O’Fallon Township High School seniors Caitlin Lloyd and Garrett Blenkush are hard workers — both in the classroom and in their individual sports.
The OTHS Students of the Month for November are both dedicated athletes, as well as high honors students.
As they approach the midway point of their last year of high school, both are still mulling over their college decisions.
“I hope to finish it out as a great OTHS Panther, and afterward, hopefully, attend military academy, Navy or Air Force, and study well there, too,” Garrett said.
Caitlin is the daughter of Matt and Kristen Lloyd, of O’Fallon. Caitlin has an older sister, Alexandra, who is attending college, and a younger brother, Jack.
“I feel really honored that I was chosen (as Student of the Month). It makes me feel like a lot of the hard work and dedication I put into being involved in clubs and being really dedicated to my studies has really been worth it through all three years of high school,” Caitlin said.
“Leading by example” is one way Caitlin said she likes to help her peers, especially when it comes to being a Model United Nations lead delegate. She’s taken the honorable mention award multiple times at McKendree University conferences.
Caitlin is also on the St. Louis Federal Reserve Student Board of Directors and the Athletic Leadership Council. The Illinois State Board of Education Seal of Commendation for Proficiency in Spanish was awarded to Caitlin, also.
“I really dedicated a lot of time and I tried to become a leader and a positive influence,” she said.
Last year, Caitlin was honored with the highest possible level of recognition from the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois with the GSSI Gold Award after she clocked more than 100 hours of community volunteer service hours at a Women’s Safe House in St. Louis.
“I was really proud to achieve that goal during high school,” she said.
Making waves as varsity swim team captain, Caitlin said, she spends a lot of time in the water.
“I’ve been swimming since I was in about fourth grade,” she said.
Last year, the scholar athlete was recognized as “hardest worker” on swim team.
Being an officer of Helping Open People’s Eyes Club at OTHS also means a lot to Caitlin, she said.
“We go on a retreat twice a year and we talk about breaking stereotypes and making new friends at OTHS,” Caitlin said.
Caitlin’s other activity involvement includes: Friends Of Rachel, Ultimate Frisbee, Spanish Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and helps out at Cornerstone Church nursery and youth ministry. She is also a summer lifeguard at the O’Fallon Memorial Pool.
Garrett is the son of Severin and Angie Blenkush, of O’Fallon. Garrett hopes to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Severin III, who is attending the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, New York, by attending a military academy next year.
“It’s a fantastic honor to be selected as Student of the Month, especially from a school with so many kids and the population, and I know a lot of my fellow classmates are doing great things,” Garrett said.
For the last three years, Garrett has been an Illinois state qualifier on the math team, and last year, he added Math Team Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering to the list.
Twice qualifying for Class 3A state meets, Garrett has brought home many all-conference, all-area, and all-region awards in both cross country and track.
Garrett, who served as varsity cross country captain, said cross country and track have offered him “the opportunity to grow as a person and as a leader.”
Leading Fellowship Christian Athletes is another role Garrett has made time for, when he’s not hitting the books.
“I’ve been events coordinator, huddle leader and vice president,” he said.
Garrett thanked all the clubs and athletic teams he has been involved in, because he said, education is more than just the academics.
“It’s a good mix of all the sports, clubs like FCA and what not, that make the student truly great,” he said.
Garrett’s other activity involvement includes: Saturday Scholars, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Leadership Council, Sports Psychology Club, German Club, St. Nicholas Catholic Church Youth Group, Cross Country Youth Camp, US Naval Academy Summer Seminar, Holy Trinity Track coaching and Fields of Faith. Garrett also enjoys skiing and working on cars in his free time.