Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 6 Issue 5
Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014
Congrats! District 58 named an Apple Distinguished Program 
District 58 staff celebrate this accomplishment during the recent Nov. 10 teacher institute.


Apple recently named District 58 as an Apple Distinguished Program!

This prestigious designation recognizes the district's successes as an innovative and engaging learning environment that provides tangible evidence of academic accomplishment through innovative teaching and learning, visionary leadership, ongoing professional learning and compelling evidence of success.

This recognition is most often awarded to a single school, not an entire district. This is a huge accomplishment for District 58, and is truly a testament to the incredible partnership, collaboration and hard work of our teachers, staff, students, parents and community as a whole! Congrats!

New biliteracy class amazes staff
District 58's new biliteracy program has helped 20 English language learners excel in both Spanish and English, thanks to teacher Maria Ibarra Lorence's leadership. View this fun video to learn more!
District 58's new biliteracy program has taken off!! These 20 kindergartners and first graders have learned an incredible amount of English and Spanish since starting this school year. View this video to learn more!

To better prepare English Language Learners for success, District 58 opened its first ever biliteracy classroom this year. The class is housed at El Sierra School and serves 11 kindergartners and nine first graders from across the district.

The program provides guided instruction using a biliteracy framework. A typical lesson begins with content instruction in Spanish, and then the teacher, Maria Ibarra Lorence, introduces English vocabulary. Studies show that this framework well-prepares students for academic success.

Biliteracy teacher Maria Ibarra Lorence poses with a student and the Leafman drawing her student created.

"After we work awhile in Spanish, I put on my Magic Scarf, which signals that it's time to transition from Spanish learning to biliteracy learning," Ibarra Lorence says. "During biliteracy learning, we use mostly English. I'll only use Spanish if the students are stuck."

Ibarra Lorence teaches the children catchy songs in English and Spanish to help with word retention and sequencing. She reviews English newspaper stories in Spanish with students. This helps them improve language skills and learn important current events. She also includes an English language goal in each subject.

"For example, in science class, each student must speak at least one sentence regarding a plant's life cycle in English. These kids are invested and actively involved in both languages!" Ibarra Lorence explained. 

When the class works together, Ibarra Lorence mostly uses the first grade curriculum, even though more than half the class is in kindergarten. She believes her students are up for the challenge. However, Ibarra Lorence breaks her students into four "centers of learning" for an hour each day. During this time, they receive guided learning in reading and math at their linguistic and academic level.

"It's amazing to seeing how much learning is going on in the classroom. I

Maria Ibarra Lorence's biliteracy students.

love visiting the class. The students are so excited and eager to share what they're doing," said El Sierra Principal Jason Lynde.

Lynde added that because it's a district-wide program, most of its students do not live in El Sierra's boundaries.

"We try to recreate the experience of a neighborhood school for the program. Maria has reached out to the families, and we have regular parent volunteers in the classroom," Lynde said. "It's been a very good and positive experience."


Ibarra Lorence said she appreciates the support she's received from Lynde and Dr. Matt Rich, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, who helped design the program.

"Mr. Lynde and Dr. Rich are very receptive to the program; it's very refreshing! It's wonderful to work with them," Ibarra Lorence said.


In addition to opening a bi-literacy program, District 58 also added additional supports to its ELL programming. These efforts helped District 58 keep in compliance with state requirements in supporting English Language Learners.


View more photos here!

It's American Education Week!
Give thanks with a Green Apple


Melissa Swallows, Faimount third grade teacher, accepts a Green Apple award.

It's a busy time of year! 

American Education Week takes place Nov. 16-22, followed quickly by Thanksgiving. In the spirit of the season, the Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 invites families to give thanks to a special teacher or staff member with a donation to its Green Apple Teacher/Staff Recognition Program.

With each donation you make, the Education Foundation will send a specially designed Green Apple card to the teacher or employee you recognize, with a custom message from you.


"Every day District 58 teachers inspire and challenge their students to greatness," said Melissa Nuttall, Education Foundation board member and District 58 parent. "I encourage everyone to honor those teachers with a Green Apple Award."


Your donation will directly support District 58's students and staff through the Foundation's annual teacher grant program, which funds innovative programs in the classroom. This year, the District 58 Education Foundation awarded nearly $28,000 in grant funds to District 58 teachers!


