Tag Archives: Diane McFarlin


Postive Post-its

Photo: Words of kindness spread through the halls of Kaneland High School this past week with brightly colored post-it notes displayed on each of the students lockers. Inspiring, quirky and cute uplifting phrases were written with the intent to encourage each student of the acts of Kindness in Kaneland. Kaneland senior Bryanna Stoiber (right) came up with the idea, and was helped by fellow seniors Riley Coyle (left to center) and Lanie Callaghan, and sophomore Jack Coyle (not pictured). Photo by Lynn Logan

KHS students greeted by warm messages
KANELAND—”Smile today.”

That was the message Maddie Heinzer, a Kaneland High School senior, recently found on a Post-it note placed on her locker.

“I thought it was very cute,” Heinzer said. “And I thought it was good how somebody put that much effort to even try to bring a smile to someone’s face.”

10.Fellow senior Bryanna Stoiber had been inspired to do just that by checking out a photo on Twitter. She noticed that a person had written more than 1,000 Post-its that read, “You’re beautiful.”

“They were sick and tired of hearing people calling themselves not beautiful and not pretty and just being down all the time,” Stoiber said. “So, I just kind of had the idea of it being like something in the positive. Especially at school, it feels like there’s so much negativity.”

Stoiber and her friends, seniors Lanie Callaghan and Riley Coyle, worked together to create positive messages. Coyle recruited “little brother” Jack Coyle, a sophomore, to help.

“We just want students to realize that they don’t know what’s going on in everyone’s life,” Jack said. “Maybe they seem happy at school, but really, you don’t know what’s going on at home or anything. So even the smallest compliment about how their hair looks that day or that you like their outfit can improve someone’s outlook.”

According to Stoiber, the group made 1,400 Post-it messages. They stuck rainbow colors of pink, green, yellow and blue on the lockers of all 1,332 Kaneland High School students. The extra notes went on some KHS staff members’ doors.

Messages found along the hallways included: “You’re cuter than a kangaroo in a sweater”; “You definitely know the difference between your and you’re”; “Your opinion matters”; “Chuck Norris wishes he was you”; “Your smile is beautiful”; and “You are loved.”

Diane McFarlin, assistant principal at Kaneland High School, called the students’ actions “stunning.” It was McFarlin who gave the students the green light to put up positive messages around the high school.

“They really wanted to do this and make a difference,” McFarlin said. “And I thought, ‘Holy cow. That’s just awesome.’”

Callaghan would like students to get something out of reading the messages.

“I hope they realize that a compliment can go a really long way,” she said. “And realize that we put a lot of effort into just like making their day a little bit brighter.”

Senior Mitch Bateman, who was recently named Mr. Kaneland 2014, did get something out of his message, which read, “At least you’re not in the ‘Hunger Games.’

“It was random,” Bateman said. “But I got a laugh out of it. So I was pretty happy with it.”


A feast fit for the arts

Photo: The Kaneland Arts Initiative on Friday celebrated the arts with its fifth annual Fine Arts Feast at Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove. KHS art teacher Emily VanDelinder-Birchfield plays the accordion for guests in attendance. Photo courtesy Sally Jane Photography

SUGAR GROVE—Rebecca Aimone is an Elburn resident and Kaneland parent who regularly attends the annual Fine Arts Feast.

Aimone believes it’s important to attend the event.

“We need art,” she said. “And we need music. And everybody should support this. It’s a part of life.”

This year marked the fifth annual fundraiser feast at Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove. The event took place on Friday evening in the Pine Room, a space adorned with white lights and covered in smooth wood from the ceiling to the walls.

Nearly 100 supporters attended the Kaneland Arts Initiative’s (KAI) Fine Arts Feast. According to Maria Dripps-Paulson, executive director of KAI, $3,000 was raised at the event.

Dripps-Paulson said that KAI wants people to be “arts minded.” KAI offers the Fine Arts Festival, scholarships and performance series, and also puts money into the Kaneland School District.

“Everybody can be a sports fan,” Dripps-Paulson said. “But not everybody is an art lover. And we want to create more people who are art lovers. And by art, I mean all of the arts—fine arts, dance, all of those things.”

Laura McPhee, Board of Directors secretary and volunteer coordinator for KAI, said that the arts initiative is about community.

“It’s truly bringing the arts to every single person that is interested and wants to share that,” she said.

During the event, attendees had the opportunity to browse a variety of silent auction items ranging from Chicago Blackhawks tickets to a “Golfer’s Survival Kit.”

