Category Archives: Kaneland


Kranz takes valuable pole position

2007 Kaneland graduate Sam Kranz (right), at the KHS pole vault summer camp June 27, is now a coach at Murray State University in Murray, Ky. Kranz gets a low-five from current Kaneland High School pole vault coach Andy Drendel (below, far right) after clearing 17 feet. Photos by Patti Wilk

Knight track alum important aspect of Murray State program
MURRAY, KY.—Sam Kranz, a member of Kaneland’s Class of 2007, has seen his track fortunes take him many places in the continental United States.

Most recently, he was in Los Angeles on the grounds of the U.S. Olympic Training Center at the Emerging Elite clinic for coaches of all levels, picking the brains of invited coaches and Olympic athletes.

That’s just another tool in Kranz’s coaching arsenal, which brings him back to Murray State University in Murray, Ky., where he was a women’s track graduate assistant, concentrating in pole vault.

A State qualifier in IHSA boys track for the Kaneland pole vault factory, Kranz, who lives in Murray, came over from his alma mater Northern Iowa after spending a year as a graduate assistant.

“It was kind of strange being a mentor to kids at that level after recently competing, but the kids understand after awhile once you put on the polo,” Kranz said.
On head coach Jenny Severns’ staff, Kranz is using his skills and acumen in an Ohio Valley Conference that is ripe for the taking.

“The OVC is in a real interesting spot, with your pole vault and high jump in kind of a weak spot conference-wise, but the triple jumps are up there with the best in the nation,” Kranz said.

Kranz knows what success and training can yield, and hopes the Racers program can improve on its 60-point, seventh-place team finish at the OVC meet.

“We had a girl earn a personal record by 2-and-a-half feet this year and another by over a foot, but there’s enough to look back on to see what we could have done differently,” Kranz said.

Kranz is also aiming to up his game in recruiting.

“Recruiting is such a big part of this,” Kranz said. “We’re not at the point where we can point to a lot of success at Murray for something like pole vault. That’s what I want to be able to point out to girls that we talk to in a couple of years.”

The Racer coaching staff member can draw on top-notch influences that he gathered as an athlete and give back from anywhere from a Kaneland pole vault camp to a conference meet in Edwardsville, Ill.

“I draw on anyone from Dan Steele, who was at Northern Iowa, to my dad, who founded his own company and is president,” Kranz said. “I can talk with them about anything and they are really good mentors and there are some similarities that overlap. They influence how I do this. I’ll continue to work hard and help develop the program.”

School Board approves energy conservation commitment

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday came together, despite severe thunderstorms in the area, to approve a conservation commitment.

The School Board agreed to a commitment with Cenergistic Energy, an energy conservation company that has experience working with school districts, including Batavia, to conserve energy.

Expected areas of savings include water, electric and gas bills.

Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, on Tuesday explained why it was important for the board to approve the conservation commitment.

“It was important for the board to show their commitment in writing, through that commitment that the district provided for us, so that all staff and community would know that the board is committed to energy savings and the program,” she said.

Fuchs said that some energy savings the company could provide include turning off computer monitors and lights. She added that many “behavioral changes” that will take place with Cenergistic Energy will occur during off hours, including holidays and breaks.

An energy specialist is yet to be hired. The specialist will provide more specific ways for the district to save money by conserving energy.

The board had previously agreed to have a five-year contract with the conservation company, which would last from May 1 until April 30, 2019. The cost to the district is $9,000 per month. The expectation was that there would be energy savings expected to exceed all costs during this time period.

All board members, with the exception of Pedro Rivas, voted yes to the agreement at the April 28 School Board meeting.

“There’s nothing that holds this company (Cenergistic) liable past five years,” Rivas said during the April meeting. “I’m concerned with that.”

Fuchs has an expectation concerning the partnership between the district and Cenergistic Energy.

“We’re very excited to be working with Cenergistic,” Fuchs said. “They have a great program that has proven results in other school districts. And we’re expecting that it will work well in Kaneland, too.”


Recent Kaneland grad finds success on a different track

ELBURN—Elburn resident Michael Geringer is finding a whole new way to get around—really well.

Geringer, a recent member of the Kaneland High School Class of 2014, is finding he can burn rubber on the go-kart circuit.

The 17-year-old talent, who turned pro in September, won his first national race as part of the US Pro Kart Series. Geringer, as part of Praga North America, took the field at Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Ind., back on June 24.

Geringer, showing his skills in the Leopard 125 Pro class, and previously taking to tracks as an amateur, still keeps his capacity for awe.

“I was a little surprised at how well I did,” Geringer said. “It was a 40-car field, and at regionals the week before, I did good, but I expected a top-five.”

Having competed in national races in North Carolina, and sticking closer to home as part of regionals racing like the Route 66 Spring Series, Geringer is out on an island on the track, relying only on his kart and training.

“I try not to think about it too much, you just try to get up there. I won a Route 66 Regional championship last year, and I’m glad to be with the new team. They help out a lot,” Geringer said.

Elburn resident Michael Geringer won the 125 Pro category at Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Ind. Photo submitted by Pranga North America to
Elburn resident Michael Geringer won the 125 Pro category at Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Ind.
Photo submitted by Pranga North America to

Having raced and gotten into the circuit with the help of his father, Michael, Geringer’s accomplishments speak for themselves, but he’s also aware that goes for the rest of the field.

“The last race had the top karts separated by .05 seconds, and everybody there brings the best,” Geringer said.

Geringer has his eyes on bigger tracks as the year progresses.

“There’s three more regionals near here, and two more nationals, and I really want to go to Supernationals (USA Supernationals XVIII in late-Nov.) which are at the Rio in Las Vegas,” Geringer said.

Geringer is attending Waubonsee Community College in the fall with eyes on transferring to a four-year institution for mechanical engineering.

Michael Geringer, 17, is a recent Kaneland High School graduate, and will attend Waubonsee Community College in the fall. The Elburn native is sponsored by Pranga North America. Photos submitted by Pranga North America to
Michael Geringer, 17, is a recent Kaneland High School graduate, and will attend Waubonsee Community College in the fall. The Elburn native is sponsored by Pranga North America.
Photos submitted by Pranga North America to

Exchange students seeking host families in Elburn

ELBURN—Visiting students ages 15-18 from around the world, including Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand, are seeking host families in and around Elburn for the 2014-15 academic school year. Host families are needed for the fall semester and full school year.

Host families (traditional families, singles, empty nesters, etc.) serve as mentors and a home base for their student. Visiting students participate as active members of the family and integrate into their host’s daily routines and traditions just like any other family member. Hosting an international student is a great way to explore a new culture and promote a sense of lifelong learning and adventure.

“Every year, Illinois plays host to hundreds of talented, top-of-their-class students with the lifelong dream of studying in America,” said Joseph Bissell, iE-USA’s regional director. “Our state’s hospitality and prominent focus on academic enrichment makes it an ideal environment to develop cultural exchange and promote international diplomacy on a local level.”

iE-USA, the sponsoring program, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting education and understanding through intercultural and academic exchange. iE-USA is certified by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel and strictly adheres to all U.S. Department of State Student Exchange Program regulations and guidelines.

Exchange student participants undergo an extensive application and orientation process in their home country prior to being accepted into iE-USA’s program. Each student is responsible for his/her own spending money and full health insurance coverage.

To learn more about how to make the dream come true for an international high school exchange student, contact Illinois representative Emily Rolin at or (269) 625-4662. Host families may review prospective student profiles online at Families interested in hosting this year must apply by Friday, Aug. 15.


Kaneland Madrigals travel to Ireland

Singers perform, see sights
KANELAND—Kaneland High School’s chamber choir, otherwise known as the Madrigals, traveled to Ireland earlier this month. The trip gave 29 students the chance to sing, check out sites and take in the culture.

According to a report by Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler, the Dunham Fund donated $8,000 to support the singers’ performance tour to Ireland, which took place June 5-13.

Bryan Kunstman, Fine Arts Department chair and choir director at Kaneland High School, said that the Dunham Fund money, as well as fundraisers the students held throughout last school year, were used to offset the cost of the trip. According to Kunstman, the choir’s concert earlier this month at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles raised over $1,000 for the trip.

