Category Archives: Featured

Willis joins many new softball faces

Photo: Sophomore pitcher Delani Vest will be counted on for a repeat performance. File Photo
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Despite finishing 27-9 in 2009, the Kaneland High School girls softball squad faces quite a number of challenges.

There’s recovering from the heartbreaking extra-inning regional championship loss to Burlington Central, the third straight year of getting eliminated by the Rockets.

There’s the acclimation of seven new faces to the varsity ranks, with just six upperclassmen on the team.

There’s also the item of new and eager head coach Brian Willis, who also served time as an assistant after former coach Dennis Hansen was suspended.

Willis says not much has changed in his coaching style from being a lower-level coach in various Kaneland sports.

“Right now, it’s all excitement and anticipation,” Willis said. “We’re trying to get the girls ready. I look at this as no different than the last eight years, except I talk to reporters now.”

Willis is ready for the season-ending loss to be put in the rearview mirror.

“From that regional championship loss, there’s only two girls starting (Wednesday) that started that game. In a sense, that anxiety is there for girls like Delani (Vest) because she was the pitcher, but we have several freshmen and sophomores that weren’t around,” Willis said.

Notably, Vest returns after posting a 17-6 record as a freshman inside the pitcher’s circle, which itself is being moved back.

“That’s going to make a difference, and we’ll get to see how Delani will react to that. With her leadership and competitiveness, she knows what it takes to get back to that championship game,” Willis said.

The jury is still out on Delani’s sister and battery mate Rilee, who is battling nagging injuries.

Junior catcher Andrea Dimmig-Potts returns as someone who saw her share of playing time and was capable of doing damage with one giant swing.

Seniors on the squad are outfielder Jordan Hester, and infielders Brittany Davis and Kristen Stralka.

“We’re moving forward. These returning girls are excited to get a fair shot, and they feel like it’s their time,” Willis said.

Joining Vest as fellow hurlers look to be sophomore Alexis Villarreal and sophomore Katy Dudzinski, who saw spot starts in the varsity ranks a year ago, and sophomore Brittney Miller.

“It’s a new coaching staff (Willis, Christine Bouffard and Joe Spittzeri), and we evaluated everyone equally at the start. Delani put herself in the top spot, and some of these other girls aren’t too far behind,” Willis said.

Sophomore McKinzie Mangers will serve as catcher in case the other two possibilities are beset by injuries.

“We’ll be tested early behind the plate,” Willis said.

The infield will look younger on the left side and senior-laden on the right. Allyson O’Herron, a freshman, looks to contribute at shortstop.

“(O’Herron) is very solid defensively and will make some freshman mistakes, but she’s also solid with the bat,” Willis said.

Fellow freshman Taylor Velazquez will get a look at third base.

Davis will be looked at around second base to serve as a cornerstone of the infield. Spots remain in a fight for outfield.

In terms of players who will see more sizable time this season and could surprise onlookers is Davis.

“She’s going to get out there every day and put up solid numbers and be a good player,” Willis said.

On the new arrivals, Willis pointed to O’Herron having a productive career at short for the next four years.

Other Lady Knights looking to contribute to the squad are sophomore infielder Sarah Kitz, sophomore outfielder Samantha Hansen and junior infielder Beth Smith.

“If we finish in the middle of the conference and continue to get better every week and regionals come around and we’re ready to roll, that’ll make me happy,” Willis said.

The regular season kicked off yesterday against BC, and WSC play begins on Tuesday, April 6, at Glenbard South. The regular season finale is Saturday, May 22, at Rosary.

Ecker steps in for girls track

Photo: Girls track coach Doug Ecker gives pointers on the triple jump at Friday’s practice. Photo by Mike Slodki
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—After a ninth-place finish in State a year ago, how do you repeat such a fine performance?

Wait and see.

A large part of the stellar finish at 2A State for the Kaneland Lady Knights girls track squad was due in part to Lindsay Gierke, gone off to the University of Northern Iowa. One of the most celebrated girls track athletes in KHS history, Gierke managed a second place in the 100m hurdles, fourth in the 100m dash, third in the 300m hurdles and was a four-year State qualifier.

“We’ve had some great athletes in the past and we’ll miss her points, but a lot of great athletes from last year are gone now, and it’s part of high school,” said KHS coach Doug Ecker.

Also gone from the group is pole vaulter Jordan Pinkston, who finished fifth at State and is competing at Southern Illinois University.

The good news is that 2009-10 allows new faces to step up and take the mantle of postseason success, and not all State qualifiers have left for the college ranks just yet.

One new face is right at the top, as girls cross-country coach Ecker moves up to take the head position, switching places with Pat Sheetz, who moves aside after four decades as head coach.

“There’s really no change,” Ecker said. “Sheetz and I have worked for 23 years; everything’s pretty much the same.”

Ecker has had head track experience in the college ranks and high-school boys track.

Junior Andie Strang looks to go back to Charleston, Ill. for a third go-around after finishing 10th in the 800m run and was part of the 4x800m relay, along with returning teammates Kris Bowen, Kelly Evers and Lisa Roberson. Strang is on the road back from a stress fracture suffered during girls basketball season.

“We’ll see how it is when outdoor season comes. If it’s healed it’s healed, and if it’s not its not. Hopefully she’s back at full strength and we’ll have to see what happens.”

Sara Wallace, a senior, also qualified for State in pole vault and looks to shore up that event.

Ecker stressed a lot of new faces, with accompanying talent to go with them on the roster numbering 50-strong.

“We don’t have any superstars, but we have kids with potential,” Ecker said.

Trying to break into the Lady Knight ranks in the jumping categories is junior Brooke Patterson, fresh off being familiar in the gymnastics realm and the younger sister of graduated trackster Kelli Patterson.

The junior has excelled in the indoor triple jump with a 32 feet mark.

Freshman Ashley Castellanos has done well in the triple and long jump in the initial stages of the season.

“Every team lost superstars, so you’ll have above average girls trying to take spots in the area,” Ecker said, who also said sprinters and vaulters could be crowded headed into the outdoor season.

The 4x800m relay looks to improve on their first go-around to state, but could see an influx of challengers. Ecker mentioned Castellanos and junior Jessica Stouffer having run well, joining a pool of seven or eight additional runners.

Hurdles will see freshmen and sophomores jockey one of Gierke’s specialty events.

Sprinters could put up some decent speed, thanks to representatives like sophomore Jordyn Lawrence.

“We have more depth at sprinters than we’ve had in a while; we just have to remain healthy,” Ecker said.

Senior Hillary Luse will have a chance at pole vault. The shot put and discus has younger lady tracksters looking to make a name for themselves before the outdoor season takes off.

Any Lady Knight that could take fellow athletes by surprise? Ecker mentioned junior Ariana Espino, who is looking for a relay spot, and fellow junior Sydney Billotta.

“They’re healthy and doing better leading up to the season, and both ran cross-country,” Ecker said.

In this, the final campaign for the Western Sun Conference, Ecker mentions Geneva and Batavia rising up despite losing personnel, along with Rochelle.

Freshmen joining the Kaneland girls track roster for 2010 are Gabby Aguirre, Jenna Bicos, Maggie Brundige, Angalia Carbonara, Brianne Claypool, Laken Delahanty, Abby Dodis, Brooke Harner, Lisa Jennings, Amanda Lesak, Sydney Luse, Emily Maki, Kelly McCarthy, Emma Moon, Grace Mozdren, Alyssa Nolte, Katie Ogboukiri and Jessica Woodward.

Sophomores are Tesa Alderman, Ashley Diddell, Kelsey Gould, Nicole Ketza, Savanah Miles, April Smith, Grace Snyder, Meggen Southern, Carolina Tovar and Shannon Wallace.

Juniors are Athina Ajazi, Elizabeth Hylland, Lordan Krawczyk, Keara Palpant, Alyson Rehr, Nicole Rymarz, Briana Stark and Cara Zagel.

Seniors are Elicia DiBella, Tara Groen, Mel Mazuc, Megan Mendoza and Lexie Pniewski.

For the girls, the outdoor season kicks off on Tuesday, April 6, against Burlington Central and Oregon.

The Kane County Meet is at Batavia on Friday, April 30, followed by the final Western Sun Conference meet on Friday, May 7, at Glenbard South.

Registration open for Healthy Hop Run/Walk

Kane County—The Kane County Health Department is now taking registrations for its 11th annual Healthy Hop Run/Walk on Saturday, April 3, a 5K Race event that also includes the popular Tots Hop.

The Healthy Hop course is USATC certified and runs along the beautiful Fox River in Geneva.

“Whether you want to run or simply walk the course, this is an event for everyone to enjoy. This is a great opportunity to get outdoors and have some fun,” Kane County Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert said. “Each year the event attracts more and more participants, and this year’s race looks to be the best ever.”

