For the first time in more than a decade a young man is the leader of the student government at Riverside Brookfield High School.
Senior Robby Filec of North Riverside is the president of the RB Student Association (SA) this year. The last male to be president of the SA was Matthew Harb who served as SA president in both the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 school years. The vice-president this year is also a young man, Andrew Pilewski. The other four members of the SA Executive Board are young women.
Both Filec and Pilewski were elected last spring without opposition.
“I think it’s good to have guy and girl leaders in the school and I’m glad to be stepping up as a guy leader,” Filec told the Landmark.
Filec said that he wasn’t sure why it has been so long since a male has been the president of the SA but he said that boys might be less attracted to some of the work that SA does.
“I think that high school boys are less focused on organizing,” Filec said. “We (SA) run events like blood drives, Homecoming. I’m not sure high school boys are as organized and might not necessarily even want to organize something like that.”
SA faculty sponsor Angela Ziola once said that SA sometimes gets typed within the school as the organization that sponsors dances and that males might not be as interested in issues such as picking a theme for the Homecoming Dance. In recent years Ziola has made an effort to reach out to young men to participate in SA and her efforts have paid off. Last year there were three boys on the six person SA Executive Board.
Ziola is looking forward to Filec’s leadership this year.
“I am excited to have Robby Filec as the president,” Ziola said in an email. “He is an enthusiastic leader, with innovative ideas and an overall excellent person! I believe the 2014-15 school year will be exciting and fun with Robby as the leader of the Student Association.”
Filec has been involved in SA since he was elected the president of his class as a freshman. His older sister Emily, now a student at Elmhurst College, was the SA president two years ago.
The SA meets every Wednesday at 7:20 a.m. When Filec was a freshman his sister would have to go to school early for the meetings and that meant Filec would come along so he was exposed to SA right away.
“I would always go the school early because she would drive me to school and she had to be there early for SA, but I really got to see the opportunities she had in SA to be an important part of the school and to have the ability to help make the school more worthwhile and to really just run some of its important and favorite events,” Filec said.
Emily served as something of a role model for her brother. In addition to serving as SA president her senior year Emily Filec also received the School Citizen of the Year Award from a regional school group.
“I look up to my sister because I think she’s awesome, she’s very inspirational, she was good at what she did,” Filec said.
Filec is louder and more outgoing than Emily, who was more of a quiet leader.
“We’re similar, but we have some differences,” Filec said. “We’re both organized people. She’s probably more organized than me. She is quieter though. I am a very loud, exuberant person. I like to get really into school spirit.”
Even before he started high school Filec decided he would run for freshman class president.
“It was always a goal of mine to do that,” Filec said.
Ziola noticed Filec’s leadership ability and confidence right away.
“Robby is the first freshman that I’ve noticed that got to know the names of each staff member and made sure to introduce himself and then has spent quality time getting to know the adults in the school,” Ziola said. “He has since done the same with the students and has really strived to push SA as an all-inclusive club!”
Filec said that his goals for SA this year include keeping RB as a caring, close knit school.
“As president I have the power to be the liaison between the staff and the students,” Filec said. “It puts me in a very good position to help RB and the surrounding community. Kids can come to me and tell me their concerns or what they want for the school and I can tell it to the teachers so it’s a responsibility that I feel like I could handle and something I would like to handle because I really care about RB. It’s just the best way to help RB.”
In addition to putting on the Homecoming Dance the SA organizes two blood drives, collects coats and blankets to donate to the less fortunate, puts together Thanksgiving baskets, and buys Christmas gifts for the needy in the Anonymous Santa program.
Helping out the less fortunate is something that Filec was brought up to do. He volunteers once a month at the Salvation Armey food pantry in Westmont.
“My family is very big into serving others,” Filec said.
He also volunteers at this church, Christ Church of Oak Brook.
Filec said that his parents Bob and Maggie have been big influences on him.
Filec’s dad is a contractor.
“He’s been one of the biggest influences in my life,” Filec said. “He’s probably the greatest man I know. He and my mom have always told me to be a leader and not a follower.”
His dad is also responsible for Filec owning a landscaping company. Some five years ago, a neighbor asked Bob Filec if his two sons would be interesting in taking care of two yards for him.
His dad said sure they would and Filec’s landscaping company was born.
“My dad volunteered for us,” Filec said.
Now the company has 15 or 16 accounts. When it started Emily helped out but now the work is done by Robby, his younger brother Frankie, an RB sophomore, and little sister Mary, a seventh grader at Hauser.
They do more than cut grass.
“We trim bushes, we put mulch in, we’ll do just about anything,” Filec said.
In the winter they shovel snow.
Filec drives a hand me down 2001 Ford F150 pickup truck that he got from his father that he uses for moving items for clients.
In addition to his own business, Filec works two or three days for another landscaping company. And this summer he worked for the Public Works Department of North Riverside. During the summer he worked up to 60 hours a week.
“I like to be always doing things,” Filec said.
As for the future Filec said that he is considering a number of options, but they all include being active.
He is thinking about becoming an electrician, or some other trade, or becoming a nurse or teacher.
Robby Filec might not be the last Filec to be the president of the SA.
Frankie, Robby’s younger brother, is the sophomore class president at RB.