D211 Post: Fremd Says Thank You to Health Care Workers

            Members of William Fremd High School’s sophomore class executive board wanted to say thank you to area health care workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.  To do this, they collected more than 100 cards from students which were delivered to AMITA Health St. Alexius Hospital in Hoffman Estates.

            Fremd High School Science Department Chair Karl Craddock said the idea came out of a brainstorming session among the 54-member board.

            “They wanted to help raise the spirits of the students and outside community during this difficult time,” he said.  “While they came up with many great ideas, the one that they kept coming back to was Thank You notes for the frontline health care workers that are battling the COVID-19 crisis.”

            He said the student who led the planning and organization of the card drive was sophomore Manaswita Kodali.  She said her inspiration came from her own family.

            “I was inspired by the health care workers’ resilience and sacrifice during this pandemic,” she said.  “My uncle is an MD doctor on pulmonary medicine in India and he is also risking his life and my grandparent’s lives for the sole purpose of serving his community. Every day is full of fear for my entire family.”

Fremd Science Department Chair Karl Craddock (left) and sophomore Manaswita Kodali (right) deliver cards to Cate Osterholz at AMITA Health St. Alexius Hospital in Hoffman Estates.

            As part of her preparation for the drive, Kodali designed the cards and coordinated a plan for delivery to St. Alexius.  Craddock said that once the drive was started, students from a variety of groups pitched in to help.

            “We had students from clubs like the Red Cross Club and Student Council along with teachers and support staff contribute,” Craddock said.

            In only two days, the group had created more than 100 cards which were then delivered to St. Alexius where they were met with appreciation from the medical staff.

            Kodali said that she hoped this would not only uplift the front-line medical providers but teach her fellow students.

            “I want my fellow students to know that even the smallest form of appreciation towards the health care workers can make a big difference in their hearts,” she said.

            Craddock added that he hopes this sends a message of both unity and appreciation.

            “We hope that it sends the message that we are all in this together, and that during this holiday season, it is important to take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe,” he said.  “In addition, take time to give thanks for our community front line workers who are working around the clock to keep us safe.”

D211 Post: Fremd Moves Fall Play Online


           As students and staff across William Fremd High School and the District adjust to social distancing, Fremd’s theatre department found a new method to perform their fall play, “The Theory of Relativity,” by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill.  The department  filmed their production and are currently streaming it at Showtix4u.

            The play is described as a look at interconnected lives, told through a collection of songs, scenes and monologs.  It touches on situations ranging from relationships to loss.  The production was filmed over the course of several weeks by students from Fremd’s Theatre department. 

             For senior Lara Haciosmanoglu, who filled a variety of roles including cinematographer, lead camera operator, and performed as Joanna, doing the play in a socially distant production provided a few new challenges.

Fremd senior Lara Haciosmanoglu performs her monolog Cake, as part of The Theory of Relativity.

            “In this production, we couldn’t all sing at the same time,” she said.  “We had to pre-record our songs and lip-sync during filming.  Additionally, while we are used to being in the Kolze Auditorium, for this, we were filming in a variety of locations.”

            Haciosmanoglu noted that she plans to apply the experience from this production to her planned college degree of film production.  She did say that the lack of a live audience was noticeable, a fact that was felt by fellow castmates like senior Zach Dyer.

            “We love to perform live for people,” he said.  “What’s so awesome about this is you get to see the audience reaction.  If something is funny, you get that instant feedback.”

            Senior Myra Longnecker, who plays a character named Mira echoed Dyer’s feelings on the absence of an audience.

            “I feed off of the audience,” she said.  “I feel that I can perform my best with them because it creates a type of good pressure.”

Fremd senior performs her solo, Promise Me, during the theatre department’s production of, “The Theory of Relativity.”

            She added that the thought of doing it as a production nearly caused her to decide not to participate this year.

            “I was pleasantly surprised by this,” she said.  “This really helped teach people to deal with change and that there can be beauty in change.  It really brought our theatre students together.”

            Dyer added that while the year and production posed many challenges, he also saw these important positives. 

            “This has shown me how close the theatre community is and how resilient we are,” he said.  “Overall, this has been a very cool experience that I will not forget.”

Fremd senior Zach Dyer performs the song, “Allergic to Cats,” during the school’s production of “The Theory of Relativity.”

            Haciosmanoglu said that she hopes viewers will take note of the crew’s emphasis on one very important issue addressed in the production.

            “We put a big emphasis on mental health throughout the show,” she said.  “We hope viewers will see that while we all may be struggling with different things, we are united in our humanity.”

            “The Theory of Relativity,” can be streamed at ShowTix4U through November 6 for $2.

The finale number is titled “Nothing Without You.” Members of the cast and crews decorated lanterns with the people and things they feel they are “nothing without,” making for an emotional and relevant final scene.


D211 Post: Fremd Wins Consecutive Student Section Showdown Championships

Fremd High School social studies teacher Jason Dvorak, junior Shriyaa Sanjeevkumar, and math teacher Kelly Scott hold the banner announcing Fremd as the 2020 Class 3A/4A Student Section Showdown Champions. (Photo courtesy of IHSA)

The Illinois High School Association announced the 2020 Student Section Showdown Champions. For the second consecutive year, William Fremd High School was named the Class 3A/4A champions.  Fremd’s repeat is the first in the event’s six-year history. 