Raffle prizes included bookstore gift card, glass jewelry and orchestra tickets.

People dined on pasta, pizza and Ceasar salad.

Kaneland High School art teacher Emily VanDelinder-Birchfield played “Love Me Tender” on an accordion while many attendees flocked to grab desserts, including big, crisp chocolate chip cookies and tiny powdered sugar brownies.

The event also offered lots of live entertainment, as KAI representatives sang behind microphones. Dripps-Paulson had been part of the singing group she dubbed as Two and a Half Filipina. The group included her daughter Clara, 6, and Sugar Grove resident Estrellita Uzarraga.

Diane McFarlin, assistant principal at Kaneland High School, is also the artistic director of KAI. She sang for attendees during the event while Deanna Cates, president of the Board of Directors, accompanied on a keyboard.

McFarlin concluded her bit with the announcement that the KAI’s summer theatre production will be “Once Upon a Mattress.”

Uzarraga’s sons Matthew, 11, and Zachary, 8, stole the show as they bounded up on top of big boxes, stood behind tall mic stands and sang songs from “Les Miserables.”

The brothers are professional actors and have acted on Kaneland’s community stage.

“I like that you get to pretend to be someone whose life is cooler than life that could be in real life,” Matthew said of acting. “And more extraordinary.”

Matthew’s acting career has allowed him to be a different person, as well as a bear and an ogre.

“You can pretend you’re a different person and you can have a different life,” Zachary said.

The boys also know what it’s like to be on stage with the audience applauding.

“It felt like I was bringing joy into their lives,” Matthew said.

Dripps-Paulson receives Women of Distinction Award

KANELAND—Maria Dripps-Paulson is a Sugar Grove resident, executive director of the Kaneland Arts Initiative, and a recent recipient of the Women of Distinction Award, given out by Kane County Magazine

She said she’s not too sure what to make of the distinction award.

“I don’t know how I feel about it,” Dripps-Paulson said with a laugh. “At first I was really overwhelmed. It was, ‘Really, can’t you find anyone else who does more than me? Because I can.’”

It turned out that Dripps-Paulson fit the description of what it took to have this title.

Kane County Magazine recognizes women who have been nominated by community members and are considered role models and leaders in their fields and communities. These chosen women also have to have made a difference in Kane County.

Dripps-Paulson, 41, was nominated by her colleagues and friends who live in the Kaneland area, including Rebecca Hoff, Estrellita Uzarraga and Diane McFarlin.

Last week, Dripps-Paulson and the nine other award-chosen women were honored at a luncheon at Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva.

“I was also in awe of the other nine women who were chosen,” Dripps-Paulson said. “People seemed to have everything. All of their ducks in a row. So, it definitely feels good to be recognized.”

She received a tall black trophy with her name etched in it and noting that she has made a difference and is a role model.

Because of Dripps-Paulson’s effort as KAI executive director, the community has had the chance to appreciate art for free during the annual Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival.

Dripps Paulson had been involved in this festival since its third year. It will celebrate its 15th anniversary on April 13, 2014, at Kaneland High School.

The fest’s inaugural event had a crowd of 205 attendees. Dripps-Paulson said 3,000 attended last year’s event.

Those who attend the Fine Arts Festival can expect to check out professional visual and performing artists. There have been acrylic, pencil and calligraphy work, a glass workshop, in-demand caricature artist drawing self and family pictures, the Chicago Ballet and Illinois Brass Band.

Thanks to Dripps-Paulson, the Kaneland School District students and staff have the opportunity to learn from and work with professional artists through the Artist in Residence Program. This year, the artist coming to town will be Margaret Fox, an opera singer.

Dripps-Paulson also has a hand in the fifth annual Kaneland Community Summer Theatre Program and even directs the pit band.

Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler has referred to Dripps-Paulson as a “tireless volunteer.” In a statement, he noted that she has served on commissions and boards for hospitals and charities.

She also has a full house filled with her husband Tim, son Philip, 10, and triplet daughters Zoe, Naomi and Clara, 6.

Diane McFarlin, assistant principal at Kaneland High School, has glowing words to describe Maria.

“I think service is something that connected all of them,” McFarlin said. “And Maria’s energy has everything to do with serving others. And serving her community, serving the people in Kaneland and the people that are families.”

Maria’s family sure thinks she’s pretty special, too. Tim said that he was not surprised that Maria received the award.

“She’s just amazing,” he said. “She can do everything. Does everything well. She’s supportive and positive and good working with people—one of my weak points.”

