Katie Kasunic and Sebastian Garcia honored with SM North’s 2019 North Star Awards

Katie Kasunic and Sebastian Garcia are the winners of this year’s North Star Awards at SM North.

After a remarkably successful career as a business executive at Pepsi-Cola and Frito Lay Australia, 1979 SM North graduate Steve Sears decided he wanted to give back to the high school he credits with setting him on the right path. So he underwrote an annual scholarship program that provides a $2,000 award to one male and one female senior each year who are selected by the school’s faculty for the positive contribution they’ve made during their time in high school.

This year, the school’s teachers picked Katie Kasunic and Sebastian Garcia.

Both talented runners, Kasunic and Garcia have played key roles in the success of the school’s distance programs in recent years. Kasunic was part of the team that won SM North’s first-ever cross country title in 2017. And just last month, she set a new school record in the 3200m.

Garcia’s talents helped contribute to the boys team to a recent fourth place cross country finish at state

Kasunic is headed to college at UMKC, where she’ll run track and cross country and study dental hygiene. Garcia is headed to Fort Hays State, where he’ll run cross country and track and study business.

While athletics were key to the students’ positive experiences in high school, they say it’s been relationships with their fellow students as well as teachers that they’ll miss the most.

“North has been my second home. I basically live here,” Kasunic said. “It’s just been awesome to have such supporting teachers and friends. It’s going to be hard to let that go. But what these past four years have taught me is just to be kind to everyone and try to have a positive impact on everyone you meet because they’ll be supportive of you if you’re being supportive of them.”

For his part, Garcia said he’s felt so supported by all of his teachers through the years. When his Spanish teacher Stephanie Wixon informed him that she’d nominated him for North Star, “it was the most amazing news. It just made my whole day.”

“During these four years — man, it’s crazy. That first year, I was just an immature freshman,” he said. “But I’ve learned to have fun in school as well as take advantage of opportunities and meet new people. I’ve been close with all the teachers I’ve had. They’ve been on my side all these years.”