Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 5, Issue 13
March 21, 2014

First-ever District 58  

Reading Games a big success 


Reading Games

Herrick Middle School was abuzz with excitement March 15 as nearly 500 third- through eighth-grade District 58 students participated in the first-ever Reading Games, a District-wide reading competition complete with team spirit-wear, tributes and fun prizes.  


Hit "play" above or click here to check out some highlights from the event!  


Click here to check out more photos from the day!  


More than 70 teams of students from across the district registered to participate in the Reading Games. Each team collaborated to read 20 books from one of two book lists: Level 1 or Level 2. During the competition on March 15 at Herrick Middle School, teams answered questions that the Reading Games Committee had written about the books.


"The Reading Games were primarily a celebration of reading rather than a contest. The goal of the Reading Games was to increase the quality and quantity of books District 58 students read for enjoyment," said Whittier reading specialist Christy Gergits, who co-chaired the Reading Games along with Whittier sixth-grade teacher Deb Krygeris. 


Students cheered as teams were awarded ribbons March 15 based on the number of questions they correctly answered about the books. Teams could earn either a blue, red or white ribbon, and every participating team ended up earning enough points to take home a red or blue ribbon. In addition, a randomly selected Tribute from each team was able to choose a prize, many of which were generously donated by Downers Grove businesses. Prize donors included Lemon Tree, Tivoli Theatre/Tivoli Bowl, Fair Game and Every Day's a Sundae.  


"Our hope was that the Reading Games would generate a lot of excitement about reading and collaborating together, and would be a rewarding experience for all students and adults involved," Krygeris said. 


The organizers are asking Reading Games team members, parents, leaders and volunteers to participate in a post-event survey. If you were a part of the event and have not already taken the survey, please click here to participate. 

2014-15 school calendar approved


On March 10, the District 58 School Board voted to approve the proposed calendar for the 2014-15 school year. This calendar sets Monday, August 25, as the first full day of school, eliminates Casimir Pulaski Day as a non-attendance day, adds the Monday after spring break (April 6) as a non-attendance day in alignment with District 99's calendar, and sets Wednesday, June 3, 2015 as the last day of school if no emergency days are used. The Board anticipates approving the end-of-year calendar for 2013-14 at its April 14 meeting.   


District 58 Education Foundation
to host evening with Big Head Todd
for 2014 spring fundraiser

District 58 family's band to play opener

The Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58, in partnership with the Tivoli Theatre, is pleased to announce its annual Entertainment for Education fundraiser for 2014, an evening with Big Head Todd at the Tivoli at 8 p.m. Friday, April 25.


"We are thrilled to once again have the opportunity to partner with the Tivoli Theatre and the Johnson family for our annual spring fundraiser. This event has been a spectacular success the past few years, which would not have been possible without the generous donation of their beautiful facility," said Foundation President Jay Stocki.


Tickets are $50 for general admission, $75 for VIP seating (first 10 rows), and $150 for the Gold Package, which includes seating in the first two rows, dinner at Lemon Tree, and a poster. Must be at least 21 to attend.  



Tickets also are available for purchase at Community Bank of Downers Grove, 1111 Warren Ave. All proceeds support District 58 Education Foundation programs, which have included more than $100,000 in grants to District 58 schools over the last three years.


Be sure to come early, because Rollo Time, which was founded by District 58 parent Jon Raleigh, will take the stage at approximately 7 p.m. to play the opener!  

A peek inside our preschool 
A peek inside the Grove Children's Preschool program

Grove Children's Preschool is a wonderful place for District 58's youngest learners...check out the short video above for a peek at our program!

Applications for tuition-based enrollment in Grove Children's Preschool 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.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.
O'Neill custodian, favorite poem
to be featured in video series


O'Neill Middle School custodian Tom Moran -- and his favorite poem -- will be featured in a video series launching during National Poetry Month in April.


Last fall Chicago's Poetry Foundation and the Favorite Poem Project, created by 39th U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, launched a collaboration called Favorite Poem Project: Chicago. Residents of the city and suburbs were invited to submit their favorite poems, along with a few sentences about why the poem resonates.


