Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 5, Issue 16
May 22, 2014
Great schools help land Downers Grove as a top place to raise children 

rs Grove was ranked second on a list of Top 10 Best Cities for Kids in the entire country, as compiled by! Downers Grove was the only town in Illinois to make the list.

According to the site, Downers Grov
e "not only offers great schools, playgrounds and low crime rates, it also gives children opportunities to live healthy lifestyles in a multitude of activities with other kids."

"We are proud to be a vital part of such a wonderful community," said District 58 Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli.

The Fox 32 news crew visited Downers Grove May 22 to talk with local leaders, including District 58 School Board President Sallie Lupescu, about what makes Downers Grove so special. Click here to check out the segments!
Kindergarten team presents update on exploration of full-day program

At the May 12 meeting of the Board of Education, members of the Kindergarten Team presented an update on their exploration of a possible full-day kindergarten program for District 58.  


Kindergarten has changed significantly over the past 20 years, with much more ground to cover. Not only are the students learning the three R's (reading, writing and arithmetic), as well as social skills and independence, they also are learning the three T's (Teamwork, Thinking Skills and Technology), as well as science and social studies. It has become increasingly difficult to accomplish all of this within the scope of a half-day program while also providing valuable time for students to play, create, process their learning, explore, make connections and further develop the all-important social and emotional skills that will support their future academic success.


Click here for the full story! 

Grove Foundation honors District 58 students for good character

Fifth-grade students from each District 58 elementary school were recognized with this year's Helping Children Grow awards from the Grove Foundation for their enthusiasm, effort and good character.    


"The selection committee looks for children who don't seek recognition while working hard every day, are of good strong character, and are willing to help others," said Grove Foundation President Lois Kopis.


Recipients are surprised with the award certificate and gift card from Anderson's Bookshop during a school-wide assembly, which family members are invited to attend. This year's Helping Children Grow honorees were:

  • Belle Aire: Paige Sadler, Julia Szostak              
  • El Sierra: Dylan Ferrer, Nicole Rose Yu                

  • Fairmount: Milosh Djakovac, Alexandra Meyers                      
  • Henry Puffer: Quinn Hanley, Edie Jurasas                     
  • Highland: Jonathan Niedermeyer, Sarah Stangley        

  • Hillcrest:  Michael Cheng, Nick Sisson, Valerie Velguth                       
  • Indian Trail: America Chaparro, Sal Memeti               

  • Kingsley: Roman Aldeguer, Jimena Carranza, Matthew Elliot                          
  • Lester: Alexa McCartney, Erin Peters, Giustina Zindle                        

  • Pierce Downer: Carrie Drobnik, Jill Kartsounes, Emily Koors             
  • Whittier: Tina Ebel, Sammi Joyce
Anonymous donation to fund outdoor classroom at Herrick 


An anonymous donation to Herrick Middle School from a retired teacher will be used to build an outdoor classroom at the school.


Principal Jason Lynde said the teacher had donated $10,000 to the school to be used in whatever way staff saw fit. A committee decided to use the money to build an outdoor classroom north of the band room, and the donor liked the idea so much that the gift was increased to $15,000. The outdoor classroom will feature teaching stations, tables, accessible paver paths, and a butterfly garden, and Lynde said the goal is for the classroom to be built and open for use by the start of the 2014-15 school year. Because it is so close to the school, the hope is that the school's wi-fi signal will be available there, as well. Parents Brett Webster, an architect, and Jim Finley, the owner of Cut Above Landscaping, have donated their time and expertise to the project.

Pierce Downer Healthy Kids Committee wins award from Illinois PTA


The Pierce Downer PTA's Healthy Kids Committee has been awarded the 2013-14 Healthy Students Award from the Illinois PTA.


The Illinois PTA's Healthy Students Award is designed to recognize PTAs who are helping to foster positive attitudes towards health, and promoting healthy lifestyles for their schools and community.


The Pierce Downer PTA's application focused specifically on the committee's 2013 Fun Run, a one-mile walk/run held in the spring that involved over 250 students, parents, and school staff.


