Highland Park student has story to tell with 3-D animation
Sixteen-year-old Kevin Jonak sits inside his Highland Park home, with parts from a computer that he is working on. Jonak is a junior at Highland Park High School, a Schuler Scholar and accomplished with computers. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: March 13, 2013 2:36AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Bonjour. Dzien dobry. Guten tag. 01001000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111.
That’s how to say hello in French, Polish, German and binary.
Highland Park High School junior Kevin Jonak, 16, has proficiency in those languages, although Kevin calls binary a computer function, not technically a language.
Kevin hopes to go to MIT and pursue a career in computers. He will be the first in his family to attend an American university.
His mother, Marzena, was born in German and grew up in Austria. His father, Zbigniew, is Polish.
Kevin and his two younger siblings speak Polish and German at home in addition to English. Kevin said he is “conversational” in German, but fluent in French and Polish. He takes French in high school.
His favorite class is 3D animation with technology education teacher John Connolly.
“He’s one of my more creative students. He’s definitely one of my most skilled students as well,” said Connolly.
Kevin understands how take a project and see it through to the end, Connolly said. Kevin understands how to story board a story and incorporate storytelling with the 3D computer animations that he creates.
“To incorporate good story telling, good modeling and good animation, doing everything is an unusual ability,” said Connolly.
Kevin may have learned some of his story-telling ability from the computer games he has been playing since fourth grade. That’s where he said his interest in computers started.
He was into the Pokemon franchise and played some of their games. The Gameboy was a treat for good grades, Kevin recalled. Although he now plays other computer games, his interest in computers continues to grow.
He was accepted into the Schuler Scholar Program, which provides college scholarship assistance to bright, motivated high school students so they can attend selective private colleges and universities.
Kevin earned a certificate of achievement from John Hopkins University for engineering innovation. During a summer program there was where he learned binary, a computer code.
“I had a lot of fun. It was my first college experience. I met a lot of people from other countries,” said Kevin.
He hopes to pursue computer program design or perhaps run his own business helping people with computers. He likes to spend his free time tinkering with computer programs and components. He is also in the Highland Park High fencing club.