Kunstman said that the Ireland trip was important on a lot of levels.

“Anytime you’re able to go overseas or travel and experience things in person, it makes a longer impact,” Kunstman said. “Learning through experiencing goes a lot further than by word of mouth; and even experiencing it through the music when you can put it in the spaces where the music was written for. You get to meet other people, sing in other cultures, get to experience communicating with others.”
Students on the Ireland trip traveled to various churches and sang 16 choral selections. The places they performed included St. Columba’s Church in Ennis, St. Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church in Galway and St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork.

The choir sang mostly sacred songs. They also sang spiritual, contemporary, an Irish landscape poem. They even sang a choral piece Dolly Parton had performed, called “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” In addition, the Madrigals sang a varied version of the song “Eatnemen Vuelie” from the hit film “Frozen.”

When not performing, the students took in landscapes like the Cliffs of Moher along the Atlantic coast, and places like Bunratty Castle.

They also saw Irish dancing complete with lots of hopping and footwork and heard duet music from a harpist and violinist.

Sugar Grove resident Kayla Hedgren, a recent Kaneland High School graduate, went on the Ireland trip. She recalled what it was like to sing in some cathedrals with the Madrigals.

“The acoustics, the sound was angelic,” Hedgren said. “I don’t think that we realized—maybe we didn’t realize—how well we sounded as a group. I don’t think that we fully understand that until, to hear the sound echo in the cathedral and to hear yourself sing back, it really (is) such a moving thing. And to know that you’re in Ireland (is) just a cloud nine experience.”


Community gets in on the fun run

Photo: Kamryn Madsen, 3, of Cortland, runs the Kids 400m Friday night at Kaneland High School. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Kaneland mom Sonya Hwang, a Sugar Grove resident, ran the 5k at last Friday’s third annual Kaneland Foundation Knight Run at Kaneland High School. And notched a personal record in the process.

“This was my best record so far,” Hwang said with a laugh.

Hwang placed third in the women’s category with a time of 28 minutes, 8 seconds. Her award was a blue-painted rock affixed to the Knight Run logo.

“(The Fun Run) is truly a family event,” she said.

Participants ranged from a grandmother to children. Hwang said she saw a boy toddler running a bit around the school’s track.

Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler is the executive director of Kaneland Foundation. He said that about 150 Kaneland students, family and employees attended the event.

“I think the event certainly was a success,” Schuler said. “Obviously, we would have loved to have had more people there.”

Money raised from the event will go to the Kaneland School District. Staff will be able to apply for grant money to use in the classroom for things like technology or fine arts activities.

The Knight Fun Run offered different racing course options, including a 5k cross country race, 1-mile cross country race, and quarter-mile track race for children ages 6 and under.

The 5k had participants running next to cornfields and circling the soccer and baseball fields and actual track. Runners had the opportunity to grab bananas, granola bars and bottled water after crossing the finish line.

Schuler explained that the race planning included being sure to have water and electronic timing. Other tasks included organizing T-shirts, planning registration and trying to get sponsorship and advertising.

Elburn resident Ruth Vostal went to the event with her family and labeled herself as the picture taker and cheerleader. All of her children, twins Brennan and Lilly, 6, and son Hayden, 8, and husband, Reed, ran in the races.

Brennan and Lilly ran a lap around the track. Lilly ran faster than her brother this year. Meanwhile, Reed ran the 5k and came in sixth place with a time of 22 minutes, 50 seconds.

As for Hayden, he had his first experience of running the 1-mile cross country and came in third place with a time of 7 minutes.

“I felt like I was older than my age,” Hayden said.


Kaneland student earns prestigious journalism honor

KANELAND—Kaneland High School student Nick Boose earned a prestigious journalism honor this past school year.

Boose, a Sugar Grove resident who will be a KHS senior this fall, is editor-in-chief for the Kaneland Krier, the school’s newsmagazine. He’s also one of 12 Illinois students named to the Illinois All-State Journalism Team.

“It’s a really big honor to receive,” Boose said. “I wouldn’t say we are necessarily the best. It’s just journalists that put in the most time and effort behind the scenes.”

Recently, Boose and the other All-State team members headed to Springfield to dine at the Executive Mansion. He also received an award for his accomplishment.

Boose’s editor-in-chief responsibilities at the Krier include overseeing “day-to-day operations,” approving PDFs and story ideas, copy editing stories and seeing that deadlines are followed.

“I just kind of oversee the Krier as a whole,” Boose said.

Kimberly Reese, journalism teacher at Kaneland High School and advisor for the Kaneland Krier, nominated Boose to be on the state team.

“Nick is one of those students who has a real, true passion for journalism,” Reese said. “He has a passion for finding news and sharing it with his readership.”

She noted that the article he co-wrote about bullying, published in 2012, was a “quintessential piece” for Boose.

Boose’s article, “Marks of forgotten memories,” took readers inside the tough world of a student who had experienced bullying, and it showed feedback from Kaneland staff on what steps the Kaneland School District would take to deal with bullying.

Nick’s mom, Penny Boose, has some ideas on what makes Nick special.

“Well, for me, it’s (that) he’s got a big heart,” Penny said. “He sees the good in people. And he’s a real go-getter.”

Nick has been interested in writing since he was in elementary school. He would create made-up stories and always kept a “little notebook” by his bed. And as a high school student, he would write story ideas in his notebook.

Boose will attend a seven-day conference next month with other American top journalists at George Mason University and learn from journalists from publications including the New York Times and Washington Post.

The accolades for Kaneland journalism don’t end there, either, as the Krier recently received a bronze certificate for Excellence in Journalism from the Northern Illinois School Press Association.

As for Boose, he plans on studying at University of Iowa, where he will double major in journalism and education. His career aspiration is to become a high school journalism teacher.

He said that he has been in contact with four journalism advisors.

“The motivation that they instill in me and just their passion and the way that they come across being has had a huge affect,” Boose said. “And I want to take what they’ve given me and my passion and pass it on to a new generation of journalists.”

School Board approves upcoming work projects

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board at its special meeting on June 16 voted to approve upcoming projects for district schools.

The first vote pertained to paving and sealcoating parking lots for a cost of $389,264.04. The School District agreed to form a contract with Champion Paving Corporation.

There were a total of two vendors. The second of which, Meyer Paving, had a total cost of $445,121.65

School Board member Pedro Rivas asked what was looked for in a reference check. Tim Woolever, associate of Ruck Rate Architecture, explained why Champion Paving was recommended.

“Everyone we spoke to said they would hire them again,” Woolever said.

According to a report by Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, the district will pay for this project from the Operations and Maintenance Fund and Capital Projects Fund that has been allocated for the upcoming school year. She added that some money could come from the same funds from last year’s budget.

The schools that will see work projects include Kaneland High School, Harter Middle School, and John Stewart and John Shields elementary schools. Different work aspects include sealcoating, crack filling, stripping and milling.

All board members agreed to go forward with summer projects for district schools at an expected cost of $656,414.04. The estimated cost had been $700,000.

Summer work ranges from replacing a safety surface on a playground, lunch room table replacements, aforementioned lot work and roof repair. There is a savings of $25,000 because the crowning of the KHS football field is now on hold for a year or two.

Board member Peter Lopatin asked if the lunch tables that will be replaced at the elementary schools can be refurbished and resold.

“Let me check on that,” Fuchs said.

Board members Veronica Bruhl and Tony Valente were absent from the meeting.


Cummins’ victory lane continues through summer

ELBURN—For the city of Buffalo, NY, it’ll be nice to have a bonafide winner in its midst. The football thing hasn’t worked out.

Enter Kaneland Harter Middle School athlete Mabel Cummins, soon to enter eighth grade.

Already one of the elite bowling talents in her age group, the busy Cummins heads to the United States Bowling Congress Youth Open Championships on Saturday-Sunday, July 12-13, followed by the USBC Junior Gold Championships Friday, July 18, in Buffalo, NY.

