Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 5, Issue 4
October 11, 2013
District 58 students in action
District 58 students in action

Whether it's in P.E., recess, a cross country meet, or on Walk to School Day, District 58 students are active! They work hard, play hard, and have fun together. Hit "play" above or click the link below to check out some clips from around the district this week!

VIDEO: District 58 students in action

District 58 musicians selected to participate in IMEA festival

District 58's middle school music ensembles will be well-represented at the Illinois Music Educators Association's District 1 Music Festival on Nov. 9 at Riverside-Brookfield High School. The festival involves more than 500 students selected by audition from more than 60 schools throughout the southwest metropolitan Chicago area. The following band, orchestra, and choral students from Herrick Middle School and O'Neill Middle School were selected by audition to participate in this year's IMEA Festival: 

Shelby Berghorst, Viola; Amy Binder, Alto; Josie Bondarowicz, String Bass; Luc Collo, Alto Sax; Phoebe Covey, Alto; Rebecca Edmundson, Violin; Bella Kelly, Violin; Lindsey Lebeda, Alto; Aoife McGivern, Viola; Brady Moore, Cello; Bryan Monk, Violin; Priya Patel, Flute; Kyle Pearson, Jazz Piano; Dana Scott, Alto


"We are extremely proud of our students for taking on the extra challenge and performing their audition," said band and orchestra director Mackenzie Bufis.

District 58 school's Social-Emotional Learning initiatives featured in national report  


District 58 is again receiving national attention for initiatives related to Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).


During the past few years, all District 58 elementary schools have incorporated components of Responsive Classroom, a program that helps schools support social-emotional development in children through activities such as a daily morning meeting.   


El Sierra, which was the first District 58 school to implement components of Responsive Classroom, is one of just four schools nationwide to be featured as a success story in a national report about the impact of SEL on students and schools. In addition, the report's cover photo features El Sierra students and staff.


Click here for the full story! 


O'Neill science teacher named state-level finalist for Presidential Award


Whether she is writing a grant to have a wind turbine installed on the school's roof, organizing the school's hands-on Chemistry Day, or bringing a group of students to compete in a weekend engineering challenge, O'Neill Middle School science teacher Meg Van Dyke never stops seeking out ways to inspire her students to appreciate science -- and to possibly pursue a career in the field.


"I love instilling a love of science in young people, whether that is in my classroom, working with my engineering students, or with my Energy Kids who teach fourth graders about types of energy and energy conservation," Van Dyke said.


Van Dyke's passion, commitment and dedication have led to her being named one of just three state-level science finalists for this year's Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Program, the nation's highest honor for teachers of mathematics and science.


According to the PAEMST website, "awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of math and science education."


Reminder: Digital Learning Workshops

In partnership with the Downers Grove Public Library, the district is hosting a series of parent education sessions focusing on how digital devices can be used to support learning. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the unique opportunities that digital tools provide, including executive functioning skills such as calendaring, task management, reminders, communication, and organization. Participants also can learn more about accessing the library's digital materials, as well as Internet safety and digital citizenship. Digital Learning workshops are scheduled on the following dates/times at the Downers Grove Public Library, 1050 Curtiss St.:
  • Wednesday, October 16, 9:30 a.m.  
  • Friday, November 15, 1 p.m.
  • Monday, December 2, 7 p.m. 

The events are open to all interested parents and community members.   


 Visit our Parent Tech Support page to check out resources shared at previous workshops!  

Around the District

Puffer students take on Oreo Challenge


Second-graders in Katie Hurckes' class at Henry Puffer School really know how to stack Oreo cookies -- and calculate averages.  


On October 1, the class participated in the 15h annual Oreo Project created by Projects by Jen ( Each student got two chances to stack as many Oreos as they could before the tower tumbled. At the end the class calculated the average number stacked per student, and Hurckes sent in their results.


