Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 5, Issue 15
May 9, 2014
O'Neill science teacher wins 2014 Golden Apple Award


Dr. Meg Van Dyke's first-period seventh grade science class at O'Neill Middle School was interrupted May 8 for the most wonderful of reasons: Representatives from the Golden Apple Foundation, along with numerous school and district staff and officials, surprised her with the news that she was one of just 10 Golden Apple Award recipients for 2014.


The 2014 honorees, selected from a pool of 620 nominations and 272 applicants, represent fourth through eighth grade teachers throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.


"These amazing teachers demonstrate the skill, enthusiasm and passion needed to inspire their students to achieve greatness. Each is a shining example of excellence in education, and we are proud to honor them for all they do as teachers," said Dominic Belmonte, president and CEO of Golden Apple.

Hillcrest third-grader's artwork headed to national level of Reflections

Hillcrest third-grader Owen Murphy's love of sports and art recently came together with award-winning impact. On May 3, a painting he created this past fall for the PTA Reflections art contest, entitled Dad and Basketball, was chosen at the state competition to advance to the National level in the Special Artist, Visual Arts category.


"Playing basketball with Dad makes me very happy. I love it!" said the note accompanying Murphy's painting. Murphy said he also loves playing basketball with his friends at school and watching sports with his family, particularly the Cubs, Blackhawks and Bears. He said he was happy with how his piece turned out, and was excited when he found out it had been selected to advance to Nationals.


Murphy's piece will be on display at the National PTA Reflections art exhibit in Washington, D.C. after being presented during the Annual National PTA Convention in Austin, Texas in June.


"We're so proud of Owen and what he has accomplished!  Our family is so thankful for the amazing support he has at school and the opportunities he's had to participate in great programs like Reflections," said Owen's mom, Whitney Murphy.


Several other District 58 artists also were honored at the state level of Reflections. Indian Trail student Megan Fogarty received an honorable mention for her Intermediate Photography submission, and Hillcrest students Gabriella DiDiana and Jada Ross received special recognition for their Special Artist, Visual Arts submissions.

Herrick, O'Neill eighth-graders honored at Select 58 banquet

May 7 marked a very special night for 58 eighth-graders in Downers Grove Grade School District 58 -- 29 from Herrick Middle School and 29 from O'Neill Middle School -- as they were honored at the annual Select 58 banquet for their citizenship and contributions to school and community.The banquet is sponsored by the Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 and hosted by Herrick Middle School.


The students and their families who attended the banquet were treated to a performance by the Downers Grove South High School Madrigal Singers. They also heard inspiring speeches by former Select 58 winners Jimmy Kruse (O'Neill alumnus) and Nick Bonanno (Herrick alumnus), who spoke about the importance of involvement, service, and making a difference. 


Select 58 contributors were Aramark, which provided dinner and beverages; Holy Cow Sports, which donated sweatshirts; Lifetouch, which donated photography services; Phillip's Flowers, which donated flowers; Scot Press, which donated printing services and plaques; Tana Williams, who provided decorations; and Cathy Oriatti, who created the Select 58 cake. This year's Select 58 judges were past and present Foundation directors Amy Kovacevic, Dr. Mark Manzi, Bruce Swanson, Stephan Upshaw, David Olsen and Laura Taylor. The planning committee included O'Neill Principal Matt Durbala, Herrick Principal Jason Lynde, Herrick secretary Ann Russ, and Foundation director Jennifer Waldorf.


Click here for the full list of this year's Select 58 winners!  

Education Foundation launches new Green Apple Recognition program to honor District 58 teachers, staff

The District 58 Education Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of its new Green Apple Teacher/Staff Recognition program. As the end of the school year approaches, please consider honoring a special teacher or staff member with a gift to the Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58! 


With each donation you make, a specially designed Green Apple card will be sent to the teacher or staff member you are honoring, with a special message from you. Thanks to our generous sponsor, Lemon Tree Grocer, for designing the logo for this new program.


Your Green Apple Recognition donation comes directly back to the students and staff in District 58 through our teacher grant program, which supports innovative programs in District 58 classrooms. Last year, the District 58 Education Foundation awarded more than $26,000 in grant funds to District 58 teachers!


