Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 5, Issue 11
February 20, 2014

Parents net digital citizenship tips at workshop


Digital citizenship is not just about staying safe online -- it is about learning to successfully and responsibly navigate the online world. On Feb. 13, the District 58 Education Foundation hosted a digital citizenship workshop as part of a continued effort to partner with families and support students.


The session was conducted by Melissa Hemzacek, MSW, an Internet safety specialist from the Illinois Attorney General's Office - High Tech Crimes Bureau. She emphasized the need for families and the community to support children by creating a positive digital culture. During the workshop, parents learned how they can help navigate, monitor and guide their student through social media, how to set limits and facilitate conversations with their children about digital safety, and the importance of setting -- and modeling -- healthy boundaries. By setting age-appropriate limits, such as no phone or device in the bedroom after bedtime, parents are helping to relieve their child's stress and anxiety and promoting pro-social behavior. 


Click here to view Hemzacek's presentation slides. 


Click here to view a short video featuring several of Hemzacek's tips for parents. 


Hemzacek suggested that parents talk to their children about what it means to know the people they are connecting with versus knowing of them -- or not knowing them at all. Typically child predators target children whose pages are open to the public and who have 600 or more online friends/followers, she said. Many students also post information on their pages or profiles, such as their school name and their hometown, that would make it very easy for them to be tracked down, she said.


Hemzacek discussed speaking with children about self-representation online -- the fact that everything that is posted contributes to a permanent digital footprint which may be searched later by college admissions officers and potential employers. Students should be just as cognizant of the perceptions created by their online behavior as they are about how they are perceived in person, she said.


She highlighted current trends and digital platforms, such as Kik, Ask.FM and OoVoo. Hemzacek suggested several options for staying up to date with the latest apps that children may be using. Parents can:

  • Visit the app store on their device and check out the current list of the top free apps
  • Set up Google Alerts related to "social networking and teens", which will push related news stories to their inboxes
  • Ask their child what apps they and/or their friends are using

Hemzacek encouraged parents to start a conversation with their children about their online activities. This approach can lead to very positive outcomes not only by keeping the lines of communication open, but also by teaching children the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will help them to make good decisions, she said.


"Educating them is the most protection that you can give them," Hemcazek said.


She also provided parents an overview of what she spoke to students about during assemblies at O'Neill and Herrick Feb. 13, which included cyberbullying and safe vs. risky online behaviors.


For information and resources on Internet safety, visit

Time capsule provides a peek into the past at Pierce Downer School


Unearthing the Pierce Downer time capsule

Students and staff at Pierce Downer found out Feb. 18 what students and staff at their school were learning and thinking about 20 years ago.  


With great excitement and fanfare, and with several special guests in the audience, they opened a time capsule that had been "buried" -- placed in a wall and bricked in -- on Feb. 18, 1994. Several dozen students and staff were selected to attend the ceremony in the gymnasium, but everyone got to watch the event unfold in their classrooms via a Google Hangout.    


"You are a part of history. Think of the incredible things you can accomplish in the next 20 years!" District 58 Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli told the students.

Close shaves at OMS raise funds for St. Baldrick's
OMS Heroes

On Feb. 7, amid cheers from the entire student body, nine O'Neill Middle School staffers had their heads shaved to raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. O'Neill students were given the challenge of raising $500 for St. Baldrick's; in just four days, they raised more than $3,200, and the fundraising total is now up past $3,500.

The names of the top five fundraising teams at O'Neill were put in a hat for the chance to shave a staff member's head during the assembly. First up was the organizer, science teacher Meg Van Dyke, who had her head shaved at last year's St. Baldrick's event at Downers Grove South High School. She was followed by Principal Matt Durbala and seven other teachers and staff members who were "selected" by the students' chants and cheers.

The money raised by the O'Neill students will be sent to O'Neill alum Abby Davis, who started a St. Baldrick's chapter at her college and will be having her head shaved for the cause on March 5. Through the power of Skype, Davis was able to "watch" the Feb. 7 O'Neill assembly from West Virginia and personally thank the students and staff members for their generosity.

