Quintessential people

Samantha Gorman: Cool to be Kind

Samantha Gorman has a quality not every high school teen has.

by Marissa Plescia | Photography by thomas balsamo

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She is selfless and open-minded, but most of all she is kind. She puts others before herself, while still managing to deal with the everyday stresses of a teen. She rarely gets down when an obstacle comes her way, and she never takes it out on others. She is a gymnast and a runner, a classmate and a peer minister. But most importantly she is a friend, even to those who haven’t met her yet.

The definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. If there is one person who fits this category, it’s Samantha Gorman. She is selfless and inclusive of others, and she is lively and personable to be around. Whether it’s through her volunteer work, or just being a student at Barrington High School, Gorman’s benevolence is evident.

While she was born in Park Ridge, Ill. as the youngest of three children, Barrington has become her home. She is connected to her town in many ways, including Saint Anne Catholic Community Church, Barrington High School, and through her gymnastics and cross-country. She has taken every opportunity that interests her to become closer to her community, as well as giving back.

“Barrington is such a tight-knit community,” Gorman said. “There are so many opportunities in terms of sports, clubs, and friends. It really gives you the chance to explore yourself.”

An integral part of Gorman’s volunteering is through her church, Saint Anne. She ushers every Sunday, as well as being a Eucharistic Minister. She is a Peer Ministry leader and has been given the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with people of all different age groups. Most importantly, she has created a strong support group of both teens and adults who are there for her every step of the way.

Gorman decided to turn to her faith due to the stresses many teens face, such as school, making friends, and balancing sports with homework. Her spirituality has become her healthy outlet for this everyday pressure, and has given her a positive outlook on life through both her thoughts and overall attitude.

Through her church, Gorman has participated in several volunteering opportunities. Some of these events include the semi-annual pancake breakfasts that help a different charity each time, and wrapping and donating presents for families in need during the holidays. She also volunteered at Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago to serve food for less fortunate families.

“At Our Lady of the Angels, I was approached by a 6-year-old girl who gave me the most sincere thank you, and it meant the world to me,” Gorman said. “It made me realize why I got up that morning.”

A key moment for Gorman while volunteering was at one of Saint Anne’s pancake breakfasts, where they were raising money to build a hospital for pregnant women in Uganda. At this event, Father Peter Mukasa, a priest from Uganda who worked with the Zimu Foundation to build the hospital, taught the people how to do a Ugandan dance. This dance left a lasting effect on all who attended the breakfast.

“Watching the Ugandan dance taught me that even without riches, people can be so happy,” said Gorman.

Gorman is also involved with volunteer work outside of church, including Barrington Giving Day. At this event, she helps parents find clothes and gifts for their families during the holiday season, as most of these families would not be able to afford these gifts themselves. She is also a Spanish-speaking volunteer at this event, meaning she works with families who speak little-to-no English. Gorman participates in Feed My Starving Children as well, where she packs meals with friends for the hungry in hopes of abolishing hunger.

“As a child, I was always taught to pray for those less fortunate than myself,” said Gorman. “Actually working with people, and seeing how my work makes an impact, is an indescribable
accomplishment.”

Gorman is an avid believer in individuality. At her eighth grade graduation, she gave a speech about how she thinks each person needs to find their own path, have their own ideas, and their own experiences. She believes that because Barrington offers so many different avenues to teens to explore themselves, each individual should take advantage of those opportunities.

“I think that it is important to have your own thoughts and ideas because it makes you unique and gives you individuality in the world,” said Gorman.

Gorman hopes to continue to search for ways to make the world a better place, both inside and outside the community. She is optimistic about making the most of her life, and helping others achieve that as well. She looks forward to being able to help shape the universe in a way that is valuable for all who live in it.

“The world is your canvas. You have the freedom and creativity to paint it the way you want,” said Gorman.

Here are some words other shared about Samantha Gorman.

Kim Harrier: Gymnastics Coach

I have had the pleasure of coaching Samantha Gorman in gymnastics for the past two years. Samantha trains at United States Gymnastics Training Center in Lake Zurich and competes for the Barrington High School team. Samantha is the most polite, easy going, intelligent young lady I have ever met. Sam continually strives to improve upon her skills by working hard and giving 110 percent every time she is at the gym.

Sam is dedicated to the sport and is always the first one at class. Even when Sam isn’t in class, she works to improve her strength or flexibility (I have proof -pictures in the family room sitting in splits). There have been many obstacles Sam has overcome with her gymnastics. She has pushed herself to work through fears, and her skill level has improved tremendously over this past year. I love the look of excitement on her face when she masters something that she been working toward. Samantha has a serious exterior, but once you get to know Sam, you get to see the fun, playful, joking Sam. I am proud and honored to call Sam one of my gymnasts. Samantha is the kind of person that will achieve great things in her future, as she is very determined and strives for excellence in every aspect of her life.

