TOPe Focus Header
December 2014
In This Issue
Mary Endres Elementary Designated as International Spanish Academy
WHS Teacher Honored by City of Woodstock
Students Promote Safe Driving
D200 Staff Present Information at National Conference
Musicians Selected for IMEA Honor Groups
Welcome to SHAPE Woodstock!
Staff Spotlight on Connee Meschini
Keeping Kids Healthy
Dierzen Students Learn About the Joy of Giving
Global Hour of Code Includes D200 Students
Clay Academy Students Share Their Talents
Orchestra Spreads Holiday Cheer
Moose Lodge Honors D200 Teacher
Radio Hosts Share Love of Reading
Congratulations to Northwood Robotics Teams

Quick Links

Virtual Backpack

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Don't Forget to check the Virtual Backpack


Remember to check the Virtual Backpack 
on the district's website for informational flyers 
on a wide variety of programs and events 
for D200 families. 


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Looking Ahead


End of 1st Semester
Winter Break Begins

Friday, Dec. 19


Winter Break

Dec. 22 - Jan. 4


Classes Resume

Monday, Jan. 5


One Hour Late Start

Wednesday, Jan. 7



Go to the Calendar or Upcoming Events sections of the district website for a detailed listing of all events 

by school, month, 

day or type.

Learn More About Our Schools



Dean Street 

Elementary School



Elementary School


Mary Endres Elementary School



Elementary School



Elementary School



Elementary School



Middle School



Middle School



High School


Woodstock North 

High School


Clay Academy


Board of Education


Camille Goodwin,



Paul J. Meyer,

Vice President


Russ Goerlitz,



Bob Birchfield

Carl W. Gilmore


Bill Nattress 


David Shinherr

Stars Spiral  



Dr. Mike  Moan 


D200 Logo on Gray

This Verda Dierzen Pre-Kindergarten student is a study in concentration as she works on her Winterfest gingerbread man!

Mary Endres Elementary School Receives Recognition from Spanish Government

Representatives from the Spanish Ministry of Education visited Mary Endres Elementary School this week and participated in a ceremony in front of all the Dual Language students and staff members that names the school an International Spanish

Mary Endres Principal Kari Pala and 
Spanish Consulate Advisor Jorge Berne 
sign the Memorandum of Understanding.

Academy.  The award is given to schools in the U.S. that show excellence in language education programs, specifically content and language integrated learning programs in English and Spanish. 


Mary Endres principal Keri Pala and Education Advisor for the Consulate General of Spain Jorge Berne signed the Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the development of a quality Spanish-English bilingual education program that agrees to: 

  • Support a strong academic program in all subjects in English and Spanish
  • Educate students in the values of multicultural education to foster international communication and respect among different cultures
  • Facilitate and promote the access students have to higher education in Spanish speaking countries
  • Offer materials and resources that support Spanish instruction and multicultural education

Javier Perez-Carbajal and Jason Burg, both fifth grade students, spoke about their experiences in the Dual Language program.  Javier, a native Spanish speaker spoke in English while Jason, a native English speaker spoke in Spanish.  The students told stories about how the Dual Language program has made them strong students, helped them make friends from different cultures and put them on a path to becoming bilingual. 


In 2004, Mary Endres became the first school in District 200 to offer Dual Language. Currently 257 students in first through fifth grades participate in the program. Students learn in English during 50% of their day, and in Spanish during the remaining 50% of their day.  In the spring of 2016, students who were in the first Dual Language class at Mary Endres will graduate from Woodstock North High School. Mary Endres is one of 14 schools in the United States and Canada, to receive the recognition in 2014. Only 6 other schools in Illinois have received this distinction in the past. 

WHS Teacher is Honored at City Hall

After a meeting with Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager, WHS political science students wanted to find a way to be involved in local government. Many of them knew of science teacher Bill Donato's dedication and commitment to working with his students at the Albert/Gerry Street Nature Center. Bill and his students have cared for this property since the inception of the Nature Center, and have made countless improvements to the area.  The political science students approached the City of Woodstock about renaming the nature area in Mr. Donato's honor.  At its regular meeting on December 16, the Woodstock City Council voted to rename the property the William C. Donato Conservation Area. Congratulations, Mr. Donato, on this well-deserved honor!

