McHenry Dist. 15 school named finalist for national STEM Excellence Award two years in a row

  • Parkland Principal Mike Adams, STEM coach Nick Watson, and Parkland students are ready to compete to be the number one STEM school in the nation.

    Parkland Principal Mike Adams, STEM coach Nick Watson, and Parkland students are ready to compete to be the number one STEM school in the nation. Courtesy of Jen Ruth

Updated 12/27/2019 7:02 PM

For the second year in a row, McHenry School District 15 is being recognized by the Future of Education Technology Conference as having one of the top Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) schools in the nation.

This year, Parkland School has been selected as a top three finalist for the FETC STEM Excellence Award. They will be competing against two other elite school systems in January.


The FETC STEM Advisory Committee assessed hundreds of national and international applications before narrowing it down to three school finalists.

The applications are evaluated based on the use of interdisciplinary curriculum, collaboration, design, problem-solving and STEM experiences offered to the students and community.

Parkland School was selected as one of three finalists in the middle school category for exemplary work in the areas of STEM, STEAM and Innovative Learning.

"Our school community at Parkland has worked extremely hard to earn this opportunity to be honored alongside some of the best schools in the country," said Dr. Fred Laudadio, executive director for learning and technology. "Parkland's success is demonstrated by outstanding students who have gained substantial knowledge that will undoubtedly provide them a digital edge in a competitive world. They are being exposed to new technologies that foster creative thinking, collaborative sharing and information literacy."

The 2020 Middle School Finalists are: Parkland School, McHenry School District 15, McHenry, Illinois; Mater Academy Charter Middle/High, Miami Dade Schools, Hialeah Gardens, Florida; and St. Pius X School, Diocese of Covington, Edgewood, Kentucky.

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"We are proud to be sharing the McHenry District 15 story with our local community and school districts across the nation," said Dr. Josh Reitz, Assistant Superintendent. "STEM education is, and will continue to be, a focal point for innovative schools of the future. Every day we have the opportunity to see our students working in state of the art STEM Labs, STEAM Studios, Innovation Centers and Video Production Hubs. We are thrilled that the work of Parkland's students and staff will be featured at the Future of Education Technology Conference."

McHenry District 15 was recognized last year for STEM Excellence at McHenry Middle School, ultimately being selected as second in the nation by a panel of expert judges.

"We were honored to be recognized nationally last year, and ecstatic to be a finalist again this year," stated Superintendent Dr. Alan Hoffman. "I am confident in saying that District 15 is likely the only school district in the United States to have both middle schools recognized as top STEM schools in the country."

The winner of the 2020 FETC STEM Excellence award will be announced live at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida on Friday, Jan. 17.

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