There are two ways you can honor a teacher with a Green Apple Recognition: 

  • Fill out this form and mail it with a check in the amount of your chosen donation to District 58 Education Foundation, Attn: Green Apple Recognition, P.O. Box 231, Downers Grove, IL, 60515. Checks should be made payable to the Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58. You can also choose to pay online directly to the Green Apple PayPal account,

All donations are tax-deductible. Thank you for supporting the District 58 Education Foundation!

District 58 to host parent digital learning workshops

Technology is transforming how students learn, explore, and make connections, and District 58 wants to help parents find ways to maximize these opportunities at home. The District will host parent education sessions in May, June, July and August at Longfellow Center, 1435 Prairie Ave., that will address social media, digital citizenship, learning in a 1:1 environment, digital tools, and basic functions of 1:1 devices. Each of the workshops will cover all of the topics and are open to all interested parents and community members.

Workshops will take place on the following dates/times:
  • Wednesday, May 21, 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 21, 7 p.m.
  • Monday, June 9, 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 8, 10 a.m. 
  • Wednesday, July 23, 1 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, August 6, 10 a.m. 
  • Monday, August 18, 1 p.m. 
  • Monday, August 25, 7 p.m.  
For more information about the workshops, contact Director of Innovative Technology and Learning James Eichmiller,, or Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Matthew Rich at
Lions Club donation supports vision screenings in District 58
District 58's school nurses can now screen students for potential vision issues more quickly and easily thanks to the Downers Grove Lions Club, which recently donated $2,500 to help cover the cost of two Optic 5000 Vision Screeners.  


Last year two of District 58's school nurses, Susan Donahue and Ann Brinkman, spoke with the Lions Club about the screenings that take place in District 58 and showed Club members the machines that are used. At that time, District 58 had six machines that were shared among its 13 schools, which meant precious time was wasted as the machines were transported from one building to another and then had to be powered up and often re-calibrated before they could be used for screenings.  


Club member Angie Kleinfelder, a former teacher, was immediately struck by the memory of the single vision screening machine that had been shared among all of the schools in the district where she worked.


"The Lions Club was looking for additional ways to support and partner with the Downers Grove community, and this sounded like a perfect project for the Club to take on to benefit the schools," she said. 


The Club donated the money in late March, and the two new machines were delivered not long after. One of the new machines will stay at Herrick Middle School, and the other at O'Neill Middle School.


"Middle school is the age at which more and more vision issues begin cropping up, and now we can quickly and efficiently screen students and refer them to an optician or ophthalmologist for further evaluation if needed," said O'Neill school nurse Susan Donahue. "We are so appreciative of the Lions Club's generous donations to support our students and schools."


Families invited to May 13 meet and greet with new assistant superintendent


Families and staff are invited to a meet and greet with District 58's incoming Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, Jessica Stewart, on Tuesday, May 13.  


The meet and greet will take place in the LRC at Indian Trail School, 6235 Stonewall Ave. She will meet with staff from 3:30-4:15 p.m., and families from 4:30-5:15 p.m.  


All are welcome to attend. 

District 58 Education Foundation spring fundraiser a huge success

The Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58, in partnership with the Tivoli Theatre, hosted a tremendously successful evening with Big Head Todd at the Tivoli April 25. The sold-out show netted more than $25,000 for the Foundation and its programs that benefit the District 58 schools.


"We are so grateful for our wonderful community partners whose sponsorship helped to make this event a success. In particular we appreciate the continued support of the Johnson family, owner of the Tivoli and Classic Cinemas chains, who once again generously donated their beautiful venue for our spring concert," said Foundation President Jay Stocki. "We also wish to thank the numerous District 58 families and staff who attended the concert in support of the Foundation and the District 58 schools."


In addition to Classic Cinemas/Tivoli Theatre, this year's event sponsors were Lemon Tree, which hosted a pre-concert dinner for the Gold VIP ticket holders; Community Bank of Downers Grove; Evelyn Jane Boutique; Charlie and Grace; and Maximum Printing and Graphics.  