All she did was win the Girl’s U-12 division at the 2014 Illinois Pepsi Youth Bowling Championships in Bloomington, Ill., to qualify for the Gold gathering, which comes with paid entry and travel stipend.

Working five to six games a day, five to six days a week with accomplished professionals and the support of her family, Cummins is learning to deal with the pressure, and is able to plow through, like when she averaged a 201 score through 12 games in Bloomington and at a recent pro-am gathering in Tampa, Fla.

“They made cuts at State, and I made out of the top of all of those,” Cummins said. “I was number one. It’s a lot more games we’re bowling and a different format, which I like. I did want to win, I admit that. I told myself ‘you’re going to go out there and do the best you can.'”

She’s even had a little fun in the past year of competition.

“When we go to tournaments, we go to fun places. We’re going to go see Niagara Falls,” Cummins said. “We go to different attractions like Busch Gardens in Florida. That was pretty cool.”

‘We typically go to museums or amusement parks,” father Ray said. “Things that she’s never seen. That’s the biggest attraction to team USA.”

The Team USA Junior Developmental squad, which represents the United States at international competitions, is a consistent, strike-fueled repertoire away, short of their being an Olympic opportunity.

“That’s her next goal,” Ray said. “That team travels around the world on behalf of America like an Olympic team would. They get to see things like the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower.”

With a year of hefty competition behind her, Cummins’ game feels different, and better to boot.

“I feel my physical game has improved, and I have a lot more speed. My mental game has also improved,” Cummins said.

The Buffalo gathering includes 2,000 bowlers across seven bowling centers, and Cummins aims to stand out.

“I’ve never bowled at Junior Gold before. It’s my first time. I’d like to get used to the lane and figure out the bowling pattern.”

“Kids show up used to where they bowl, and are overwhelmed. These are PBA-caliber conditions, and they fall hard,” Ray said.

Whether its Buffalo or at the July BPAA Women’s All-Stars Pro-Am in Rockford, Ill., Cummins has had more time this past year to have more confidence in her game.

That’s good news for her, bad news for the unfortunate pins in her wake.

“I’ve already qualified for Junior Gold, and I made most of my spares at the PEPSI,” Cummins said. “If you tell yourself, ‘don’t do this’ somewhere around there, you’ll do it because you’re focusing so hard,” Cummins said.


A quick example

Kaneland grad Heckert utilizes experience to coach, run marathons
PLAINFIELD, Ill.—As a multi-sport athlete at Kaneland High School nearly a full decade ago, Kristen Heckert used her immense talent to cross many a State-qualifying finish line.

Now as a math teacher and coach at Plainfield South High School, she’s been responsible for honing young athletes’ talent, while finding time to reach finish lines as a member of New Balance Chicago racing.

Having finished her college athletics career at University of Illinois-Chicago, Heckert soon made her way to a teaching post at KHS before landing at Plainfield South before the 2012-13 school year.

Heckert was the girls cross country coach this past season and assistant track coach, and plans to step into an assistant XC role to better concentrate on marathons when the New Balance banners fly.

There’s important overlap with the two.

“I try to talk about my running a little bit,” Heckert said. “I stepped down to an assistant for more time to train. My running is really important to me and I want to see what I can do with it. I didn’t want it to conflict with coaching. They should have a coach that is with them 100 percent, and nothing is more important than that,” Heckert said.

If anything, Heckert gets a built-in support staff in addition to her New Balance racing outfit, which most recently saw a 36:03 effort at United Run For The Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo, tops in the 10K women’s division.

“They know that I am competing and know what my end goal is, but it’s not about me, it’s about the girls. They are so supportive, and the coaching staff and boys program is so supportive. It helps, because you let them know they always have to stretch and run. These kids are doing it all the time and combined with school. It just gives you an extra push,” Heckert said.

Now a three-time veteran of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon held in October, Heckert finished in 20th in the womens’ division with a 2:47.56 in 2012 and 2:44.12 in 2013. From the former Lady Knight’s perspective, there’s nothing not to like about the experience.

“There’s not outside pressure ever,” Heckert said. “There’s so many people. The pressue comes from ourselves. It’s kind of ‘go out there and see what you can do.” The racing team is so supportive and everyone wants the best for you. It’s a wonderful experience. To get that support from people who don’t even know you and are out at six in the morning, it’s wonderful and it’s a great accomplishment for anyone who does it.”

Having also competed in the Chicago Half-Marathon in September with a time of 1:19.18 and the DeKalb Corn Classic 10K last summer in 36:11, Heckert has plenty of great performances to draw from and still tries to match memorable runner highs.

“That first marathon was so perfect, it felt good. I thought they were all going to be that way, but the last two were so painful and hurt so much. I’ve been so lucky when it comes to injuries. You always wake up sore, but I haven’t had anything where I need to take time off, so I’m very thankful for that,” Heckert said.

With her 2012 Bank of America time in Chicago and top Illinois finisher, Heckert was able to be invited to a marathon in Osaka, Japan, but declined the task because it coincided with Plainfield South cross country regionals.

She was once again the top Illinois finisher in 2013, and Osaka won’t be a problem with an assistant coach job.

“If Osaka is offered to me this year, I’ll definitely take it,” Heckert said.

Heckert has more aspirations, only in the form of U.S. Olympic Trials in Los Angeles in 20 months, where she’ll need a 2:43.

“I would love to run in the Olympic Trials (March 2016), that’s the end-all, be-all goal. I have a lot of opportunities with coaching and teammates. I would love to do that with running, and be running with the top Americans ever,” Heckert said.

With her brothers and sisters in cross-trainers, the journey will be noteworthy and fast.

“We always do the Palos race, the Soldier Field 10-miler—those will wipe me out—and the Zoo race is sponsored by New Balance,” Heckert said. “We do the Human Race in Oak Brook, which has the money go to great causes. I don’t like racing a lot, and I’ve raced a lot this year. I love training.”


‘Pwnage’ robot a hit at middle school

Photo: Kaneland students and 2451 Robotics Team members include Elburn resident Triston Powell (left to right), 16, and siblings Alyssa, 18, and Charles Faulkner, 15, of Aurora. Photo by Lynn Logan

KHS students bring robot to Harter Middle School
KANELAND—Harter Middle School recently had a unique visitor grace its main stage: a robot.

And not just any robot. This one stands 28 inches by 38 inches and weighs nearly 140 pounds. And it also has the ability to move at a speed of 16 feet per second.

The machine in question belongs to robotic team Pwnage No. 2451, which consists of three high school students from Kaneland—Triston Powell of Elburn, and Aurora siblings Charlie Faulkner and Alyssa Faulkner, who is a recent graduate—as well as 22 high school students from Batavia, St. Charles North, St. Charles East, West Aurora, Metea Valley, Glenbard North and Burlington Central.

On the recent visit to HMS, Powell operated the robot to toss red, white and blue frisbees to the sixth- to eighth-graders on the stage in the cafeteria.

“A few of (the students) were in awe,” Powell said. “A lot of them were just saying that it was cool that it could actually do that. And they just were excited to be able to catch a frisbee and stuff.”

Alyssa enjoyed having the robot on the school site.

“(It was) fun to see all of the kids come up and just like talk to them about the robot and see them so excited to see the robot working,” she said.

Charlie noticed that the sixth-graders had lots of enthusiasm about the robot.

“A lot of them were just ready to learn about the robot, ready to look at it, have it explained to them,” Charlie said. “They loved having the frisbees thrown at them.”

Ryan Wlodek, an eighth-grade science teacher at HMS, coordinated the demonstration at the school.

“It’s unbelievable,” Wlodek said. “The effort and the amount of engineering that has to go into something like that to build; that’s highly complex.”

The Pwnage team has made more accomplishments with their recent robot. The machine has a signature move, thanks to a swerve drive that allows it to spin around and around while playing the competitive game “Aerial Assist” with other robots. The game’s objective is to score balls in goals during a 2 minute, 30 second match.

Pwnage in April competed in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition World Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Pwnage ended the competition with a ranking of 14 out of 400 teams.

“It feels really exciting,” Powell said of Pwnage’s showing in St. Louis. “We’re all really happy that we’ve gotten the opportunity to be (ranked) this high.”

