Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 5, Issue 6
November 8, 2013
District 58 orchestras perform with District 99, PROJECT Trio

Recently, District 58 middle school orchestra students performed with high school students and professional musicians in celebration of music education and the arts at PROJECT Trio.

"The performance was outstanding!  We are very proud of our accomplished musicians and our music education program," said Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli.

District 58 teachers nominated for Golden Apple award

Three District 58 teachers -- Kingsley sixth-grade teacher Ashley Bidlencik, Hillcrest/Kingsley/Whittier art teacher Jon Belonio and O'Neill Middle School science teacher Meg Van Dyke -- learned this week that they have been nominated for a 2014 Golden Apple award.

According to the website of the Golden Apple Foundation, "Golden Apple selects teachers who exemplify the highest standards and practices of the teaching profession. These qualities include but are not limited to demonstrating distinguished classroom practice, professionalism and collegiality, high standards for themselves and their students, the ability to create a classroom environment conducive to learning, the ability to reflect on practice, creativity, commitment to students and their learning, and contribution to the wider school community."

"District 58 is extremely fortunate to have such incredible teachers working throughout our district to advance the learning and achievement of all students.  Meg, Jon and Ashley are outstanding examples of inspiring teachers who nurture and support the success of their students each and every day in innovative and highly engaging ways," said District 58 Superintendent Kari Cremascoli. "They are difference makers in the lives of so many students, and we are very, very proud of them!"

From among those who are nominated and submit an application packet, approximately 30 teachers each year are selected as finalists and 10 Golden Apple Award recipients are chosen.

In their words:

Ashley Bidlencik: I am still shocked and humbled by my nomination, as our district is full of outstanding and dedicated teachers. My favorite part of teaching is definitely the students that I get to share the love of learning with each day.  I learn just as much from them as they learn from me.  I love my students, and knowing they are successful and cared about in my classroom makes every day wonderful.

Jon Belonio: I just feel like the luckiest person in the world because I get to teach what I have been passionate about my entire life, which is art. It's just an honor to be recognized. The nomination is a huge surprise. District 58 has always supported the art program 100% and it's a pleasure for me to work with all the people in Downers Grove. Over the years, I've developed many great relationships that I will always remember. It's just a good feeling to have when I go to "work." If I had to pinpoint my favorite thing about teaching to one simple thing, it's the fact that I get to witness these kids create every single day. There is a story behind each and every art project and I get to be their audience. Really, that's what it's all about.

Meg Van Dyke: It is truly an honor to be nominated, but any recognition I may receive is a direct reflection of all the teachers who helped me through my journey of convincing middle school students that being a scientist or engineer is something they should strongly consider as a path in life. 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.  

District 58 students continue high academic achievement  


District 58 continues its tradition of strong academic achievement with reading and math scores well above state averages, higher-than-average growth, and notable achievements on other assessments, as well. These achievements were accomplished in District 58 despite significant changes to the content of this year's Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and the renorming of the scores.


"We are so proud of our students' continued academic achievement and growth. It truly is a testament to the strong curriculum, community support and excellent staff we have here in District 58," said Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli.             


The ISAT measures students' progress toward the achievement of the state standards. All students are tested in reading and math, and fourth and seventh graders also are assessed in science.


The results of the ISAT, as well as other assessments administered to District 58 students, were presented during a curriculum workshop Oct. 28. Here are just a few of the highlights: 

  • District 58 students met or exceeded state standards at a rate of nearly 20 percent higher than the state average, and even greater than last year's 15 percent differential with the state.

  • Growth was a new measure added to this year's state report card, and here again District 58 significantly outperformed the state average. This means that District 58 students are academically much stronger than the state average, and also are growing at a more rapid pace than the state average.  It is very difficult to be both high achieving and high growth. District 58 is currently accomplishing just that!

  • Strong math and reading performances indicate that District 58 students are ready for Common Core, and the District has been reviewing the item analysis provided by the ISAT related to Common Core.

  • On the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment, District 58 students outperform the national mean in every area and at each grade level.  

  • More significantly, by 8th grade District 58 students outperform the national 11th grade mean in all areas on the MAP assessment, including Reading, Mathematics, and Language


  • District 58 performed significantly better than the state as a result of the changes in cut scores and content of the ISAT test overall. Throughout the state, district percentages for students meeting and exceeding standards dropped by 20% on average as a result of substantial renorming and new content.  District 58's percentage of students meeting and exceeding standards was impacted by only about 15%.


Click here to view the Curriculum Workshop presentation that was shared on October 28.


Click here to view the district and school state report cards.   

Registration now open for Students Involved in Technology (SIT) Conference, Reading Games

Students Involved with Technology Conference


District 58 students are encouraged to register to participate in the 2014 Students Involved in Technology (SIT) conference, which again this year will be hosted by District 58. The theme for this year's conference is "Technology in Motion."