District 58 to host Family Fitness Fair March 6
Lace up your sneakers and gear up for some fun...District 58 will host a Family Fitness Fair Thursday, March 6 at O'Neill Middle School, 635 59th St.!  

During the event, which will take place from 6-8 p.m., families will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of fun classes and activities, check out booths, exhibits and giveaways by local organizations and businesses, and try to win a raffle prize!  
New El Sierra principal appointed

Jason Lynde, who has served as principal of Herrick Middle School for five years, has been appointed to take the helm at El Sierra School. The School Board approved his appointment Feb. 10. He will replace Principal Lucille Carney, who is retiring at the end of this school year after nine years of service.

"I am absolutely thrilled to become the principal of El Sierra next year. It has always been a dream of mine to lead an elementary school," said Lynde, who has also served as Herrick's assistant principal and as a special education teacher.

Lynde earned an undergraduate degree in special education from Illinois State University, and a master's degree in educational leadership from Aurora University. He and his wife live in Downers Grove with their four children, the three oldest of whom attend District 58 schools.  


"Mr Lynde brings to the position a tremendous amount of experience as both a teacher and an educator. Interview teams were especially impressed by Mr. Lynde's extensive knowledge of best practices in education, his caring and supportive leadership style, his commitment to student-centered school leadership, and his focus on community building among students, staff and parents. I am confident that Mr. Lynde will be a wonderful addition to the El Sierra family," said District 58 Superintendent Kari Cremascoli.

Grove Children's Preschool enrollment now open 


Applications for tuition-based enrollment in District 58's Grove Children's Preschool program, with its established, research-based educational curriculum, are now available at all District 58 schools and on the District 58 website at Enrollment is open to all District 58 children who will be 3 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2014.


Applications for current/returning students will be accepted from February 17-21, applications for siblings/returning students will be accepted between February 24-28, and open applications will be accepted beginning March 3.


Class sessions are offered Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday for the two-day program, or Tuesday through Friday for the four-day program. Classes take place at Henry Puffer School, 2220 Haddow Ave., and Indian Trail School, 6235 Stonewall Ave. The goal of the Grove Children's Preschool program is to meet the developmental and individual needs of all children in a safe, inclusive and nurturing environment, while promoting educational success through engaging and collaborative learning experiences.


Grove Children's Preschool is a blended program, meaning that tuition students, students identified as having special education needs, and students identified as being at risk for future academic difficulties due to cultural or socio-economic factors are taught in the same classroom. For more information on Grove Children's Preschool, including the 2014-15 guide to preschool application or to download the 2014-15 application form, visit  

Board Briefs 

Highlights from the Feb. 10 School Board meeting

1:1 pilot program survey yields positive results

The results are in from District 58's survey of parents, students, staff and administrators participating in this year's 1:1 device pilot program: all groups feel the program has had a positive impact and favor its expansion. Dr. Matt Rich, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, and Dr. Kelly Summers, an assistant professor at Northern Illinois University, presented the survey results to the Board of Education Feb. 10. Dr. Rich also discussed plans for expanding the program.

District contribution allows for smaller increase in preschool tuition

Although families will see an increase in tuition rates for Grove Children's Preschool for the 2014-15 school year, $50,000 in financial support from District 58 towards the tuition-based component of the program will allow those rates to remain reasonable and competitive with other programs in the area.  


 Click here for the full story. 

Board discusses proposed fee changes for 2014-15

The Board discussed proposed fee changes for the 2014-15 school year. This includes a proposed increase in the instructional materials fee from $100 to $150. This proposal would be the first time these fees have been increased in more than 10 years. The instructional materials fee helps to cover some of the costs for library books, textbooks, technology and other items. Other proposed changes included increasing kindergarten/pre-kindergarten fees from $50 to $75, and charging a family fee of $25 for those who utilize bus transportation and live greater than 1.5 miles from school. Under the proposed fee schedule, families who were otherwise not eligible to participate in district-provided transportation may opt in and would be asked to pay $539 for the year for transportation, versus $530 for the 2013-14 school year.  


