School News

D155 High Schools Recognized Among Nation's Best High Schools
Andrea Martinez

All four District 155 high schools ranked among the top 14% of public high schools in the nation for a sixth consecutive year. The U.S. News Best High Schools rankings assess nearly 25,000 public high schools across the United States. 


All four schools also earned recognition among the best high schools in the state of Illinois.

Prairie Ridge High - 64

Cary-Grove - 69

Crystal Lake South - 86

Crystal Lake Central - 121


This recognition signifies a validation of our district's unwavering commitment to excellence in education. It's a testament to the dedication of our educators, the hard work of our students, and the support of our community,” said Dr. Neil Lesinski, Superintendent. “Being recognized among the top high schools in the nation highlights the collective effort invested in preparing our students to find their purpose.


These rankings offer a comprehensive view of educational performance, providing valuable insights into the success of high school education nationwide. Approximately 18,000 schools are evaluated based on criteria such as state assessments and their effectiveness in preparing students for college.

CLS Presents "Matilda"
Shannon Podzimek

Performance Dates & Times: 

February 23 & 24 - 7:00 p.m.

March 1 & 2 - 7:00 p.m.

March 2- 1:00 p.m.

Ticket Information:

Tickets are $13 each, click the link below to purchase tickets:

Purchase Tickets


Musical Information:

Inspired by the twisted genius of Roald Dahl, the Tony Award-winning Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical is the captivating masterpiece from the Royal Shakespeare Company that revels in the anarchy of childhood, the power of imagination, and the inspiring story of a girl who dreams of a better life. With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda has won 47 international awards and continues to thrill sold-out audiences of all ages around the world.

CLS, CG Students Take Virtual Businesses to VEI Leadership Conference and Trade Show
Jeff Yoder

Virtual Enterprise classes from Crystal Lake South and Cary-Grove traveled to Middle Tennessee State University for the two-day ​​VEI Southern Region Student Leadership Conference & Trade Show on November 16. The students participated in an elevator pitch competition and leadership innovation challenge. They learned about finance and accounting, marketing, social media, business operations and technology from business industry leaders.

Crystal Lake South pitched its virtual business named PawPack.

“Our special subscription boxes and bundles come in different options with a plethora of toys, bones, and treats for your pup to enjoy,” said CLS senior and PawPack CMO Sydney Kroening. “If you aren’t looking for a bundle, we also sell key items like dog crates, beds, and food.” 

The company also donates a portion of its revenue to local dog shelters. 

The Cary-Grove students have a virtual business named BetterBox — a health-based company that provides locally sourced products and supplements. 

“It took us a long time to decide what our company was going to be,” said CG senior Reece Ihenacho. “We decided on October 15th, which is definitely a late choice. However, because we took so long we really went deep into the design for delight process so I can confidently say we designed BetterBox to truly benefit our customers.”

Ihenacho is one of six Virtual Enterprises Ambassadors in the Midwest region. He was selected for the position  after completing an essay and interview. As an ambassador he represents the Midwest VE student community, promotes the VE program, plans and participates in events and competitions. He is also the COO of BetterBox.

“At the MTSU tradeshow, my class, especially myself, had an amazing time meeting tons of new people, making connections with other firms, and learning new skills as individuals,” Ihenacho said. “This tradeshow gave me ideas that I can bring back to my firm. Overall I had so much fun meeting new people and making connections that I feel will benefit our firm in the long run.”

Students had an opportunity to use their marketing and sales skills during the virtual trade show where they bought and sold products/services and networked with other virtual businesses.

A highlight for Kroening was a Women’s Leadership panel. 

“All the women on this panel were either bosses, entrepreneurs, or had a very prevalent role within their place of employment,” she said. “This was by far my favorite part of the entire trip. The ladies spoke about the importance of women's leadership, how to handle pressure in the workplace, and overall informed us about their struggles and passions for working within business.” 

There were approximately 500 high school students in attendance, representing 40 virtual businesses from seven states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida.

“I have taken many other business classes during my past three years with some interest in pursuing business, but this class is special,” Kroening said. “It is truly a hands-on experience of what it would be like to participate in a real business. Everyone around the country contributes to the VE community which makes it feel even more authentic. 

“This course is extremely valuable for those interested in pursuing a career within any job working closely with others. I personally can see myself thinking back to this course in my future line of work and using the tools and people skills I have learned to better my work.” 

CLS Students Perform for Veterans
Jeff Yoder

A Veterans Day tradition at Crystal Lake South is meaningful to both community veterans and the students who participate in the musical tour. Band and choir students from Crystal Lake South made 22 stops on Friday, November 10, to play music for 26 veterans in the community. 

“It makes an impact on them,” said junior Sam Lorentz, who made the trip for a second year with the band. “It’s really cool being a part of it, seeing these veterans year after year.”

Among the veterans visited on Friday was 101-year old Lorraine Egan, a Navy veteran and graduate of Crystal Lake Central. 

“I thought it was wonderful that they would come,” Egan said. “It means a lot that they do care.”

Veterans Day is always a special day for Egan. “I think back to when I was in,” she said. “I was so proud to be a veteran and to be in the Navy.”

She joined the Navy on December 8, 1941 as the United States Congress declared war on Japan. 

“I was on a date… and my boyfriend had his radio on,” Egan said, “and we heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. And I decided right then and there that I was going to join. I went in on Monday and joined.”

She worked as a nurse at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina during World War II.

Egan sang along on Friday as a quartet of students sang the national anthem, following a performance by the band.  

“It’s definitely really inspiring, knowing that we’re giving good energy towards people that deserve it,” said junior Cary Lorentz.

German Students Visit D155 with GAPP Exchange
Jeff Yoder

District 155 welcomed 24 students from Holzgerlingen, Germany from October 18 to November 1 as part of the German American Partnership Program (GAPP). The German students were hosted by nine students from Crystal Lake Central and 15 from Crystal Lake South, who will be making a trip to Germany in June. 

“It allowed me to make more connections with people I hadn't really talked to, but also helped me work on my German a bit,” said CLS senior Hannah Lee. “It was exciting experiencing these things I've had my entire life, for the first time again, with them. There was a lot of culture shock which helped me learn about the culture in Germany, there is so much about the culture that I had only learned because of this opportunity.”

Highlights of the trip included a visit to downtown Chicago, a home football game, and attending classes in American high school. 

“The vibe is completely different,” explained Romy Weinheimer, who was hosted by Lee.  “With the teachers… they don't have an interpersonal connection in Germany. We don't have one with our teachers, but they do have one here. They talk to their students a lot more. They interact more, and they have more group work.”

Marcel Yassine, who attends school at the Schönbuch Gymnasium in Germany, visited CLC with host Owen Battaglia. 

“In Germany, we have much more stricter schools,” Yassine said. We don’t have these flexibilities you have here. We have longer schools, we don't have the same schedule every day. But it was a really nice experience.”

Visiting downtown Chicago was a highlight for Vanessa Graf.

“I would definitely say the trip to Chicago,” she said. “We were in the Willis Tower, and the view was great. Also, we made a boat tour and we saw the skyline. It was beautiful.”

Some of the students saw the Tiger football team clinch a playoff spot with a 27-24 overtime victory over Hampshire in the final game of the regular season. 

“The atmosphere at the high school football games, I liked it very much,” Yassine said.

Chiara Geisler said that she enjoyed her stay with CLC junior Ava Walter.  

“At the beginning, I was really nervous to get to know the family,” said Geisler. “But everything was so fine. And they were so nice to me, and I’m really happy to have her visit my house in Germany.”

The German students are excited about exchanging roles when their host students visit Holzgerlingen in June. 

“I'm really looking forward to showing Emily (Matula) the food culture in Germany,” Graf said. “It's healthier. And we love our German food. I feel like it's a highlight in Germany.

“We’ve also planned a trip to Strasbourg in France, just to take them over the border because it's so close and they don't have that possibility here to just move to another country. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”

D155 students usually visit a castle during the trip. Other options include a visit to the chocolate factory Ritter Sport or a trip to a local baker to learn how to bake Brezeln from scratch.

“In Germany, I'm really looking forward to the food,” said Lee. “I know even fast food is incredibly different and they have a diverse spread of dishes and beverages that I have never tried. I'm also very interested in their school. Many different countries have vastly differing education systems and I'm fascinated by how the German system is structured.”

The Crystal Lake South culinary class prepared a luncheon for a special sendoff on Wednesday, November 1. The German students enjoyed Italian seasoned chicken sandwiches with a basil and lemon zest spread, topped with arugula. 

D155 Students Join IHSTF All-State Production of She Kills Monsters
Jeff Yoder


Three students from District 155 have been selected to join the Illinois High School Theater Festival’s All-State Company of She Kills Monsters at the 48th annual Festival held January 11-13 at Illinois State University. The All-State cast, crew, and pit orchestra are composed of top student performers, musicians, and technicians from Illinois. 

Crystal Lake South senior Caitlyn Kopera will be an assistant stage manager. Gator junior Emma Wagner is a member of the costume crew, and Prairie Ridge junior Evelyn Mahler was selected for the props crew. 

Over 220 talented students auditioned or interviewed and 85 were selected for the final production Company. 

“It is a huge honor to get to work with such talented people from across the state,” said Caitlyn Kopera. “To be the assistant stage manager for such a spectacular show is exhilarating and every second I spend working through this process is nothing short of amazing. 

Rehearsals for She Kills Monsters take place over several long weekends during the fall with final rehearsals occurring the last week before the actual performances.

“I cannot wait for my friends and family to be able to experience this fantastic show in the audience in a few short months,” said Kopera. “To have the opportunity to become a part of this second theater family is beautiful and I wouldn't trade them or this experience for anything in the world.”

She Kills Monsters is a drama-comedy play by Qui Nguyen that tells the story of Agnes Evans, an average woman who loses her parents and little sister Tilly in a car accident. Agnes embarks on an adventure to get to know her sister better by playing a Dungeons & Dragons module that Tilly had written, and discovers things she'd never imagined. 

D155 Students Receive Academic Honors from College Board National Recognition Programs
Jeff Yoder

Nine students from District 155 recently earned academic honors from the College Board National Recognition Programs. These programs celebrate students' hard work in high school and showcase their strong academic performance. The academic honors for rural area, Black, Indigenous, and/or Latino students are an opportunity for students to share their strong academic achievements with colleges and scholarship programs that are seeking to recruit diverse talent. 

Students recognized from District 155 include:

Melody Alonso - Crystal Lake Central

Joshua Carrasco - Cary Grove

Isaiah Herrera - Cary Grove

Josh Marineau - Prairie Ridge

Andrea Medina - Crystal Lake South

Christian Romero - Crystal Lake Central

Ryan Soli - Cary-Grove

Gwen Steeves - Cary-Grove

Vienna Tiria - Crystal Lake South

The criteria for eligible students include: a GPA of 3.5 or higher, PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 assessment scores that are within the top 10% of assessment takers in each state for each award program, or earned a score of 3 or higher on 2 or more AP Exams in 9th and 10th grade.

CLC senior Melody Alonso received a National Hispanic Recognition Award. Alonso is involved in band, choir, madrigal singers, and theatre. Outside of school, she is a member of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra. She plans to  pursue music performance in college.

“It's nice to have this recognition as something extra to put on my college resume,” she said.

CG senior Joshua Carrasco was also a National Hispanic Recognition Award winner. Carrasco is involved in concert band, marching band, and plays in the drum line. He is also active in Latino leadership and robotics club. Outside of school, he enjoys drawing and design,  playing piano and making music with friends. After graduation, he plans to study engineering.  

“Being recognized by the college board makes me feel very proud of my achievements,” Carrasco said. “I am happy knowing that the work I put in is seen and it drives me to work harder to accomplish my goals.”

CG senior Isaiah Herrera was the recipient of a  National Hispanic Recognition Award. Herrera is in the marching band and the tech crew, building sets and working behind the scenes for plays, musicals, and other performances. 

“Outside of school I do karate, which I have done since I was little, so now I help teach classes,” Herrera said. “We teach everyone from little kids to adults and people with physical and mental disabilities.”

Herrera also enjoys studying politics and history. In the future, he plans to study political science or journalism. 

“Being recognized by the College Board gives me some much needed confidence that my efforts here in high school have been worthwhile and not all in vain,” Herrara said. 

PR junior Josh Marineau received a Rural and Small Town Award from the College Board. Marineau participates in National Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Students. He is a member of the Prairie Ridge varsity soccer team and also participates in club soccer at a national level. Marineau also volunteers regularly at his church and in the community.

“I feel truly honored to be a part of a group of students that are known for their hard work and focus, dedicated to school,” he said. “Awards like these motivate me to keep going and pour my life into school and activities.” 

CLS junior Andrea Medina was a National Hispanic Recognition Award recipient. She is involved in Spanish club, women in STEM, speech team, model UN, ACES, and media club. 

“I love animals and spend lots of time with my dog,” Medina said. “I like to read, go hiking, and travel. I plan on hopefully attending Purdue and majoring in zoology in the future”

CLC senior Christian Romero earned a National Hispanic Recognition Award. Romero is a member of the Tigers soccer team. He plans to attend an in-state college to pursue a career in a STEM field.

“Outside of school, I like to talk with friends, watch my favorite sports teams, and be with my dog,” Romero said. “Being recognized for this achievement has motivated me to work even harder because I know that I am capable of achieving my goals.”

CG senior Ryan Soli was recognized with a National Indigenous Award. Soli is part of the math team and a member of the National Honor Society at Cary-Grove. He is also a member of the Trojan lacrosse team. 

“I really enjoy athletics and hanging out with people, but also love volunteering anytime I can,” he said. 

Soli has not made a college choice yet, but is considering studying law or mathematics. 

“It feels good to be recognized, but it feels better to just know all the hard work is paying off,” he said. “I'm always happy to just know I'm doing well, even if the whole world doesn't.

CG senior Gwen Steeves was a recipient of the Rural and Small Town Award. Steeves participates in musicals, plays, swing choir, Trojan Voices, A Capella Singers, CG buddies, and NHS. She is also involved with the Cary-Grove Performing Arts Center outside of school, teaching boys jazz, assisting four swing choir classes and a jazz class, working in the dancewear store, running various studio events, and taking jazz and ballet classes. 

Steeves has been accepted at Arizona State University and plans to double major in psychology and popular music, with a minor in dance.

CLS senior Vienna Tiria received a National Hispanic Recognition Award. Tiria is theatre president at Crystal Lake South and is a part of WiSTEM, Aevidum, and choir as well. Outside of school, she enjoys making art, playing piano, taking voice lessons, and creating music.

Tiria is still evaluating her options for college, but is currently thinking about studying graphic design and either minoring or double majoring in an area of music. 

“Being recognized for this achievement is such an incredible honor,” Tiria said. “I'm proud to be latina and to be able to earn an award that recognizes me for that huge part of my identity as well as my academic successes. Earning this achievement also made me realize how much the closest people around me have influenced my journey. I think of my mom and dad who have always been pushing me to put forth my best effort in school and in all other aspects of life. Their encouragement gave me a strong work ethic and sense of motivation each day and I can never thank them enough for it.”

