In this, his hometown of Momence, Gabriel Fitzgerald stands out as a multi-faceted, talented young man who weaves the threads of his diverse interests into the whole cloth of achievement. As an eighth-grader at Momence Junior High, Gabe’s life is a rich blend of academic rigor, athletic prowess, musical affinity, and a deep-rooted sense of community.
Born into a family of engineers who have long called Momence home, Gabe’s future is inexorably tied to this community. His parents, both University of Illinois alumni, operate the family business “Aaron’s Alarms,” started by Gabe’s grandfather, adding another generational layer to a local enterprise. The strong sense of community and ambition imparted by his parents is a cornerstone in Gabe’s life.
The relationships I’ve built here— friends, teachers, coaches—these connections are what matter most to me.
BY GRACE WAITMAN & CRAIG WILLIAMS
His versatility extends to sports, particularly baseball. While skilled at various positions, second base is where he feels most at home. And Gabe’s proficiency wasn’t gained overnight; it came from years of persistent practice, starting with his summers in Little League before advancing to school competitions. But that’s who Gabe is, a kid who understands that hard work undergirds any triumph he’s had or any he ever expects to have.
Gabe’s intellectual pursuits complement his athletic ones. As one of only two seventh-graders selected for a STEM competition last year, he continues to break boundaries. His accolades don’t stop there; he’s been an active part of the Math Team and the Scholastic Bowl Team since the sixth grade.
The rich musical culture of the Fitzgerald family is another significant aspect of Gabe’s life. Not only has Gabe played the Trumpet with the band since fifth grade, but he is also a third-generation violinist, carrying forward a beautiful family tradition. When he plays the violin, he surely feels a sense of emotional connection not only to the music but also to his family’s history. We imagine it must be a feeling akin to stepping into another, sweeter world, bound by melody and tradition.
As for his future, Gabe is clear about his aspirations. Like his parents before him, he hopes to attend the University of Illinois to study electrical engineering. With the university ranking among the top ten public schools, it’s a high bar, but one for which he is eager to reach.
And there’s no forgetting the Gladiolus Festival, or GladFest, the heart and soul of Momence’s cultural mosaic, and one of Gabe’s favorite community events. Whether it’s participating in the school band or simply being a spirited community member, Gabe’s involvement in the annual festival showcases a profound love for his hometown.
As Gabe Fitzgerald continues to excel—from turning double plays, to solving complex math problems, to creating moving notes on his violin—he personifies the rich opportunities that both Momence Junior High and the town itself offer. His story is less about achieving specific milestones and more about enjoying the journey, enriched by the diverse activities and the people who make it worthwhile.
Although he has aspirations that might lead him through the esteemed halls of the University of Illinois, one thing is certain: Gabe’s heart will always find its way back to Momence, a town that nurtured him and to which he, in turn, has so much to offer.
So what does Gabe consider his crowning achievement? Turns out it’s not a ‘what,’ but a ‘who,’ as he shares, “The relationships I’ve built here—friends, teachers, coaches—these connections are what matter most to me.”
As our conversation draws to a close, Gabe gathers his belongings, ready for his next endeavor. Before exiting, he leaves us wondering if genuine success is not just about reaching milestones but about enjoying the ride and cherishing the company along the way. And with that, Gabe is off to his next challenge, be it academic, athletic, or artistic. For he is not just a student at Momence Junior High, but a vivid tapestry of talents and passions, woven tightly with threads of dedication, community, and love.