Addison Trail names November recipient of 88’s Best recognition

Mateo Gomez (pictured above, at right, with Addison Trail Principal Jack Andrews) has been named as Addison Trail’s November recipient of 88’s Best recognition for his highly improved performance. Gomez, a senior, was recognized during the Nov. 15 District 88 Board of Education meeting. To watch his 88’s Best presentation, click on the video above.

Gomez came to the U.S. three and a half years ago, knowing no English and having to adjust to a new language and culture. Today, he is taking the most difficult and challenging Advanced Placement (AP)/college-level courses at Addison Trail. Gomez emigrated from Colombia with his family at the beginning of what should have been his eighth-grade year. But a translation mistake with his transcript led to him being enrolled at Addison Trail instead, at the age of 13. Gomez said his first goal was to learn English, as he knew that would be step one on his pathway to success, and he worked toward that goal relentlessly. Gomez added his EL teachers inspired him and saw potential that he didn’t see in himself. He also reminds students that in the end, it’s up to them to succeed.

Academic achievements:

  • Earned a grade of A in every course he has taken
  • Earned the Literacy Department’s Achievement Award his second semester at Addison Trail
  • Exited Addison Trail’s EL program by the end of his sophomore year
  • Enrolled in several AP courses his junior year

Involvement at Addison Trail:

  • Vice President of National Honor Society (NHS)
  • Vice President of Student Council
  • Lieutenant Governor of Key Club
  • Host of Blazer News (Addison Trail’s student-run news channel)
  • Member of Italian Club
  • Member of Theatre
  • Member of Addison Trail’s Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!) program, which strives to prepare students to recognize and learn from the diversity around them
  • Honorary member of ATtribute (Addison Trail’s yearbook)
  • Co-captain of the Boys Soccer Team

Future plans:
Gomez looks forward to continuing a challenging path. He plans to attend college and pursue a major in international business administration.

Staff member comments:
“This speed to move through EL levels is unheard of – but Gomez was that motivated and hard working. He was nominated to be a part of our YES! program by all of his teachers as a sophomore – and once he realized he could be a valuable part of something bigger, he was off and running. It makes me smile every time I see his name show up as a participant and officer in so many activities – including the Blazer News, and now the musical! Never have I seen a former ESL kid be so confident and all-around amazing. I’m sure most people have no idea he was an ESL newcomer at one point. I’m very proud to have been a small part of his journey.”

- Megan Salgado, Addison Trail EL teacher

“Gomez is a remarkable student-athlete. His passion and motivational drive are second to none. Gomez has taken every advantage possible by being a part of so many clubs, activities and sports at Addison Trail. I have had the privilege to coach Gomez for the past two years in soccer. He has been a great example of hard work, dedication and leadership for our whole soccer program. He was one of our team captains this season, and I cannot think of a more deserving student than Gomez and all he has accomplished.”

- Ryan Dini, Addison Trail Boys Soccer Team Head Coach

“Gomez is the unofficial Mayor of Addison Trail High School. He does a little bit of everything and does it very well. It might be cliché, but what would we do without him?”

- Shane Cole, Addison Trail Guidance Counselor

“Gomez was recommended for our English 12 Collegiate Credit course by his junior-year English teacher. When I met with him to discuss the course expectations and determine his level of interest in challenging himself with a college-level course during his senior year, Gomez was over the moon! He didn't even hesitate. I’ve never seen a student more excited to take a class than he was. He lept at the chance and thanked me profusely for the opportunity. From what I hear, he is doing an impressive job in the course. I received an e-mail just last week from Gomez requesting I review his college application essay and provide feedback. Again, I’ve never had Gomez in class, so the fact he sought me out for additional feedback on his writing speaks to his desire to improve. His essay was already quite good, yet he eagerly accepted feedback and encouraged me to point out his errors. His humility and desire to be the best he can be will serve him quite well as he moves into a post-secondary setting.”

- Amy Ferraro, Addison Trail English Department Head

“Gomez began with me as a freshman in Sheltered Algebra. From the beginning, he was a true leader in the classroom. He always challenged himself academically and also showed a profound interest in helping his classmates succeed. Gomez truly has a selfless nature that will not only help him become a leader, but a compassionate one! I will miss him next year, but I am sure I will hear about all the wonderful things he accomplishes in the future.”

- Julie Rana, Addison Trail math teacher

“Gomez came into my AP Italian class late. We moved him from Italian 3 Honors into AP, and I’m so happy we did! He’s an AMAZING Italian student. I find him fascinating, because he pursues a great interest in a foreign language other than his native Spanish. Italian is a hurdle, which he conquers without a flaw. He is definitely gifted in a foreign language. He shows a great interest in Italian, and his appreciation and respect for diverse cultures is quite evident. A student like him is one in a million.”

- Judie Vitiritti-Lynch, Addison Trail world language teacher

  • District 88 values the hard work and achievements of students and wants to make sure students are honored and recognized for their accomplishments. The District 88 Board of Education and administration created the 88’s Best award to highlight students’ success. That award recognizes nine Addison Trail and nine Willowbrook students each school year for reaching their personal best in various areas. Recipients are honored during a District 88 Board of Education meeting in one of the following areas: academics, highly improved performance, extracurricular activities, service work or performing arts/electives. They receive an 88’s Best glass sculpture and a certificate to a local restaurant.