Photo by Sadie Good

Panico holds his Top Bear crown that he earned at this years competition. Top Bear is a long standing tradition at LZHS where senior boys perform a variety of talents and entertainment.

Top Bear takes crown

Top Bear is a long standing tradition at LZHS, where a handful of senior boys perform for a panel of judges. These performances include a special talent of the nominee’s choice and several other shows, such as dancing, improv, and singing. Nick Panico, senior, was crowned 2023’s winner.

“I think [I won Top Bear] because my talent was unique and I [really] had a good time with it. It’s all about having fun,” Panico said.

The talent itself was a performance of Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ on the harmonica and the melodica. However, aside from his musical flair, Panico believes his fun loving, kind demeanor also played a part in his success, as it is what he is best known for among his teachers and peers.

“I love to have fun with people and to make them laugh,” Panico said. “I’m definitely an extrovert in that way, but I am able to have an on and off switch too, when it comes to being serious about certain things and being fun with others.”

This enthusiasm for the world around him can be seen in his interactions around the school, according to Kim Ferraro, Panico’s political science teacher and mentor of the last four years.

“I’ve loved having Nick [as a student] over the last few years, I really admire him,” Ferraro said. “Nick has always been so respectful and so kind [to everyone] and my students are always smiling whenever they’re around him. I’ve never seen him have a negative encounter [with anyone].”

In Ferraro’s university letter of recommendation for Panico, she discussed this, and his dedication to his education extensively.

“In my letter of recommendation for Nick, I really focused on his work ethic and academic curiosity,” Ferraro said. “I never have to motivate him to be interested [in his course work] or to seek out new information. My role has really been to facilitate his learning for him.”

His interest in learning, Panico said, is also facilitated by his home life and his family, whom he considers to be great motivators for his success.

“My brother and my sister were both pretty successful in high school and college so they have set a good example for me,” Panico said.

This example was very helpful, according to Panico, due to the difficult time he is had with his education; however, with his graduation scheduled in May, he considers his high school experience to be a great accomplishment, due to the difficult time he had with his education.

“It’s hard for me to focus sometimes, so getting through high school with good grades and going to a good college, all with the help of my family [is a great accomplishment of mine],” Panico said.

Along with supporting him through any obstacles he has faced, Panico believes his family’s “tight knit” dynamic and loving relationships has made him who he is today, as they’ve given him his kind demeanor and sense of humor.

“My family is [very close]. We eat dinner together every night and we go on trips together with our extended family too,” Panico said. “And everyone always has each other’s back. We all really love each other.”

For Top Bear, Panico wrote and delivered a speech about his mother, where he expressed his appreciation for her altruistic role in his and his family member’s lives.

“In my speech about my mom, I talked about how she would give anyone the shirt off of her back. She’s a very selfless person,” Panico said. “I also talked about how she’s crazy and that’s what makes her the best and it’s why we love her so much.”

After graduation, Panico plans to attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to study political science, and eventually, become a lawyer.

“I’m very passionate about becoming a lawyer,” Panico said. “I like to help people and [to me], law is like a big puzzle. I like to really analyze each case and it’s a good thing, if you’re helping people, [which I plan to do].”

Though he’s leaving many great friendships and mentors behind in Lake Zurich, Panico is excited to move onto the next chapter of his life and sharing his gracious personality with the rest of the world.

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