Philip has his own list of reasons why his mom is special.

“The fact that, A, she gave birth to me, B, she gave birth to triplets,” Philip said. “C, she is very important in my aspects, her job. And D, I sort of think she’s famous now.”

KHS community helps aid Sandy victims

To help Allyson and Girl Scout Troop 466 with “Hats Off for Hurricane Help”
contribute to the Red Cross’ Sandy relief effort by texting “REDCROSS”
to 90999 for a $10 donation or visit www.redcross.org/charitable-donations

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland High School Assistant Principal Diane McFarlin considers herself a “Jersey girl” at heart. Her husband is from New Jersey, and she grew up near the eastern seaboard.

It’s these ties to the New Jersey area that inspired McFarlin to take action when Hurricane Sandy struck a large part of New York metropolitan area two weeks ago.

McFarlin asked everyone in the KHS community to donate any warm outerwear (all sizes, including coats, gloves and scarves), childrens clothes (all sizes, emphasis on baby clothes) that they have laying around. She currently has a donation box outside of her office.

“We have a lot of friends and family in New Jersey. We vacation there. We’re ocean folks, and we love the east coast,” McFarlin said. “When the hurricane hit, it affected everyone I knew out there. My friends in the northern part of New Jersey—their community was decimated. They were spared themselves, but they experienced lots and lots of damage to their homes. It was like people didn’t have anything out there.”

All donated goods were sent to McFarlin’s friend Johnna and her husband Larry, who live in Highland, New Jersey, and have been helping members of the community who have lost their home and belongings.

“Homes (there) have been destroyed, gasoline is nonexistant and the community needs help. When Johnna can find the time and the power to text and message folks, she says that she and Larry are trying to help the most needy, but it seems everyone needs something,” McFarlin said. “I told her that I work in a very giving community, and said that I would put the word out to (everyone in the community) to find it in their heart to help.”

Many have found it in their heart to do just that, as McFarlin has already shipped over 20 boxes to New Jersey. Kaneland Secretary Laura McPhee said KHS staff went into “full commando mode” and brought in clothing, blankets and baby supplies. McFarlin then shipped out the items at her own expense.

“Johnna and Larry traveled back and forth to give the items to people in the shelters and those that stayed in their homes,” McPhee said.

McPhee’s daughter Allyson decided she wanted to get involved with the Sandy relief effort, too, and with her mom came up with “Hats Off for Hurricane Help.” And with Diane’s blessing, the McPhees began to reach out to members of their family, as well as Allyson’s friends in Girl Scout Troop 466.

“We have been sending carloads of clothing to Jersey, and just yesterday Diane learned that Fort Monmouth (Military base) will be opened up to house-displaced New Jersey residents, as all shelters and temporary housing are used up,” McPhee said.

Allyson also asked her dad to find out if his boss would help defray the cost of shipping goods out to New Jersey. George Flolo of the The Flolo Corporation in Bensenville, Ill., agreed to send the remaining boxes to Johnna and Larry.

“Without his generous donation of shipping costs, we would be forced to take what little monetary donations that have been received and use it for shipping,” McPhee said. “I have been amazed at everyone’s continued goodwill.”

Allyson and Girl Scout Troop 466 now wants to focus on helping the Red Cross, and will post “Hats Off for Hurricane Help” flyers around Maple Park and Elburn. People interested in contributing to the Red Cross’ Sandy relief effort can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 for a $10 donation or visit www.redcross.org/charitable-donations.

McFarlin called the generosity of the Kaneland community “overwhelming,” and said Johnna would like to thank each and every person who has contributed.

“For me, this gathering of supplies reminds me why I live in this community,” McFarlin said.

Silver better than gold for Kaneland Krier

by Hope Ziegel
KANELAND—The Kaneland Krier last month won 15 awards in the 2012 High School Communications Competition, as announced by the National Federation of Press Women on May 14.

The Krier is Kaneland High School’s newspaper, and is run and organized by students.

Cheryl Borrowdale, journalism teacher and advisor for the paper, was very proud of the students’ hard work.

“I’m really proud of what we have accomplished at Krier. Putting on a student paper is a lot harder than most people expect, mainly because there are a lot of aspects to make sure are right,” Borrowdale said.

The following are students who received awards: Ameilia Likeum, Emily Gulanczyk, Heather Shelton, Kaprice Sanchez, Diana Nuno, Morgan Buerke, Brittany Larsen, Alexandra Vickery, Lanie Callaghan, Casey Jacobson, Nick Stollard, Tyler Keenum and Austin Paulson.

