Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 5, Issue 17
June 12, 2014
Thank you for
another wonderful school year!

Downers Grove was recently named one of the Top Places in the United States to Raise Children and One of the Friendliest Places to live. These accolades could not be truer! Downers Grove Grade School District 58 is very fortunate to benefit from a wonderfully engaged community, supportive parents, incredibly dedicated and inspiring teachers and staff, and, most importantly, truly outstanding students. We are very proud to be an integral part of what makes Downers Grove a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.

In District 58, an unwavering commitment to keeping kids first in all that we do guides us as we infuse excellence throughout our schools. With the support of our staff, parents and our community, we are able to live our mission of preparing all students to be lifelong learners and contributing members of a global society by challenging and engaging each child with high quality educational programs in a safe, nurturing and child-centered environment.   


We began the 2013-14 school year with excitement and shared interest in the many new opportunities and adventures on the horizon for our students and staff. Our district's vision and strategic plan align to envision classrooms that inspire children, spark creative and innovative thinking, celebrate diversity, and build visionaries through educational experiences that excite minds, touch spirits, challenges abilities and prepare our children for life. The projects and initiatives undertaken this year reflect this vision.  

Herrick and O'Neill
bid farewell to eighth-graders
Conversations with Dr. C.--Looking ahead to high school

June 10 marked a rite of passage for District 58 eighth-graders, as Herrick and O'Neill held promotion ceremonies to mark the end of their time in District 58 and wish them well in high school.


A representative from American Legion Post #80 presented the annual American Legion Award to Troy McDonald Shumaker and Callagan Thomas at Herrick, and to Madison Demos and Benjamin Lynch at O'Neill.


Both schools also presented awards for citizenship and involvement.


The recipients of this year's Pride of O'Neill awards were Anna Buie and Calvin Herion. The recipients of this year's Barb Blumenschein awards at Herrick were Miles Christensen, Abigail Swanson, Taylor Horowitz and Brandon McCartney. 


Herrick also presented the Paul C. Zaander Scholarship in honor of District 58's former superintendent, given to a high-school senior who has demonstrated high levels of school-community involvement, plans to go into the field of education, and attended one of the District 58 elementary schools that feed into Herrick. This year's Paul C. Zaander Scholarship winner was Anna Burton. The winner of this year's Herrick Faculty Scholarship was Micah Pfotenhauer.   


 Hit "play" above or click here to check out some of our eighth-graders sharing with Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli what they are most looking forward to about high school! 

District bids fond farewell to more than two dozen retirees

District 58 bid a fond farewell to more than two dozen retirees this school year, with a total of 600+ combined years of service. This year's retirees, along with years of service, are:
  • Joanne Fiene, fifth grade teacher, Hillcrest, 41 years
  • Janice Baum, resource teacher, O'Neill Middle School, 36 years
  • Glen Sorgatz, music teacher, O'Neill Middle School, 33 years
  • Rich Kasper, night custodian, Lester, 30 years 
  • Jeanne Smith, P.E. teacher, Henry Puffer/Whittier, 27 years
  • Christine Gregoire, LRC teacher, Whittier, 26 years
  • Patricia Brown, P.E. teacher, Lester, 25 years
  • Debra Truskey, speech therapist, Indian Trail/Highland, 24 years
  • Elaine Crawford, fourth grade teacher, Whittier, 23 years
  • Nancy Babel, sixth grade teacher, Hillcrest, 22 years
  • Kathy Pauss, personnel secretary, ASC, 22 years
  • Nancy Schneider, third grade teacher, Indian Trail, 22 years
  • Laura Brennan, fourth grade teacher, Lester, 21 years
  • Mary Eagan, second grade teacher, Pierce Downer, 21 years
  • Julianne Haeger, kindergarten teacher, El Sierra, 21 years
  • Kathy Hebert, resource teacher, Whittier, 21 years
  • Patti Tully, resource teacher, Lester, 21 years
  • Sandra Bruns, first grade teacher, Kingsley, 20 years
  • Nancy Herkes, social worker, El Sierra/Highland, 20 years
  • MaryAnn Staroscik, curriculum secretary, ASC/Longfellow, 19 years (retired in December 2013) 
  • Cindy Szwed, ELL teacher, El Sierra, 17 years
  • Ginny Lauterbach, gifted teacher, Whittier/Herrick/O'Neill, 16 years
  • Donna Amidon, second grade teacher, Hillcrest, 15 years
  • Susan Cantore, instructional assistant, Lester, 15 years
  • Pat MacIntosh, P.E. teacher, Fairmount/Hillcrest, 13 years
  • Terrence Martin, Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, 10 years
  • Jean McJoynt, kindergarten teacher, Pierce Downer, 10 years
  • Lucille Carney, principal, El Sierra, 9 years
Hillcrest teacher honored with
PTA Life Achievement Award