All D155 Schools Rank Among Nation’s Best for Fifth Year
Jeff Yoder

U.S. News & World Report named all four D155 high schools in the top 14 percent nationally. The data includes nearly 25,000 public high schools which are ranked based on college readiness, college curriculum breadth, state assessment proficiency and performance, as well as graduation rate.

Prairie Ridge High school ranked No. 52 out of 723 public schools in Illinois. Cary-Grove is No. 71 in the state, Crystal Lake South is ranked No. 81, and Crystal Lake Central is ranked No. 133 in the state rankings. 

“This recognition is a reflection of a passionate staff that is committed to education, students that are dedicated to learning, and the support of families and our community.,” said Dr. Neil Lesinski, Superintendent. “The district’s consistent appearance at the top of county, state, and national rankings demonstrates the value we place on educating and preparing our students for future success.”

To view the full Best Public High Schools list, and further detailed results of D155 high schools, please click here.

District 155 enhances building safety with BluePoint Alert Systems
Jeff Yoder

Community High School District 155 has taken steps to enhance district safety and security over the summer with the installation of BluePoint Alert Systems in all four buildings.

These rapid emergency response systems will immediately notify first responders, school leadership, students, teachers and staff of a threat.

“Having the BluePoint Alert System installed throughout District 155 schools is another step towards ensuring the continued safety of our students and staff,” said Dr. Neil Lesinski, superintendent. “I am also grateful for the collaborative partnerships we have with our local law enforcement agencies in the adoption of this new technology.” 

The blue pull stations are easy to identify and intuitive to interact with. Inside the building, a repeating announcement will indicate a hard lockdown is in place. Outside, the blue strobes provide instant notification, and warn not to enter in an emergency situation.

The system will also provide the initial location of threat information to law enforcement and school administration.

The presence of the police emergency notification system can serve as a deterrent to potential threats in the school building. In the event of an active threat, the alert system will allow first responders and law enforcement to increase effectiveness and decrease response time.

D155 graduates further education in 38 states and five countries
Jeff Yoder

Nearly 86 percent of Community High School District 155’s 2023 graduates will continue their studies at four-year colleges, two-year community colleges, and vocational and technical schools. Over 58 percent percent of the graduating class will pursue degrees at four-year colleges and universities. The Class of 2023 has earned $14,244,724 in scholarships.

The top three college destinations for the Class of 2023 are McHenry County College, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Illinois State University. Seventeen percent of students continuing education are interested in studying in a STEM field, 17% are planning to study health science, and 10% plan to study business management and administration. Additionally, 39 students will be pursuing a trade or vocation, and 50 will be directly entering the workforce full-time. Thirty-one students plan to serve in the armed forces. 

The Class of 2023 is studying in 38 states, Washington, D.C. & five countries including Canada, Japan, Paraguay, and the Netherlands. 

There were 1,294 graduates in the class of 2023. District 155’s graduation rate is 96 percent and the state’s graduation rate is 87 percent.  

Skorija Nominated for Best Actor Award by Broadway in Chicago
Jeff Yoder



Crystal Lake South’s Luke Skorija was recently nominated for Best Performer in an Actor role by Broadway in Chicago for his portrayal of George in a production of Sunday in the Park with George.

Director Ben Stoner also received one of five nominations for Best Direction.

There were 24 nominees for best actress/actor, selected from over 200 applicants, who have been invited to participate in the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards Program held in the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place on Monday, May 22. 

Skorija will have an opportunity to work with a Broadway professional on a Broadway stage! During the ceremony, the nominees will perform two musical numbers from Disney’s Aladdin. The students are taught the musical numbers by a representative from the show, which will play in the Cadillac Palace Theatre from May 17-28. The Best Performer in an Actor Role and Best Performer in an Actress Role will be selected from six finalists. 

District Nurses Honored with Lina Rogers Award
Jeff Yoder

Cary-Grove’s Martha Manno and Crystal Lake South’s Colleen Wing were recently announced as 2023 recipients of the Lina Rogers Award, which recognizes school health professionals who work in partnership with public health in providing healthier schools and communities.  

Manno and Wing are both members of McHenry County's School Nurse Advisory Committee (SNAC), which played a critical role in preparing a safe return to school during the pandemic. 

“It was definitely a collaboration between public health and school health,” Manno said. “That relationship makes a significant difference with absenteeism, student accomplishments — and that was accentuated during the COVID times. I felt like at that point we really needed to try to keep schools open and students in schools as much as possible.”

The Lina Rogers Award is typically awarded to one or two recipients each year, but a decision was made this year to honor all 12 members of SNAC for their key contributions.

“The task force was responsible for a lot of things,” Manno said. “They produced a toolkit for all of the nurses in the whole district area to keep track of the kids who had COVID and who were close contacts, and what to do with all of the instructions. We had a lot of checkoff lists and resources for nurses as well as the parents and students.”

SNAC also worked with the McHenry County Health Department (MCDH) and district superintendents to vaccinate 5,600 staff members in McHenry County twice. 

“That was huge, because we were almost first in the state,” Manno said. “We needed staff to be here to get the students in here, so to keep staff healthy was key.”

The task force also detailed its work in an article, which was published in the National Association of School Nurses Journal.

The award is named after the nation’s first school nurse, Lina Rogers, who was hired by the New York City public schools in 1902. 

The mission of the task force is to “strengthen the link between public health nursing and school nursing,” and to “provide the MCDH with a school nursing resource to collaborate on mutually beneficial initiatives.”

“I’m super honored that I was awarded this, but I really look up to these ladies that have really paved the way,” said Wing, who joined the task force this year. “I appreciate that I was even recognized because what they went through that first year was unbelievably daunting to say the least.”

Michelle Kidd Named Teacher of the Month
Jeff Yoder

Crystal Lake South Art teacher and Division Lead Michelle Kidd was named the January Teacher of the Month by Home State Bank and Star 105.5. 

Kidd is appreciated for the time she dedicates to Crystal Lake South and the personal attention she gives her students. 

“Mrs. Kidd is always running around doing a million different things but amidst that chaos she always has time for her students and their problems,” said Natalie, who nominated Kidd for the award.  

“She's a dedicated and understanding teacher who truly values education and will do anything to help her students, from talking through scholarships and college applications with us to giving us advice on personal issues and extracurriculars.”

“Mrs. Kidd brings our community together with class family photos and field trips, and even dedicated herself to helping start and run our schools ski club. There's a place for every student in Mrs. Kidd's classroom or the couch in her office.”

On January 24, Kidd was presented with a $100 check from Home State Bank.

CLS Senior Earns Top Rank in Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra
Kari Firak

Senior Gavin Kempf-Kutemeier has been named Principal Bassoonist in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, a top honor among the most talented young musicians in the area. Earning a principal spot is the highest rank in the section, awarded with all solos and a spot in the elite Core Ensemble. Gavin also volunteers his time in the CYSO Ambassador's program, mentoring inner city youth without access to strong school music programs.

Gavin's dedication to this program and years of practice is evident in these achievements, as well as his advice for others. "Success in music is not always about being technically good, it's more about having comfort in the position you are in. If you do a lot of auditions and are used to playing with big groups in front of some very incredible people you get more confident and that's what they look at," said Gavin.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras’ mission is to inspire and cultivate personal excellence through music. CYSO is committed to educating, encouraging, and empowering each young musician so that they may pursue personal excellence both on and off the stage.

Four D155 Students Named National Merit® Semifinalists
Kari Firak

The National Merit® Scholarship Program named four District 155 seniors as 2023 National Merit® Semifinalists. The semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and are the highest-scoring students in each state.

Trini Feng - Crystal Lake South
Grace Moore - Crystal Lake Central
Madison Ross - Crystal Lake South
Erin Wadzinski - Cary-Grove

Trini Feng, a senior at Crystal Lake South, earned the title of state champion in the 2022 ACES Academic Challenge competition in the area of English. Trini is active in extracurriculars; a member of band and marching band, the math team, ACES Academic Challenge Team, and a writer for Gator Prints. Outside of school Trini enjoys creative writing and playing piano. Post high school she is considering computer science and pursuing a job in technology.

Grace Moore is a senior at Crystal Lake Central and has a strong interest in advocating for youth perspectives and mental health awareness. She is an honorary youth board member at the National Alliance for Mental Health Illinois of McHenry County (NAMI), founder and president of the Model United Nations team at Crystal Lake Central, and co-captain of the Varsity Cross Country team. Grace plans on applying to colleges in the Northeast with a major in political science or international politics.  
Madison Ross is the founder of the Model United Nations Club and involved in National Honors Society at Crystal Lake South. She’s also involved in Student Council, Gator Buddies, Gator Prints, Spanish Club, and Speech Team. With a passion for discovering the role monetary funding has on the largest world problems, she plans to study economics and political science post graduation. 

Erin Wadzinski, a senior at Cary-Grove, is deeply involved in her Cary-Grove community. She is a captain of the varsity volleyball team and a state qualifier for the Academic Challenge Team, a board member for Interact and Student Council, and organized the first inaugural Peach Fuzz volleyball game. Erin is also a member of the National Honors Society and was recognized as an Advanced Placement® Scholar with honors. Outside of school, she volunteers her time with the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA) and Purrfect Cat Rescue. In college, Erin would like to study psychology with the intention of pursuing law in the future. 

High school students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Students will find out if they have advanced to Finalist standing in February 2022. Beginning in March 2021, National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and ending in July.

CLS Alum Celebrates Hockey Win at School
Kari Firak

Katelynn Russ, a 2016 CLS graduate, won the Isobel Cup with her professional hockey team Boston Pride. Katelynn spent her time with the trophy in her hometown, where her achievement was honored in a ceremony at Crystal Lake South with her family, school administration, and City of Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian.

"I feel very honored to be able to share the Isobel Cup with my high school. While I didn't get to play for South directly, all of my teachers and many of my fellow students supported me in my career so it is only fair I share the cup with them," said Katelynn.

"Winning the cup is a dream come true. When I was young, the only cup I could dream of winning was the Stanley Cup. Not only did I get to play professional hockey which was not an option when I was young, but I got to win the cup that the next generation of female hockey players get to dream of winning. Winning this cup and sharing it with my hometown hopefully shows the young female hockey players in Crystal Lake that they can dream big and aim to play pro one day!"

Katelynn is currently a biomedical engineer in Boston. 


All D155 Schools Nationally Ranked in the Top 8 Percent
Kari Firak

District 155 schools have all ranked in the top eight percent nationally and the top 12 percent in the state according to U.S. News and World Report's Best Public High Schools 2022 list. Twenty-four thousand public high schools throughout the country were evaluated, with results based state exam performance and college preparedness. 

All D155 schools ranked in the top 100 in Illinois; with Cary-Grove earning the no. 54 spot in the state, Prairie Ridge earned no. 55, Crystal Lake South sits at no. 66, and Crystal Lake Central is at no. 83 in Illinois rankings. More than seven-hundred schools in Illinois were evaluated for this prestigious list.

"This type of prestigious recognition is a testament to the supportive families in District 155 along with the staff and students' determination and dedication towards learning." said Steve Olson, D155 Superintendent, "Our mission is to empower students to Enter with Promise and Leave with Purpose. These rankings are proof of our commitment to excellence and preparing students for the future."

To view the full Best Public High Schools list, and further detailed results of D155 high schools, please click here.

CLS Junior Wins ACES State Championship
Kari Firak

Crystal Lake South junior Trini Feng was named state champion in the ACES Academic Challenge competition in the area of English.

"To me, winning state is proof of the journey that I've taken in my knowledge, but it also motivates me to continue learning. ACES has taught me that there's always something new to discover," said Trini.

Trini is the first ACES state champion from CLS in nearly 20 years!

"ACES is always a challenging experience, testing things far beyond what I normally learn in school. But because of that, it's so rewarding too."

District 155 Art Students Receive $5.6 Million in IHSAE Scholarships
Kari Firak

Art students throughout the district received $5,695,000 in art scholarship offers this year from the Illinois High School Art Exhibition/Art ConnectED. Thirteen D155 seniors were also selected to showcase their artwork in the 2022 Senior Scholarship Exhibition at the Bridgeport Art Center on March 13, an honor extended only to select scholarship recipients. 

“This is an incredible opportunity for our students to have their artwork reviewed by a large number of colleges,” said Crystal Lake Central art teacher Kerry Parrish. “The scholarship money students have been offered can change a student's college choice.”

The Senior Scholarship Exhibition brought together elite student artists from 130 Illinois high schools to compete and celebrate their artist achievements; it is the state's most prominent student scholarship exhibition. In addition to the Senior Scholarship Exhibition, IHSAE hosted two other programs.

The Northern Regional Exhibition “Best of the Best” featuring over 500 works of art competing for prestigious awards, and “The Art Throwdown”, a visual arts contest where students compete in a timed art challenge. These programs offer additional scholarship opportunities for competing students. Twenty-one D155 students were selected to exhibit in the Best of the Best show and five competed in The Art Throwdown.

The mission of IHSAE, now Art ConnectED, is to advance art education for young people by providing art exhibition and education opportunities that celebrate students' artistic achievement, promote mastery and ingenuity in learning, and facilitate post-secondary opportunities. To date, Art ConnectED has provided $360 million in senior scholarship offers and $500,000 in early college program scholarships since 2013.

South Custodian Saves Student’s Life
Shannon Podzimek

Mike Cruz, a custodian at Crystal Lake South High School, was in the right place at the right time on Friday, February 18. Fifth hour lunch period was just beginning at 10:45 a.m. when he was making his rounds and cleaning tables in the cafeteria.

Alexis Bennett was eating lunch after PE, and she was sitting alone when she began to choke.

“I took my first bite and food was lodged in my throat when I swallowed. I couldn’t talk because I was choking,” said Bennett.

She reacted calmly and quickly. She stood up trying to dislodge the food herself and realized she needed to find an adult immediately when she approached the custodian struggling to breathe.

“I thought she had to vomit so I grabbed a trash can and then realized she was choking. I tried to vocalize what I was going to do. I told her I was going to pat her on the back a few times and see if that helps,” said Cruz. “Nothing happened, so I said I was going to try the heimlich. It didn’t work the first time.”

That’s when the school security officer walked up and made a call over the radio to the school nurse and administration that a student wasn’t breathing in the cafeteria. Cruz performed the heimlich a second time when the food came out. He grabbed a water bottle for the student as the nurse and vice principal arrived and then he went back to work. Bennett was taken to the nurse’s office to be evaluated.

“The heimlich didn’t hurt like I thought it would,” said Bennett. “He just helped me out when I needed him. I haven’t really seen him around and I would thank him for saving my life.”

Cruz said he knew what to do because of training from a first aid class he took before his son was born almost three years ago.