Susan Kienzle: English Teacher

Simply put, Samantha Gorman is the kind of student who makes my job as a teacher an especially rewarding one. What sets Samantha apart from her classmates is her true love of learning. Samantha is intrinsically motivated and works hard to gain and understand knowledge and skills, and not merely to just “get the grade.” Her love of reading, writing, discussing, analyzing, vocabulary (even grammar) is truly impressive. While she is quite intelligent, Samantha is also able to make profound connections of what she learns in class to the outside world. She shows pure excitement when she shares these connections, which is inspirational to both her classmates and her teachers. To top it off, Samantha is very witty and wears a perennial smile. I have never seen Samantha upset, frustrated, or deprecating. Instead, I have only seen an upbeat and amiable student who is genuinely kind and encouraging to all. What more could you ask for in a student? Undoubtedly, Samantha will continue to accomplish noble feats in her life and positively influence those fortunate enough to meet her.

Lisa Nardiello: Spanish Teacher

I had the privilege of teaching Samantha Gorman last year in Spanish 3 Honors. Samantha was often referred to as a “mini-Señora” in our third hour Spanish family; her natural talent in the Spanish language and easy, likeable personality allowed her to establish connections with everyone in our learning community.  The students would often claim that if “even Sami” was unable to garner a correct response, then the prompt must have been too challenging for their level! Samantha is a meticulous worker and a good-hearted person who is kindly regarded by all peers and particularly esteemed by me.

Samantha made me laugh many times during our year together, but probably not more so than when she and her classmate, Marissa, dressed up as me for Halloween! She is good-natured and fun-loving, but often the voice of reason and direction to her peers.

Lisa Ploder: Neighbor

My husband, Steve, and kids - Whitney, Berkeley, and Charlie - and I are next-door neighbors with Samantha Gorman. We moved into our neighborhood six years ago and have had the pleasure of getting to know Sam since then. She babysits our kids, has helped take care of our pets, and has been a great friend to our family.

Sam is a lovely person with so many exceptional qualities. She is very smart, hard working, an excellent student, very responsible, a gifted artist, and a lot of fun to be with. Our kids just adore her. She has babysat them over the past five years, and they will often just ring her doorbell to see if she can “play”.  Sam is very creative.  One time she came to babysit and brought a board game for the kids to play that she created and illustrated herself. Last fall she came to our house to do the girls’ hair for the Lines Daddy Daughter Dance. Sam is also famous in our house for always bringing candy when she visits - of course that is always a hit!

As a Mom, I feel Sam is a great role model for my children - especially my girls. She is extremely kind and caring, loves her family, and would do anything to help them or anyone else. I asked my daughter Berkeley how she would describe Sam and she said, “Sammy is kind, responsible, she watches us and helps when someone gets hurt, she is smart - I want to be smart like her - and, (of course) she always brings candy!”  

It has been fun to watch Sam grow into such a wonderful young lady and we’re already a little sad that she’ll be leaving for college in a couple short years. We look forward to seeing where the next six years take her and hope that she will always remember to visit her neighbors!!

Annie Slaughter: Friend

I first met Sam during cross-country season my sophomore year. We really became close through Saint Anne’s Church where we are both ushers and active members of Peer Ministry. Every day I am inspired by her dedication to the church and helping others. Whether she is volunteering at an event, or just hanging out with friends, Sam puts her heart into all of her actions. At cross-country meets, I knew that I could always count on Sam to be cheering me on during my race. She helps you reach your goals and be the best person you can be. She gives back to the community and expects nothing in return. Twice a year our church puts on a pancake breakfast to raise money for charity and these events are where I see Sam really shine. She is always asking how she can help, even if it means doing the dishes. She adds humor to every situation; it is hard to be in a bad mood when you are with Sam as her bubbly personality is contagious. Sam brings light into the life of everyone she meets and I am grateful that I can call her a friend.

Marissa Plescia is a junior at BHS, and the executive features editor for The RoundUp. She hopes to pursue writing in the future.

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Publisher’s Note: Quintessential People™ is a heartfelt collaboration between our publication and portrait artist Thomas Balsamo. Our goal is to share with you exceptional images and words that ring true about some of the finest, most inspiring people in the community. For more information about Quintessential People™, contact QB or Thomas Balsamo (Portraits by Thomas) at 847-381-7710 or www.portraitsbythomas.com