Hillcrest students, staff and families gathered on the blacktop after school on June 5 to honor their three retirees: fifth-grade teacher Joanne Fiene with 41 years of service, sixth-grade teacher Nancy Babel with 22 years of service, and second-grade teacher Donna Amidon with 15 years of service. The PTA purchased a Buddy Bench in their honor, so their legacy of helping children grow socially and emotionally, as well as academically, will continue.

The PTA then had another surprise, presenting Fiene with a PTA Life Achievement Award for her 41 years of service as PTA faculty advisor, as well as her tireless work in planning and volunteering for events.

"You have been a true champion of the Hillcrest PTA," said Downers Grove PTA Council President Kim Costello, also a past president of the Hillcrest PTA.
District 58 approves new four-year contracts with DGEEA, DGCMA

The District 58 Board of Education ratified new four-year contracts with the Downers Grove Elementary Education Association and the Downers Grove Custodial Maintenance Association June 9.

"We are pleased that in both cases, our negotiating teams could work together collaboratively to reach an agreement that is fair and equitable for all parties involved," said Dr. Kari Cremascoli, Superintendent of District 58. "Balancing the needs of our district, our district employees and our financial limitations can be a challenge, and I am proud that we were able to find a compromise that satisfies our employees and maintains the District's fiscally responsible ideals."

The DGEEA represents more than 330 certified staff members, including teachers, nurses, counselors and social workers.

The DGCMA represents the District's full-time and part-time custodial, maintenance and pony driver employees.

Two new assistant principals appointed

District 58 has appointed two new assistant principals to its administrative team.  


Melissa Capizzi has been appointed assistant principal at Hillcrest and Pierce  Downer, and Amy Gray has been appointed assistant principal for Herrick Middle School. Both appointments were approved by the District 58 Board of Education June 9.


Capizzi is finishing her third year as an assistant principal in Mount Prospect, and prior to that she was a resource teacher in  Evanston for nine years. She spent her first year teaching second grade in Chicago Public Schools.


Gray comes to Herrick from Stratford Middle School in District 93 where she  has served as the assistant principal for the past two years.  Prior to that Gray taught social studies and language arts at Simmons Middle School in District 131.  


Click here for the full story!

Conversations with Dr. C.


Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli has been visiting with students throughout District 58 to discover more about their journey of learning and growth. Last month her travels took her to our two middle schools, where she talked with students about a variety of topics. She learned what they enjoy most about their school and what advice they would give to incoming sixth-grade students, and discovered what our eighth-graders are most excited about when they think about attending high school next year. Click the links below to check out the new videos! 

Advice for sixth graders 
Favorite thing about their school 
Visit our YouTube channel,, to check out the other videos in our Conversations with Dr. C. series!   

District 58 continues with planned facilities projects


  District 58's ongoing facilities improvement plans continue to ensure safe, nurturing, child-centered environments for all students, while also protecting the community's investment in the District's buildings.


Capital projects completed during summer 2013 and targeted for completion in 2014 include much-needed asbestos abatement, carpet/tile replacement, asphalt projects, fire alarm and HVAC upgrades and security upgrades to buildings throughout the District, as well as a three-classroom addition. The District received two $50,000 state grants to help pay for fire alarm upgrades at the middle schools. The capital projects are the result of years of careful planning and needs assessments, and have contributed substantially to addressing the highest priority needs identified within a comprehensive facilities study by Wight and Co. The District also has completed some minor renovations at the Administrative Service Center and Longfellow Center, and continues to explore options for the highest and best use of both buildings.