Likeum, a freshman, was thrilled to go to the ceremony and to win in the feature photo category.

“I really liked the speaker. He really explained what it was like to be a real journalist,” she said.

Students were even more pleased to find out that they had won the Silver Pen Award. This was KHS’ first time winning the award.

“We are proud, we know the students of Krier are incredible,” said Diane McFarlin, Kaneland High School assistant principal. “We are proud that their incredible work gets this kind of recognition.”

The next level of the competition is that all of the first place winners are sent to one judge for the national competition.

Kaneland won two national awards this year. One award went to Ameilia Likeum for her feature photo, and the other to senior Diana Nuno and sophomore Kaprice Sanchez for their feature story.

“I’m the most proud of the recognition. I put my whole heart into the story and I worked very hard to bring it up to its full potential,” Nuno said. “While nothing’s perfect, I’m proud of the work I did and I’m glad judges agree.”

As national winners, all three students will be invited to the national ceremony in Arizona.

As the Kaneland Krier concludes the 2011-12 school year, the students’ hurry to finish the last issue of the year.

“(The Krier taught me) how to lead. It’s the greatest responsibility I’ve been given. When editors come to me for advice, I feel honored to be considered a mentor,” Nuno said. “When they come ask me for my opinion, or when they have a problem and they come to me when our adviser isn’t available, is surreal. I used to be the student asking a question every two seconds. While I’m still not expert status, it’s weird to know so much because of my experience.”

Kaneland performs ‘Bye Bye Birdie’

KANELAND—The summer theatre program of the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival brings the year-long celebration of the arts to a close with a production of “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Diane McFarlin is the director of the summer production. She serves the Kaneland School District as one of the assistant principals at Kaneland High School.

“Bye Bye Birdie” will run for two weekends on July 8, 9 ,10 and 15, 16 and 17. The production has over 80 participants.

Tickets can be purchased at www.kanelandartsfestival.org or by calling (630) 262-1008. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens, and $23 for a family

The Kaneland High School Box Office, located in the lobby of the auditorium, will be open for ticket sales before opening night.

Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7 p.m., and Sunday performances begin at 2 p.m.

‘The Music Man’

Kaneland arts festival’s first summer show
by Paula Coughlan
KANELAND—Kaneland will turn into River City when the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival presents “The Music Man.”

“The Music Man” will be the first summer-stock musical for the festival, which has presented adult and youth art shows and individual performers since 1998.

Performances will take place Friday through Sunday, July 16, 17, and 18, at the Kaneland High School auditorium.

The show’s director, Diane McFarlin, Kaneland High School assistant principal, has enjoyed live theater—acting and directing—locally and in New York for 30 years.

“I love to work with actors and character development,” she said.

Led by Kaneland alumnus Matt Scharlau as “The Music Man” character Harold Hill. The performance features actors aged 8 through 77.

The actors rehearsed last week for their “trouble” and “train” scenes, with McFarlin drumming her hand on the table to set the cadence for Harold Hill’s oration. Meanwhile, technicians tested backdrops, and choreographer Maggie McCord moved dancers through their paces for a library scene.

Linda Miller, who plays Mrs. Paroo in the show, sings a solo in the production. She became involved in theater when her son started acting at the community college level, she said.

Maria Dripps-Paulson, director of the Fine Arts Festival, has worked with McFarlin before, when they both taught in the Kaneland district.

“This is our first collaboration in several years,” Dripps-Paulson said, “and we’re really hoping it’ll be a success.”

McFarlin said she is grateful to the Kaneland School District for providing a venue for the production. She added that the sound system in the auditorium is top-notch.

For a list of cast and crew members (more volunteers are needed), visit www.kaneland-artsfestival.org.

Show times and tickets

7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, July 16 and 17;
and at 2 p.m.
Sunday, July 18.

$10 each, $8 for students
and senior citizens (age 65-plus),
$23 for a family ticket (household).
Reservations are required.
Purchase online at

Photo: Cast members practice a song for the upcoming performance of “The Music Man,” set to premier Friday, July 16. Photo by Paula Coughlan

Calling all actors

Kaneland Community Summer Theater holds auditions
Kaneland—Auditions will take place for the Kaneland Community Summer Theatre production of “The Music Man,” directed by Diane McFarlin, on Wednesday through Friday, May 19-22.

“The Music Man” is the last performance in the Festival Performance Series, the new endeavor of the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival. Performances will be on July 16-18 in the Kaneland High School Auditorium.