Additionally, the application cited the committee's other healthy student lifestyle activities such as Panther Pacers (recess run/walk club), after-school running club in partnership with the Indian Boundary YMCA, National Bike/Walk to School Day participation and bike registration, annual post-Halloween candy collection benefiting U.S. troops overseas, National Nutrition Month education, and Earth Week activities which include yoga, walk/bike to school day, waste-free lunch days, and a recycling collection.

District 58 expanding 1:1 program, will host digital learning workshops

Having experienced tremendous success in year 1 and with continued efforts to improve and build upon these successes in year 2, District 58 is excited to announce that the 2014-2015 expansion of our 1:1 initiative was approved at the May Board of Education meeting. Teachers throughout District 58 have eagerly applied to participate next year, and our expansion of the program will increase the number of K-7 students participating in the 1:1 program to approximately 3,600.


Click here for the full list of grade levels that will be participating in the 1:1 tablet program for 2014-15!  


Grade levels not participating in the 1:1 tablet program for 2014-15 will have access to technology and the associated learning experiences through our Learning Lab program, which allows students to have a 1:1 device for several weeks. All students also will continue to have access to the many laptop carts available at school.

In order to assist parents and guardians as they support their children in the 1:1 endeavor, District 58 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
Hillcrest parent shares proposal to crowdfund inclusive playground 

Peg Chaidez, a parent of three Hillcrest students, shared with the Board of Education May 12 her proposal to crowdfund an inclusive, accessible playground at the school. Her youngest son uses a wheelchair, and after his wheels got stuck in the playground wood chips on his first day of school, she promised him she would try to find a way to make a difference.


"We are trying to build a community at Hillcrest for students of all abilities and grade levels," Chaidez said.


The playground would feature a recycled rubber surface, double-wide ramps and connected structures so everyone can be included. The plans also include a relaxation station for quiet reflection or reading, a separate kindergarten play area, and a wheelchair swing.


"My son has always wanted to fly, and now he will have that opportunity in his wheelchair," Chaidez said.


The playground will benefit not just students at the school, but all of Downers Grove and the surrounding communities, Chaidez said. The cost for the full playground and installation is $450,000. Chaidez plans to raise all of the funds online through a crowd-funding platform and funnel the money through the school's PTA. A factory-certified installation crew will be hired to ensure the playground is compliant and safe, and community volunteers may be called upon to assist.


Controller James Popernik said the plan is to have the proposal on the June board agenda for approval.
Board news 

Below are key action/discussion items from the May 12 meeting of the District 58 Board of Education.

Gifted Committee Update


Members of the District's Gifted Committee shared an update on their work, as well as their recommendations for the 2014-15 school year.  Click here for the full set of recommendations regarding a transitional Gifted Education program for 2014-15.


STEM update


Dr. Matt Rich, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, reported on the progress of the District's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Committee. The STEM Committee began its work in October 2013, several months before the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) became part of the Illinois Learning Standards to be implemented in 2016-17. The committee has analyzed the standards and developed learning targets for earth science, life science and physical science, all of which are embedded in the District's curriculum web app, and will be doing the same for engineering, coding and health. The committee then will discuss which topics make sense to cover at which K-12 grade level, analyze current resources and identify needed changes, and develop plans for professional staff development.   


The Board of Education also:

  • Was led in the flag salute by representatives from the Kingsley School student council  
  • Observed a moment of silence in memory of Jacob Kowalik, a Highland student who passed away last month after a courageous battle with an illness, and for Gary Gabel and his son, John, who were killed in Afghanistan while on a visit there last month. Gary Gabel was a principal in the District's insurance management firm, Group Alternatives Inc.
  • Approved for first reading Policy #8244 regarding determining agenda and placed it on the June board agenda for final approval
  • Renewed the Master Agreement originally dated June 30, 2011, between the District 58 Board of Education and Knowledge Universe Education, LLC (also known as Champions) from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015
  • Authorized the Village of Downers Grove to sign a contract awarding the bid for asphalt work at El Sierra, Indian Trail, Whittier and Pierce Downer schools to the low bidder meeting all specifications, Chicagoland Paving Contractors, for the cost to District 58 of $257,979.21
  • Authorized the District 58 administration to implement year two of the 1:1 initiative during the 2014-15 school year by proceeding with the purchase of 2,100 iPads
  • Awarded the two-year contract for providing an automated substitute placement system (Aesop) from Frontline Technologies at a cost of $13,050 for 2014-15, which includes startup cost, and at a cost of $8,050 for 2015-16
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!


