Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 5, Issue 5
October 25, 2013
October 15: The District 58 journey continues 
October 15: The District 58 journey continues
On October 15, certified staff in District 58 came together for a day of learning, collaborating, idea-sharing and growth. The day began with a yellow-brick-road-themed surprise! Click the link above to watch a video spotlighting the day, or visit District 58's YouTube channel,! 

District 58 Education Foundation awards more than $26,000 in grants to schools

Students browse Addie Kostellic's classroom library at O'Neill Middle School. Kostellic received a Foundation grant to purchase additional volumes for the collection.


Books for classroom libraries, IdeaPaint, WhisperPhones for fluency improvement, physical activity monitors, books and materials for a second grade Genius Hour, and a half-sized bass for the instrumental music program were among the 16 grant requests funded by the District 58 Education Foundation for 2013-14.   


Altogether the Foundation, which was founded in 2002 to enhance the education of students in District 58 and its 13 schools, gave away more than $26,000 in grants this year. Over the past 11 years the Foundation has donated more than $400,000 to benefit District 58, most of that in the form of grants. The Foundation also sponsors the Sneak Preview seventh-grade orientation program, Select 58 eighth-grade service awards, Distinguished Service Awards for staff, and the annual new teacher luncheon. Fundraisers over the past several years have included the Harlem Wizards vs. District 58, an evening with Poi Dog Pondering at the Tivoli Theatre in partnership with WXRT, and the Kelly Miller Circus. 


Parents get digital citizenship tips at workshop
Keynote speaker Steve Dembo, Herrick Principal Jason Lynde and O'Neill Principal Matt Durbala listen to a parent's question.

Digital citizenship is not just about staying safe online -- it is about learning to successfully and responsibly navigate the online world.  

Approximately 150 District 58 sixth through eighth grade parents heard this message during a digital citizenship workshop October 23, part of a continued effort to partner with parents to support and empower students.


The event, hosted by the Herrick and O'Neill Middle School PTAs and the District 58 Technology Department, featured a keynote by social media educator Steve Dembo and a panel Q&A with Dembo, Superintendent Kari Cremascoli, Technology Director Scott Meech, Herrick Principal Jason Lynde, and O'Neill Principal Matt Durbala. Parents learned how they can help navigate, monitor and guide their student through social media, how to discuss social media, and school policy and expectations regarding social media and its impact on the school day and learning.


Technology is now impacting the learning process beginning as early as kindergarten, and digital citizenship lessons are occurring at all levels in District 58 as part of a focus on teaching 21st century skills. 


Click here for more information about digital citizenship in District 58, or visit 


Overall, society is shifting more and more towards celebrating publicity rather than privacy, and this is the world in which today's children will be living and working. An online presence has become "the new permanent record," Dembo said. He encouraged parents to try out the social media tools their children are using and get at least an overall sense of how they work. Current examples he shared included Twitter, Facebook, Ask.FM, Reddit, Kik, Pheed and Instagram.


"If you have no experience with these tools, how can you expect to have an authoritative conversation with them?" he said. "You can tell your child: I just want to know where you are. I wouldn't let you go to the house of a child whose parents I've never met, or let you play on a playground I've never been to, so why would I let you be on a website I've never seen?"


Dembo encouraged parents to start a conversation with their children about their online activities versus trying to block certain sites or lock down a device, which he called a losing battle. Conversations can lead to very positive outcomes, he said.


Reading Games coming to District 58  

Look out, Katniss Everdeen: The Reading Games are coming to District 58.


Beginning November 1, teams of four to eight students can register to participate in the Reading Games, a district-wide reading competition for third through eighth grade District 58 students.


"The goal of the Reading games is to increase the quality and quantity of books District 58 students read for enjoyment," said Whittier reading specialist Christy Gergits, who is co-chairing the Reading Games along with Whittier sixth-grade teacher Debbie Krygeris.


Teams of students will collaborate to read 20 books from one of two book lists: Level 1 and Level 2. During a competition on March 15 at Herrick Middle School, teams will answer questions that the Reading Games Committee has written about the books.


"The Reading Games are primarily a celebration of reading rather than a contest, and all participants will be awarded ribbons," Krygeris said. "Our hope is that the Reading Games will generate a lot of excitement about reading and collaborating together, and will be a rewarding experience for all students and adults involved."


