Wheaton North's Past: The People
By: Lena Forbes
One thing that makes Wheaton North so special is the people that fill the halls of the school. Each student has a story and incredible things that they have done or will do with their future. Here are the stories of three very special Wheaton North students who left a mark on North forever:
The Taylor Family & Auditorium:
Scott and Kathy Taylor were two incredible music students whose voices filled the halls of Wheaton North. This makes sense because they were surrounded by music at their family’s Wesley Street House band, and their parents who were once part of Wheaton Drama Club and North’s music as well. They loved to entertain and let their passions shine through their lives.
Tragically in 1975, Scott, who was 17, and Kathy, who was 15, were killed by an intoxicated driver. In order to honor their memory, Wheaton North named the Taylor Auditorium after this family. The two siblings, along with their entire family, loved music and entertainment and were heavily involved with the music and theatre department at Wheaton North. Today, their memory lives in North every time the auditorium is used and music can be heard throughout the school.
The family awards The Scott and Kathy Taylor Memorial Award for Vocal Music to two students each year. The award is given to students “who have displayed outstanding leadership, talent, musicianship, and citizenship, throughout their participation in the Wheaton North Choral Program, and that are fitting to honor the memory of Scott and Kathy Taylor.” This is a way to let the memory of these amazing students who were tragically lost live on in Wheaton North.
Kendall Ciesemier & Oprah:
In 2003, Kendall Ciesmier watched the Christmas special on the Oprah show that highlighted the difficulties that many orphans in Africa face on a daily basis. At that moment, a passion to help those in Africa grew within Kendall. She started by “adopting” an orphan through World Vision, and slowly her mission grew. She created a nonprofit called Kids Caring 4 Kids in 2005, at just 13 years old, with the goal of donating $60,000 to help the kids in Africa. Although, at the same time, she was fighting a major liver disease that was forcing her to stay in a hospital bed and undergo many major surgeries. As the fighter that Kendall is, she began to ask the people who would have normally sent her gifts before and after her surgeries to donate money to her organization instead.
Then in 2007, as a Wheaton North student, Kendall got a very unexpected surprise. According to Mrs. Lotspeich, the school was told there would be an all-school assembly, which was very common, but they had received very few details about what would happen at the assembly. Besides the principal, Mrs. Bullo, and one of the deans, nobody knew that the Secret Service had been doing a sweep around the school for three days prior and that a camera crew had made it into the gym. As soon as they arrived at the assembly, and she was seated in the front row, Mrs. Lotspeich knew this had to be something special. Once Mrs. Bullo announced that it was Former President Bill Clinton coming onto the stage, Mrs. Lotspeich says “I started to shake and I did not stop until he stopped talking.” After mentioning some of the incredible things that had happened at North, Bill Clinton called an unsuspecting Kendall Ciesmier to the stage and told her she’d be coming with him to the Oprah show.
On the Oprah show, Ciesmier set her new goal of raising one million dollars for the AIDS orphans in Africa. There she received a huge start to her goal from a friend of the president and was able to change the trajectory of her nonprofit. She made it out to Africa to visit the children she is trying to help and continues to work with her organization today.
The day that President Bill Clinton came to visit this incredible student at Wheaton North was a memorable moment in Wheaton North’s past, and if you want to find more information about Kendall Ciesmier and this exciting day check out this video from the Oprah show: https://youtu.be/1pkfYYV2XKg