D211 Post: Conant Student Turns Project into Novel

            While James B. Conant High School senior Rayaan Siddiqi was taking a computer science independent study, he was told to create a project which would encompass four years of study.  He decided he wanted to do something different from his peers.

            “I knew that I could develop another app for the app store or website,

but I wanted to do something that had never been done before,” he said.  “I knew that writing a novel about a high school student finding his passion could be a great thing to do.”

            The result is the newly published novel The Switch Up, which is a realistic fiction story of a high school student who finds his purpose and passion in the world of technology after they feel a disconnect in what they thought they wanted to do. 

James B. Conant High School senior Rayaan Siddiqi holds up a copy of his book “The Switch Up” which is in the CHS library.

            Siddiqi said he chose to write the book because he felt the topic was relatable to students like him.

            “Being an avid reader, I’ve read books from many industry professionals and adults who write by looking back onto their careers,” he said.  “However, to me, these books always failed to connect due to the large age gap which is why I chose to project forward.”

            He added that he hopes high schoolers will read his book and have a feeling of understanding where the lead character is coming from.  To help build the relatability, Siddiqi said he incorporated multiple aspects of his own high school experiences, including finding a passion for technology. 

James B. Conant High School senior Rayaan Siddiqi signs a copy of his book “The Switch Up” which is in the CHS library.

            Since the book’s release, Siddiqi said the response has been overwhelming. 

            “From selling more than 60 copies in less than two months, to the book being added to some of the largest library branches in Illinois, and even being featured in the Library of Congress, I think it’s fair to say the message of the book has touched hundreds.”

            Anyone wanting to find a copy of The Switch Up, can do so at either https://author.rayaansiddiqi.com or on Amazon.

D211 Post: New principal named at Fremd High School

At its February 18, 2021 meeting, the High School District 211 Board of Education approved the appointment of Mark Langer as principal at William Fremd High School, effective July 1, 2021. 

Mark Langer has been named as the new principal for Fremd High School.

Mr. Langer, currently assistant principal at James B. Conant High School, will take over the principalship from Kurt Tenopir, who will move into his new role as assistant superintendent for administrative services on July 1st, following seven years as principal at Fremd High School.

Mr. Langer began his teaching career as a science teacher at Palatine High School in 2003.  He was named the school’s dean of students for the 2011-2012 school year.  He served as 10-month assistant principal at Conant High School for the 2013-2014 school year, and then returned to Palatine High School as 10-month assistant principal for the 2014-2015 school year.  Mr. Langer was named 12-month assistant principal for discipline at Conant High School, serving in that capacity from 2015-2017, and was promoted to his current position as 12-month assistant principal for buildings & grounds and activity director in 2017.

“Mark Langer is a dedicated and thoughtful leader who embraces new opportunities allowing for every student to excel,” said Superintendent Lisa Small.  “He partners with students, staff, and parents to gain the perspective of all stakeholders as he ensures a positive impact on a school.  His reflective nature, open-minded leadership style, and dedication to excellence is a great match for the William Fremd High School community.”

Mr. Langer graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in food sciences and human nutrition.  He earned his master’s degree in secondary education from National Louis University in 2003, and earned a second master’s degree in educational administration from Northern Illinois University in 2011.  In 2019, Mr. Langer was recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education with a Those Who Excel award in the School Administrator category.

D211 Post: Cougar Perk Returns In a Modified Way

           For more than a decade, one thing staff at James B. Conant High School could count on was the presence of the student run bakery Cougar Perk during the spring semester.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season of the café was cut short. 

            In early February, instructors of Conant’s Practices in Entrepreneurship announced that Cougar Perk would be returning in a modified capacity.

            “We are pick-up only,” said Conant High School Family and Consumer Science teacher Jackie Brown. “We don’t have our normal cafeteria set-up.”


            Brown added that due to reduced class sizes to accommodate hybrid learning, Cougar Perk is currently offering a smaller selection.

            Senior Elizabeth Gonzalez, who has been a part of Cougar Perk for the past three years said the different set-up has had an impact, but she still enjoys it.

            “It’s been a little bit slower for our business,” she said.  “We usually have people lined up out the door.  It may be slower now, but I still really enjoy it.”

            Brown said that one aspect of the new set-up did not require any adjustments.

            “We typically follow very strict sanitation guidelines regularly,” she said.  “Because we have always done that, we were already used to the new rules.”

            The response to Cougar Perk’s return in the halls of CHS has been overwhelmingly positive.

            “People are so happy to have us back,” Brown said.  “While we may not be completely back to normal, everyone has been glad to have something from a normal school year back.”