On May 15, Foundation and District representatives surprised the first three Green Apple Recognition recipients with their card and a balloon bouquet. The first three staff members to be honored through this new program were:  

  • Michelle Sanders, second grade, Pierce Downer (top right) 
  • Hillcrest social worker Jessica Greene (middle right)
  • Lester P.E. teacher Pat Brown (bottom right)

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!  


Check back regularly with the Foundation's website,, to see the growing list of honorees!  

Summer school registration deadline is May 23 


The registration deadline for District 58's Learning in the Summer 2014 program is Friday, May 23. 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 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. 


Click here for detailed class descriptions.


For more information, contact summer school secretary Diane Glowicki at or (630) 719-5850.

Around the District

O'Neill engineering teams tackling impressive challenges


About two dozen O'Neill Middle School students have been notching some impressive wins at science and engineering competitions this school year. O'Neill teams have won teamwork awards at the National Fluid Power Association's Fluid Challenge, taken home strength and aesthetics awards from bridge-building competitions, and notched a top-three finish in a race car challenge at Argonne National Laboratory.


With STEM education continuing to take higher priority, this is certainly something to celebrate. With educators trying to figure out how to interest more girls and women in pursuing careers in the STEM fields, it is more than worth noting that every single participant on O'Neill's science and engineering teams this year is female.


The challenges involve a great deal of design work, teamwork, problem-solving, technical knowledge and creativity, and the teams work together on weekends and over breaks. Not only must the students create products that do what they are supposed to do -- such as hold weight in the case of the bridge or complete a specific task in the case of the fluid challenge -- they also must present the design documents to the judges and be able to explain their work in-depth. In some cases, a daily journal is required, along with accompanying photographs.


Belle Aire students make Kindness Connection 


Belle Aire students recently worked together to make a difference for several organizations during the second annual school-wide Kindness Connection Day.


During the morning-long event, provided through the non-profit organization The Kindness Connection and sponsored by the Belle Aire PTA, Belle Aire School students visited the gymnasium in one-hour shifts to learn about volunteerism. They could then choose two of three projects to complete: decorate tissue boxes for residents of Saratoga Grove, create medals for Special Olympics, or make teddy bears for Children's Hospital patients.


The Kindness Connection is an innovative nonprofit organization that encourages volunteerism by providing fun and meaningful service learning activities for school-aged children. According to the organization's website, "The Kindness Connection believes that meaningful volunteer experiences have the power to inspire individuals to make a lifelong practice of giving their time and resources to charitable and civic causes. Their mission is to foster the next generation of volunteers. Research has shown that children who volunteer have increased academic gains, school connectedness, and civic engagement. Additionally, youth volunteerism contributes to identity development, increased self-esteem, and development of empathy for others."


For additional information about The Kindness Connection, please visit  



O'Neill students switch roles with administrators for a day


Two O'Neill Middle School students recently had the opportunity to "switch places" with the leaders of their school.  


On May 8 Margo Kuzmanova served as assistant principal while Assistant Principal Chris Clavenna attended her classes. On May 15 Samuel Moore served as principal while Principal Matt Durbala attended his classes.   


Moore and Kuzmanova fielded phone calls and e-mails, visited classes and answered questions, to name just a few of the activities that kept them busy in their new "roles" -- which they won through the school's Conquest of the Realm Winter Literacy Program.


Click here for more about Conquest of the Realm! 


Belle Aire hosts Earth Week fun


By Grace Mulligan, Belle Aire sixth grader

Exciting things were happening at Belle Aire to celebrate Earth Week.  