The team was a finalist in a Curie division. Dan Kein, adult mentor representative and project manager of Pwnage No. 2451, called the team “pretty incredible.”

“When you consider out of 2,700 or some robots that we were in the top 14, I think that that in itself is a pretty amazing accomplishment,” Kein said. “There’s a lot of really excellent teams out there, and for us to have as highly ranked as we were, I think we’re pretty humbled by that.”

Pwnage’s recent success is already paying dividends, as the robotic team will participate in the Indiana Robotics Invitational (IRI) this July.

“The teams that get invited to IRI are teams that the people who organize (the competition) believe are the best teams in the world,” Kein said.

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Student’s drive, commitment leads to President’s Scholarship

MAPLE PARK—Carissa Miller is all about business. And heart.

Miller, a Maple Park resident and Kaneland High School senior, will major in business administration when she attends Indiana State University this fall.

Miller is one of 20 selected students across America to achieve the ISU President’s Scholarship, and one of two Kaneland High School students to earn the achievement.

Being a President’s Scholar means that if Miller keeps up good grades, she will get free tuition and premium housing at ISU, from freshman to senior year.

“It’s nice to see it pay off, because I’ve always been super-excited for college, too,” Miller said. “And I’ve been working two years now saving up for college. So it’s nice to know that I can pretty much do it on my own.”

Miller has made numerous accomplishments during her high school career. She has a 4.0 GPA, and has been a member of Kaneland’s National Honor Society her junior and senior years.

She also sings alto and performs in the school’s Madrigals chamber choir. She calls herself a “huge music nerd,” adding that she has done choir since the sixth grade. Miller last winter played the role of a queen during the Madrigal feaste event.

Miller has lent a helping hand by doing community service, such as volunteering at Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva. She made care packages for babies, including small blankets, bottles and wipes. She also participated in student council and helped with the grocery food drop. Miller made requests to shoppers to pick up a couple of needed supplies like non-perishable items, deodorant and toothpaste for the military overseas.

Miller has a reason why she stays motivated.

“I’ve always been motivated by trying to be independent, I think,” Miller said. “Also, I like helping others. So that’s with the community service thing. That’s why I like to be like a leader in my student council and stuff like that. It’s because I get the duty to help others.”

Miller plans to have a career as a manager after finishing college. During college she plans to try out for choirs and volunteer as an ISU recruiter and at an animal shelter. She even hopes to possibly study overseas in Ireland.

Her dad, Scott Miller, chuckled as he thought about what makes his daughter special.

“She’s got a big heart to go with her intelligence,” he said.

Christina Staker, an English teacher at Kaneland High School, recalled Carissa going the extra mile in her yearbook class when she gave a PowerPoint presentation about why the yearbook should go along with her “unleashed” theme.

“She definitely has the leadership roles to become a CEO one day,” Staker said. “Or really be in charge of a mass group of people and make sure that good work comes out of whatever it is that they are creating.”

Photo by Patti Wilk

School Board approves technology position addition, increase

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on May 28 voted unanimously to increase a current information systems specialist position from .8 to full time, and add a full-time technician to begin work July 1.

The cost for the technician will be between $30,000 to $35,000, including benefits. There will be an additional salary of $8,500 for the specialist job, with benefits.

Board members in March, with the exception of Tony Valente, voted in favor of a technology purchase at a cost of $225,000. The purchase means that there will be a 3-to-1 ratio, or three students for every one device, during the next school year. Devices that had been approved for purchase totaled approximately 679 and included iPad Minis and Chromebooks.

Valente said that the board, upon approving the technology purchase, should have been informed of the need to pay for additional technology staff. He also questioned why the information was just now being presented to the board.

“This expenditure is coming down the pipe,” Valente said. “We’re already down the slippery slope.”

Valente also said that the situation puts him in a “pickle.”

“We’ve spent this revenue and we have to support it,” he said.

Asked whether technology support is needed at this point in time, Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler said that “it’s a need now.”

Board President Cheryl Krauspe noted that technology support has been a need for a couple of years. According to a report by Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, the School District has relied on college student interns for hardware and software questions in its schools. Interns have also helped provide teacher support to learn new technologies pertaining to items including laptops and LCD projectors.

Fuchs noted “challenges” with the intern approach, such as the district having to plan around students’ college course schedules, and employee turnover occurring every one-to-four years.

“We believe the additional support is necessary to ensure the successful use of technology throughout the district,” Fuchs wrote in the report.

As for the information specialist job, Fuchs noted in her report that the time required for this job increased “significantly” for tasks such as reporting demands by state and federal agencies, as well as technical demands of the PARCC assessment (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).

Local Partnership to fundraise for Jazz Band

KANELAND—Five local men on June 29 will trek across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, from a lighthouse on the shores of Lake Michigan to the coast of Lake Superior.

The participants are all associated with Da Capo Music Studio in Elburn: Ben Westfall, co-owner of Da Capo; Garrett Patterson, student at Da Capo and a Kaneland graduate from the Class of 2014; Bob Cates, David Mannia and Chris Goddard, parents of Da Capo students. Kristin Paxinos, co-owner of Da Capo, will drive a support vehicle.

Their journey will take them along the coast, through dense forest, and up an old Chippewa Indian portage route through country inhabited by grey wolf, lynx and black bear. The hikers will carry their food and water throughout the day and camp in tents at night.

These men are hoping the community will support their efforts by mailing a donation to the Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters. All donations will support the Jazz Band at Kaneland Harter Middle School and will also provide the needed emotional support for them to keep moving through the bugs, blisters and aching bodies.

Westfall’s interest in Harter’s Jazz Band began when one of his guitar students, Bailey Cates, auditioned for and was selected to be in the band. With additional funding, the Jazz Band can participate in workshops or purchase a wider range of music for the students. Earlier this year, the jazz band, under the direction of Rebecca Andersen, was chosen to perform at the annual Illinois Music Education (ILMEA) Conference in Peoria. Only a select few middle school jazz bands are given this honor.

“The Boosters are very excited to partner with Da Capo Music Studio in this unique fundraising opportunity to raise money for the Jazz Band,” said Denise Blaszynski, Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters President.

Donations can be mailed to Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters, P.O. Box 611, Elburn, IL 60119. If you’re interested in following their journey, photos and stories will be posted on Facebook at, and on the Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters Facebook page.

The mission of the Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters is to assist and support the activities of the band, choir and theatre programs at Harter Middle School and Kaneland High School in order to maintain and enhance programs that are educational, enjoyable and rewarding.

For more information about the Boosters, send an email to Da Capo Music Studio is located at 140 East Route 38, Unit C, in Elburn. For more information about Da Capo, call (630) 777-2955.

Correction: KHS graduation is at 4 pm.

Sorry for our error that appeared on page 13A of the May 29 edition. The Kaneland High School Graduation ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 1, at the NIU Convocation Center.


Commencement (Graduation) is Sunday, June 1, 4:00 pm. It will be held at the NIU Convocation Center, 1525 W Lincoln Hwy, DeKalb, IL 60115

Seniors participating in Commencement Exercises on Sunday, June 1, must be at the high school and to your reported room by 2:00 pm. Your room assignment will be in the Commons. Buses will leave for NIU at 2:15 pm. Caps and gowns will be worn at the ceremony. You must wear proper attire – levis, tennis shoes or flip flops are not acceptable. Students who choose to dress inappropriately will not be allowed to participate in the Commencement ceremony. If you are walking for graduation, YOU MUST TAKE THE BUS FROM KANELAND TO THE CONVOCATION CENTER. There are no exceptions to this. You do not need to take the bus back from the ceremonies. You may go home with family. There will be a few buses available if you must come back to the school.

The Graduate’s picture will be taken when they receive their diploma cover. Pictures will be available for purchase through H.R. Imaging, at
Doors at NIU Convocation Center will open at 3pm for parents and guests.


