School News

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


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

Students recognized from District 155 include:

Melody Alonso - Crystal Lake Central

Joshua Carrasco - Cary Grove

Isaiah Herrara - Cary Grove

Josh Marineau - Prairie Ridge

Christian Romero - Crystal Lake Central

Ryan Soli - Cary-Grove

Gwent Steeves - Cary-Grove

Vienna Tiria - Crystal Lake South

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

District 155 enhances building safety with BluePoint Alert Systems
Jeff Yoder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PR World Studies Teacher Named Teacher of the Month
Kari Firak

Prairie Ridge World Studies teacher Sarah Dunker has been named October 2022 Home State Bank/Star 105.5 Teacher of the Month.

Nominated by a current student, Mrs. Dunker is being recognized for her fun and interactive learning activities.

"She makes learning about the world so fun and I love to be in her class! Usually by the end of class I want to stay longer!"

Star 105.5 & Home State Bank representatives gathered with Mrs. Dunker virtually to make the announcement and celebrate live on the Star facebook page.