All proceeds from the spring fundraiser support District 58 Education Foundation programs, which have included more than $100,000 in grants to District 58 schools over the last three years alone. The Foundation also sponsors the annual Sneak Preview for incoming seventh-graders, the Select 58 eighth-grade service awards, the Distinguished Service Awards for staff, and an annual welcome luncheon for new District 58 teachers. For more information about the District 58 Education Foundation, visit

Summer school registration deadline is May 23 


Enrollment for District 58's Learning in the Summer 2014 program is now open. Regular education summer school classes will take place Monday through Friday, June 16-July 3 from 8:15-11:15 a.m. at Indian Trail School, 6235 Stonewall Ave. Band and orchestra classes will take place from 8 a.m. until noon at O'Neill Middle School, 635 59th St. 


Parents and guardians can register their children and pay for regular education classes online at District 58 parents received an e-mail April 11 containing the registration password. If you need password assistance, please contact Jennie Waldorf at


The program is open to all students enrolled in public, private or parochial school that will be entering kindergarten through eighth grade and reside in the District 58 attendance area. Grade level will be for the 2014-15 school year, with the exception of band and orchestra which is the current year's grade level. Transportation is not provided. 


In addition to math, reading, art, band and orchestra, District 58 also will be offering a Digital Game Design class for third through eighth grade, which will be offered the weeks of July 7 and July 14, running Monday through Thursday. Parents also will be able to register their children online for this year's Chinese Immersion Summer Language program, open to incoming fourth through eighth grade students.


Click here for detailed class descriptions.


The registration deadline is Friday, May 23. Enrollment will be handled on a first-come first-served basis, and space is limited. Class may be canceled due to insufficient enrollment. In addition to the online registration, hard copies of the registration forms still will be available at each District 58 school. For more information, contact summer school secretary Diane Glowicki at or (630) 719-5850.

Around the District


Hillcrest donates nearly $8,000 to Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation


Hillcrest School students are helping to make a difference for children with Neuroblastoma. The school recently hosted a Coins 4 Kids fundraiser to collect change for the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation, and during a special assembly April 28, Principal Paula Thomas announced the total they had raised: an amazing $7,524.13.


Classes received prizes for various levels of fundraising, including popsicles, a movie and popcorn for the class and a pizza party. The class that raised the most money won a surprise field trip with Principal Paula Thomas and Assistant Principal Brittany Cerny.


Nine-year-old Theo Yianas, a family friend of Hillcrest student Ben Tunney, shared his story about being diagnosed with neuroblastoma at the age of six and successfully fighting the disease. He endured chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, stem cell transplants, and immunotherapy, coming out the other side in remission and with 936 courage beads to mark the steps of his journey.  


"Kids like you helped kids like me," Theo told the students.  


Patricia Tallungan, founder and president of the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation, was on hand to accept the donation.  


"I am in total shock--this is fantastic. I can't even tell you how much good this is going to do for the children who are fighting neuroblastoma," she said. 


Indian Trail's RL4C making a difference for families  


Rainbow Loom bracelets are making a difference at Indian Trail School. A group of nearly a dozen fifth-graders who call themselves Rainbow Loom for Charity, or RL4C, has been making and selling the bracelets to raise money for the Jackson Chance Foundation. So far RL4C has raised $160, which they will be sending to the Foundation shortly, and already has its next project in development!


The Jackson Chance Foundation was founded in memory of Jackson Chance, a little boy who was born premature and passed away at 10 months from Brochopulmonary dysplasia. The Foundation's goal is to help families be with their critically ill babies while they are in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). For information about the Jackson Chance Foundation, visit


Pierce Downer students take on Survivor Snack Challenge  


Pierce Downer students recently challenged their taste buds and discovered healthy foods during a Survivor Snack Challenge hosted by the PTA's Healthy Kids Committee in collaboration with Whole Foods Market in Willowbrook.

The event, hosted as part of National Nutrition Month in March, introduced participating students to six nutritious, allergen-free foods during their lunch periods March 24, 26 and 27.  


More than 250 students registered to participate, sampling a variety of foods over the course of the week. On March 24 the students tried edamame and fizzy water, March 26 they tried coconut milk and coconut-rolled dates, and March 27 they tried mango and jicama. Posters were on display describing each food and their nutritional benefits, and recipe cards for the items served were handed out at the end of the week so children could share them with their parents.