To register, visit or and follow the Healthy Hop links. The entry fee is $20 for participants age 14 and older ($15 for participants younger than 14) if registered by April 1, $25 after April 1. Participating in the Tots Hop is free.

Check-in time is 7:30 a.m. at the Kane County Government Center, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva, with race-day registration until 8:30 a.m. Starting time is 9 a.m. for the 5K, with the Tot Hop start at approximately 9:45 to 10 a.m.

Runners will compete in one of 13 age groups.

All 5K participants will receive a T-shirt, raffle tickets, goodie bag and a ribbon. Awards will be issued for top overall 5K male and female participants, the top 5K male and female masters, and the top three male and female finishers in each age group. The course is certified by USA Track & Field. More information is available at

Students have fun with Guys and Dolls characters

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Kaneland High School junior Samantha Vasquez, who will play Sister Sarah Brown in the high school’s staging of “Guys and Dolls” this weekend, has been in school plays since the sixth grade, but this is the first time she will play the lead.

Vasquez said she is having a lot of fun with her character.

“I like being someone else for a change,” she said. “She’s completely different from me. She’s serious.”
Sister Sarah Brown, a pious mission worker from the Save-A-Soul Mission, is looking for souls to save on the 1940s streets of New York City. Among the gamblers, crooks, drunks and dancers who inhabit the neighborhood in which the mission resides, Sister Sarah encounters Sky Masterson, a high-rolling gambler played by Kevin Krasinski, who some may remember in his role as Gaston last year in Beauty and the Beast.

“‘Guys and Dolls’ is always so much fun for kids,” director and theater teacher Ilene Carter said. “It’s a character show.”

The musical premiered on Broadway in 1950, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical, according to Carter. The movie version in 1955 starred Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.

Samantha Vasquez (right), who plays Sister Sarah Brown, shares a laugh onstage with Kevin Krasinski, who plays Sky Masterson, during last week's rehearsal. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Carter said she chose the play because she had enjoyed it so much when she acted in it and subsequently directed it.

Sydney Luse and Kelsey Cotton, both freshmen, are Hot Box dancers in the play. The Hot Box is a seedy nightclub in the city where one of the main characters, Miss Adelaide, played by Chelsey Roberts, is the headliner.

“It’s been a blast,” Luse said.

Luse said she thinks the 1940s, the decade in which the play takes place, is a pretty cool time-period.

Although new to acting at the high school level, both girls had been in plays in middle school. Cotton has also been in two plays at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, where she was a chorus member in Beauty and the Beast and in “Guys and Dolls.”

Chelsey Roberts (left), who plays Adelaide, the headline of the Hot Box dancers, practices a routine at last week's rehearsal with another one of the Hot Box dancers. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Sophomore Brian Edwards plays Big Jule, the gambler from Chicago.

“He’s a tough guy; not the smartest guy, but he has a lot of weapons,” Edwards said.

Senior Chloe Blummel, who has acted in a number of plays during high school, has taken on the role of stage manager for “Guys and Dolls.” The stage manager attends every performance, keeping track of every detail, and is in charge of the performance the night of the show, Carter said.

“It’s really cool to see the stage from the other side,” Blummel said.

Blummel said she has really enjoyed working with Carter, as well.

“She knows her stuff,” she said.

Blummel said it has been great to understand what the director is trying to accomplish, and to see why she does what she does.

“She (Carter) treats me with the utmost respect,” she said. “She’s been kind and very supportive. She asks for my opinion. It’s been a pleasure.”

She said she will be the last stage manager Carter works with before she leaves, and hopes she lives up to her expectations.

“I know how much the show means to her,” Blummel said.

Editorial: Public’s right to know requires vigilant protection

“I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education.”
—Thomas Jefferson

“I always believe that ultimately, if people are paying attention, then we get good government and good leadership. And when we get lazy, as a democracy and civically start taking shortcuts, then it results in bad government and politics.”
—Barack Obama

This week is considered Sunshine Week, a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.

Both quotes above represent essential truths to the importance of open and transparent government. While our democracy is founded on the concept of checks and balances, an informed public serves as the ultimate check and balance against the government itself.

Yet, the public’s power can only exist if two conditions are met: 1) the public has access to information about the government and how it operates; 2) the public cares enough to protect its access and to remain informed.

To help meet the first condition, we are lucky to have initiatives like Sunshine Week, which is led by the American Society of News Editors. Visit for more information about this initiative and the importance of its mission. We are also lucky to have organizations like the Illinois Press Association (IPA), which works tirelessly to protect the First Amendment and access to information in our state.

While Sunshine Week and the IPA are media-focused, the reality is that their efforts are on behalf of the people, and not just the press. This is because the true power of the First Amendment and access to information is held by the public.

These rights should not be taken lightly, nor for granted. The entire basis of American independence—and later, of American Democracy—is that our rights are not granted by government, which implies those rights can also be taken away by government. Rather, our rights simply exist, and government is prohibited from intruding upon them.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
—U.S. Declaration of Independence

While our Founding Fathers articulated these rights as the foundation of our society, history has shown that even our government is not immune to a desire to limit our unalienable rights and freedoms. It is that very nature of our government that places so much importance on transparency and access to information, because it is the public’s access to public information that allows us to protect the rights our nation was founded upon.

We must remain focused on ensuring that our access is not limited or our speech restrained. The quote from our current president, Barack Obama, articulates the need for an engaged and aware public.

Yet, at the same time, a recent Associated Press review of federal access and transparency noted that denials of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests among the 17 major federal agencies has increased by 50 percent, as compared to the previous year. Furthermore, the total number of FOIA requests decreased.

What this means is, anyone can make a campaign pledge or say the right things in a speech, and anyone can say that their administration will be more transparent than the last; but the proof is in the action. The proof must exist in deed, and not just word. And because it is significantly easier to pledge transparency than it is to achieve it, the public must remain vigilant and aware of what they have access to today, as well as what they should gain access to tomorrow.

This is not just a federal issue. It is just as important to focus on local government.

Local governments do not experience a fraction of the scrutiny the federal government does, making it easier to—intentionally or not—erode the public’s access to information. Add to that the differences in Sunshine laws from state to state, and the overall system becomes exponentially more complex.

This combination of bureaucratic complexity and difficulty in turning words into deeds means that public scrutiny is what ultimately will preserve the rights that are endowed by our creator.

Dewey Dash in Elburn will kick off race season

file photo
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Gene Stern of Elburn has participated for the past several years in the Dewey Dash, a 5K event that Town & Country Public Library sponsors each spring.

Stern said he likes that the race is early in the year.

“It’s a good motivator to get started,” he said.

Stern runs many different Chicago-area races from spring through fall. Elburn’s terrain is good training ground for the race season, he said. Since he runs on his own regularly in the village, he knows that it’s just not flat farmland.

“There are some pretty big hills in Elburn, which might surprise runners who are not from here,” Stern said.

The routes for the Dewey Dash and for the Elburn Days 5k, which Stern runs in August, both include plenty of those inclines, he said.

Stern rose to the challenge last year, coming in second in his group (men 30-39) in the Dewey Dash, with a time of 20:53.7.

This year, Stern is battling a minor injury, but still would like to take part in this year’s event on April 11.

“I’m really hoping I will be there,” Stern said.

He said the Dewey Dash will help him gear up for the Rockford marathon in May.

6th Annual Dewey Dash
5K run to benefit
Town & Country Public Library
Sunday, April 11
7:30-8:30 a.m. Race-day registration
8:30 a.m. 5K starts
9 a.m. 1-mile run/walk
320 E. North St., Elburn
Post-run snacks
USATF-certified 5K course
Register online at
Proceeds will help the library
purchase three electronic
bulletin boards

3 Kaneville firefighters lauded for service

Photo: Kaneville Fire District Lt. Jim Long (left) has been with the district for 26 years, while Deputy Chief Dan Koebele (center) and Chief David Sigmund have each served for 25 years. Courtesy Photo
by Susan O’Neill
KANEVILLE—Three Kaneville firefighters were recognized recently for their years of service to the Kaneville Fire District. Lt. Jim Long has been with the district for 26 years, and Chief David Sigmund and Deputy Chief Dan Koebele have each served for 25 years.

For all three emergency responders, service to the community is a prime motivator for their dedication to the all-volunteer fire department.

“Most people want to help, in some way,” Long said.

Sigmund, who obtained his Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification quite a while ago, took the class again a few years ago when Kaneville began working more closely with the Big Rock Fire District.

Sigmund said that more than half of the Kaneville firefighters are trained as EMTs, which allows them to do everything medical except transport a victim from the scene. When an incident takes place in Kaneville, they are able to arrive quickly, take the person’s vital signs and have a head start on what needs to be done by the time Big Rock arrives with the ambulance.

