Freshman Friday: Lili Youkhana

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Freshman Friday: Lili Youkhana

By Divitya Vakil

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Most freshmen walk into Niles West with only a gigantic backpack and a terrified look on their face. Lucky for Lili Youkhana, she has two families here at West: her relatives and the cheerleaders.

“I’m really glad to have the chance to go to school with my family,” Youkhana said. “I have my cousin Jayla who’s a freshman, my cousin Eric who’s a sophomore, my sister Hannah who’s a junior, and my cousin Jessye who’s a senior. Having a lot of my family here makes it a lot less scary to be a freshman.”

Having family members in each grade means a lot of people happen to recognize Youkhana in the hallways. When she’s on her way to class, people often stop her to make sure they aren’t doing a double-take.

“A fair amount of people have come up and asked if I’m Hannah Youkhana’s sister or if I’m related to Eric Gassel, but it’s really nice to have my sister and cousins here with me,” Youkhana said.

Lili isn’t the only one that loves seeing her family around — the feeling is definitely mutual.

“Lili and I are very close. We were best friends growing up,” sophomore Eric Gassel said. “I love seeing her in school. It’s cool to see her every day.”

While most students are still getting accustomed to the routine of school, Lili has been practicing with the JV cheer team over the summer.

“It makes me really proud to cheer with such an amazing group of girls and have awesome coaches,” Youkhana said.

Teammate Kristi Bliznakov only had kind words to say about Lili.

“I can definitely say that Lili is passionate about cheer,” Bliznakov said. “She is always hard-working and helps me stay positive during practices and games. She’s the kind of person you want to cheer with.”

Lili has had an exciting start to freshman year, and she hopes that the rest of high school can stay this way. While school is important, it’s nice to know that you always have people rooting for the best in you. Along with the cheer team, her family is right there with her, screaming just as loud on the sidelines.