Donations are accepted on an ongoing basis. Green Apple recipients will be notified of your donation within seven to 10 days.


Donations may be sent by check using the attached form or with PayPal online at All donations are tax-deductible. Please send questions to


Thank you for supporting the District 58 Education Foundation!


American Education Week annually encourages Americans to celebrate public education and the most influential teachers and staff members in their children's lives. Please consider celebrating this special week with a Green Apple Award for a favorite teacher!

In a snow daze? We'll let you know if school gets canceled

Brrr! It's getting cold outside! When hazardous weather conditions prompt District 58 to cancel school, district staff will use several tools to notify teachers, parents and community members.

District 58 uses School Messenger, our automated calling system, to alert parents of school closings. District 58 also offers parents the option to receive a text message, in addition to a phone call and email, in the event of a school closure. To opt in, simply text YES to 68453.  

District 58 also posts information online at, and places a message on the district's answering machine, which can be accessed by calling 630-719-5800. The district will also notify the following radio/TV stations: WBBM (780), WGN (720), CBS Ch 2, NBC Ch 5, ABC Ch 7, WGH Ch 9, FOX 32, and CLTV.

Teachers and parents may also check the status of the district or their school by visiting

Get ready for winter with these safety tips and reminders:

  • In Downers Grove, parking on streets is prohibited between 9 p.m. solo-snowman.jpg
    and 6 a.m. when 3 or more inches of snow have fallen.  
  • It is against Downers Grove ordinance to shovel, place or blow snow or ice onto the street, sidewalk or any right-of-way.
  • Please be a good neighbor and shovel your sidewalk and any nearby fire hydrants, if you are able.   
  • Please keep fire hydrants accessible and shovel out an area around them, if you are able.
  • Avoid driving during snow events, but if you must go out, keep water and blankets or an extra coat in your car for warmth, and keep the gas tank full.
  • Make sure your vehicle has adequate tire tread to avoid getting stuck.
  • Keep children from playing in snow banks along the road. It's enticing-because the large piles of snow seem like a giant fort-but very dangerous; children may tumble onto the road in front of cars or snow plows.
  • Place a snow shovel in your trunk. You never know when you might need one during your travels.
  • Snow shoveling secrets! When shoveling the end of your driveway where it meets the road, also clear a 10-foot strip along the curb to the left (when facing the road) to avoid snow plows pushing it back across your driveway. Watch a helpful 41-second video describing this at
Register for the Science Fair!


District 58 students - engage your scientific minds! Register for the 34th Annual Science Fair now through Friday, Dec. 19. Register online at Enter "science" for the password. 


The Science Fair is open to all District 58 students in grades 1-8, as well as families in the Friends of the Gifted and Talented program who reside within District 58 boundaries. The fair will take place Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at O'Neill Middle School.


"Putting together a science fair project is a unique experience for our students," said Tony Coglianese, principal of Fairmount School. "The project is their own, the learning is their own. Not only does science come alive through hands-on learning, students also exercise a variety of skills associated with the scientific process, problem solving, time management and communication. During the fair, you cannot miss the sense of accomplishment and pride reflected in the faces of our young scientists."


Students may register as an individual or with a partner. If the partners are in two different grade levels, they must follow the rules of the older grade level. 


The District's Science Fair website provides project topic ideas, as well as grade-specific project instructions and judging requirements. All projects will comprise an exhibit, written report and oral report. Participants in grades 1-2 will be judged non-competitively and will all receive a participation ribbon. Students in grades 3-8 may choose to participate competitively or non-competitively. 


A team of two judges will objectively rate the Science Fair's competitive entries on their knowledge of topic, written report and exhibit. First, second and third place ribbons will be awarded. Seventh and eighth grade projects will be eligible for the Regional or State Science Fair based on merit.


Parents are encouraged to support their children and ensure they follow instructions correctly. However, the Science Fair is an independent project, and children are expected to complete all manipulations and measurements for their experiments, and to create all drawings and chart for their boards, without parent help.


For more information and to register, visit

Get holiday gifts for free (or almost free) at Puffer's Toy Swap


wooden-car-boy.jpg Do your children have lots of toys? Do you want to discard some of them? Are they in good shape? Would you like to purchase holiday toys for free or nearly free? Then you're in luck!