The fact that they continue to learn new things, even after all these years, is appealing to them, as well.

“We all learn and train together and work together,” Long said.

The crew meets at the fire house every Tuesday night for training in some aspect of firefighting or emergency medical care, and most take additional classes at other times during the year.

The camaraderie that exists between them is also something that keeps them coming back, year after year.

“They’re all top-notch people,” Koebele said of his fellow firefighters.

Koebele, who was a police officer for the city of Aurora for 32 years before his retirement six years ago, was a patrol sergeant when he left the force.

“Supervising is the same, whether you’re fighting fires or bad guys,” he said with a laugh.

He said that Kaneville is one of the few remaining all-volunteer fire departments in the state, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He said they can change it if they want after he leaves, but he likes the idea of an all-volunteer operation under his watch.

According to Koebele, it is a major commitment, but one that each individual takes willingly.

The Kaneville Fire District coverage area is 36 square miles, which includes approximately 1,250 residents.

Prairie burn gives lesson in good stewardship

Photo: The Rev. Steve Good’s son, Spenser, keeps the fire at bay during the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church’s prairie burn, which took place on the church’s new building site on Harter Road last Saturday. Photo by Susan O’Neill

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—Members of the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church and others experienced a first-hand lesson in caring for God’s creation when they participated in a prairie burn on Saturday.

The Rev. Steven Good said that burning the prairie on land that will house the church’s future building not only has an ecological benefit, it encourages people of faith to act as good stewards of God’s earth.

The controlled prairie burn gets rid of old plant material, allowing the sunlight to reach the native plants and warm the soil, helping them to compete with the weeds, Good said. The denser native plants provide a habitat for local wildlife, where they can rest, hide and eat.

The longer root system of the native plants also helps to filter out chemicals, cleaning the water on its way to the Blackberry Creek, also located on the property, he added.

Nearly 30 people, including a number of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, joined Good and his parishioners to help with the sixth annual burn at the church’s new future site on Harter Road.

“We got the job done and everybody was safe,” Good said.

Defendants plead guilty to role in leaving Elburn youth’s body

Originally published on March 9, 2010, updated March 11, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.
Victim found in 2007
in Chicago alley

Three co-defendants pleaded guilty this week to their roles in an incident in which an Elburn teenager’s body was left in a Chicago alley in 2007, with one facing a sentence of four years in prison. The mother of victim Michael York attended every court hearing in the case during the more than two years since his body was found.

“With each appearance, she was forced to relive the day she received word that her son was found dead in a Chicago alley,” said Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly Orland, who prosecuted the case. “I am pleased that we finally can provide closure to Michael’s mother and two sisters.”

One defendant, Nathan L. Green, 23, of Maple Park, agreed on Feb. 5 with the Kane County State’s Attorney to a sentence of three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections in exchange for a guilty plea to one count of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance to York before his death at age 17 on Dec. 15, 2007.

On that day, Green and York were together in the residence of Lindsey Parker, 24, of St. Charles, along with Jordan Billek, 19, of Maple Park. Green delivered an amount of heroin to York, which he ingested. York became seriously ill after ingesting the heroin, later lost consciousness and died. In the mid-morning hours of Dec. 16, Parker discovered York deceased in a guest bedroom. After Parker, Green and Billek discussed how to remove York’s body from Parker’s home, Billek and Green drove the body to Chicago and abandoned it in an alley on the city’s west side. No one called 911.

York’s body was discovered by a passerby, who called Chicago police. The autopsy was performed by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Authorities ruled the cause of York’s death as “undetermined,” which is why no one was directly charged with York’s death.

Billek agreed on March 4 with the Kane County State’s Attorney to a sentence of 24 months probation in exchange for a guilty plea to one count of obstructing justice, and one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. On March 23, 2009, Billek was stopped by Aurora police for a traffic violation. During the subsequent investigation, police discovered an amount of heroin in Billek’s vehicle.

Parker agreed on March 4 with the Kane County State’s Attorney to a sentence of 24 months probation in exchange for a guilty plea to one count of obstructing justice.

Green also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault, for the Nov. 4, 2009, assault of a corrections officer while he was in the Kane County Jail. Green’s sentence breaks down as three years in IDOC for the heroin delivery charge and one year for the assault charge. The sentences are to be served consecutively.

Kane County Associate Judge Allen M. Anderson accepted the plea agreements.

Anderson chided each defendant for the selfishness of their actions and reminded them that their futures are in their own hands. When given a chance to speak, Parker remained silent, but Billek apologized to York’s mother.

“This is an all or nothing proposition,” Anderson told Parker. “You will succeed or you will fail. If you fail, you could find yourself in jail. If you succeed, you won’t see me again.”

To Billek, Anderson said, “If you rely upon drugs, you’re likely to be back. I hope you get this right. I don’t want to see you back here.”

Billek’s sentence breaks down as 24 months probation for each count. The sentences are to be served concurrently.

As a condition of probation, Billek and Parker must continue treatment for heroin addiction.

KHS journey ends

Photo: Dave Dudzinski (file photo).

Knights hoopsters eliminated by DeKalb in 50-47 heartbreaker
by Mike Slodki
Pieces were in place for a storybook ending during Friday night’s 3A Kaneland Regional Championship.

Down 49-42 with 39.1 seconds remaining against top-seeded DeKalb, Kaneland fired off five quick point. They were down by two and had the ball with 9.4 seconds left.

However, the storybook ending’s final chapter was cut off and the 2009-10 saga ended with a 50-47 loss in Maple Park.

Kaneland is still looking for its first regional title since 1999. They allowed themselves the opportunity for championship glory with a 48-45 win over Hampshire on March 3.

Dave Dudzinski, playing his final game in a Knights uniform, finished with 23 points. Counterpart Jordan Threloff had 18 points, and Barbs guard Dylan Donnelly had 17.

Going into the fourth quarter down 39-36, Kaneland found itself in desperation mode with 3:52 to go and down 45-38 after a Donnelly trey.

A Chaon Denlinger baseline jumper closed to within 45-40, but two foul shots by DeKalb with 46.8 to go made it 47-40. After two more freebies by Threloff put the Knights in the seven-point hole, Steve Colombe nailed a three and then later got a layup after a DeKalb turnover to close within 49-47 with 16.2 left.

With DeKalb’s Pat Rourke then missing the front end of a one-and-one, Dudzinski grabbed the rebound and a timeout was called.

Colombe inbounded the ball to Ryley Bailey who passed to Dudzinski near the basket, but the official whistled the Holy Cross-signee on a traveling violation, drawing the ire of players and Kaneland fans alike.

Rourke then made one free throw with .8 seconds to go to cement the victory.

“Dudzinski got the ball and was in a position to score and unfortunately the call was made,” first-year coach Brian Johnson said.

Johnson’s plan had Dudzinski for the final shot or kicking it out to Denlinger for a game-winning three try.

Kaneland led 17-16 after the first eight minutes and made five straight shots to go up 15-6 before DeKalb closed the gap.

Toward the end of the first half, Dudzinski hit the hoop for two baskets and gave KHS a 29-28 lead going into the locker room.

Kaneland went cold in the third quarter, going only 2-for-8 from the field. Down 39-33, Bailey launched a deep three-pointer that beat the buzzer and brought the deficit to 39-36.

Johnson reflected on the character of the players to draw themselves in a position to win, rather than the muddled outcome.

“I came in as a first-year coach and challenged them to grow as a team and grow as young men; they gave me all they had,” Johnson said.

The Knights saw their season end at 17-10, up from 13-13 the previous year.

Kaneland earned its revenge from last year’s regional opening loss to the Whip-purs a year ago with 22 points from Dudzinski. Shyler Ralphs of Hampshire and teammate Justin Beiber led their side with 12 each.

The Knights made seven foul shots—all by Dudzinski who was perfect from the line on the night.

In the first frame, Hampshire rained down three three-pointers to take a 9-6 lead, but with a Bailey basket down low, the lead was slimmed to 9-8 with 4:21 to go.

After Hampshire made it 11-8, Dudzinski sank a three with 42.3 seconds left to tie the game and then dunked with 5 ticks left for Kaneland to go up 13-11 after one.

Hampshire made five out of six shot attempts and added a foul shot to go up 25-22 with 1:21 left in the second quarter.

Williams sank a three to tie the score at 25 with 1:14 to go, and Bailey found Dudzinski on a lay-in underneath with 36.9 to go to go up 27-25.

However, the Knights soon fouled Bieber, and he went to the line to make three shots with 3.4 seconds left. Hampshire went into the locker room up 28-27.

Kaneland came out in the third quarter on a tear, going up 35-28 with 4:52 remaining, thanks to baskets from Bailey, Denlinger and Dudzinski. When Hampshire cut it to three, Colombe hit a jumper to go up 37-32 with 1:06 to go.