Hurckes revealed, to claps and cheers, that the students had stacked an average of 22 Oreos apiece, beating the national average of 18 Oreos per stack. So far, a total of 11,716 preschool through fifth grade students in 509 classrooms from across the country -- as well as a group of students in China and a group of students in Germany -- have participated in this year's Oreo challenge. The results are updated and posted each Friday at



Herrick science classes vote in 'cell election'

You know it's not your average election when campaign slogans include "Mitochondria: Giving you the powerhouse" and "Cytoplasm, the spine of the cell that makes everything swell!"


Students in Jill Henry's science class at Herrick Middle School recently participated in an election in which the "candidates" were various cell organelles, or parts.


The students worked in groups, and each was assigned a part of the cell for which to create a campaign. They watched a past presidential campaign speech and discussed what was good and what needed improvement, then worked together using a Google Doc to collaborate on their own speech. They created individual campaign posters or buttons for their organelle, as well as a Twitter slogan and hashtag for Henry to post. On October 7, the students gave their speeches, after which everyone voted using a Google Form. The winner was...the nucleus.

Pierce Downer, DGPD partner for bike registration


Two minutes spent registering your bike can save you time and money down the road. That's what Pierce Downer students recently learned from Downers Grove police officers Marion Heinz and Mary Wennerstrom. The officers joined parent volunteers to host an after-school bicycle registration and safety event on October 3. Sponsored by the PTA Healthy Kids Committee, the event also highlighted National Walk/Bike to School Day, which was coming up the following Wednesday. 


More than 20 students provided basic information including the make, model and serial number of their bike and rode off with a bicycle registration number, as well as a booklet covering bike rules of the road. Students learned that most often it is kids who steal other kids' bicycles. After a joyride, the bike is dumped in the bushes when it's time to head home. When a lost or stolen bike is recovered by police, returning it is simple if the bike was registered.


"Bike registration is like a car license plate," Wennerstrom explained. "We are able to look up who the bike is registered to and give them a call."

Unfortunately, when a bike hasn't been registered, there is no way to return it to the rightful owner, and there are 25 to 30 such bicycles at the police station right now.
Fewer than 5 percent of unregistered bikes recovered by police are reunited with their owners. To expedite the return of a lost or stolen registered bike, Heinz encourages bicyclists to "report it to the police to help in matching recovered bicycles with those reported stolen." To register a bicycle online, visit

Click here for more photos from the activity!

El Sierra Fall Fest featured pie-throwing, pie-eating, Cardboard Challenge


This year's El Sierra School Fall Fest, held on October 5, was a real slice. Downers Grove-based Pies by Fasano donated 14 pies for the apple pie eating contest, pies to be thrown at El Sierra Principal Lucille Carney by the winners of a drawing, and six chocolate cream pies--one for each grade!    


In addition to fun with pies, the Fest featured carnival games, face painting, pumpkin painting and caramel apple decorating. Also, again this year the school hosted its own Caine's Arcade-inspired Cardboard Challenge in tandem with the Fall Fest.


Inspired by the original cardboard arcade made by a nine-year-old boy, organizations, groups and individuals around the world have built their own cardboard arcades. Last year the Imagination Foundation launched the first-ever Global Cardboard Challenge, inviting the world to play while raising funds to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in kids. Participants build cardboard creations such as arcade games, rocket ships, robots, labyrinths, houses and artwork. On Oct. 5, communities and schools around the world played at Global Cardboard Challenge events during the second annual Global Day of Play.  



Highland senior volunteers get first-hand look at new technology   


Highland School's senior volunteers recently got a firsthand look at how technology is transforming teaching and learning.  


On September 27, the school hosted its annual appreciation luncheon for the school's Older Adults and Kids (OAK) volunteers. The luncheon always occurs on the school's Picture Day. The volunteers get their photos taken, have lunch with the classroom teacher they work with, and meet with Principal Judy Kmak for curriculum and district updates.


"Each year the presentation is different depending on what the new initiatives are at the district level," Kmak said.


The sixth grade is one of three grades at Highland participating in the District's 1:1 device pilot program, and six of the sixth-graders met with the six OAK volunteers to present what they have been learning. 


