Three McHenry High School alumni told Distinguished Warriors from the Class of 2021 to be proud of such a distinction that shows they not only survived a pandemic but thrived.
The taped comments from alumni were shared during the May 16 ceremonies for the 183 students who earned the Distinguished Warrior honor for excellence in academics, school involvement and community service. There are 60 Distinguished Warriors for East Campus and 123 at West Campus.
“We know this year has been challenging,” said John Benedeck, organist for the Chicago Cubs and a 2012 McHenry High School graduate. “If anything, you guys are stronger for it.”
Other speakers were Mackenzie O’Brien, a singer-songwriter and 2016 graduate, and Maria Sorrentino, Class of 2008 and a finance manager with ESPN. All three made videos to be played during the ceremonies.
Emerson Simon said she appreciated the effort school officials made to honor her and her fellow Distinguished Warriors even with mask mandates and social distance guidelines. Each Distinguished Warrior got an orange stole to wear with their graduation gowns, and a yard sign to display.
“It is cool to see what everyone is doing,” said Simon, who is planning to study speech pathology at Marquette University in the fall.
She likes that the program honors more than just good grades and test scores. “I think this is something everyone can strive for, even if they are not at the top of their class,” she said.
For more details about the Distinguished Warrior program, visit the District 156 website.
The program is sponsored by Gary Lang Auto Group, Buss Ford Lincoln, and Sunnyside Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram. The auto dealerships also award scholarships each year.