WHS science teacher Bill Donato (center) is surrounded
by proud students and colleagues at City Hall following the
Woodstock City Council's December 16 meeting.


SADD Students Promote Safe Driving

A group of Woodstock High School students who are part of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) are working on a three month campaign to educate their fellow students, and the Woodstock community, about the dangers of distracted driving.  The students, whose tag line is, "Streaks Observe Safety" (SOS), developed public service announcements reminding people to not text or talk on their cell phones while driving. They produced short videos that advocate for seat belt use and provide statistics about the number of people involved in car accidents due to distracted driving.  


SADD students are taking time out from their lunch period and

A student uses her "texting thumb" to sign a pledge that she will not text while driving.

coming in early on late start days to plan activities.  Some of the things they have done include:  getting students to sign a card pledging to not text and drive, counting the number of people coming to school by car who are wearing seat belts, and placing flyers in area businesses encouraging community members to be safe while driving. 


The campaign is made possible through a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Allstate Insurance and the Governor's Office called Operation Teen Safe Driving.  The SADD students are creating a PowerPoint presentation they will use to present their campaign and their results to representatives from IDOT for a chance to win an after-prom party.


District Staff Members Present Information at National Dual Language Conference

Several teachers and administrators from District 200 traveled to New Mexico in November to a Dual Language conference with other educators from around the country involved in Dual Language Programs. The District 200 team made a presentation about the development of an inclusive Dual Language program, and the issues surrounding providing Dual Language for all.  The presentation featured the District's process for developing  bi-literacy through the grade levels in the 50/50 and 90/10 programs, special education services for Dual Language, and considerations for students who need enrichment and gifted instruction in middle and high school.  


Musicians Selected for IMEA Honor Groups

Twenty-two talented singers and musicians from District 200's high school band and choral programs have been selected to this year's District 7 honor music groups from auditions sponsored by the Illinois Music Educators Association (IMEA) in October. District 7 is comprised of schools in most of McHenry County, all of Lake County, and also some parts of Cook and DuPage Counties.  It is generally considered to be the most competitive of the nine districts in Illinois.  These impressive results point to another banner year for the music programs at both District 200 high schools. The members of each group are: 

District 7 Honor Choir             

Ryan Baier (WHS)Michah Muhlenfeld (WHS)
Evan Berg (WHS)Caleb Ruff (WHS)
Emma Browne (WHS)Rachel Simandl (WNHS)
Erica Finke (WHS)Nathan Sites (WHS)
Sam Geggie (WHS)Zachary Stone (WHS)
Cooper Goerlitz (WNHS)Maggie Sturm (WHS)
Katy Holub (WHS)Katya Taylor (WNHS)
Patience McKenzie (WHS)Jacob Varys (WNHS)
Kelsi Morefield (WHS)Jonathan Zoia (WHS)


District 7 Honor Band

Josey Brown (WHSSamantha Jones (WHS)
Kathryn Dawdy (WHS)Peyton Wood (WNHS)


In addition to their selection to the District 7 Honor Choir,  Evan Berg and Erica Finke (WHS) were also selected for the All-State Choir. These students will rehearse and perform with a special guest conductor during the All-State Music Festival, held in Peoria in January.


Welcome to SHAPE Woodstock!
Parents Invited to January Event 
Research shows that students who participate in physical activity before they begin their academic classes have a longer attention span, have higher reading comprehension scores, and perform better on standardized tests than students who do not exercise.

Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 has been awarded a grant to enhance physical activity and healthy lifestyles for our students and their families that we are calling SHAPE Woodstock. Through SHAPE Woodstock we are hosting a series of seminars that will inform parents about the positive impact physical activity and good nutrition have on the academic lives of children. 

We would like to invite you to our first workshop featuring Paul Zientarski, founder of the Learning Readiness Program for Naperville School District 203.  Paul will discuss how he and other educators have made a difference in the lives of students through exercise.

All participants will have a chance to win prizes such as: pedometers, basketballs, footballs, snowshoes and much more!