"Each sixth-grader used the Apple TV to show an activity or lesson they have done with their iPad Mini, then worked one-on-one with the OAK volunteer to show them the device and let them try it out," Kmak said.


Click here for more photos from the event!

Lester School Fun Run a fitness success


Encouraging fun physical activities for families is of the utmost importance, and the Lester School PTA created fitness fun and family memories at the fourth annual "Running of the Leopards" 5K Fun Run and 1-Mile Kids Dash October 6. Along with promoting a healthy lifestyle, the fundraising event generated more than $10,000 towards Lester school programs and activities.  


Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully joined more than 185 children, some as young as four years old, and 135 adults on a beautiful course through the neighborhood surrounding Lester School. Among those who completed the 5K race was the "Lester Fit Girls Club," a group of 30 fourth and fifth grade girls who trained together for weeks leading up to the event.


"The Lester Running of the Leopards Fun Run was a truly special gathering for our school. We celebrated a great family event on a beautiful fall day and created lasting memories for our students and the community," said Principal Carin Novak.  


Afterwards, students, families and staff celebrated the Fun Run with an awards ceremony and door prizes, and DJ Yianni hosted a dance party.


Click here to view more photos from the event, and to view the full list of event sponsors! 

Comcast offering low-cost service to families via Internet Essentials program

With the increasing importance of the Internet to families, District 58 is partnering with Comcast to share information about the company's Internet Essentials program. Internet Essentials gives eligible low-income families Internet service in their homes for $9.95 a month, a computer for $150, and free digital literacy training.


To qualify, a household must meet all of these criteria: 
  • Be located where Comcast offers Internet service
  • Have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program
  • Have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days
  • Not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment

To request an application, call 1-855-8-INTERNET. 

Community Partner Corner

Downers Gro
ve Historical Society gives free membership to second-grade teachers

All District 58 students learn about Downers Grove history in second grade, and the Downers Grove Historical Society is providing free memberships to all District 58 second-grade teachers! Each teacher will receive a personalized membership card. Thank you to the Historical Society for their continued partnership and support of our students, staff and schools. For more information about the organization, visit
E-flyer logo
Community e-flyers

New community e-flyers have been posted for viewing on the District 58 e-flyer page. Click here to visit the page, or click the links below to view individual flyers.

Downers Grove North cheerleading clinic flyer and cheerleading clinic release -- event October 19





Noah's Hope resale-- event October 19 -- NOTE that the event will take place at 4745 Seeley Ave. The location of the sale was listed incorrectly in the September 27 edition of Communicate 58. 


Pink Heals Tour to visit the Tivoli Bowl -- event October 19  


Pro Martial Arts Family Fun Day -- event October 19 



  District 58 logo
The mission of District 58, in partnership with parents and community, is to challenge and engage each child by providing quality educational programs and support services in a safe, nurturing, and child-centered environment in order to prepare all students to be lifelong learners and contributing members of a global society.  
Communicate 58 is designed to share timely, relevant information about District 58 with parents, community members, and others who are interested in how we are living out our mission. If you have any questions/comments regarding Communicate 58, or have an article/photo idea for the publication, please contact Communications Coordinator Jennifer Waldorf at or (630) 719-5805. 

Find District 58 on social media


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Follow #dg58learns on Twitter to come along with us on our journey of learning!  
Upcoming events
October 14 Columbus Day -- no school 

October 15

Teacher Institute Day -- no school

Board of Education meeting, 7 p.m., Longfellow

Legislative Committee meeting, 3:45 p.m., ASC

October 17

Herrick band concert, 7 p.m., Herrick

O'Neill orchestra and chamber strings concert,  7 p.m., O'Neill

October 21

Preschool screenings, AM only

October 22

Policy Committee meeting, 7 a.m., ASC

October 23

Digital citizenship workshop for sixth through eighth grade parents, 7 p.m., Herrick -- registration required

October 24

Fall Orchestra Festival for Herrick and O'Neill orchestra at Downers Grove North, 7 p.m.

Click here to view the full calendar. You can use the drop-down menu and icons to customize your view (day, week, month, list!)
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