Senior Jillian Kocis Cites Kindergarten Teacher for Success
By the time some seniors reach their last days of high school, they have a hard time remembering the names of all the teachers they've had through the years. Jillian Kocis doesn't have that problem. The Huntington High School Class of 2012 member regards her kindergarten and first grade teacher as a key contributor to her success.
Ms. Kocis moved to Huntington from San Diego 13 years ago, just before she started school. "In both kindergarten and first grade I had Miss [Kimberly] Myers (now known as Mrs. Bender after marrying) who I owe everything to for making me the student I am today," Mr. Kocis said.
As her days at Huntington High School come to an end, Mr. Kocis appears well positioned for the future. She is headed to Binghamton University in the fall, where she plans to study psychology, "although I will have to wait and see what sparks my interest in that specific field," the senior said.
A cheerful, happy teenager, Ms. Kocis has been heavily involved in school activities. "The last four years at Huntington High School have been really incredible," she said. "They have helped mold and define the person I am and the vision I have for my future. I have been offered some tremendous opportunities and for that I am very grateful. My experience overall has given me the tools I need to be successful."
Ms. Kocis has been a key player in the student government throughout high school. This year she has been serving as vice president of the Class of 2012. "It has been a wonderful experience for me to have under my wing," she said. "I am proud that as a class we have been so successful and accomplished so much in just four short years together."
The teenager has also participated in Huntington's Habitat for Humanity club chapter, joining as a junior and working closely with club faculty advisor Robert Gilmor. Ms. Kocis served as club president this year and said the organization is "dear" to her.
"I have enjoyed working hard for such an amazing organization," Ms. Kocis said about her time with Habitat for Humanity. "My junior year we went on a build in New Orleans, Louisiana aiding the organization in building a home for a family affected by Hurricane Katrina. This year we traveled to Mobile, Alabama for a week to work on multiple homes. My time spent in both New Orleans and Mobile was beyond rewarding. Mr. Gilmor does an incredible job with Huntington's chapter of Habitat for Humanity and I am so appreciative of the time and effort he puts forth on behalf of the club."
This year, Ms. Kocis interned with social studies teacher Camille Tedeschi in a ninth grade Global History honors class. "I had her as a teacher for ninth grade as well as tenth grade and I was interested in learning more about her role as a high school teacher," Ms. Kocis said about the internship with Ms. Tedeschi. "It was an interesting experience for me to be on the other end of the spectrum.
As a freshman, Ms. Kocis decided "on the spur of the moment" to sign onto an EF Tours sponsored trip to Peru that was coordinated and supervised by Ms. Tedeschi and art teacher Pamela Piffard. "I could not be happier that I made that decision," the teenager said. "I went on to join the following year's trip to Italy and I must say that both times were unbelievable! It's pretty amazing what you find when you are exposed to unfamiliar places and cultures. Not long after graduation this June, I will be headed to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii with a small group for two weeks. This will be my third trip through E.F. Tours and I cannot wait!"
Looking back over the courses she has taken and the classes and teachers she has especially valued, the teenager has a good grasp of her personal favorites. "I find myself enjoying the social sciences and language courses the most, although I have always been intrigued by the creativity allowed by English classes that is hard to find within the other core courses," Ms. Kocis said. "Over the past four years I have had the opportunity to learn from some amazing educators. I have been able to take something different from each one and apply it to bettering the student I am currently, which I am extremely grateful for."
The senior has learned a lot since she began high school in September 2008. "My advice to incoming freshmen would be to take a step back and decide what is important to you," Ms. Kocis said. "Let go of what you can't control because the things that you can should be your focus. Four years is not very many in the grand scheme of things, so make the most of every minute and every opportunity. Most importantly, don't forget to laugh a little. A smile is a free gift you can give to someone."