Based on the Board's discussion, staff will continue to evaluate the proposed fees and bring them back to the Board for a vote at the March Board meeting. This will allow the District to move forward with the planned April 7 launch of online registration for the upcoming school year.  

Board reviews proposed calendars for 2014-15 school year, end of 2013-14 school year


Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli shared the proposed adjustments to the 2013-14 end-of-the-year calendar to account for the four emergency days taken in January. The recommendation is for students' last day to be a half-day on Wednesday, June 11, and for staff's last day to be a staff development day on Thursday, June 12. The District is fortunate to have scheduled more attendance days than required by the state, which offers some flexibility in this regard. While the District did look at using a couple of the scheduled holidays as possible makeup days, there were challenges that accompanied that proposal. The 2014-15 calendar does call for a number of the days currently designated as holidays to be workdays and/or student attendance days, which would push the last day of school up to May 29 if no emergency days are used. This would maximize time with students during the school year and hopefully minimize the number of days students are attending class in hot weather in non-air-conditioned buildings. 


The proposed 2014-15 calendar will be on the agenda for Board approval in March, and the proposed final 2013-14 calendar will be on the agenda for Board approval in April to allow for any other unforeseen weather events.

The Board also:
  • Was led in the flag salute by student council officers from Highland School 
  • Heard an update on the District's continuing work in the area of facilities planning, including security upgrades. Building office staff were surveyed regarding the phase one security upgrades, and they indicated that the upgrades have successfully balanced the need for increased building security with the desire to maintain warm, welcoming environments for students, staff and families. The District is currently reviewing and analyzing potential phase two projects, and plans to apply for a state security grant to fund some of the work.
  • Approved the amended lease agreement between District 58 and SASED, allowing SASED to open an additional preschool classroom in District 58 
  • Awarded the bids for asbestos abatement at three schools to the low bidder meeting all specifications, NES Inc., for a total cost of $245,122, including: 
    • $94,224 for Herrick
    • $95,893 for Highland
    • $49,415 for Whittier, plus alternate bid of $5,580 for additional replacement flooring work in kindergarten room   
  • Adopted the resolution regarding non-reemployment of part-time teachers
  • Adopted the resolution regarding non-reemployment of first-year probationary teachers
  • Adopted the resolution regarding honorable dismissal of educational support personnel employees 

District 58 to host kindergarten roundups for incoming parents

young-boy-reading.jpg Parents of incoming District 58 kindergartners will have the opportunity to visit their school, meet the principal and staff, and get their questions answered during the upcoming annual Kindergarten Roundups. Parents whose children will be five years old on or before September 1, 2014, are encouraged to call their neighborhood elementary school prior to the kindergarten roundup for information about registration.
Online registration is coming!

District 58 families will have the option to register their children online for the 2014-15 school year. Information will be sent to families next month. At least for the coming school year, families still will have the option to complete their registration offline if they prefer.

Around the District
Civil rights marcher speaks to Kingsley third-graders

Third-grade students at Kingsley School recently heard compelling firsthand stories about the civil rights movement from a man who participated in the march in Selma, Ala. in 1965.

The classes had been studying important figures in the civil rights movement. Rev. David Bebb Jones, the grandfather of two Kingsley students, visited the classes earlier this month to talk about hearing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speak; the events of the 1960s; desegregation; and his own participation in the march when he was a pastor in Pekin, Ill.


Click here for the full story and more photos from the day! 


Beautiful music: District 58 orchestra students meet world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma


Some young musicians in the District 58 orchestra program recently had the opportunity to meet one of the most well-known musicians of our time, thanks to an alum who is a rising star in the music world. 