When Kaneland matched its biggest lead in the fourth quarter at 39-32 with 7:32 to go, Hampshire got its second wind and cut the lead to 41-40 with 3:47 to go.

Dudzinski came through with a three-point play to make it 44-40 with 1:58 remaining.

After three foul shots by the Whip-purs made it 44-43, Dudzinski found his way for another basket with 1:08 to go, giving KHS a 46-43 lead.

After a Hampshire basket with 51.9 to go cut the deficit to one, Dudzinski was later fouled on an inbound pass and sank two foul shots with 9.8 to give the Knights a 48-45 lead.

The Whip-purs had one last chance, and Brock Ralps attempted a three-pointer while double-teamed that clanked off the front of the rim.

With the conclusion of the season, the Knights say goodbye to seniors Bailey, Danilo Bruno, Colombe, Sean Paulick, Williams and Dudzinski.

Crosby named Detroit Tigers’ top prospect

The 2010 Sporting News Baseball Preview magazine, available at newsstands everywhere, lists Kaneland High School alum Casey Crosby as the Detroit Tigers’ top prospect.

“Slowed by Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted in the fifth round in 2007 and eventually signing with the Tigers, Crosby started showing why he was so highly regarded last season,” the magazine said.

Crosby, who went 10-4 with a 2.41 ERA for Class A West Michigan in 2008 was also listed as being part of a possible trade for slugger Matt Holliday, then of Oakland, last year.

Delnor Home Health named top provider

Geneva—Delnor Home Health Care has been named to the 2009 HomeCare Elite™, a compilation of the top performing home health agencies in the United States.

This annual review identifies the top 25 percent of agencies and further highlights the top 100 and top 500 agencies overall. Winners are ranked by an analysis of performance measures in quality outcomes, quality improvement and financial performance.

“The 2009 HomeCare Elite winners exemplify a commitment to providing their patients with the best possible care while performing at the highest level,” said Nancy Buller, senior director of marketing communications at OCS HomeCare. “We congratulate Delnor Home Health on being one of the top home care agencies in the country.”

Kathy Tedesco, executive director of patient care services at Delnor, believes that “Delnor Home Health was named to the 2009 HomeCare Elite because of the level of care they provide, and that they have always kept the needs of patients at the forefront.”

Recognition as a Leader
The 2009 HomeCare Elite is the only performance recognition of its kind in the home health industry. The 2009 HomeCare Elite is brought to the industry by OCS, Inc., the leading provider of homecare information, and DecisionHealth, publisher of home care’s most respected independent newsletter Home Health Line. The data used for this analysis was compiled from publicly available information. The entire list of the 2009 HomeCare Elite agencies can be viewed by visiting the OCS website at

OCS HomeCare empowers home health and hospice organizations with results-driven data intelligence, plus the largest and most accurate homecare database in the industry. Homecare providers, payers, associations, government agencies, vendors and consultants all turn to OCS to elevate decision-making, raise the bar on results, and bring home positive outcomes. For more information about OCS HomeCare, please visit or call 1-888-325-3396.

For more information
Delnor Home Health is located at 964 N. Fifth Ave. in St. Charles. With nearly 40 dedicated employees, they provide skilled nursing and therapy services to over 1,000 patients per year in the central Fox Valley. The agency is state licensed, Medicare certified and accredited by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. For more information about Delnor Home Health Care, please call (630) 513-0370 or visit

Fine Arts Fest receives honors

Kaneland—On Jan. 20, the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival (KCFAF) was chosen to receive the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education 2010 Public and Community Service Award.

The Illinois Alliance for Arts Education (IAAE) is an organization for arts educators in drama, dance, music, and art. The only Illinois member of the Kennedy Center for Arts Education Network, the IAAE gives awards annually throughout the state of Illinois in a variety of categories. The KCFAF was nominated by Becky Blaine, art teacher at St. Charles East High School, and will receive the award on March 18 at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield.

This will be the second recognition the festival has received. The KCFAF previously won the Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association 2007 Distinguished Service Award. The festival is on Sunday, April 18, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Kaneland High School.

Photo: The KCFAF Planning Committee (from left, front to back, seated) Colleen Grigg, Diane McFarlin, Lisa Molitor, Maria Dripps-Paulson; (second row) Deanna Cates, Steve Good, Kimberly Nelson, Erin Livermore, Emily Van Delinder, Carleen Wieg, Heidi Espino, Lisa LeMaire; (third row) Lori Grant, Brandon Fox, Nika Plattos, Joann Murdock, Diana Kowalski, Lori Poczekaj, Mary Coffey. Courtesy Photo

Jumpers with heart

More than 100 children filled the gymnasium at the Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser at John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn on Friday. Pledges from parents and friends raised more than $8,000 for the American Heart Association, said event coordinator and teacher Tom Biddle.
Photos by Martha Quetsch

Da Capo Duo performs free concert in Elburn

The Da Capo Duo, flutist Kristin Paxinos and guitarist Ben Westfall, will perform a free concert on Saturday, March 6, at 2 p.m. at the Elburn Community Center.

With its unique blend of contemporary and classical styles, The Da Capo Duo presents an innovative and eclectic collection of music. Much of the program will feature Ben Westfall’s original arrangements for flute and guitar. A set of American film music includes the “Forrest Gump Suite” and selections from “The Hours” soundtrack, composed by Phillip Glass. Concert goers will also hear Westfall’s arrangements of Claude Debussy’s “Arabesque No. 1,” and “Clair de Lune;” and Frederic Chopin’s “Fantasie Impromptu.” 

The duo will also perform selections from the trademark “History of the Tango,” by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla; as well as selections from Maximo Pujol’s Suite Buenos Aires.

Call (630) 777-2955 for more information.

Courtesy photo

Knights beat bulldogs

Photo: Ryley Bailey (10) tries weaving around Batavia’s defense in the first quarter of the Knights’ 51-45 win on Friday, the first win in three years in that rivalry.
Photo by Ben Draper

KHS boys hoops finishes regular season 16-9
by Mike Slodki
BATAVIA—Three years of frustration went a long way to being dealt with on Friday.

Playing four quarters of exceptional ball on Friday night under the bright lights and tradition of Batavia High School, the Knights never trailed and ended the regular season on a high note with a 51-45 win over the Bulldogs.

The final Western Sun Conference game in both schools’ history marked Kaneland’s first win over Batavia since a 59-58 thriller over the Bulldogs in Maple Park in February 2007.

Some noteworthy markers of frustration for KHS in the recent rivalry was a 42-40 loss at Kaneland on Jan. 8 that came down to a final three-point try.

On Feb. 27, 2009, Mike Pritchard’s difficult shot was ruled a two-pointer instead of a game-tying three in a 54-53 loss.

Players like Steve Colombe think that this win could not have come at a better juncture in the season.

“It’s definitely a great accomplishment to beat Batavia,” Colombe said. “Coach Johnson preached resilience today, and we needed the execution down the stretch.”

Also provided was a little relief that the same situation from last year’s regular season finale didn’t happen this season.

“Yeah, at least it didn’t come down to that tonight and we put it away early,” Colombe said.
Kaneland finished the regular season at 16-9 (7-7 WSC).

Batavia finished 17-8 in regular season play.

Coach Brian Johnson stressed the team find an edge to not relinquish the lead to a historically tenacious Bulldogs squad.

“It’s such a great program with a great coach, and I hope Kaneland can get there at some point,” Johnson said. “We talked before the game about having resilience and being able to handle the ups and downs.”

Dave Dudzinski, guarded by two-to-three defenders the entire game, finished with a game-high 26 points.

Jesse Coffey led the Bulldogs with 11.

Both teams did fairly well on the foul shot end, with KHS going 15-for-23 and Batavia making 15-of-22.

Traditionally a prolific perimeter team, Batavia only converted two three-pointers.

Two shots by Ryley Bailey, a basket by Colombe and a jumper by Dudzinski gave the Knights a quick 8-0 lead 4 minutes, 24 seconds into the contest.

While Batavia came back with five points before the end of the frame, Dudzinski managed an emphatic rejection to keep the score 8-5.

In the second, with KHS scoring already scoring five unanswered, Dudzinski was manhandled by two Batavia defenders and still managed to sink a shot and convert a three-point play to go up 16-7 with 5:05 to go.

Dudzinski later hit a basket to stop a two-minute scoring drought and go up 18-11. After Coffey and Ricky Clopton hit shots to close within 18-17 with 18.5 to go in the half, Tyler Callaghan’s putback with 8.2 ticks remaining gave KHS a 20-17 halftime lead going into the locker room.

The third quarter featured the Knights going on a 13-5 run. A baseline jumper by Colombe, another three-point play by Dudzinski and two free throws by the Holy Cross-signee gave Kaneland a 27-19 lead with 3:48 remaining.