“My wife made me enroll in a class with her. It was a good thing because it stuck with me. I learned how to perform CPR and the heimlich on an infant, toddler and adult,” he said. “It’s one of those things that you learn, but hope you never have to use. I’m glad I took the class.”

Bennett said she’s doing well since the incident. She's proud of herself for not panicking and getting help quickly.

“It’s really important to find someone who can help because you’re going to need help,” she said. 

CLS Theatre Celebrates the Close of Mamma Mia!
Kari Firak

Congratulations to the students and staff whose time and hard work went into this year's production of Mamma Mia! All performances were met with rave reviews and thunderous applause. 

CLS Wrestler Shane Moran Wins at State
Kari Firak

After competing in the 2022 IHSA wrestling state finals, Crystal Lake South senior Shane Moran is the new state champion in the 160 division!

D155 Students Show Kindness with Cards for 'Hearts for Healthcare'
Kari Firak

To show support of local healthcare professionals, students from all D155 schools put their art skills to work by creating cards of appreciation. Over 800 messages of support were delivered to hospitals in McHenry County on Random Acts of Kindness Day, Thursday, February 17. 'Hearts for Healthcare' was organized by Project Front Line, an initiative formed to support front line workers throughout the pandemic, and enlisted the help of art, family & consumer science and life skills classes throughout the district.

CLS Hosts 'Love Your Career Day'
Kari Firak

Students at Crystal Lake South High School celebrated Valentine's Day with the inaugural Love Your Career Day! Twelve guest speakers shared their expertise in a variety of occupations including finance, civil engineering, nursing, auto repair, marketing, food industry, law enforcement, and physical therapy. This was a wonderful way to explore different career paths by partnering with experienced professionals in our community. Thank you to all our guest speakers!

CLS Student Services Awarded RAMP Certification
Kari Firak

The CLS student services team has again been awarded RAMP certification by the American School Counseling Association!

Every five years after receiving the designation, schools must reapply in a process that involves program goals, data analysis, intervention implementation, advisory models, tier 1 counseling curriculum delivery, and more.

This honor is a testament to the successful programs they've spearheaded, and their continued commitment and support of students.

D155 Celebrates Student Artists in SPARK Show at the Dole
Kari Firak

SPARK was truly a standout show! This annual all-district art show showcased artwork from a talented group of CLC, CLS, Cary-Grove, Prairie Ridge and Haber Oaks students. D155 art educators Aaron Cummins, Lindsey DiLeo, Wendy Guss, Bob Hewett, Michelle Kidd, Rigel Nelson, Kerry Parrish, Judd Shutt, Taylor Smith and Zachary Wisser curated this remarkable show at the Dole. The closing was celebrated in a gathering of students, families, staff and community to the background beat of the CG jazz ensemble.


Josh Nobilio Named Kishwaukee Region High School Principal of the Year
Kari Firak

Crystal Lake South Principal Josh Nobilio was named 2021-2022 High School Principal of the Year by the Illinois Principals Association for the Kishwaukee Region!

Each year these IPA Awards reward a few select school leaders, calling attention to their achievements and dedication to school and community.

ISAC Names 206 D155 Students as IL State Scholars
Kari Firak

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission recognized 206 D155 seniors as Illinois State Scholars for their superior academic achievement.

Illinois State Scholars represent approximately ten percent of high school seniors from high schools across the state. Students are selected based on a combination of exemplary ACT or SAT test scores and sixth semester class rank.

Each Illinois State Scholar will receive a congratulatory letter and a certificate of achievement from the ISAC.

Congratulations to the following students:

Cary-Grove High School (63 Illinois State Scholars)

Jonathan Aiello
Kate Barklow
Audrey Boldwyn
Kelsey Bowen
Jared Bright
Brandon Burtschi
Maxwell Chappell
Rachel Christensen
Michael Clarke
Adam Coldwell
Victoria Demert
Addisyn Donfris
Jake Drews
Abigail Dziedzic
Elizabeth Fournier
Nicholas Frankel
Justin Freeman
Jolene Gagliano
Michael Gier
Robert Groos
Rannin Gruen
Michael Gustafsson
Ryan Gustafsson
Sydney Hallsten
Abigail Hennessey
Julia Howdeshell
Ryan Huang
Brooke Iverson
James Janke
Katherine Jannusch
Daniel Jauch
Riley Jeschke
Maximus Katsenos
Samuel Kedzior
Kimberly Klawitter
Matthew Kreiger
Michael Kreiger
Nina Kroll
Hannah Lamb
Nicholas Lanser
Thomas Lataweic
Benjamin Loo
Jacob Lukasik
Emma McPherson
Emily Miranda
Anastasiia Mishchenko
Gwenn Moran
Jacob Motz
Samuel Naatz
Jonathon Neal
Mia Nollett
Reyna Novak
Liam O'Connell
Andrew Ortiz
Zachary Petko
Charles Pinter
Andriy Reshevskyy
Braden Wall
Emily Warfield
Madison Wiegant
Nicholas Wojcik
Thomas Wozniak
Ryan Zielinski

Crystal Lake Central High School (49 Illinois State Scholars)

Tara Arghavani
Adam Bengtson
Jack Boulden
Elijah Burleson
Izma Casubhoy
Grace Cullian
Hanna Denlinger
Kaitlyn Ellison
Brynn Fialek
Jacob Furst 
Katherine Garton
Skylar Gladson
Sabrina Godinho Dos Santos
Ana Gomez
Emma Grindstaff
Isabella Hammers
Charles Handley
River Hudon
Benjamin Irwin
Aiden Keck
Paige Keller
Amelia Klebba
Emma Kropke
Ella Levin
Kiera Majzner
Theodore Matik
Lucy Metz
Joseph Moore
Brennan Nacpil
Brecken Noennig
Magdalene Noftz
Matthew Pinion
Nathan Raupp
Nicole Rendon
Anika Richard
Nathan Ryan
Joseph Scaravalle
Jaiden Schraut
Reese Schurter
Austin Steinberg
Kaitlyn Steinberg
Isabelle Szela
Sophia Vega
Natalie Virgil
Molly Vittetoe
Philomena Wallin
Gavin Wang
Brittany Wydra
Shimin Yunker

Crystal Lake South High School (42 Illinois State Scholars)

Divina Arellano
Marissa Baietto
Kathryn Beilstein
Abby Bierkness
Lukas Bjork
Samantha Blake
William Bradstreet
Vrinda Brahmbhatt
Jacqueline Buehler
Peyton Dacy
Luke Dalzell
Linnea Diersen
Maxwell Doyle
Kaitlyn Elwart
Gracelyn Gabel
Elise Gorman
Jonathan Gulakowski
Sarah Hadfield
Kaitlyn Hall
Matthew Horvath
Amy Kobeluch
Christina Lin
Morgan Lowery
Samantha Maari
Ashley Marunde
Skye McCord
Brenna McMonigal
Riya Modi
Saige Mueller
Emma Perez
Qemal Ramadani
Sean Reter
Fernanda Ruiz
Cal Schneider
Ethen Schock
Jackson Schuetzle
Caroline Seidenzahl
Elizabeth Sudbrook
Hailey Webb
Anna Wiggs
Logan Wonnacott
Lily Worline

Prairie Ridge High School (52 Illinois State Scholars)

Clara Ackert
Arya Aitipamula
Cole Anderson
Sophia Anderson
Paige Annen
Vincent Carlini
Michael Collins
Elise Conti
Madison Dennis
Amanda Drozt
Donald Faccone
Maya Flemming
Matthew Fryer
Samuel Gawronski
Kelly Gende
Jackson Gentges
Emerson Genzlinger
William Green
Emma Greetham
Ryan Huellen
Colette Janik
Bridget Jewell
Matthew Johnson
Allison Klauser
Anni Kuningas
David Llanes
Lillian Manley
Kennedy Mark
Kylee McMullin
Madison McMullin
Sarah Mercieri
Sarah Michalak
Abbie Moritz
Amanda Mueller
Nicholas Murawski
John Myers
Mackenzie Nelson
Joseph Pokonosky
Breanna Pollack
Grant Preves
Zachary Scherrer
Samuel Schultz
Tristan Serpico
Elena Smith
Alicia Sosnowski
Samantha Stebbings
Caidyn Sylvester
Alexandra Uhlarik
Mary Wacaser
Leah Walters
Sarah Willis
Madalyn Wozny


Gator Kids Preschool- Register Today! Limited Availability.
Kari Firak

There are a few openings left in the 2022 Gator Kids Preschool PM program, reserve today! The Spring PM session runs 12:25 - 2:00 p.m. from mid-February through early May. Classes meet on Tuesday & Thursday at Crystal Lake South High School. Click here to register, spots are filling fast!

Students Participate in September 11th Ceremony
Shannon Podzimek

Eight students representing District 155’s four high schools participated in the American Legion’s ‘A Day to Remember’ ceremony on September 11 at Union Cemetery in Crystal Lake.

The day marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The Crystal Lake Fire Department and Police Department along with Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian participated in the program and it included a keynote speech from Lt. Col. US Army (Ret.) Ryan Yantis. Lt. Col. Yantis is a Crystal Lake resident and a decorated 9/11 Pentagon survivor who was in the Pentagon when the plane struck.

American Legion Post 171 displayed American flags to represent those who lost their lives on September 11 and in the days following. 

The following students carried their school flags to show support in remembrance of the victims.

Nolan Sharkey & Andrew Mohr, Cary-Grove High School
Noah Quinones & Connor Lezama, Crystal Lake Central High School
Laci Plote & Zayden Beasley, Crystal Lake South High School
Gracie Willis & Anna Siegwald, Prairie Ridge High School

South Student Awarded with Academic Honors from College Board National Recognition Programs
Shannon Podzimek

Marauliana Torres, a senior at Crystal Lake South, excelled in College Board assessments and schoolwork to earn national recognition as part of the College Board’s National Hispanic Recognition Program and College Board National Indigenous Recognition Program.

By the end of this school year, Torres will have completed eight Advanced Placement classes and three dual credit classes.

“I would credit my mom for my success in high school. As a single mother of three girls and a woman who at times has worked two jobs, my mother has taught me motivation and determination,” said Torres. “She has taught me that it is upon myself whether I take the opportunities given to me. It's because of her that I value my education so much. One day I want to give back to her all that she's given to me and one day I will.”

In addition to her achievements academically, Torres is involved in the Crystal Lake South Madrigals, an A Cappella choir and she is a member of the Spanish Leadership Club.

Students who may be eligible for these awards have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and have excelled on the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10, or earned a score of 3 or higher on two or more AP Exams; and are African American or Black, Hispanic American or Latinx, Indigenous, and/or attend school in a rural area or small town.

“I am very passionate about my culture as I am Puerto Rican and am so grateful for the opportunity to have been raised bilingual,” said Torres.

 These National Recognition Programs grant underrepresented students with academic honors that can be included on college and scholarship applications and connect students with universities across the country, helping them meaningfully connect to colleges and stand out during the admissions process.

After high school, Torres plans to attend a four-year university to pursue a degree in Psychology to become a neuropsychologist, and she plans to also pursue a Master's and a PhD. 

“I have always had a passion for Psychology which is the reason why I have taken both AP Psychology and AP Biology. Knowing that I can not only help people change their lives for the better makes me more motivated than ever,” said Torres.

CLS Class of 2021 Earns Over $6 Million in Scholarships
Shannon Podzimek

The CLS graduating class of 2021 includes 342 graduates who earned $6,182,432 in scholarships. Eighty-eight percent of graduates are continuing their education at four-year universities, two-year universities, technical/vocational schools, or trade and apprenticeship programs. 

The class of 2021 will be studying in 28 states. The most popular college destinations for these students are McHenry County College, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois State University, the University of Alabama and Western Kentucky University. 

Graduates are pursuing various fields. Thirty-one percent of students will study careers in the science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field, 10 percent will study advertising, arts, communications, marketing, or public relations, and finally, nine percent of students will study business.

Eight CLS students are serving in the Armed Forces after graduation. One student will serve in the Marines, two will serve in the Air Force, four in the Army, and one student will serve in the National Guard.

D155 Schools Nationally Recognized by U.S. News & World Report
Alex LeMoine

U.S. News & World Report ranked all four District 155 high schools in the top twelve percent of high schools ranked nationwide and all four high schools earned a spot in the top 100 in the state of Illinois. The annual list conducted by U.S. News and World Report is determined based on six factors, including how well students performed on state exams and college preparedness.

Nationwide, nearly 24,000 public high schools in all 50 states were considered and approximately 17,860 were ranked. Cary-Grove ranked 1,500th, Prairie Ridge ranked 1,536th, Crystal Lake South ranked 1,617th and Crystal Lake Central ranked 2,142nd.

In Illinois, 647 schools were considered. Cary-Grove placed 63rd in the state and Prairie Ridge was right behind, ranking 65th in Illinois. Crystal Lake South came in 73rd overall, and Crystal Lake Central was ranked 89th. 

“Each year, I am incredibly proud of the work of our outstanding students and staff that has earned all four D155 buildings a place on this list,” said Steve Olson, superintendent of District 155. “The dedication and perseverance our teachers and staff have displayed in order to continue to provide meaningful education to our students, even in the midst of adversity, is truly inspiring. We look forward to continuing to offer a first-rate educational experience to our students and community.”

To view the Illinois’ Best Public High Schools list, and further detailed results of D155 high schools, please click here.

Class of 2021 Graduation Updates
Alex LeMoine

Dear Seniors,

As we prepare to celebrate the Class of 2021 at this year’s graduation ceremony, we are asking for some feedback from you and your families to plan for a safe and appropriately distanced commencement. This year, graduation will be split into two outdoor ceremonies in our football stadium on Saturday, May 15:

  • Morning ceremony: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

  • Afternoon ceremony: 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Please complete this survey: indicating your plans to attend graduation in-person and your preferred ceremony time. Please discuss your selection(s) with your parents/guardians and complete this survey by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 18. We will use this information to ensure safe physical distancing in our stadium for all graduates and guests in attendance.

We will do our best to accommodate your selection, but please know that due to strict capacity limitations and space restrictions in our stadium, not all students will be able to attend their preferred ceremony. If space does not allow us to schedule you for graduation during your preferred session, you will be scheduled for the alternate session. You will receive an email verifying your scheduled ceremony time on Wednesday, April 21. 

Thank you for your cooperation as we plan to commemorate your time at Crystal Lake South High School together!


Josh Nobilio


Estimados estudiantes de cuarto año (Seniors):

Mientras nos preparamos para celebrar la Clase Graduanda del 2021 en la ceremonia de graduación de este año, les pedimos a ustedes y sus familias que nos brinden sus comentarios para planificar una ceremonia de graduación segura y con una distancia adecuada. Este año la graduación se dividirá en dos ceremonias al aire libre en nuestro estadio de fútbol el sábado 15 de mayo.  

