Johnsburg School Marks 175th Year
By Pat Szpekowski, Observer Correspondent
February 14, 2019
JOHNSBURG—From roots established in a log cabin 175 years ago to students involved in robotics today, St. John the Baptist School has endured and progressed as a foundation of faith, family and education.
 
McHenry County’s first Catholic school marked its historic anniversary and legacy of academic success with an open house on Jan. 27 at the school to kick off a busy planned week of activities for Catholic Schools Week, weather-permitting. 
 
The below-zero-degrees weather didn’t deter the families, students, supporters and alumni, who filed into the school for treats, tours, and shared memories following each of the Sunday Masses.
 
At the 9 a.m. Mass students participated as servers, readers and bearers of gifts to the altar. They came back to the gym to share an anniversary cake served by Stefanie Roedel, president of the school’s Home and School Association. 
 
Principal Brenda Baldassano and her husband, Nick, were married at St. John the Baptist Parish and have been long-time parishioners. Their three children, Bella, Nico, and Autumn, attend the school. 
 
“We are a small school with a big heart,” Baldassano said. “I am truly grateful for the tremendous support we receive from our parents and our Home and School Association. 
 
“They are so involved all year long,” she added. “They volunteer and organize many events, from our annual golf outing to our Easter Bunny Breakfast and family fall fest.”
 
Lloyd Freund, a graduate of the class in 1942, enjoyed the festivities and reminisced with friends. 
 
“Time flies too fast,” he said. “Our school was on the second floor in a wood building and there were just six of us boys, no girls, in the class.” 
 
He shared memories. “I still live about 150 feet from here and there were many times I would be called to serve Mass because I lived so close. Only me and Bob Thiel, who lives in Florida now, are left from our class.” 
 
Current enrollment at the school is 73 students. Many of the families who attended the open house couldn’t say enough on how much the parish and school means to them. 
 
Anna Rose Zakrzewski said she and her husband, Jason, found it a priority to have their children Bayleigh, 3, Ariana, 8, and Mario, 10, attend Catholic school. 
 
“We wanted them to learn and be involved in their Catholic faith,” she said. “By their daily prayers and attending regular Mass, they are learning much to help them navigate life.”
 
Teachers showed their classrooms and students’ projects during informal tours. 
 
Parent volunteers chatted with those who stopped at the displays in the gym to learn more about school clubs such as the Chess Club, Journalism Club, LEGO League, Young Rembrandt’s Art, Band and Athletics. 
 
Other displays provided information about the school’s before and after care, special education services, and a new all-day preschool scheduled to begin in the 2019-20 school year.
 
St. John the Baptist School offers full day kindergarten through middle school. 
 
It has gone from a simple log cabin to a cutting-edge environment. 
 
Students are strengthening their faith and are being prepared for the future by learning the wonders of science and technology through robotics.