The Puffer Earth Club will host its fourth annual Toy Swap and Sale this weekend at Henry Puffer School, 2220 Haddow Ave. This event will offer the community a fabulous opportunity to exchange unwanted toys for new, gently-used toys. It's a win-win for all! The Toy Swap helps families save money on holiday gifts and breathes new life into toys otherwise destined for the landfill.


The Puffer Earth Club will accept toy donations Friday, Nov. 21 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. and from 6-7 p.m. Individuals will receive a ticket for each toy they donate.


The Toy Swap takes place Saturday, Nov. 22 from 9-10 a.m. Ticketholders may exchange each ticket for a 'new' toy. The event will transition to a Toy Sale open to the general public from 10-11 a.m. Any leftover toys from the swap will be available for purchase; everything is $1-$5. All proceeds will help fund the Puffer Earth Club's activities.


All donated items must be: chidren-opening-gifts.jpg

  • clean
  • complete (no missing parts)
  • appropriate for elementary school
  • in good working order
  • something another child would enjoy
  • gently used or new

Small items, such as Legos, must be securely packed in a closed plastic tub, Ziploc bag or a box with a lid.


Frequently donated items include, but are not limited to: puzzles, board games, legos, video games, baby toys, dolls, superhero figures, Barbies, Imaginext toys, cars/trucks, blocks, educational games and dollhouses.


Toys not accepted include: weapons, broken toys, dangerous items, mature movies or games, sporting equipment, stuffed animals and books. There is a separate Book Swap in the spring.


All swappers and shoppers must sign receipt-accepting responsibility for their items, releasing Puffer School and District 58 from any liability to toys/items acquired at the event.


All children who attend must be accompanied by an adult.

Bloom's Angels hosts
Family FUNdraiser Night


Enjoy a fun game of basketball while helping a good cause! Bloom's Angels will host a Family FUNdraiser Night during the Herrick versus Jefferson boys' basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Downers Grove North gym. Please park in the Main Street lot. 

Tickets cost $5/person or $15/family, and all proceeds will support Herrick families in need. Bloom's Angels will also collect new winter gloves, hats and socks at the event.

In addition to the basketball game, the Family FUNdraiser Night will feature a silent auction, concessions and choir, band and cheerleading performances. Silent auction prizes include Bulls tickets, Wolves tickets and jerseys signed by popular athletes, such as Brian Urlacher, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell.

Bloom's Angels comprises Herrick staff who raise funds to help Herrick families who are experiencing financial difficulties. The group is named after a former Herrick teacher, Barb Blumenschein, who passed away in 2005 of ovarian cancer. In the past several years, Bloom's Angels has collected and given back more than $20,000 to Herrick families in need.

Learn more by visiting and searching for "Bloom's Angels" or contact Co-founder Gail Pistello at 630-719-5810 or

Support Education Foundation when you use Amazon Smile

If you plan to shop on Amazon this holiday season, place your order on Amazon Smile, and Amazon will donate 0.5 percent to a charity of your choosing. Among the million eligible charities is the Downers Grove Education Foundation!

Learn more about Amazon Smile at 
School spotlight
Whittier's Variety Show rocks the Tivoli Theatre stage!
Whittier Variety Show 2014
This fun, one-minute video features highlights from the Nov. 15 Whittier Variety Show, which included 42 acts and more than 200 performers.

More than 200 Whittier students performed in front of a packed Tivoli Theatre audience at the school's annual Variety Show last weekend!


"Everyone puts in a ton of work to put on the show including the kids, parents and volunteers.  It is inspiring to work with these kids who are creative and kind and courageous. They are amazing!" said Melissa Rausch, a Whittier mom the Variety Show's director. 


The show featured dancers, singers, karate pros, rappers, gymnasts and many, many unique and creative costumes and ideas.


For example, one group of first grade boys dressed up as their favorite

In the skit, "My Big Invention," a group of first grade boys "came to life" as superheroes.

superheroes come to life. "Our skit is called 'My Big Invention.' It's a machine that makes small toys into big toys," explained Eli Mathieu, a first grader. "I play the big version of Nightshift from (the video game) Skylander."


Eli's mother, Amanda Mathieu, enjoyed helping out with her son's skit.