  • Ceremonia de la mañana: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

  • Ceremonia de la tarde:  12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Por favor complete esta encuesta: indicando sus planes para asistir a la graduación en persona y su horario preferido para la ceremonia. Por favor, discuta su (s) selección (es) con sus padres/tutores y complete esta encuesta antes de las 11:59 p.m. el domingo 18 de abril. Usaremos esta información para asegurar un distanciamiento físico seguro en nuestro estadio para todos los graduandos e invitados que asistan. 

Haremos todo lo posible para adaptarnos a su selección, pero tenga en cuenta que debido a las estrictas limitaciones de capacidad y las restricciones de espacio en nuestro estadio, no todos los estudiantes podrían asistir a su ceremonia preferida. Si el espacio no nos permite programar su graduación durante su sesión preferida, se le programará para la sesión alternativa. Recibirá un correo electrónico verificando la hora programada para la ceremonia el miércoles 21 de abril. 

¡Gracias por su cooperación mientras planeamos conmemorar su tiempo en la Escuela Secundaria Crystal Lake South juntos!


Josh Nobilio

CLS Student Awarded Full-Ride to Central Michigan University
Alex LeMoine

Frida Ferrusquia, a junior at Crystal Lake South High School was awarded the Multicultural Advancement Award of Distinction at Central Michigan University. She will receive a full tuition scholarship to Central Michigan University and will attend as an undergraduate student after graduating from Crystal Lake South in 2022.

The Multicultural Advancement Award of Distinction is a competitive scholarship that recognizes a select few high school graduates for their dedication to promoting underrepresented groups in America while seeking inspiring and academically successful individuals. The scholarship application requires multiple essays and letters of recommendation.

“I dedicated a lot of time and effort to it, but in the end I realized that thanks to all the fundamentals that my educational institution has given me, this process was very efficient, since in reality what the scholarship was looking for were qualities that I have already acquired little by little throughout my life,” said Ferrusquia.

After Ferrusquia submitted her application, she was selected as a finalist and went through an interview process with CMU faculty.

“When I received the scholarship, I was in remote classes. It was Friday, February 26, it was my 9th period, I had been waiting for the call and when I saw that I received a call from Mount Pleasant I couldn't believe it,” said Ferrusquia.

During her time as a Crystal Lake South student, Ferrusquia has felt supported and at home. Due to her passion for other cultures, she participates as a leader in both the Spanish and German clubs. 

“Frida has been gifted with the ability to overcome challenging situations and she has done so with a smile on her face. Her positivity is infectious and she will be remembered by our staff for years to come. We are proud of Frida as a GATOR, and we are excited to see all the great contributions that she makes at Central Michigan,” said Josh Nobilio, Crystal Lake South principal.

Though she acknowledged that this year has been difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferrusquia believes her hard work has paid off. 

“I will study Dietetics and at the same time thanks to this scholarship I will be able to share part of my beautiful roots. Being Mexican fills me with pride. I love everything about my culture, and being able to teach others about it makes me very happy,” she said.

Ferrusquia is most excited to make her family proud and hopes to inspire other students who may think a college education is out of reach due to finances or other challenges.

“They will know that nothing is impossible if you push yourself and push yourself all the time,” said Ferrusquia.

Crystal Lake South Student Wins $25,000 Through Horatio Alger Scholarship
Alex LeMoine

Sophia Manera, a senior at Crystal Lake South High School, was selected as a National Horatio Alger Scholar and will receive $25,000 towards college tuition. The award is part of one of the largest college financial aid programs in the country and focuses on character, perseverance, and applicants’ experience with overcoming adversity. Only 106 high school students were selected nationwide.

Manera applied for both the state and national scholarship with an essay about Maya Angelou, a former member of the Horatio Alger Association, who served as a source of inspiration to overcome the challenges Manera has faced. Manera received a phone call from Alexandria, VA informing her that she had been selected as a National Horatio Alger Scholar.

“I wanted to apply for the scholarship because education is something that is super important to me, and my experiences and hard work have contributed tremendously to who I am today and what I want to do in the future,” said Manera.

She is now a member of an elite group of scholars who were selected from a pool of over 320,000 applicants. Manera says she is grateful to have this community of like-minded students who she can relate to to take with her through college and beyond.

After graduation, Manera plans to attend a four-year university and study social work. She hopes to use her degree to advocate for children and youth who have been affected by sexual violence. 

At Crystal Lake South, Manera said she felt supported by staff who went above and beyond for her during the application process and her academic career, including South principal, Josh Noblio, and Manera’s school counselor, Kyle McCaughn. 

“I feel so seen and supported as a  part of the CLS community and am surrounded by adults that I know genuinely care about me as a person,” she said.

Manera’s biggest piece of advice for her fellow classmates is to pursue what they are passionate about and never think of a scholarship or academic opportunity as out of reach.

“Seek out your resources and even if something seems like a one in a million chance, go for it because you may be exactly what they are looking for. Hard work, dedication, and work ethic really pay off,” said Manera.

Crystal Lake South Staff Continues Tradition of Delivering Handwritten Letters to Juniors
Alex LeMoine

For the past four years, Crystal Lake South High School has established a tradition of sending handwritten notes of inspiration from staff members to students in their junior year. This year, teachers and staff at South wrote and delivered over 340 individualized cards. Students enrolled in hybrid learning received their messages at school, while administrators hand delivered notes to students in full-time remote learning.

“I wrote how this year has been tough and that I am proud of how they handled/are handling the circumstances. I just asked that they do their best to finish up their junior year and wanted them to feel like I was in their corner,” said Zach Wisser, an art teacher at South.

Lori Ratliff, vice principal at Crystal Lake South, noted that nearly all students were claimed in the first hour of sharing a spreadsheet of names with her staff. 

"Students are always surprised when they receive a handwritten card.  They truly appreciate that there is an adult in the building that cares about them," said Patrick Frett, another teacher from Crystal Lake South.

This tradition continues to be a source of positivity for the students and staff at Crystal Lake South, especially as juniors navigate course rigor, standardized tests, and planning for after graduation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers at South and across district 155 remain committed to making a difference in this time of change.

“I have sent a lot of little notes, stickers, keychains, bob ross sticky notes, ect. home in the mail. I have cranked up the Justin Beiber Music and sang and danced like a fool in order to get a few smiles. Anything to lighten the mood and see a few smiles is worth doing in times like these,” said Wisser.

Rosecrance Presents Coffee and Coping: A Virtual Parent Discussion Group
Alex LeMoine

Rosecrance has announced the 2021 schedule for Coffee and Coping: A Virtual Parent Discussion Group. Sessions are held virtually and links will be provided upon registration. 

Each session will begin with an informational presentation followed by an open, honest discussion to deal with the challenges of parenting in the pandemic. All meetings are confidential.

January: Isolation & Engagement
Facilitator: Meghan Chamberlain

Tuesday, January 19, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 21, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Tuesday, January 26, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 28, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

February: Conflict Resolution 
Facilitator: Shawn Garry

Tuesday, February 2, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 11, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Tuesday, February 16, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 25, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

March: Emotional Support
Facilitator: Melissa Walton

Tuesday, March 2, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, March 11, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Tuesday, March 16, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, March 25, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Rosecrance is a leading provider of treatment services for individuals with substance use and mental health disorders. Nearly 50,000 children, teens, adults, and families receive help each year.

Five D155 Students Named National Merit Semifinalists
Alex LeMoine

The National Merit® Scholarship Program named five District 155 seniors as 2020 National Merit® Semifinalists. The semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and are the highest-scoring students in each state.

Max Beck - Prairie Ridge

Luke Kim - Prairie Ridge

Alexander Kitchen - Crystal Lake South

Henry Ryerson - Crystal Lake Central

Sajiv Shah - Prairie Ridge

Max Beck, a senior at Prairie Ridge, is part of the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team that was founded last year, along with the math team and the EIU Academic Challenge team. Outside of school, he is part of an international community of people writing music for retro computers and game consoles, for which he has written songs, helped build a website, and run a few livestreams. Beck is on track to graduate from Prairie Ridge in December 2020. Afterward, he plans to spend time in the workforce before attending college to study computer science and 3D graphics.

Luke Kim has also been selected from Prairie Ridge High School. Kim is a senior involved in National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Student Council, LINK Crew, Spanish Club, and Varsity Academic Challenge (ACES) team. This spring, he established an outreach program called Fútbol for Hope partnered with HOPE's IN, a nonprofit based out of Barrington, which sends supplies and staple foods to Guatemala City, an impoverished community that was deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kim also volunteers at TOP Soccer, a local organization that works with children with special needs and allows them to develop teamwork and soccer skills in a safe and supportive environment. 

“I hope to study at a university after high school, specializing in incorporating sociology and medicine to help make the world a better place. I'm not sure what college exactly I will be attending, but hope to go to one that fits my interests and allows me to really grow,” said Kim.

Zander Kitchen is a senior at Crystal Lake South High School. He has been recognized as a National AP scholar and is involved in National Honor Society, Student Council, drumline and band, the Crystal Lake South math team, and is a student member of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME). Kitchen is also a varsity wrestler and has served as an AVID program tutor. After high school, Kitchen plans to study engineering and eventually serve in the military as a fighter pilot.

Henry Ryerson attends Crystal Lake Central High School. The senior is passionate about anything to do with computers. He is involved in Computer Club at Crystal Lake Central and his hobbies include coding, video games, and working independently on projects. Ryerson’s plan is to attend college in the future.

Sajiv Shah is the Co-President of National Honor Society, plays football for Prairie Ridge, is a Life Scout in Boy Scouts, is in German National Honor Society & German Club, and competes in Math Team, Scholastic Bowl & the ACES team. He plans to attend a 4-year university, to study economics and mathematics. Shah hopes to pursue a career in finance and eventually move into politics.

High school students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). The exam serves as an initial screening of about 1.6 million students each year.  The semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and are the highest scoring students in each state.

Students will find out if they have advanced to Finalist standing in February 2021. Beginning in March 2021, National Merit Scholarship winners will be awarded.

Crystal Lake South Seniors Intern at Mastertek Auto Repair During Remote Learning
Alex LeMoine

Two seniors at Crystal Lake South High School, Aiden Cornett and Matt Brown, have secured internships at Mastertek Auto Repair in Algonquin, IL. With the help of autos teacher, Steven Dempsey, and Mastertek owner, operator and manager, Dave Hinz, Brown and Cornett are gaining relevant industry experience in their positions at Mastertek.

“I wanted to get into the automotive field, so I asked Mr. Dempsey, my autos teacher, if he actually knew of someone that was hiring and he did, so I put myself out there to get the job and I took the initiative,” said Cornett.

Cornett and Brown are able to expand on what they are learning in their autos classes at Crystal Lake South with various tools and techniques, such as oil changes, tire changes, alignments, and more.

“We talked about a lot of stuff in class and some of it we didn’t have the tools to do it actually in school. We learned what an alignment is, but now we learn how to do an alignment here,” said Brown.

Brown wants to be a technician for the Air Force after graduation, transferring the skills he’s learned on cars to planes. From his perspective, as long as he’s turning a wrench while in school, he’s preparing himself for his future with hands-on experience.

Dave Hinz, manager at Mastertek, said Brown and Cornett have made their resumes stand out while working at his shop. Their skills outpace other students or recent graduates on the job market because they’re gaining valuable industry experience. 

“I feel like I’m ready because I have helped myself here at Mastertek learning the basics and understanding the knowledge of vehicles, a lot more than I’ve taught myself, so that way I can be prepared for what’s to come in the future,” said Cornett.

Crystal Lake South High School Class of 2020
Melina Weil

Ninety percent of graduates in the class of 2020 will continue their studies at four-year colleges, two-year community colleges, and vocational and technical schools. Fifty percent of students are pursuing degrees at four year colleges and universities. Students earned $5,651,050 in scholarships.

The class of 2020 will study in 21 states. McHenry County College, Illinois State University, and Iowa State are the top three schools students will attend this fall. Thirty-five percent of students are interested in studying STEM, 16 percent in marketing/communications, and 12 percent in business. Eight students plan to serve in the armed forces. 

Seventy-one percent of students had developed a connection with most of their teachers. There were 296 graduates in the class of 2020. District 155’s graduation rate is 96 percent and the state’s graduation rate is 86 percent.  

Community High School District 155 has conducted a uniform, district-wide senior survey for the last 13 years.

Fall 2020 Food Service for D155 Students
Alex LeMoine

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Illinois State Board of Education recently announced the extension of the free summer food service program for children ages 18 and under. District 155 will now provide free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals for children who live in District 155 boundaries, regardless of free/reduced lunch status. 

Meals will be available for pick-up at Crystal Lake Central High School, located at 45 W. Franklin Ave. in Crystal Lake (field house entrance off Walkup). Food will be provided Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

For everyone’s health and safety, bagged meals will be placed on a table for drivers to grab and go to limit exposure and adhere to social distancing guidelines. If your child has any food allergies, please check the nutritional labels on food items.

Information about continued meal distribution will be sent out via email to families, and it will also be posted to the school district websites and social media. Questions about food distribution can be directed to

South Student Earns Illinois High School Musical Theatre Outstanding Student Award
Alex LeMoine

Five District 155 students were recognized for their performances in this year’s musicals by the Broadway in Chicago Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards. Over 200 students submitted entries, and 24 students across the state received the Outstanding Actors and Actresses Award. 

Three Cary-Grove High School students, Spencer Bethers, Lauren Henriques and Allan Lopez, received awards for their performances in “The Drowsy Chaperone”. Bethers, a senior at Cary-Grove, portrayed the comedic lead Adolpho. Lopez played Robert Martin and Henriques starred as The Drowsy Chaperone in their final performances at Cary-Grove.

Quinn Welder, a senior at Crystal Lake Central High School, was recognized for his role as Motel in Central’s production of “Fiddler On the Roof”. Ricky Falbo, a senior at Crystal Lake South High School, played Frank Abagnale Jr. in this year’s production of “Catch Me if You Can”.

The Broadway in Chicago Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards (IHSMTA) celebrate excellence in high school theatre throughout the state of Illinois. The IHSMTA recognizes the top submissions based on their excellence in musical theater and a clear commitment to their role. 

Due to COVID-19, all submissions were reviewed by video. The IHSMTA was able to virtually acknowledge the outstanding performances of students across the state despite COVID-19 related cancellations. 

This Week on #WorkforceWednesday: Meet the Co-Founder of Project Front Line
Alex LeMoine

Watch Devon's #WorkforceWednesday video here!

Devon Hubbard Tessmer, a 2001 Crystal Lake Central graduate, has co-founded Project Front Line McHenry County, a grassroots coronavirus relief effort with a mission to aid local restaurants and give back to workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. Tessmer and a committee of four other community members have raised nearly $45,000 towards the cause. 

After recognizing this area of need in the community, the Project Front Line team began collecting donations that have been put towards meals for healthcare workers all across the county. 

“The idea was to raise money from the community and deploy that money at local restaurants to bring a little bit of happiness, joy, a smile to the front line workers,” said Tessmer.