After Bailey made a shot, Dudzinski hit two more free throws and another lay-in for the biggest lead of the night at 33-21 with 1:30 remaining in the quarter. BHS made one foul shot 15 seconds later and made it 33-22 at the end of the third.

After Chaon Denlinger, Dudzinski hit one free throw and Donovan Williams converted at the top of the key to give Kaneland a 38-24 lead with 6:26 remaining.

Kaneland would then muscle its way to the foul line and make 7-of-11 opportunities, and with Williams’ next jumper, saw its lead increase to 50-34 with 1:58 to go, the biggest lead of the night.

Even with Batavia scoring the last eight points of the night, Kaneland proved victorious.

Batavia, the 12th seed in the Neuqua Valley Sectional, defeated (21) Glenbard West on Monday out at Waubonsie Valley by a 67-60 score. The Bulldogs were set to take on (5) Oswego East on Wednesday, while the Knights, hosts of their Class 3A regional, were set to play (3) Hampshire, after the Whip-purs’ 54-48 comeback win on Monday over (6) Rochelle.

Meanwhile, the (4) Sycamore Spartans outlasted the fifth-seed Burlington Central Rockets by a final of 66-61 on Monday and will face top-seeded DeKalb on Thursday.

Kaneland swimmer Alef makes great showing at State

Last week, Kaneland High School junior Grant Alef mentioned he hoped to see his name and picture adorn the school’s wall of State finalists.

This past weekend at Evanston High School, the lone representative of Kaneland put his hope into action.

Becoming the first KHS swimmer to ever medal in swimming events, Alef made it to the consolation final in both the 500-yard freestyle event in which he finished ninth overall and the 100-yard backstroke consolation final and finished eighth.

Alef finished at 4 minutes, 40.78 seconds in the freestyle after swimming 4:39.81 on Friday. He put in a Saturday effort of :52.73 in the backstroke after swimming :52.65 on Friday.

In 1980, Kaneland’s Jim Watson won the State Diving title.

Photo: Maple Park’s own Grant Alef shows off the hardware from this weekend’s IHSA State swimming and diving meet at Evanston High School. Courtesy photo

Soccer buff gives Kaneland kids winter workout

Elburn resident offers free skills coaching
ELBURN—When Brad Simmons of Sugar Grove offered Kaneland students ages 7 to 9 soccer lessons at no charge, parent Aaron Mayhan didn’t hesitate to sign up his son Casey, 8.

“I thought, what a great way for him to put the (Nintendo) DS down and the Wii on a Monday night and go enhance his soccer skills and have some fun—for free,” said Mayhan, of Elburn.

Casey is among about 20 youths taking part in the four-week program Simmons is conducting at Elburn & Countryside Community Center. Not only did Simmons volunteer his time to teach the children soccer skills, he paid the Community Center’s $180 fee to use the gym for the program on Mondays, Feb. 8 through March 1.

A 39-year-old banker, Simmons started playing at age 8 and went on to participate in competitive traveling teams. While studying business at Western Illinois University, he played pickup games whenever he had a chance.

“I just have a passion for the sport,” Simmons said.

Simmons decided to offer the free lessons to teach the youngest soccer players skills they haven’t learned and help them refine those they have.

He said soccer is an extremely physical game, and an excellent way for children to expend energy and stay in shape.

“You use every aspect of your body, and it requires a lot of feet and eye coordination,” Simmons said.

Unlike most sports including baseball, which have a lot of breaks in between action, soccer is “non-stop,” he said.

Mayhan is glad his son has a chance to take part in an active sports program during the winter. Casey plays baseball in spring and summer, and soccer in the fall.

“With the weather being the way it is, when kids can get some gym time in, it’s a great opportunity,” Mayhan said.

Simmons has coached for the Kaneland Youth Soccer Organization and Sugar Grove Park District youth soccer, and currently coaches for a traveling team outside the area. He distributed flyers at Kaneland elementary schools last month to let parents know about the program.

Simmons hopes the program boosts community support for soccer, with his long-term goal being to start up more local traveling teams in the Kaneland area.

Photo: Brad Simmons, of Sugar Grove, coached local 7- to 9-year-olds in soccer skills on Monday at the Elburn & Countryside Community Center. He rented the gym space for the free weekly program, to teach nearly 20 children. Simmons is a licensed coach who wants to enhance soccer programs locally. Photo by Martha Quetsch

KHS sophomore Erin Arndt starts Bits and Stirrups, a photography business

by Madi Bluml
Kaneland Krier Reporter

Kaneland—Distance or up-close? A quick shutter or a normal-speed shutter? How is the lighting?

These are a few of the many questions sophomore Erin Arndt asks herself when she prepares for a photo shoot for her photography business, Bits and Stirrups.

Arndt has been riding horses since age 8. As an avid rider, Arndt has a wall in her room camouflaged by awards she has won. She became interested in photography when she received her first digital camera around age 10. Two years ago, in 2008, she decided to start her own business.

The name Bits and Stirrups comes from horse terms, Arndt said. A bit is a metal piece that goes into the horse’s mouth, and stirrups are the metal loops on the saddle for the rider’s feet.

“I was interested in photography, and I had a friend who was a professional photographer,” Arndt said.

Her friend, Violetta Jackowski, was Arndt’s inspiration to become a photographer.

Arndt primarily photographs horses and riders. Sophomore Ally Bumbar is a rider Arndt has photographed.

“She’s gone to my horse shows, and she takes pictures while I’m riding and of lessons,” Bumbar said. “I think she’s really good.”

The aspiring photographer has regular clients; she will go to different shows for the same people.

Horses and their riders aren’t the only things Arndt photographs. She does individual portraits and family shots, too.

Fifth-grader Devon Buri, a student at Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School, has had family and individual portraits done by Arndt.

“She was fun because she did poses I’ve never done. It was great,” Buri said. “(The pictures) were good because of the shadowing.”

Junior Linnea Scherer has also had portraits done by Arndt.

“She gives good directions. She’s really easy to work with,” Scherer said.

Arndt said she enjoys editing some photos for fun in her free time. She continues to ride horses and competes in dressage and eventing. Dressage is a test that has to be memorized and then performed in front of a judge. Eventing is a series of three events that includes dressage, cross-country jumping and stadium jumping.

“I (want to) go far with riding horses, and I love bonding with the horses that I ride,” Arndt said, adding that horse-riding has made her learn responsibility to take care of horses.

Arndt has advice for aspiring riders.

“Find a place to ride and keep going for it,” she said. “Even if you fall, just get back on and try again.”

Local artists exhibit works at Hauser-Ross Eye Institute

Sycamore—Hauser-Ross Eye Institute will host a reception for three local artists, Dave Zoberis, Steve Tritt and Michelle Bringas, at 2240 Gateway Drive, Sycamore, on Thursday, Feb. 25, from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Each artist has a unique interpretation that highlights the beauty of local surroundings. The public is invited to view the new installation and meet the artists during the reception. Light refreshments will be provided.

The subject matter of Zoberis’ watercolors include the common scenes you may pass by every day as you go to work, school or take care of errands. He translates these images in watercolors that have a deeper meaning of life and existence. He refers to his style as “representative impressionism.” Dave said he feels it is important to preserve the meaning of our “everyday.”

The local landscape also inspires Tritt. He builds his work with layers of paint to create abstract works of art that are inspired by rural landscapes. Each painting is built up by the materials he chooses, which add to the depth and texture of he finished image.

“In my paintings, I try to put an acre of paint on a small surface. With each composition I create areas of color and texture using the Illinois landscape as my model,” Tritt said.

His current installation at Hauser-Ross is a reflection of winter and solitude with glimpses of color reflected from the sky.

Bringas’ vision is expressed from behind the lens of her camera. This is a medium she enjoys because it gives her the opportunity to capture local vignettes she discovers on her travels each day.

“Photography causes me to be regularly in touch with the beauty that lies in everyday encounters,” she said.

She will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of her pieces sold at Hauser-Ross to the Brandon T. Bringas memorial fund.

The exhibit will be open at Hauser-Ross Eye Institute from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and will run until May 25. For more information, contact Jennifer Bennett at

2000-09: Looking back at the decade that changed Kaneland

by Jessica Corbett and Zach Brown
Kaneland Krier Editors

Kaneland—Over 3,300 students have graced the halls of Kaneland High School in the last decade. They have witnessed skyrocketing class sizes, resulting in a sudden increase in cultural diversity.

They have heard the pounding of hammers and nail guns as the high school made the transition from an 800-student capacity to a 1,600-student capacity building.

Classes have been cut, expanded upon and added to the curriculum. Teachers and principals have come and gone. New clubs have been formed, and various sports teams have experienced successful seasons.

A lot has happened in 10 years, and a lot has changed.

