March 2015
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Superintendent's Message: 
Family and Community Make Palos 118 


Since assuming the role of your Superintendent last May, I have had the opportunity to spend more time in each of the schools and witness the students in action first hand.  I can tell you our schools all have a positive and engaging climate that fosters learning and creative thinking. Family and community engagement plays a crucial role in the quality education our students are receiving. Palos 118 is a consistently high performing school district because teachers, parents, our school board, and community all have a shared vision of what our schools should be.


The Parent Faculty Association (PFA) is an integral part of enhancing the entire educational experience at each school. Their numerous fundraising events throughout the year including Shop/Eat n Earn Days, the Cardinal Chase 5K, and the popular Sham Rock n Roll, provide so many enriching opportunities for the students. The Art Awareness program, theme lunches, Mother/Son Bash, Daddy/Daughter Dance, Meet the Author Visits, and so much more are possible because of the PFA's efforts. They also bring safety assemblies and educational opportunities like Civil War Days and Spirit of the Eagle directly to the schools that tie in with grade-level curriculums.


Students at each of our schools benefit greatly from the Palos 118 Educational Foundation. Over the past several years, their fundraising efforts through Laps for Literature, Trivia Night, and the Spring Plant Sale have allowed us to purchase iPads for learning and instructional use at each school. Without the Foundation's generosity, the district would not be able to provide students with so many important digital tools. I encourage you to visit their webpages via www.palos118.org and consider sharing your time and talent.


In addition to our district support organizations, the Palos Community also plays an important role in the success of our schools. Volunteers from the Palos Heights Women's Club visit Palos East each Wednesday to read and offer extra help with reading. During Fire Prevention week, the Palos Fire Department makes it a point to visit the schools to discuss fire safety and promote an essay contest. Students feel special that such important people care enough to spend time with them and share their knowledge. The PFPD and other community organizations also attend the annual Back to School Family Picnic where we all enjoy kicking off a new school year together.


Community involvement is also active at the middle school level. When kids are given the tools and expectations to integrate learning into their daily activities, the school becomes a creative force in a community. Students can then produce outcomes that demonstrate their abilities, and make a difference in their communities. Palos South eighth grade students will have an opportunity to make such an impact by participating in the new Capstone program this fall.  I'm excited to see the outcomes of their endeavors as a result of working with community leaders to solve problems.


Family and community engagement is a vital part of truly successful schools that develop the whole child.  Taking the time to simply ask your child how their day was, check their backpack for important papers, or logging onto Skyward to look up their grades, makes a huge difference in their educational development. Palos 118 is fortunate to have a shared vision of excellence with parents, support organizations, and the community that contribute to the success of each student.  Thank you for everything you do to make Palos 118 a great place to learn.


Warmest regards,


Anthony M. Scarsella,

Superintendent of Schools


Make Up Days: 

Barring any future snow days, the last day of school will now be June 5.  There is no change to the graduation date of June 1.


Kindergarten & New Student Registration:

Parents of incoming kindergarteners are able to start the registration process by going to our website and clicking on student registration. 


Returning Student Registration:

Returning Student Registration will begin March 30. More information will be mailed March 23.

Athletic Achievers at 
Palos South

Eighth grade girls basketball.

Eighth grade boys volleyball.

  Sixth and seventh grade girls basketball.

 Sixth and seventh grade boys volleyball.


More Honors:

The Board of Education honored Palos South's academic excellence at their monthly meeting March 17. Visit the Recognition link for the list of Young Authors Contest and Presidential Academic Fitness Award Winners.

Family Trivia Night Fun
at South

Palos South Student Council's annual Family Trivia Night took place on March 4. South's cafeteria vibrated with chatter and music as their successful annual Trivia Night drew 22 teams of over 200 participants on March 4. Visit this link for photos on Palos Patch from the lively evening.


Palos 118 staff and students from East, West, and South schools played through seven rounds of 10 questions from topics relating to science, literature, history, and pop-culture.  Teams deposited their cell phones in a basket at the center of each table and got to work. "Trivia Crackers" was the winning team.


