Senior, North Springs Charter High School
Honduras, the Netherlands, Vermont and North Carolina are just a sampling of the places Elizabeth Wilkes’ passions have taken her in high school.
The North Springs Charter High School senior, who is in the math and science magnet program, has been active in everything from cross country running to student government. Now she wants to change the world and make it more environmentally friendly.
“Whatever I end up doing in the future, I want it to be something that contributes to making the planet a more sustainable place,” said Elizabeth.
The summer after her junior year, Elizabeth traveled to Marlboro College in Vermont with 12 other teens from around the country. While there, she had the chance to learn more about agriculture and food security.
“I have realized my passion for sustainability and the environment coming through,” said Elizabeth.
In addition to the program at Marlboro, this past summer Elizabeth did an internship caring for chickens at her uncle’s farm in North Carolina, and then continued her focus on the environment as a member of the Georgia Girls State program.
Participants in Girls State create their own mock government and work on mock legislation. During the program, Elizabeth wrote the Local Food Act of 2013, which passed the student version of the House of Representatives and Senate.
Not only has she gotten to explore sustainability and nature on U.S. soil, but she has also traveled abroad. In 2012, she went to the Netherlands with her family for the Floriade horticultural convention. The convention, which Elizabeth compares to a theme park, only takes place every 10 years, but she intends to go back for it in 2022.
At home, Elizabeth loves the outdoors, and especially enjoys hiking, camping, biking and running.
Elizabeth started playing soccer when she was about 4 years old and played club soccer through middle school. In high school, she started running to train for soccer, but ended up finding a new passion for running cross country.
“I love the sense of camaraderie through cross country,” said Elizabeth. “It is the one thing where you can have a sense of team solidarity and team support, and it doesn’t really matter if you are the slowest or the fastest runner on the team; you can share that support.”
Aside from her leadership role as a captain for cross country, Elizabeth has been part of the North Springs’ Student Government Association since her freshman year and has been a member of the Student Leadership Association. Through these activities, she has helped organize a fun run at her school and works on the annual Clubs in the Community Day, which allows students from all grade levels to do community service projects both on and off campus.
“Her strength of character, willingness to learn, and hope for helping others has been evident since I met her as a ninth grader,” said Elizabeth’s former SGA advisor and English teacher Jackie Protos. “Elizabeth simply exudes passion in all that she does. It honestly boggles my mind how she is able to juggle so many amazing talents. But, she does so with ease, grace and passion.
“No matter what she does, she is going to make a gigantic impact on her community,” Protos said. “If I was a betting person, I’d say she ends up running an organic farm, which also operates a nonprofit sustainability program and helps teach philosophy to local school children all at the same time.”
In addition to her love of service and sustainability, Elizabeth enjoys writing, is an intern with Reporter Newspapers, and is the editor of her student newspaper, the North Springs Oracle. She helped create her high school paper’s first website.
“The paper has been a challenge, but it has taught me a lot about working with others, and that you don’t have to stick with the old ways. You can always try new things and mix it up,” said Elizabeth.
Elizabeth will be attending the University of Georgia as a Foundation Fellow, and hopes to major in ecology and geography.
–This article was reported and written by Mollie Simon, a student at Chamblee Charter High.