Zach Blumenfeld, Stevenson High School

High school has been a resounding success for Zach Blumenfeld. He's the personification of scholastic excellence, captain of the Stevenson High School water polo team, a "Jeopardy!" Teen Tournament semifinalist and the singer and pianist of the rock group Awesome Sauce. Asked what adventures he plans for college, he turned the conversation toward what he called "the existentialist philosophy that I hold." He embraces his freedom to choose his pursuits. At college, most likely at Vanderbilt University or Stanford University, there will be much studying, but he also plans to try to form a "serious band" that plays gigs for money. "Humans are condemned to be free," he said. "I like the idea that we aren't born with a purpose. We can make our own purpose." He cements that point with the story of his athletic career. He’s an academic natural who notched the top ACT composite test score twice — the first time in eighth grade — but sports are a challenge. He's short and he holds no illusions about his coordination, but he has committed himself to improving at water polo, he said. He’s now a contributor to the varsity lineup and a captain, an honor he places high on an impressive resume. Blumenfeld, 18, of Lincolnshire, said he hopes to study politics and psychology in college, though he isn’t certain. Andrew Conneen, who has taught Blumenfeld in Advanced Placement government, said it would be unwise to count Blumenfeld out of anything — up to and including replacing a member of a favorite band, iconic progressive rock outfit Rush. "I have no idea what Zach's going to be doing when he comes back," Conneen said. Blumenfeld laughed. "It's a little scary," he said. By Dan Hinkel
Tribune photo by Keri Wiginton
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