D211 Post: Mark Your Calendars: Schools to Host Community Halloween Activities

Schools throughout District 211 are planning their annual community Halloween activities. 

            The festivities begin on Oct. 24, when the Higgins Education Center will host a “Trunk or Treat,” from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. The community is invited to enjoy treats, activities and learn about various programs and services offered by Partners for Our Community.

Fremd High School’s Student Council will host its annual Halloween Festival at the school Wednesday Oct. 26, from 4:30-6:00 p.m.  Students invite children 12 and under to trick-or-treat through the transformed halls.  Fremd High School participates in the Teal Pumpkin project which offers non-food prizes for trick-or-treaters with food allergies. 

            Those wishing to attend the event are asked to bring a canned food item to donate in lieu of an admission fee.  All food collected will be donated to the Palatine Township Food Pantry.  Attendees should enter the school through the main entrance by the flagpole. 

            The following evening Hoffman Estates High School will be hosting a community Halloween event.  During the event, children can trick-or-treat through the halls, tour a not-so-spooky haunted house, play games, and create crafts.  This event is open to children from pre-school through 10 years of age.  Due to expected crowds, the school asks parents to leave strollers in their vehicles. 

            That same evening, Palatine High School will be hosting their Trick-or-Treat Festival from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.  Clubs and organizations from the school will decorate the halls and provide scary and not-so-scary rooms, as well as games and activities.  Palatine’s festival is open to children 10 and under.

D211 Post: Palatine Students Win Cooking Competition

Members of the Palatine High School team Will Landeene, Jaz (Diya) Sujayananda, Patti Dabrowska, and Gio Llanos-Hernandez pose with teacher Erika Varela.

Students enrolled in the culinary arts program at Palatine High School won the first Camos and Cooks competition hosted by Illinois Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Command’s Delta Herd at Harper College Oct. 18.  The students competed against teams from Harper as well as the Illinois Army National Guard.

            Senior Patti Dabrowska, the team captain, said the competition, which required the competitors to create a main course, dessert, and beverage using military Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) as the main ingredient, was a lot of pressure.

            “I tried to play cool,” she said “It was very exciting though.  There was a lot of emotion.”

Patti Dabrowska, a senior at Palatine High School in Palatine, Illinois, stirs batter for crêpes during the Camo and Cooks competition at Harper College.

Dabrowska was not the only one who felt the pressure.  Staff Sgt. Krystal Vazquez from Cicero, Illinois, a culinary specialist with the 3625th Component Repair Company, based in Chicago, said she was also nervous.

            “It was very nerve-racking,” said Vazquez.  “I was nervous, but I had a lot of fun with this.”

Staff Sgt. Rim Zivalich of Chicago, the supply noncomissioned officer for the 3625th Component Repair Company based in Chicago, discusses her teams recipe with Cpl. Krystal Vazquez of Cicero, Illinois, a culinary specialist with the 3625th.

            Erika Varela, a culinary arts teacher at Palatine High School said she was impressed by the effort and efficiency of her students. 

            In the competition, each team was given 35 minutes to create their meals from scratch. The teams then had to present their meals to a panel of three judges which included a representative from Harper College, Palatine High School, and the Illinois Army National Guard.

            Capt. James Brock, commanding officer of Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery based in Chicago, served as the judge representing the Guard.  He said after tasting the food that he was surprised MREs were used as the food tasted completely different.

The three judges sample each team’s dishes during the Camo and Cooks competition at Harper College.

            After the judges evaluated the meals from all three teams, 1st Sgt. Chad McDannald, the senior noncommissioned officer for Delta Herd announced Palatine as the winner.  That announcement brought a wave of emotions to the young team.

            “I cried,” said senior Jaz (Diya) Sujayananda.  “Cooking is a passion but I have never competed like this before.  I am glad I was picked to compete.”

            Junior Gio Llanos-Hernandez was also surprised to hear the announcement. 

            “I was shocked,” he said.  “I feel very proud.  This will make my parents proud too.”

Though his team did not win, Staff Sgt. Mauricio Manzo of Chicago, a culinary noncommissioned officer with the 3625th enjoyed the competition.

