BY DENNIS BARTLOW
CAYUGA, Ind. — Taylor Turchi probably is best known for her athletic ability at North Vermillion High School, but don’t count out her academics and leadership skills.
The North Vermillion senior combines all of those areas as a member of the Indiana High School Athletic Association student advisory committee.
She is the first western Indiana student chosen for the committee that meets with IHSAA commissioners about issues involving student athletics. They represent schools from throughout the state.
"The committee involves big schools and small schools," Turchi said. "We are required to attend four sessions a year. They are interested in what we say. They are trying to make it an equal playing field."
Among the issues the 18-member committee has discussed are how to include home school students in team sports, whether cheerleading should be a sport and issues with private schools.
"They stress academics first," she said. "They promote academics first. This gave me a new perspective."
A positive step for the committee was raising money for Henryville High School, the small southern Indiana high school that was damaged in March when a tornado hit the school.
Nine students are chosen for the committee prior to their junior year to serve a two-year term. Turchi was one of 65 who applied who attended a state student retreat. Former North Vermillion Principal Allen Hayne suggested she apply. She filled out the necessary application and faced a battery of interviews.
Three days after the interviews she learned she had been chosen.
"We work all of the state championships," Turchi said. "I worked cross country and track."
Turchi has enjoyed the friendships she has gained through the committee, She said one of her best friends attends a large suburban Indianapolis school.
The committee plans the annual student leadership conference.
"It is such a great opportunity," said Turchi, who would like to see other Wabash River Conference schools become involved n the program.
"Lots of kids go to the breakout sessions (at the retreat)," Turchi said. "It is really beneficial , especially the interview skills. You never know when you are going to use them."
As a mixer, the committee went bowling a group of Special Olympics students.
" I was so glad I did this," said Turchi, who would like to see WRC schools do a similar program on a smaller scale.
Jaynn Ann Virostko, North Vermillion principal, said the principals in the conference are looking into a possible program, although she said many of the athletes in small schools already are involved in many school activities.
"Taylor is truly the definition of the student leader," she said. "She is the role model for academics and athletics. She is willing to do anything. She is very positive.”
Turchi, 18, is a member of the basketball, track an d cross country teams. Class president, she is president of the student council, vice president of the National Honor Society, vice president of the Business Professionals of America and is a peer leader and a student ambassador.
She still is undecided on a college choice, but she is considering Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, DePauw University and IUPUI. If she goes to Rose-Hulman or DePauw, she plans to play on the basketball team.
She is the daughter of Frank and Lorie Turchi of Newport, Ind.