There are dynasties in politics. Nationally there are the Clintons and the Bushes. In Illinois we have the Madigans and the Daleys. And in Riverside-Brookfield High School student government there are the Filecs.
This year, Frankie Filec is the third sibling from the North Riverside family to serve as the president of the RBHS Student Association’s Executive Board in the last five years.
A senior, Frankie is following in the footsteps of older sister, Emily, who was SA Executive Board president during the 2014-15 school year and older brother, Robby, who held the post two years ago.
“I looked up to my siblings a lot and I noticed that they did it, so I figured it would probably be a good thing to do,” said Frankie of his decision to get involved in RBHS student government.
Maggie Filec, a nurse and the mother of the three student government presidents, was involved in student government herself during all four years when she was a student at RBHS in the late 1980s, when her last name was Fedorski.
She served as the Student Association’s treasurer when she was in high school, but she doesn’t take credit for starting the dynasty. She says that she doesn’t recall telling her children about her involvement in RBHS student government until after they had become involved in it themselves.
“It was something they all chose to do on their own,” Maggie Filec said. “It came up after the fact.”
The eldest Filec kid, Emily, now a senior majoring in nursing at Elmhurst College, got the ball rolling. Emily decided to get involved with the RBHS Student Association after being impressed by the warm welcome that the organization’s members gave to incoming freshmen on her first day of high school in 2008.
“I thought that was something I could do and that was something that I would look forward to doing for other students when they came to RB,” Emily said.
When Robby Filec came to RBHS two years later, he would get rides to school from Emily. Since he was at school anyway, he began attending the SA’s weekly early morning meetings right from the start.
He ran for and was elected freshman and sophomore class president and served as SA vice-president as a junior. Frankie followed the exact same pattern, following in Robby’s footsteps.
Emily, who blazed the trail for her siblings, said she’s proud of her brothers.
“I think that it’s great,” Emily Filec said. “I never pressured them to do anything like that. They definitely are leaders themselves and are really caring and compassionate boys, and it’s wonderful that they’ve found something to give back to the RB community.”
None of the three had a contested race for Executive Board president.
Robby, who in 2014 became the first boy to serve as RBHS Student Association Executive Board president in 13, years, said he’s proud that Frankie followed in his and Emily’s footsteps.
“I personally think it’s great,” said Robby, who is now a sophomore at Triton College studying engineering. “I never wanted it to be like he had to do it because of us, but the fact that he is doing it is really awesome.”
But Robby did encourage his brother.
“I look up to my brother a lot and he encouraged me,” Frankie Filec said.
Each of the Filec presidents have brought their own personality and interests to the job.
“Each one of them possesses different qualities and style of leadership,” said Angela Ziola, who has served as the SA faculty sponsor for the RBHS Student Association for the last 22 years.
Robby is extremely outgoing and easy to talk to and a natural politician, Emily is quieter by nature while Frankie is kind of in the middle. They each led in different ways Ziola says. For example, while Emily and Frankie displayed strong organizational skills, Robby brought a positive energy and strong recruiting skills.
Frankie Filec said goals for the year include strengthening the SA’s partnership with the Ronald McDonald House in Maywood.
Silvana Alvarez, last year’s SA president and now a freshman at Loyola University, thinks that Frankie will expand SA’s outreach.
“I think he is going to be a very hard worker and someone that will be able to reach students that we are not always able to reach, Alvarez said. “He’s very kind and someone that’s easy to talk to, so I think he’ll be able to kind of reach an area of people that we don’t always get to.”
There is one more Filec coming up the ranks. Little sister Mary, the baby of the family, just lost a three-way race for the post of freshmen class president to Kathe Pribyl-Pierdinock, but was named an elected officer to the Student Association along with fellow runner-up Lilly Lockwood.
Despite the setback Mary says she has her eyes set on following in her siblings’ footsteps. She says that she thinks she would like to serve as the president of the SA Executive Board president before she graduates.
“For sure, I’m going to try and work my way towards that,” Mary said.
All the Filecs lead busy lives outside of school. They are all active in volunteer activities through their church, Christ Church of Oak Brook. They volunteer at food pantries and the boys run a lawn care and snow removal business.
In high school Emily spent more than 200 hours helping a Spanish-speaking adult learn English. As a junior, she was awarded a school citizen of the year award.
“I just teach them to work hard,” said the kids’ father, Bob Filec, a contractor. “We don’t have too much idle time for them.”
While some might not take student government very seriously, Emily says that serving as SA Executive Board president has helped her learn valuable skills.
“I think that it had a huge impact on my life,” Emily said. “It’s definitely equipped me with leadership skills that I use in school now and that I will use in the future in my career.”