Moran submitted Theodore Roethke's "The Waking," which he has loved since high school.


"Anytime I get down, I read it and it picks me up. It still has the same impact, after all this time," he said.


A few months later, Moran was one of 14 finalists contacted for a phone interview. Last month he learned that he had been chosen as one of the five Chicago-area residents who will be featured -- along with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- in the Favorite Poem Project: Chicago video series. A film crew visited O'Neill March 7 to capture footage of Moran as he went about his day, and of him reading and talking about his favorite poem.


Moran is an active member of several poetry-writing groups and has self-published a poetry chapbook. He is a firm believer in the power of poetry and the creative process, and he conducted poetry workshops with students when he worked as the night custodian at Belle Aire.


"I would tell the students that by writing poetry, they are creating something--that there's something there at the end of the day that wasn't there at the beginning," he said.


Moran will be invited to the Favorite Poem Project: Chicago launch gala next month, and the video will be featured on the Poetry Foundation's Favorite Poem Project page,

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

District 58 families focus on fitness

With a variety of exhibits, demonstrations and classes offered by local organizations and businesses, hundreds of students and their families found plenty to keep them busy during the 2014 District 58 Family Fit Fair March 6 at O'Neill Middle School.


They participated in a variety of activities during the fair, including bowling, yoga, tennis, a heart-healthy obstacle course, and speed drills led by members of the Downers Grove South girls' volleyball team.  They also stopped at booths to chat with representatives from organizations and businesses, scooped up free giveaways, and collected information on available opportunities for fitness and fun throughout the community.  

Destination ImagiNation teams from Herrick, Pierce Downer and Whittier headed to state competition

Five Destination ImagiNation teams comprised of District 58 students -- three teams from Pierce Downer, one team from Whittier and one team from Herrick Middle School -- are headed to the state competition at Illinois State University April 12, having earned high scores at the regional competition March 8.


Click here to see the roster of students headed to state!

Middle school groups showcased during annual
Festival of Music


Students from the band, orchestra and choir programs at Herrick and O'Neill middle schools came together March 19 for the twelfth annual Festival of Music showcase at Downers Grove North High School. The event gives the students a chance to share with their classmates in other programs, along with their parents and the community, what they have been working on. Selections ranged from a Shostakovich waltz to the theme from The Hunger Games, and as a grand finale, the combined percussion sections of the Herrick and O'Neill bands came together to perform Junkyard Jam!  


Click here for more photos from the event. 

Pierce Downer students take center stage at the  

2014 Student Variety Show


Pierce Downer students, along with family members and friends, gathered recently at the Tivoli Theatre for the 2014 Student Variety Show. Pre-show, the crowd was entertained by a Tivoli organist while participants made last minute preparations. Then the main attraction began,with 47 unique routines in all and a band-accompanied finale. The acts included singing, dancing and acrobatics; performances on piano, cello, violin, flute, clarinet, guitar, drums, bass and ukulele; as well as comedy, magic and even light tricks. This two-hour show had it all!


From kindergarteners to sixth graders, 175 Pierce Downer students enjoyed their "15 minutes" (well, closer to 90 seconds) of fame on stage and more students helped backstage. A few days earlier the show premiered in the school gym and was met with cheers from the students and teachers.


Of course a lot of behind the scenes work was required to ensure the success of the shows. Performers dedicated many hours of hard work to tryouts, practices, and technical and dress rehearsals. Parent volunteers contributed their time and efforts as well, especially variety show co-chairs Mary Dougherty, Sara Farrero and Dianne Fleener. David Altholtz and Lisa Lockerby collected ads and produced a program book for the event. Many more volunteers chaperoned at the school and the Tivoli. A fantastic job to every child and many thanks to each parent who contributed to an exciting and entertaining show!


Click here for more photos from the day! 


--Submitted by Pierce Downer School

Belle Aire Book and Puzzle Exchange a huge hit


By Grace Mulligan, student reporter


Books, puzzles and comics, OH MY! Belle Aire School hosted their annual Book and Puzzle Exchange recently and made a lot of kids, teachers and staff quite inspired to read a good book. In all 1,519 books and 25 puzzles were donated.  