"The boys get to know each other and learn teamwork. It's a good opportunity for them to get comfortable being onstage," she said.


Likewise, Nancy DeLoach led a group of third grade boys who performed a skit called the "Saga's Alternate Ending," which depicted what could have happened if people were nice to Darth Vader.


"All of my kids have performed in the Whittier Variety Show over the years. It's nice for them to see performing as something that's normal and not scary," DeLoach said. "It gives them confidence. Using the Tivoli makes it an amazing experience. It's such a historic venue!"


A group of sixth graders emceed the show and provided backstage tech assistance.


Shannon Quinn has three children who attend Whittier - second, fourth and sixth graders. She volunteered backstage at the Variety Show, helping the stage crew set up each act.


"I enjoy all the excitement and seeing how much fun the kids have performing," Quinn said. "All the kids have something to do. If you don't like being on stage, you can be on the stage crew. It's great."

Lester gives a 'hand' to our vets
Two Lester students pose beside Lester's tribute to veterans.
Each November we take the time to honor our nation's veterans. This year, to commemorate Veterans Day, the Lester student community participated in a fun activity to "give a hand" and acknowledge our nation's veterans for their service to our country. 

"The school-wide activity was a great opportunity to have a discussion about the importance of Veterans Day and what veterans do and have done for us," said sixth grade teacher Marina Kasicki. 

The activity also allowed teachers and students to discuss the specific connection that the building has with Veterans Day. Lester School was erected in 1955, in memory of all Downers Grove servicemen who gave their lives for their country in World War II. It is named in recognition of Frederick F. Lester, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

To begin, every Lester student was given either a red or white construction paper hand and asked to write a message or draw a picture, thanking our veterans, stating why they are proud to be an American, or describing what freedom means to them.  

First grade student Owen Rausch used the activity to "thank our veterans for helping keep the United States safe." Sixth grader Ben Hallberg used the activity as a chance to "thank our veterans for protecting our country and loved ones."

As each class completed the activity in their respective rooms, the hands were returned to the main office, where they were then arranged to create the final product, an American Flag.  

"To see the flag and to know that our students participated in and understood the purpose for its creation, makes our school community proud," said Assistant Principal Adam Ubben.  

The finished American Flag will be on display for the parent community to see during the month of November.

Contributed by Adam Ubben, Lester assistant principal
Highland Families promotes social-emotional learning skills
Our Highland Family
Highland School's "Highland Families" program pairs students in cross-grade level groups to help build social-emotional learning skills.

Together We Can Shine! This marks the theme of this year's Highland Families program.

Highland School promotes social-emotional learning (SEL) skills through its Highland Family program. Students are placed in multi-age groups (first through sixth grade), and each are assigned a "parent." Students stay in the same "family" throughout their years at Highland, giving them an opportunity to grow with their group.

"We spend time together and do team-building activities and help students connect with other children across our school," said Dr. Judy Kmak, principal of Highland.

The families meet throughout the year, giving the students time to connect with children in other grade levels. Each time they meet, one student gets a time to shine, or, the opportunity to share what makes him or her special.

"Highland Families helps students build social skills with students across grade levels," Dr. Kmak said.

Watch this short video to see Highland Families in motion!

Congrats IMEA performers!

Congratulations to the Downers Grove Grade School District 58 middle-schoolers who participated in the Illinois Music Educators Association's (IMEA) District 1 Music Festival on Saturday, Nov. 8 at Lockport Township High School.

The festival features students selected by audition from schools throughout the southwest metropolitan Chicago area.

"Saturday's Festival was a remarkable day of music-making," said Georgann Grecco, Herrick choir director. "Since our students are combined with other young musicians from across the Chicagoland area, they are now a part of a greater community of musicians. Each group performed beautifully under the direction of the guest clinicians."