Photos: It’s senior night

Kaneland High School hosted its Senior Honors Night for the class of 2014 May 22 in the KHS auditorium. A host of scholarships and awards were presented in the categories of Memorial, Organizational, Departmental and Academic including National Honor

Society, Illinois State Scholars, National Merit Scholar, Knights of Distinction, Salutatorian and Valedictorian. Senior Madeline Heinzer (above, right) was awarded the World Language Scholarship, and received a sombrero and pinata filled with college goods, from Spanish Instructor Michelle Jurcenko. Senior Tyler Hill (below) was awarded the Donald J. Fee scholarship by Dr.
Donald J. Fee.


Photos: An encore

The 2014 Kaneland High School Senior Music Recital took place in the KHS auditorium May 19. Students performed choral and band solos. Senior Garrett Patterson (right) performed the song “Reverie” by Shawn Bell. Senior Erika Carlson (below), performed “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri.


Field of hope

Photo: Sisters Emma, 4, and Kailey Kunstman, 6, wearing their red, white and blue, visited the KHS Healing Field to honor the military during the opening ceremony on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Last weekend’s Healing Field display at Kaneland High School caught the community’s attention.

According to Rudy Keller, chair of the Kaneland Healing Field Committee and interim co-athletic director of Kaneland High School, a total of about 3,000 people attended the Healing Field between May 23 and Memorial Day. The event remained open until Tuesday.

The Healing Field took place on the grassy field to the east of the high school. The idea of the field is to symbolize patriotism and honor the servicemen and servicewomen who have fought to defend America and people’s freedom, Keller said.

One thousand American flags filled the field. People could purchase flags to represent the veterans who have served America and veterans who have died.
Keller said that more than half of the flags were sold.
All flag proceeds will go to local American Legions in Maple Park, Elburn and Sugar Grove.

Everything with the Healing Field went as scheduled, with one exception: the plan was to set up an additional 2,000 American flags in the community.

“We could not put the flags on Keslinger Road,” Keller said. “I wanted to line Keslinger Road with flags, from County Line to Route 47. But that wasn’t approved by the Department of Transportation, the county. So we just changed our plans.”

Those extra flags ended up getting set up around the perimeter of the high school.

Keller explained that the work involved in putting together the event ranged from doing lots of planning and having lots of volunteers to measuring the field to have perfect rows of flags.

The events had what Keller called “a variety of different layers.”

The Healing Field events had both an opening ceremony and Memorial Day ceremony. Highlights from Monday’s event included KHS students singing patriotic songs like “National Anthem,” “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”

Two World War II military planes did a flyover during Saturday’s opening ceremony, as the crowd in attendance cheered and applauded.
CW4 Ty Simmons was the keynote speaker on Saturday. He spoke of honoring United States of America by doing things like attending the Healing Field, remembering veterans and taking pride in the colors of the American flag.

“We had many, many, many visitors each day,” Keller said. “And every one of them commented how special it was. The beauty of it is just breathtaking out here.”

National Honor Society recognition

KANELAND—Jarod Erlandson is a recent National Honor Society member who calls being a part of the group “a complete honor.”

Erlandson is a Sugar Grove resident and junior at Kaneland High School.

“It’s something that I’ve always aimed for,” Erlandson said. “It’s always been a goal of mine and I think being a part of that is—it’s really special.”

Erlandson was one of 63 selected KHS juniors and seniors inducted into National Honor Society.

Those inducted have to meet specific criteria like high standards of leadership recognition or awards and service, co-curricular, community involvement and character. Students must also have a 3.7 or higher cumulative grade point average.

James Horne is an advisor of Kaneland’s National Honor Society, and a teaching and instructional coach at Kaneland High School. He said that students have to show that they are involved at KHS, like in sports or clubs.

“There’s no real formula for (NHS,) because all students are interested in different things,” Horne said. “Really what we want to see is that the students are well-rounded.”

Erlandson knows what it’s like to balance homework, studying, tests, and sports like baseball and basketball.

“Trying to juggle homework and tests and everything with that—it’s really hard to do,” Erlandson said. “And then you got friends. I hang out with them, (talk) to them, and just (build) relationships. And then you also have to have a positive relationship with your parents, too. So when your mom has to ask you to do those chores, you have to do them. You got to keep that going on.”

Erlandson has also taken on a leadership role as centerspread editor for the KHS Kaneland Krier publication.

Sugar Grove resident Sarah Wolfe, a junior, is a fellow NHS member who knows about putting forth effort.

So, what did it take to land that achievement?

“Just a lot of dedication and persistence and studying, and being involved outside of school with community service and things like that,” Wolfe said.

Omar Aguilar, junior Aurora resident, knows what it took for him.

“It took taking plenty of hard classes,” Aguilar said. “A lot of sleepless nights, a lot of dedication, being in a lot of activities and a lot of community service.”

Blaine Rivas of Sugar Grove is a KHS junior who appreciates being a part of NHS.

“It’s a great honor,” Rivas said. “I worked really hard for it. I feel like it’s really cool to be around a bunch of smart kids that I guess go through the same things that I had to go through—studying every night and working hard.”

Pedro Rivas, a Kaneland School Board member, is Blaine’s father. Pedro spoke favorably of the Kaneland students inducted into NHS.

“I see them being the students of tomorrow, coming all together,” Pedro said. “And it’s nice seeing that.”

The following KHS students were inducted into the National Honor Society in 2014: Aguilar, Amy Burgholzer, Jaemee Cordero, Connor Fedderly, Breanna Geller, Victoria Guyton, Anna Hayman, Brooke Jablonski, Rachel Keske, Kendall Krawczyk, Lesak Andrew, Nicole McCelellan, Kellyn McMullan, Meghen Nance, Noah Perez, Cody Pitstick, Blaine Rivas, Michael Stanley, Caitlyn Strasser, Hannah Wallace, Morgan Withey, Mariah Ausbury, Jason Carlquist, Courtney Diddell, James Fell, Emily Grams, Riley Hannula, Helm McKayla, Madison Jurcenko, Ryan Koeppen, Colleen Landers, Aislinn Lodwig, Michelle McCracken, Rachel Miller, Alexia Orosco, Anna Pizza, Regan Prost, Samantha Schrepferman, Aaron Steenwyk, Elle Tattoni, Anna Wendling, Wolfe, Anissa Becker, Victoria Clinton, Erlandson, Garcia Murphy, Brittany Grider, Samantha Havlin, Shannon Herra, Allison Kadampelil, Rachel Kowalski, Julia Lennon, Alexis Lund, Raymond McGravey, Angela Morrow, Samantha Payton, Mary Piazza, Kassidy Reever, Anna Senese, Nick Steers, Paige Wagner, Austin Wheatley and Grant Wooten.

Kaneland bands ‘battle’ for worthwhile cause

KANELAND—Bands came together last month in the Kaneland High School auditorium to raise money for the Kaneland community.

The name of the event was “Band Night.” Attendees paid $5 at the door and gave donations to vote on whom they thought was the best-playing high school band through a “battle of the bands.”

Tim Larsen, math teacher at Kaneland High School, organized the event along with several KHS students. Larsen said that $1,126 was raised at Band Night, and approximately 150 or so people attended the event.

Larsen said that the fundraiser was a success, and that the students played really well.

“As far as just kind of a venue-style rock-and-roll- type of show, there isn’t one of those,” Larsen said. “And so it was great to see the kids involved in that.”

According to Lori Grant, instructional coach and co-sponsor of Peer Leadership at KHS, the money raised will go to the Kaneland Cares fund.

She wrote in an email that a committee, including administrators and teachers, will make distribution decisions that are based on need.

According to Grant, the money raised will help struggling families, including Kaneland High School staff and students. She noted that one student and two staff members are affected by cancer.

Grant said that money could be dispersed in forms like gas cards and groceries.

Bands that performed consisted of KHS students. The Soul 7 consisted of students from the school’s jazz band. Business Casual played current Top 40 pop tunes—and Larsen said that guys wore suspenders and bowties. A blend of of instruments could be heard, including banjo and acoustic guitar.

The Holiday End played alternative rock cover songs.

Larsen’s band, The Bare Hambones, even made an appearance. A piano player and lead singer, he describes his band as a “roots” act.

