Editor's note:This is a weekly series in which Patch highlights the special accomplishments of neighborhood kids or teenagers. Each week, we'll seek suggestions from readers for individual kids, youth groups, teens and even sports teams that wow us with their accomplishments. We want to hear about these amazing children and teens and select one each week as our Whiz Kid. Submit your nomination in our comment box below, or e-mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Tom Walsh, Local Editor, Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch
This week's Patch Whiz Kid: Eliana Yankelev, 17, of Wynnewood, a junior at Lower Merion High School.
Accomplishments: On top of a 4.8 grade point average (out of a possible 5.0 for kids taking honors and/or advanced-placement courses), Eliana is captain of the Lower Merion outdoor varsity track team, with two state medals to her name in the 100-meter hurdles (2010) and the high jump (2011). Earlier this month, she picked up a gold and a silver medal at the Central League Relays at Haverford High. She’s also the goaltender on the varsity field hockey team, and will be captain of that squad in her senior year, come the fall.
She’s a volunteer, too, helping her Hebrew school teacher cook for the elderly once a month, in addition to working regularly at Woman's Space, a substance abuse rehabilitation center in Ardmore.
“I’m definitely a very outspoken and outgoing person,” Eliana admitted, sitting down to speak earlier this week, on the bleachers at Lower Merion’s Arnold Field. “I’m pretty solid in what I believe in.”
College plans: Eliana has increasingly been getting recruiting offers for track, starting with Lehigh University, where she will visit next week in an unofficial manner. “Official” visits to schools begin in August. Her top choice, though, is Brown, but other schools on her list include Duke, Wisconsin, and the University of Michigan, and she’s been in contact with all of them.
The future: “I love history and I love science, so anthropology,” is her quick answer to a question about scholastic interests. Here, she’d be following in her big sister’s footsteps: Anna Yankelev, four years Eliana’s senior and a 2008 Lower Merion grad, is an anthropology major at Brandeis.
Enjoying the ride: “In this community, thinking about the future just overtakes all conversation,” Eliana said. “I tend to take it one step at a time. I want to get through junior year and AP exams first.”
Summer plans: To be a counselor in training at Habonim Dror Camp Galil, a progressive Jewish summer camp in Bucks County.
What makes you a Whiz Kid? “The amount of dedication I put into everything that I do. I have a lot on my plate all the time, and being able to figure out what I want to do, and how I want to do things, I think has helped me succeed as an athlete, and as a student, and as a person.
“That’s probably the most important thing in track and field—being dedicated.”