School News

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. 

Children can receive breakfast and lunch for up to three days per pickup. 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

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.

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.

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


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

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.

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.

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​.

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.***​