Two O’Fallon Township High School seniors, Kaileigh Perrier and Hayden Ybarra, both varsity scholar athletes, were named the OTHS Students of the Month for February.
The cross country and track stars are student leaders on as captains, as well as off it it, where they are both Athletic Leadership Council and National Honors Society members.
"I was really honored to be representing all the people in my class for February, because there's a lot of different students who I feel are exemplary students," Kaileigh said.
"It's a really great honor to be nominated and chosen for student of the month. I honestly didn't think that I would ever get it," Hayden said with an ear-to-ear smile.
Kaileigh is the daughter of Leonard and Colleen Perrier of O'Fallon. She has two older brothers, Patrick, a junior at Stanford University, and L.J., who lives in Virginia and serves in the U.S. Navy. Her younger sister, Abbygael, is a freshman.
Last summer, Kaileigh said she had an internship where she, "spent a week shadowing chemical engineers doing research and development at Emerald Performance Materials in Maple Shade, New Jersey."
Kaileigh said she is excited to be attending the University of Notre Dame next year.
"I plan on studying either chemical or environmental engineering with a minor in engineering corporate practice. Then I hope to get a job somewhere, doing something that will help make the world a better place," Kaileigh said.
When she's not breaking records on the track, Kaileigh is working hard to maintain her 4.2 GPA, ranking her fifth of 598 students in hter class.
"I'm very busy a lot of the time. I'm in all honors courses at O'Fallon, so that means I've been on honor roll all semesters... And I do a bunch of academic clubs, including Mock Trial and Model UN," Kaileigh said.
Juggling class work with extracurricular activities can be a challenge, but it's worth it.
"I think just stepping outside of my comfort zone in trying to take the highest classes has helped push me to be the person that I am today," Kaileigh said.
Last year, she was awarded the Presidential Volunteer Silver Service Award. Community service is one avenue Kaileigh said helps her in her goal of giving back.
"I think that by being a good student, and just being kind to people, and just being respectful and responsible everyday, just proves to be a leader to everyone around me," Kaileigh said.
As a member of St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, Kaileigh not only is a youth group leader, but she teaches Sunday school and is the youngest certified catechist for the Good Shepherd through the National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
Being a good Samaritan is important to Kaileigh.
"I cut my neighbors yard once a week for him ,since he is too old to do so... I also spend a lot of time tutoring my sister," said Kaileigh, who also volunteers to work the Knights of Columbus Hall fish fry once a month.
Kaileigh's other activities include: Rho Kappa Social Studies and French Honors Society, Saturday Scholars and Math Team.
Hayden is the son of David and Monica Ybarra of O'Fallon. He has two younger brothers, Toby, a freshman, and Dylan, a sixth-grader at Holy Trinity Catholic School.
Hayden said he is excited to be attending Xavier University next year.
"I'm going to be studying biomedical sciences, and hopefully, after four years, I will find a spot in vet school, and I'm hoping to open my own vet clinic with my brothers, hopefully, one day," Hayden said.
When he's not hitting the books or the field, Hayden volunteers often at Partners For Pets animal shelter near Troy.
"I'm there for two and a half hours every Sunday, helping the dogs and currently working with the cats," Hayden said.
As a track and cross country leader, Hayden said he has helped pave the way for the future of the OTHS harriers.
"I work with the youth camps over the summer to help train the freshman runners," Hayden said.
Hayden has also served as an assistant coach for Holy Trinity track and field team.
He holds the Belleville News-Democrat All Area Runner recognition.
Hayden volunteers every year for the Columbus Day Run for youth and plays piano at local retirement homes in his free time.
"I'm very passionate about a lot of the things that I do," Hayden said.
He's also a lover of the written word.
"I read a lot... I'm currently reading one on microbes, which is more biology based," Hayden said.
Words of advice to future students, Hayden said, "It's OK to not know what you're going to do, as long as you take the time to figure out what your interests are."
As a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, where his mother is also a part-time teacher, Hayden said he actively participates as a Mass server and reader during weekend services in an effort to strengthen his relationship with God and be a role model for youth.
"I work at funerals and weddings at my church, (too)," Hayden said.
Hayden's other activities includes Spanish Honors Society, Mock Trial, Saturday Scholars, Sports Psychology Club, Teen Court and Spanish Club.