Daniel Irace concludes remarkable high school career, leaves lasting legacy in countless clubs


Dale Fischer

“I would not regret anything that happened,” Irace said. Upon immersing himself into many different experiences, Irace is grateful for the family he created at school and proud of the mark he made.

Destina Sarussi, Copy Editor

As a two-time national speech qualifier, seasoned member of the color guard and leading actor in a multitude of theatrical productions, graduating senior Daniel Irace has done it all. With a deep appreciation for branching out within the community and connecting with all different types of people, Irace serves as an inspiration for students of all grade levels. 

“When I was going into my senior year, I was like, ‘Ugh, everything’s ending, everything I’ve done is finalizing,’ but I didn’t realize, even senior year, I would still find new opportunities,” Irace said. 

Approaching his fourth marching band season as a key member of the color guard and winter guard, Irace decided to begin learning the clarinet on the side and also join the concert band, which would soon become his favorite class. With the generous help of his teachers, Irace proved it’s never too late to pick up a new passion.

“Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, if you think you want to try something, go do it. I grabbed a clarinet, talked to Mr. Doherty and Mr. Nommensen, they opened the doors for me and I created so many new memories and friends,” Irace said. “Seniors, don’t think that this is your end because it could just be a new beginning.”

Along with color guard and clarinet, Irace is also a proud four-year member of the speech team and served as captain for his final season, receiving awards in Humorous Duet Acting, Original Comedy, Special Occasion Speaking and Humorous Interpretation. During his decorated speech career, Irace qualified not once, but twice consecutively for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in the event Duo Interpretation with his partner, senior Jessica Popper. 

“Speech team has had the greatest impact on me because it’s given me the biggest opportunity to branch out not only with people in my school, but with people at other schools within my state, and it even gave me the opportunity to connect with people from around the nation,” Irace said. “It’s given me the opportunity… to participate in countless competitions and express my passion for public speaking.”

While band and speech both clicked fast for Irace, he also tried out numerous other extracurriculars in search of his calling, as he strongly values exploring the unknown.

“I’ve had countless failed attempts joining clubs and sports that were not for me,” Irace said. “I was not the best at Junior Achievement, but I can say that I tried it. That’s not something a lot of people can say.”

As if two of the school’s most demanding activities weren’t enough, Irace also starred in a variety of plays and musicals through the Drama Club, including “The Addams Family” as Lucas Beineke, “Newsies” as Romeo and “Emma” as Mr. Woodhouse. Alongside serving as president of the International Thespian Society, Irace also earned induction into the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society. On top of these substantial commitments, Irace even ran track and field for two years and has been working a part-time job at Portillo’s for just over one year. 

Through his various activities, Irace has interacted with numerous teachers around the school. However, he recognizes fine arts chair and choir director Dave Nommensen as his favorite.

“From freshman to senior year, he’s one teacher that I’ve always stuck with, always talked to and always bonded with,” Irace said. “Even when I’m not working one-on-one with him, he always gives me the opportunity to learn and grow.”

Irace connected with the school’s music directors not only through marching band and musicals, but also through a one-semester internship he took up with activities director and music teacher Matthew Doherty. Irace assisted him on minor projects aimed to create a cleaner and more efficient work environment, such as updating and redesigning the activities website. 

Next year, Irace will be attending University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) to major in Health Information Management and minor in Acting. In honor of continuing his public speaking passion, Irace also hopes to join UIC’s renowned speech team. While he’s thrilled for what the next four years will bring, Irace also offers valuable advice for current high school students.

“Don’t be afraid to dip your feet into new waters. It’s gonna be scary, but once you feel the water, you won’t be afraid to just jump right in,” Irace said. “It’s an opportunity to learn new things.”

Students and faculty across the school recognize Irace as not only an extremely involved student, but a joyful person who exudes happiness everywhere he goes. Irace describes his key to happiness as letting fate take its course; life figures out itself once you take your hands off and stop trying to control everything. 

“Sometimes you have to let go of things, sometimes you have to start new things, but if that’s what makes you more comfortable and happy, then that might just be it.”


After securing their spots in the National Speech and Debate Tournament with a top three finish at the Illini District National Qualifier, Irace and Popper will travel to Phoenix, Arizona to compete one last time against competitors from across the country. At last summer’s national competition, the two finished in the Top 60 in Duo Interpretation and now strive to make it even further. (Joseph Tenerelli)