School News

District Nurses Honored with Lina Rogers Award
Jeff Yoder

Cary-Grove’s Martha Manno and Crystal Lake South’s Colleen Wing were recently announced as 2023 recipients of the Lina Rogers Award, which recognizes school health professionals who work in partnership with public health in providing healthier schools and communities.  

Manno and Wing are both members of McHenry County's School Nurse Advisory Committee (SNAC), which played a critical role in preparing a safe return to school during the pandemic. 

“It was definitely a collaboration between public health and school health,” Manno said. “That relationship makes a significant difference with absenteeism, student accomplishments — and that was accentuated during the COVID times. I felt like at that point we really needed to try to keep schools open and students in schools as much as possible.”

The Lina Rogers Award is typically awarded to one or two recipients each year, but a decision was made this year to honor all 12 members of SNAC for their key contributions.

“The task force was responsible for a lot of things,” Manno said. “They produced a toolkit for all of the nurses in the whole district area to keep track of the kids who had COVID and who were close contacts, and what to do with all of the instructions. We had a lot of checkoff lists and resources for nurses as well as the parents and students.”

SNAC also worked with the McHenry County Health Department (MCDH) and district superintendents to vaccinate 5,600 staff members in McHenry County twice. 

“That was huge, because we were almost first in the state,” Manno said. “We needed staff to be here to get the students in here, so to keep staff healthy was key.”

The task force also detailed its work in an article, which was published in the National Association of School Nurses Journal.

The award is named after the nation’s first school nurse, Lina Rogers, who was hired by the New York City public schools in 1902. 

The mission of the task force is to “strengthen the link between public health nursing and school nursing,” and to “provide the MCDH with a school nursing resource to collaborate on mutually beneficial initiatives.”

“I’m super honored that I was awarded this, but I really look up to these ladies that have really paved the way,” said Wing, who joined the task force this year. “I appreciate that I was even recognized because what they went through that first year was unbelievably daunting to say the least.”

U.S. Navy Honors Cary-Grove Teacher with Impact Influencer Award
Kari Firak

Mr. Josh Norten, a science teacher at Cary-Grove High School, received the Navy Impact Influencer Award. Nominated by former student Liam Gahan, this award honors Norten for his role in teaching and inspiring Gahan’s future in physics. 

“Applying for the nuclear propulsion officer candidate program, they require that you solve problems based on calculus and physics, a lot of those things were either learned or reinforced in AP Physics C in Mr. Norten's class,” said Gahan. 

Gahan graduated from Olivet-Nazarene University with a degree in chemical engineering, went on to become a U.S. Navy Officer, and is now in training to become a Submarine Officer.

“Thinking about someone who impacted my life, as far as an educator, or someone who is of high morale standing, there’s really only one name that I can think of and that is Mr. Norten,” said Gahan.

“Yes, I played a role in what Liam is doing now and what he accomplished in high school, but without students with that kind of motivation and mindset like Liam, none of that happens in the classroom,” said Norten. “I’m humbled.”

Four D155 Students Named National Merit® Semifinalists
Kari Firak

The National Merit® Scholarship Program named four District 155 seniors as 2023 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.

Trini Feng - Crystal Lake South
Grace Moore - Crystal Lake Central
Madison Ross - Crystal Lake South
Erin Wadzinski - Cary-Grove

Trini Feng, a senior at Crystal Lake South, earned the title of state champion in the 2022 ACES Academic Challenge competition in the area of English. Trini is active in extracurriculars; a member of band and marching band, the math team, ACES Academic Challenge Team, and a writer for Gator Prints. Outside of school Trini enjoys creative writing and playing piano. Post high school she is considering computer science and pursuing a job in technology.

Grace Moore is a senior at Crystal Lake Central and has a strong interest in advocating for youth perspectives and mental health awareness. She is an honorary youth board member at the National Alliance for Mental Health Illinois of McHenry County (NAMI), founder and president of the Model United Nations team at Crystal Lake Central, and co-captain of the Varsity Cross Country team. Grace plans on applying to colleges in the Northeast with a major in political science or international politics.  
Madison Ross is the founder of the Model United Nations Club and involved in National Honors Society at Crystal Lake South. She’s also involved in Student Council, Gator Buddies, Gator Prints, Spanish Club, and Speech Team. With a passion for discovering the role monetary funding has on the largest world problems, she plans to study economics and political science post graduation. 

Erin Wadzinski, a senior at Cary-Grove, is deeply involved in her Cary-Grove community. She is a captain of the varsity volleyball team and a state qualifier for the Academic Challenge Team, a board member for Interact and Student Council, and organized the first inaugural Peach Fuzz volleyball game. Erin is also a member of the National Honors Society and was recognized as an Advanced Placement® Scholar with honors. Outside of school, she volunteers her time with the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA) and Purrfect Cat Rescue. In college, Erin would like to study psychology with the intention of pursuing law in the future. 

High school students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Students will find out if they have advanced to Finalist standing in February 2022. Beginning in March 2021, National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and ending in July.

All D155 Schools Nationally Ranked in the Top 8 Percent
Kari Firak

District 155 schools have all ranked in the top eight percent nationally and the top 12 percent in the state according to U.S. News and World Report's Best Public High Schools 2022 list. Twenty-four thousand public high schools throughout the country were evaluated, with results based state exam performance and college preparedness. 

All D155 schools ranked in the top 100 in Illinois; with Cary-Grove earning the no. 54 spot in the state, Prairie Ridge earned no. 55, Crystal Lake South sits at no. 66, and Crystal Lake Central is at no. 83 in Illinois rankings. More than seven-hundred schools in Illinois were evaluated for this prestigious list.

"This type of prestigious recognition is a testament to the supportive families in District 155 along with the staff and students' determination and dedication towards learning." said Steve Olson, D155 Superintendent, "Our mission is to empower students to Enter with Promise and Leave with Purpose. These rankings are proof of our commitment to excellence and preparing students for the future."

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