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Celebrating Four Members of the Peterson Elementary Class of 2023

01 June 2023

Lilli, Michael, Xocelyn, and Ali are known for their kindness, maturity, and resiliency.

A photo of Peterson students in front of a mural in their school

Meet Lilli, Michael, Xocelyn, and Ali, four soon-to-be graduates from Mary Gage Peterson Elementary School in Chicago’s North Park neighborhood. This special group of students is known for their strengths such as kindness, maturity, and resiliency. In this next chapter of life, Lilli will be attending Northside College Prep, Michael will be attending CICS Northtown Academy, Xocelyn will be attending Mather High School’s AVID program, and Ali will be attending Lane Tech College Prep. Get to know them below!

What do you like doing inside or outside of the classroom?

Ali: Trying new things. I really like learning new skills that will help me in the future. 

Lilli: Yearbook, which is genuinely fun and a great bonding experience. I also like reading, mainly fantasy and sometimes romance or young adult novels.

Michael: I like learning about others and helping the best I can, and I like being a mentor for younger students. I also enjoy expanding my creativity. 

Xocelyn: I am really close with my grandma and love spending time with her. If I’m ever having a hard day, she will always help me calm down and make me feel better. 

What will you miss most about Peterson?

Ali: There was always something going on, like fun events, challenges, or field trips. It made everyone feel special and like they could be themselves.

Lilli: I’ll miss the teachers. They made learning fun and they care about us as people.

Michael: Ms. Vaughn and Ms. Chang. They’re kind, understanding, and they support us if we’re having a hard time. I’ll also miss the younger students!

Xocelyn: The counselors and my favorite teachers: Ms. Sanchez and Ms. Mac. They always supported me and helped me catch up if I fell behind. I never thought I would form close relationships with my teachers, but I did.

What lessons have you learned over the course of elementary school?

Ali: That if you’re stuck, you can’t just stay stuck. Ask for help! I’m working on learning how to manage my time, which is really important. 

Lilli: I used to be overly sensitive, and I’ve grown much more independent and knowledgeable over the course of elementary school. 

Michael: I’ve learned how to be strong, patient, and to finish what I’ve started.

Xocelyn: I also used to be sensitive and sometimes scared of other people, and I’ve learned how to be more confident, especially in my relationships. 

What are your biggest goals for high school?

Ali: I’m excited to learn more about life, participate in new activities, and experience as much as possible.

Lilli: I’ve played clarinet for four years, so I want to try a new instrument. I signed up for Beginning Orchestra, and I’m thinking about trying the violin or cello.

Michael: I already have a lot of plans for high school. I’m thinking about joining Art Club and expanding my creativity that way, or maybe doing more acting or trying out for a musical. 

Xocelyn: I want to keep playing soccer — I’m currently the goalie. I also want to join student groups, try new things, and work on asking for help and staying on task. 

Do you have any advice for younger students about how to make the most out of elementary school?

Ali: Ask for help. I’ve struggled before and tried to do everything on my own, but that can cause some serious damage. I want younger students to know that they can ask for guidance and lean on their support system. You’re not alone.

Lilli: This is advice I want to give to myself as well as everybody else: think of things beyond just yourself. Think of the bigger picture and the world around you, beyond what’s just affecting you individually. And it’s easier said than done, but try not to cause yourself too much anxiety!

Michael: Always be nice to others, make as many friends as possible, and don’t let anything stop you from achieving your goals.

Xocelyn: Surround yourself with people who build you up and make you feel confident and strong.

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