Proceeds from the event will benefit the Illinois Association of Junior High Student Council's (IAJHSC) state charity, Camps Count for Kids, which supports camp programs for middle level students throughout the state.  Palos South's Student Council is part of Northeast Lake District, which chose to support Camp Lions, a summer camp experience for blind and/or deaf children.  Proceeds also help support the student council trip to the IAJHSC state convention in Springfield.

Next Generation Science Standards - NGSS

Over the past few years, school districts across the country have been placing a high priority on the subjects of English Language Arts and Math due to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.  Before we could even touch upon the concept of a full implementation, much work had to take place to ensure a smooth transition.  School districts had to place a priority on providing professional development for the new learning standards.  Then we had to align our curriculum, instruction, resources, and assessments - all while providing a consistent message to our stakeholders.  While this work is still progressing, districts have now begun to prepare for new standards coming in science. 


The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education on February 19, 2014. The new standards will go into effect beginning in the 2016-17 school year.  The goal behind the new standards is to better prepare students for the rigor of career and college-level scientific study by stressing the importance and integration of three dimensions; science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts. The NGSS will provide for a more integrated and cohesive approach to science instruction, leading to higher levels of engagement and deeper understandings. 


In order to prepare for the implementation, we have begun working with teachers on both learning and understanding the new standards.  This summer, we will undergo the process of aligning our curriculum and focusing on inquiry-based instructional methods.  Many of our teachers have been trained using the "5E Model" to Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate student learning.  These teachers are also piloting a new online curriculum that is tightly aligned to NGSS and is designed to provide a complete, coherent, and supported pathway for inquiry-based science instruction.


For more information on NGSS, visit www.isbe.net or www.nextgenscience.org.


PARCC Testing Update

Students in 5th and 8th grades have successfully made it through the first round of PARCC testing which began last week in District 118.  The assessment was administered at all three District 118 schools beginning last Monday, and this week children in grades 4 and 7 are in the process of completing the performance-based assessments.  Our students have done a great job adapting to the new format of PARCC, and many have expressed that they prefer the computer-based assessment over the ISAT, which was a paper and pencil test.  With the exception of a few isolated technical glitches, the PARCC testing process has run very smoothly.  I want to thank our students, teachers, and parents for demonstrating patience and perseverance as we undergo the transition.  


Record Turnouts for Foundation's Trivia Night and 

PFA's Sham Rock n Roll

Palos 118 support organizations are instrumental in the success of the highly rated elementary school district.  The Palos 118 Educational Foundation and the Parent Faculty Association (PFA) both held major fundraisers over the past several weeks, with proceeds directly benefiting Palos East, West, and South Schools.


The Educational Foundation's third annual Trivia Night on February 21 at Trio Restaurant in Palos Heights was their most successful yet.  About 100 alumni, district administrators, parents, and friends of District 118 were in attendance to put their knowledge of pop culture to the test. Former Board of Education Member, Gerry Ring created all of the trivia questions and emceed the evening as well.  All proceeds from the event go towards the purchase of iPads for student use. Sponsors of the event included Skender Construction, The Tassos Group, LLC., Monica and Tom Wehmeier, and World Hyundai Matteson. A Trivia Night photo album is available on the district website.


Nearly 300 party-goers attended the PFA's annual Sham Rock n Roll Fundraising event on March 7 at Palos Country Club. The night featured basket raffles, a silent auction, enthusiastic bidding on four live auction items, and lively "heads or tails" games where winners scored iPad minis.  For those not able to attend the event, online bidding was available for silent auction items. Palos 118 supporters enjoyed each other's company in a casual setting with live music, food, and a dessert table organized by Jayne Locascio and Eileen Rizzo. A highlight of the evening was viewing Palos East mom Gina Narciso's "Happy" video featuring Palos 118 students and staff.  Master of ceremonies and Palos East father Terry Heafey guided the festivities throughout the night, and enthusiastically conducted the live auction.  Serving as 2015 co-chairs were Meghan Arnold, Mary Carol Mohan, Andrea Ramoley and Susan Szfranski with Jill Fiscelli coordinating the event.  The Sham Rock n Roll is the PFA's largest fundraiser, with proceeds supporting programming efforts such as Art Awareness, author visits, enrichment assemblies, and theme parties.  Sham Rock n Roll Photos from the evening are available on the district website. 

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