            “I really like that it gave us the opportunity to promote the culinary side of the Army,” he said.  “It’s nice to show off what we can do.”

            McDannald presented each member of the Palatine team with a plaque in recognition of their victory.

The Palatine High School Team shows off their championship plaques following the Camos and Cooks competition at Harper College.


D211 Post: Palatine Culinary Arts Students Cook with Unique Ingredients



A panoramic view of all dishes created by a culinary arts class during a Cammos and Cooks practice at Palatine High School in Palatine, Illinois. 

            Students in Palatine High School’s culinary arts class had the opportunity to create unique meals during class Oct. 5.  The students practiced for a competition called Cammo and Cooks where cooks are challenged to create meals using various pieces of military Meals Ready to Eat or MREs.

            Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Serowka, an Illinois Army National Guard recruiter, brought the MREs the students used.  He said it was interesting to see what the students came up with and how the groups worked together.

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Serowka from St. Charles, Illinois, a recruiter with Company D, Recruit Sustainment Program, teaches students about MREs during a culinary arts class at Palatine High School.

            “It’s great to see some of the groups really come together as a team,” said Serowka.  “Those teams are the ones that come up with some very creative dishes.”

            During the class, students were divided into teams.  Each team was given a different MRE.  Using that, as well as other minor ingredients from the kitchen, each team had to create a main dish, a desert, and a beverage.

            Erika Varela, a culinary arts teacher at Palatine, said the students were not told what MRE they would get prior to the start of the challenge.

            “I wanted it to be a surprise,” Varela said.  “I am excited to see what they can do with these.”

Two students discuss options for their project during a Cammos and Cooks practice during a culinary arts class at Palatine High School.

            Spc. Daniel Pelczarski, a cannon crewmember with Battery C 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery, joined Serowka to teach the students about the MREs.  After sampling the students’ creations, he said the event was successful.

            “It’s interesting to see the creativity of these students,” said Pelczarski.  “MREs can be pretty basic.”

            Junior Cody Weller echoed Pelczarski’s sentiment on how basic MREs can be.

           “There isn’t a lot of variety with these,” he said.  “That and added to the time limit makes this pretty difficult.”


Granger Russell, a junior at Palatine High School, samples applesauce from an MRE during a Cammo and Cooks practice at Palatine High School.           

At the end, the students’ dishes were judged by culinary students from Harper College.  The top four students will be given the opportunity to compete at the Cammo and Cooks Challenge at Harper College Oct. 18.  There they will compete against cooks from Harper as well as a team from the Illinois Army National Guard.

The winning team of the Cammo and Cooks practice are surrounded by the judges and Illinois Army National Guard Recruiters at Palatine High School.


High School District 211 announces that 31 students have been named semifinalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Competition.

Semifinalists are selected based on scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (P.S.A.T./N.M.S.Q.T.).

William Fremd High School students Abhinav R. Balu, Kevin Chen, Varun Cidambi, Bissmun Gill, Matthew C. Grabianski, Kailey G. Henson, Stephanie X. Hu, Jesse Huang, Kashif Javid, Edward W. Li, Anna J. Miller, Allison M. Nakazawa, Adhith Palla, Nicholas L. Parekh, Elizabeth D. Perez, Andrew L. Ruan, Lauren P. Streitmatter, and Jerry Zheng have been named semifinalists.

Anubhav Agarwal, Adithya S. Chari, Annika K. Lafyatis, Bianca Saputra, Nitinshankar Subramanian, Sarah R. Yamaguchi, and Allison L. Zhang from James B. Conant High School have been named semifinalists.

The semifinalists from Hoffman Estates High School are Ryohei Namiki, Megha Ramanathan, and Shashank Sandu.

Schaumburg High School’s semifinalists are Lisa N. Bonatz and Edwin J. Suresh.

Bhargav Yadavalli is the semifinalist from Palatine High School.

For more information, see the release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

D211 Post: District 211 Joins Sprint’s 1Million Project


Joanna Avalos, a senior at Palatine High School, completes a survey before receiving a wireless hotspot from Sprint as part of the 1 Million Project. Township High School District 211 paired with Sprint in the project which provides free wireless internet to high school students.