To date, the team has supported 35 to 40 local restaurants and delivered food to approximately 4,000 front line workers. Tessmer and her team aim to raise $50,000 by the end of the Illinois stay-at-home order. 

The project also collaborated with Crystal Lake Central art teacher, Kerry Parrish, who enlisted her art students to create thank you messages that appeared on hundreds of donations, and the deliveries aren’t done yet. 

“We’re hoping to do one last final push, where we deliver to all of the hospitals in the county and all of the employees,” she said. 

Aside from her career in business development at Exemplar, her family’s wealth management firm, Tessmer has always had a passion for philanthropy and giving back. 

“I grew up with the ethos that you give back to your community more than you take, so I was lucky to be raised in Crystal Lake,” she said.

2020-21 Registration Open
Shannon Podzimek

Registration for the 2020-2021 school year is now open. It’s important to follow the three-step process to complete registration to ensure a faster process. Please note, student information can be completed without payment.

If you are new to the district, please contact the Student Services office of the school your child should attend. 

For further registration information, please visit the Registration webpage.

D155 Students Partner with Project Front Line: McHenry County COVID-19 Support
Alex LeMoine

Art students across district 155 have partnered with Project Front Line, a grassroots coronavirus relief effort, to design thank you notes for front line workers across McHenry County during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kerry Parrish, an Art teacher at Crystal Lake Central High School, has collected 200 designs from students at all four high schools. These designs and messages of thanks have accompanied deliveries of food from local restaurants to frontline workers in a variety of fields.

“I feel like it’s been a great way for kids to feel like even though there’s a lot of negativity out there, that this is something they can do to give back,” said Parrish.

In addition to all four district Art departments, Parrish reached out to other organizations at Crystal Lake Central. Students from Kim Scherrer’s choir classes, the National Honor Society, and Interact Club have been asked to make designs, as well. 

Project Front Line has made over 40 food deliveries using nearly 30 local restaurants. Those deliveries have gone to over 3,000 frontline workers, and the need for thank you messages is still high.  

Initially, Parrish offered her students the opportunity to create thank you cards for extra credit points, but said that making the designs has helped many of her students focus and become more motivated while continuing remote learning.

“We’re trying to connect to bigger, global projects so that kids feel connected,” said Parrish.


An Interview with D155 Graduate Dr. Emily Landon
Alex LeMoine

Watch our interview with Emily Landon here:

Emily Landon, MD, graduated from Crystal Lake Central High School in 1995. She is now the Executive Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at UChicago Medicine and has gained popularity for her impassioned speech at Governor Pritzker’s COVID-19 press conference on March 20. 

Landon said that by late January, the effects of the virus in Wuhan, China, where she had traveled many times before, were clear. Even before its severity was clear to the public, she and her team began working full-time on COVID-19. 

“To look at videos of the streets of this place that I had been, and these pictures from hospitals that I had stood in and seen patients...and to see what was happening--it was heartbreaking and it was also terrifying,” said Landon.

Landon was an integral part of Governor Pritzker’s announcement of the Illinois “stay-at-home” order. Landon was contacted by the governor to ask if she would share her remarks as an expert in epidemiology. She said the governor wanted the public to understand the “stay-at-home” order was not merely a governmental decision, but a necessity for public health.

Since that day, Landon’s speech has gone viral, garnering over 475,000 views on YouTube and resulting in a largely positive response from the public. 

She continues to work with Governor Pritzker, members of the healthcare community and economists from the University of Chicago to overcome COVID-19 and develop plans to protect our nation’s economy. 

Her message to the public stays the same. This virus is nothing to be ignored. 

“It’s an opportunity for us all to see ourselves as something bigger than ourselves. The more of us that embrace that, the more of us that there will be,” said Landon.

After completing her residency and fellowship in hospital epidemiology at the University of Chicago, Landon was asked to stay on and now heads a team of doctors and infectious disease experts who treat patients, track infections that appear in the hospital, work to improve care, and are currently fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Even as a medical student, I thought, how can I make care safer [and]  better for patients, how can I make this go better? And I still loved infectious diseases,” said Landon of her passion for improving American healthcare.

Landon’s journey after high school began at Augustana College, where she began studying music. She was a voice major hoping to one day become a musician when she discovered her interest in infectious diseases. Landon then went to medical school at the University of Loyola. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
Shannon Podzimek

D155 recognizes our responsibility to contain the spread and mitigate the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). We continue to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and we are following guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the McHenry County Department of Health as we make decisions. We understand it’s a fluid situation and we will provide timely communication to staff, students, parents, and our community as we receive updates.

The safety and well-being of our students and staff remains our top priority. We are working to develop an FAQ and provide you more information about the district’s plan moving forward.

The CDC recommends the following:

  • Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after your fever* (temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) is gone. 

  • Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicines that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen).

As a parent or guardian, you ultimately make the decision to keep your child home. If you choose not to send your child to school, please call the attendance line to have your child’s absence recorded as excused. 

If you have general questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) please call the Illinois Department of Health Hotline at 800-889-3931 or email:


More Information
D155 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

This Week on #WorkforceWednesday: Grow Your Passion Into a Business with Chelsie Tamms
Alex LeMoine

Chelsie Tamms graduated from Bradley University and in the same year launched her own business, Lettering Works. Tamms was able to harness her passion for graphic design into a company that specializes in custom lettering and uniquely designed products. Her work can be found all across Chicago, most notably in the Field Museum.

Before deciding to study graphic design, marketing and Spanish at Bradley University, Tamms attended Cary-Grove High School and was largely influenced by the Art department and the classes that she took there. 

“I loved taking [the art classes] because of the teachers and their involvement and interest in the students. I think it was a really great way to learn how to problem solve, to learn how things work and don’t work, and just be creative in general, so I still use a lot of those things and those techniques that we kind of learned throughout the basic classes to this day,” said Tamms.  

Following her graduation from Cary-Grove and her undergraduate career, Tamms entered a contest at Bradley University called Project Springboard, which provides start-up funding to students. Tamms’ business idea won, and she used the $10,000 she received to start Lettering Works in 2016. 

What began as making greeting cards in Peoria, IL grew to creating a wide range of products, new designs, and services based in Chicago.

“I think the biggest difference between working for somebody else as a creative and working for yourself, is just having complete control over everything that you do. Owning a business, on one hand, has a lot of differences in that you have to wear a lot of different hats and figure out a lot of different things, but on the positive side you also get to decide what work you want to do,” said Tamms.

Of the many challenges that entrepreneurs face when launching a business, Tamms said her biggest struggle was knowing where to start. While growing Lettering Works, she learned the value of asking questions, recognizing the resources around you, and reaching out to people who have experience in different aspects of business. 

“A great example is going to my dad for help with finances since he has a background in sales and really understands the numbers and how to price things...that's an area that isn’t really of interest to me,” said Tamms, who stressed the importance of having mentors both in and outside of your industry.

“If everyone felt like they were ready when they first started a business, there wouldn’t be very many business owners,” she said.

For the rest of our conversation with Chelsie about the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship, listen to D155’s Workforce Wednesday podcast here.

#WorkforceWednesday is a marketing campaign that provides valuable content to prepare students with life-ready skills and initiates and strengthens workforce partnerships in our community which aligns with the district’s strategic plan.

The #WorkforceWednesday marketing campaign is an opportunity for the district to engage, interact, and have two-way conversations with students, staff, business partners and industry professionals across multimedia platforms. To see more #WorkforceWednesday’s be sure to follow @CHSD155 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

#WorkforceWednesday Speaker Series
Shannon Podzimek

Crystal Lake South is hosting a #WorkforceWednesday Speakers Series February 12 – March 4. The four speakers are focusing on a variety of topics based on student interest.

Robert Cormier of Home State Bank spoke with students about finance careers. Heidi Stevens, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune, shared her experience as a journalist, and Maureen Colleens of Rosecrance spoke about human services. South will host one final speaker on March 4. Timothy Stoll of Armin Tools will talk to students about careers in manufacturing.

The #WorkforceWednesday campaign showcases D155 students, alumni, and industry professionals from a variety of careers. Each week the campaign focuses on an industry professional or highlights skills students are learning to prepare for future careers. To learn more about the campaign, please visit the district’s website and follow the district on social media @CHSD155.

This Week on #WorkforceWednesday: Meet the Founders of Eight-Bot, Inc.
Alex LeMoine

Michael Stonis and Nathan Yorke both graduated from Prairie Ridge High School in 2002. After years working in the field of technology and software development, the two founded Eight-Bot, a mobile application development company based in Chicago, IL.

President of Eight-Bot, Michael Stonis, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and founded a consulting firm prior to the inception of Eight-Bot, considers himself to be a ‘systems architect’.

“I build out a lot of our systems and kind of set up the foundations for what other developers use or what our clients end up using. I do a lot of work with iOS and Android,” said Stonis. 

Stonis’ fellow software engineer at Eight-Bot and longtime friend, Nathan Yorke, followed a similar trajectory. After graduating from Prairie Ridge, Yorke also attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and earned a degree in computer information systems. 

“I’ve always built things...or fixed things, whether it was working with wood or fixing cars,” said Yorke. 

Before coming to Eight-Bot, both district 155 alumni worked in various jobs in their industry. Stonis did auditing for large companies, while Yorke did website development and programming at a large consulting firm. Now, their team works with all different kinds of industries, such as grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturers, construction companies, and more. 

“We have to understand how each company works, how each industry works in order to solve their problems effectively,” said Yorke. 

The market for software engineers, according to Stonis and Yorke, is at an all-time high. 

“If you have the skills for programming, you will be approached by companies with offers and I just don’t see it slowing down at this point in time either,” said Yorke. 

In order to better prepare for a job in the industry, Stonis and Yorke recommend fostering strong communications skills and taking advantage of the opportunity to take elective classes while in high school. 

“If you’re in high school right now, you know that speech class you dread taking where you have to go and stand in front of everybody else and talk, if you’re in a consulting field like we are it’s something that we have to do day in and day out with clients,” said Stonis.

Stonis also underscored the importance of a sense of curiosity over technical skill. When it comes time to hire his own employees, the founder of Eight-Bot said he looks for applicants with a desire to learn and improve their craft.

“Doing your own work to learn new languages in programming, or learn new techniques and things like that is extremely important for software developers to stay relevant….your employer will recognize that, future employers will recognize that,” he said. 

For the rest of our conversation with Michael and Nathan on their work with software development and the creation of Eight-Bot, listen to D155’s Workforce Wednesday podcast here.

#WorkforceWednesday is a marketing campaign that will provide valuable content to prepare students with life-ready skills and to initiate and strengthen workforce partnerships in our community which aligns with the district’s strategic plan.

The #WorkforceWednesday marketing campaign is an opportunity for the district to engage, interact, and have two-way conversations with students, staff, business partners and industry professionals across multimedia platforms. To see more #WorkforceWednesday’s be sure to follow @CHSD155 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

CLS Student Receives QuestBridge Scholarship and Full-Ride to Yale
Alex LeMoine

On December 2, 2019 Armin Daneshbodi, a senior at Crystal Lake South High School, received an email telling him he’d been accepted to Yale University on a full-ride scholarship. Daneshbodi was one of 14,926 applicants who applied for the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship, and one of 1,044 students nationwide who qualified for the award.

“It was probably a day I’ll never forget,” said Daneshbodi. 

Months before, he decided to begin the arduous process of applying for the scholarship designed to match low-income, high-achieving students with some of the nation’s best universities. After being accepted to the College Prep Scholars Program through QuestBridge, in which students are given additional support in the college admissions process, Daneshbodi began his application for the National College Match Scholarship in June of 2019.

In addition to personal information, the application consists of an 800-word biographical essay, a 500-word secondary essay, two 200-word essays and several short answer responses. 

“It’s significantly more writing,” said Daneshbodi. “Which is an awesome thing because the whole point is you’re going up against a lot of other people who want the same thing you do in terms of admission, and it gives you a chance to be able to share more about yourself and the diverse experiences that you have.”

Daneshbodi was chosen as one of 5,842 national finalists and was matched with Yale University, which has an average acceptance rate of six percent. He also listed Stanford, Duke, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania as schools of interest. 

After attending an engineering forum in Chicago, IL, Daneshbodi learned about Yale’s groundbreaking Economics and Computer Science joint program. He knew then that Yale would give him the best opportunity to combine his passion for economics and the study of computer science. 

“The whole point in combining the two of them is to create computer scientists and engineers who are able to think pragmatically about the solutions they are developing,” said Daneshbodi. 

Daneshbodi’s interests go beyond what he plans to study. At Crystal Lake South, he is involved in National Honor Society, the Robotics Club, the Math team, the Academic Challenge team and serves as Senior Class Officer. Some of his favorite classes have been AP Calculus BC and AP Physics C, and he sees his career one day expanding beyond computer science.

“I’ve always been interested in business, so I’d like to get my MBA and hopefully work as a project manager, maybe become president or CEO, if not start my own company,” said Daneshbodi

“He is, like so many of our students, amazing and I love it when they go for seemingly unattainable goals and achieve them. In this situation, it will be life changing for him and his future,” said Karen Audette, who runs the College and Career Center at Crystal Lake South and mentored Daneshbodi during the application process.

Daneshbodi’s advice to other students going through the college search is this: “Never sell yourself short. A year ago I didn’t think attending my dream school Yale was even a possibility, due to finances. QuestBridge made my dream achievable. The most successful people in the world are the people who are able to defy the adversity they face, so remember to never give up.”

CLS Presents “Catch Me If You Can”
Shannon Podzimek

Seeking fame and fortune, precocious teenager, Frank Abignale, Jr., runs away from home to begin an unforgettable adventure. With nothing more than his boyish charm, a big imagination and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer – living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams. When Frank's lies catch the attention of FBI agent, Carl Hanratty, though, Carl pursues Frank across the country to make him pay for his crime. 

Catch Me If You Can is a big and bright spectacle with high-energy dance numbers and a riveting story. It began its life as the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. in 1963, when he began his life of fraud at age 15. After he was caught by the FBI at the age of 22, he wrote a book, published in 1980, detailing his global exploits. In 2002, that book was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. In 2011, that film became a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray) and book by Terrence McNally (Ragtime, Kiss of the Spider Woman). The show earned four Tony Award nominations including Best Musical.

Show Dates, Times & Ticket Information

February 21 - 7:00 p.m.

February 22 - 7:00 p.m.

February 28 - 7:00 p.m.

February 29 – 1:00 p.m.

February 29 - 7:00 p.m.

All tickets are $10*

*CLS Activity passes are accepted at the door. 

To reserve tickets, contact us at 815-893-5199 or buy tickets online beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, January 31.

Buy Tickets Now


CLS Students Qualify for National Business Competition
Shannon Podzimek

Crystal Lake South High School’s Virtual Enterprise company, Unwind, qualified for the National Business Plan Competition in New York City as part of the VEI Youth Business Summit. The group qualified for the event after they took second place out of 35 teams at the Illinois Business Plan Competition in December. 