“Change, no matter what kind of change, is hard for everyone,” history teacher Scott Parillo said.
Looking back on the last 10 years at Kaneland High School, some may not even recognize what it once was.

New principals

Dr. Dan Bertrand, Mike Davis, Tony Valente and Dr. Greg Fantozzi: four principals in 10 years.
These four men have all served as KHS principals in the last decade.

Bertrand, Davis and Valente have all moved on to administrative positions at other districts, and Fantozzi has just joined KHS for the 2009-10 school year, as well as being the interim principal continuing through the 2010-11 school year.

Bertrand served as principal from 1995 to 2005, and went on to become superintendent of Marengo School District.

“He had advanced his degree and wanted a superintendent position,” Sayasane said.

Following Bertrand was Davis, who served as principal from 2005 to 2007, after which he “moved to a place where he had deep family roots,” McCormick said.

In 2007, Valente entered the scene, but only served as principal from 2007-09, resigning to become the principal at Springhill High School in Roselle, Ill.

“Mr. Valente decided to resign later in the year, when he was offered the position,” McCormick said.

His place was filled by the newest principal, Fantozzi.

Although this is Fantozzi’s first year at Kaneland, he did have a special connection to the school before accepting the position as interim principal.

“Dr. Fantozzi had been Mr. Valente’s mentor,” McCormick said.

Typically, interim principals only stay for one year, but not in Kaneland’s case.

“With the budget situation that we’re in, we felt that stability in the staffing pattern was important,” McCormick said. “So Dr. Fantozzi decided to stay another year.”

It is the plan that, next year, a new principal will be hired for the 2011-12 school year.

Steininger said that changing principals definitely impacts the high school.

The principals have “different views on how things should be done,” she said.

Steininger said that, as principals change, there are also changes made within the school.

“There haven’t been drastic changes,” she said. “They’re smaller, but they add up.”

There is some concern among the administration with frequent changes in administrators.

“The length of time an administrative system is in the district is usually correlative with test scores,” McCormick said. “So it is difficult to get a consistent improvement effort at the high school.”

But McCormick was optimistic, and expressed hope of “building things back up” with the incoming principal.

Size and diversity
The high school enrollment has grown by leaps and bounds, from 803 students enrolled in 2000 to 1,300 students for the 2009-10 school year.

“I think we’re starting to see more cultures coming into the School District,” Parillo said. “As any growth happens, there’s always going to be diversity.”

Diversity impacts schools in different ways.

“In theory, it ought to bring a broader perspective to a setting,” McCormick said.

Sayasane and Parillo said that increased diversity has not affected their classrooms, but it may impact how students interact with each other.

“Increased diversity can sometimes lead to racial jokes or slurs, but for the most part, students at Kaneland seem to get along,” junior Michael Caballero said. “People are more accepting of other cultures (when diversity is increased).”

Students can also learn from their classmates’ varied cultural backgrounds.

“Learning about other cultures and their belief systems is very good for everybody,” Parillo said.

Also, as growth and diversity increase, classes and the curriculum have more options.

“The bigger population helps us offer a broader curriculum,” McCormick said. “We can offer more sections of a class.”

As growth continues, the school may become even more diversified.

“We have become a more diverse school district,” McCormick said. “(But) compared to other schools, our number of students with diverse ethnic backgrounds is still relatively small.”

Sports teams
From memorable games to some teams competing at state, Kaneland sports has had quite a decade.

With the exception of 2007, Kaneland varsity football qualified for the playoffs every year in the last decade.

In 2006, with All-State players like Casey Crosby and Boone Thorgesen, the team won conference.

In the last 10 years, wrestling became a AA school in the 2000-01 season, which former wrestling coach Gary Baum described as the “big school class.”

In 2006, Kaneland wrestlers reset the record for most wins in dual matches and had both conference champions and regional champions, as well as three additional state qualifiers.

Baum gives most of this credit to the fact that most Kaneland wrestling coaches were former Kaneland graduates.

In basketball, senior David Dudzinski recently scored his 1,000th point in a game against Burlington.

Last year, the boys’ varsity basketball team won a tournament in Plano, against 16 other teams.

A variety of teams at the high school have achieved great success in their seasons over the last 10 years.

As of 1997, District 302 consisted of only two buildings on one campus. The district has since grown to seven buildings spanning the 140-square-mile district.

Up until that point, elementary and middle school students attended school at the former
middle school, and high school students were taught at the current high school.

The Kaneland School District expanded in 1998, with a total of four schools in the district. Two identical elementary schools were opened, located in Elburn and Sugar Grove. The new elementary schools were named Kaneland North and Kaneland South.

The district has expanded even more in the last decade, constructing two more elementary schools, one in Elburn and another in Montgomery. This year marked the opening of a new middle school, which is located on Harter Road in Sugar Grove. This building took the place of the former middle school, which is located on the same campus as the high school.

KHS has also experienced building changes in the last 10 years. Due to extensive additions and reconstruction, the high school has doubled in size, McCormick said.

Such expansions include the auditorium and the current cafeteria, as well as the music wing, which houses the band and choir rooms.

Junior Kendall Renaud, who is involved in band and the school plays, has personally experienced the effects of the additions.

“I think (the additions) are helping the arts programs, now that we have new band and choir rooms,” Renaud said.

The fitness and wrestling rooms were also added, and the library was gutted and renovated, McCormick said.

Since the library was renovated, the book collection has doubled in size, librarian Lorna Code said.

“It looks like a college library,” she said. “You almost had to see it before to know how lucky we are.”

Discipline and rules
The frequent administrative staffing changes have impacted a particular aspect of the high school: rules.

Senior Matt Larsen said that, as Kaneland has transitioned from principals Davis to Valente to Fantozzi, things seem to have gotten much stricter.

Superintendent Dr. Charles McCormick said that it’s more the enforcement of certain rules that changes, rather than altering the rules or policies.

“Principals vary on how things are interpreted and how things are emphasized,” McCormick said.

“If a rule is not communicated enough to students or parents, then it will be changed or altered,” McCormick said. “But I don’t think there has been a huge change in topics.”

He said that changes are often due to changes in state or federal laws, or specific circumstances.

“Look at the way cell phones have changed in the last 10 years,” McCormick said.

“We’ve been all over the map on the cell phone policy,” English teacher Jennifer Sayasane said.

In an effort to remove the distraction posed by cell phones, the current policy states that students must leave cellular phones off and in lockers while school is in session, McCormick said.

The ID policy, which requires all students and staff to wear IDs, has also been implemented.

“I don’t think it’s a huge deal, having to wear IDs,” junior Charlene Steininger said. “But I don’t think students like wearing them.”

United They Fall

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland High School boys basketball got yet another look at the bright lights of the United Center on Saturday afternoon.

Unfortunately, they also got the wrong look at the result against rival Geneva.

Despite leading the game with under five minutes left, Geneva closed the contest with a 14-4 run en-route to handing KHS a 49-40 setback.

The game marked the last Kaneland-Geneva boys contest for the foreseeable future with both teams leaving the expiring Western Sun conference.

The last time Kaneland met Geneva at the home of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and the boys was back on Dec. 31, 2008, which resulted in a 58-39 loss.

The Knights also found time to defeat host Marengo on Feb. 17 by a 45-25 clip.

Kaneland now sits at 15-9 (6-7 Western Sun Conference), with one game remaining in the regular season before Class 3A Regional action begins.

Knight Dave Dudzinski (55) goes sky-high on the United Center floor during Saturday’s 49-40 loss to Geneva. The senior had 20 points. Photo by Ben Draper
Knights center Dave Dudzinski had little problem adjusting to the NBA-regulation court and bright lights at the beginning. The Holy Cross-bound senior sank two three-pointers and scored the first eight KHS points to lead Geneva 8-1 three minutes, one second into the affair.

“Dave still got his (20) points and nothing really changed on the floor,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “He’ll be playing on the big stage in the future.”

“We got used to it pretty good,” Dudzinski said. “The flow of the game didn’t really affect us being on the court. It was exciting for us, but our main goal is to get to NIU (Class 3 Super Sectional).

Geneva hit two trifectas to close within 8-7, but Kaneland’s Matt Spitzzeri hit a shot to make it 10-7 with 1:05 to go. Geneva hit a coast-to-coast layup at the buzzer to close within 10-9.

With Kaneland employing two Donovan Williams buckets sandwiched around a Dudzinski field goal to go up 19-14 with 4:09 left, the Vikings used four consecutive foul shots to close the game to one with 2:41 remaining in the half.

Steve Colombe (21) shoots a baseline jumper during Saturday afternoon’s 49-40 setback to Geneva in Chicago. Photo by Ben Draper
The two squads missed six combined shots to go into the locker rooms at the same score.