            Students within Township High School District 211 will have easier access to the internet to complete web-based homework after the District partnered with Sprint in its 1Million Project. The project provides qualifying students a free wireless hotspot from the Sprint Foundation, with an unlimited data package from Sprint, enabling them access they might not otherwise have.

            “This generous program will be a game-changer for our students,” said Dr. Daniel Cates, District 211 superintendent. “Since we began the one-to-one program, we have been mindful of students who did not have regular, reliable internet access.”

            For some students, it will reduce the number of hours they have to remain after school to work on assignments.

            “I will usually stay here until 6:00 p.m.,” said Priyanshu Bahadur, a sophomore at Palatine High School. “If I cannot stay, then I have to come in early the next day to finish.”

            With this device, Priyanshu said he would be able to spend more non-school hours at home with family.


Rusty Cumings, the assistant principal at Shaumburg High School, discusses the wireless hotspot from Sprint to a student.

            For a student at Schaumburg High School it was time away from school that caused trouble in his ability to do homework. He said when his family is on the road, he cannot access the internet to complete larger assignments. With this device, he will be able to stay on top of his assignments.

            For Palatine High school senior Honoer Okhave this will improve more than just his academic performance.

            “I didn’t have internet at home, so I just wouldn’t do my homework,” said Honoer. “I used to get in trouble a lot.”

            Honoer said he was excited when he saw the letter announcing the new program.

            “I used to wish the school could find a way to get us Internet outside of here,” he said. “This is like a dream come true.”

            Sprint plans to distribute 1million devices to qualifying students during the five-year project. District 211 is one of the first school districts in Chicagoland to participate.

Joanna Avalos, Priyanshu Bahadur, and Honoer Okhavhe, students at Palatine High School, learn how to use their new wireless hotspot.

            “We are both grateful and excited for our students who will benefit because they now have convenient and reliable access to the same universe of information that others have,” said Dr. Cates.           

            The District has distributed 225 devices to students. Each device has built-in content filters, similar to filters that are in-place in school networks. Part of the agreement between Sprint and participating schools is that Sprint will handle all technical issues and trouble shooting with the devices.

            Students who receive a Sprint device will have access to the service for the duration of their high school career.

            Dr. Cates believes this will have a positive impact on students well beyond this school year.

            “Once we can draw upon the impact for our first group of students, we hope that no student in the future has to be limited by a lack of internet access,” he said.


Mr. Mike Alther, an assistant principal at Palatine High School, explains how to use one of the Sprint wireless hotspots.

Two D211 Alumnae Win Scholarships from Palatine’s Women in Business Advisory Forum

Two District 211 alumnae recently received scholarships from the Palatine’s Women in Business Advisory Forum (WIBAF).

Kathleen McManus

Nina Vrtjak

Palatine High School Alumna Kathleen McManus and Fremd High School Alumna Nina Vrtjak each received $1,000 from the Palatine Chamber of Commerce group. The non-renewable funds will go toward college tuition, fees, books, or supplies.

To be eligible for the scholarship, female students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher, with the intent of attending a two-year or four-year college or university to earn a degree in a business-related field. Other criteria considered by the judges included business coursework in high school, employment experience, clubs/activities/service/volunteer roles, two short response questions, and two letters of recommendation.

Kathleen, the recipient from Fremd High School, will be attending University of Alabama where she plans to major in Marketing. Kathleen’s many activities in high school ranged from clubs to theater groups to the competitive dance team. Kathleen has been working in marketing while attending high school through an internship in digital media—a position she earned through a networking connection formed in her Business Incubator class at Fremd.

Nina Vrtjak, the recipient from Palatine High School, will be attending University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where she will be majoring in Accounting. Nina’s application demonstrated a strong combination of coursework and employment experience and she was also very involved in clubs and athletics at Palatine High School. One of Nina’s essays described a mentoring relationship she built as part of her Small Business Incubator class—which truly relates to the relationships built by members of the WIBAF networking group. Nina plans to study accounting, which she describes as being like a “jigsaw puzzle” because there is always “an answer that adds up.”