District 58 IMEA participants include:

Herrick Orchestra

Aleena Albert - Violin
Shelby Berghorst - Viola
Lucie Boyd - Viola
Rebecca Edmundson - Violin
Katie Lyda - Violin
Noah Maguigad - Violin
Parker McGuire - Violin
Paige Sadler - Violin


Herrick Choir

Alexis Adamo - Soprano
Billy Berberich - Tenor
Jake Harpur - Tenor
Maureen Kelliher - Soprano
Samantha Neveril - Soprano
Alexa Park - Soprano
Lauren Schenk - Soprano
Dana Scott - Alto


Herrick Band

Miles Teague - French Horn

Herrick Jazz Band

Josie Bondarowicz - Bass
Miles Teague - Piano

O'Neill Orchestra

Michael Beube - Violin
Therese Malinowski - Cello


O' Neill Band

Mackenzie Johnson - Flute 


O'Neill, Herrick celebrate many cross-country successes 


Last issue, Communicate 58 congratulated Herrick's seventh grade boys for clinching the cross country conference championship. It turns out that District 58's other cross country teams also excelled this year!

For example, O'Neill's eighth grade girls won the conference! In addition, O'Neill's seventh and eighth grade boys, and Herrick's seventh grade girls each placed an impressive second in conference. Congratulations!

O'Neill coach Barry Kincaid said that the team doesn't focus on their ranking, but instead on each runner's personal improvement and growth.



"On average, students improve between one minute to one and a half minutes on their personal times from the beginning of the season to the conference meet," Kincaid said. "This was a very successful season for all of our teams."

Herrick boys' cross country coach Steve Gross agreed, adding that endurance was the main area of improvement this year.

"We had some runners who couldn't run five minutes without stopping at the start of the season. Now they can run over 20 minutes without walking," Gross said. "We have also seen a lot of improvement in self-confidence."

Cross country participants bonded together throughout the season, and encouraged their teammates to succeed.

"My favorite part of this year's cross country season was watching everyone grow as a team together," said Clare Quirin, an eighth grader at O'Neill. "We knew who was faster and who was not quite as fast, so at the meets we gave each other pep talks, and told each other to try to stay in certain positions while running so we would be sure to beat the other team."

Great job, cross country athletes!


View more photos here.

O'Neill eighth grade girls' volleyball wins conference! 


Congratulations O'Neill eighth grade girls volleyball! The team won the conference championship this year, finishing the season with an outstanding record of 12-2.

"This group of girls responded well after losing their first match, by dominating their next eight matches, and then winning four out of their last five in the same fashion," said Coach Dustin Moore. "Every game they seemed to improve and get stronger. To fight that hard and show up game after game with that winning attitude and determination was great to see." 

The team members are: Sam Mitchell, Kelly Marth, Holly Lueken, Abby Casmere, Paige Reichert, Randi McKay, Annalia Dolce, Jenny Branch, Sam Erb, Bailey McCoy, Renee Renaud, Jillian Paladino and Brynn Davis. The managers were John Kohlmeyer and Parker Smith.
Board news
The Board of Education held its regular meeting Monday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at Longfellow. Topics discussed included:
  • Flag salute by O'Neill Middle School
  • Presentation by SASED
  • Spotlight on District 58's new bi-literacy program
  • Public hearing on the 2014 tax levy
  • Superintendent's Report
  • BOE Committee Reports
For a complete synopsis of the meeting, please view the Board Briefs online.

The Board will hold a Financial Workshop on Monday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. at Longfellow; a Policy Committee on Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 7 a.m. at the ASC; and a Regular Board Meeting on Monday, Dec. 8 at the Longfellow Center.
Community e-flyers
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  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
Congrats! District 58 named an Apple Distinguished Program
New biliteracy program amazes staff
It's American Education Week! Give thanks with a Green Apple
In a snow daze? We'll let you know if school gets canceled
Register for the Science Fair!
Get holiday gifts for free (or almost free) at Puffer's Toy Swap
Bloom's Angels hosts Family FUNdraiser Night
Support Education Foundation when you use Amazon Smile
Whittier's Variety Show rocks the stage
Lester gives a 'hand' to our vets
Highland Families promotes social-emotional learning skills
Congrats IMEA performers!
O'Neill, Herrick celebrate many cross-country successes
O'Neill eighth grade girls' volleyball wins conference!
Board news
Community e-flyers
District 58 on social media

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


Looking ahead

Thursday, Nov. 20

- Parent Teacher Conferences

Monday, Nov. 24
- BOE Financial Workshop, 7 p.m. at Longfellow

Nov. 26-28
- No school. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, Dec. 2
- Policy Committee, 7 a.m. at the ASC

View the entire 2014-2015 calendar.

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