Longtime District 155 board member bids farewell
Gary Oberg, one of the longest-serving school board members in the state, retired from Crystal Lake High School District 155 and left a lasting impression.
Oberg, 70, served on the District 155 school board for eight terms -- nearly 32 years working with six superintendents. He did not seek re-election in April.
During Oberg's tenure, the district has seen the expansion of educational programs and schools including, Cary-Grove High School's D and E wings, media center, and fine arts center, expansions at Crystal Lake South in 2003 and 2006, and the opening of Haber Oaks alternative high school in 2008.
"Dr. Oberg is a national and international speaker and he was at the forefront of making sure environmental principles were a priority for our students and community," said Ted Wagner, former District 155 board president.
A Crystal Lake native, Oberg graduated from Crystal Lake Central High School in 1964 and went on to become a pediatrician. He ran for the school board in 1985.
"I have always been really interested in education and teaching," Oberg said. "The best way to achieve good health in life is to start with kids. I think it is important to incorporate strategies for good health into the educational curriculum to encourage students to maintain a healthy lifestyle."
Oberg is a senior adviser to the president of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. He is a past president of the organization and has served as chairman for continuing medical education for more than 10 years, lecturing nationally and internationally about how diet and environment can trigger health problems.
He has been an advocate for good environmental practices for the district, serving on the wellness committee and working with the food services department to offer students healthy food choices. He also was integral in implementing a new nutrition and wellness class during the 2016-17 school year at Central and Prairie Ridge high schools.
Oberg served on the building and grounds committee in the 1990s when the school board approved the construction of Prairie Ridge. He made environmental health a priority leading to Prairie Ridge becoming the first high school in Illinois to accommodate environmental principles.
"Prairie Ridge has windows in every room, there's minimal carpeting, and a superb ventilation system," he said.
In 1995, Oberg contributed material for "The Healthy School Handbook," which focuses on the environmental hazards in and around schools. He also has written chapters for several books on integrated medicine.
In November 2013, the Illinois Association of School Boards recognized Oberg for being the longest-serving board member in McHenry County, and among the longest-serving board members in the state.
"I will miss the professionalism and dedication of the administrators, teachers, and noncertified staff for doing what's best for students. That's the reason I kept coming back," he said.
"I've enjoyed going to events and seeing the culmination of our students' hard work at graduation. I delivered a bunch of the kids, then I gave them their diplomas, welcomed some of them back as teachers in District 155, and then congratulated them on getting tenure.
"I have been doing this since before they were born, and it was time to turn it over to the next generation."