Q & A with the Homecoming Court

By Gabrielle Abesamis

NWN sat down with the Homecoming court runners  Thi Li, Jewell Loyd, Jackie Salamanca, Samantha Chao, Casey Mahoney-Muno, Neal Omar, Steven Czajkowski , and Milos Jovcic for a Q&A about who they are and why you should vote for them.

Please click here to view the Homecoming Court Coronation (video courtesy of Brandon Mueller).

NWN: Why are you running for Homecoming King or Queen? And why do you want to win?

Senior Jewell Loyd

Jewell: I’m pretty sure there has never been a black girl to win the Homecoming queen title and that would be pretty cool to be the first person to break that record. My whole team also encouraged it and I think it’ll be a great honor to be known for something like that.

Jackie:It’s my last year, instead of not trying something new, I want to be able to finish my senior year without having regrets and “what ifs” and not really trying anything different. I think it will be such a fun experience, just to do it.

Sam: It’s senior year, and I don’t think I’m going to run for Prom. Homecoming queen is modest. It’s more about school spirit. I think my grade is the least-spirited class. I’m wearing red right now. I always try to pump the crowd up and I have a lot of school spirit. That’s what the homecoming queen does.

Thi: It’s usually the most popular girl in school who runs and even though I’m not, my friend Casey and I thought it would be a great idea. I decided to do it spontaneously, all the Homecoming dances were great experiences and I thought if I won, it would be the best way to top off my last one.

Senior Casey Mahoney-Muno

Casey: My friend, Thi, and I have been planning to run since last year. If she didn’t ask me, I don’t think I would have thought of the idea. It’s pretty exciting.

Steven:  I am running because I think that I have enough school spirit and admiration for the school in order to win the homecoming crown.  Also, my parents asked me if I was going to run because they thought I might have a chance so they kind of gave me the final push and I also have support from a lot of my friends.  I want to win because this would make me a symbol of school spirit for all of Niles West and I would have to set an example for everybody- which I like.  I like responsibility.  I would be a good homecoming king because I have a lot of school spirit and I am very good at supporting all aspects of school activities, whether it be football games, volleyball games, theater productions, or the marching band.  I support all aspects of the school.

Senior Neal Omar

Neal: I’m doing it more for fun. My friend Milena [Zalloni]wanted me to do it and I was planning on running with her. Since she’s not on the Court, I plan on running with Jackie. It’s all for fun, but I wish Milena made it.

Milos: I feel like I’m the perfect candidate for Homecoming King.  I attend as many sporting events as I can whether it is home or away. I go all decked out in red and always give school spirit. I am well-known and I’d say I’m very friendly. I think I best represent the student body at Niles West.

NWN: What sets you apart from others? Are there any trends that you are known for?

Thi: Everyone knows me for my bubbly personality. I really go out of my way to cheer people up. No matter what, I try to make people smile and become their friend if they really need one. Everyone also knows me for my car; I have a black and yellow Mustang. When they see it pass by, people know it’s me. Everyone also compliments me for my piercings, so I guess I’m known for that too. I try include everyone in everything and people just know me for being the happiest person out there.

Senior Thi Le


Jewell: Besides being a basketball player, I’m not very sure. A lot of people say that I’m nice and humble.

Jackie: I’m very open to people, I love to be friends with people, I don’t give mean stares and stay in one clique. (Giggles) I’m very weird and silly; it’s pretty unbelievable. Many people talk about how I’m unique because I never try to impress other people. They always say I’m always happy.

Sam: A friend always says I have really funky clothing. I love dressing up even on a regular day. I like changing things up. I follow a brand called “Free People.” I always check which trends they’re on. I also love Urban Outfitters. It’s what I base my wardrobe on. A lot of people say I’m very happy and optimistic. When people ask me why I’m always happy, I always answer, why not? Why live life being unhappy? It’s like being condemned for life.

Casey:  I feel like I can get people more. I can always help other people with whatever situation. I try to give people anything they need. I consider myself a committed friend. I’m also very outgoing. People who don’t know me personally know me as the kid who always does flips, has long blonde hair, the skater boy.

Neal: I’m known as the track runner. People say I’m a nice guy. I have a lot of school spirit.


Senior Steven Czajkowski

Steven: What sets me apart from the others is that the guys I’m running against are either just popular or are in only sports where as I am not only in sports but I am also in touch with the arts at Niles West as I am part of choir, band, Echo Effect, and theater.  I am able to influence a greater portion of the population because I am involved in many different activities.

Milos: People know for being the happy, loud, exciting, and joyful Mish! That’s my nickname in Serbian and people at school call me that.

NWN: How are you involved in school?

Thi: I’m in Deca, SADD Club, Relay for Life since freshman year, and Dance Marathon. I’m trying to do as much as I can to help me with my dream to work in the business world. I want to take advantage of West’s opportunities that would help me prepare my skills for working when I’m older.

Jewell: I mostly play basketball, I’m in NAMES, and I’m in Wolf Pack.