The 2014 SIT conference will take place on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Herrick Middle School, 4435 Middaugh Ave., Downers Grove. The conference is open to all interested students in grades 3-12, and is highly unique in that all presentations and sessions are organized and led by students. Presenters and attendees have the opportunity to learn and share their tech know-how in all kinds of areas, from gaming to software to mobile apps and beyond. Not only can students sign up to attend, they can also sign up to present as an individual or as a team of up to four students! All presenters must have an adult sponsor. 


To register to present at the conference or to attend, or just to get more information, visit The registration deadline is January 24, 2014. Teachers, administrators, other school staff and parents/guardians can also register to be conference volunteers.


Click here to view the SIT conference flyer.   


Reading Games--register by December 1 


Registration is now open for the District 58 Reading Games! Teams of District 58 third through eighth graders are invited to participate in the district-wide celebration of reading. The registration deadline is December 1. 


Teams of four to eight 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.


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


Click here to view the Reading Games flyer. 

Reminder: Digital Learning Workshops coming up Nov. 15, Dec. 2

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!  

District 58 set to hold public hearing for 2013 tax levy 

District 58 will hold a public hearing regarding its proposed 2013 tax levy at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 12, at Longfellow Center, 1435 Prairie Ave., Downers Grove, with an adoption slated for December. 


Each year, District 58 sets its levy request for local property taxes, which accounts for more than three-fourths of its revenues.


Under the Illinois tax cap, the district's tax extension can only increase each year by an amount limited to the Consumer Price Index, a reflection of inflation, plus any new growth that may have occurred during the past year. The CPI applicable to the 2013 levy, which affects the budgets for the 2013-14 and the 2014-15 fiscal years, is 1.7 percent. The estimated new growth applicable to the 2013 levy is 1.1 percent. The total levy request for capped funds for 2013 is $51,826,874, an increase of 2.8 percent over the 2012 extension, or the actual amount the district received in tax money, which was $50,427,316.  


Around the District

Rep. Sandack visits Whittier 


Illinois Rep. Ron Sandack, R-81st District, visited Whittier School November 1 as part of the Illinois Principals Association's "Principal for a Day" program.


During his time at the school that morning, Sandack, whose children attended elementary and middle school in District 58, greeted families, helped with the morning announcements and the flag salute, signed and distributed that week's "birthday books," visited with Whittier Principal Michael Krugman, toured classrooms, read to first-grade students and witnessed the launch of the fifth-grade catapults.   


The Illinois Principals Association's "Principal for a Day" program is a statewide initiative to provide state and federal elected officials with an opportunity to observe, interact, and serve as an administrator in schools within their legislative district. This activity is designed to promote continued collaboration among legislators, administrators, staff, parents, and students in defining the direction of education.


 Click here for more photos from the day! 

Happy Halloween from District 58!

Students and staff throughout District 58 donned costumes and participated in parades, parties, creative contests, pumpkin math and other activities the afternoon of Oct. 31. A wonderful time was had by all.

Click here to view photos from the day!  

Kingsley raises funds for Heavenly Hats

The Kingsley School student council recently raised $825 for Heavenly Hats, which donates new hats to cancer patients!  Students donated a dollar a day to wear a hat, and Friday's theme was Crazy Hat Day. The winner in each class got their picture taken with Principal Mark Stange, as well as a small prize. The student council officers also led an all-school "hat parade"! Heavenly Hats was started 13 years ago by a 12-year-old in Wisconsin. To date the organization has donated nearly two million hats, with all of the packaging and shipping done completely by volunteers.

Click here for more Kingsley hat photos!

In lieu of book reports, Fairmount fourth-graders participate in Reading Fair


This year for the first time, instead of writing book reports, Fairmount fourth-grade students are participating in a quarterly Reading Fair.  


Students choose a book to read from a list of genres specific to that quarter, identify various literary elements within the book, and create a tri-fold board similar to a science fair project to share their book with the class. Last week the students circulated among the three fourth-grade classrooms checking out the first-quarter projects, all of which were in the mystery/fantasy genre. They were asked to find ideas to improve their own projects for next quarter, and to choose three books they would want to read as a result of seeing their classmates' projects.  


Click here to view more photos from the day!  


Pierce Downer students inspired by assembly  


The old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover" holds true with respect to motivational speaker Lloyd Bachrach. Pierce Downer students heard his incredible story Tuesday morning during an assembly entitled Yes, You Can!


Bachrach was introduced to the audience and by all appearances was a tall, fit, middle-aged man who carried a cane. Yet there is much more to Bachrach than meets the eye. Having triumphed over many challenges in his own life, he delivered a motivational message to students about acceptance and the ability to overcome obstacles in their own lives. 

--Story by LaVonne Czech, photo by Amy Goray 


Click here for the full story! 


El Sierra teacher's room redesign featured on EdReach


El Sierra second-grade teacher Mark White has re-designed his  classroom to facilitate what he calls "collaborative independence" among his learners. White wrote on his blog that he wanted to find ways to open up space in his classroom while maintaining a collaborative work environment, and add comfy workspaces. Last week White's classroom was featured on EDReach's Learning RedesignED channel, in a podcast called "Less is More with Mark White."   


