Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 5, Issue 12
March 6, 2014

Herrick eighth-grader headed to national spelling bee 


Herrick Middle School eighth-grader Nafisa Asad is headed to the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. at the end of May. Balsam was the final word she correctly spelled to win the DuPage County Spelling Bee Feb. 26, besting 27 other third- through eighth-grade contestants.


Asad, who said she loves to read and loves words, qualified to participate in the county bee by finishing as one of the top two in the Herrick/O'Neill spelling bee Feb. 10, along with seventh-grader Dana Scott.


It was not Asad's first time competing in the county bee, having qualified for that level of competition in both fifth and sixth grade, and she said this year's contestants were asked to spell similar words. To prepare for the county bee, Asad studied the word list on the Scripps website. Among the words she was asked to spell on Feb. 26 were shipperke, azimuth, zeitgeber and schadenfreude. 


Asad said she is very excited for her trip to Washington, D.C., but also very nervous about the national competition because it will be televised. Studying for the national spelling bee will also be much more involved, she said.


"They can ask you any word in the dictionary, so when I won the county bee, they gave me a huge dictionary," Asad said. 


Commonwealth Edison is sponsoring an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for Nafisa and her parents. 

Conversations with Dr. C.
Conversations with Dr. C.: Olympics and playdough
Olympics and playdough
Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli has been visiting with students throughout District 58 to discover more about their journey of learning and growth. Click here or hit play above to watch as she talks with Grove Children's Preschool students about the Olympics and joins them in creating with playdough!

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.

District 58 alum featured in free upcoming Civic Orchestra events

District 58 alum Josh Zajac, currently the principal cellist with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, will be the soloist in a free, non-ticket performance of Strauss's Don Quixote at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 16. The performance will take place at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, Chicago.

Supporters also are invited to attend an open rehearsal with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's world-renowned director, Maestro Riccardo Muti, at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 23. To reserve a ticket, visit

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 being accepted. Forms are 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.


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. 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.  


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  

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.

Around the District

Hillcrest students showcase environmental initiatives at Village's rain garden workshop

Last month two representatives from Hillcrest's Green Team spoke to attendees of the Village of Downers Grove's rain garden workshop about the group's field trips to The Plant in Chicago and to SCARCE (School Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education). They also talked about the school's garden and composting efforts.

"The boys did a nice job explaining how to compost and the importance of having worms and browns (brown items such as twigs and paper bags) in the compost bin to break down the organic materials," said Green Team sponsor Christine LaPointe.

Fairmount families donate 3,500 items to shelter

As part of Fairmount School's One Book One School program, the student council invited students to participate in a donation challenge to benefit Family Shelter Service. Families were reading a book called "The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs," and many of the activities were connected to what makes Downers Grove such a special community. From Feb. 3-14, children could bring in items such as home goods, items for babies and children, toiletries and office supplies. Altogether, the student council ended up collecting a staggering 3,500 items to the shelter. When the items were dropped off, Family Shelter Service volunteers were nearly brought to tears, and said it was one of the largest donations they could recall receiving!

District 58 schools support Rare Disease Day


Several District 58 schools participated in awareness and fundraising activities related to Rare Disease Day 2014, an event created by the Global Genes Project. The Global Genes Project is one of the leading rare and genetic disease patient advocacy organizations in the world.    


Kingsley School hosted an afternoon celebration called "Dance Off Disease," in which each classroom signed up for a 15-minute time slot to dance in the gym to a DJ. Students were asked to bring in a dollar to dance off disease, but could also dance without making a donation. The student council also ordered denim ribbons from Global Genes Project for students to wear all day on Feb. 27. Rare Disease Day is a cause near and dear to the hearts of Kingsley students and staff, as Noah and Lanie Van Houtan, who suffer from Batten Disease, are students in the School Association for Special Education in DuPage (SASED) classroom at Kingsley.  


"Raising money to help cure rare diseases is an important one for me and close to the heart of all of us who have met both Noah and Lanie, and other children like them," said student council sponsor Ashley Bidlencik. 


Click here for more photos from Kingsley's "Dance Off Disease" event!

Click here to check out a video of art teacher Jon Belonio participating in a "dance-off" with two Kingsley students! 


The Lester School student council sponsored a fundraiser for the Global Genes Project and observed World Rare Disease Day during the week of February 24. Lester's goal was to raise awareness and money for those living with rare diseases, including three students in District 58.  Students and teachers purchased Blue Denim Genes Ribbons™ for a suggested donation of $1. In addition, teachers could pay a dollar a day for the privilege of wearing jeans. On February 27, teachers and students wore their favorite pair of jeans and their ribbons to show their support for this important cause.

Whittier School will participate in Rare Disease Day "jeans for genes" activities on March 27. Every student will receive a denim ribbon, and students and staff can donate money to wear jeans that day.  

