School News

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


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

Prairie Ridge Grad Competes in Paralympics
Shannon Podzimek

Makayla Nietzel, a 2021 Prairie Ridge graduate, competed and placed seventh in two swimming events at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. 

“The most exciting part was walking on the pool deck for the first time. Having the lights blind me for a few seconds and just looking around, and thinking this is crazy.”

She was selected to swim in the 100-meter butterfly and the 400-meter freestyle. She was also selected to swim in the 200 individual medley, but had a knee injury and decided to pull out of that event and not risk further injury. Nietzel had to qualify for the final round during the preliminary round.

Despite a worldwide pandemic, Nietzel continued to train and maintain a rigorous practice schedule.

“I’ve known for a while that the Paralympics were a possibility for me and we didn’t know if they would have it or postpone it. So I kept training to the best of my ability even though things were closed.”

She trained seven days a week. She swam two times a day- three times a week, and did stretch cords twice a day every day and a weightlifting workout, and used a foam roller twice a week. She also did technique training with her mom. 

She’s not giving up on her dreams of a paralympic medal yet.

“I’m hoping to go for a medal in Paris in 2024. My next goal is to break a world record in the 100-meter fly and I want to medal in the 400-meter freestyle and final in the 100-meter back and 50-meter free. I am hoping to swim four events in Paris.``

As for right now, she’s currently attending Purdue University and double majoring in psychology and meteorology. She hopes to pursue a career in forensic meteorology or forensic psychology. 

“I’m taking a very short hiatus. The thing you worked so hard for and that is a huge mental toll. I’m focusing on school work and hoping to join a club team at Purdue.”

Makayla was born with albinism and is legally blind. She has also been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD. She began swimming lessons as a toddler and began swimming competitively at age 11. She holds 12 IHSA state records in swimming. 

Prairie Ridge Class of 2021 Earns Nearly $3 Million in Scholarships
Shannon Podzimek

Prairie Ridge’s Class of 2021 includes 299 graduates who earned $2,923,188 in scholarships. Eighty-seven 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 26 states. The most popular college destinations for these students are McHenry County College, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois State University, Iowa State University, and the University of Iowa. 

Graduates are pursuing various fields. Thirty-one percent of students will study careers in the science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field, 11 percent will study advertising, arts, communications, marketing, or public relations, and finally, 10 percent of students will study business.

Five Prairie Ridge students are serving in the Armed Forces after graduation. One student will serve in the Air Force, two in the Army, and two students will serve in the Navy.

Industry Professionals and Students Collaborate to Remodel Auto Shop Floor
Alex LeMoine

Bryan Peckhart, the Industry and Careers division leader at Prairie Ridge High School, organized a unique opportunity to give students hands-on experience with machinery while improving school facilities through donations from local manufacturers. By partnering with local industry professionals, Prairie Ridge students were able to participate in the remodeling of their school’s auto shop floor.

“We got the kids here learning about what it’s like to put in a floor and all of the labor-intensive things that go along with it,” Peckhart said. “They’re on some of the grinders and machines as well, to get a feel for what it looks like to go through this process.”

Peckhart reached out to Nick Gawlik, a sales manager at Ruwac USA, to ask if his company would be willing to donate materials or machinery to offset the cost of redoing the auto shop floor. Gawlik agreed to help and contacted Josh Jones, president of Substrate Technology, Inc., for additional contributions towards the remodeling project.

“We always try to help out when we can,” said Gawlik. “For us, it’s training the next generation, letting them know about opportunities.”

The project was opened to students in the Prairie Ridge autos program who wanted hands-on experience, providing them the opportunity to work with industry professionals and operate equipment while giving back to their program. Students even held a vote to determine the appearance of the finished floor. When asked about his experience, Keel Brossard, a rising sophomore, commented that he had the opportunity to handle several pieces of machinery, from the vacuum to the floor grinder itself.

“I’m really intrigued by what they’re doing here, and I think it’ll be fun for our future education in this class,” said Brossard.

Josh Jones noted his enthusiasm regarding working with the Prairie Ridge students.

“It’s exciting to spend time with the next generation of workers,” said Jones. “The thing I would hope there would be exposure to is just how stuff is made. What they’re going to see is how the floor becomes a finished product.”