McHenry students, teachers start new school year with new expectations

McHENRY – With less than a week to go, all 14-year-old Jonny Krug could think about was his first day of high school.

“I’m more excited than nervous. I feel pretty prepared, and I don’t feel like I’ll get completely lost,” Krug said.

The McHenry resident and former Parkland Junior High student officially became a Warrior on Wednesday. Krug attends McHenry High School’s West Campus and said he planned to come prepared with a positive attitude.

“The school will be bigger than I’m used to, and because I’m taking an AP-level course it will be much more challenging, and there will be a lot of new people and faces,” he said. “But I’m going to stay positive. I’m not going to try and worry about every little thing, and I’m going to take everything one step at a time.”

Also experiencing her first day of high school, but on the teaching end, Sumayya Qudrat is a Lake in the Hills resident and Crystal Lake South graduate but is making McHenry’s East Campus her home. Qudrat is a graduate of Bradley University with a bachelor’s in secondary education and English. This is Qudrat’s first year teaching, but admits that wasn’t always the plan.

“I was originally a health and science major, but after taking a required general ed course in education, I just completely fell in love with it,” Qudrat said. “I strongly identified with wanting to be a teacher.”

Both Krug and Qudrat are drawing on support from their peers to navigate the first few days. Krug’s older brother, 17-year-old Robby Krug, is entering his senior year at West Campus and had some tips for his freshman brother.

“He told me there are three floors at West. Each room number on the floor starts with the number of the floor. On your schedule, some of the rooms start with a four and five,” Jonny Krug said. “Some people will tell freshmen that there’s a fourth and fifth floor, but those are really the mobile units in the back of the school.”

Qudrat said she has found a strong support system among her new co-workers.

“After only two days of orientation, I already felt like part of the family,” Qudrat said. “Even the custodial crew knows my name, and Sumayya isn’t the easiest name to remember.

“Warrior Pride is written all over the school. You definitely feel it. I can’t wait until Wednesday, when I officially become a Warrior.”

Qudrat said she has high hopes for this year teaching freshman and sophomore English and senior cultural studies. While she admits high school students might not think English is the most stimulating subject, she hopes to instill in them its importance.

“I want them to become lifelong readers and learners,” Qudrat said. “I want them to be able experience more through text. It’s not just words on paper. As a first-year teacher, I want to build that rapport to know what I’m doing right and wrong. If it doesn’t work for this group, how can I make it work for the next?”

During her time student teaching, Qudrat came to appreciate students looking for answers beyond what can be found in a textbook. What used to be perceived as a lack of respect or a form of talking back isn’t the case today. The classroom is a forum for students to challenge information presented to them in an effort to dig deeper.

“The question ‘why?’ comes up a lot,” Qudrat said. “Even though something can be related to life, why is it still important? I think it’s great that they are thinking outside of the box and looking for rationale. When I was in high school, I didn’t feel there was a lot of room to challenge what we were told.”

Krug has a lot of anticipation for his high school career. A 4.0 GPA student in junior high, he hopes to keep his grades up and earn a spot in the Distinguished Warrior Program, which promotes overall excellence. Krug also plans to participate in Student Council and drama club and hopes to join the bowling team. With so many possibilities on the horizon, Krug is looking forward to exploring.

“I’m looking forward to having more freedom and being able to make decisions and not have them planned for me,” Krug said. “I’m excited for a new school, where I’ll have new choices to make and a lot of independence.”

With a strong support system of her fellow teachers and the confidence that the hope of a new school year brings, Qudrat said she also was ready for her first day.

“I know the first year is always the hardest: adjusting, scheduling, prioritizing,” Qudrat said. “I’m not teaching for myself. I’m teaching for the opportunity of my students to get a better education. I’ve seen the effects of a lack of education, and I’m going to feed off of that.”

Area students first days of school


• Algonquin School District 300


• Nippersink School District

• Alden-Hebron Community Consolidated School District 19

• Harrison School District 36

• Harvard Community School District 50

• Marengo Community High School District 154

• McHenry High School District 156

• Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157

• Huntley Community School District 158


• Riley Community Consolidated School District 18

• Woodstock Community Unit School District 200


• McHenry Elementary School District 15

Wednesday, Aug. 24

• Fox River Grove School District 3

• Cary Community Consolidated School District 26

• Prairie Grove Consolidated School District 46

• Crystal Lake Community Consolidated School District 47

• Community High School District 155

• Marengo-Union Elementary Consolidated School District 165

Tuesday, Aug. 30

• Johnsburg Community Unit School District 12

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