Seniors with stories: students share their skills and quirks

March 28, 2016

Over the years, Carl Sandburg High School has been known for its excellent athletic programs and a wide variety of winning clubs like Model UN and Debate. Underneath all the fame of the talented athletes and students passionate about debating world and general issues, there are kids who have special things about them that their colleagues have no idea about. With a student population nearing 4,000, thousands of these students have something that makes them special. Three specific senior students stand out among the others that are part of the unique populace: Brett Been, Kristi Durkin, and Jake Smith.

Brett Been, a senior, is widely known for his love for flying airplanes. Yes, real airplanes! While some kids wanted to be an astronaut or a veterinarian, Brett differed from the rest of the bunch, as his constant hope to become a pilot had always been his dream. Brett, as a typical young boy, began to love planes at the age 4 or 5.

“Whenever I went on a plane, I’d go up to the cockpit and talk to the pilots,” said Been.

As Brett was inspired to become the one in the cockpit, he finally took matters into his own hands, as he wanted to make his dream of becoming a pilot a reality. After discussing with his parents about seriously pursuing aviation as a career, Brett and his parents did some research to learn more about how the process of becoming a pilot worked. After asking around and doing months of research, Brett began his aviation training in April of 2015. Brett started taking aviation classes at Lewis University, as he learned that making his dream a reality wouldn’t be easy.

“It’s definitely not easy, but because I’m so passionate about planes, it motivates to work harder toward more goals in aviation,” said Been.

While Aviation 101 sounds beyond interesting, the best part of Brett’s class is actually flying the planes. Some may see this a path to one’s own deathbed, but for Brett this gets his adrenaline pumping.

“I actually feel better flying a plane more than a car, it comes really natural to me.”

Though Brett’s passion is adventurous and distinct from others’ hobbies, Kristi Durkin, senior, also has something that makes her unusual. Kristi is an ordained minister, and yes, she’s willing to marry anyone!

Kristi became an ordained minister late last year with the purpose of performing the marriage ceremony for Sandburg senior Caroline Hegg’s mother in February. Though this license is one Kristi can take seriously, she plans to take another route.

“I plan on utilizing my license in my comedy career, it’ll be a side job as I continue to be a struggling comedienne,” she said.

Among other famous comedians and people Kristi knows personally, being an ordained minister is common thread of the comedic lifestyle. As of now, Kristi has used her license to officiate one marriage, but it also has other services that can be provided.

“With my license, I can also do baptisms and funerals,” Durkin said.

Because of her multipurpose license, Kristi can definitely find use for it in her future, whether it’s for her stand up or to seriously marry a couple. Because Kristi is the only known student with this license in Sandburg, she is the go-to-gal for all your ministry needs.

“I’d marry anyone in a heartbeat, that’s what friends are for. In fact, I plan on marrying Amy Poehler in the future.”

While Kristi as a comedian plans to put her marriage license to full use, Jake Smith, senior, has a story much different than both Brett and Kristi. Jake has lived in in multiple countries around the world, all with cultures that are uniquely different than Orland Park. Though Jake was born in Indiana, he first moved to Germany for a short time, then moved back to the US. He then lived in Texas, later moved to Sweden and to China, and ended up back in Chicago as he entered junior high.

Jake was given these opportunities because of his father’s job. As a child, Jake didn’t enjoy constantly moving around because of how often he had to pick up and move on to a new place. This also came along with making new friends and leaving them so often, something that was tough on him as kid. Though Jake struggled with minor bumps along the road, he looks at this as an experience that he was not only grateful for, but as something of influence to his life.

“I’m very lucky that I’ve had all the opportunities to experience what I have, many people might not ever have a chance to travel as much as I did, and I’m grateful for it, even though I haven’t always felt this way,” said Smith.

Because Jake traveled to places that could be deemed as complete opposites, his favorite place he lived in was China. Since he was slightly older when he lived in China, it made it more memorable to him. Jake connected with many of the people he met in China because they had similar moving situations, which made it easy for him to make connections with people.

“I went to school with people who had moved around the world like I did. China was also my favorite because of the food and the culture; it was cool to see how different people live on the other side of the world.”

Jake has even used his traveling and experiences to help him in deciding on a career path to pursue.

“I plan to study international business or language, hoping I’ll get to travel around the world even more.”

Even though the special things about Brett, Kristi, and Jake are entirely different, they are three of thousands of Sandburg students who have something that makes them stand out. Sandburg has many students like Brett, Kristi, and Jake, all of these people should be recognized and praised for the things that make them uncommon.

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