D211 Post: Yearbook Sales Open in D211 Schools

As students pass through high school and beyond, a great way to preserve memories is the timeless school yearbook.  With the 2020-2021 school year being one of new educational experiences never before seen, this year’s yearbook will serve as a little more.  For many schools, the 2021 yearbooks will preserve a unique moment in history.

District 211 schools have announced that students can purchase their yearbooks through myschoolbucks.com or in-person in the school office.  While sales are on-going, each school has their own deadline for pre-orders. 


Palatine High School has stated that they will wrap up pre-orders of the 2021 Spotlight on February 24.  Assistant Principal Kim Glaser said that the school is only purchasing a very limited supply of additional copies so students are encouraged to pre-order to guarantee a copy. 


Pre-orders of the 50th anniversary edition of the Shimmer from Schaumburg High School and William Fremd High School’s Valhallan are available through May 1st.  James B. Conant High School’s Conavite and Hoffman Estates High School’s Halcyon pre-orders will be taken through the final day of the 2020-2021 school year. 


Students who have questions regarding the 2021 yearbook orders and cost are encouraged to speak with their guidance counselors.    For help setting up a MySchoolBucks account visit https://www.myschoolbucks.com/ver2/help/gethelpvideos.

D211 Post: Conant Theatre to Stream Their Production of Freaky Friday

            Theatre students at James B. Conant High School, like others across District 211 have adapted to a socially distanced environment by producing their fall play as a full video production.  Under the Direction of Katherine Apperson, more than 50 Conant High School students and faculty have collaborated over a three-month period to create the 2020 musical, “Freaky Friday,” which will stream Thursday, November 5th, 7 p.m. through Saturday, November 7th at 7 p.m.      

Both in front of and behind the camera, the students had to adapt to new styles and techniques.  Junior Allison Wise, who served as the set construction chair, said she had to create a different style of set.

            “This was a new experience for us,” she said.  “Normally we have a 30-foot rule, which says that the set has to look good from a further distance away.  Because the camera shoots much closer, we had to work on finer details and ensure we had believable perspective.”

            Senior Teagan Whiteside agreed with Wise and added that consistency between takes could also be a challenge.

             “On stage, if one run isn’t exactly the same as another it’s ok because there is a new audience each show,” she said.  “But, on camera each take has to be exactly the same, otherwise when we edit the different videos together the differences become very obvious and draw attention away from the story.”

            Fellow senior Reyna Parayno noted that filming multiple takes could be physically draining as well.

            “Having to perform dances with the same amount of energy over and over again could be exhausting,” Parayno said.  “It was definitely a challenge for a lot of the cast.”

            Film crew member, senior Lauren Hall pointed out that some of the challenges could lead to exciting experiences.

            “It’s been difficult to keep things consistent between takes, as well as learn how to edit audio and video in a few days in order to put the show together” she said.  “The best experience though has definitely been being able to watch finished scenes and say ‘we did that.’”

            Tickets to stream “Freaky Friday,” can be purchased at Showtix4u.com.


D211 Post: National School Lunch Week (Slideshow)

October 12-16, is National School Lunch Week.  Throughout District 211 members of our food service department have continued to work to ensure that, even during remote learning, out students have access to stable meals.   To date, District 211 has provided more than 1 million meals since the initial move to remote learning, and our food service staff continue to pack more meal bags every day while still providing normal meal service for teachers and staff members working in the schools. 


D211 Post: 30 District 211 Students Named National Merit Semifinalists

            Last month, the National Merit Scholarship program released its list of the 2021 semifinalists in their 66th annual list. 

            These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the 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 Nathan A. Arango, Ysabelle F. Buenavista, Cara A. Chang, Stella J. Chung, Gabriel K. Classon, Joshua P. Corrigan, Manas P. Gandhi, Natalia M. Gorecki, Allison Y. Kao, Anshul Kaushik, Sravy Konasani, Ethan Lin, Michelle Liu, Angela Ma, Mahima Malhotra, Gavin K. McCarthy, Gwendolyn R. Nicketta, David D. Phillips, Jessica W. Rao, Sufiya M. Shazia, Rachel Ye, Angelina J. Zheng, and William Zhong have been named semifinalists.

James B. Conant High School students Nicholas K. Chen, Martin G. Ferris, Rei Komura, Sanjana Rajesh, and Matthew Schmitt were selected as semifinalists.

MaryEtta M. Brigham from Palatine High School and Mia L. Vollkommer from Schaumburg High School have been named semifinalists.