Anyone 8 and older is welcome to audition, however, the audition dates for people 13 and older are Wednesday, May 19, and Friday, May 21, at 6:30 pm. Auditions for people 8- to 12-years-old will be held on Saturday, May 22, at 9 a.m., and parents of these participants must be in attendance during the audition. All auditions will be held in the auditorium of Kaneland High School. Callbacks will be posted by 11:30 a.m. on Saturday for those participants being called back from the 9 a.m. audition.

Audition information can be found at www.kanelandartsfestival.org and questions can be directed to Diane McFarlin at (630) 365-5100, ext. 208, or diane.mcfarlin@kaneland .org. Tickets will be on sale beginning June 15.

Kaneland arts festival wins state award

Kaneland—The Illinois Alliance for Arts Education (IAAE) awarded the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival the 2010 Public and Community Service Award at the Executive Mansion in Springfield on March 18.

Diane McFarlin, Colleen Grigg, Joann Murdock and Maria Dripps-Paulson represented the 29 faculty and community member planning committee, accepting the award on their behalf and on behalf of the Kaneland School District.

The only Illinois organization affiliated with the Kennedy Center, the IAAE awards schools, organizations and individuals throughout the state for their promotion of the arts, particularly within the schools. The plaque will be on display at this year’s festival on Sunday, April 18, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information on the festival can be found at www.kanelandartsfestival.org.

Photo: Colleen Grigg (left to right), Joann Murdock, Diane McFarlin and Maria Dripps-Paulson are Representatives of the KCFAF Planning Committee. Courtesy Photo

Fire leaves SG family with nothing

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—A fire in Sugar Grove last week left a Kaneland family homeless and two youngsters and their mom with nothing but the clothes they were wearing at the time.

The fire, which started in the garage of the Lawrence family’s townhome on Capital Drive on Aug. 5, gutted their home and did structural damage to their next door neighbor’s homes on both sides.

Jordyen, a Kaneland High School freshman, her brother Ryan, a sophomore, and a friend were home at the time. All three escaped the house unharmed. Sugar Grove firefighters rescued one of their cats, but the other is unaccounted for.

“It took an hour to get the fire under control,” Fire Chief Marty Kunkel said. “Unit C (the Lawrence’s home) will have to be torn down completely,”

Although the fire is under investigation, Kunkel said there is nothing suspicious about its origin.

Sugar Grove Police Chief Brad Sauer said that a number of people within the community have stepped up to help the family.

“It’s a bad time for this to happen,” Sauer said. “People are getting ready to go back to school. Just think of it. They literally had nothing left.”

Kaneland High School Assistant Principal Diane McFarlin has been in touch with Melissa Lawrence, the mom. The family is temporarily staying with some friends in the area.

McFarlin said that the family’s friends, neighbors and church community have all been ready, willing and able to help.

“It’s been awesome,” she said.

Castle Bank employee Lisa Lund said that since Melissa and her children are currently staying with friends, they are still in the process of figuring out what they need.

“She’s just pretty overwhelmed,” Lund said.

District works to prevent bullying

by Lynn Meredith
A seven-person committee of social workers and administrators from Kaneland schools presented its findings on the policies and procedures in place to handle harassment and bullying to the School Board at its meeting on Monday.

It found that the policies at the elementary level were uniform and communicated well to staff, community members and parents.

“The elementary schools felt very strongly that they were being pro-active and preventative,” Diane McFarlin said. “They were proactive in looking at unstructured time on playgrounds and at lunch. The lunchroom monitors were looking for bullying and harassment situations, so that it wasn’t just the teachers.”

The committee agreed that further training of staff and lunchroom monitors in what to look for, how to intervene and what is expected of them is the next step.

As students get older, the types of bullying and harassment escalate. Incidents of cyberbullying become more common. Facebook, e-mail, texting and instant messaging are opportunities for youths to bully each other.

“It’s very difficult to monitor. One of the things we found very difficult in some of the technology harassment that is coming in is happening outside our jurisdiction and comes through our system and is showing up in discipline issues,” Renee Grisch said. “We have to unravel all the information and find out that it happened over some horrible text message. Kids bring all of the emotion into school with them.”

At the high school, a Gay/Straight Alliance pilot program that promotes tolerance through facts and sharing of personal experiences has been established.

“Kids are putting out statistics to other kids regarding what harassment and bullying is. By doing that, we are piloting a prevention program that is working from the inside out,” Grisch said.

The committee recommends further staff development to consistently monitor, intervene and prevent bullying and harassment.