Publication: News Tribune
Date: February 2, 2004
Back to Press Room
Kotecki shows cartoon skills to students at his old school
By Ed Zagorski
He knew the school’s hallways and the quickest route to the gym. He could have located his locker from years past, but Jason Kotecki, now 28, was reliving his younger years through the faces of those students who gradually took his place at Peru Catholic School.
Kotecki, who attended kindergarten through eighth grade at the Catholic school, returned last week to share his youthful enthusiasm and also his career of cartooning.
“This is my opportunity to give something back to the school that I attended and learned a great deal about sharing and giving,” he said.
Kotecki also was there to help kick off the school-wide fund-raising program. But with the students, he mainly talked about cartooning.
“The younger students here really enjoy drawing,” Kotecki said. “This was my opportunity to bring something back to the school I attended and to show students that they can find careers that they enjoy. I started doing this three years ago and I am having a blast with it.”
Kotecki, the cartoonist for the “Kim and Jason” strip published in more than 20 daily and weekly newspapers, said Peru Catholic School is where he began to find his niche in drawing.
“I write and draw every day,” he told the students. “You have to practice and practice and stay with it no matter how hard it gets, and then little by little it gets easier to do. It’s fun.”
Kotecki always has been persistent, according to one of his former instructors.
“I remember him being very studious and hardworking,” said social studies teacher, Jim Newland. “He gave his best and he always did well.”
Another teacher agreed.
“He was great to have in class,” Jane Weberski said. “He was very quiet, but he had a great sense of humor that he uses in his cartoons. Now he has come back to the place where he found his joy of drawing and cartooning. And the students here are enjoying his visit.”
Desteny Kmetz, a seventh-grade student, said she keeps a sketchbook with her so she, too, can practice drawing.
“I like art,” she said. “There is always something to make or draw. It’s just fun.”
Her friend, Lisa Kohr, another seventh grade student, agreed.
“I keep a sketchbook too,” Kohr said. “I draw a lot of stuff like movie titles and logos. Just about anything.”
Kotecki’s father, Walt, said he was impressed with his son’s skills.
“He is an inspiration to all of these students here,” Walt said. “It shows someone who actually walked these halls as a student can find something he or she enjoys doing and stay with it.”
Kotecki’s mother, Linda, said art always has been a passion for her son.
“He always loved to draw and now he is sharing his dream that could leave some students thinking, ‘If he can do it then so can I’,” she said.
©2004 News Tribune, LaSalle, Illinois.