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Richards student honored for volunteer work

  • Written by Michelle Zalesny

richards volunteer photo 12-1

Photo by Michelle Zalesny

Nick Aggelopoulos, a senior at Richards High School, is receiving the Cook County Sheriff’s Youth Service Medal of Honor.

 


Nick Aggelopoulos is not someone who sits on the sidelines. And this volunteer has been recognized for his efforts.

Aggelopoulos, 18, a senior at Richards High School, will receive a Cook County Sheriff’s Youth Service Medal of Honor today (Thursday, Dec. 1) for his volunteering services within the community.

He has dedicated more than 100 hours of his time last year volunteering at various organizations, including refereeing for District 218’s Special Olympics basketball team, coaching for the Palos Stars football team, and volunteering as a summer camp leader for students K-5 at his church youth group, as well as working at the Village of Oak Lawn’s annual Fall on the Green Festival this year.

When not volunteering, you can find him participating in drama club and crew, acting in this year’s fall play, attending a speech tournament, or at his afterschool job at a local grocery store.

Volunteering came naturally to Aggelopoulos from a young age, ever since he started participating in vacation bible school at his church youth group in kindergarten. For him, volunteering was always the next step.

“I always liked to give. Growing up I didn’t get a job until sophomore year so I just kind of gave and gave and gave because I liked the feeling. When I refereed for the basketball team, I thought it was a great feeling to see everyone’s faces and how positive the situation was. I was glad to be a part of it. There was a certain comradery to it. I haven’t stopped since fifth grade.”

But it was his mom that really pushed him to become active within the community.

“My mom has been with me the entire process of me volunteering, and of course she’s been to the games, to the bible schools; she has been with me for all of it and she’s pushed me to do a lot of these things,” he admits.

His unwavering determination to give back to the community has not ceased, not even when he suffered injuries participating in high school sports like football, which he had to inevitably give up.

“I was doing really well in football, but sometimes life gets in the way and you can’t always be promised tomorrow. So you just got to make the best out of each day. Volunteering is a great thing for me because it makes me really happy and it makes me feel fulfilled with each day I do it.”

Even his teachers have acknowledged how volunteering continues to mold and shape him as a person.

“He is a tremendously caring, thoughtful, and humorous young man that is full of energy and always willing to help others,” said Mike Badger, Richard’s High School English teacher and drama director. “It is my hope that Nick realizes for himself what the rest of us have come to see: that, even though he may still be developing as a person, he already is a wonderful young man and we cannot wait to see what great things he accomplishes.”

When asked why he volunteers, Aggelopoulos couldn’t help but smile and laugh. “I feel good while doing it. I know I’m doing something good. Not only am I doing something good for myself, but for others. When I can look back on that, it’s good memories and good times.”

The Youth Service Medal of Honor recognizes high school students that have volunteered a minimum of 100 hours of service to their communities during the previous year. Students who meet the criteria are honored at a ceremony and presented with the award by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart.

With the award adding recognition to Aggelopoulos achievements, he still plans to continue volunteering.

“It’s a great achievement and I feel like I’ve worked very hard at the stuff I’ve volunteered in. And I do greatly appreciate the recognition, but I want to keep going and I want to see how much more I can do. I don’t really think there’s a limit to volunteering. I think that why it’s volunteering, because you can just keep going,” he said.

After graduation, Aggelopoulos plans to attend college. “I want to major in criminal justice and become a police officer so I can help the community.”

Social work and joining the Peace Corps after college also beckons on the horizon.

By Michelle Zalesny

Nick Aggelopoulos is not someone who sits on the sideline. And this volunteer has been recognized for his efforts.

Aggelopoulos, 18, a senior at Richards High School, will receive a Cook County Sheriff’s Youth Service Medal of Honor today (Thursday, Dec. 1) for his volunteering services within the community.

He has dedicated more than 100 hours of his time last year volunteering at various organizations, including refereeing for District 218’s Special Olympics basketball team, coaching for the Palos Stars football team, and volunteering as a summer camp leader for students K-5 at his church youth group, as well as working at the Village of Oak Lawn’s annual Fall on the Green Festival this year.

When not volunteering, you can find him participating in drama club and crew, acting in this year’s fall play, attending a speech tournament, or at his afterschool job at a local grocery store.

Volunteering came naturally to Aggelopoulos from a young age, ever since he started participating in vacation bible school at his church youth group in kindergarten. For him, volunteering was always the next step.

“I always liked to give. Growing up I didn’t get a job until sophomore year so I just kind of gave and gave and gave because I liked the feeling. When I refereed for the basketball team, I thought it was a great feeling to see everyone’s faces and how positive the situation was. I was glad to be a part of it. There was a certain comradery to it. I haven’t stopped since fifth grade.”

But it was his mom that really pushed him to become active within the community.

“My mom has been with me the entire process of me volunteering, and of course she’s been to the games, to the bible schools; she has been with me for all of it and she’s pushed me to do a lot of these things,” he admits.

His unwavering determination to give back to the community has not ceased, not even when he suffered injuries participating in high school sports like football, which he had to inevitably give up.

“I was doing really well in football, but sometimes life gets in the way and you can’t always be promised tomorrow. So you just got to make the best out of each day. Volunteering is a great thing for me because it makes me really happy and it makes me feel fulfilled with each day I do it.”

Even his teachers have acknowledged how volunteering continues to mold and shape him as a person.

“He is a tremendously caring, thoughtful, and humorous young man that is full of energy and always willing to help others,” said Mike Badger, Richard’s High School English teacher and drama director. “It is my hope that Nick realizes for himself what the rest of us have come to see: that, even though he may still be developing as a person, he already is a wonderful young man and we cannot wait to see what great things he accomplishes.”

When asked why he volunteers, Aggelopoulos couldn’t help but smile and laugh. “I feel good while doing it. I know I’m doing something good. Not only am I doing something good for myself, but for others. When I can look back on that, it’s good memories and good times.”

The Youth Service Medal of Honor recognizes high school students that have volunteered a minimum of 100 hours of service to their communities during the previous year. Students who meet the criteria are honored at a ceremony and presented with the award by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart.

With the award adding recognition to Aggelopoulos achievements, he still plans to continue volunteering.

“It’s a great achievement and I feel like I’ve worked very hard at the stuff I’ve volunteered in. And I do greatly appreciate the recognition, but I want to keep going and I want to see how much more I can do. I don’t really think there’s a limit to volunteering. I think that why it’s volunteering, because you can just keep going,” he said.

After graduation, Aggelopoulos plans to attend college. “I want to major in criminal justice and become a police officer so I can help the community.”

Social work and joining the Peace Corps after college also beckons on the horizon.