McHenry County students return to classroom

Students in McHenry, Crystal Lake, Huntley, Woodstock and Cary start a new school year Wednesday

Teacher Amanda Hall takes a ‘selfie” with her two children, Merrill, 10, and Ellis, 7, on first day of school at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.

Crystal Lake first grader Quinn Fowler, a student at West Elementary School, was “nervous” to start school Wednesday.

Her dad was more enthusiastic.

“Wonderful, thank God,” Brian Fowler said.

Wednesday marked the first day of school for many McHenry County children, including at Crystal Lake School District 47, Community High School District 155, Woodstock School District 200, McHenry School District 15, McHenry High School District 156, Huntley School District 158, Harvard School District 50, Nippersink School District 2, Wonder Lake-based Harrison School District 36, and Richmond-Burton High School District 157.

Algonquin-based Community Unit School District 300 began Tuesday.

More districts will follow in the coming weeks. Next up is Marengo Community High School District 154 set to begin Thursday followed by Marengo-Union Elementary School District 165 and Riley School District 18 on Monday, Johnsburg School District 12 on Tuesday; Fox River Grove School District 3, Cary School District 26 and Alden-Hebron School District 19 on Aug. 23; and Prairie Grove School District 46 on Aug. 24.

At West Elementary, many parents and teachers were eager for the school year to begin, but emotions among parents ranged from relief to bittersweet.

“Super excited to have the kids back,” said Jacolyn Eggert, a paraprofessional at West who also has children there.

Her daughter “woke up and she started clapping” this morning, excited for the first day of school, she said.

Marshall Frank, a first grade student at West, had a back-to-school countdown running for the last month on the family calendar, parent Caitlain Frank said.

“He was just really looking forward to learning,” Caitlain Frank said. “He loves to see his friends.”

Johnny “woke up ready to go,” his parent Jessica Feinberg said, adding he was up before his father. “Johnny was happy to be back.”

Other parents were excited for routines to return, especially in the wake of remote schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After the pandemic, it’s kind of nice to see the normalcy,” parent Jenna Peterson said. “It’s great to still see them so excited.”

Parent Elizabeth Meehan always has “mixed emotions” when school returns.

“I’m sad because they’re growing up,” she said.