“Every person in Unwind has worked so hard to achieve this success and we are so proud that all of our hard work paid off. We can't wait to compete in New York and show everyone what Unwind is and what our company stands for,” said Ashley Drzewiecki, a senior at Crystal Lake South High School.

The goal of VEI is to give the students an opportunity to get work experience and grow as young professionals while in the classroom. Twenty-two students are enrolled in the class. Unwind is meant to focus on mental well-being and healthy alternatives for stress relief.   

This school year, the team has placed in the 10 out of 90 firms in six different competitions. They also earned national recognition as a VEI Top 200 Firm and each student conducted a 25-30 minute professional development in-class seminar to help enhance our employees' business knowledge.

“I am proud of them and I am excited that they have this opportunity. They'll be able to share this experience with future employers. The skills they develop in New York are going to help them throughout their academic and professional careers,” said James Krol, a business education teacher at Crystal Lake South.

VEI will be competing in the National Business Plan, National Finance, Marketing and Human Resource competitions. The 2020 Youth Business Summit will take place April 20 through April 23 in New York City. 


Crystal Lake South Robotics Team is Ready for Competition
Alex LeMoine

Since it began four years ago, the Robotics Team at Crystal Lake South High School has grown from 12 students to 35. Led by staff sponsors Katie Koch and Sarah Murmann, the gators are joined by teams from the rest of district 155 and compete in robotics competitions throughout McHenry County.

The team is divided into three groups--the Golden Gators, the Green Machine, and the Swamp Bots--who are each responsible for creating their own robot. After-school practices consist of building the machines, practicing maneuvers, and preparing for competition, but creating these robots involves more than just a desire to assemble them.

“There’s so much more,” said Connor Kirchoff, a junior on the team, “there’s business planning, there’s design, there’s mechanical and electrical engineering.”

The team is made up of students of all grade levels and academic interests. 

“I’ve heard from a lot of people that they think they’re not smart enough for it, but we have a whole range of people on [the team]. There’s some people that never even touch the robot, but there’s some people that’s all they do,” said senior Cassie Rausch.

When it comes time for competition, robots are inspected, scored, and play in matches against other machines. The goal of this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge, called Skystone, is to create a structure that can overcome obstacles and symbolize a hopeful future. 

“I love having a problem that you feel like you can’t tackle and you just have to come at it in a completely new and different way and eventually overcome it,” said Eric Houston, a senior at Crystal Lake South.

“I would say that my favorite part is probably just the feeling of having the accomplishment of finishing a robot,” said Kirchoff.

The Crystal Lake South Robotics Team will head to their first competition of the new semester on Saturday, January 11. The competition will take place at 9:00 am at Crystal Lake South High School.  

ISAC Names 200 D155 Students as IL State Scholars
Shannon Podzimek

Two hundred D155 seniors were recognized as Illinois State Scholars for their superior academic achievement by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Illinois State Scholars represent approximately the top ten percent of high school seniors from 726 high schools across the state. Students are selected based on a combination of exemplary ACT or SAT test scores and sixth semester class rank.

Each Illinois State Scholar will receive a congratulatory letter and a certificate of achievement from the ISAC.

Congratulations to the following students:

Cary-Grove Community High School (56 Illinois State Scholars)

Boldt, Daniel

Bond, Hailey

Brasch, Colin

Briggs, Jenna

Buck, Jacob

Burtschi, Serena

Caesar, Maxum

Carter, Julia

Clarke, Grace

Coleman, Sara

Conneen, Ted

Demert, Mary

Donfris, Ayden

Drage, Allison

Elbert, Emily

Eleftheriou, Lukas

Fisher, Megan

German, Alexis

Gleason, Eamon

Green, Olivia

Gruen, Ronald

Hennessey, Emma

Henriques, Lauren

Hill, Jessica

Johnson, Kelly

Johnson, Lillian

Jordan, Rachel

Kanellakis, Krystos

Kraft, Charles

Kreher, Kimberly

Lilly, Tayanna

Lopez, Allan

Los, Karina

McAlpine, Colin

McGinley, Hannah

Medynskyj, Maggie

Michie, Laura

Mullins, Gareth

Neckopulos, Sofia

Nollett, Robert

Nordin, Alaina

Patel, Ved

Petersdorff, Lars

Rands, Isaac

Schladt, Olivia

Shymkus, Amelia

Simons, Abigail

Smith, Daphne

Stefani, Charlotte

Takahashi, Samuel

Travia, Katherine

Ulmanis, Emily

Voelz, Kierstin

Wellendorf, Landon

Yokup, Jeremy

Zielinski, Connor


Crystal Lake Central High School (41 Illinois State Scholars)

Augustine, Sophia

Bracher, Willem

Branch, Harold

Brickey, Grace

Brucker, Kelly

Carter, Chloe

Cormier, Elizabeth

Costello, Kathleen

Dunham, Lilly

Fiedler, Spencer

Gancayco, Peter

Gonzalez, Vanessa

Harris, Isabelle

Henrikson, Mia

Jenkins, Andrew

Kempf, Makayla

King, Bernadette

Kruse, Kennedy

Lara, Antonio

Levyne, Jenna

Mannuzza, Anthony

Matik, Charlotte

Mendoza, Ryan

Mize, Owen

Montford, Lucas

Passapera, Rachel

Pierzina, Jackson

Pokora, Blake

Pruszynski, Patryk

Reinier, James

Richard, Ketan

Ryan, Clare

Ryan, Zachary

Soden, Isabel

Steenberg, Acacia

Steinberg, Haley

Trowbridge, Joseph

Vittetoe, Samuel

Volling, Natalie

Walsh, Easton

Witsiepe, Sarah


Crystal Lake South High School (45 Illinois State Scholars)

Barry, Cara

Blake, Sydney

Buckley, Lauren

Carroll, Emma

Chang, Allie

Chemaly, Andrew

Cieslik, Jillian

Daneshbodi, Armin

Fater, Evan

Freeman, Alexander

Garth, Alexa

Houston, Eric

Hufford, Carissa

Jones, Emily

Kaczmarczyk, Lucien

Krol, Joseph

Lin, Connie

Lindstrand, Monet

Liszka, Olivia

Lorenz, Timothy

Lowe, Megan

Marable, Daniel

Mehta, Dhruvi

Mleczko, Emma

Mutka, Elizabeth

Patel, Akash

Patenaude, Gianna

Petrouski, Nina

Pham, Matthew

Pillai, Cyril

Pod, Diana

Rausch, Casandra

Resch, Ashley

Rhoades, Jenna

Rimer, Natalie

Rokusek, Katelyn

Safraniec, Madisen

Schoen, Allison

Schuetzle, Sarah

Sisler, Lilli

Szczepanski, Jacob

Tesorero, Kaithlyn

Thobe, Grace

Trier, Gabrielle

Young, Emily


Prairie Ridge High School (58 Illinois State Scholars)

Akerberg, Kevin

Alvey, Spencer

Anderson, William

Andrlik, Payton

Anlauf, Jack

Bainbridge, Jacob

Bartucci, Jack

Bartucci, Joshua

Batliner, Brian

Brown, Aaliyah

Brown, Samantha

Burseth, Lainey

Dobrzycki, Amy

Drozt, Michael

Fist, Ryan

Gelon, Sara

Gindorf, Jo

Gindorf, Julia

Goudschaal, Ryan

Gregory, Nina

Haegele, Chloe

Hanacek, Leah

Harrell, Braeden

Hassan, Ermina

Hochman, Kayla

Hoika, Amanda

Hutson, Tiffany

Jensen, Amelia

Karim, Sarah

Kay, Sophie

Kmiec, Ashley

Konjeti, Neha

Krcik, Anthony

Kucharski, Daisy

Kusmierz, Elizabeth

Larsen, Michael

Lee, Heidi

Lingner, Nicholas

Lotito, Chase

Mahon, Erin

Michaelson, Caroline

Ostrow, Victoria

Pactol, Matthew

Pokonosky, Lauren

Pollastrini, Sarah

Preves, Collin

Rice, Xander

Richardson, Peyton

Robak, Jenna

Rolls, Julian

Scherrer, Joshua

Tomlin, Avery

Vlk, Sabrina

Vrbancic, Tighe

Wegener, Haley

Wehner, Allison

Williams, Sydney

Zang, Megan


Crystal Lake South Boys Soccer Places 2nd in 2019 IHSA State Finals
Alex LeMoine

The Crystal Lake South boys’ soccer team wrapped up their 2019 season with a trip to the IHSA State Championship game for the second year in a row. The gators shut out Triad High School from Troy, IL 2-0 in the state semifinal game on Friday, November 8th to earn a spot in the title match. 

This was the team’s second consecutive trip to the state finals, after having won the title in 2018. Star senior forward, Alex Canfield, led the team to their win on Friday and scored both goals for Crystal Lake South. He finished the season with a record-setting 34 goals and 18 assists.

On Saturday, November 9th, the Gators faced Benet Academy from Lisle, IL. Though they were outscored 2-0 by the Redwings, they closed out the season with a 2nd place finish in the IHSA Class 2A tournament and a repeat appearance in the state title game. 

“A two-year run like this is unimaginable,” said coach Brian Allen. “I’m going to miss all these guys tremendously. They put South on the map in a big way.”

District 155 would like to congratulate all the players, coaches and fans on another incredible season!



D155 Students & Parents Explore Manufacturing Careers
Shannon Podzimek
Eighty-eight students and parents had a unique opportunity to explore local manufacturing careers during the second “Made In Your Own Backyard” event on October 10. The event aims to increase awareness of products manufactured locally; and educate parents and middle and high school students about the diverse manufacturing field.

“I didn’t know that locally they actually make big products like this, so it was really cool,” Dylan Deleon, a Crystal Lake South High School student.

District 155 partnered with feeder districts, General Kinematics, Mathews Company, Precision Waterjet, and Swiss Automation. The Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce founded the event in 2018 and sponsored this year’s event along with the Cary-Grove Chamber of Commerce.

“Most kids in today’s world are focused on going to college and we, as America, need people in trades. And, this is a great way to expose them to that,” said Rob Stuebing, a Cary-Grove parent.

The event began with a brief presentation about relevant coursework offered by each D155 high school. Students and parents then toured two manufacturing companies. The event was free to attend because of generous donations from the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Cary-Grove Chamber of Commerce.

“I signed up for it because I’m taking CNC [precision machining] right now and I really think the machines are cool and I wanted to learn more about them,” said Kathryn Thompson, a Cary-Grove High School student.

This open house event is a localized version of MFG Day, a national day of recognition to inspire a future generation of manufacturers.

Four D155 Students Earn Spot in All-State Theatre Production
Alex LeMoine

Four District 155 seniors were selected to participate in the All-State production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida as a part of the 45th Annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival. Cary-Grove senior, Allan Lopez, and Crystal Lake South high school students, Daniel Marable and Gabrielle Urbina earned spots in the company’s ensemble. Prairie Ridge High School senior, Nicholas Lingner, earned a place in the orchestra. 

“What I have enjoyed most about my participation in this musical is meeting students and staff from different schools as well as the opportunity to work alongside the crew. I’ve really enjoyed bonding with the company as we work towards our common goal,” said Allan Lopez, Cary-Grove senior.

The All-State cast, crew, and orchestra are comprised of top student performers, musicians, and technicians from across the state. More than 175 students auditioned for the musical and only 98 were selected for the final production company.

“Auditions for the production were held at Glenbard North High School in early June. I selected "High Flying Adored" as my audition song as it is similar to the style of the music in Aida. I also had to perform a monologue for the audition,” said Daniel Marable, Crystal Lake South senior.

Rehearsals for Aida will take place over several weekends this fall. Aida runs Thursday, January 9 through Saturday, January 11, 2020, at the Braden Auditorium at Illinois State University. 

“I wanted to be in the All-State production for the opportunity to make music with other great musicians. I love playing percussion and have a great time performing music with other people,” said Nicholas Lingner, Prairie Ridge senior.

The Illinois High School Theatre Festival is the largest and oldest non-competitive high school theatre festival in the nation and is produced by the Illinois Theatre Association.  

Four D155 Students Named National Merit Semifinalists
Rochelle LeBreck

The National Merit® Scholarship Program named four District 155 seniors as 2019 National Merit® Semifinalists. The semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and are the highest-scoring students in each state.

Carissa Hufford- Crystal Lake South
Daisy Kucharski- Prairie Ridge
Robbie Nollett- Cary-Grove
Ved Patel- Cary-Grove

Carissa Hufford is a senior at Crystal Lake South High School. She is involved in choir and theatre and volunteers at BraveHearts, a therapeutic horse barn. Carissa plans to study animal science with a concentration in equine therapy and production. She credits her parents for the National Merit® Semifinalist recognition.

 “I wouldn’t anywhere near where I am right now without their constant love and support and how much they were willing to sacrifice to show that dreams really can come true,” said Carissa Hufford, a Crystal Lake South senior. 

 Daisy Kucharski is a senior at Prairie Ridge High School. She is involved in madrigals, math team, science olympiad, scholastic bowl, and set-crew. During her junior year, she earned a perfect score on the ACT. After graduation, Daisy plans to study finance.

Robbie Nollett is a senior at Cary-Grove High School. He plays the trumpet and sits first chair in the wind symphony, conducts the marching band as a drum major, and is a member of the Cary-Grove swing choir. He also participated in WYSE and is an active member of the National Honor Society. Robbie earned a perfect score on the ACT in February 2019. Robbie plans to attend a four-year university and study materials, chemical, or biomedical engineering. 

Ved Patel is a senior at Cary-Grove High School. He participates in the marching band, math team, WYSE, National Honor Society, and is the captain of scholastic bowl. The senior received a perfect 1600 on the SAT in April and also earned a perfect score on the ACT his sophomore year. Ved plans to study biology or biomedical engineering and wants to eventually go to medical school. For the past year, Ved has volunteered at the Good Shepherd Infusion Center. 

High school students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). The exam serves as an initial screening of about 1.5 million students each year. 

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2020 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.

D155 High Schools Rank in Top 4 in McHenry County
Shannon Podzimek

Chicago magazine recently named the best public schools in the suburbs and all four District 155 schools earned the top four spots in McHenry County. Crystal Lake South High School ranked first, followed by Crystal Lake Central, Prairie Ridge, and Cary-Grove. The top 200 best public schools is featured in Chicago magazine’s September issue.

The methodology used included spending per pupil, SAT scores, 5Essentials, attendance, and graduation rate. Data from the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2017-18 school year was used to determine performance measures.

All four District 155 high schools also have been ranked in the top 10 percent nationally by U.S. News & World report and

Class of 2019 Pursues Education in 28 States
Melina Weil

Eighty-nine percent of graduates will continue their studies at four-year colleges, two-year community colleges, and vocational and technical schools. More than 57 percent of students are pursuing degrees at four-year colleges and universities. The class of 2019 will continue its studies at post-secondary institutions in 28 states.

