Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 6 Issue 3
Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014
Where the wild things are:
Sixth graders explore Camp Ed

A sixth grader catches his very first fish. It's huge!


When one says "fall," what images come to mind? Depending on who you ask, one may imagine pleasant weather, football games, pumpkin spice lattes, or, in the case of many District 58 teachers, Camp Edwards.

Each fall, District 58's sixth graders go away to Camp Edwards for a few days to learn more about nature and themselves.

"Camp Edwards is a unique and special opportunity for sixth grade students in our district," said Kate Salsbury, sixth grade teacher at Lester. "It is so impactful to learn about nature while being immersed in a natural setting. It also provides important opportunities for students to challenge themselves personally."

This year, sixth graders learned about the pinewood forest, marsh area, prairie and hardwood forest.

"Camp Edwards offers the students an opportunity for fantastic hands-on learning. They can feel the cattails, smell the pine forest, hear the prairie grasses rustling," said Ericka Zagorski, sixth grade teacher at Whittier. "Unprompted, students said, 'This is the BEST way to learn, right in the middle of what we are learning about.'"

They also learned how to fish, climb, balance and even shoot a bow and arrow during recreation.

"My favorite memory is when one of my students who had never fished prior to camp caught a fish," said Patricia Miller, sixth grade teacher at Belle Aire. "You could hear his shouts of excitement across the campgrounds! The pure joy and excitement of it was awesome!"

The students observed wildlife they normally wouldn't find in Downers Grove. Some lucky campers even woke up early to watch the lunar eclipse.

"We saw tree frogs, wild turkeys, caterpillars and even snakes," said Jen Barnick, sixth grade teacher at Belle Aire.

Some of the Camp Edwards trips experienced rain, but the campers made the best of it.

"My favorite moment of camp this year was the indoor campfire," said El Sierra Principal Jason Lynde. "Students, parents and staff enjoyed singing songs, listening to stories and watching skits."

Beyond learning about nature, Camp Edwards also helps sixth graders develop social relationships.

"It was great to see the sixth graders from both El Sierra and Fairmount form friendships," Lynde said. "This is important because both sixth grade classes will attend O'Neill next fall.  As we left camp, one of our students on our bus yelled to the students on the Fairmount bus, 'See you in middle school!'"

Even the teachers take something away from the camp.

"Every year that we have taken students to camp, we, as teachers, come away with a much different and better understanding of our students as a whole.  We may be tired when we're done, but it's worth it!" Salsbury said.


View more photos from Camp Edwards here!

Education Foundation awards nearly $28,000 in grants to support creative, innovative ideas
(L-R) Karen Ryan, Emily Anzelmo, Mallory Wielgolewski, Lindsey Shinnick, Christa Valkanos and Cindy Gates tell their students that the Education Foundation will provide $600 to support new lunch and recess activities. This will help small groups of students build relationships and improve social skills.

To inspire classroom ingenuity, the Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 annually awards grants to teachers who have a good idea with a solid plan, but lack the funding. This year, the Foundation will award $27,898 to 16 teachers and groups of teachers. 


"The Education Foundation's grant program provides teachers an excellent opportunity to brainstorm creative and innovative ideas to enhance their students' education and gives them the tools needed to make their ideas a reality," said Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli. "On behalf of all teachers and students who benefit from this grant program, I thank the Education Foundation for their continued generosity and support."

This year, projects range from dynamic classroom libraries to tools that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.

"We were very impressed with the thought and time every teacher put into their grant application," said Downers Grove Commissioner David Olsen, who also chairs the Foundation's grants committee. "We are proud to support the selected grant recipients, and we look forward to seeing the end results."


Read a summary of all 16 projects here. Throughout the school year, Communicate 58 will occasionally feature an Education Foundation grant project's progress. 


Thank you, Education Foundation, for your continued generosity!


District 58 celebrates International Walk to School Day!

The sidewalks surrounding Fairmount School were filled with kids and parents as they walked, biked and skateboarded to school Oct. 8.

Many District 58 schools, including Fairmount and Pierce Downer, participated in International Walk to School Day on Oct. 7-8.

"We are so very fortunate in District 58 that walking to school is part of the regular daily routine for many of our children and families," said Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli. "This demonstrates yet another fine example of how supportive our community and our families are of our neighborhood schools."