Students received a stamp on their Survivor Snack Challenge Scorecard for each food they tried, and the class with the most scorecards completed won a classroom party that included a healthy treat!


Click here for more photos from the week!  


Garden Club donates Arbor Day tree to Kingsley  


Kingsley School is home to a brand-new magnolia tree, thanks to the Downers Grove Garden Club.  


The Club donated the tree in honor of Arbor Day, and all of the students and staff gathered out front of the school April 25 for the dedication ceremony.

Student council officers shared information about magnolia trees and about the history of Arbor Day, and read the poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer along with several selected quotations about trees.

"The Downers Grove Garden Club only donates a tree to people who will help take good care of it and appreciate it, and they know that you all will," Assistant Principal Elynn Cunningham told the students.


Belle Aire partners with Village to plant tree for Arbor Day


Mike Neumann, assistant forester for the Village of Downers Grove, visited with kindergarten students at Belle Aire School during this year's Earth Week celebration and helped them to plant a swamp white oak tree.


Click here for more photos from the day!  



Graphic novelists share stories at O'Neill 


Pete Hassett and his friend from childhood, Mat Labotka, talked for years about creating a graphic novel. It wasn't until recently that Pete, now a fireman and Mat, now an actor, found the opportunity to collaborate on what is now Riled UP, a fun trilogy about some neighborhood kids and how they have quite an adventure one Halloween. Pete and Mat visited O'Neill Middle School May 5 to share their story (and their stories!) of how they took an idea hatched as kids and turned it into reality. The 7th and 8th grade students who attended the visit from these novelists were able to ask questions about how these two were inspired to begin this journey and the process behind making a graphic novel. 

Topical Studies students learn about Native American culture
Students in the second grade Topical Studies Program recently learned all about the Native American way of life from historian Lou Aiello's hands-on Native American Traveling Museum. Aiello created everything in his traveling museum, including games, musical instruments and clothing, by hand using only tools that the Native Americans would have used.  

Community members, students connect over literature at annual Herrick Read and Share Day 


Students, grandparents and community seniors, as well as several representatives from the Downers Grove Public Library and from the District 58 central office, gathered in the cafeteria at Herrick Middle School April 17 for the eighth annual Read and Share Day, formerly known as the Intergenerational Book Club.  


Both students and adults had previously selected and read a book from a list compiled by Herrick staff, each featuring an older character and a middle school-aged student or young adult. On Read and Share Day, more than 250 participants gathered to discuss their book with others who chose the same selection. Points of view, character development, and the relationships among the characters were among the topics discussed.


Intergenerational Read was initially introduced eight years ago as an opportunity for grandparents to read and discuss books with Herrick students, and the opportunity to participate extended several years ago to seniors and other adults within the community.


If you are a senior and would be interested in participating next year, please send your name and address to Herrick Middle School, 4435 Middaugh Ave., Downers Grove, IL, 60515, to be added to the mailing list.

Click here for more photos from the day!

El Sierra Career Day gives students a peek at a variety of vocations

Architect, engineer, video designer, airline pilot and personal trainer were just a few of the careers students at El Sierra School had the chance to learn about recently. El Sierra welcomed a variety of professionals from the community to speak with students during its annual Career Day last month, and each class had an opportunity to hear from four visitors.

Click here for more photos from the day! 
 Crawford retiring with 20+ years of
fond variety show memories
Each year for more than 20 years, Whittier fourth-grade teacher Elaine Crawford has worked with her class to put on an act for the school's variety show--so although she is retiring this year, she has left generations of students with wonderful memories of teamwork, creative thinking, and of course, some fabulous costumes and dance routines.

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.




 Community-wide garage sale to benefit O'Leary family -- NEW DATE: JUNE 7





Fair Game Screen Free Week activities
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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
May 12

Regular Board meeting, 7 p.m., Longfellow

May 20

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

May 21

District 58 parent technology education workshops, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., Longfellow

Herrick choir concert, 7 p.m., Herrick

May 22

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

May 26

Memorial Day, no school

May 27

Policy Committee, 7 a.m., ASC

May 28

Herrick orchestra concert, 7 p.m., Herrick

May 29

Herrick band concert, 7 p.m., Herrick  
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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