16, Junior, St. Edward High School
Anchors Aweigh: In July, Wulk, along with seven other Boy Scouts and two scoutmasters, crewed the Rosa Del Mar — a 48-foot sailboat — at Sea Base, a program run by the Boy Scouts of America out of the Florida Keys. Ship Shape: They learned the basics of sailing and spent five nights out on the water. "We would just sleep on the deck of the boat," Wulk says. Shore Leave: Two days into the voyage, they returned to base for "midweek," where they spent the day kayaking, tubing and paddle boarding. "I like being on the water," Wulk says. "My dad was a Sea Scout, and I always thought that sounded cool." Glow Fish: One night at sea, a friend called Wulk topside to see something in the water. "These little 2-inch-long fish all around us were glowing green," he says. "It was like a moment of awe." Life Lesson: Wulk says the experience taught him to enjoy good things while they last. "Junior year is going to be busy," he says. "I'm going to have to cherish and live in the good moments."
17, Senior, Laurel School
Family Ties: Onders spent two weeks of summer 2011 in Kodiak, Alaska, working at a health care clinic serving the area's native Alaskan population. Her uncle, who lives in Alaska, and her father are both doctors. Fishing Fun: Onders made time to soak up nature, too. She went halibut fishing (snagging a 30-pounder) and bear viewing. "At one point, you could see about 15 Kodiak brown bears in the area," she says. "It was pretty astonishing." On to El Salvador: This summer, Onders and her dad traveled to Central America with MedWish, which delivers medical equipment and supplies to developing countries. She orchestrated a supply drive in her community and at school ahead of the trip. Life Lesson: Onders says the time she spent in Alaska reinforced her desire to be a doctor. "Whether I'm practicing in a rural village in Alaska or in a big city, meeting the patients and hearing the stories showed me how attentive to detail and open to understanding you have to be."
16, Junior, Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School
Great Heights: At 10 years old, Cermak climbed the 6,288-foot Mount Washington in New Hampshire with his family. Later that summer, he found a book about climbing the highest points in all 50 states, and made it a goal. "There are only a few hundred people who have done the high points, compared to the thousands of people who've climbed Mount Everest," he says. Out West: This summer, he climbed the third-highest peak in the U.S., the 13,528-foot King's Peak in Utah. The climb was his 18th. Cermak plans on making Alaska's 20,320-foot Mount McKinley his final conquest. Snow Day: He climbed Washington's snow-covered, 11,249-foot Mount Hood in 2011. Life Lesson: Cermak found that leadership doesn't always involve being out in front. "Even if you're not the first person going up, you still have to be the leader and contribute to the team," he says. "Leadership and teamwork are important, not only in climbing, but in anything you'll do."
17, Senior, Western Reserve Academy
Elite Company: Sovich spent a month this summer at the International Summer Science School Heidelberg in Germany. Just 21 students from around the globe were selected via an online application process. Subatomic Study: Sovich studied the properties of lithium at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics. He took part in research that used a linear particle accelerator to knock a lithium atom's electrons from their orbits, which were than "caught" and analyzed. "These properties are very important and often have applications in the future," Sovich explains. "Everything that runs on electricity relies on things that we already know about electrons." Taste of Home: The research institution's canteen catered to the tastes of its international students. "I could always get a hamburger or chicken wings if I missed home," Sovich says. Life Lesson: The best souvenir is knowledge. "I learned a ton about physics," Sovich says. "Every day, I felt like I was living in a science fiction movie."