Pierce Downer celebrates International Walk to School Day by awarding the classroom with the highest percentage of walkers the "Golden Sneaker Award." 

International Walk to School Day annually takes place in early October to encourage walkable communities and all forms of active transportation.

Pierce Downer celebrated Walk to School Day on Oct. 7. A school tradition, the class with the highest percentage of walkers receives the very special "Golden Sneaker Award."

Ms. Balagtas' fifth grade class won the Golden Sneaker Award this year with 95 percent of her students walking to school!


The award is indeed a golden sneaker - or an older sneaker with gold spray paint, but it does the trick nicely.


This year, the award went to Ms. Christine Balagtas' fifth grade 

class. An impressive 95 percent of her students walked to school!

Meanwhile, Fairmount School participated in Walk to School Day on Oct. 8. Fairmount parent and PTA member Heather Horonzy organized the event.

"We're seeing a great turnout," Horonzy said. "Lots of families are walking their kids to school. I haven't seen many cars dropping off kids either."


View more photos from International Walk to School Day!

School spotlight
Belle Aire kids create movies during Apple field trip
Belle Aire third graders show off the wristlet flash drives they received while at the Apple Store field trip Oct. 8.

Tara Fulton's third grade class returned from their field trip last week bursting with joy.


"This was the best field trip ever! Apple's the best!" several of the Belle Aire students exclaimed to Principal Brent Borchelt as they walked through the school's doors.


But the kids weren't talking about apple picking. Or apple orchards. Or any traditional apple fall field trip. No, this was instead an Apple field trip.


Fulton said the idea for an Apple Store field trip came to her a year ago.


"I was brainstorming innovative field trip ideas for the kids," she said. "I wanted something that would connect technology back to the classroom and to home."


Since she was piloting 1:1 at the time, a field trip to Apple made sense. She gave the Apple Store a call, and they told her they host school workshops, but were booked until fall 2014. She scheduled the next three available workshops for Belle Aire's third and fourth graders.


Prior to the field trip, Apple worked with Fulton to tailor a lesson plan for her kids.


"I wanted something creative, so we decided to teach the kids how to make an iMovie," Fulton said. "Ahead of time, I told the kids to take video of their weekend to use at the workshop."


When Fulton's third graders arrived at the Apple Store, staff gave them a T-shirt and wristlet flash drive. Since many of them already knew video basics, Apple staff taught the kids how to incorporate sounds, transitions and other video editing tools to enhance their movies. The kids then used those new skills to make a movie depicting their weekend.


"It was nice that the kids could take home more than a memory, but new skills and their movie creation as well," Fulton said.


Fulton recalled how one student finished his iMovie early.


"I told him to create an on-the-spot movie highlighting the field trip," Fulton said. "And he did! It was great to see our kids demonstrate what they learned on the field trip so quickly."


After the trip ended, Apple asked Fulton for ideas to make it better for the future.


"The field trip was a unique opportunity and a cool way for Apple to work with our kids," Principal Borchelt said.


"I'd recommend this field trip to any class," Fulton added. "It was a motivating experience for the kids. They had a sense of pride; it wasn't just a visit, but a sense of completion. They had a chance to share their learning with an audience."


View more photos from the Apple field trip!

Rep. Sandack hangs out with Kingsley teachers and students while 'Principal for the Day'


Rep. Ron Sandack asks Kingsley fourth graders about state government. They're a sharp bunch! They even answered his tricky questions correctly!

Kingsley Elementary welcomed a very special guest on Friday, Oct. 3. Rep. Ron Sandack visited the Downers Grove District 58 school as its 'Principal for the Day'.

"We are thrilled to have Rep. Sandack join the Kingsley team today," said Principal Mark Stange.

Rep. Sandack started his busy day as principal by meeting with Principal Stange, Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli, Assistant Principal Elynn Cunningham, PTA President Gail Scherquist and PTA Vice President Shannon McBrien.  The small group discussed ways parents can be more informed and involved with issues regarding education and policy today. He then met with teachers and staff in the faculty lounge. He was asked questions about issues currently affecting teachers and families: Senate Bill 16, Common Core, school testing and more.

"As educators, you see first hand how legislation affects your students," Rep. Sandack told the teachers. "Your insights are incredibly valuable to me."

