East Leyden graduates 410
Lukasz Kosakowski is highlighted by Superintendent Kathy Robbins as she describes three students paths to success during Commencement of East Leyden High School class of 2012 Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at the Akoo Theater in Rosemont. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:57AM
Nancy Zuniga says her most memorable teacher during her four years at East Leyden High School was English teacher Sojna Kosanovic.
“She was so warm and understanding,” Zuniga said. “She sat down and worked hard until (we) understood the subject.”
Zuniga particularly remembers one lesson.
“Her grandparents were in the Holocaust,” Zuniga said. “She shared some very personal stories about that. I’d never heard such personal stories like that (from a teacher).”
Zuniga was among 410 East Leyden High School member of the Class of 2012. Dressed in blue robes on May 23, the graduates received diplomas at the Akoo Theater in Rosemont.
They also reminisced about their four years at the school.
Brett Levy recalls Coach Tim Stark.
“He was inspirational,” Levy said. “He would push, never give up.”
For example, when students had to run on Mondays.
“He’s like, ‘Stop being lazy and run,’” Levy said.
For Stephanie DiCintio, it was English teacher David Narter.
“He was very enthusiastic about helping us write better essays,” DiCintio said, adding the she also recalls a moment in a political science class.
“We were going over court cases in the Supreme Court,” DiCintio said. “I was in the middle of class when I realized I wanted to be a lawyer.”
In past years, an average of 37 percent of graduates at East Leyden have gone on to four-year colleges with another 47 percent heading to two-year colleges according to statistics supplied by Principal Beth Concannon.
“I think they are entering a world that is a little bit more economically challenged than a few years back,” Concannon said. “We wish them the best. They have dreams, wishes and excitement.”
That excitement was put on hold the evening of May 23 as students patiently waited through five speeches. Those included one by Board of Education President Gregory Ignoffo who cited presidents Kennedy, Adams and Reagan along with Aristotle.
In contrast, valedictorian Jennifer Sacksteder cited Dr Seuss and mentioned her goal of becoming a mermaid at age 5.
The class of 2012 is an ethnically diverse one. That was underscored when four students requested the audience hold its applause. They did so in English, Spanish, Polish and Russian.
The request was ignored. Segments of the audience yelled “whoo!” or “yeah!” or in one case “My baby!” while students received their diplomas from board of education members and a handshake from Concannon or Assistant Principal Jason Markey.
When all the diplomas were distributed, the former students faced the audience. Mortarboards were thrown in the air, the audience cheered and then the graduates marched out of the auditorium and on to the rest of their lives.