This year’s scholarship committee volunteers included WIBAF members Joan Scovic from Palatine Park District (committee chair), Fay Ellen Buican of HomeSmart, Deb Gabriel with Edward Jones, Amanda Kamick from Sport-Clips – Palatine, and Alex Looff with Signs By Tomorrow – Arlington Heights. Funds for the 2016-2017 scholarship program were raised through a fashion show fundraiser and raffle prize drawings offered at WIBAF’s monthly networking luncheons.

PHS, CHS Students Win Big at District 211 Business Incubator Pitch Night

Students in High School District 211’s Business Incubator program spent the school year developing business ideas to try to bring them to life with the help of investors.

Six of the best teams from each school’s Business Incubator course were selected to compete at the District Pitch Night for real funding this past May. After planning and preparation, each team presented their business idea to a panel of judges in hopes of being awarded $20,000 in seed money from the District 211 Foundation.

Two teams won this year’s seed money: Green Dirt from Conant High School and Snow and Co. from Palatine High School. Green Dirt also was recently invited to compete at the INCubatoredu National Pitch Competition that will take place at the Loyola Corby Law Center in Chicago this July.

Students enrolled in the Business Incubator class learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur, as well as how to be successful in creating their own product or service. The course covers topics about marketing, human resources, accounting, and the legal aspects of operating a business. When preparing for pitches, students worked not only with their classroom teacher, but also had support from community content experts and mentors. For the teams that did not receive funding, investors encouraged them all to continue pursuing their ideas.

The following teams participated at the District 211 pitch night event:


WINNER: Green Dirt – Conant High School 

Students: Akash Moozhayil, Kunal Mahajan, Stoil Ionov, Rohan Antony, Patryk Barszczuk

Mentor: David Wolff of Wolff’s Fleamarket          

Company overview: GreenDirt is a startup company that addresses the major problem of food waste. We collect scraps from local restaurants, convert to a premium gardening product, vermicompost, which we then sell to local nurseries and garden centers.






WINNER: Snow and Co. – Palatine High School

Students: Alex Brztowski, Katherine Perez, Nemecio Luna, Reil Snow

Mentor: CJ Ritterbusch of Concord Marketing Solutions

Company overview: The Janus Pack is the solution for students who need to charge their electronics while helping students with organizational skills.







Finalist: KickCarrier – Schaumburg High School

Students: Katherine Edeus, Daniel Galovich, Lisette Hurtado, Vincent Kandefer

Mentor: Jon Zaley of Odem Expo

Company overview: KickCarrier is a unique platform where sneakerheads can buy, sell, or trade shoes. If it doesn’t sell, we will buy it!





Finalist: ProjecTapp-Tapp Camp – Conant High School

Students: Eliot Chang, Mitesh Patel, Michael Kim

Mentor: Jim Gallo of Specialty Finishing Group

Company overview: ProjecTapp is a start-up mobile app developer for the private and public sector providing an incubator-type platform that integrates TappCamp, a coding educational and training service. TappCamp educates students in grades 5 – 12 to become app writers and future app developers for ProjecTapp that, in return, adds more innovation and creativity to the mobile app industry.





Finalist: BlissFoot – Fremd High School

Students: Laura Bienek, Aarsh Desai, Hanna Murakami, Luke Schoffstall, Gianfranco Torres

Mentor: Chris Banakis of Acuity Advisory Partners LLC

Company overview: BlissFoot provides competitive long distance runners and other endurance athletes with on-the-go protection against friction, and the resulting irritation, in order to reduce discomfort and enhance performance.





Finalist: InnerMap – Hoffman Estates High School

Students: Chloe Jefferson, Edlawit Zerihun, Errick Delaney

Mentor: Sheila Serafin of RIM Logistics

Company overview: InnerMap will design and create indoor mapping for large public buildings such as malls, airports, and stadiums. The software and app will provide consumers with step by step directions to where they need to go as well as allow retailers in the buildings to push advertising and promotions to potential customers nearby.