The books and puzzles were brought in by the students and through a donation from SCARCE (School and Community Assistance for Composting and Recycling Education) or purchased at thrift stores. Many of the books that came from the kids were geared for younger readers. The organizers wanted to be sure the older students had enough books to choose from, as well.


The students at Belle Aire were encouraged to donate books and puzzles they no longer used and that were still in good condition. In exchange, 184 students were able to "shop" for up to five items in return.


Second grader Ben Carter said he was excited to get "lots of good science books." Madeline Topic, a third grader, said, "I liked picking out new books. I got the book, 'Chocolate Fever.'" Fourth grader Zach Mann was happy to bring home a constellation book and "Darth Vader Strikes Back."


The Book and Puzzle exchange would not have been possible without the help of the volunteer moms: Shari Warwick, Patty Hung, Joan Cesario, Mindy Vasilakopoulos, Kerry Finley, Carrie Schneider, Sharon Phillips, Holly Ryden, April Marron, Chris Waden and especially organizers Kristi Kattapong and Michele Carter.


When asked why she felt this event was important to have at school, fourth grade teacher, Ms. Kerri Rowland stated, "It's a nice way for the kids who don't always have a chance to purchase books or order through Scholastic to take home a book from the exchange." In the end any books left over after the kids, teachers and staff were done "shopping" were then donated back to SCARCE.



Grove Preschool students try green eggs and ham


On March 6, in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday, students in the Grove Children's Preschool program at Indian Trail School tried green eggs and ham!


The students took turns pouring egg from a cup into a large bowl, and their teacher, Kristina Hopkins, mixed in the green food coloring. While the green eggs were scrambled and added to plates for snack -- alongside some ham -- Hopkins read "Green Eggs and Ham" to the class. Students predicted whether or not they would like the green eggs and ham by coloring a smiley or frowney face on a worksheet, and then it was time to try the unusual concoction! Many were tentative at first, but quickly realized they were enjoying it. When it was time to graph the results, 13 students liked the green eggs and ham, and just three didn't care for it.


Highland families go 'around the world' on Geography Night


Highland School families got to pack their bags and take a trip around the world during the school's PTA-sponsored Geography Night Feb. 26! The school was transformed into six continents, each of which featured fun games and activities about the world for parents and students to participate in together.



Click here for more photos from the evening! 

Parents invited to program with bestselling author Blue Balliett, author fest book signing 


The Downers Grove Area Council of PTAs will present a special parent program called "Reading and Education: The Home Connection,"with bestselling author Blue Balliett, on Thursday, April 10 from 7 to 8 Hillcrest School, 1435 Jefferson Ave.


The event is free and open to all parents of children who attend District 58 schools. However, capacity is limited, so please register early to reserve your spot. Click here to register.


Blue Balliett's first book, "Chasing Vermeer," was a New York Times bestseller and Edgar Allen winner, and won the Chicago Tribune prize for young adult fiction. Her other books include sequels to "Chasing Vermeer," including "The Wright 3" and "The Calder Game," as well as "The Danger Box" and "Hold Fast." For more information about Blue Balliett, visit


Her books will be available for purchase at the Author Fest event through the PTA Council's partnership with Anderson's Bookshop. The Downers Grove Author Festival, which will take place from April 9-11, is sponsored annually by the Downers Grove Area Council of PTAs and the PTAs of each participating school. It gives students a chance to meet and visit with well-known children's authors and illustrators. Half of the schools participate each year on a rotating basis. All parents and children are welcome to attend the author book sale and signing at Herrick Middle School Friday, April 11; click here for more information.

Board News

Below are key action/discussion items from the March 10 meeting of the District 58 Board of Education.  Click here to visit our Board Briefs page to view the full Board Briefs report.