As the first period bell sounded, Rep. Sandack headed over to Mrs. Sombeck's kindergarten classroom. Along with his kindergarten helpers, he led the daily school PA announcements and Pledge of Allegiance.

Next, Rep. Sandack met with fourth graders, who are studying government. He told them the different types of work he does as a state representative, explained how bills become laws, and shared a lesson on voting. 

"Here's the most important lesson to take from today: when you become eligible to vote, do so. We all need to be active citizens in our community," he said. "Engage. Participate! Life happens, be a participant in it." 

Read the rest of the story and view the photo gallery.

Can you dig it? Puffer Earth Club and Principal McDaniel plant trees


Henry Puffer's Earth Club and Principal McDaniel plant 4 trees!
The Henry Puffer Earth Club stayed after school Oct. 8 to help Principal McDaniel and a few teachers plant four trees. This short video captures highlights from it.

The Henry Puffer Earth Club got dirty Oct. 8, as they planted four new trees outside their school. The group comprised about 30 kids, ranging from kindergartners to sixth graders.

The kindergartners were especially excited about the trees. Not only did they help plant them, they also had fun playing in the dirt (much to their parents chagrin, no doubt!). Still though, the kindergartners proved they knew quite a bit about trees when asked what they liked most about planting trees.

"They have weeds and they grow! The weeds suck up water!" exclaimed one kindergartner. 

After the group finished the majority of the planting, Principal Todd McDaniel appeared with a new tree. Three Earth Club members were selected to help him plant it.  

One of his helpers, a sixth grader, reflected on the activity and explained why it's important to plant trees.

"It's because it takes the carbon dioxide we breathe out and turns it into oxygen," he said.

Herrick and O'Neill girls' volleyball play crosstown game Oct. 9


Herrick vs ONeill Volleyball October 2014
This 1-minute video captures highlights from the Oct. 9 volleyball game between Herrick and O'Neill middle schools. Herrick seventh graders and O'Neill eighth grades each won their games in two sets.

Herrick and O'Neill's volleyball players gave it their all when they played each other Oct. 9, 2014. Fans from both sides of Downers Grove packed the bleachers and cheered for the Spartans and Senators.

Seventh grade girls played first. Herrick held onto an early lead, winning 25-14. During the second set, Herrick once again took control quickly, leading by double digits! O'Neill worked hard to come back....closing the gap to 12-19. They continued their rally, and soon trailed by only 3 points! Alas, it was too late, and Herrick finished the game winning 25-20.

The eighth graders played next. Tied for first place, the rivals each were motivated to win! Despite hustles from both sides of the court, O'Neill still won the first set handily, 25-11. As the second set started, Herrick made it clear they wanted to win -- they started strong and were up against O'Neill 6-0. Not to be outsmarted, O'Neill rallied back, tying the game 6-6. The game stayed tight, as both sides consistently played together. Herrick was leading 18-15 when O'Neill hustled back to take over 21-19. A final push gave O'Neill the game, winning 25-19.

Coaches from both teams alike said their players have grown tremendously over the volleyball season, especially with their skills, teamwork and dedication.

"The girls have an obvious love for the game," said Bev West, O'Neill seventh grade girls' volleyball coach. "When I pull into the parking lot at 6:20 for a 6:30 a.m. practice, often there are already one or two cars waiting for me."

Watch these videos to see the highlights, or view the photo gallery here.

O'Neill vs Herrick 8th grade girls' volleyball, Oct. 10, 2014
This 30-second video shows one rally between O'Neill and Herrick eighth graders. They look polished, don't they?
Lester's Running of the Leopards raises record-breaking $13,000


A couple Lester Leopards recognize a familiar face while running.

While thousands of runners converged in Chicago for the marathon Oct. 12, the Lester community broke a record while hosting their own race, the fifth annual Running of the Leopards 5K Fun Run and Walk. 

This year, the Running of the Leopards raised a record-breaking $13,000! This funding will directly benefit Lester School through PTA programs, such as field trips, gym equipment, books and more.

Among the 366 race participants included Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully and Rep. Ron Sandack. The race began with a 1-mile kids run around the neighborhood, followed by a 5K family run/walk. For the first time, the races used chip-timed bibs.

The weather also helped make the event a success.

"Mother Nature was on our side; the crisp fall weather and colors lent to a beautiful backdrop for a morning run!" said Kristin Novak, the PTA co-chair for the race.

