Return to Headlines

Breakfast honors McHenry High School alumni who are first responders

McHenry area service organizations joined with McHenry High School District 156 administrators, teachers and students Wednesday morning at McHenry High School - West Campus for the Community Fellowship Breakfast, an annual Thanksgiving tradition that this year honored McHenry High School graduates who are now first responders.

McHenry Police Chief John Birk, a 1993 graduate of East Campus, was the keynote speaker for the program that also featured speakers from several local service clubs, including Lions Club, Kiwanis, Rotary Noon, Rotary Sunrise.

Birk said all the efforts by local service clubs, churches and other organizations to prepare young people for the future is a sign that McHenry is a healthy community. “The most important component of any community is the people who live and work in it,” he said.

Members of the McHenry Police Department, McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, McHenry Township Fire Protection District and Wonder Lake Fire Protection District who are graduates of McHenry High School were honored during the breakfast.

In addition to recognizing first responders, the breakfast was an opportunity for District 156 administrators and teachers to thank service clubs for their support of school programs. Many local organizations support the school district’s Advanced Placement program as well as Food for Thought, the high school’s food pantry, and National Honor Society.

Marsha Potthoff, principal at West Campus, and Jeff Prickett, principal at East Campus, each spoke about how essential support is from the community for high school students and programs. Potthoff noted that community support for the Advanced Placement program, which allows students to earn college credit while in high school, saves local families thousands of dollars in tuition each year.

Students from National Honor Society and Food for Thought were on-hand to serve food during the breakfast. The morning’s entertainment was provided by McHenry High School’s Surround Sound choir.

Nancy Henningfield, organizer of the annual event, said the breakfast is a way to kick-off the holiday season by thanking those who help make McHenry a nice place.

The following is a list of first responders who are graduates of McHenry High School, and the department they serve:


City of McHenry Police Department

  • Chief John R. Birk
  • Commander Paul Funk
  • Officer Josh Conway
  • Officer Robert Klasek
  • Officer Anthony Mucciante
  • Officer Christina Noyes
  • Officer Paul Prather
  • Officer Patrick Polidori
  • Officer Bryan Wegner
  • Admin. Assistant / Retired Deputy Chief Roger Pechous
  • Lead Dispatcher Justin Liebach
  • Dispatcher Kaitlin Durband
  • Dispatcher Katie Fitzgerald
  • Dispatcher Holly Neville
  • Records Clerk Marybeth Varvil


McHenry County Sheriff’s Office

  • Officer Michael Hart
  • Officer Marco Tello


McHenry Township Fire Protection District

  • Timothy Butler
  • Mark Diedrich
  • Sam Duggan
  • Jeremy Fisher
  • Todd Goranson
  • Ryan Harding
  • Justin Liebach
  • Philip Lesniak
  • Chris Mann
  • William Oeffling
  • David Reid
  • Ryan Shay
  • Brian Thome


Wonder Lake Fire Protection District

  • Ervin Gall
  • Gregory Mieling
  • Billy Loeding
  • Brittany Sarabia
  • Nicole Rios
  • Kerry Uhlhorn
  • Carley Nicolay