Thomas Rice has a lot on his plate – and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
In addition to being ranked first out of the 593 students in his class at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville, the senior is a three-sport athlete, has a full slate of Advanced Placement courses, and takes a calculus class at Elgin Community College.
The son of a Des Plaines firefighter, the 17-year-old was taught early on the importance of hard work and dedication when it comes to succeeding, traits he hopes carry over with him to college next year while studying civil engineering.
Rice also is a part of this year’s Illinois State Board of Education’s Student Advisory Council, one of 18 high school students selected from across the state to learn about education policies and offer insights.
Each year, the Student Advisory Council, which is composed of high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, selects a topic to research and later presents its findings to the State Board of Education. This year’s project focuses on the inconsistencies in student discipline.
The Sleepy Hollow resident spoke with reporter Lawerence Synett about his time thus far on the council, why he works so hard, and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.
Synett: What made you want to become a part of the state board’s Student Advisory Council, and how has the experience been thus far?
Rice: My older brother did it when he was a senior and loved it. It just seemed like a great opportunity. Our project focuses on the inconsistencies in student discipline, which I feel very strongly about. It makes sense, if someone is punished for something at one school, and a student does the same things at another school, they should have the same punishment.
Synett: With everything that you do, how do you balance your time?
Rice: It’s all about time management. You can’t waste time because I have practice and homework every day. You reach a point where you have to make sacrifices and won’t always get what you want. I want to be successful and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. I want to reach my full potential. All these experiences help me understand what should be high on my list of priorities.
Synett: What else do you do?
Rice: I also work as a peer tutor at Dundee-Crown during the school year and at the concession stand at Dolphin Cove in the summers. While peer tutoring, I help the students with any problems they might be having with homework and also help the teacher with day-to-day activities. It’s a learning experience because I’m working with people. Working at Dolphin Cove helps me prepare for having a career later in life.
Synett: What are your plans after high school?
Rice: There are five or six schools that I have applied for to study civil engineering. I’ve always loved math and science since middle school. I want to eventually go into structural engineering, and design bridges and infrastructures. Working in a big engineering firm and working on projects like that would be a dream job for me. In five years, hopefully that is what I am doing.
Synett: Where do you think you got your work ethic?
Rice: Definitely my dad. He has always done as much as he could to help people and instilled a good work ethic in me. He always wanted me to do what I want to do, and helps me get there.
The Rice lowdown
Who he is: Senior at Dundee-Crown High School; son to Bill and Laura Rice
How old is he: 17
What he does: Member of the Illinois State Board of Education’s Student Advisory Council
Favorite food: Cheeseburgers