School News

CG, CLS Students Take Virtual Businesses to VEI Leadership Conference and Trade Show
Jeff Yoder

Virtual Enterprise classes from Crystal Lake South and Cary-Grove traveled to Middle Tennessee State University for the two-day ​​VEI Southern Region Student Leadership Conference & Trade Show on November 16. The students participated in an elevator pitch competition and leadership innovation challenge. They learned about finance and accounting, marketing, social media, business operations and technology from business industry leaders.

Crystal Lake South pitched its virtual business named PawPack.

“Our special subscription boxes and bundles come in different options with a plethora of toys, bones, and treats for your pup to enjoy,” said CLS senior and PawPack CMO Sydney Kroening. “If you aren’t looking for a bundle, we also sell key items like dog crates, beds, and food.” 

The company also donates a portion of its revenue to local dog shelters. 

The Cary-Grove students have a virtual business named BetterBox — a health-based company that provides locally sourced products and supplements. 

“It took us a long time to decide what our company was going to be,” said CG senior Reece Ihenacho. “We decided on October 15th, which is definitely a late choice. However, because we took so long we really went deep into the design for delight process so I can confidently say we designed BetterBox to truly benefit our customers.”

Ihenacho is one of six Virtual Enterprises Ambassadors in the Midwest region. He was selected for the position  after completing an essay and interview. As an ambassador he represents the Midwest VE student community, promotes the VE program, plans and participates in events and competitions. He is also the COO of BetterBox.

“At the MTSU tradeshow, my class, especially myself, had an amazing time meeting tons of new people, making connections with other firms, and learning new skills as individuals,” Ihenacho said. “This tradeshow gave me ideas that I can bring back to my firm. Overall I had so much fun meeting new people and making connections that I feel will benefit our firm in the long run.”

Students had an opportunity to use their marketing and sales skills during the virtual trade show where they bought and sold products/services and networked with other virtual businesses.

A highlight for Kroening was a Women’s Leadership panel. 

“All the women on this panel were either bosses, entrepreneurs, or had a very prevalent role within their place of employment,” she said. “This was by far my favorite part of the entire trip. The ladies spoke about the importance of women's leadership, how to handle pressure in the workplace, and overall informed us about their struggles and passions for working within business.” 

There were approximately 500 high school students in attendance, representing 40 virtual businesses from seven states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida.

“I have taken many other business classes during my past three years with some interest in pursuing business, but this class is special,” Kroening said. “It is truly a hands-on experience of what it would be like to participate in a real business. Everyone around the country contributes to the VE community which makes it feel even more authentic. 

“This course is extremely valuable for those interested in pursuing a career within any job working closely with others. I personally can see myself thinking back to this course in my future line of work and using the tools and people skills I have learned to better my work.” 

CG Special Education Teacher Named Teacher of the Month
Jeff Yoder

Cary-Grove special education teacher Michael Arrigoni was recently named Star 105.5’s teacher of the month.

Dr. Arrigoni, who  is in his sixth year teaching at Cary-Grove, was nominated by the parent of one of his students, Kaysia Conour. 

“‘Doc A’ is an incredible teacher who truly cares about his students, all of whom have disabilities,” wrote Delaina Conour. “He is kind, patient, an amazing advocate for people with special needs, and has the utmost faith in his students’ abilities. Doc A motivates and encourages all of his kids, and my child has absolutely flourished in school because of him.”

Arrigoni is passionate about advocating for disability rights and equality. He hosts a podcast called AdvocacyPRIME, which shares stories, resources, and support for people with disabilities as well as their families.

“He is an immensely valuable asset to everyone he works with, and we are honored to know him,” said Conour.


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

Nine 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 Herrera - Cary Grove

Josh Marineau - Prairie Ridge

Andrea Medina - Crystal Lake South

Christian Romero - Crystal Lake Central

Ryan Soli - Cary-Grove

Gwen 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.” 

CLS junior Andrea Medina was a National Hispanic Recognition Award recipient. She is involved in Spanish club, women in STEM, speech team, model UN, ACES, and media club. 

“I love animals and spend lots of time with my dog,” Medina said. “I like to read, go hiking, and travel. I plan on hopefully attending Purdue and majoring in zoology in the future”

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.