Meet Tommy Stecz: Track star and Lane’s newest salutatorian

By Alex Burstein

Senior Tommy Stecz’s first days at Lane came with a lot of reluctance.

As a seventh grader in the Lane Academic Center, Stecz initially wished he finished elementary school at his previous school, St. Ben’s.

My parents forced me to come here for the academic center,” Stecz said. “And I was not happy about it either. … But I was really happy when I became more situated at Lane because I felt like the environment around academics was really productive.”

Two years later, Stecz faced another decision: whether to stay at Lane or transfer to St. Ignatius.

“I was back and forth like every other day,” Stecz said. 

But Stecz stayed the course, and six years after he started his academic career at Lane Tech, he’ll be ending it as Lane’s Class of 2023 Salutatorian.

“It’s a really cool thing because I’ve been here for six years so it’s a good way to kind of end on the right note and leave Lane Tech,” Stecz said.

Stecz had used the possibility of getting an honor like this as academic motivation throughout his time at Lane.

“It was definitely a goal for me to be pretty close to the top because I’ve put in so much work in terms of AP classes and trying to keep my grades up,” Stecz.

Stecz will be leaving Lane not only as one of the top academic students in his class, but also as one of Lane’s top 2023 runners. Stecz, as a member of both Lane’s cross country and track and field teams, was a part of three different city title teams.

Aside from running, Stecz joined Lane’s German Club this year, and although he said, “I’ve never really been a dancer,” he called the experience rewarding.

With these extracurriculars, he had to learn to manage his time between his various responsibilities. The key for him was finding others to lean on when necessary.

“I think that the easiest way to find a balance between academics and extracurriculars is honestly making sure that you have friends in both because then there’s always somebody that you can talk to and lean on if maybe you miss an extracurricular for academics or vice versa,” Stecz said.

Stecz said he recommends freshmen get involved in a variety of clubs and make friends in all of  their classes to help “really build your community.”

Now, Stecz will be starting a new school for the first time since 2017, as he travels to South Bend, Indiana to start at Notre Dame next year.

“I’ve been going to Notre Dame my whole life for sports, sporting events, class reunions, because my parents went there. And I’ve always admired it because it’s a great mix of academics, but it also has the university aspect with the big sports teams.”

Stecz currently is set to major in physics, but says he also is interested in economics and creative writing.

But before he leaves Lane for the final time as a student, he gets to walk the familiar halls for a few more days.

“I just feel so much more comfortable knowing that I can walk around the halls [and] know where I’m going,” Stecz said. “I always see people that I know and it just makes it feel much more like a tight knit community than when I was a seventh grader and had no idea what I was doing.”