School News

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.

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. 

#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.

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.  

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!



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.


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.

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. 

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. ​