The event consists of schools submitting videos of their student sections during various events.  The videos are then judged by the IHSA Student Advisory Committee.  The videos are judged on a variety of categories including sportsmanship, spirit, student participation and originality. 

The IHSA stated that the winner of the event was scheduled to be announced during the 2020 boys basketball championship game earlier this year.  However, due to COVID-19, the event was cancelled.

The Student Section Showdown Championship is sponsored by Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donation, Eversight, and LifeGoesOn.com.


You can view Fremd’s video submission here:

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.

D211 Post: District 211 Begins Afternoon Academic Support Session

            On August 24, Township High School District 211 began its Afternoon Academic Support Sessions.  The sessions will allow students to sign up for limited, in-person education and study assistance. 

            Through the sessions, students can sign up for support in general areas such as math tutoring labs, reading and writing support or quite studies; or they can sign up for sessions which focus on specialized content such as needing lab equipment or unique manufacturing equipment. 

            While a majority of the Afternoon Academic Support Sessions will be hosted virtually, there will be limited opportunities to schedule in-person sessions.  The sessions will have a very limited number of seats available, so students are encouraged to sign up through SignUpGenius early. 

            In-person sessions will observe very strict health and safety guidelines.  Every student who attends a session will be required to complete an online wellness survey prior to arriving at the school.  Once at school, students will have their temperature checked to verify they are fever-free.  Only students who have a scheduled session, have completed the wellness survey, and are fever-free will be allowed to enter the building.  While in the building, all students will be required to maintain appropriate social distancing and wear a face mask at all times. 

            District 211 transportation will have mid-day bus routes available for each session.  Bus information can be found in the Infinite Campus parent and student portals.  It is recommended that students report to their assigned stop 15 minutes after 4th period on the day of their scheduled sessions. 

            Any questions should be addressed to the student’s team administrator or guidance counselor. 

D211 Post: Fremd Teacher Makes Triumphant Return Following Cancer Battle

William Fremd High School special education teacher T.J. Valacak meets with students on Zoom during District 211’s first day of school August 13.

            During a homecoming pep-rally at William Fremd High School on September 20, 2013, special education teacher T.J. Valacak said he wasn’t feeling very well.  This day was the latest in a series of days feeling fatigued.  When he spoke to his doctor the next day, he received a shock.

            “I got a call from my doctor after they had run some blood work, and he said ‘hey you have to get to the hospital.  It looks like you have leukemia,’” Valacak said.  “At the time I didn’t know what that would entail.  I thought I would have to get it checked out, maybe see a doctor a couple times a day.  I didn’t leave the hospital for a month.”

            Valacak was informed that he was suffering from two different forms of leukemia.

            “I couldn’t just stick to one,” he said.  “The predominant form was ALL (Acute lymphoblastic leukemia). 

            The doctors create an aggressive treatment plan for Valacak which include chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and a bone marrow transplant.  During his treatment, Valacak had to search for a bone marrow donor who matched with him.

            “I was lucky enough that my sister was a match,” he said. “I had the transplant on November 13.

            Though he started showing improvements following the transplant, and the leukemia was gone, by late August 2014 Valacak noticed he started having new complications.

            “It’s what they called graft versus host disease,” he said.  “Things started getting worse and worse with problems in my lungs and skin.”

            For the next three and a half years, Valacak and his family looked for solutions to the newest complication.  In January 2018, a new medication seemed to be the solution.

            “It didn’t really help me get better, but it put an end to the downward slide I had been going through,” he said.  “By 2019, I was able to start getting immunization shots to build up my immune system which had been non-existent since 2013.”

            Through his lengthy battle, Valacak said he received an outpouring of support from his colleagues. 

            “When I was first diagnosed [the school] had a night for me at one of the games,” he said.  “They did a color run.  People have continued, though this whole process, to check-up on me.”

            He added that support came from across District 211.

            “It’s not just people from Fremd,” he said. “People from the administration, teachers and coaches from the other schools, were reaching out.  The support has been incredible.”

            After completing the immunization shots in March 2020, Valacak was cleared to fulfill one of his major goals, a return to William Fremd High School.

            “Fremd is a family.  It’s a second home,” Valacak said.  “Not leaving on my own terms was definitely a motivation to try to get back.”

            Valacak said walking back through the doors to return to work on August 13 was an emotional experience.

            “It felt like, ‘You made it.  You hit a goal,’” he said.  “The excitement was winning out more than anything.  I felt proud walking in.”

            Two of the biggest changes Valacak said he noticed after his lengthy absence were technology and personnel.

            “We’re a technology world now,” he said.  “There is so much technology involved in the day and in the delivery of education than when I was last here. 

            “There’s a lot of new faces here,” he added.  “There are some who have retired or moved to other positions within the District.”

            He noted that Dr. Lisa Small was principal at Fremd on his last day and is now the superintendent.

            Valacak said for anyone facing severe obstacles, he encourages them to keep pushing ahead.

            “We have a saying from the NIU fight song: Forward together Forward,” he said.  “There’s too much here on this earth to have it any other way.”