Two O’Fallon Township High School (OTHS) senior hopefuls Caitlyn Clinton and Nicholas “Dillon” Weiss, are closing in on their secondary education chapters ending, and their high education chapters on the crest of beginning next fall.
“I feel extremely honored. There are so many seniors at the school who deserve this recognition because of the hard work they put in, so being selected was very special,” Clinton said.
Weiss also echoed thanks with modesty, “I am so thankful to receive this recognition. Being a student-athlete, I do not get to participate in many clubs or go to many school events because I am so consumed with what I am doing in the classroom and on the sports field. On paper, it does not look like I’m involved in a whole lot; but the things I do, I do with complete dedication. I am blessed to have had great teachers help me in every class because by no means is high school easy.”
While both are academic and athletic champs at OTHS, Clinton and Weiss are not necessarily cut from the same cloth with differing backgrounds.
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With attendance at eight different school all over the world in her short lifetime, Clinton said her family including three siblings, Victoria, 16, Grace, 14, and Harry, 12, have become well traveled in their youth due to their father Philip Clinton’s U.S. Air Force career. Caitlyn said her mother is an artist and photographer from Long Island, N.Y., while her father is a pilot at Scott AFB originally from Houston, Texas.
From 2012 to 2013, Clinton participated in the George Washington University Online High School with virtual attendance from San Juan, Puerto Rico before coming to OTHS.
“In my spare time, when I have some, I really enjoy just taking a mental break. I feel like I am constantly going, so just having a chance to decompress and relax really helps me refocus to get back to work,” Clinton said. “I feel like that is an important task to be able to do in our world because everyone is constantly plugged into their phones, multitasking, and trying to balance busy schedules.”
Clinton is captain of the varsity track team with state qualifications since 2013.
Clinton’s hobbies include running, swimming, cooking, traveling, spending time outside, working as a camp counselor, going on retreats and leading and/or attending my church youth group at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in O’Fallon. She participated in Military Teen Adventure Camp in 2014 at Ohio State University, which was a week-long camp promoting leadership and problem solving skills through high ropes courses and outdoor physical challenges.
While Clinton is hard and fast about her values, beliefs and organized regiment of school, church and civic or charitable endeavors, she remains on the fence about which university to attend after graduation.
“In five years, I hope to be graduated from college, but I am not sure where I am going yet, either University of Notre Dame or Villanova University. I hope to be working in some field of communications. I am not entirely sure what I want to be doing, but I know I want to work with people,” Clinton reflects.
Maintaining a 4.2 grade point average, Clinton represented OTHS at a weekly STEM program Saturday Scholars program in the spring of 2014, 2015 and 2016.
She has a Red Cross Lifeguard Certification, has received the Silver Presidential Service Award completing 125+ hours of service; and, was an Illinois State Scholar, which is given to the top 10 percent of students in the state. Her extracurricular athletic, academic and spiritual activity participation climbs past 10 groups. Furthermore, she also is a summer camp counselor and lifeguard at Camp Ondessonk and currently works at Toolen’s Running Start in Shiloh; as well as, at YMCA of Southwest Illinois as a swim instructor specializing in children with special needs in 2014.
“I know this sounds kind of silly, but ever since I was little, I have always had a dream of working at Disney. Either during college of after college, I would love the opportunity to intern in the public relations department of such an incredibly successful company. Another goal of mine is to travel to all seven continents during my life,” Clinton said.
When Weiss was chosen as the male Student of the Month for April 2016, he said he was “beyond surprised.”
“I knew this was an honorable award, but I really never felt I would even have a chance at winning. Being a kid who was never in honors classes, I felt like it was a long shot for winning this award against the substantial amount of intelligent minds in my class. I am overjoyed that my teachers and coaches would nominate me, while recognizing the hard work I have put in the classrooms of OTHS during the past four years,” Weiss said.
As an outstanding Panther star at OTHS, Weiss participates in varsity football, baseball, leadership council, and FOR club. My after school job, sports permitting, is umpiring baseball games for the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation.
Weiss is the captain of the varsity football team who also has All Conference and All Area, as well as, state qualifications for football and baseball.
“I also help my mom out at Parish School of Religion at St. Nicholas Catholic Church for second graders,” Weiss said.
Weiss said his hobbies are simply any sport he can play after school whether that be football, baseball, or a pick-up basketball game.
“My friends and I are always looking for a competition, and I also play a mean game of Ping-Pong and pickle ball,” Weiss said.
An O’Fallon native, Weiss is the son of Nick and Julie Weiss, and has a sister Tori, who is a year older and attends the University of Arkansas.
“Our family has always had Boxers as a pet. We currently have two Boxers, Zeus and Hercules. I come from a big family who love to get together to eat, talk loud and laugh,” Weiss said.
With a laid back personality, Weiss said he rarely reaches emotional highs or lows.
“I am always right in the middle. My baseball friends always joke with me that during games it does not matter if it is the bottom of the seventh inning and the game is tied or if we are winning by ten runs my demeanor is always exactly the same,” according to Weiss.
With plans to attend Truman State University, Weiss will be on a football and academic scholarship with the intent to also play baseball. He hopes to earn a degree in Business Management.
“My ideal job would be to manage a corporation. I am not sure what business that would be. The possibilities are endless and I look forward to exploring all the opportunities Truman State offers,” Weiss said.
Growing up Weiss said his role model has always been former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, which still remains following his recent retirement.
“I want to live my life the way he does by doing what I love for as long as I can, and by always taking time to weigh my decisions to make the best decisions for myself, just like he did with football,” Weiss said.
In the off season, Weiss keeps busy with a work out routine with his favorite teacher from OTHS Jaron Dent, every day after school.
“He always pushes me to get better as a person, a student and an athlete. He is constantly looking out for me, my friends, and his students as he strives to make everyone around him better,” Weiss said.
While Weiss may not be a very vocal leader, he said he “leads by example.”
“I do believe by doing the right thing that it will eventually rub off on the people around me to also do the right thing. I try to lead by example in the classroom, the athletic field and in the community by just having a positive work ethic and by always doing the right thing. By doing this, I believe I am helping others around me,” Weiss explained.
Most important to Weiss isn’t how he looks on paper, but rather the impact and integrity that comes with the summation of his actions in school, on the field, at home and in life.
“I guess what I would like people to know is I care…care about them though I’m not always there to give support or cheer them on, care about how I treat people, care about how I am perceived, care about my education and care about how I represent my family, teams, school and community,” Weiss said.
Robyn Kirsch: 618-239-2690.