Grace alumnus Cameron Lewis (2014) is graduating from Fenwick High School this spring, and he’s staying as busy as he can.
“It’s definitely a good thing to be busy, especially in high school,” says Cameron, 17. “If you have too much free time you might wind up in the wrong things.”
Avoiding the wrong things isn’t a problem for Cameron. In addition to staying on top of his studies at Fenwick, he’s active in civic programs, school groups, and is president of the local teen chapter of Jack and Jill, a mentorship program that nurtures future African American leaders.
Cameron’s study habits, positive self- image and upbeat personality have made an impression on his Fenwick teachers. His freshman world history teacher, Dr. Jerry Lordan, nominated Cameron for an optimism award this year and got Cameron involved in the Oak Park- River Forest Community Foundation’s Future Philanthropists’ Program.
Dr. Lordan has been an advocate and mentor for Cameron and praises him as a “diligent, punctual, and industrious” student and a young man with a “well-developed set of personal values.”
Cameron plans to study political science at Howard University in Washington, DC, in the fall. After earning his degree, he’d like to pursue a law degree and eventually live and practice law in the Chicago area. (Cameron already has family role models in the field: his cousin, Alex Lewis, is finishing his second year of law school at Yale, and Alex’s father, Jeffrey Lewis – Cameron’s uncle – is a practicing attorney.)
A leader at Jack and Jill
Cameron already is demonstrating his leadership potential as president of the Western Cook County Teen Chapter of the Jack and Jill organization. His mother, Joyce Lewis, got him involved in Jack and Jill and before this year he served a year each as the secretary and vice president of the teen chapter.
As president, he leads the group each month through an activity and a two- hour meeting agenda. One important part of his leadership, he notes with a chuckle, is “getting a bunch of people to get a task done.” He appreciates Jack and Jill for helping him to make friends at different area high schools, including Lane Tech and Walter Payton High School.
Cameron also volunteers his time in the Future Philanthropists Program, a teen leadership initiative that introduces students to the process of community philanthropy. Adolescents study com- munity needs, evaluate grant requests, conduct site visits and ultimately award $25,000 to charitable organizations that serve Oak Park and River Forest. Many students apply to the program from area high schools, but only 25 are accepted each year.
On March 20, during the primary election in Illinois, Cameron served as an election judge at an Oak Park precinct. “It was a long day, but it was a good experience,” he recalls. “They say it was one of the largest primaries they’ve had at that site.” Cameron voted for the first time in the primary (he was eligible because he will turn 18 before the November general election). Acting as a judge and watching Oak Park residents cast their votes helped him feel a part of the community in a new way, Cameron says.
At Fenwick, Cameron has been active in the Broadcast Journalist Club and Student Council, and he played on the boys basketball team during his fresh- man and sophomore years. His teachers nominated him to be a student ambassa- dor, hosting junior high school students visiting Fenwick for shadow days. He’s been involved in the Annual Student Leadership Conferences that involve Oak Park River Forest High School, Fenwick and Trinity.
Balancing time between academics and a plethora of extra activities requires a lot of organization and time management, Cameron says. His teachers at Grace helped him learn both.
He attended Grace from senior kindergarten through eighth grade, and found that he fit in well at a loving, small-school environment “where everybody knows everybody.” The study habits he picked up helped him move without much difficulty into a demanding college prep school like Fenwick.
He thanks Grace for helping him get used to academic challenges – and noted that some of his classmates weren’t as ready. At Grace, “they don’t take it easy on the homework, especially in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades,” Cameron says. “I got in the habit of just sitting down there and chugging though the homework.”
At Grace, “they don’t take it easy on the homework, especially in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. I got in the habit.”
He says Grace also taught him to not be shy about going to his teachers for help. Plus, he learned in seventh and eighth grades to jump onto Khan Academy, the online learning site, to get extra help on a tough lesson – “I still use it today.”
For Cameron, the hardest part of entering Fenwick was learning to navigate around a much bigger school. But overall, “that transition for me to high school was pretty easy,” he says. “I give all the credit to Grace Lutheran for that.”