Jackie: Since I did All-Star Cheerleading outside of school, I

Senior Jackie Salamanca

was never able to get into anything like that at West, I never got to do sports.  I am in Peer Mediation, I was in Homecoming Committee, I’m gonna do Powder Puff, I’m in Latino club, and I did Wellness Club last year. I was apart of NWN for two years, broadcasting for two years. Basically just  making videos for students and helping our society know about what our school is about is what I love to do the most.

Sam: I’m a tutor, I’ve played volleyball for the past four years. I’m in Wolfpack, NWAce, Dance Marathon. Over the years, I’ve scrambled in clubs, I went to Chinese club meetings, Breakfast club, Scholastic Bowl. Volleyball consumes a lot of time, but I’m in National Honors Society and Spanish Honors Society. I didn’t think that I was involved in a lot until I had to write college applications.

Casey:  I’m in the Orchesis dance company and I’m in gymnastics. Even though those two things aren’t much, they are actually pretty time consuming. It may be hard to believe, but I was also in Hip Hop Club freshman year. I’d do more if I could.

Neal: I do Track and Cross Country. I’ve done Deca and NWAce. I help little kids with running in Niles West Feeder.

Steven: Golf Team, Theater, Echo Effect, Volleyball, Lit Center tutor, National Honors Society, National German Honors Society (president), Choir Board (president).  My favorite activities are probably Theater, Echo Effect, and Choir Board.  Theater because I get to do what I love: act.  There’s no better feeling than being on stage and playing a different character.  Echo Effect because this is my third year in the group, and I love rehearsing twice a week with a whole bunch of awesome guys who love to sing.  Choir Board because as the president I have a lot of responsibility which, although at times can be stressful, is something I enjoy.

Milos: President of Serbian Club, Vice President of Ping-Pong Club, I was a facilitator for the NAMES assembly that just happened and I am a Freshman Homeroom Mentor. That means that I visit my own freshmen twice a week and answer all the questions they have so I can help them with their future at Niles West and beyond.

NWN: How do you feel about graduating and leaving Niles West? What are you going to miss?

Thi: I’m very sad to leave. I’m going to miss my friends and the teachers so much. I loved seeing my friends each day and going to clubs since I never did sports. Mr. Bennett’s U.S. History class was my favorite class. I’m going to miss not having that much responsibilities and being careless.

Jewell: I will miss all of the friend that I made and the people that are here in this school. I love West, but I’m ready for the real world and greater challenges. I’m excited for winning regionals and going to super sectionals. I want to be able to change the way people look at sports that girls also play.

Jackie:I’m so nervous but so excited. Time goes by so fast; I’m ready for this experience. I want to go out into the big world and meet new people. At the same time, I’m holding on to my family and I’m so so scared to leave them. I think I’m going to miss the people the most, but I’m also going to miss the spirit. My old school was so different; Niles West and the people that I’m with make up my favorite memories. Niles West accepts you for who you are even when you look your worst. I love that about the school and I’m going to miss that.

Senior Sam Chao

Sam: I don’t believe that I’m graduating. Not even that I can’t believe it, I really don’t believe it. I still feel like a sophomore. I didn’t even realize that I was a junior last year. I don’t feel like a senior. I think it’s amazing that I’ve come this far. It’s hard to believe that I’m going to college. I’m going to miss the teachers for sure. I’m going to miss all my friends. I ‘m going to miss knowing my stuff. Where the classes are, what I’m doing, and what to expect. I’m going to remember when I went to Poetry Out Loud. It changed my outlook in life. When I wrote before, everything was just La-dee-da and rhyming. I never thought I could write like that. Also, for Ms. Ogulnik’s birthday, a friend and I dressed up in tribal print and brought a Simba doll. We reenacted a scene from Lion King. It was so funny; I’d say that we have a pretty good relationship.

Casey: I’m excited for graduating. I’ve completed everything I wanted to complete with friends, sports and academics. When I graduate I know I’ve done everything I wanted to do and I’ve achieved all my high school goals. I like knowing that I’m ready for college and I ‘m ready for the next step in my life to do well.  I’ll always remember making it to State junior year for floor and volt in Gymnastics.

Neal: In general my experience went by really fast. I was a freshman like the other day! I look forward to running . I’m going to miss the school environment, the teachers, and coaches. I’m always going to remember Homecoming and qualifying for cross country and track.

Steven: Graduation is something I am looking forward to.  As much as I love Niles West, I can’t wait to go to college.  I’ll probably miss seeing my friends all the time.  But I have no fears about making new friends in college.The memories that will stand out the most will be my memories on the golf team, in theater productions, and with my fellow men in Echo Effect, especially when we went to New York.  I will also remember when I went on the German Exchange with the German program.  I will also remember all the incredibly influential teachers that Ive had the great opportunity to get to know.

Milos: I’m going to miss the school spirit. When I graduate, I’ll be sad.

Senior Milos Jovcic

What I’ll miss most is all four years, there was a special moment in each year I will never forget. Whether it was homecoming to the day-to-day experience at Niles West, but the memories that will stick out is my senior year. Homecomimg, all sporting events, mostly the girls varsity games, Prom, and having the feeling of being a senior just makes everything perfect.

