh and Verkoulen concluded their segment on healthy discourse, Chudy and Amyot began the discussion about healthy bodies with a trivia game of fun facts and fruit snacks. Students earned fruit snacks for guessing interesting facts about the human body. Chudy and Amyot then dove into how to maintain a healthy body through eating good foods, exercising and getting enough sleep. Students then discussed where in their bodies they carry stress and how they release it. The healthy bodies segment concluded with a giant game of Hullabaloo to get participants up and moving.

A teambuilding challenge led by seniors Jeanette Jenkinson and Ben McDonald follows a meaningful discussion about healthy relationships. (Eva Fahrenkrog)




After a short snack break, Jenkinson and McDonald presented about healthy relationships. They began by sharing their own stories where they validated the difficulties that often come with maintaining healthy relationships. McDonald explained how all degrees of relationships (from peer to peer, to friends, to family) are with one’s relationship with themselves. Jenkinson and McDonald then led the group in a two-person team-building challenge where group members had to sit back to back, link arms, and attempt to stand up. The challenge only proved to be successful when both people worked together and supported each other. 

Seniors Sophia and Peter Chalifoux conclude the summit with their segment on healthy minds and a valuable message that is to always check in with yourself and others and reach out if you need support. (Eva Fahrenkrog)

Students then returned to their groups to hear from the final pair of seniors, Sophia and Peter Chalifoux. The two emphasized the importance of a healthy mind, checking in with yourself and others and reaching out if you need support. They concluded with a four corners activity where students answered questions on de stressing and ways to do so.

Several students who attended the Wildcat Summit shared positive feelings about the experience. For junior Sofija Tijunelis, it was her second year attending the summit, and she continues to reflect on what she learned last year. 

“I still like to implement the things I learned into my day-to-day basis,” said Tijunelis. 

Being a part of Wildcat Summit for a second year proved to be beneficial for her.

“It’s important to learn these strategies and be able to share them with others and kind of live a healthier life in general,” said Tijunelis.

Junior Yvie Gaiden has been a part of Wildcat Summit since her freshman year and explained how the summit had affected all grade levels.

“It brings people across all grades together to talk about this and you’ll have conversations about it with your friends or with people in your own social circles,” Gaiden explained.

Gaiden also acknowledged the challenges that come with being vulnerable and sharing your experiences.

“It’s challenging and helpful to be able to push yourself to have these conversations outside of that kind of close, close-knit group,” said Gaiden.

One of the summit groups attempts to stand up with their arms linked in a team-building challenge during the segment on healthy relationships. (Eva Fahrenkrog)cat Summit.

Sophomore Maya Anderson, although faced with the challenge of being one of the few under-classmen at the summit, put herself forward during group discussions and learned a lot.

“I learned that not everyone in every situation needs the same type or amount of support,” explained Anderson. “It’s important to ask what they need.”

Chudy and Jenkinson had multiple reasons to lead the Wild

“My sister was one of the first people to help start [Wildcat Summit] and I loved attending, I loved participating, and so when I got the opportunity, I jumped at it,” said Chudy.

Her fellow speakers have also impacted her positive experience. 

“Wellness all around is a big passion of mine and the people who do this with me are just so passionate and fun to be around and makes it all a lot more enjoyable,” explained Chudy.

She highly recommends getting involved with Wildcat Summit, or any of the school’s mental health programs to any LHS student who’s interested.

“If you’re interested at all, just go once,” Chudy said. “Try something out. It doesn’t have to be a big event like this. It could be something small, like going to a club one day. That kind of deal. I think it adds a lot of dimension to your experience in high school.”

Students press their elbows to the floor in a game of Hullabaloo. The goal was to get people moving to show the importance of healthy bodies. (Eva Fahrenkrog)

Senior Jeanette Jenkinson was ecstatic about this year’s turnout and is glad the message of the summit is able to reach a greater audience.

“I think that wellness impacts everyone’s lives,” explained Jenkinson. 

Jenkinson’s advice for the LHS community reflects some of the main themes that were discussed at Wildcat Summit.

“I think we should just be open to understanding each other,” Jenkinson said. “I mean, we all come from different places. But we’re also all from Libertyville. And I think that we’re way more similar than we always think.”

Wildcat Summit is just one of many programs at LHS that promote discussions about mental, physical, and emotional health. Other programs like Green Dot Bystander Training, Snowball, and Snowflake are some examples of ways to get involved with the school as well as strengthen leadership skills and learn more about how to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.