School News

This Week on #WorkforceWednesday: Perfecting the Job Interview
Alex LeMoine

District 155 hosted mock interviews at Crystal Lake Central on December 4, 2019 and at Prairie Ridge High School on December 5, 2019. Mark Rzepecki’s students in the Language Academy and Christine Graham’s speech class participated in the event at Central, while Steve Karlblom’s students in the work program took part at Prairie Ridge. 

Both schools invited district 155 staff, as well as members of the community, to come and interview students. In three different rounds of interviews, students were asked many questions related to their academic interests and achievements, their strengths, job skills and plans for joining the workforce.

The event gave students the opportunity to prepare for an interview, interact with members of the workforce, and practice communication skills. Students at the event represented a variety of grade levels and content areas.

“I want to be a nurse and the communication I had with other people really helped me because later on I’m going to have patients and I need to communicate with them,” said Angela Hernandez, a freshman at Crystal Lake Central in the Language Academy.

“I think this is preparing me by giving me real-world examples and getting interviewed by three different people because not every interviewer is the same,” said Kathleen Costello, a senior in Christine Graham’s speech class. 

Administrators from district 155 and district 47, members of the D155 Board of Education and representatives from a variety of local companies were present at the event.

Rob Revak, the retired Human Resources Director at AptarGroup, Inc., a manufacturing company in Crystal Lake, said, “Whether you consciously think about it or not, probably a first impression happens within the first 30 seconds. So, I suggest to students to leave their cell phones in the car, have a resume that has been looked over [because] that is very telling in terms of attention to detail.”

Each student was scored by their interviewers and given constructive feedback to take forward with them into the workforce. 

For more of our conversation on perfecting the job interview, listen to D155’s Workforce Wednesday podcast with Crystal Lake Central’s Christine Graham 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.

Chicago Blackhawks Select PR Student as Hockey Player of the Month
Alex LeMoine

The Chicago Blackhawks recognized Zander Marino-Sacharoff, a freshman at Prairie Ridge, as Hockey Player of the Month this past December in a pre-game on-ice ceremony. Marino-Sacharoff was later interviewed by Blackhawks TV. The Chicago Blackhawks and BMO Harris Bank honored Marino-Sacharoff and his parents at the United Center. 

“I was really surprised, I did not think that I would be selected for this award. I was also happy, it is a huge award and I am honored that I was selected,” said Zander Marino-Sacharoff, Prairie Ridge student. 

Marino-Sacharoff plays defense for the District 155 Predators and is the only freshman on varsity. He also volunteers at the Crystal Ice House helping young players learn to skate and play the game. Marino-Sacharoff took his skills overseas to Austria, Germany, and Italy this past summer to play exhibition hockey games.

“In the future, I would like to start up a company that helps hockey players development in skills, skating, shooting, stickhandling, and defensive work,” said Marino-Sacharoff. 

The next game for the D155 Predators is January 11 at the Crystal Ice House. 

D155 Presents #WorkforceWednesday with Susan Powalowski
Alex LeMoine

District 155 is excited to launch Workforce Wednesday with Susan Powalowski, a 2007 Cary-Grove graduate who now works as a Search Automation Specialist at Google in Chicago, IL. After graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2011, Powalowski began her career at Google in June of 2014.

Powalowski came back to Cary-Grove in November of 2019 to share her experiences after high school and in the world of digital marketing with current district 155 students. She sat down with us to discuss what she’s learned since her tenure at Cary-Grove and how students can best prepare themselves for life after high school. 

“The luxury you have as a student in high school is that if you don’t do well in one class or in one subject, it’s one class and one subject and the consequences are not very high,” said Powalowski.  “It’s very low risk to try different things in high school and fail at them because that’s how you learn your own preferences.”

She stressed the importance of taking risks and exploring your interests during high school, as well as understanding the value of what you learn.

“My Intro to Business and Intro to Computers classes taught me skills that I use every day,” said Powalowski.

She recalls not knowing which experiences were going to lead her to where she is now, but was committed to trying as many new things as possible.

“I ended up getting a second internship before my senior year of school that put me more on the business side at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and that opened a lot of doors for me that I didn’t even see until years down the line,” Powalowski said. “That ended up being the reason that I got hired into an internship after college in digital marketing.”

Fast forward to 2020, and Powalowski has been working at Google for the past five years.

As for how to best prepare for the workforce, Powalowski shared what she thinks are the most important tips to land a dream job of your own:

  1. “…Use your career center early and often, and get them to work on your resume.”

  2. “Apply for jobs that you don’t think you’re going to get because you never know, and it’s good practice to interview.”

  3. “Research your type of role and know the salary range going into [the interview] to make sure it’s what you want.”

  4. “...Ask excellent questions in the interview. My favorite is, ‘What does it take to be successful in this role?’”

  5. “In the interview, be thoughtful about your answers and don’t be afraid to take a pause and collect your thoughts.”

For more of our conversation with Susan Powalowski, listen in 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.

Students Learn Self Defense Techniques During Physical Education
Alex LeMoine


This semester, freshmen PE students at Prairie Ridge High School are learning self defense techniques under the instruction of Team Curran Jiu-Jitsu. Jeff Curran, a professional fighter of 20 years and founder of Team Curran, spends each 45-minute session demonstrating self defense skills and allowing the students to practice themselves. 

“We have them coming in for five sessions and every Friday they’re coming in to teach the freshmen some skills and techniques,” said Michelle Loeding, a PE teacher at Prairie Ridge. “On the first day they taught some release techniques and today they’re going to do some escape techniques.” 

The goal with the curriculum is to incorporate simple and common skills that students can easily remember and apply to a real-life scenario. 

“When I put into real context what life could be like if somebody were to actually try to hurt you, I get their attention. It’s been fun working with them,” said Jeff Curran.

The students see value in what they are learning. 

“I’m really liking this class because the world isn’t a perfect place and sometimes you might run into a bad situation and it’s always good to be prepared,” Prairie Ridge freshman, Brady Rogers, said. 

His classmate and fellow freshman, Grace Koeppen, agreed.

“It’s very helpful, definitely in the future, if you run into a sketchy situation you’ll know what to do,” said Koeppen. 

Jeff Curran and his team will continue to visit Prairie Ridge for three more sessions this month.

PR Student Saves Man’s Life
Shannon Podzimek

Calista Pollack, a junior at Prairie Ridge High School, relied on her CPR training from her health class to save a man’s life. She dropped her brother off for his Eagle Scout project when a man was in need of medical attention. They were on the phone with 911, and the dispatcher told Pollack to begin compressions and start counting.

“I did compressions for about three minutes until the paramedics came,” said Calista Pollack. 

She was able to keep him in stable condition until the paramedics arrived.

“I was super glad I had the CPR training in school and knew what to do. I never really thought that I would have to use it. I’m just glad I paid attention during that unit because I was able to give him a better chance of survival,” said Pollack.

All District 155 students are required to take health during their sophomore year which includes CPR training.

“Students at Prairie Ridge are lucky to have the equipment to practice their CPR technique and practice with an AED machine as well,” Brigid Jones, a health teacher for District 155. 

Pollack has recently heard the man is recovering and doing well.