"The projects completed in our District over the past two years and planned for the upcoming summer have addressed many of the highest priority needs of our facilities, as well as many of the projects that had been deferred due to budget constraints previously," said Superintendent Kari Cremascoli. "We are in a very good position now with regard to the overall condition of our facilities. The key at this point will be to continue to carefully plan for ongoing maintenance and facility projects in ways that ensure the safety and well-being of our students while protecting the community's investment in the District's buildings for the future."


Projects planned for this summer include:

  • Replace old carpet with new floor tile in classrooms at Herrick, Highland and Whittier 
  • Replace rooftop HVAC units at Belle Aire, El Sierra, Henry Puffer and Herrick 
  • Install new fire alarm systems at nine schools, and new kitchen fire doors at Herrick and O'Neill 
  • Install new boilers at Henry Puffer School
  • Install new gym ventilation unit and three new classroom unit heaters, and tuckpoint two masonry walls at Whittier
By the end of this summer, District 58 will have spent approximately $23 million over the last seven years on its facilities, $15 million of which came from Life Safety bond issues in 2010 and in 2013.

Around the District

DLP students have fun at annual end-of-year picnic


Students in the intermediate and middle school Developmental Learning Program at Hillcrest and O'Neill Middle School had a blast at their end-of-year picnic at McCollum Park May 28.

They enjoyed delicious food and played games, including basketball and sand volleyball.


Indian Trail students learn new skills during Community Day 


Students at Indian Trail School got to try a variety of activities and experiences -- and learn some new skills -- during a recent Community Day event, during which representatives from various area organizations and businesses visited the school to teach sessions such as yoga, music, basketball (with District 58 Superintendent Kari Cremascoli!), photography and police work.



OMS hosts first-ever color run


O'Neill Middle School students and staff, as well as incoming seventh-graders, got a blast of color May 30 during the school's first color run. The event was hosted to welcome the new seventh-graders and say farewell to the eighth-graders. Participants wore white shirts and were showered with colored powder at various points during the run, with dramatic and eye-catching effect.

Puffer raises funds for American Heart Association  

in honor of retiring teacher


The Henry Puffer student council's annual walk/run not only raised $1,365 for the American Heart Association, it also honored P.E. teacher Jeanne Smith, who is retiring in June after 27 years of service to Puffer.   


During the walk/run, which took place after school May 23, Mary Lou Torrison from the American Heart Association presented Jeanne with a plaque for her years of dedication to raising money for the AHA at Puffer and at Whittier, where she also teaches P.E.


Two Puffer students -- first-grader Zander Yee and fifth-grader Stephen Majkrzak -- have both had heart surgery in the past, and they served as Heart Ambassadors for the event.



Service to Humane Society nets 

Indian Trail Girl Scouts top award


On May 28, Indian Trail Girl Scout Troop #51299 earned the Bronze Award, the highest award that a Girl Scout Junior can earn.    


The girls completed a number of volunteer activities to support the West Suburban Humane Society, including decorating adoption folders, making dog and cat toys, volunteering time and sponsoring a successful donation drive to collect items that the animals need.


The members of this fifth grade troop have been very active in community service since kindergarten.


Butterfly garden sprouting at Lester School


Lester School will soon be home to some fluttering friends, thanks to the efforts of the third grade Brownie troop.


As their service project for the Wonders of Water Journey badge series, the girls spent May 31 creating a butterfly garden on the north side of the school. The Downers Grove Organic Garden Club provided volunteer guidance on which native plants attract butterflies, gave the troop some of their own plants, and donated $100 to help the troop purchase additional plants. The troop, led by Christina Konieczka, also is working with Heather Neil, head of the Lester PTA Gardening Committee.


Because the space is so large and it is a bit late in the planting season for certain plants, the troop left room for another stage of planting.  However, they did mulch the area after planting, both to conserve water while keeping the new plants moist and to prevent weeds from overtaking the garden.


Puffer LRC teacher receives book grant

Henry Puffer LRC teacher Gwen Box was awarded a grant from the School Library Media Association for a complete hardcover set of the 2014-15 Monarch Award nominee books, valued at several hundred dollars!