January 8, 2015

6:00-7:00 p.m.  

Woodstock North High School Auditorium
3000 Raffle Road, Woodstock

For more information about SHAPE Woodstock, including upcoming events, programs, links and photos, please click here to visit the SHAPE Woodstock webpages.



Staff Spotlight Shines on Connee Meschini 


In 2009, District 200 received a grant from the US Department of Education to help combat under-age alcohol consumption.  Funding from the grant enabled the district to hire Connee Meschini, who was responsible for implementing programs aimed at reducing alcohol consumption by students.

By 2013 when the grant was completed, it was apparent that Connee was an asset to District 200, and she was hired full time as a Student Assistance Counselor.  Connee supports students in all areas of their lives that are not academic.  She hosts a wide variety of support groups at both Woodstock High School and Woodstock North High School on a weekly basis.


Students who have transferred to one of the District 200 high

schools can join the newcomers group. During the 6-week orientation, Connee takes students on tours of the building, provides information about extra-curricular activities and athletics, and works with the students on team building and ice breaking activities.  Many of the students who begin in this group remain friends throughout their high school lives.  


Because Connee is a certified drug and alcohol counselor, she is able to assist students who may be dealing with drug or alcohol abuse in their families.  She hosts group meetings with students who exhibit at-risk behaviors and helps them learn to make healthy decisions that will serve them well now and in the future.  Connee says that students look forward to the safety of her groups, "Their voices can be heard in my groups. They know that I will listen to them and make them understand that they're important."

Connee spends two days a week at each high school and rotates between them on Fridays.  In addition to her group work, Connee meets privately with students who may be facing challenging situations at school or at home.  Recently, a student sadly told Connee that she didn't have any friends.  Connee went right to work with her network of high school students and found

Connee Meschini and a student helper work 
on a project for the SADD group at WHS.

someone willing to befriend the new arrival.  Connee had tears in her eyes as she recalled how excited the new student was that she now had a friend at school.


Saying that she would do anything to help her students, Connee relates how she finds clothing, coats, hats and hygiene items for students who are not as fortunate as some.  Her goal is to create a "closet" at each high school where students can choose items they need.


Over the last several months, Connee has volunteered her time to work with the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) group at Woodstock High School on a campaign to combat distracted driving.  


Woodstock High School principal Justin Smith sees the difference Connee has made in the lives of students every day, "Ms. Meschini works tirelessly to ensure that all students are making choices that keep them safe. She is truly an asset to the students and staff at Woodstock High School." 


Keeping Kids Healthy


Recently there has been an increase in the number of children absent from school due to flu-like symptoms. Like all the school districts in McHenry County, we have been monitoring absences on a daily basis since the beginning of the school year and sending that information to the McHenry County Department of Health.  The Health Department reviews the information and then decides if any action is needed.

As of now, the Health Department has not recommended that we do anything more beyond the normal procedures that we have in place.  That includes reminding everyone to follow these basic health guidelines in order to reduce the spread of flu in our schools: 

  • Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Teach your children to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue, arm or elbow.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of the flu - fever of 100� or more, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache and feeling very tired.
  • Do not send children to school if they are sick.
  • Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they have been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing drugs.
We will keep you informed if there are any changes.  Thank you for your support in  helping us provide a healthy learning environment for our children.  Please feel free to contact your school nurse if you have any questions or concerns.  


Kindergartners Learn Value of Giving


Kindergarten students in Amy Mock's class at Verda Dierzen

Dierzen Kindergarten students
serve cookies to visitors.

Early Learning Center sold  cookies and hot chocolate to raise funds for Christmas Clearing House.  Over the course of two days, students raised more than $380.


Start-up costs for the project came from a District 200 Education Foundation grant so all profits were able to be donated to Christmas Clearing House.  This project is a culmination of a "giving back" project where the students learn about the importance of giving back to the community. 


Local Storyteller Visits Westwood Elementary School


Local storyteller and former District 200 teacher Jim May brought

his storytelling expertise to Westwood Elementary School on

Jim May weaves tales for a captivated Westwood audience.