“The origins are folk music or bluegrass or country,” Larsen said. “But we play a little louder and a little faster.”

As for the students’ response to seeing Mr. Larsen on stage, they were indeed surprised.

“I don’t think they expected for our band to be as put together as we are,” Larsen said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. So we play a lot of shows in Chicago and around the Midwest. And so when we got up there and right when we started, the kids got into it right away and they were clapping and hollering along.”

Kaneville resident Mitch Bateman, a KHS senior, and Mr. Kaneland 2014, volunteered to help put on the event. Bateman also performed in Business Casual, which won the popular vote for the best band during the battle.

“It was really cool,” Bateman said. “It was such an event. We had worked on that thing for probably two, two-and-a half weeks. And just seeing all the hard work pay off was really awesome.”

Fellow band member Alex “Buzz” Buzenski, a KHS senior and Sugar Grove resident, also volunteered his services for the event.

“For me, especially, with the values I’ve been instilled with, you need to help the people around you,” Buzenski said. “I firmly believe in that.”


Kemp earns President’s Scholarship

Will attend Indiana State University this fall
ELBURN—You could say Brittany Kemp’s most recent accomplishment was a slam dunk of an achievement.

Kemp, an Elburn resident who is a Kaneland High School senior and a basketball and track athlete, will attend Indiana State University (ISU) this coming fall. And she recently earned the title of a President’s Scholar upon receiving the President’s Scholarship.

That means Kemp will get free tuition and premium housing at an honors dorm at ISU, from freshman to senior year.

Kemp is one out of 20 students in the country selected to be an ISU President’s Scholar.

“It really hasn’t sunk in,” Kemp said. “I’m just really excited.”

Andy Franklin, counselor at Kaneland High School, said that Kemp is “well deserving” of the President’s Scholarship.

“She’s one of those really focused students who definitely knows what she wants, and will go the extra mile to accomplish her goals,” he said.

Kemp plans on studying pre med at ISU and has hopes to work in the pediatric or forensic psychiatrist field.

Kemp has made many accomplishments during her high school career. She has a 3.98 grade point average and has been in the National Honor Society her junior and senior years.

“It makes me happy to succeed in school,” she said.

Kemp has been a Knights of Distinction member, played on Kaneland’s basketball team and is the co-captain of the track team. She’s also participated in DECA and student council, and mentored freshmen in Peer Leadership.

The list doesn’t end there, as Kemp has done community service for Toys for Tots, Marklund Foundation and Kaneland Silver Stars.

Motivation clearly isn’t an issue for her.

“I am motivated by my parents,” Kemp said. “I just like making them proud of me.”

Although Kemp has played sports most of her life, she said that she is not going to play sports in college.

She anticipates that college will be “more difficult than high school,” and her goal is to maintain a high GPA so that she can keep her scholarship, which will also allow her to study in Germany.

“I really want to push myself,” she said.

Meanwhile, it seems that Kemp’s mom, Wendy, is one of her biggest cheerleaders.

“She is just so kind and good-hearted,” Wendy said. “That’s to me what stands out.”

Kemp’s father, Daryl, is just as big a fan of Brittany.

“We’re very proud of her,” Wendy said. “And we love her. And she has succeeded just everything we could ever imagine.”

Kaneland approves new special education bussing

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted to move on with a new bus company for special education transportation for the upcoming school year.

Currently the Kaneland School District uses Spare Wheels Transportation. This coming school year the district will use the company Illinois Central School Bus on a one-year contract.

According to a report by Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for Business, the estimated annual cost for Illinois Central School Bus is $911,111.78.

“The costs for special education transportation have continued to increase incrementally over the past several years, and by putting the service out to bid, we are hopeful that the district will see some savings,” Fuchs wrote in the report.

Fuchs added that there could be an estimated savings of $200,000 for the next school year.

All board members voted yes on the new bussing system.

Kaneland parent Karol Peters is a Virgil resident. She expressed her concern about the bussing switch during public comment.

Peters’ daughter is a 15-year-old freshman and has special needs.

“I can’t get her out of the house to go to school,” Peters said.
However, Spare Wheels has been able to get Peters’ daughter to a private placement school site in Wheaton, Ill. She said her daughter has used that bus successfully for about 18 months.

“She’s been able to get to school everyday,” Peters said.

Peters spoke further about the possibility of a bus change.

“I know this is a huge issue and not to be taken lightly,” she said.

Judy DeVoe, president of Spare Wheels Transportation, stood up during the meeting to share the company’s view relating to bidding.

“We went as low as we could on the bid,” DeVoe said.

The School District had a total of three vendors who submitted bids, including Illinois Central School Bus, First Student and Spare Wheels.

Fuchs’ report noted that the estimated total cost for First Student was $1,059,028.08. The estimated cost for Spare Wheels was $1,048,168.

After the meeting, Peters shared how the current bus system has been able to go inside her home and motivate her daughter to get on the bus.

“It’s music, playing games, just having an upbeat attitude, making it a positive experience,” Peters said. “Giving her the safety of being able to leave the home and go into an environment that she feels like she can have fun.”

Peters plans to talk with representatives of the new contracted bussing company.

“It sounds like we’re going to sit down and have a meeting,” Peters said. “And we’ll discuss what her needs are and if they’re able to address those and meet those.”

Fuchs explained what made Illinois Central School Bus a responsible choice for the district.

“This company offers the best price with a reputation that does not prohibit us from selecting them,” Fuchs said. “We verified their references and found them to be an acceptable vendor in which to work with.”


Rivals come together in Cougar-land

Photo: KHS softball coach Brian Willis, who is battling colon cancer, will be honored at Monday’s Pack the Park event at Fifth Third Bank Park in Geneva. Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland-Batavia clash to benefit great causes
KANELAND—Area baseball teams aren’t only mindful of the postseason task ahead. They’re also willing and able to help out their fellow man.

“This annual tradition has given us an avenue to do something bigger than baseball and has allowed each of the programs involved to give back to the community,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

On Monday, May 19, at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, home of the Midwest League’s Kane County Cougars, Kaneland and Batavia will do battle for a Senior Night game that will benefit three honorees.

The honorees are Harter Middle School student Drew Hahn, son of Geneva baseball coach Matt Hahn, and dealing with Anaplastic Large-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Phil Kassinger, father of Knight baseball player Kevin Kassinger, who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer; and KHS softball coach Brian Willis, battling colon cancer.

“This year, we’ve found multiple needs in our community, and it is unfortunate that we can’t reach all the families that have been touched by this dreaded disease,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

Willis, who is scheduled for his last chemotherapy treatment the day of the game, is thankful of the proceedings.

“Thankfully I am almost done and hope I am cleared of any cancer cells left in my body,” Willis said. “Every day a new struggle starts or continues and that is who we fight for.”

Admission is $5 for adults and students, with kids under 6 able to be admitted for free. All proceeds collected will be donated to the honorees and their families.

The game is also slated to be broadcast on BATV, and the radio. Shirts will be available for purchase and multiple silent auctions will be going toward the benefit of the families, as well.

“This will be a very special night for the seniors, their parents, both baseball programs, and the people that we will be honoring,” Aversa said.

First pitch for the sophomore game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., while the varsity is slated to begin at 7 p.m. under the lights.

Visit for more details.

PHOTO, WA Healing Field

Kaneland High School to host Healing Field

KANELAND—Kaneland High School will soon feature a field of American flags.

The concept is called the Healing Field, and it will requre sale of 1,000 flags. The Healing Field will take place Friday, May 23, until Tuesday, May 27, on the field directly east of KHS.

Rudy Keller, interim co-athletic director at Kaneland High School, is the chair of the Kaneland Healing Field Committee. He said that the Healing Field is important.

“It represents patriotism and it honors servicemen and servicewomen who fight to defend our country and our freedom,” Keller said.

Don Grillo, a Campton Hills resident, is a commander for the Maple Park American Legion. Having served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, he reflected on what the Healing Field means to him.

“I think it’s a wonderful, beautiful tribute to those who have served,” Grillo said. “And just our country in general—it’s just a beautiful, amazing site when you’re amongst all those flags and they’re all waving and flapping in the wind.”

