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Six seniors honored with Calisch arts awards

Published May 28, 2024

Six graduating seniors were named the 2024 recipients of High School District 214’s annual Calisch Awards.

This year’s honorees represent passion, talent and leadership in band, dance, orchestra, theater, visual arts and vocal music across District 214’s schools.

The 2024 Calisch Award students are: Julia Bolash of Rolling Meadows High School; Elana Brush of John Hersey High School; Monica Johnston of Elk Grove High School; Kelly Jordan of Prospect High School; Kyana Luyando of Buffalo Grove High School; and Carolyne Torrejon of Wheeling High School.

The award program was established in honor of Richard Calisch, a former English teacher and division head for humanities at Elk Grove High School. Calisch was a passionate advocate for the arts; he created the District’s Arts Unlimited event and anthology, the Friend of the Arts annual award, and at one point, partnered with the Elk Grove Village Public Library to establish an Arts Guild to expand community access to cultural programming and information.

The class of 2024 award winners are:

Julia Bolash, who explored everything from graphic arts to drama, speech and writing opportunities at Rolling Meadows H.S. Julia is an avid designer whose work has been featured on posters, programs and t-shirts. She also was a dedicated member of the RMHS theater program and the speech and acting team. Fine arts coordinator Caitlyn Walsh credits her “innovative creativity, stellar work ethic and positive energy.” Julia plans to major in design and computer programming.

Elana Brush, whose passion for the arts stretches from improv to photography and graphic arts. Elana’s award-wining photography incorporates mixed media to bring new life to photos. She also served as a leader and performer in Hersey H.S.’s Improv Club and shows. Hersey’s Lara Becker says, Elana has “exceptional talent and unwavering dedication across various artistic domains.”

Kyana Luyando, who started dancing in Mexico at the age of 9; when she moved to the U.S. five years ago, she joined a local studio and continued dancing, exploring all genres from jazz to ballet. Kyana danced for three years with Orchesis at Buffalo Grove H.S., and received state recognition for her Orchesis choreography. Kyana will attend Boston Conservatory and plans to pursue a career as a professional dancer.

Monica Johnston, whose passion is vocal music. She sang in Elk Grove High School’s concert choir, chamber singers and chorale, as well as four years of school musicals. In addition, Monica was part of Elk Grove’s dance, speech, debate and drama programs. Choir director Keshena Luckett said, “She is dependable and talented, but most of all she works extremely hard.” Monica is planning to pursue a degree in music education at Illinois State University.

Kelly Jordan, who was named conference, sectional and Illinois state champion in Dramatic Duet Acting and also was a four-time national qualifier in speech and debate. She also participated in dance, choir, drama and journalism/multimedia—serving as executive editor at Knight Media and an emcee for school assemblies. “Kelly took every opportunity offered to her and grew not only as an artist, but a person,” said Prospect High School’s Jeremy Morton. Kelly is planning to major in communications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Carolyne Torrejon, who grew her multimedia skills to become live producer—filming, announcing and producing—for Wheeling High School’s WCAT Live sports and events. She also spent four years in Wheeling’s drama program as an actor, stage manager, lighting and sound designer and part of the technical crew. Wheeling’s Stephen Colella says Carolyne “can fill any role given to her with expertise, professionalism and humility.” Carolyne is headed to Columbia College to study film cinematography.