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Hands-on work with Robert Crown Center in Hinsdale enriches teen

Sarah Hansen balances academics with lots of other activities. A good student, the Hinsdale Central senior also has theatrical talents. She will play the lead role of Belle in Central’s production of the musical “Beauty and the Beast” in February, and she aspires to double major in finance and vocal performance in college next year.

But it is as the president of the Robert Crown Center Teen Board where she has combined learning and contributing with paying back.

Hansen is one of those exceptional kids that thrive in Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills. “Amazing” is the word that Barb Thayer uses to describe her. Thayer is the Robert Crown Development Associate responsible for overseeing and recruiting Robert Crown’s teen board. It is comprised of some 20 high school students who support Robert Crown events and act as a focus group providing the teen perspective when needed.

Many of the teens have gone through the Robert Crown Body Trek program, but Hansen was a member of the inaugural Robert Crown Teen Board when she was a seventh-grader and served as secretary before becoming president.

“In my life, especially in middle school and early high school, I struggled a lot with body image issues,” Hansen said.

Support from the center helped teach her how she could become the healthiest person she can be both physically and mentally.

“What the Teen Board has done for me the most is open my eyes to the business world,” Hansen said.

Running a board meeting, keeping and using minutes as well as working with the bylaws are some of the aspects she cited.

A decade of cheers

The Hinsdale Central cheerleaders recently cheered on their own coach, Kristen Bronke. This is Bronke’s 10th season leading the cheerleaders, and the teens are not the only ones who had a shout-out for her. Parents, former cheer alumnae and some Hinsdale Central staff and faculty came to a surprise party celebrating Bronke’s decade of dedicated nurturing and leading.

The girls praise Bronke’s leadership. Parents, including this one, echo that leadership is certainly one of the skills Bronke gives her cheerleaders. But, she also instills in them a sense of responsibility and discipline and sportsmanship. She helps them become young ladies. A few years ago, Bronke started a freshman cheer squad at Hinsdale Central in an effort to enlarge the cheer program and open up slots for more students. She jokes the coaches in other schools have to worry about girls on academic probation while Bronke’s students ask for study time and go on to top colleges and universities. Cheers to Bronke.

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