Dancing to Success

Zeltzin+in+her+dance+costume.

Photo Provided.

Zeltzin in her dance costume.

You’d never know that Zeltzin Contreras-Gomez had motor skill issues growing up. But she did, and thankfully so because otherwise she never would have found her life’s passion.  Contreras-Gomez is a senior here at Round Lake High School, and she is 17 years old. When she was about five years old her mom noticed she wasn’t walking normally, she had no balance to walk straight, and when writing, she held her pencil in a strange way.  Her pediatrician diagnosed her with some motor skill issues and recommended to put her in dance.

Her mother, Maria Contreras-Gomez  smiles while she remembers watching her tutu-clad daughter at the Round Lake Area Park District Studio. “When she did her first recital in kindergarten she had the biggest bun out of everyone she had so much hair,” she says. “I didn’t know how to put it up in a bun. And of course it’s the first recital so it’s exciting, but I didn’t think she would do this for the rest of her life.” Zeltzin Contreras-Gomez now participates in tap, modern, ballet, point and jazz. She juggles a full load of dance classes with a full load of extracurricular activities at school: color guard, winter guard, SOMOS, National Honors Society, and Panther Crew. All the while, Contreras-Gomez maintains an A-B average, staying up late to do homework, and she still takes the time to have social and family time. She always maintains a positive attitude to the best of her ability. When she graduates she plans on going to college for visual communication technology and communication design.

Contreras-Gomez is a natural born leader. She has been the guard captain for two seasons in a row and is a teacher assistant at a dance studio with the Round Lake Park District. Color guard and winter guard coach Ms. Jaime Dormody laughs as she remembers Zeltzin as a freshman when she first started her guard career eight seasons ago she was very quiet and mild mannered. Now she is among the few that are called lifers. Lifers are people who have spent all eight seasons on the team during their high school career. Lifers include Mary Stefanski, Celine Kramer, and Keara Carlson.

“As the years went by, she matured and got older and more confident in herself, playing bigger and bigger roles,” Dormody says. “And I think that’s one of the reasons why she makes such a great captain.” At the same time she became a leader for one team she became a role model for her students enrolled in dance classes with the Round Lake Park District. She has been a teacher assistant for 2 years, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

While most say it is easier to take care of an animal rather than children, Contreras-Gomez says otherwise. “I love working with kids, they have so much fun,” she says with a smile. “Although they can be a bit goofy, they always get their jobs done.” Contreras-Gomez not only teaches younger students, she also takes classes with them. She enjoys taking classes with the younger students because it adds a variety and even though she is older she continues to learn from them.

Life is about taking risks, living in the moment and making the most of everything that comes your way, and Contreras-Gomez certainly does. Zeltzin has been active in school since her freshman year with guard, but it just wasn’t enough, so she decided to join National Honor Society in her junior year. Even though joining NHS meant cutting back on what little free time she had, she felt that it would be a good addition to her high school resume and she wanted to get more involved with both RLHS and her community. She then joined Panther Crew and SOMOS this year as a senior. Contreras-Gomez felt by joining Panther Crew she could help freshman on their journey through high school. SOMOS was to help spread the word about the Hispanic culture not only in the school but through out the community.

“Being involved with a whole lot of things is very helpful,” Dormody says. “If you can manage it.” Contreras-Gomez’s brothers were involved with school as well, and being the only girl out of her siblings, she has definitely been able to live up to their legacies. With guard, dance and after school activities she never seems to get a break, but her family is always there when it matters the most. “We are very 100 percent supportive, even if we have a fever or if are sick we are there cheering her on,” her mother, Mrs. Contreras-Gomez says. “She helps take care of her grandpa, so she’s not only very involved with school but at home as well.” To show her family how grateful she is for all that they have done for her and continue to do she helps out a lot at home with cleaning the house and anything extra her family ask of her.

Sometimes the lows in life are the things that make you who you are, never let someone or something stop you from achieving your goals and dreams in life. Zeltzin Contreras-Gomez had a rough start but has a bright future and has truly earned it. Staying focused and working hard to keep good grades, all while still doing the things she has so much passion for.