Willowbrook names August recipient of 88’s Best recognition

Neeraja Kumar (pictured above, with Willowbrook Principal Dr. Daniel Krause) has been named as Willowbrook’s August recipient of 88’s Best recognition for her outstanding academic accomplishments.

Kumar, a senior, was recognized during the Aug. 29 District 88 Board of Education meeting. To watch her 88’s Best presentation, click on the video above.

Academic and extracurricular achievements:

  • Completed 15 Advanced Placement (AP)/college-level courses, as well as multiple honors, college-credit-earning and dual-credit courses
  • Earned Distinction Honor Roll status each semester of her high school career
  • National Honor Society (NHS) Vice President
  • Civitas (Social Studies Honor Society) Historian
  • National English Honor Society inductee
  • Math Honor Society inductee
  • Named as the Outstanding Student for the Science Department
  • Received the Outstanding Freshman Award
  • Received the Human Relations Award (Students who receive this award are recognized for their attention to cultural diversity and human dignity and for reinforcing that behavior in all they do for Willowbrook and surrounding communities.)
  • Tri-M (Modern Music Masters) Honor Society Treasurer
  • Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) All-District Musician

Involvement at Willowbrook:

  • Senior Class President
  • Helped coordinate the Senior Sunrise event, where about 200 members of the class of 2023 gathered to watch the sunrise at Willowbrook to celebrate the start of the 2022-23 school year
  • New Beginnings Leader and Board Member (a program where upperclassmen mentor freshmen and show them what it means to be a Willowbrook Warrior and assist them in adjusting to high school)
  • Ambassador to assist students who transfer to Willowbrook
  • Member of Willowbrook’s Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!) program, which strives to prepare students to recognize and learn from the diversity around them
  • DECA President
  • Member of Speech Team
  • Member of Varsity Scholastic Bowl Team
  • Member of the Principal and Superintendent leadership teams
  • Member of the Prom Planning Committee
  • Relay For Life organizer (an event that raises funds for the American Cancer Society)
  • Co-Editor of Willowbrook’s yearbook, Centurion
  • Editor of Willowbrook’s student newspaper, Skyline
  • State competitor for Science Olympiad, Model UN, Mock Trial and DECA
  • Competed on the Badminton Team
  • Thespian

Community involvement:

  • Volunteers with the Villa Park Public Library
  • Volunteers with Chicago Tyagaraja Utsavam, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting Carnatic music in the U.S.

Staff member comments:

“Congratulations to Kumar on being recognized as District 88’s Best! This is a well-deserved honor. To say Kumar is an involved student would truly be an understatement. She participates in so many clubs and activities, I cannot even count them. Last year, she stepped up into a leadership role with our Centurion yearbook, and this year, she is our co-editor-in-chief. She is not only a hard worker, but a great mentor and leader for her peers. I can’t wait to see all of the great things she will do in the future.”

- Eleni Sianis, Willowbrook art teacher and yearbook (Centurion) adviser

“This year is the first time I will have Kumar in class, but I have known her throughout her high school career. She has been an outstanding member of the Math Team and has a passion for learning mathematics, as evidenced by her enrollment in all possible math classes here at Willowbrook. She also has been an active member on the Relay For Life Committee, helping us raise more than $40,000 as a community last year. She is well deserving of this award and is truly a Willowbrook Warrior.”

- Carrie Skala, Willowbrook math teacher and Relay For Life Coordinator

“Kumar has been an incredible member of our Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!) program during her time at Willowbrook. She is often the first one to speak up during a meeting, and her brave, honest and thoughtful comments set the tone for others to participate fully. Her genuine care for others is such a pleasure to see and hear every day. She is truly a wonderful Warrior!”

- Pete Montgomery, Willowbrook social studies teacher and Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!) program Coordinator

“An amazing, well-rounded, well-spoken young woman! Kumar is a thoughtful and considerate human, always ready with kind words. Her focus and dedication to her academics have been impressive since day one of her freshman year. Her drive and perseverance to learn and continually gain knowledge and understanding have always impressed me and fellow teachers. No matter the challenges and obstacles, she powers through and completes the task at hand with her grace, gentle manner and care. She will do great things in her future endeavors!”

- Maritza Francisco, Willowbrook social studies teacher

“Kumar is an immensely talented young person. She is confident, humble and incredibly eclectic in so many ways. I have had the distinct honor of coaching Kumar on our Speech Team the last three years, and I look forward to her fourth and final season this fall and winter. She has worked hard in both original and acting events, and her growth as an orator and performer is consistently evident. In addition, I look forward to working with Kumar in class this year. She has already shown she wants to be a significant participant in the class. Proud to be a part of Kumar’s education.”

- Brett Blair, Willowbrook English teacher and Speech Team coach

  • District 88 values the hard work and achievements of students and wants to make sure students are honored and recognized for their accomplishments. The District 88 Board of Education and administration created the 88’s Best award to highlight students’ success. That award recognizes nine Addison Trail and nine Willowbrook students each school year for reaching their personal best in various areas. Recipients are honored during a District 88 Board of Education meeting in one of the following areas: academics, highly improved performance, extracurricular activities, service work or performing arts/electives. They receive an 88’s Best glass sculpture and a certificate to a local restaurant.