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Graduation 2014: Batavia High School senior overcomes challenges

Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 10:45 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 11:31 p.m. CDT
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(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Batavia High School senior Jacob Livingston has a 3.75 GPA and is in the top quarter of his class. He is involved in theatrical productions at Batavia High School, including being a member of the BHS Improv troupe, "But Seriously, Folks..."

When Batavia High School senior Jacob Livingston speaks to his fellow graduates Wednesday during their graduation ceremony at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center, he will remind them of what they have been through.

“Graduation is a day to all come together and just enjoy the fact that we’re there,” Livingston said. “Not everyone has had the same high school experience as I have, but we all have one thing in common – we made it through these four years and we’re here together. And that’s something in itself to celebrate.”

The Kane County Chronicle this week is highlighting local high school graduating seniors. The Batavia High School graduation is set for 7 p.m. today.

Livingston has had to overcome challenges, including the death of his mother, Joan Livingston, during his freshman year. She died of breast cancer. A year after his mother died, Livingston’s younger sister, Sarah, battled Burkitt’s lymphoma. She is now in remission.

Livingston has been active in a wide range of activities. After participating in football and track his freshman year, Livingston started acting.

“Theater has really gotten me through a lot,” he said. “It’s so magical, and it’s so rewarding to be a part of a show here, and then experience that with all of your friends.”

During his freshman year, he participated in his first musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,” playing the character of the dentist.

“I had done theater in middle school, but it was more like a hobby,” Livingston said. “It wasn’t like a passion of mine until I got to the high school level, and then I really found my love for it.”

He said he loves being on stage and performing.

“It’s how I express myself,” Jacobson said. “It’s who I am.”

Livingston will be pursuing a degree in acting when he goes to Millikin University this fall. He wants to be part of the acting world in some capacity.

“When I get out of college, I want to audition,” he said. “Eventually, I see myself teaching theater and directing and stuff like that in a high school or middle school.”

He is graduating with a 3.75 GPA and is in the top quarter of his class.

“I try not to dwell on my grades too much, but they are very, very important to me,” Livingston said. “I’ve always been a stickler on myself for the grades. I always tell myself, if I don’t do my homework and I don’t get good grades, then I don’t get to do what I love here at the high school, which is music and theater.”

Along with acting on stage, Livingston also is a member of Batavia High School’s improv troupe, “But Seriously, Folks...” Earlier this year, he was selected to perform in the All State Improv Troupe at the 39th annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival.

Being part of the troupe is his favorite activity, Livingston said.

“That’s the true way I get to really express my love for theater,” he said. “I like to make people laugh, and there is so much leg room to just experiment and go with it.”

Dominic Cattero, director of the improv troupe and manager of the Batavia Fine Arts Centre, said he has been impressed with Livingston’s work in the troupe.

“He is a true team player,” Cattero said. “I think it has really transformed him as a performer.”

Even though he has taken the stage many times, Livingston said he still gets nervous before every show.

“I get nervous every single night before I go on stage,” he said. “I get butterflies, I feel sick to my stomach, and my knees get wobbly. But the minute I step on stage, it goes away.”

Livingston said he is not afraid to try new things, such as when he and other students performed improv acts during the opening of the Batavia Fine Arts Centre when he was a sophomore.

“Everything we do here at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre is a challenge, and you always have something to take away from it and you always learn something,” Livingston said. “It’s really a magical place, this department and the directors we have and everything.”

Batavia High School Principal JoAnne Smith called Livingston one of the most positive students she has ever met.

“Even through his personal challenges, he is such a positive force at Batavia High School,” Smith said.

Staying positive is Livingston’s mantra.

“I like to keep things happy, because I’ve had some sad things happen, so I like to keep things positive,” Livingston said. “It just makes for a better experience in high school and the memories that we want to cherish forever.”

Know more

The Kane County Chronicle continues its annual series this week, profiling graduating seniors from local high schools. This year, we also are providing updates on graduates we have previously featured.

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