Upcoming events

Puffer to host Toy Swap event 


  summer-toys.jpg Do your children have a lot of toys? Do you want to get rid of some? Are they in good shape? Instead of throwing them away or donating them, consider exchanging them at the Henry Puffer School Earth Club's upcoming Toy Swap! Swappers can drop off toys at Puffer, 2220 Haddow Ave., on Friday, Nov. 22 between 1:30 and 3:30, and again between 6-7 p.m. Participants will get a ticket for each item dropped off. Swappers can come back on Saturday, Nov. 23 between 9 and 10 a.m. and exchange each ticket for a "new" toy. From 10 to 11 a.m. on Nov. 23, the toy sale will be open to the general public. All proceeds will go to Earth Club activities.  


Click here to view the event flyer for more information!  

Herrick set to perform 'High School Musical'

Herrick Middle School, 4435 Middaugh Ave., is proud to present three performances of "High School Musical" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 21 and Friday, November 22, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 24.

According to the Musical Theatre International plot synopsis: "Wildcat basketball star Troy Bolton and brainiac Gabriella Montez raise eyebrows among their friends when they decide to audition for the high school musical. Cliques clash and friendships are tested in this modern take on Romeo and Juliet. The students of East High must decide whether to stick to the status quo or break free to find out what's truly important."

Tickets will be $6, and will go on sale Friday, November 15 at Herrick, (630) 719-5810.

Community invited to celebrate Kingsley's 50th anniversary

The entire community is invited to attend the 50th anniversary program at Kingsley School, 6509 Powell St., from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, November 24 -- exactly 50 years from the original dedication on Sunday, November 24, 1963.

There will be a short program re-dedicating the school, including musical performances by Kingsley groups. The program will be followed by light refreshments and an all-school open house.  All community members, as well as current and former students, parents and staff are welcome to attend.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Principal Mark Stange or Secretary Diane Glowicki at (630) 719-5850.
Community Partner Corner

District 58 superintendent to participate in League of Women Voters educational event

District 58 Superintendent Kari Cremascoli, Ph.D., will join Community High School District 99 Superintendent Dr. Mark McDonald and Woodridge District 68 Assistant Superintendent Greg Wolcott as the featured speakers at a Wednesday, Nov. 13 Citizenship 101 workshop hosted by the League of Women Voters. The event will take place at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Center, 935 Maple Street, Room 105.  

FRoG invites public to hear Super Saturday speakers

Downers Grove Friends of the Gifted (FRoG) is hosting a speaker series in conjunction with its Super Saturday classes at O'Neill Middle School, 635 59th St. All speakers are free, and you do not have to have a child attending a Super Saturday class in order to come and hear the speakers.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m., Joan Jensen, President and CEO of Central Credit Union of Illinois, will present "Teach Your Kids About Money." On Saturday, Nov. 16, at 9:30 a.m., Mike Busse, President of Community Bank of Downers Grove, will present a short talk for parents and K-5 kids entitled "Understanding and Saving Money." Space is limited, so please RSVP at

Downers Grove Police Department launches Special Needs Identification Program

The Downers Grove Police Department has developed a Special Needs Identification Program for Downers Grove residents who may be at risk of becoming confused, disoriented, lost, or missing. Persons of any age with Alzheimer's, dementia, Down Syndrome, autism or those at risk of wandering and have communication difficulties are eligible to participate.  


The program will enable police to make faster identifications, reunite family members quicker, and provide help to people with special needs. Photographs, emergency contact information, and other personal information relevant to the needs of someone with physical or mental disabilities will be kept on file by the police department. The information will only be used for the purpose of identifying and locating an individual who is reported missing or found wandering.

If you have questions or would like to register for this program, please contact Officer Larry Vacala at (630) 649-1227 or Officer Thomas Powers at (630) 327-4839.

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.

American Association of University Women bully prevention workshop -- event Nov. 12

  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

November 11

Veteran's Day, NO SCHOOL

November 12

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

November 14

Parent/Teacher Conferences, evening only

November 15

District 58/Downers Grove Public Library parent tech support workshop, 1 p.m., Downers Grove Public Library

November 19

Parent/Teacher Conferences, evening only

November 21-22

Herrick musical -- "High School Musical", 7:30 p.m.

November 24

Herrick musical, "High School Musical," 2 p.m.

November 25

Preschool screenings -- AM only

Board of Education financial workshop, 7 p.m., Longfellow

November 26

Policy Committee meeting, 7 a.m., ASC

November 27-29

Thanksgiving break

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

School Psychology Awareness Week

In recognition of Illinois school psychologists, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed November 11-15 as School Psychology Awareness Week. The theme for this year is "We are All In! Teams Work!" The proclamation highlights the specialized activities conducted by school psychologists in their varied roles. The Governor commends school psychologists on their dedication to improving the education of our children.


School psychologists work in school systems across the country, using their training in child development, learning, mental health, motivation, behavior, and scientific research to impact decision making at the individual, classroom, school, and district level and help to bring about the most effective learning environments for students.

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