Geneva got hot right on the heels of Kaneland converting a foul shot and three consecutive shots for a 26-24 Knights lead with 4:39 left in the third quarter.

Geneva then scored the next eight points to take a 32-26 lead with 1:59 to go.

The Knights came back furiously led by a two-handed dunk by Dudzinski, an underneath basket by Steve Colombe and a drive by Taylor Andrews that tied matters at 32.

In the fourth, Williams got a feed from Ryley Bailey on a layup with 6:15 remaining for a 36-35 lead, which would mark the Knights’ last of the afternoon.

The Vikings scored eight unanswered to take a 43-36 lead with 3:39 remaining.

Dudzinski hit a basket and two free throws to close within 43-40 with 2:50 remaining, but Geneva’s aggressive offense led to five trips to the charity stripe that added the last six points.

“We hit highs and lows in the second half,” Johnson said. “Geneva forced us to play a little quicker.”

In the win over Marengo, Chaon Denlinger had a game-high 15 points, while Colombe had 11.

Kaneland led 16-3 after one and maintained a 24-12 lead going into the locker room.

The Knights opened the floodgates by routes 23 and 20 with a 13-4 third quarter to go up 37-16.

Kaneland has rival Batavia at the home of the Bulldogs for the final time as WSC rivals on Friday, Feb. 26.

On Wednesday, March 3, the Knights face the winner of the Hampshire-Rochelle matchup in the Kaneland Regional’s semifinal at 7:30 p.m.

Conley Outreach welcomes new grief facilitator

Elburn—Lora Windsor, LCSW, CADC, CT, has been helping families in the valley area for 15 years and has specialized in grief counseling for the past five years.

Motivated by her own experience of loss at age 26 when her husband died, she guides individuals and families in the bereavement journey. A licensed clinical social worker affiliated with Conley Outreach, Lora will facilitate three monthly topic-oriented grief support groups—Friendship Night, Mourning After and Grieving Parent Support Group.

This is a new format that allows individuals to drop in, attending as many groups as they wish, and explore as many topics as they wish with other adults who are also grieving. Group participants will develop a better understanding of their unique grief journey, learn coping skills, and have the opportunity to share their experience with others.

For three years, Windsor facilitated a group for parents whose child died from drug-and-alcohol-related causes, and for one year, she facilitated a group for adults whose partner died from cancer. She has also helped many bereaved individuals and families at her private practice in Geneva.

On the first Thursday of each month, beginning March 4 at 7 p.m., Windsor will facilitate the Mourning After group for young widows and widowers, and young adults who have lost their partner to death. The group will focus on grief issues specifically related to losing one’s partner to death—for example, layers of loss, unfinished business, and adjusting to a new identity.

On the second Thursday of each month, beginning Feb. 11 at 7 p.m., Windsor will facilitate the Grieving Parent Support Group for parents whose child has died. The group focuses on issues that grieving parents often face—for example, family members grieving differently, traveling many paths, and setting priorities.

On the fourth Thursday of each month, beginning Feb. 25 at 7 p.m., Windsor will facilitate the Friendship Night group, which is open to adults grieving a loss through death. This group focuses on the common elements of grief, whether the loss is one’s child, one’s parent, one’s sibling, etc. Examples of topics that will be discussed are grieving styles, tasks of grief, and preparing to grieve.

All groups meet at Great Lakes Leadership Center, 526 N. Main St., Elburn. Please call Conley Outreach at (630) 365-2880 for directions and for monthly topics. Windsor may be contacted at or by phone at (630) 204-0447.

Cupboard almost bare at Sugar Grove Food Pantry

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—The shelves at the Between Friends Food Pantry of Sugar Grove are not empty, but they are a lot less full than they were just a few weeks ago.

When the food pantry opened in Sugar Grove three months ago, it was serving 11 families. According to Sugar Grove resident and Village Board member Melisa Taylor, 67 families are currently obtaining food from the Sugar Grove location. Taylor came up with the idea for a local food pantry.

“Churches are letting their members know,” Taylor said. “They’re learning more about the food pantry.”

In addition to more families in need coming to receive food, donations have fallen off somewhat since the holidays, she said.

“I’m so grateful for what people have already done, but this is a year-round thing,” she said. “People are still losing their jobs. Every week, there are new people.”

Taylor said that the people who show up at the pantry, located in the rear of Engineering Enterprises, Inc. in Sugar Grove, would rather not have to be there. She recalled a family who came last week, where the parents had been out of work for six months to a year.

“They’ve used all their resources and savings, and now they’re officially in trouble,” she said. “They’ve been trying to stand on their own two feet, and now they need help.”

Fellow Sugar Grove resident Pat Graceffa had some advice for people who think that in order to help, they have to give a lot. Thinking in this way makes it seem so overwhelming, that they might end up not helping at all, she said.

“Things are very tough for everyone, so please only help if you are able to, but all donations of even a can of soup are truly helpful and appreciated more than you know,” she said.

Taylor said that donations of money can go a long way, as well. The food pantry purchases items such as milk, butter and eggs from the Sugar Grove Jewel Food Store for less than a regular customer would pay. In addition, food pantry volunteers can purchase food at a significant discount from the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

According to its website, the Northern Illinois Food Bank, a non-profit, 501(c)(3), chartered by the state of Illinois to provide food to those in need, acquires donated food and financial support from retailers, manufacturers, corporations, community resources, and individuals. NIFB distributes the food to hungry people through a network of more than 520 non-profit food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and other food assistance sites in 13 northern Illinois counties.

“As a member of the Northern Illinois Food Bank, we can purchase needed food items at greatly reduced rates,” Taylor said. “For example, $2 at the food bank buys eight boxes of name brand cereal. Make your donation go further and let us do the shopping.”

Donation drop-off locations
• Sugar Grove Animal Hospital
• Green Acre Cleaners
• Sugar Grove Village Hall
• Sugar Grove Library
• Old Second Bank
• Sugar Grove Remax
• Aurora Candlewood Suites
• Kaneland McDole
Elementary School
• Sugar Grove United
Methodist Church

Most-popular items
• Spaghetti sauce
• Pastas
• Pancake mix and syrup
• Boxed dinner mixes
• Canned fruits
• Canned veggies
• Juices
• Breakfast cereals
• Baby food
• Sugar and flour
• Soups and stews
Personal care, household items
• Laundry detergent
• Dish soap, cleansers
• Baggies, garbage bags
• Diapers (infant, adult)
• Shampoo, conditioner
• Soap, other toiletries
• Tissues, toilet paper
• Feminine products

Beloved pets need a home and food too, so pet food donations are also appreciated.

You may mail your tax-deductible donation to Between Friends Food Pantry of Sugar Grove, P.O. Box 509, Sugar Grove, IL 60554.

For more information, please call (630) 466-0345 or visit

The food pantry is located in the back of Engineering Enterprises, Inc., at 52 Wheeler Road in Sugar Grove.

Photo gallery: Mr. Kaneland 2010

Contestants ham it up and show off their talent and their appearance at this year’s Mr. Kaneland contest. Nine high school boys participated in the show, featuring a talent contest, casual wear and interview segment and an auction in which members of the audience paid to have them as their own personal assistant for a day to raise money and awareness for the Delnor Center for Breast Health. Edgardo Valle (right) won the crown, but all the boys were winners on Friday night, as they captured the audience with their talent and stage presence. Check out all the photos below, which are also available at
Photos by Susan O’Neill

New retail center contingent on water main project

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—The Maples commercial development at Route 38 and County Line Road cannot move forward until the village improves an aging water main, possibly with a county grant.

Bob Browning, of The Maples developer, Integritas Systems, LLC of Yorkville, submitted a proposed development agreement to the village Feb. 8.

“The Maples will have to wait for our answer until the village knows if it will get the grant,” Village President Kathy Curtis said during the Maple Park Committee of the Whole meeting Monday.

In its proposed agreement, Integritas Systems stated it will be responsible for another needed public works improvement project, as village officials previously requested. That project is a sanitary sewer connection, which the company will pay for and install.

The village water main project, on the northeast corridor of the village, is needed to provide the appropriate fire flow requirements from the water tower to The Maples, Curtis said. The improvement is not exclusively for The Maples, however.

“This project needs to be done regardless,” Curtis said. “The infrastructure is old and does not meet today’s size requirements.”

The village is seeking a $300,000 Kane County Community Development Block Grant to help pay for the $400,000 project. The village will likely know by early March whether it will receive the grant, she said.

Integritas Systems first proposed The Maples in November 2009. Plans for the development include small retail businesses, a restaurant and office rental space.

Village Bible Church to feed Haitian earthquake victims

Congregation seeks community help
by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—Members and friends of the Sugar Grove Village Bible Church on Saturday, Feb. 20, will pack 50,000 meals to send to victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The meals will be sent to the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, an organization with ties to Rockford-based Kids Around the World.