Individuals and businesses can purchase flags for the Healing Field. A single flag costs $35. A small business sponsorship is five flags for $500. A corporate sponsorship is 10 flags for $1,000. All proceeds will go to local American Legions in Maple Park, Elburn and Sugar Grove, Keller said.

People purchasing flags can also write personalized messages on tags attached to flagpoles. Markers will be provided to those seeking to personalize their purchased flags.

Although flags ideally represent veterans and those who have died while serving, Keller said they can also represent first responders, family members, neighbors and friends.

“Predominantly, people write their message on the tag in honor of somebody who has served,” he said.

Flag tagging will take place during the Healing Field opening ceremony on Saturday, May 24, at 10 a.m. Select Kaneland High School students will play patriotic music on their instruments during the ceremony. Songs will include “America the Beautiful,” “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “National Anthem.”

In addition, three planes will do a flyover after the anthem is sung.

John Magill, a bagpiper, will perform songs including “Going Home” and “Amazing Grace.” CW4 Ty Simmons will be the keynote speaker during the event. Legacy Girls will perform at 1 p.m.

Volunteers are needed to help with the Healing Field ceremony. Tasks include greeting people, answering questions and collecting flag payments. Those interested in volunteering, purchasing flags or obtaining more information can contact Keller at or visit

Herschel Luckinbill, a Montgomery resident, served in the Navy from 1964 to 1968, and had been aboard the first American ship that received direct fire during the Vietnam War.

“I think (the Healing Field) is a great way to show patriotism, honor, respect for all of our fallen heros,” Luckinbill said. “We can’t do enough for our veterans, and we can’t honor our World War II and Korean veterans and Vietnam veterans enough, and all of our current veterans, (as well).”

Courtesy photo


Kaneland honors its own

The first round of Kaneland 2014 Hall of Fame inductions took place Monday at Kaneland High School. Christine Heath (right) was honored for Personal Achievement and presented with her award by Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler. Gary Nickels (left) was recognized for Personal Achievement following an introduction by presenter Ralph Drendel. Rick Schairer (below) was honored in the category of Commitment, and was presented by 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Don Watson.

School Board approves administrative changes

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday approved administrative changes, including changes regarding new assistant principals and a resignation.

Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler announced during the meeting that Patrick Raleigh will be an assistant principal and computer teacher at Kaneland McDole Elementary School beginning July 1.

Schuler said that Raleigh has a “wealth of teaching experience.”

According to a news release, Raleigh previously taught in the Forest Ridge School District for six years. He will receive a salary of $56,000 plus benefits in his new position.

Julia Cloat during the meeting was appointed as assistant principal at Kaneland John Stewart and John Shields elementary schools for the upcoming school year. Cloat is currently a part-time assistant principal at John Stewart and a Response to Intervention coordinator.

Erika Schlichter, director of Educational Services for 6-12, resigned from her position, effective June 30. Kaneland School Board member Pedro Rivas made special mention of Schlichter’s resignation during the meeting.

“It’s going to be a great loss,” he said.

Schlichter has worked with the Kaneland School District for six years. She held the position of curriculum coordinator prior to taking on the role of director of Educational Services 6-12.

Schlichter is moving on to become the chief academic officer at School District 158, where she will lead a teaching and learning team.

After the meeting, Schlichter talked about her new opportunity.

“I’m just looking forward to a new position,” she said. “Excited to start a new challenge, but also excited to see Kaneland continue the great work.”

Kaneland to work with energy conservation company

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday agreed to move forward and enter into a contract agreement with an energy management and conservation program.

The company that will work with Kaneland schools to conserve energy is Cenergistic. The five-year contract will last from May 1 until April 30, 2019. The cost to the district is $9,000 per month. The voted recommendation came with an expectation that there would be “energy savings expected to exceed all costs during this time period.”

All board members voted yes to to the agreement with the exception of Pedro Rivas.

“There’s nothing that holds this company (Cenergistic) liable past five years,” Rivas said. “I’m concerned with that.”

According to a report by Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, Assistant Superintendent for Business, there will not be program implementation costs, which includes capital investment, for the first four months.

“The guarantee is that all costs associated with the program are 100 percent funded through savings in energy reduction,” Fuchs wrote in the report. “The projected savings in the first year for Kaneland are estimated to be $98,000.”

Rivas suggested that Kaneland’s National Honors Society students be given the chance to come up with ideas to conserve energy instead of Cenergistic.

“Why should I pay them a half million dollars?” Rivas asked.

“I want to make sure we can measure the outcome concretely,” board member Tony Valente said. “It just scares me to (pay) $500,000 we don’t have.”

Bob Davis, regional president of Cenergistic, talked after the meeting about the benefits of the Kaneland School District working with the company.

“Every dollar that’s involved in this program is generated by reducing utility bills that are already budgeted this year or will be budgeted in future years,” he said.

Davis said the company would save the Kaneland District “roughly” $2,050,000 over a 10-year period.

Expected areas of savings include water, electric and gas bills.

“Why would they pay utility companies $2 million dollars that we could put back in their pockets for academic programs, for their students, for addition of faculty and staff, for additions to buildings that they have?” Davis asked. “Why pay out when you could pay in?”

KHS, McDole in tech demonstration

SPRINGFIELD—Kaneland High School and McDole Elementary School are among approximately two of 60 schools statewide that will participate in the annual TECH 2014 Students for the Information Age event on Thursday, May 8, at the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield.

From 1 to 3 p.m., students will show the public and elected members of the Illinois State Senate and the House of Representatives how technology is being used in the classroom to improve student achievement. Computer workstations will be set up in the Capitol Building Rotunda so students may show how technology has helped them with their schoolwork.

Taking part in the demonstrations locally are KHS seniors Andrea Petrarca and Jackson Thomas, junior Alexander Ochoa, and teacher Beth Trafton. Representing McDole Elementary School will be teachers Anne Olsen and Cathy Lannert, and selected fourth- and fifth-grade students. Students will share how their knowledge of Google documents has enhanced their
learning to better prepare them for college and beyond, as well as innovative blogging ideas for writing.

The purpose of TECH 2014 is to raise awareness of the critical role technology plays in preparing students to succeed in today’s world, and to show the need for increased funding for classroom technology. Students will demonstrate for lawmakers and the public the creative ways technology is being used to enhance and accelerate student achievement in Illinois schools today.

Kaneland Krier earns awards from NISPA, IHSA

KANELAND—The Kaneland Krier attended a journalism competition hosted by the Northern Illinois School Press Association (NISPA) at DuPage Community College on Friday, April 25. Awards were won by the staff as a whole and individually.

As a whole, the paper earned a Bronze Certificate for Excellence in Journalism.

Executive Editor Courtney earned a Blue Ribbon in Column Writing. Editor Katrina Paulick earned an Honorable Mention in Individual In-Depth Writing. Executive Editor Michelle McCracken earned an Honorable Mention in Review Writing. Executive EditorAmelia Likeum earned an Honorable Mention in Photography. Executive Editor Kristin Staub earned an Honorable Mention in Editorial Writing. Executive Editor Felicia Steik earned an Honorable Mention in Advertising Design.

Kaneland Krier also attended journalism sectionals for Illinois High School Association (IHSA) at NIU on Saturday, April 26. Editor Jack Coyle placed second in Review Writing and qualified for State. Executive Editor Amelia Likeum placed fourth in Photography and is a runner-up for State. Executive Editor Samantha Schrepferman took fourth in Headline Writing and is a runner-up for state. Executive Editor Nick Boose placed fifth in Newswriting and is a runner-up for state.


‘Seussical Jr.’ comes alive on middle school stage

Photo: Kaneland Harter Middle School presented “Seussical Jr.” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with over 400 people attending Saturday’s show. The production brought to life many classic Dr. Seuss storybook characters, including The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and Mayzie La Bird, who was played by HMS 7th-grader Rachael Lutter. Lutter sings “Mayzie’s Exit” during the show. Photo by Lynn Logan

KANELAND—The musical “Seussical Jr.” came alive on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the stage at Kaneland Harter Middle School, featuring Dr. Seuss’ storybook characters in vivid costumes. A cast of 50 students took to the stage for the musical.