Josh Zajac, a former student of orchestra teacher Lisa Rose, is now a professional cellist with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and is quickly rising on the "Who's Who" of orchestral musicians. He has had the opportunity to work with world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on several occasions--and fortunately for the District 58 orchestra program, Zajac has moved back to the area and is currently teaching cello lessons to a handful of our students.


"The weekend before last, he provided the opportunity for these students to attend a rehearsal in Chicago where Yo-Yo Ma was performing -- and they got to meet Yo Yo Ma!" said District 58 orchestra teacher Mackenzie Bufis.


Middle schools partner with library for  

Speed Book Dating Bash   


The week of Valentine's Day, the Downers Grove Public Library's Young Adult Committee brought a Speed Book Dating Bash to Herrick and O'Neill middle schools -- complete with balloons, signs, paper hearts and lots of pink, red and white candy.


Students browsed through a series of books before selecting a final choice that was most appealing to them -- speed dating, but with books. Different personality tables were set up and filled with titles: Adventurous, Funny, Gamer, Mysterious, Romantic, and Sporty. A "Blind Date" table, for the most daring students, featured wrapped books that were a surprise to the student upon checkout.


"This was an opportunity for DGPL's staff to interact directly with our students in our schools and provide a fun experience promoting reading. Our seventh graders have been doing reading strategies with genres this year, so this fit in perfectly with our curriculum as well as showcasing some great books," said O'Neill LRC teacher Tasha Squires.

Indian Trail raffle winners enjoy special lunch with staff


A group of Indian Trail students recently enjoyed lunch with some very special people: the school's staff. Indian Trail hosted a Lunch With the Teacher raffle prior to Thanksgiving break, and on Feb. 7, all of the winners joined the staff in the LRC for lunch.  In addition to eating pizza and a special dessert, participants also decorated wooden frames in which to place the group photo. Raffle proceeds benefited the school's PTA!


Puffer makes big donation to Ronald McDonald House  

A recent inter-class competition
at Henry Puffer School resulted in a total of 143 pounds of pop tabs being collected for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and northwest Indiana.

The winning class was Jan Nelson's first grade (pictured at left with the Henry Puffer student council)!

     Belle Aire Super Bowl food drive brings in 200+ items  


To add to the excitement the week preceding the Super Bowl, Belle Aire students brought in non-perishable food items and placed them in a box decorated with either a Broncos or a Seahawks logo and colors.


We all know the official results, but at Belle Aire the Broncos won with 109 items over the Seahawks with 101 items. The real winner is the FISH food pantry, which will receive a total of 210 food items from Belle Aire! 

O'Neill students learn about mental health during  

NAMI presentation


O'Neill Middle School eighth-grade students now have a better understanding of what mental illness is and how it can impact people, thanks to a recent presentation by the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) entitled "Ending the Silence."  


Click here for the full story.

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.


Center for Talent Development Summer Program  


DLD Dance Company presents Beauty and the Beast -- event Feb. 22 


Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club Junior High Art Contest -- entries due March 4 


Downers Grove North boys offensive basketball skills camp 


Downers Grove North girls basketball skills camp  


Downers Grove rain garden workshop -- event Feb. 25 


Downers Grove South Daddy-Daughter Dance -- event March 22 


DuPage Children's Museum -- February 2014 events and activities 


Fullersburg Woods maple syrup program -- event March 2 


Grove Children's Preschool registration open -- guide to application  


Health Fair at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church -- event March 1   

  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!  

Find District 58 on social media


Like us on Facebook Follow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube

Follow #dg58learns on Twitter to come along with us on our journey of learning!  
Upcoming events
February 24

Board curriculum workshop, 7 p.m., Longfellow

February 25

Policy Committee meeting, 7 a.m., ASC

February 28

Teacher Institute Day--NO SCHOOL

March 3

Casimir Pulaski Day--NO SCHOOL

March 4

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

March 6

Family Fitness Fair, 6-8 p.m., O'Neill Middle School

March 10

Regular board meeting, 7 p.m., Longfellow Center

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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