Juniors Honored as by Park District


Olivia Ottenfeld and Simone Laszuk ’16 honored as Junior Citizen Finalists of their North Region.

On February 19, 2015, Simone Laszuk and Olivia Ottenfeld ’16 were honored as Chicago Park District Junior Citizen finalists for the North Region.  Laszuk will also move on as a City a Finalist along with 7 other North Region finalists with a total of 4 boys and 4 girls.  There are also a total of 20 finalists from all regions with just two final Chicago Park District Junior Citizens awards consisting each of a $1,000 scholarship.

For the past 62 years, the Chicago Park District has praised future leaders for their selfless civic contributions. To be nominated for the regional honor, one must be involved in leadership roles in their school and in the park district and community.  Finalists must demonstrate strong character and academic success.  Park district employees at their local park nominated both Laszuk and Ottenfeld.   Furthermore, this is a highly selective program that consisted of seven essays and two rounds of interviews in order to win within their district.

Laszuk and 19 other city finalists must go through three rounds of interviews and write a speech to perform in front of area managers.  Only one boy and one girl will win the Junior Citizen award with a scholarship, which will be awarded at a banquet at Soldier Field in mid-march.

“It’s an easy thing to do and it’s accessibly,” Laszuk said who began attending her local park district, River Park, since she was 6-years-old and began working as a junior counselor volunteer when she was 12.  She later moved on to obtain a paid recreational leader position.  In the 2014 summer, Laszuk worked with about 26 six to seven year old girls.  Her main tasks consisted of organizing field trips and other activities and monitoring the pool.  Laszuk mostly only works in the summer at River Park, but she also occasionally tutors children there year round.

Ottenfeld has been a camper at her local park district, Wilson Park, since she was in kindergarten.  Around the summer of 2010, Ottenfeld received the job as a junior councilor.  Although she had to stop working as a junior counselor in 2012 due to a new, paying job as a caddy, Ottenfeld continued to help run art classes at Wilson Park.  She is currently teaching younger campers, from 8-12-years-old, about different modes of paintings like watercolor and charcoal.

With a significant amount of experience with working with younger children, both Laszuk and Ottenfeld explain that they would like to incorporate some aspects of working with kids as a future career.

“I’m kind of undecided, but maybe child psychology because then I could still work with kids,” Ottenfeld said.  Along with this, the two girls plan on continuing their park district work throughout high school and possibly the summers throughout college.

“A lot of the people at my park come back for summers if they don’t get paid internships because the summer jobs, it’s a pretty nice job, so it’s nice to have that to fall back on,” Laszuk said.

Nonetheless Laszuk and Ottenfeld are also involved in many other activities.  Laszuk participates in volunteer work like helping organize the races in Chicago and she also works at a library and a pantry.  Along with being a caddy, Ottenfeld is an ambassador for the Danny Did Foundation, which is an epilepsy awareness foundation, and she also volunteers with the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago two times a week.

Both Ottenfeld and Laszuk are amazing representations of Jones and demonstrate a well-rounded character that everyone should strive to possess.

Simone Laszuk '16 awarded the Junior Citizen Award as a finalist of the North Region park district.
Simone Laszuk ’16 is a finalist of the North Region park district.