Characters included The Cat in Hat, complete with tall red- and white-striped hat. Thing 1 and Thing 2 wore shimmery red with fringe and blue wigs.

Sugar Grove resident Caitlyn Rawers, an eighth-grader at HMS, played a jungle citizen. She called being on the stage “incredible.”

“I liked seeing how people were smiling and laughing and enjoying themselves at the show,” Rawers said. “So I felt very proud of what we’d done and pulled together.”

The musical was a success, according to Rachel Shershen, co-choral music director at Harter Middle School and co-director of “Seussical Jr.

“It was a major success both in terms of how the students did and in terms of tons of people wanting to come out and bring their kids,” Shershen said. “And we had pretty packed audiences for every show.”

Shershen said that 800 or 900 people in total attended the musical.

Kaneland parent Heidi Kintz, a Sugar Grove resident, caught the show.

“I thought it was fabulous,” she said.

Kintz noted the students’ energy and talent, as well as the direction that they received, as what made the production so good. She recalled a tune that had a particular “southern Miami, Latin beat.”

“We would just be sitting there tapping our toe,” Kintz said. “It was really fun.”

Kintz’s daughter Ainsley, a sixth-grader at HMS, attested to the fun part. She played two roles in “Seussical Jr.”—a cheerful Who character and a fish.

“It just came naturally to me,” Ainsley said. “I’m always happy.”

As for playing a fish, she tapped into her dance background of ballet and lyrical dance.

Students sang all 36 songs in the musical, and even danced. Rawers noted that the students did grapevines, plenty of “swing type dancing,” clapping and some ad-lib moves.

“We could just improv and do what we wanted,” Rawers said. “So I think those were the most fun, because you didn’t have to be perfect.”

Shershen said that practices for “Seussical Jr.” began in mid-February. Students spent between two and three weeks learning the songs. Practices were typically an hour and a half each, but when the students learned blocking and choreography, practice was up to two hours in duration.

Then there was “tech week,” where practice could go up to two and a half hours.

“We added all the lights and the sound cues and the stage crew,” Shershen said. “Before we knew it, it was go time.”


Kaneland trio help take ‘Pwnage’ to St. Louis

Photo: The trio of sophomore Charlie Faulkner (left to right), Alyssa Faulkner and sophomore Tristan Powell will compete in the first World Championships this week. Courtesy photo submitted to

KANELAND—Three Kaneland students are members of robotic team Pwnage No. 2451, which recently earned the honor to compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition World Championship this week.

Pwnage No. 2451 will compete with around 400 other teams from around the world at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The team’s KHS members are Aurora siblings Alyssa Faulkner, a senior, and Charlie Faulkner, a sophomore, and Elburn resident Triston Powell, also a sophomore.

All three KHS members are excited to be part of a championship opportunity.

“(It) feels great,” Charlie said.

“It’s really exciting,” Powell said. “And it’s gonna be really fun down in St. Louis. And we hope that we’re gonna win.”

The robotic team consists of 25 high school students. The KHS students worked with seven other high schools around the area, including Batavia, St. Charles North, St. Charles East, West Aurora, Metea Valley, Glenbard North and Burlington Central.

“At first it’s really weird to work with all of these people you don’t know,” Alyssa said. “We all learned to get along. And things just go well. And you work together and you learn about them—you learn about how the other schools function and you just have a great time.”

Pwnage No. 2451 accomplishments include reaching the quarterfinals at a FIRST Central Illinois Competition, ranking first in qualifying rounds and earning the title of FIRST Midwest Regional Champion.

Dan Kein, adult mentor representative and project manager of Pwnage No. 2451, pinpointed what made the robotic team a great one.

“It’s just the dedication of the kids … developing good design that ultimately has got us where we are right now,” Kein said.

The product of the team’s work is a 120-pound robot that was built in a machine shop, provided by Scott and Bonnie Hale, owners of Genesis Automation in St. Charles.

The couple provided the students with mentorship and a means to get hands-on experience to build the robot.

The robot does not have a name.

According to Powell, the robot is made of aluminum, plexiglass and rubber. The special feature that only the Pwnage team invented is a “swerve drive.”

“So, basically, the wheels can spin in infinite directions so that it can spin around and around and around without having to turn, really,” Powell said.

This move could come in handy while playing the competitive game “Aerial Assist” with other robots. The objective of this game is to score lots of balls in goals during a 2 minute, 30 second match. There are two “alliances” of three robots each that play on a 25-foot-by-54-foot field.

“So when we’re attacking, our robot can directly go right or left and then shoot instantly,” Powell said.

Powell explained what it’s like to have the robot compete in a game.

“It’s really exciting to make sure that the thing works and that it’s running well and it’s doing everything it’s supposed to,” Powell said.

Diane Spehar, parent of Triston and co-coordinator of Pwnage No. 2451, labels herself as a “very proud parent.”

“It’s extremely exciting,” Spehar said. “The kids are just so pumped.”


Family lineup

Photo: Three sisters, senior Michelle (No. 10), freshman Lauren (4) and junior Heather Ortiz (7), play on the Kaneland varsity soccer team this year. Photo by Lynn Logan

Soccer enjoying spoils of three Ortiz sisters on varsity
KANELAND—There has been plenty of highlights for Kaneland girls soccer in 2014, with the squad going out to a successful start.

Look deeper, and there’s even more to be intrigued about, thanks to a hat trick of sisters suiting up for Kaneland.

The Ortiz sisters, senior Michelle, junior Heather and freshman Lauren, have imprinted upon this version of the Lady Knights a unique situation.

But the sisters from Sugar Grove probably wouldn’t have it any other way. Neither would mom Becky, who, with husband Juan, have seen the sisters play all levels of KHS soccer and club soccer for the Naperville Soccer Association.

“It’s extremely special,” Becky said. “They’re very close, which isn’t always the case. They’re each other’s best friends.”

Juan, a former football player at Wheaton North and soccer player at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., and Becky have also seen two older sons as athletes, Stephen and Phil, compete at Kaneland.

“As a parent, it’s a gift to watch, and my goal is to get a picture of all of them on the field playing,” Becky said. “I joke that I need to sit far away from my husband during games because he’s still trying to coach them from the stands.”

With the experience of getting coached by their father through various levels such as Kaneland Youth Soccer Club, the girls, who all made varsity as freshmen, have taken stock of this potentially historic year.

“Both Michelle and Heather made varsity as freshman, so we were preparing Lauren in case she wasn’t varsity that she would still be able to play, but she made varsity and it was great,” Becky said.

The Ortiz bunch is magnanimous in revealing who might be the best soccer sister.

“That’s tough. We all have different qualities,” Michelle said.

“I would put those two before me, only because they have more experience,” Lauren said. If the grudging consensus was the eldest sister, the former freshman goalkeeper offers up some potential reasons why she might be the best.

“I’d say my speed,” Michelle said. “I have more speed than they do.”

“I think I have better technical skills,” Heather offered.

Lauren, being the youngest and newest to the varsity ranks, has a fitting first memory of playing with her siblings.

“I think it’s when I was old enough to say Michelle’s name for her to pass me the ball,” Lauren said. “Then I said Heather’s name.”

“I don’t think I really feel extra pressure,” Lauren added. “I mean, I just go out there and play soccer. I know it, and it’s just better when it’s with my sisters.”

“I think the connection between sisters is different than just a usual team, just because not too many people have that,” Michelle said.

Not too many people have as much soccer talent in close family ranks, either.

“In (Michelle’s) last club season, she had 10 goals, and she’s just faster than people and sets up the plays,” Heather said.

Even if the season can’t extend beyond regionals, as the Lady Knights have tried to do in recent memory, the current campaign will still hold a special place for three girls immersed in soccer.

“It’s the only year we’ve all played together,” Lauren said.

With half the season down, the eldest sister is able to reflect on what this means.

“I won’t be able to do this later on in my life, and the game is fun with my sisters,” Michelle said.