McHENRY – Students named football games, extracurriculars and new courses as top reasons to be excited for the coming school year on the first day back at McHenry High School West.
Freshmen dodged through the halls during a practice run through their daily schedule at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday as members of the McHenry High School West campus student leadership team stood by to offer assistance in navigating classrooms, lockers and any other first day problems that arose.
“The freshmen have been pretty good at finding their way,” said team member and senior student Madison Schutze, 17. “I think the Freshman Rally helped a lot.”
On Friday, McHenry High School held a rally at both campuses to acclimate new students and kick off the semester. Schools throughout McHenry County have done the same, with many students headed back this week, and the rest to follow next week. Marengo and Crystal Lake high schools marked first days of class Wednesday along with McHenry.
Schutze said that leadership team members try to help freshman students not only find their way around the school, but also answer questions and push them to open up and find their voice in a new, potentially overwhelming environment.
Schutze, who is on the school volleyball team, said she is looking forward to upcoming sporting events, including volleyball and football games. She said she also is excited about some of the courses she is enrolled in this semester.
“In senior year you get a lot of freedom with the classes you choose,” she said. “So I am doing a lot of classes that I am actually interested in.”
Students have a few new courses to choose from this year because the high school has implemented additional curriculum such as Advanced Placement environment science, computer science and other courses that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Principal Marsha Potthoff said.
The district plans to boost its focus on technology during the course of the next few years, Potthoff said.
“We are really focused on implementing a new learning management system called ‘Schoology,’ which will be a tool all of the teachers use,” she said. “Everybody will be on the same platform to post all of their information.”
Parents, students and teachers will be able to access items such as grades, homework assignments and calendars using the system. The district hired five digital literacy teachers, as well, to help incorporate digital learning strategies in preparation for the district to achieve one-to-one technology next year, Potthoff said.
“We also completed a lot of changes around the building to make it more welcoming,” she said. “We remodeled the south foyer and added couches, high tables, a tech bar – we are just trying to make students feel more comfortable … and think about how they learn today.”