Two National Honors Society standouts, Caleb Shelton and Claire Wilcox, continue to lead their fellow seniors inside and outside the classrooms. The pair of seniors were named the O'Fallon Township High School students of the month for March.
"Being student of the month is really great. It's a huge honor, and I feel like as student of the month you are representative of the school through all your actions, as well as, the way you portray yourself as a student," Claire said.
According to Claire, contributing factors to the recent honor, "are my ambitions and my willingness to put myself out there and potentially risk failure in order to achieve greater things."
"It feels really great, because I get some recognition around the school from my teachers. And it means a lot, because I think I work really hard in school and with my activities, so it definitely means a lot to me," Caleb said.
Involvement in extracurricular activities, like varsity baseball and math team contributed to his honor, Caleb said.
Claire is the daughter of Dustin and Paula Wilcox of O'Fallon. She has three sisters Alexa, 27, a kindergarten teacher in Indianapolis; Avery, 20, a sophomore at Western University of Kentucky; and, Sophie, 13, who attends Fulton Junior High.
She's only 18, but she's already establishing herself as a mover and a shaker. She, along with her peers, spearheaded the March For Our Lives O'Fallon chapter protest, as a part of a global movement March 24 in downtown O'Fallon. The movement sought for stricter gun laws in response to school shootings.
Claire was strengthening her leadership and youth government muscles before that even when she began writing her own proposed legislative bill with another student from Belleville East High School in August 2017 through a Gateway Region YMCA Youth and Government program.
"It was putting restrictions on convicted felons being able to run for state office, because right now, Illinois is the only state that allows convicted felons to serve in the state house. So (our) bill was restricting those people. It actually didn't get passed through the Senate, but it passed through the House," Claire said.
As an OTHS Panther Marching Band and Wind Ensemble leader, Claire has also been an integral participant in Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, Madrigals as a conductor, Jazz Ensemble, St. Louis Youth Wind Symphony and the OTHS February Frolics performance.
She's also been decorated with the OTHS Musician of the Week and a Yamaha Corporation of America Scholarship.
"In the fall, I participate in the marching band, and this past year, I was the head drum major of the marching band. In the spring, I am the first chair oboist of the wind ensemble, which is pretty time consuming — I spend a lot of my time preparing for that," Claire said.
When she's not hitting the books or marching for change, she teaches private lessons to young oboists.
Keeping her grades and standards high throughout her high school career, Claire said has been "a lot of hard work, but well worth it."
Claire will be traveling across the U.S. competing with the Phantom Regiment Drum Corps this summer before heading off to start college this fall at the University of Colorado to study music education.
"I have been selected as the conductor for the Phantom Regiment, which is a prestigious DCI drum corps," Claire said.
Community service is vital for Claire's sense of self, she said.
"I organized a food and toy drive for Spencer's Kennel, and I volunteer at the O'Fallon Food Pantry. I volunteer for middle school instrument tryouts," Claire said.
Other extracurricular activities Claire participates include: Friends of Rachel Club, OTHS Leadership Council member, Illinois Youth and Government student legislature.
Caleb is the son of Mason and Krista Shelton of O'Fallon. He has two brothers, Alex, 21, who attends the University of Alabama; and Cameron, 16, who is an OTHS sophomore.
"My parents are two of the most dependent, supportive and helpful people in my life, and I know I wouldn't be here without them. Our family life is very loose. We all like to joke and play around with each other and have family competitions. We all just like to have a good time," Caleb said.
While Caleb is a self proclaimed "huge sports guy," he also said, he takes "school very seriously."
"I pressure myself to get the best grades possible, but also enjoy my subjects enough to have fun with it. My favorite class has to be my AP calculus class, with a close second being my honors physics class. I love math and science, and physics brought both of those together with hands-on activities," Caleb said.
Next fall, Caleb plans on attending the University of Michigan to study aerospace or mechanical engineering.
"Honestly, my biggest achievement, to me at least, is getting accepted into Michigan. That place is my dream school, and it was the best news," Caleb said with an ear-to-ear smile.
He is an Illinois Student Assistance Commission State Scholar for earning an overall 35 on the ACT. He also earned the Illinois State Commendation toward Biliteracy for Spanish, as well as was runner-up in an Illinois Best Poetry and Prose Contest last year. Since 2014, Caleb has earned the OTHS Scholar Athlete Award too.
Leading and developing aspiring baseball youths through drills, team building activities and baseball workouts throughout the year to cultivate their interests in the sport. Since 2015, Caleb has been an O'Fallon Baseball Camp counselor/coach. He also spent some time as basketball official for the city of O'Fallon Parks and Recreation Department for kindergarteners through fourth graders.
"Overall, I'm most proud of my work ethic. I think I'm a very hard worker," Caleb said.
Other extracurricular activities Caleb participates include: Friends of Rachel Club, OTHS Leadership Council and OTHS Freshman Football.
"At OTHS, I'm involved in baseball, National Honors Society, Math Team, Friends of Rachel Club and Athletic Leadership Council ... I love when I can see my hard work paying off," Caleb said.