Lester PTA surprises staff with washroom revamp


In addition to door decorating, lunches, breakfasts, poems and other celebrations, the Lester PTA Teacher Appreciation Team also had another surprise in store for staff this year: a complete redecoration of their two washrooms! 


"They were dated, so the Teacher Appreciation Team took it on to make it a little nicer for them. The teachers have loved it!" said PTA President Ann Cummins.  


The people in charge of the washroom re-do were Amy Landman, Kisa Kaiser and Janet Reynolds, along with donated help from Lester dad Adam Barry and his painting crew.   


D58 students exchange letters with Japanese pen pals


Students at Belle Aire and Fairmount exchanged letters this spring with seventh-grade students at Sashiki Junior High School in Okinawa, Japan. Kelly Farrow, who was the LRC teacher at Fairmount School, is teaching at Sashiki this year, and her students wrote to the District 58 students as a year-end project to use the English skills they had been working on. 


"They decorated their letters with pictures of themselves and their friends and were very excited to know that these letters were going to real kids across the world instead of only to their teachers," Farrow said.


The recipients in the U.S. represented a wide range of ages and grade levels, and they wrote back to the Japanese students with enthusiasm, answering their questions and posing some of their own. The American students also included pictures, drawings, and information about themselves and their daily lives in the United States.


"When the Japanese students received their replies, many of them asked about trying to start a regular correspondence. We hope this letter-writing assignment grows into some inspiring international relationships!" Farrow said.
Board news 

During their June 9 meeting, the District 58 Board of Education:
  • Was led in the flag salute by representatives from the Belle Aire School student council
  • Heard from Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli a preview of the work that will be accomplished in District 58 over the summer, including facilities improvements, curriculum projects and educational opportunities for students, staff and parents
  • Formally recognized those students who served as Safety Patrols at their schools during the 2013-14 school year, as well as those students who earned Presidential Academic Fitness Awards, Illinois Math League Awards and Citizenship Awards.

  • Heard from Dr. Matt Rich, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, the third and final update for 2013-14 regarding students' academic achievement and growth as assessed by the Measures of Academic Progress test. MAP is administered to K-8 students three times per year in Reading, Language Usage and Mathematics. This was the first school year in which all schools participated in MAP, and Dr. Rich reported that student growth over the course of the year was higher than expected.

  • Heard from Controller James Popernik that District 58 received the first $14 million in early taxes from the 2014 levy last week, and anticipates receiving another $11 to $12 million on June 15. Popernik also reported that a bill currently under discussion to shift state aid to districts with more high-needs students would result in a loss of approximately $2 million for District 58.

  • Approved proceeding with plans to fundraise, purchase and install a handicapped accessible/full inclusive playground at Hillcrest as presented by Margaret Chaidez per plans and specifications provided.

  • Approved a resolution ascertaining prevailing rate of wages for laborers, workers and mechanics employed on public works of District 58, that the resolution be filed with the Secretary of State and the Department of Labor of the State of Illinois, and that a notice of the resolution be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area.

  • Approved the second year renewal contract for food service management with Aramark for the 2014-15 school year for the estimated cost of $415,000.

  • Awarded the bid for custodial supplies for the 2014-15 school year to Ramrod Distributors for $75,991.80 and Metro Professional for $33,586.76

  • Rejected all bids received for ink cartridges, drums and printheads; the purchase will be rebid with revised language.

  • Rejected all bids received for 2,300 iPad sleeves; the purchase will be rebid with revised language.

  • Awarded the bid for painting miscellaneous areas of six schools to the lowest responsible bidder, G.P. Maintenance, for the cost of $38,500

  • Awarded the bid for the Whittier masonry repair project to the low bidder meeting all specifications, Southwest Masonry, Inc., for the cost of $49,500

  • Approved the resolution transferring interest earned in the amount of $18,235 from the Working Cash Fund to the Sinking Fund

  • Approved various property and liability insurance coverages for 2014-15, with premiums totaling $385,030, as well as a separate Corporate Identity Protection Policy for $6,102

  • Adopted revisions to Policy #8244 regarding determining agenda

  • Adopted the resolution regarding Honorable Dismissal of Educational Support Personnel Employees

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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.




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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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