Interested in getting involved with this great new event? Community members who would like to volunteer on the day of the competition and/or donate prizes are encouraged to e-mail the Reading Games Committee at

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. 
  • 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

Lester second-graders earn 'Math with Murphy' celebration


Exemplary behavior recently earned Jennifer Conyac's second-grade class at Lester School a visit from a four-legged friend. Through a school-wide positive behavior incentive, staff members give out marbles to K-2 students and links to third through sixth grade students for exemplary behavior. When a class earns enough marbles or their link chains reach a certain length, they get a celebration/reward. When Conyac's class recently met their goal of 50 marbles, they earned a celebration called "Math with Murphy." Murphy, Conyac's two-year-old Schnoodle, wore his Math"mutt"ician shirt with pride and delivered a variety of math "Thinking Cap" problems to each student.


Click here for more photos from the day!   


Whittier sixth-graders participating in Global Read-Aloud
Debbie Krygeris's sixth grade class at Whittier School is currently reading a few chapters each week of the young adult novel "Out of My Mind," by Sharon Draper--along with children their age around the world through the Global Read Aloud Program.

Facilitated by a teacher in Madison, Wis., the six-week program, which Krygeris discovered on Twitter, brings together students around the world to read the same book at the same time and discuss that week's chapters with partner classrooms using digital platforms. "Out of My Mind" is the story of Melody, who cannot walk or talk due to cerebral palsy but has a photographic memory and will not let her disease define her. 


Krygeris's class will be discussing the book in small groups with a fifth-grade classroom in California and a fifth-grade classroom in North Carolina using a tool called Edmodo. They have spent the past two weeks getting to know one another by participating in writing prompts based on the book and responding to one another's posts.

The class also has been participating in other activities based on the book. Each student wrote down on a construction paper fish -- a prominent symbol on the book's cover -- a prediction about the book's ending. Students predicted that she would talk and stand up, that she would "find her voice," and that she would make a friend. They created a communications board like the one Melody uses and tried to communicate with each other using only that tool. It was very challenging to get their points across, they said. They also talked about what Melody might say if she were able to use text-messaging as a form of communication.

For more information about Global Read Aloud Day, visit 

O'Neill celebrates Red Ribbon Week

In honor of Red Ribbon Week Oct. 21-25, O'Neill Middle School classes designed ribbon posters to hang outside their doors highlighting students' talents and skills. They also participated in Spirit Days to help promote alcohol/drug prevention and awareness. Monday was Mix and Match Day, Tuesday was Superhero Day, Wednesday was Neon Day, Thursday was Favorite Team Day, and Friday was Red Day in honor of the school's colors.


El Sierra students go on 'bug hunt'

Second-grade students at El Sierra School recently went on a "bug hunt" right inside their classroom! Their teacher, Mark White, hid around the room pieces of construction paper on which were written the names of various parts of bugs (thorax, abdomen, etc.) Students looked up, down and all around until they had all of the "parts" they needed to assemble their unique bugs using glue, scissors, tape, crayons and other tools. They then created videos about their bugs.



 Whittier Jaguar Jog a success


More than 300 people turned out for the second annual Jaguar Jog September 22. The Jaguar Jog, which served as both a fundraiser for the Whittier Elementary School PTA and as a community-building event, featured a 5K walk/run and a 1-mile kids' race through the Randall Park neighborhood. It also included a raffle and themed intersection contest, and the fun-filled morning culminated with a post-race party for participants and spectators at Gatto's Restaurant in downtown Downers Grove.


In addition to its fundraising function, the Jaguar Jog also served to promote fitness among students and their families. Whittier students were encouraged to participate in a "My Mile(s)" challenge to train for the race. As part of the challenge, students were asked to walk or run at least one mile in advance of the race day and document details of their training on personalized cards that were then displayed around the school. Students logged well over 100 miles just in the week leading up to the race! Students also participated in a "ME + 3" program which challenged them to invite three other people to join them in the fitness-filled fun.


Click here to see the names of this year's winners!   

Upcoming events

Lester to host clothing resale Oct. 25-26 


The Lester School PTA will host its annual clothing resale Friday, Oct. 25 from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 26 from 8-11 a.m. at Lester School, 236 Indianapolis Ave.  The sale features gently used fall and winter clothing for children and infants, boys, girl, juniors, plus costumes, formalwear, boots, hats, shoes and skates. The clothing resale is a community service event that also serves as a fundraiser for the PTA to provide Lester students with educational enhancements. 