NWN: What are your plans for the future? Which Colleges, if any, are you planning to go to?

Thi: I applied to Michigan State, Mizzou, and Champaign. There I want to take business, graphic design, and advertising. I want to do a lot of advertising when I’m older, that’s what I really want my career to involve.

Jewell: I’m going to Notre Dame and I really want to go pro and be a basketball player. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was little.

Jackie: I want to study in communications, get married, and have kids. The four colleges I want to go to are Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Northern Michigan, and Illinois State.

Sam: Right now, I want to be a doctor. I want to go to a good four-year college. I applied to 16 schools because I don’t really know where I want to go. Some of the schools are Lake Forest College, Carlton College, Harvard, Yale. I have a lot of friends who know they want to go to a certain school, but I’m going more for the school that’ll have the best opportunities and financial aid.

Casey:I want to major in Business Management. I want to look into University of Minnesota, University of Illinois in Chicago, Illinois State, Northern IL, and University of Iowa.

Neal: I’m going to run track in college. I want to major in business or marketing. Maybe I can coach. I want to go to U of I, University of Miami, or University of California Santa Barbara.

Steven: I’d like to study theater and acting in college as that is something that I love and would like to pursue.  I will be applying to Illinois Wesleyan University, Washington University, University of Dayton, Miami University, Yale, and Northwestern.  My dream would be to go to Yale, so we’ll see how that goes.

Milos: I plan to go to Oakton Community for two years. Then NIU to finish my major in Computer Science.

NWN: Here’s something out of the blue, if you could have a super power, which one would it be?

Thi: I’d want to have invisibility. I’d want to go to as much places as I can, go to different countries I’ve never been in without people knowing or involving me in some kind of hassle. I could also have people think I’m MIA and see their reactions without them know I’m actually there. It would just be so funny. I could also leave places without getting in trouble.

Jewell: I would want to teleport. It’s cool because you can appear and disappear and be able to be in places in just five seconds or even less. It would be great to be able to go to any place in the world.

Jackie: To be invisible for sure. I always think about this because I can hear what people are saying about me when they don’t know that I’m there. If you’re going to get in trouble at any time you can snap your fingers and disappear. You can also run away whenever you want. You’ll never get caught.

Sam: I’d love to fly. You can go anywhere you want, sore into the clouds. I’ve always wanted to be in the clouds. I’d want to be able to get anywhere at anytime. I’d use it for traveling, there are a lot of places I want to go to like Africa and Europe. You also don’t have to pay for gas!

Casey: I’d want to have super strength to help other people and save the day. I like helping others.

Neal: I don’t want to sound cliche, but I’d want to fly. It would be nice to travel for free. I’d want to go to Rome. I’ve stopped by the airport before and the culture really stood out to me.

Steven: If I were a super hero I would like to be able to control time.  I would use this to get my homework done in a matter of minutes and then have the rest of the day to do whatever and get many hours of sleep.  Saving people in harms way goes with out saying.  If you’re blessed with such a power it is your duty to use it for good. I’m not gonna lie, I would also want to play pranks on people.  But I probably wouldn’t do that too much.

Milos: I would want to be able to stop time. I would use to help others out without knowing. I don’t like to be praised while helping.

NWN: Why should people vote for you?

Thi: I want to break the trend of having the jock and cheerleader win. I want to show people that everyone else has a chance.

Jewell: Well, I believe that I am a very nice person and I set many great examples. As much as I can, I try to be a very positive person.

Jackie: It’ll be a great memory to have once I graduate Niles West. People should vote for somebody who they can connect with not the most popular girl. I’m very easy to become friends with so I feel like I’m one of those people. I really really want to win.

Sam: If you vote for me, I’ll be the best Homecoming queen you’ve ever scene. I’ll dress up for spirit day like I usually do. I’ll get you guys pumped. I’ll wear that crown with pride. I’ll wear it every day to school…just kidding. If you want to vote for school spirit then vote for me. I don’t want to be threatening but ( laughs) do it!

Casey: I’m a well-rounded person. I can vary myself with people. My friends come from many different groups. I can be friends with anyone. Every spirit day, I try to participate and I cheer a lot in pep assemblies.

Neal: People should vote for me because I have a lot of school spirit. I support a lot of things like sports that I’m not even a part of.

Steven: To the good and loyal students of Niles West.  As Homecoming King, there would be nothing that I would be able to do for you.  It is not a position of much power, rather it is a symbolic position.  What I can do for you is stand as a symbol, tall and proud wherever I go, to give the school that you’ve grown to love a good name.  Right now I can be supportive of our teams and activities, which goes without saying.  But in the future, I will continue to say good things about our school and support in any way I can.  You want someone you trust in this representative position.  I, Steven Czajkowski, am that person.  I am reliable.  America!

Milos: I feel that people should vote for me because I know and they know that it’s a perfect fit. I feel that I am a leader in my class and school.

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