EAST SIDE — Arturo Aupont believes he needs to "give back" after a "dream" school year.
The recent Washington High School graduate headed in the game-winning goal in a 2-1, double-overtime victory over St. Ignatius College Prep in the IHSA Class 2A boys soccer state championship game. The tally earned him an appearance in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" section and gave the Patriots their first boys soccer state crown.
Aupont, who lives on the city's East Side, also boosted his grade point average to a 3.5 and garnered several academic scholarships to attend St, Mary's (Minn.) University, where he'll play soccer.
Justin Breen introduces us to Arturo Aupont and his summer plans:
The "giving back" part will take him to the Dominican Republic, where he and a few other Christian Community Church of Chicago parishioners will build a home in the impoverished Santiago Province over a seven-day span in August.
"I feel I have to give back, especially after this year," said Aupont, 18. "I feel like this year has been a gift, a blessing. The least I could do is give back."
Aupont has learned how to "pay it forward" from his father, Jean, a native of Haiti who came to Chicago when he was 12 before graduating from Leo Catholic High School and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"He set the bar high, and that's what I'm going for," Arturo Aupont said. "He's come so far from probably one of the poorest countries in the world to getting a bachelor's degree."
Jean Aupont, 59, has been a teacher of French and social sciences for some 35 years. While he was a student teacher at St. Ignatius in 1983, he also was a volunteer soccer coach under Jim Luzzi, whose team lost to Washington in the most recent state final.
Later this week, Jean Aupont will be traveling to his homeland for 1½ months to instruct Haitian teachers how to prepare and organize class lectures on the Internet.
"It's giving back to the country, especially with the state the educational system is in. It's pretty shot," said Jean Aupont, who has made the summer teaching trips to Haiti every year since 2006.
Arturo Aupont will join his father in Haiti in July before crossing the border into the Dominican Republic. He last visited Haiti a year before the devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 300,000 people.
He plans to major in architectural engineering at St. Mary's with a goal of designing homes that can sustain significant earthquake damage.
"It's just something I feel needs to be done," Arturo Aupont said. "It's something that would benefit so many people."