In 2018, the Highland Park Community Foundation initiated this award to recognize a Highland Park High School senior for significant personal achievement.

The award honors a student who demonstrates perseverance toward personal goals when faced with obstacles or other challenges, acknowledging the student’s growth during high school as opposed to the attainment of a specific level of achievement or status. Among other things, the award recognizes a student who

  • demonstrates a genuine commitment to persevere despite obstacles or a disability
  • sets personal goals and challenges him/herself to achieve them
  • thrives in the school environment 
  • works hard and is a positive influence; and
  • shows appreciation for the help he/she receives


The Highland Park Community Foundation proudly recognized Aaron Burke as the 2020 Recipient of the HPCF Personal Achievement Award.

It was our honor to recognize Aaron Burke, who was nominated by three different HPHS staff members, with this Award. As stated by one of his nominators:

“Aaron Burke is a kind-hearted, self-reflective worker who has strong morals. He has a strong desire to be academically successful as evidenced by his organizational skills, regular completion of school work, and strong teacher feedback regarding participation and reflection in applying learning to self/life while in class. After school, Aaron was a part of the Giant athletic scene as he contributed dedication and a great attitude to the football, wrestling, and baseball teams. Aaron was a part of the peer-mentoring program and he did a great job as a peer mentor in Science Essentials. He supported multiple students and was flexible about changing who he supported as needed. Aaron’s plans are to pursue an Associate’s Degree, work in the schools as a paraprofessional and continue coaching young adults.”

Aaron Burke

Aaron Burke poses with his parents before the Giants’ match against Deerfield on Friday, Jan. 17, at Highland Park High School. Photos by Nick Frazier/22nd Century Media


Aaron and his wrestling peers pose with Highland Park head coach Steve Moore




The Highland Park Community Foundation proudly presented the 2019 Personal Achievement Award to Arden Yazici at Highland Park High School’s 2019 Student Honors Night.

Embodying all of the traits the HPCF envisioned when the award was created, Arden was recognized for being a great self-advocate, an involved and dedicated student, and for giving back to her community in numerous ways. By her very nature, Arden embraces the Foundation’s vision for an inclusive, well-rounded, and vibrant community. We were proud to honor Arden and wish her all the best in her academic studies at Seattle University and in all her future endeavors!

L to R: Arden Yazici, HPCF Board Member Jean Meadows



The Highland Park Community Foundation awarded its first Annual Personal Achievement Award to HPHS student Jason Estrada.

For the 2018 award, we were proud to honor Jason Estrada, who was selected for his outstanding character, creativity, and commitment to his peers. Jason was nominated by Megan Counts and Leslie Levin on behalf of the Social Studies Department.

Nomination Written by Megan Counts and Leslie Levin:
Jason Estrada exemplifies the best that any educator hopes for. Highland Park values community engagement, connections, and relationships and these are Jason’s natural strengths. As a school community over the last four years, we have watched Jason emerge as a loving, responsible, determined leader. Jason leads with his heart and exudes a brotherly kindness and authenticity in all his daily interactions. Jason has repeatedly demonstrated maturity and seriousness of character as he worked to pursue his path to success and graduation. Jason takes responsibility for his own outcomes. Yet while focused on his own life, he has always steadfastly provided guidance and support for his peers as well; he is equally as aware of the happiness and wellness of others as he is with his own concerns. Jason is the type of young man who understands that character is best revealed by the choices we make and the actions we do when nobody is watching. Jason has the strength of character and the morality to do what is right without ever expecting praise or reward; Jason is guided by an internal strength and goodness that impacts his classmates, teachers, and anyone else who is lucky enough to be in his sphere of influence. When Jason graduates, he will be missed very much by our school community and he will be carried in the hearts of those whose lives he touched.

L to R: Nancy Mills (HPCF Executive Committee Member and Past Chairman), Jason Estrada, Karen Reisin (HPCF Board Member)