Leading by example

Senior Seth Kardys takes pride in being a freshman gym leader.

By Brooke Hamann

His contagious laugh lingers through the locker room.  Reaching over, he grabs his black t-shirt, his so-called gym uniform. Looking at him from the front, the shirt reads: “Physical Education Leader”. Slipping it on, he slams his locker closed and laces up his white Nike shoes. Walking out of the locker room, he smiles, knowing he differentiates from the other students, all wearing gray. With a stride of determination, senior Seth Kardys walks into the East gym, ready for the period ahead. 

Entering high school for a young freshman oftentimes, can be intimidating. The homework overload, the new building and new teachers; it’s a lot! To make things a little easier for our freshman here at HHS, admin implemented a new course, a few years back, for juniors and seniors called, ‘Leader’s Prep’. 

In this course, upperclassmen are shaped to become leaders for not only underclassmen, but even among their peers in their physical education class. Additionally, students are taught how to go-about various situations that could occur during the period, including students portraying bad behavior, etc. After one semester, students take on the role of “gym leader” and are there to assist their teacher when necessary in-class. 

“I enrolled in Leader’s prep because I wanted to gain more leadership experience and connect with the younger kids at my school. Mainly, help them get accustomed to the high school experience. I felt it would be an important thing to do,” Kardys said. 

Involved in and out of school, Kardys has always felt it of utmost importance to volunteer and use his time to better the needs of others in his community. 

By constantly interacting with freshmen through Huntley’s Link Crew program, it helped Seth grow accustomed to freshman demeanor before having to lead. 

“I feel I’m pretty personable and outgoing with kids no matter the age. I try to become their friend so I can always encourage and lead them to the best of my ability,” Kardys said.

At the start of the year, leader’s are paired with a gym teacher and a class by random. Luckily, Seth’s wish of leading younger students came true as he soon found he was paired with Jamie Meindl, a solely freshman gym teacher.

“I’d never met Mrs. Meindl, never had her before. I really enjoy her as a teacher and she’s really relatable which keeps things interesting. I think she has inspired me to stay motivated! She always has energy everyday even when she has a lot going on,” Kardys said. 

Within the first few days, Meindl had no doubt of Kardy’s potential.

“Being a leader for the freshman level isn’t for everyone.  It takes a lot of patience and understanding because these are all students who are new to HHS and need extra guidance,” Meindl said.

“Seth is reliable and always maintains a calm composure and gives his undivided attention to the students in our class. Making these connections also helps when motivating our students during activities. All of these qualities make Seth a great physical education leader and positive role model for the underclassman.”

One of the most significant parts in being a gym leader is the importance of recognizing when a student is having a rough day or may need someone to talk to. In helping a student in need, it may mean more to them than one may realize. 

“Seth has helped me become more confident and gave me an outlet to speak up. The bullying I experienced stopped to some extent due to his efforts,” an anonymous freshman said. 

Initially becoming a gym leader is an emotional topic for Kardys considering Jennifer Heuck, the Physical Education Department Head’s passing in recent months, due to her continuing fight with Breast Cancer. It was with her guidance that Seth learned the duties and responsibilities of being a leader.

“Mrs. Heuck and my family actually had a personal relationship because both of my sisters went through Leader’s prep and were gym leaders too. It was hard to hear and very surprising. But, I think she would want us to keep doing our best and not dwell on it. So, I try not to think about it too much but I keep her in my prayers for sure,” Kardys said. 

Ultimately, this experience has given Kardys so much joy and has given him the chance to lead the next generation of Huntley students to be their very best!

“This leadership opportunity has helped me grow as a person by allowing me to connect with a lot of different types of people that I normally wouldn’t talk to and just become a better person by helping others everyday.”