Herrick hosts its own Olympic Games

Herrick Middle School hosted its own Olympic Games the week of February 10 in conjunction with the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Students earned points toward medals for their team by participating in Spirit Day, winning an event such as the spelling bee or hockey tournament, or attending a club or activity. In addition, each team was assigned 10 Olympic events, and received points if the U.S. medalled in that event. The team with the most points at the end of the Herrick Olympics won a pizza party!

Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital supporting
Belle Aire in Cash for Trash drive

The Good Samaritan Hospital Health and Wellness Center has partnered with Belle Aire School's Environmental Committee on its Trash for Cash collection of health and beauty product packaging and diaper packaging. The Belle Aire PTA earns two cents per item collected, and these items are then kept from being dumped in a landfill. At left, a group of Belle Aire students deposit Trash for Cash items in the collection box set up in the Health and Wellness Center library.

Hillcrest, Kingsley students to have heads shaved at
St. Baldrick's events

Later this month, several District 58 students will be having their heads shaved to raise funds for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.    


Click here to find out more about how you can support them! 


The St. Baldrick's Foundation "is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives."  Volunteers raise money by promising to shave their heads at special events, and in turn show solidarity with children who are currently undergoing cancer treatment.


For more information about the St. Baldrick's Foundation, visit


Highland students get in action during hip-hop class  


Highland School students were in action the week of Feb. 17! The school's business partner, Miss Dyanna from DLD Dance, spent time with first through fourth graders during PE class to teach them hip-hop dance moves. She will return later this month to work with fifth and sixth graders. Click here for more photos from the day! 


Lester goes on One School, One Book journey    


Last month Lester School embarked on a special project, an all-school book club called One School, One Book. Every family and staff member received a copy of the same book: Lynne Reid Banks's "The Indian in the Cupboard." They were asked to read it at home over the course of one month using a tailored reading schedule.  


"With the One School, One Book program, Lester aims to build a community of readers at our school," said Principal Carin Novak. "We selected a title that could be followed and understood and enjoyed by younger students, but that still captivated and stimulated older children. Everyone -- students and their families, teachers, administrators and staff -- all have been reading."


The children were introduced to "The Indian in the Cupboard" during the second quarter assembly. Two sixth grade students, John Barton and Myles Laffey, gave a performance from an excerpt of the book. In school, children were invited to answer daily trivia questions to encourage listening and attention to detail. In class, teachers conducted various activities related to the content of the story. A culminating activity for the students was set for the end of February once the story was complete.


El Sierra buddies encourage students during ISATs


El Sierra staff have been helping students rock the ISATs by acting as "secret buddies"! Each adult at the school writes notes each morning for several students, and puts them on the students' desks with a treat. For example, a note might say "Be a smartie--do your best on the test!" with an accompanying Smarties for the student to eat after they finish their test, or "You were MINT to succeed!" with an accompanying mint. Once the ISATs are over, the adults announce themselves to their ISAT buddies.

"The students love it and try to guess who their secret ISAT buddy is," said El Sierra Principal Lucille Carney.  

Pierce Downer parents have a ball while raising funds for the school's PTA


Pierce Downer parents recently discovered a unique way to raise funds for their children's school with the chance to act a bit like kids themselves -- a night out playing Whirlyball! For the uninitiated, Whirlyball combines elements of lacrosse, hockey and basketball while players drive around in bumper cars.  


Smiles and laughter filled the Lombard venue as more than 75 attendees enjoyed Whirlyball matches, bag games, socializing and bidding on auction items. Oversize Valentine cards created by Pierce Downer students answering the question, "What does love mean to you?" pulled at parents' heartstrings and were auctioned off and sent home with the highest bidders. One talented parent baked dozens of cupcakes for attendees to enjoy at the event or bring home to the kids. The proceeds from the event will help fund the wonderful programs provided through the PTA.

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  


District 58 Family Fitness Fair -- event March 6 


Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club Outstanding Teacher award -- March 14 deadline  


Downers Grove North boys offensive basketball skills camp 


Downers Grove North girls basketball skills camp  


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


DuPage Children's Museum March events and activities 


Friends of the Gifted upcoming events -- Greening Your Family March 8, Summer Camp Fair March 15 


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

  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

March 6

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

March 10

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

March 13

Lester kindergarten roundup, 2 p.m.

March 15

District 58 Reading Games, 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Herrick

March 17

Preschool screenings -- AM only

March 19

Henry Puffer kindergarten roundup, 12:30 p.m.

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

OMS/HMS Festival of Music, 7 p.m., Downers Grove North High School

March 20

Henry Puffer kindergarten roundup, 9 a.m.

March 21

Hillcrest kindergarten roundup, 8:30 a.m.

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