Spotlight on our Schools:  

Review of ELL and Bilingual Education Committee


Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Terry Martin and members of the District's English Language Learner (ELL)/Bilingual Education Committee reported on the committee's progress and next steps. The number of students receiving ELL services in District 58 surpassed 200 four years ago, and has been growing at a rate of 15 to 20 percent each year since then. The ELL committee was developed as a result of staff attending a six-day training on ELL program design sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education. The committee was charged with reviewing the current program, recognizing strengths and developing a set of recommendations for supporting the needs of English Language Learners throughout the District.


In 2012-13 the District introduced a bilingual resource class at El Sierra, in which instruction is supported in the students' first language as they transition to becoming proficient in English. Bilingual programs are required at schools where there are 20 or more students with the same first language who are eligible for Limited English Proficient services. Most students in District 58 receive English as a Second Language (ESL) support, in which instruction is provided in English with minimal translation. To provide students with additional needed supports, the committee recommends the District launch a full-time Spanish bilingual primary class at El Sierra and look at offering students at Highland School the opportunity to participate. Highland surpassed the 20-student benchmark for the first time this year.  


During the 2014-15 year, the committee also will study the possibility of launching bilingual cluster sites throughout the District. Other recommendations include ensuring that all eligible students meet at least five periods a week with an ELL-certified teacher, that proficiency levels determine the level of ESL service received, that staff continue to work to design a program that will create consistency within the District, that the District appoint a Director of ELL services with an ESL endorsement, and that the District provide parent training and opportunities for community input. Next steps include further consideration of staffing needs, resource identification, budget considerations, and child-find activities to identify eligible students at all schools but particularly at El Sierra and Highland.


Student fees approved for 2014-15 


The Board approved student fees for 2014-15 as follows:

  • Instructional materials grades 1-8: $125/year
  • Pre-kindergarten/Kindergarten: $75/year
  • Middle school yearbook (optional): $20
  • Busing for families living greater than 1.5 miles from school: $25 per child per year. This new fee will help to cover a portion of the District's transportation-related costs, which continue to increase even as the state's reimbursement continues to drastically decrease, and also help to ensure appropriate routing. The District also will be looking at combining routes where possible.
  • Busing for families living less than 1.5 miles from school
    : $539/child/year where available 
  • Outdoor Education (Camp Edward, sixth grade only): $150

District 58 earns financial recognition for 12th year in a row

District 58's 2013 Financial Profile placed the district within the Illinois State Board of Education's Financial Recognition range, the highest obtainable category of financial strength. The district has achieved this designation every year for the past 12 years, when the ISBE began using the Financial Profile to evaluate districts.  


The Illinois State Board of Education, which recently notified District 58 of the designation, said that "given the economic difficulties school districts are facing, the State Board realizes this is a significant accomplishment."


All Illinois school districts receive an annual rating from the ISBE, which takes into account financial indicators including fund balance to revenue ratio; expenditure to revenue ratio; days of cash on hand; percent of short-term borrowing ability remaining; and percentage of long-term debt margin remaining.


The 2013 Financial Profile for all districts in Illinois can be found online at:

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   


Chicago TOPSoccer for children with disabilities -- players and volunteers needed  


DG58 Author Fest book signing with Blue Balliett, Julia Durango, John Madormo, Marianne Malone, Aaron Reynolds -- event April 11 


DG Area Council of PTAs presents Reading and Education: The Home Connection, with Blue Balliett -- event April 10 (registration link


Downers Grove North boys offensive basketball skills camp 


Downers Grove North girls basketball skills camp  


Downers Grove South Pony Trot to benefit Make-a-Wish Foundation -- event April 13  


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


DuPage Children's Museum March events and activities   


DuPage County Health Department's 


Education Foundation of District 58 in partnership with Tivoli Theatre presents Big Head Todd -- event April 25 


Friends of the Gifted chess tournament -- event March 22  


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 24-25

O'Neill musical, 7 p.m.

March 31 through April 4

Spring break--no school

April 9-11

District 58 Author Fest

April 10

PTA Council program with Blue Balliett, 7 p.m., Hillcrest

Distinguished Service Awards, 4 p.m., Ashyana Banquets

April 11

Author Fest book signing, 7 p.m., Herrick Middle School
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