Students were encouraged and rewarded to bring waste free lunches, bring in Trash for Cash items, purchase cloth napkins and donate old shoes and school/office supplies. Also, students made recycling posters and cleaned up the playground.  Some fifth graders tagged trees and the kindergartners helped plant a tree.


It paid to bring a waste free lunch. Each student who brought in a waste free lunch received a raffle ticket to win a prize. The raffles went on Monday through Thursday, but not on hot-lunch Friday. Many students were rewarded with toys. Hopefully, this activity will inspire more students to be waste free throughout the school year.


LRC teacher, Mrs. Joan Mommsen headed up a cloth napkin sale to go along with the Earth Week activities. She purchased ninety cloth napkins that were sold for $1 each. She wanted kids to be more aware of how wasteful using paper napkins are to the environment. Mrs. Mommsen commented, "I am thrilled that all the napkins sold out and it is helping the environment."


Belle Aire collected three large bags of donated shoes. These shoes were given to the Downers Grove Park District. The shoes will be used by the organization called USAgain.


Additionally, members of the Belle Aire community also collected three boxes of school and office supplies for SCARCE.


Another Earth activity that excited the kids at Belle Aire was the poster contest. Kids were encouraged to design a poster that promotes good ways to recycle and help the environment. Second grade teacher Mrs. Tara Fulton did a great job getting all of her students to participate in this fun activity.


The chance at winning Target gift certificates or Willis Tower Sky Deck passes motivated many students to participate in the Trash for Cash raffle. The Trash for Cash items that were brought in were then sent to Terracycle, which upcycles them into new products. This is a great way for the PTA to make money while also keeping trash out of landfills.


Ms. Lee's kindergarten class heard a presentation from a Downers Grove Arborist and afterwards helped him plant a tree.


Lastly, Ms. Heather Howland's fifth graders tagged trees in cooperation with Morton Arboretum. This activity helped kids understand the importance of trees and how they directly effect the environment. Ms. Howland was pleased at how much the kids enjoyed getting involved in such a meaningful project.


Earth Week organizers Kristi Kattapong and Michele Carter would like to thank the following people who helped out with many activities: Kim Kastner, Carrie Schneider, Chris Waden, Holly Ryden, Jim Finley, Jennifer Siragusa, Mike Neumann, Brent Borchelt, and Belle Aire Student Council members - Molly Smith, Arden Zajack, Hailey Grubich, and Michael Christensen.


It is clear that Belle Aire is committed to bringing awareness to the Earth and how we all play a role in making a difference. If we all work together, we can all make the world a better place.


Click here for more photos from the day! 


Pierce Downer parents (and staff) rock -- for a good cause

Who needs American Idol or The Voice when you can get front row seats to Pierce Downer School's Battle of the Bands? Less a battle and more of a musical collaboration, the much-anticipated annual event gives PD parents and faculty an opportunity to hit the stage and rock it out - all in the name of fun.


While entertaining a standing room only crowd at Ballydoyle in downtown Downers Grove, performers in the eight bands had the chance to feel just a little like rock stars for the night. A second, all-ages show held at the Downers Grove North High School auditorium also featured sets by bands Rage Against the Washing Machine, Lady and the Tramps, Mega #, ISAT Pondering, Good Griefer, Parents Approaching Standards, Professional Development and For Pete's Sake.  


The bands performed pop, rock and indie songs, and even a song from the movie Frozen. It was a kick for students to see their parents, friends' parents, teachers and even their principal, Justin Sisul, up on stage. Who knew Pierce Downer had such amazing talent?  


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




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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 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 

June 2

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

June 9

Parent technology education workshop, 1 p.m., Longfellow

Regular Board of Education meeting, 7 p.m., ASC

June 10

Last day of school for preschool and kindergarten

Eighth grade promotion ceremonies
--O'Neill, 5 p.m., O'Neill
--Herrick, 7 p.m., Downers Grove North

June 11

Last day of school for 2013-14 
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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