McHenry County Community College, Illinois State University, and William Rainey Harper College are the top three schools the class of 2019 will attend this fall. Students are most interested in studying health/non-medical science, business, and engineering. Seventeen students plan to serve in the armed forces. 

Ninety-three percent of students say their experiences in school allowed them to learn more about themselves and their personal aspirations. 

Ninety percent of the class of 2019 participated in at least one extracurricular activity. 

  • 22% - Arts

  • 45% - Academic 

  • 64% - Athletics 

Fifty-nine percent participated in volunteer/community service project not sponsored at Crystal Lake South. There were 372 graduates in the class of 2019. 

Community High School District 155 has conducted a uniform, district-wide senior survey for the last 12 years.


District 155 Summer Construction Wraps Up
Melina Weil

All District 155 schools opened successfully on August 14 after substantially completing 22 construction projects this summer. The Board of Education approved $14,552,000 in capital projects for the summer of 2019, including kitchen classroom remodels, tennis courts replacement, air conditioning, and parking lot replacements. 

"We want to thank the community and taxpayers for their support as we continue to enhance our learning spaces to give our students and staff the opportunity to be successful in their future endeavors,” said Steve Olson, D155 superintendent. “We understand the importance of showcasing these projects with our community so they can see how their tax dollars are being spent.”

The district communications office in collaboration with the operations department produced 10 videos to highlight construction updates which were viewed more than 24,000 times and totaled more than 79 hours. Videos are available to view on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @CHSD155 or visit the website to view the projects that were completed.

District 155 Ranks First in McHenry County for Best School District
Melina Weil

Community High School District 155 was named best school district in McHenry County by Niche. Rankings are based on data from the Department of Education, the US Census, and multiple reviews from parents and students. D155 earned the top spot out of 15. 

A senior who wrote a review said, “District 155 cultivates students to be great, and consistently demonstrates excellence. All of the staff are amazing, they always encourage students to do our best.”

Nationally, the district ranked in the top nine percent for best school districts, and placed in the top four percent for the best teachers. In the state of Illinois, D155 ranked eighth out of 638 schools for having the best teachers and placed in the top three percent for the best district. 

One parent review said, “The districts fundamental approach to the student’s education is constantly challenging the teachers and staff to put forth our ideas and experiences to better the way education is presented.” 

Every month, millions of people use Niche to choose the right schools or neighborhoods. Niche has report cards, rankings and reviews that are calculated from public sources along with reviews from parents, students, and residents.  

D155 Board Approves Balanced Budget
Shannon Podzimek

Community High School District 155 held a public hearing and approved a balanced budget at its regularly scheduled August 20 board meeting.  

"We've managed to produce balanced budgets now for five consecutive years," said Jeremy Davis, assistant superintendent of finance & operations. "We've been able to do that while holding our operating tax levy flat multiple times. We're proud of our record with regard to responsible taxation and money management."

District 155, like most Illinois school districts, receives the bulk of its revenue from property taxes. District 155's 2019-2020 budget forecasts $101,163,396 in operating fund revenue. Property taxes make up about 72.7 percent of that revenue. State and federal revenue comprise approximately 15 percent of district operating revenue. District 155's budget also forecasts $100,073,742 of operating expenditures. Salary and benefits make up 77 percent of those expenses.

The full budget and budget presentation can be viewed on the district website at in the finance section.  District 155 first discussed and tentatively approved its 2019-2020 budget in June 2019, prior to the beginning of the district's fiscal year on July 1.

New Award Presented at Honors Night
Rochelle LeBreck

A new award has been added to Crystal Lake South High School’s Honors Night list, the Christopher Keyes Band Award. It was created to honor the legacy of long-time band director Chris Keyes, who impacted generations of music students at Crystal Lake South. Keyes passed away in September.

The first two recipients of the Keyes award are both students who display the love of music Mr. Keyes taught to generations of band students. Jared Reiling and Tyler Stumo were chosen to be the first recipients of the award based on the enthusiasm and passion they have displayed during their high school career.

“It was truly amazing and humbling to be a recipient of an award named after someone whose love for music was unparalleled,” said Tyler Stumo.

Stumo plans to attend McHenry County College and then transfer to Eastern Illinois University on the Louise Lundemo Memorial Music Scholarship. He wants to play trumpet professionally and perform as part of a “big band” ensemble. He is currently playing with the MCC Concert Band, and he plans to play with the Dixieland Jazz Band after graduation.

“It’s a true honor to be recognized. I have always looked forward to attending band each day, and I have so many great memories that I have built being a member of the CLS band,” said Jared Reiling.

Jared Reiling plans to attend Augustana College and double major in music and physics.

CLS Earns Spot on List of Illinois' Best Public High Schools
Rochelle LeBreck

All District 155 high schools earned a spot in the top 100 of Illinois’s Best Public High Schools for 2019. The annual list conducted by U.S. News and World Report is determined based on six factors, including how well students performed on state exams and college preparedness.

Cary-Grove earned the no. 41 spot, Prairie Ridge landed at no. 59 in the state, Crystal Lake South sits at no. 62, and Crystal Lake Central is at no. 70 in Illinois rankings. More than six-hundred schools in Illinois were evaluated for the 2019 list.

“We are proud to have all schools represented on this list,” said Steve Olson, D155 Superintendent, “The results reflect the passion of our teachers and staff as well as the dedication of our students. We hope to continue to instill valuable skills into our students so they can enter our schools with promise and leave with purpose.”

To view the Illinois’ Best Public High Schools list, and further detailed results of D155 high schools, please click here.

Crystal Lake South’s Production of Newsies Nominated for Best Choreography
Rochelle LeBreck

Crystal Lake South High School’s production of Newsies earned a nomination for Best Choreography from Broadway in Chicago’s Illinois High School Music Theater Awards.

“This particular award, Best Choreography, represents the collective, dedicated effort taken by our choreographer, Colleen Cameron, her three dance captains, Grace Adcock, Elizabeth Johnson, and Emily Young, and every member of the ensemble who worked tirelessly to learn, practice, and polish these challenging routines,” said Ben Stoner, Crystal Lake South theatre director.

The choreographer and dance captains started leading workshops last summer that continued into the fall, long before auditions were held.

“I wanted to be a dance captain for this musical because I have wanted to do Newsies since I saw it in Chicago when I was in 6th grade,” said Grace Adcock, Crystal Lake South junior, “I have always had a passion for dance, and I wanted to be able to share my passion with the cast as we continued our production.”

Crystal Lake South High School’s musical department has been recognized by the Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards before. In 2018, their production of Peter Pan won the award for Best Scenic Design.

The IHSMTA awards are on Monday, May 6, 2019 in Chicago.

D155 Students Earn Over $2.7 Million in Art Scholarships
Rochelle LeBreck

Twenty-three District 155 students earned $2,732,272 in scholarships from various art schools and the Illinois High School Art Exhibition (IHSAE). Fourteen Cary-Grove students were awarded $1,848,916, five Crystal Lake South students received $$471,120, and three Crystal Lake Central students received $412,236 in scholarships. The sixth annual IHSAE featured the best student artists from more than 125 Illinois high schools.

“Receiving scholarships has given me the ability to think about going to different schools and choose the best one for me, not just settling for one I can afford. I can now invest more studying art, increasing my skill, and preparing for my career,” said Avery Eskildsen, a Cary-Grove senior.

She plans to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design this fall.

Cary-Grove is one of only 25 schools that had scholarships total over one million dollars in scholarships. Kelsey Anderson, Mickey Dotson, Avery Eskildsen, Quintin Gilbert, Hannah Harvey, Alexandra Kasch, Holly Kopacek, Carlyn Krautsak, Stephanie Kretschmer, Hayden O'Mahoney, Calea Sowell, Ann Talerico, Aislinn Tuminaro, and Constance Ulaszek were selected to showcase artwork at Bridgeport’s Zhou B Art Center and Bridgeport Art Center from February 11 - March 8. Calea Sowell earned an Honorable Mention for her work in the show.

“The positive reaction I got by being a part of both the general exhibition and awarded scholarships through the senior scholarship program has given me more confidence. Attending art school has been a goal of mine, and my family would have found a way to make it happen, but having financial help motivated me,” said Hayden O'Mahoney, a Cary-Grove senior.

Crystal Lake South students Allyn Barnett, Nia-Maya Donka, Hallei Jensen, Lindsey Klotz, and Wilhemina Voegeli from Crystal Lake South High School had artwork featured in show.

Nicole Costantini, Shail Patel, and Elena Starcher from Crystal Lake Central High School were selected to have their art featured in one of eight categories in the exhibit.

Four thousand students, teachers, college representatives and school district administrators attended the state’s largest high school student art exhibition. The Illinois High School Art Exhibition is a not-for-profit corporation with a mission to advance visual arts education through exhibition. It was developed by teachers for students in 2014 and the organization is run by full-time art educators who collaborate with corporate sponsors, art colleges and universities and high school students.

Crystal Lake South Students Qualify for National Business Competition
Rochelle LeBreck

Crystal Lake South High School’s Virtual Enterprise, Unwind, will travel to New York City next month to participate in the National Business Plan Competition as part of the VEI Youth Business Summit. The group qualified for the event after they won first place at the Illinois Business Plan Competition in December.

Unwind was formed during the fall of 2017 and consists of 24 juniors and seniors. The goal of the company is to reduce stress and anxiety in high school students by selling a variety of products. Every student in the organization has specific job, including CEO, COO, CFO, and VP of Product Marketing. 

“For all of us, Unwind has had a huge step in our development, not only as business minded individuals, but as leaders and people,” said Mariano Caballero,Crystal Lake South senior at Unwind.

At the Illinois State Business Plan Competition, the students had to write a 28-page business plan, pitch their company, and answer questions from a panel of judges who acted like potential investors. 

The stakes will be even higher at the the National Competition. Unwind will compete against more than 30 firms for a $10,000 check.

“We are allowed and have worked to improve both our written and oral presentations of Unwind’s business plan,” said Caballero. “We really are working to stand out even more with what we’ve done since the state competition.”

The Unwind group is grateful for having the opportunity to explore the business world in the classroom and some students plan to continue their passion for business when they attend college in the fall.

“I am very excited and thankful for this opportunity in VEI. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a real CFO someday with the experience from this extraordinary organization,” said Julia Lavorata, Crystal Lake South senior. 

The National Business Plan Competition takes place April 15 through April 17 in New York City. 

Rochelle LeBreck

Registration is now open for summer school courses. The deadline to register for semester one is April 26 and the second semester registration deadline is May 31. With the exception of driver’s education courses, all summer school courses will be held at Crystal Lake South High School located at 1200 S. McHenry Ave, Crystal Lake, IL 60014. The main office number is (815) 455-3860. Driver’s education courses meet at the student’s home school.

For a full list of courses and registration information, please download the 2019 Summer School packet.

Unless otherwise noted, a ½-credit may be earned from successful completion of each semester of summer school coursework. Students may repeat courses they have previously passed, with the higher of the two grades entered on their permanent record. However, the student will only receive credit for the course once. Regardless of the course, all students must be present for the final exams.

The schedule for summer school is as follows, first semester begins Monday, June 3 and concludes Friday, June 21. Second semester begins Monday, June 24 and concludes Tuesday, July 16. Classes meet Monday through Friday. School will not be in session on July 4 or July 5. A daily class time schedule can be found below.

Daily Class Time Schedule
Period 1 . . . . . . 7:30 - 8:20 a.m.
Period 2 . . . . . . 8:25 - 9:20 a.m.
Period 3 . . . . . . 9:25 - 10:20 a.m.
Period 4 . . . . . . 10:25 - 11:20 a.m.
Period 5 . . . . . . 11:25 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.

D155 Board of Education Approves Two New Vice Principals
Rochelle LeBreck

The Board of Education approved Lori Ratliff as vice principal at Crystal Lake South High School and Kevin Koeppen as vice principal at Prairie Ridge High School on Thursday, January 24. They will begin their roles on July 1.

“Beyond the experience both Lori and Kevin bring to these positions, they believe in and demonstrate District 155’s mission to inspire, empower, and nurture our students,” said Steve Olson, superintendent. “Their strengths align with our strategic planning goals specifically in the areas of student well-being and collaborative partnerships, which will benefit our students and move District 155 forward.”


Lori Ratliff is a proud alum of Crystal Lake South High School, and she will transition from her role as assistant principal for educational services into the vice principal position. She also has served as a humanities division leader and English teacher at South since 2002. Ratliff has worked to implement new social-emotional supports for students, create a new model of professional learning for teachers and help students connect career paths to course selection.


“I am so proud of the progress we are making to ensure that social-emotional learning is at the heart of our curriculum. I’m humbled and excited to serve my school and my district in this way,” said Lori Ratliff, Crystal Lake South vice principal.


Kevin Koeppen joined District 155 in 1999 and has served as a division leader of industry and careers and wellness for the last five years and department chair prior to that. He also served as an assistant athletic director and coach. Koeppen has initiated various partnerships with educational stakeholders and community members in an effort to connect curriculum to real life applications and expose students to career opportunities.


“Preparing young adults socially, emotionally, and academically for future endeavors beyond their high school years has always been a passion of mine. I believe it is imperative to give students opportunities to learn college and career-specific skills through all content areas in order to prepare them for their future endeavors,” said Kevin Koeppen, Prairie Ridge vice principal.


Joe Cole, vice principal at Crystal Lake South High School, and Lisa Connell, vice principal at Prairie Ridge High School, will retire later this year. Connell began her career in District 155 in 1986 and Cole joined the district in 1987.

D155 Parent University
Rochelle LeBreck

D155 will host its 11th Annual Parent University on Saturday, February 16 at Prairie Ridge High School from 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Click here to download the Parent University Packet & Registration Form.


Walk-in Registration              8:00 - 8:30 a.m.

Schedule Pick-Up                  8:15 - 8:30 a.m.

Keynote Address:                 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Breakout Session A               9:40 - 10:30 a.m.

Breakout Session B               10:40 - 11:30 a.m.

Breakout Session C               11:40 - 12:30 p.m.

About the Keynote Presentation

We are responsible for raising a future generation of healthy, resilient adults.  Developing confidence, problem solving strategies, distress tolerance and communication skills are fundamentals that are imperative for our children to learn before launching into adulthood.  We also want our children to have confidence that they can handle difficult situations, overcome adversity, and even bravely face failure.  In doing this, we prepare our youth to move beyond their physical and emotional boundaries, recognize their capabilities, know their strengths and weaknesses, and learn that failure is just as important as success.

About the Keynote Presenters

Jacqueline A. Rhew, LCPC and Dr. Robin Choquette have combined over 35 years working with professionals and parents clinically and have provided over 400 trainings both locally and nationally on a wide array of topics relating to parenting strategies and raising resilient children through goal directed parenting. Their approach

of purposeful parenting has helped hundreds of parents develop plans unique to their families, and gain confidence in their parenting strategies to help raise healthy and successful young people.