Whittier to host holiday shopping bazaar Nov. 1 


The Whittier School PTA will host a holiday shopping bazaar on Friday, November 1, from 3-8 p.m. at the school, 536 Hill St. A variety of items and vendors will be available, including wall accessories, candles, pillows, stationery, hats and scarves, and books.  

Herrick to host Family 'Fun'draiser Nov. 23 


On Saturday, November 23, Herrick Middle School and the Herrick PTA will host a fundraiser at Downers Grove North High School, 4436 Main St.
The event will feature the seventh grade and eighth grade basketball teams taking on the Jefferson Junior High Wolverines. The doors open at 6 p.m., and the games start at 6:30 p.m. The Herrick band will perform. Admission is $5 per person or $15 per family. There will also be a raffle for prizes and split the pot, as well as half-court "lottery shots." Proceeds will benefit the Herrick PTA, which sponsors assemblies, field trips and programs at the school.

Board Briefs 


Highlights from the October 15 meeting of the District 58 Board of Education

Flag Salute
Representatives of the Hillcrest School student council led the flag salute and reported on the organization's activities.

Spotlight on our Schools
School Board President Sallie Lupescu chats with El Sierra second-grade teacher Mark White about Facetime.
Board and audience members visited the 21st Century classroom, a new professional development and collaboration space at Longfellow Center. About a dozen staff members were on hand to share how tools such as Twitter and Facetime are revolutionizing their collaborations with colleagues and transforming their teaching.

Demographer Study Update
Superintendent Kari Cremascoli provided an update to the demographer study that was conducted last year. She reviewed enrollment data district-wide and by school, as well as building capacity analyses and data from last year's demographer study. The District's overall enrollment is up by more than 160 students this year, a more significant increase than expected and the largest one-year jump the District has experienced in more than 20 years. However, classes throughout the District have been balanced successfully, and most class sizes remain close to the District average. Cremascoli
recommended that the board not pursue boundary adjustments in the next two years. Staff will conduct a space and enrollment analysis annually and keep a close eye on the numbers, particularly for schools that experienced larger-than-expected enrollment increases and/or are close to capacity. It will be important to ascertain whether this year's jump in enrollment is a one-time event, or the beginning of a trend of in-migration to the District, she said. This is a good sign for the District and community, but a trend that needs to be carefully monitored for District planning purposes.  

Policy Committee Update
Cremascoli reported that the policy committee had conducted its annual review of the bullying, harassment and intimidation policy, and recommended no changes. The committee also has begun its review of the District's transportation policy, including consideration of fees for eligible riders as well as paid ridership options.

ELL program improvement update
Terry Martin, Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, provided an overview of the District's progress as it moves through its second year of program improvement for its English Language Learner/bilingual program. The District convened an ELL committee this year, and the spotlight presentation at the March Board of Education meeting will be a report on the work of the committee and their recommendations for program improvement for ELL services across all District 58 schools.

2013 tax levy overview
Controller James Popernik provided an overview and historical perspective on the District's property tax levy, which accounts for approximately 80 percent of the District's revenue. The District is proposing to request a levy of approximately $52 million for 2013. This would account for the limited increase allowed for the District by the 1.7 percent Consumer Price Index and approximately 1 percent in anticipated new growth. The District will hold a public hearing regarding the levy on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at Longfellow Center.

Life Safety architect work and asbestos abatement
The Board authorized the employment of ARCON Associates and Wight and Co. to provide architectural services for 2013-14 Life Safety Work. The Board also authorized the employment of Wight and Co. to provide asbestos abatement consulting services at Herrick, Highland and Whittier.
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.

Downtown Downers Grove Halloween happenings -- events Oct. 25-27



Community Partner Corner

DEA to host National Prescription Take Back Day

Schools throughout District 58 participated in activities Oct. 21-25 related to Red Ribbon Week, which is designed to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. We wanted to share with you that this Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., the Drug Enforcement Administration will host National Prescription Take Back Day at various drop-off sites around the country. More information, including drop-off sites, can be found at
  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. 

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Upcoming events

Herrick choir and orchestra concert, 7 p.m.

October 29 

O'Neill band and choir concert, 7 p.m.

November 4

Financial Advisory Committee meeting, 7 a.m., ASC

November 11

Veteran's Day, NO SCHOOL

November 12

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

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