Lester boys show off their trophies.

 After the race, an award ceremony with refreshments and door prize giveaways took place.

"Lester Fun Run is one of our favorite Lester community events," Novak said. "The children look forward to running, awards, dancing and fun! Our families enjoy the opportunity to gather in support of our incredible school, students and community. All the while promoting a healthy lifestyle!"

Check out photos from the event here!

Board news
The Board of Education toured Henry Puffer and Herrick schools Sept. 22, held a Policy Committee meeting Sept. 23, held a Financial Advisory Committee meeting Oct. 6 and held a Legislative Committee meeting Oct. 15.

Additionally, the Board held its regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at Longfellow. Topics discussed included:
  • Flag salute by the Indian Trail School Student Council
  • Spotlight on our Schools presentation by Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Matt Rich on "Formative Assessment and Differentiated Learning Opportunities"
  • Superintendent's Report by Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli
  • Treasurer's Report by Controller Dr. James Popernik
  • Reports from the Policy Committee and Financial Advisory Committee
  • Discussion on the tentative 2014 tax levy
For a complete synopsis of the meeting, please view the Board Briefs online.
Community spotlight



Rexnord, an industrial company, recently donated a box full of school supplies to District 58. These backpacks, notebooks, crayons, glue sticks and more will be given to students in need. Thank you very much for your generosity, Rexnord!


Community e-flyers
E-flyer logo
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.



Education Foundation presents Digital Citizenship: Making Safe, Respectful and Responsible Choices in a Digital World, Nov. 1


Center for the Gifted/Midwest Torrance Center for Creativity Fall and Winter Program Guide 


Community Fall Fest, Oct. 17


Babysitting Clinic, presented by the DG Junior Women's Club, Nov. 15 


Free Kindergarten Kickers event, presented by DG Roadrunners, Nov. 14 


Stuff for the Poor: Used Shoe Donations 


Downers Grove South Halloween Fun Fair, Oct. 30 


DG Dragons Fall Baseball Camp, starts Nov. 2 


Downtown Downers Grove Spooktacular Week, Oct. 24-26 


El Sierra Market Day Bonus Days 


FROG Fall Speaker Series, starts Nov. 1 


Halloween Fest, presented by Midwestern University's Wellness Center, Oct. 24


Lester Winter Resale, Oct. 24-25 


Lisle Lions Club Family Game Night, Nov. 7 


O'Neill PTA Wine Tasting, Oct. 17 


Brush with Fun!, presented by the Rotary Club, Oct. 25  

  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 Community Relations Coordinator Megan Hewitt at or 630-719-5805. 
In this issue
Where the wild things are:...Sixth graders explore Camp Ed
Education Foundation awards teachers more than $28,000
District 58 celebrates International Walk to School Day!
Belle Aire kids create movies during Apple field trip
Rep. Sandack hangs out with Kingsley teachers and students while 'Principal for the Day'
Can you dig it? Puffer Earth Club and Principal McDaniel plant trees
Herrick and O'Neill girls' volleyball play crosstown game Oct. 9
Lester's Running of the Leopards raises record-breaking $13,000
Board news
Community spotlight
Community e-flyers
Share your Halloween pix!

What's thbest or cleverest costume you or your child ever wore?

Email a photo and brief description to by Oct. 27 to be featured in the next issue of Communicate58!


District 58 on social media

Like us on Facebook Follow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube

Follow #dg58learns on Twitter to come along with us on our journey of learning!


Looking ahead

Thursday, Oct. 23

- BOE Coffee with Staff and Building Tour, 7 a.m., at Whittier
- Fall Orchestra Festival, 7 p.m., Downers Grove South

Oct. 23-24
- Lester Clothing Resale

Monday, Oct. 27
- Curriculum Workshop, 7 p.m., at Longfellow

Oct. 27-31
- Red Ribbon Week

Tuesday, Oct. 28
- Policy Committee Meeting, 7 a.m., ASC

Wednesday, Oct. 29
- Title I Parent Meeting, 6 p.m., Highland School

- Parent Tech Workshop, 6:30 p.m., Highland School

- Parent Learning Assessment Report Overview, 7:30 p.m, Highland School

Friday, Oct. 31
Halloween school parties

View the entire 2014-2015 calendar.

Quick Links