Eighty Business Law Students Participate in Mock Trial
Melina Weil

Eighty Crystal Lake South and Cary-Grove High School students participated in a Mock Trial on December 7. Students prepared, planned, and organized this event by working with State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and his office staff. Each year the cases are written by the Illinois State Bar Association for High School Mock Trials. Students from both Crystal Lake South and Cary-Grove took on roles of defense and prosecutor attorneys, as well as witnesses and jurors from each school.

Student attorneys and witnesses prepared with a State's Attorney for one class period prior to the event and one hour before the event. During the trial, a State's Attorney sits with them and guides them during the opening statements, direct examination and indirect examination of witnesses as well as during the closing statements. This year, the Assistant State’s Attorneys Theresa V. Kaman and Brette Dunbar helped with Cary-Grove, and Michelle Clesceri and Bobby Zalud helped with Crystal Lake South.

This has been a very successful and rewarding learning experience for our students and we hope to continue it in the future,” said Theresa Miller, Cary-Grove’s Business Education Teacher.

For the past three years, District 155 Business Law classes have been participating in Mock Trials at the McHenry County Government Center. 

260 D155 Students Named ISAC State Scholars
Rochelle LeBreck

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) recognized 260 D155 students from the graduating class of 2019 as Illinois State Scholars, a prestigious honor.

Illinois State Scholars represent approximately the top ten percent of high school seniors from 757 high schools across the state. Students are selected based on a combination of exemplary ACT or SAT test scores and sixth semester class rank.

“Our students take pride in their learning and our teachers are committed to providing engaging lessons. This prestigious honor recognizes our students’ hard work and academic achievements,” said Steve Olson, superintendent.

The full list of D155 students named 2019-20 Illinois State Scholars are listed below:

Cary-Grove High School (70 Scholars)

Anderson, Bailey

Anderson, Erica

Angeles, Lizbeth

Anthony, Samantha

Aulert, David

Berg, Calvin

Bivin, Kayla

Boldwyn, Emma

Brackett, Sarah

Bragg, Alyssa

Bright, Abigail

Calhoun, Kristen

Camargo Quintero, Juan

Clesceri, Dominick

Cook, Kimberly

Coronado, Matthew

Cortes, Oscar Martin

Cotting, Michelle

Dale, Danielle

Dickson, Ronald

Dodge, Jacob

Eidukeviciute, Gabriele

Feuerhelm, Trey

Forney, Tyler

Freeman, Brian

Gahan, Ethan

Geist, Emily

Glowinski, Katelyn

Gourdie, Carson

Harbeck, Megan

Harding, Samuel

Harrington, Olivia

Harvey, Hannah

Hicks, Lilly

Hill, Emma

Hintz, Renee

Howdeshell, Sarah

Ireland, Nessa

Jannusch, Maddie

Kmiec, Henry

Kreutzer, Kyle

Kroll, Daniel

Larry, Elsa

Magnini, Miles

Naatz, Lucas

Nolan, Stephanie

O'Brien, Thea

O'Rourke, Tarryn

Patel, Deep

Pokorny, Sara

Puhar, Natalie

Rathe, Nicole

Roth, Thomas

Saini, Karina

Schmidt, Cooper

Sepeczi, Alex

Shannon, Olivia

Sheehan, Kailyn

Smith, Andrea

Spillane, Allison

Steinkamp, Bailey

Stelzer, Stephanie

Taczy, Benjamin

Thallemer, Alyssa

Ulaszek, Constance

Wageman, Nicholas

Walter, Madison

Warner, Ava

Watkinson, Parker

Wozniak, James


Crystal Lake Central High School (54 Scholars)

Agress, Bridget

Arndt, Madison

Burgess, Olivia

Camacho, Nicholas

Collins, Thomas

Davis, Alison

Dillon, Neil

Fenton, Daniel

Fisher, Taylor

Fogel, Amy

Giberson, Leah

Gladson, Morgan

Goze, Austin

Haney, Gavin

Heffernan, Colin

Heidt, Robert

Hildebrandt, Lily

Hudon, Shelby

Irwin, Eden

Janis, Megan

Jones, Alexis

Kershaw, Alexander

Khandeshi, Aditya

Kohls, Annika

Korn, Benjamin

Larsen, Anna

Livergood, Brittany

Locascio, Michael

Montford, Brock

Moore, Joshua

Mordi, John

Mugler, Abigail

Munn, Jack

Naughton, Madeline

Opal, Alexa

Orvis, Rebecca

Pipitone, Hannah

Podpora, Arden

Power, Megan

Revnew, Jacob

Schoepel, Brandon

Shuman, Ian

Sprandel, Bridget

St. John, Alyssa

Starks, Cecelia

Sysol, Gabrielle

Timmerman, Alexander

Vanscoyoc, Grace

Vesely, Keegan

Vito, Abigayle

Weckerlin, Carl

Welder, William

Wrbanek, Matthew

Zukowski, Frances


Crystal Lake South High School (71 Scholars)

Amoruso, Jacob

Becker, Angela

Beckwith, Olivia

Bernabe, Emily

Bogacz, Dominik

Bolin, Brooke

Bregenzer, Eric

Campbell, Scott

Campion, Joshua

Castro, Cameron

Castro, Connor

Chingakham, Ridhi

Ciavarella, Jakob

Dabrowski, Tiffany

Dunteman, Brooke

Edge, Andrew

Ellers, Mallory

Fisher, Hannah

Foydl, Grant

France, Jacob

Freeman, Alexander

Geske, Benjamin

Gray, Liam

Hall, Tyler

Hausch, Benjamin

Helm, Michael

Hunter, Casey

Hunter, Nora

Huq, Sania

Jenkins, Benjamin

Jewson, Evan

Kleiner, Ethan

Klotz, Lindsey

Klotz, Stephanie

Kocemba, Jacob

Koh, Nathanael

Kossoff, Seth

Kubitz, Matthew

Langdon, Nicholas

Lavorata, Julia

Lawson, Kate

Lawson, Ryan

Leva, Kailynn

Mathews, Haylee

McMonigal, Shane

Meissner, Samantha

Michaels, Aaron

Minogue, Daniel

Mutka, Katherine

Newton, Lindsay

O'Connor, Trevor

Ogawa, Sora

Olsen, Skylar

Palmer, Samuel

Patel, Akshat

Pfeifer, Clayton

Poulos, Jacob

Reall, Matthew

Reiling, Jared

Reter, Mackenzie

Schumaker, Jamison

Simon, Benjamin

Smith, Keegan

Smith, Kelsey

Stotz, Mairead

Stripp, Brian

Szczepanski, Noelle

Wiese, Elyse

Wittig, Brandon

Woodlock, Macey

Wruck, John


Prairie Ridge High School (65 Scholars)

Abushamma, Sarah

Adrowski, Christopher

Anderson, Nicole

Beadell, Cassandra

Bradshaw, Kaitlyn

Burseth, Matthew

Carey, Madeleine

Carpenter, Gabrielle

Carr, Samantha

Collins, Halie

Cook, Timothy

Dooley, Logan

Dorn, Nicole

Emery, Megan

Farnam, Emelia

Fredrick, Hunter

Gasparov, Angelina

Gende, Drew

Gentges, Samuel

Greetham, Camron

Greiner, Jared

Gunwall, Abby

Hahn, Melanie

Hensley, Sylvia

Hering, Michael

Jackowski, Mia

Jensen, Grant

Johnson, Amber

Keaty, Chloe

Kim, Madelyn

Klimkowski, Abigail

Kochmanski, Adrian

Kolodzik, Ann

Lim, Ruth

Lindahl, Julia

Maguire, Timothy

Manley, Jacob

Mathes, Liam

Michalak, Michael

Munk, Ethan

Murawski, David

Noorullah, Adnan

Pascente, Sophia

Pieroni, Michaela

Popovich, Margaret

Relic, Ross

Rider, Hannah

Saini, Aneil

Salvatore, Sarah

Schwallie, Trevor

Shorten, Jillian

Shutters, Nathan

Sitzberger, Jacob

Sureshkumar, Akash

Sveden, Carolyn

Switzer, Hannah

Teegen, Skyler

Theil, Kaitlyn

Trigo, Sera

Walls, Jonathan

Walsh, Rachel

Waterson, Kenneth

Willis, Jackson

Wren, Eliza

Yeomans, Hope

Register for the 2019 GEMS Conference
Rochelle LeBreck

The fourth annual GEMS conference is at Cary-Grove High School on January 26, 2019. Parents are invited to participate in the college and career expo as well as the opening activity. At 10 AM, the students will participate in small group activities. Parents are invited to return at noon for the closing activity. The conference will conclude at 12:30.


For more information, please visit the GEMS webpage​.

D155 Culinary Program Offers Certifications and College Credit
Shannon Podzimek

District 155 students are one step ahead of their peers gaining valuable certifications and college credit in the Culinary Arts program at Crystal Lake South High School. The program offers students the opportunity to earn two certifications, the Food Handler Certification and Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification, which gives students the advantage when applying for jobs.

Last year, 134 students earned the Food Handler’s Certification, and five earned the Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification. In addition to earning certifications students can earn college credit. Five students received dual credit through McHenry County College (MCC).

Culinary Arts I & II Commercial were offered during the 2017-18 school year and focus on nutrition and food preparation including food service and meal management. This school year, students have the option to enroll in Advanced Culinary Commercial. Students cook regional and ethnic dishes, gourmet desserts, cater, and have experience with a mock-restaurant. These courses will provide valuable insight, skills, and knowledge for students.

South’s commercial kitchen is a state-of-the-art facility featuring six food preparation stations, a classroom that also serves as a dining room, a dry storage room, a walk-in cooler, and a wash and storage area.

The culinary program at South continues to grow, enrollment is up in the culinary arts commercial classes by nearly 30 students for the 2018-19 school year. Students district-wide are eligible to enroll and travel to Crystal Lake South for these classes. Seven students will travel from other D155 schools to Crystal Lake South during the 2018-19 school year. ​



Rochelle LeBreck

The National Merit® Scholarship Program named thirteen District 155 seniors as 2019 National Merit® Semifinalists.


Dominik Bogcaz- Crystal Lake South

Scott Campbell- Crystal Lake South

Oscar Cortes- Cary-Grove

Aditya Khandeshi- Crystal Lake Central

Daniel Minogue- Crystal Lake South

Joshua Moore- Crystal Lake Central

Casey Mutka- Crystal Lake South

Trevor O’Connor- Crystal Lake South

Arden Podpora- Crystal Lake Central

Matthew Reall- Crystal Lake South

Ross Relic- Prairie Ridge

Akash Sureshkumar-Prairie Ridge

Dominik Bogcaz is a senior at Crystal Lake South High School. He is on the student council executive board, president of National Honor Society and is the founder and president of the Crystal Lake South pre-medical society. He is also part of the math team. Dominik hopes to attend the University of Michigan, New York University or the University of Washington to study neuroscience. Dominik volunteers through NHS, Kiwanis Key Club, and the Crystal Lake Food Pantry.

Scott Campbell is a senior at Crystal Lake South High School. He is the Gator Nation Leader for the Crystal Lake South hockey club and participates in track and field in the spring. Scott plans to study either biomedical engineering or cinematography. Scott has volunteered for Immanuel Lutheran Middle School and CLS aevidum.

Oscar Cortes is a senior at Cary-Grove High School. He is involved in math team, science olympiad, and WYSE. Oscar plans to attend a four-year-college after graduation, with his top choices being Stanford University, MIT, and Harvard University. He plans on studying physics with a possible minor in math.

Aditya Khandeshi is a senior at Central Lake Central High School. He is involved in science olympiad, math team, WYSE, scholastic bowl, and the VEX robotics team. He is currently exploring what college he will attend and what subject he will study.

Daniel Minogue is a senior at Crystal Lake South High School. He is involved in math team, WYSE and the tennis team. Daniel wants to receive his doctorate in physics and work at a privatized tech company or conduct research at a university or work at CERN. Daniel volunteers at the Crystal Lake Food Pantry, Helping Paws, and Feed My Starving Children.

Joshua Moore is a senior at Crystal Lake Central High School. He is involved in symphonic band, marching band, the VEX Robotics Club, WYSE, and the computer club. He also performs with the McHenry County Youth Orchestra and the Crystal Lake Community Band. Joshua is considering a variety of colleges with the hope to study computer science.

Casey Mutka is a senior at Crystal Lake South High School. Casey is involved in variety of extracurricular activities, most notably, the Crystal Lake South Gender and Sexuality Alliance and marching band. After graduation, Casey plans to attend college and become a licensed high school history and/or psychology teacher. Casey participates in a number of volunteer opportunities, from giving out rainbow bracelets at lunch with GSA, to traveling to Denver to learn about homelessness with a youth group.

Trevor O’Connor is a senior at Crystal Lake South High School. He helped launch the bass fishing club during his freshman year with the help of Mr. Wolke and Mr. Nobilio. In addition, he is a part of the tennis team, National Honor Society, intramural basketball, and science olympiad. Trevor plans to attend the University of Alabama, and hopes to complete a dual-degree program and receive both an MBA and his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Trevor is an AVID tutor and sometimes volunteers his time at the Crystal Lake Food Pantry.

Arden Podpora is a senior at Crystal Lake Central. She is a part of the golf team and is involved in scholastic bowl, National Honor Society, WYSE, and is on the leadership board for Interact Club. Arden plans on attending a four-year-university after graduation and wants to study economics, and pursue a career in actuarial or data science. Arden volunteers through the clubs with school and on her own. Her passion is supporting environmental projects such as clean-up days and seed collection with the local conservation district. Over the course of her high school career she has logged over 100 volunteer hours.

Matthew Reall is a senior at Crystal Lake South High School. He is involved in basketball, track, National Honor Society, the gator link crew executive board, an AVID tutor and a member of Spanish Club. Matthew plans to attend a four-year-college where he will study Biology. He is an Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts of America and does volunteer work for Home of the Sparrow.

Ross Relic is a senior at Prairie Ridge High School. He is involved in theatre, madrigal choir, speech, ILMEA for choir, and math team. Ross plans to attend college to study physics, and plans to receive his PhD. During his free time, Ross tutors others in mathematics and science.

Akash Sureshkumar is a senior at Prairie Ridge High School. He is involved in math team, science olympiad, scholastic bowl, WYSE, National Honor Society and is the co-president of German National Honor Society. After graduation, Akash would like to attend John Hopkins University and study cellular biology and computer science. Akash volunteers through NHS and also offers his free time at Goodwill.

High school students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). The exam serves as an initial screening of about 1.6 million students each year.  The semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and are the highest scoring students in each state.

Students will find out if they have advanced to Finalist standing in February. Beginning in April, National Merit Scholarship winners will be awarded.

***One student’s name was withheld due to media permission.***​