Kids Around the World is a Christian-based organization that builds playgrounds for children in places around the world. Dave Mogul, a Village Bible Church member, learned of the group when he traveled to Kurgistan last summer with them to help build a playground.

According to Village Bible Church outreach pastor, the Rev. Scott Capp, with the chaos and destruction in and around Port-au-Prince, many people have been transported to places as far away as the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, located eight hours north of the city.

The meals will be distributed through Kids Around the World, whose members will help pack the meals on Saturday.

“We plan to tackle 50,000 of the 500,000 meals Kids Around the World is striving to send,” Capp said.

The Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, in existence for 35 years, feeds approximately 10,000 people a day, Capp said.

The church put the word out of the need for volunteers a couple of weeks ago, and was overwhelmed with great people, Capp said. Although they will not turn anyone away who would like to help on Saturday, they currently have more people than money, he explained.

The food cost is 25 cents per meal, so they will need to come up with $12,500 to cover those expenses.

“We will trust in God to bring the money,” he said.

According to the church’s website about the mission to Haiti, one food package contains six servings and costs $1.50. Each package is ready to eat in less than 20 minutes by adding it to boiling water.

The food is a rice and soy mixture fortified with 21 vitamins and minerals, six dehydrated vegetables and chicken flavoring. Containing 52 percent protein, the meals are able to reverse the starvation process and its effects.

The church is trying in many different ways to provide practical outreach to the people of Haiti, Capp said.

“We want to show the love of God to these hurting people,” he said.

Amy Whipp, a church member who is also a doctor, traveled to Haiti at the beginning of February with a mission group to help out at an orphanage. She will tell her story at the church service on Sunday, Feb. 28.

The Rev. Keith Duff has challenged church members to consider taking in Haitian orphans, once the Haitian governmental restrictions have been lifted. He said the church’s goal is that 20 of their families will consider taking a Haitian child into their homes.

“God has given us so many resources,” Capp said.

Meal info
One box contains
36 packages,
costs $54 and
feeds 216 children

One pallet contains
33 boxes with 1,188 packages,
costs $1,782 and
feeds 7,128 children.

* * * * * *
If you would like to help
Meal-packing will take place on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 4:30 p.m. at the
Village Bible Church, 847 Route 47 in Sugar Grove.
Please RSVP at • Donations may also be made online

Several factors considered in D-302 snow day policy

by Brittany Larsen
Kaneland Krier Reporter

When is it too cool for school?

The question has recently been asked by Kaneland High School students who drive to school down icy roads or shiver at bus stops.

The school “is kind of strict because roads are bad, and there are a lot of accidents,” freshman Dan Goress said.

“My bus took a sharp turn and it slid, and it freaked everyone out. The roads are really unsafe (in winter),” freshman Jordan Ginther said.

Several factors go into deciding when to call a snow day. Sheer accumulation and whether the roads and parking lots will be plowed in time are two. Visibility and wind also affect this decision, Superintendent Charles McCormick said.

A cold day can also be called when the temperature is -40 degrees or below, with windchill, McCormick said.

The size and location of the district are also factors.

“Our district is unique because of how many students we have driving on open country roads,” McCormick said.

To determine whether there’s a snow day, certain people drive on predetermined routes east and west of the school, on all directions of roads, at 4:30 a.m. Between 5 and 5:15 a.m., the drivers and administrators discuss road conditions and decide whether to call a snow day by 5:30 a.m., said Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent of business.

If a snow day is called, the district uses a phone system called Blackboard Connect, which calls students’ homes. The district selects the group to call, which on a snow day is every person in the system, and the system sends the message to employees and students. In 10 to 12 minutes, the system can make 8,000 phone calls—it calls the first three phone numbers listed in every student’s file, McCormick said.

Other schools’ decisions are not usually a factor, but administrators find out because of the Fox Valley Career Center, Fuchs said.

Snow days must be made up, so the school then adds a day to the end of the year for every snow day, for up to five days. After that, there is a waiver from the state, McCormick said.

Student activities on snow days vary.

“I usually go outside and build snowmen with my little brother,” junior Athina Ajazi said.

Some students take a different approach—Goress said he takes the opportunity to sleep in.

Photo: Icy conditions and snow accumulation are just two of the factors that go into determining whether or not District 302 cancels school on a particular day.
Photo by Patricia Lassandro

MP community policing initiative begins

Officer talks to Girl Scouts about safety
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—A community policing initiative kicked off Monday in Maple Park with a presentation by officer Andy Rissman to local Girl Scouts about staying safe.

Maple Park’s new police chief, Michael Acosta, announced when he was hired in January that he wanted to enhance safety in the village by bringing police and the community together through children’s programs and resident forums with officers.

Acosta said Rissman is an ideal officer to provide such programs.

“He seems to have a knack for talking to people, and he really believes in community policing,” Acosta said.

Rissman volunteered to help with Acosta’s initiative, which also is designed to encourage residents of all ages to know and trust the police.

“The only thing they used to see in town was a squad car pulling someone over for speeding,” Rissman said.

Rissman encouraged the girls to feel free to talk to the police whenever they have a concern.

Girl Scout Emma Bohm, 11, of Maple Park, thought Rissman was “really nice” and said she would feel comfortable approaching him in the future, if necessary. Emma said his safety presentation was “great.”

“I liked that he talked about what to do if you are in a sticky situation, and how to get out of it,” Emma said. “I also liked how he talked about Internet safety, because I go on the computer a lot.”

During the presentation, Rissman offered a multitude of safety tips to the Girl Scouts, offering scenarios of possible dangers they might encounter and what to do under those circumstances. He told them to walk in groups rather than alone, to run and yell if someone tries to accost them, to bite an attacker’s hand so that he lets go, and to tell their parents if someone they do not know tries to communicate with them online.

Rissman also advised the Scouts to remember details such as the color and number of doors of any car whose driver approaches them, and the direction the vehicle goes; then, they can tell police and increase the likelihood that the perpetrator will be apprehended.

Other programs that Acosta is planning to teach safety and acquaint children with officers include puppet shows and storytelling.

Photo: During a community policing presentation at the Civic Center Monday, Maple Park Police Officer Andy Rissman encouraged his audience, a group of local Girl Scouts, to use the skills gained as Scouts to be leaders, not followers, to avoid unsafe or illegal activities such as underage smoking and drinking, and vandalism. Photo by Martha Quetsch

Go LONG—KHS grad sets Elmhurst record

by Mike Slodki
NAPERVILLE—The journey to the top is over.

Kaneland High School 2006 graduate Lyndsie Long of Sugar Grove made Elmhurst College women’s basketball history on Tuesday night at Merner Fieldhouse in Naperville, scoring a team-high 18 points in a 79-67 win at North Central College and becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer.

“I always had a goal to be the all-time leading scorer at Kaneland, too, and it didn’t happen,” Long said. “This started freshman year, and I kept it in the back of my head, and now I finally did it.”

Fans with sign
Several well-wishers of Lyndsie Long had a finished product to their countdown in the Merner Fieldhouse bleachers at NCC on Tuesday. Photo by Mike Slodki

A senior, Long was 11 points away coming into the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) contest.

Long has amassed 1,788 points, eclipsing Karen Kinsella’s mark of 1,780.

The record-breaking basket came two minutes into the second half on an offensive putback, only after a couple of missed foul shots and field goal attempts that left her tied with the record going into the halftime break.

“I was like, ‘this can’t be happening’,” Long said. “I was trying not to be nervous, and of course you’re going to be because you know it’s right there in your hands. I was stuck on 10 for awhile, and I wanted to get it so I didn’t have to worry about it.”

Elmhurst, with the win, improved to 16-8 (9-4 CCIW) and secured a berth in the postseason tournament.

Long, now averaging 24.1 points per game, drove through more noteworthy roadblocks on her way to college basketball history in the games leading up to Tuesday.

In a 75-68 win over North Park University on Saturday, Long scored 30 points and hit four three-pointers to become Elmhurst’s all-time leader in trifectas with 160.

Record-breaking shot
Lyndsie Long’s offensive putback early in the second half on Tuesday at North Central College leads to a place at the top of the Elmhurst College record books. Courtesy of Steve Woltmann

On Feb. 10 in an 85-84 heartbreaker loss to visiting Carthage College, Long set a single-game scoring mark for the Elmhurst Bluejays with 45 points, breaking a record that stood for 24 years, and set a CCIW record that stood since 1994.

Long, who provided a major component of Kaneland girls basketball squads along with Jessica Lund, Kelsey Flanagan, Sarah Coppert and Kaiti Roy, sits at second place in the Lady Knights’ scoring list behind current Waubonsee women’s basketball coach and Aurora University standout Dana Wagner.

Elmhurst ends its regular season hosting Wheaton College on Saturday, Feb. 20.