This month’s National Renaissance Student of the Month is Evan Zeleny from Del City High School in Del City, OK. Nominator Kristy Cooper writes (lightly edited):
“Evan is one of those kids who truly loves the school. He’s always looking for ways for other students to love it as much as he does. He has had a huge impact on the culture of our school by being the convention manager for the state convention we hosted, help building amazing sets for the drama plays and acting in them, and doing little things like dressing up as Santa Claus walking throughout the hallways just to get kids to laugh. Evan is a one of a kind.“
How long have you been involved with Renaissance?
Four years – ever since I was a freshman my advisor has been showing the Harbor videos even before I got to DC.
What’s a favorite Renaissance moment for you?
My favorite moment had to have been when I attended the Renaissance conference in Texas my sophomore year of high school. The conference was great but the little road trip we took was awesome too as a Stuco group. But my favorite thing is how personal the guys where on stage I remember Mike Smith in particular because after he was done speaking you could go up and just have a person-to-person conversation with him and the other speakers at that. Overall, it was a great time in my leadership career at that point in my life and really showed me how important telling your story is.
How has Renaissance impacted your school’s culture?
Though the Harbor hasn’t been shown to everyone in the school, the people that use it know we use the messages from the videos to better our school. For example, at Del City we aren’t a school with cliques, and you may be wondering how that is? Well sure we have friend groups, yes but we can talk to anyone and join anyone at any time. Also, the environment of our school is supportive no matter what. Everything the kids do all the way to the faculty, we celebrate because that’s what it means to be an Eagle. We have pride for our community and school. Del City shows inclusiveness and diversity in every sense. We have many cultures and personalities and even different poverty levels but at the end of the day we support each other. Our culture is Eagle culture and Renaissance has helped the leaders of the school keep that culture.
How has Renaissance affected you personally?
It has made me grow as a person, shown me strengths and weaknesses I may have never known about. But the one thing I know for certain is in Harbor discussions in class I gained communication skills on a peer level. It showed me that opinions are different, and you are who you are, and you can’t fault someone for not agreeing with something that you do. We are all humans and were all different. My communication skills and overall leadership skills have soared over the four years I’ve seen and been a part of Renaissance. Receiving this award is a shock to me because I’m a behind the scenes person – I know I do a lot for my school and community, but I never ask for a thank you because for me it’s simply the right thing to do give back to the place that shaped you. So, this means so much to me and I love the program that is allowing me to receive this amazing award.
What advice would you give to someone just starting with Renaissance?
Be open to the discussion really embrace the message and just have fun. Not a lot to say because it is just great.
Evan will receive a water bottle and a lapel pin in recognition of his achievement.