South students partake in youth groups

Young Life members pose for a picture at their halloween party.

Young Life members pose for a picture at their halloween party.

Taylor Everson and Mia Merchant, staff reporters

Loud music fills junior Eleni Copetas’s basement on a Monday night as a crowd of high school students dance around and sing to the music. The bass drops, and Young Life, a Christian youth group, begins.

Young Life is one of the many religious youth groups that South students participate in. According to Copetas, GBS Young Life is a chapter of a national group and involves a group of South students who meet on Mondays and Wednesdays to have discuss how their religion relates to their life in an engaging manner.

“Most of the time we talk about a verse of the Bible or two and we compare it to our lives,” Copetas said. “One time we listened to Chance the Rapper and compared it to the Bible, which ended up making sense.”

According to Copetas, even though they discuss the Bible, the bible doesn’t only focus on religion. Copetas believes that Young Life also fosters a sense of community and helps the members build relationships.

“For me personally, [Young Life] helped me make a lot of friends and helped me to stay true to my beliefs,” Copetas said. “[Coming to GBS], I was really worried that I was going to lose [some of my beliefs] or be easily influenced by other people who might not have a positive effect on me.”

Similar to Copetas, Young Life had a positive effect on Grady Forkin, Glenview Young Life area director. According to Forkin, in middle school and during his freshman year, people he befriended led him down the wrong path. Forkin said that he joined Young Life his freshman year of high school and that the leaders helped him turn his life around so much so that he decided to come back.

“[After college], I wanted to take some time and give back to the organization that gave a lot to me,” Forkin said. “I think everyone benefits a little from [Young Life].  Every student gets a little bit of guidance from role models, a little sense of community from it, and everyone has a lot of fun.”

According to Forkin, his favorite experience is when kids who are invited to Young Life after a tough week leave feeling loved and welcome.

“I would say that the over-arching mission statement of Young Life would be to show students how much God loves them,” Forkin said. “If they take the energy that they have brought to Young Life to any part of their life, then they will be successful.”

A different youth group that a South student participates in is Jeremiah Temple Youth Group, or JeTY, at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield. Junior Anna Shabelman is a member of the JeTY board and helps to plan the youth group’s events. According to Shabelman, there are three different youth groups at her temple, with the older groups geared more towards volunteering.

“[Being on the board has] taught me a lot about leadership,” Shabelman said “It’s nice to address issues with people your same age who have a similar mindset, and it’s a cool environment to be in.”    

Of all the experiences Shabelman has had with her youth group, her favorite is when her advisor invited the people on her youth group board for a Shabbat dinner. According to Shabelman, Shabbat is a holiday that is celebrated every Friday night from sundown until sundown on Saturday, a day of rest.

“We went to [my advisor’s] apartment and she took us out for ice cream,” Shabelman said. “It was a really good bonding experience.”

Similar to JeTY, Pilgrim Youth Fellowship (PYF), based at Glenview Community Church, emphasizes volunteering, according to senior Zach Adams. Adams said that the mission trips facilitated by PYF are a fun and emotional experience.

“[During a mission trip] in Marvel, Arkansas, my job was to run a sports camp,” Adams said. “I played sports with [kids] on a daily basis and got them out of their home environment to have fun. Leaving that place was really touching for me because over a week you wouldn’t think you would be able to create such deep bonds with some of the kids, but you really do.”