December 4. Mr. May helped students at all grade levels learn the best formula to use when writing stories.  In addition, he recited some of his favorite stories to students, including The Boo Baby Girl Meets the Ghost of Mable's Gable. Jim's visit was made possible, in part, through a grant from the District 200 Education Foundation.



Global "Hour of Code" Includes D200
High School Students 


The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. It is a one-hour introduction

Students gain insight into the value of learning computer coding during the "Hour of Code" event.

designed to demystify computer science and show that anybody can learn the basics of coding.  Each year millions of computer programming jobs go unfilled because there are not enough skilled programmers.  Students at both District 200 high schools participated in the Hour of Code on December 12.  Jason Huber, who teaches at Woodstock High School, and Kris Carter, who teaches at Woodstock North High School, began their Hour of Code by showing video clips of noted programmers such as Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, Bill Gates from Microsoft and Gabe Newell from Valve talk about the importance of coding. 


Working with tutorials that aligned with their programming skill level - from novice to advanced - students learned how to write C++, Javascript, Python and Blocky.  Students had the opportunity to take their new skill and make their own webpage (smartphone capable) in three easy steps, or make their own video games, which could be up loaded to Facebook or played on Xbox.  


Clay Academy Students Share Their Talents


December 12 was a big day for students at Clay Academy.  They hosted parents, grandparents and siblings at their annual Talent Show and Science Fair.  Students entertained their guests by

Clay students perform 
for their guests.

singing a rendition of Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles, dancing to Thriller by Michael Jackson and singing Karaoke to Let it Go from the movie Frozen.  Family members were then invited to view the science projects on display including volcanoes, discovering whether a potato or a lemon conducts more electricity and  exploring the eruption of carbon dioxide when Mentos candy dissolves in Diet Coke.



Orchestra Spreads Holiday Cheer  


Students in the District 200 orchestra program performed at Centegra Hospital, Valley High Nursing Home and Hearthstone Village on December 10 and 11.  The 5th through 7th grade musicians played a variety of holiday music for patients and residents at the Woodstock facilities.   


Woodstock Moose Lodge Honors
"Teacher of the Year"


Julia Patterson

Nine years ago the Woodstock Moose Lodge created its Community Hero Awards program to recognize people for their outstanding leadership and community service.  Award categories include Citizen of the Year, Outstanding Youth of the Year, Policeman of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and Adult Leadership Person of the Year. This year Dean Street Elementary School teacher Julia Patterson was named Teacher of the Year at a special recognition event on Saturday, November 22.  Julia's nominator highlighted Julia's work both inside and outside the classroom such as creation of the Best Buddies program, starting the " filled" program to help students get healthy food for the weekends, teaching confirmation class and being a Girl Scout leader.


Radio Hosts Share Love of Reading with Kindergarten Students


Star 105.5 morning show hosts Tina and Joe visited Verda Dierzen and read, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood to kindergarten students. The pair used Goldilocks and Bear puppets to make the story of the wayward girl who stumbles into the house in the forest in search of porridge and a nap come to life.  Joe, using his best wolf voice when reading Little Red Riding Hood, made the students squeal with delight.  


District Hosts Robotics Tournament 

Congratulations to Northwood Teams 


On December 6, District 200 hosted the FIRST LEGO League Robotics State Qualifier Tournament at Northwood Middle School.  Sixteen teams from all over McHenry County competed in the day-long event. 

At the end of the day, four Northwood Middle School teams qualified for the State Tournament that will be held in January.  Congratulations to the Northwood Teams:

  • The Northwood Nemos (studied destruction of coral reefs)
  • The Global Gurus (studied bioluminescent fish)
  • Wait, What? (studied Native American weapons)
  • Fibonacci Fanatics (studied dog breeds for the disabled)

In FIRST LEGO League children are immersed in real-world science and technology challenges. Teams design their own solutions to a current scientific question or problem and build autonomous LEGO robots that perform a series of missions based on student computer programming. 


227 W. Judd St. | WOODSTOCK | IL | 60098 | 815-338-8200 


e-Focus is published online every month by Woodstock Community Unit School District 200. We welcome your comments, questions and suggestions. Please contact the editor by
phone at (815) 337-5147 or by email at [email protected]