Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 6 Issue 7
Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014
Happy holidays from District 58!



Dear Parents,

On behalf of all our dedicated teachers and staff -- including the Administrative Service Center team pictured above -- we wish you a very happy holiday season and a joyful new year.

I hope families throughout our community have the opportunity over winter break to enjoy time together with a bit of rest and relaxation, a sprinkling of joyful wonder, and lots of laughter and love! I am very proud of everything our students and staff have accomplished this year so far, and I look forward to a fantastic new year of learning, exploration and fun in 2015.

Dr. Kari Cremascoli
Superintendent of Schools
Green Apple Awards make an impact on District 58 teachers, staff
Superintendent Dr. Cremascoli celebrates Whittier teacher Cheryl Lyons' Green Apple Award with her fifth grade class.

Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli and building principals have personally delivered several Green Apple Awards to teachers and staff members this holiday season. The award has been a wonderful surprise to each recipient -- tears have even come to some of their eyes as they accept it!


"It's so much fun to enter a classroom and present a teacher or staff member with a Green Apple Award," said Dr. Cremascoli. "Every recipient has been so genuinely moved and surprised when receiving the award. It's a wonderful way to honor our dynamic staff!"


Congratulations to all teachers and staff members who received a Green Apple Award this November! (December Green Apple Award recipients will be featured in a January issue of Communicate 58.)


- Amy Freitag, Lester

Dr. Cremascoli poses with Green Apple Award recipient Meghan Beard of Lester, and the student who nominated her.

- Betsy Matson, Belle Aire

- Cheryl Lyons, Whittier

- Christine Balagtas, Pierce Downer

- Jill Oakley, Belle Aire

- Jonathan Ball, Herrick

- Justin Sisul, Pierce Downer

- Karen Conrad, Hillcrest

- Kerri Rowland, Hillcrest

- Mary Lueck, Herrick

- Matt Leiser, Lester

- John Smoke, Hillcrest

- Meghan Beard, Lester

- Beth Hatlen, Indian Trail

- Donna Haidle, Indian Trail

- Kris Krumwiede, Hillcrest

- Patricia Miller, Belle Aire

- Shor Costello, Highland

- Patricia Szczurik,Lester

- Pam Mizek, Kingsley

- Ty Dunham, Hillcrest

 Has a Downers Grove School District 58 teacher or staff member made a significant difference in your child's life? You can still honor them with a Green Apple Award!


Families may give a teacher or staff member a Green Apple Award by making a donation to the Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58's Green Apple Teacher/Staff Recognition Program. Donations may be sent online at All donations are tax-deductible.

Herrick Principal Matt Neustadt hands PE Teacher Mary Lueck a Green Apple.

 The Education Foundation will create a specially-designed Green Apple Award card for each recipient, which includes a personal message from the giver.

 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 $28,000 in grant funds to District 58 teachers!

Donations are accepted on an ongoing basis. Please send questions to

Hour of Code gets students psyched for computer science


Indian Trail students have fun learning how to code!
Last week, District 58 students joined millions of children worldwide in the "Hour of Code." This global event challenges students to spend at least one hour learning code, a basic function of computer science that helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity.


District 58 students from kindergarten to eighth grade used their imaginations to create their own coding AND they had fun in the process!


"Kids see coding as a fun puzzle or a game. They don't see it as school work," said Tim Frederickson, a district instructional coach. "But in fact, coding has a lot of math and problem-solving behind it. It offers many transferable skills."


Fellow instructional coach, Megan Ryder, added that coding helps students recognize and understand mathematical terminology.


Indian Trail sixth graders refine their coding skills.
"I had some younger students come up to me and explain how they could code 90-degree angles. I was really impressed," Ryder said.


Indian Trail LRC Director Taffy Sanger got her sixth graders pumped for computer science last Thursday morning. She showed them an introductory coding video that featured famous people, such as President Barack Obama, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and actor Ashton Kutcher. She followed it with a coding tutorial featuring Frozen's Elsa and Anna. As her students began their own coding adventure, several exclaimed, "This is awesome!" and "I love computer science!"


"It's fantastic to see the kids have fun while learning," Sanger said. "I'm having a great time teaching them the basics of code too. This is way too much fun to be work!"   


View more photos of Indian Trail's Hour of Code learning.

School spotlight
Giving back: Students buy books for Herrick's classroom libraries
Herrick eighth grader Ben Kulat used his own money to purchase books for his teachers' classroom libraries and the LRC. 

This year's Herrick Holiday Book Fair featured a festive Teacher Wish List display board. Teachers wrote which books they desired for their classroom libraries on slips of paper. Visitors - mostly parents or grandparents visiting for VIP Day - could take a slip of paper and purchase the book right there at the fair.


Denise Rytych, Herrick library resource center, quickly noticed an unexpected trend. In addition to the grown ups, some students were purchasing books as well.


"I was delighted to see students choosing to spend their own money on books that will benefit their entire classroom!" Rytych said.


For example, eighth grader Ben Kulat used money he saved up to purchase books for his teachers - at least seven of them! - plus the library resource center. He decided to buy the books to show his appreciation for his fantastic teachers and in hopes it might inspire more students to read.


"I felt like I needed to give back to my teachers," Ben said. "I think having more books in the classroom is valuable. Some kids love to read, but others need to have more reasons to read. I tried to pick books that I think might attract the attention of a lot of kids, including those who might not read a lot."


The teachers who received books from Ben and other students were very thankful for the kind gesture.


"I appreciated it so much," said Nicole Trezzo, Herrick science teacher. "Anytime students give me something, whether it's a book, cookies or a card, it means a lot. It meant even more knowing that these students used their own money to buy the books for me. Rather than buying something for themselves, they chose to spend it on others." 

Henry Puffer solar-brates its four recently installed solar panels
A Henry Puffer student powers several energy-efficient lightbulbs by riding a bike.
Henry Puffer School installed something unique that most local schools lack: solar panels. Four solar panels, to be exact. To celebrate this fact, Henry Puffer invited local environment education group SCARCE to lead an eco-assembly for the students. 

During the assembly, Henry Puffer students learned about energy, fossil fuels, sun ovens, solar panels and more! A couple students even got to power lightbulbs by riding a stationary bike! 

Pierce Downer student wins contest, scoring a fire truck ride to school 

Each year, District 58 third graders learn fire safety basics from the Downers Grove Fire Department. During one lesson, the fire department challenges students to create a home fire escape plan. The student with the best escape plan wins a trip to school on a fire truck.

This year, Pierce Downer third grader Hayden Worth won the contest! On the morning of Dec. 12, Hayden and a friend got to ride to school in style. Way to go, Hayden!

Pierce Downer third grader Hayden Worth won a fire truck ride to school for creating the best home fire escape plan.
Mail from the North Pole arrives for Indian Trail's preschoolers

Mail from the North Pole arrives for Indian Trail preschoolers!
Indian Trail preschoolers react to learning they received mail from Santa!

An ice cold envelope arrived at Indian Trail School on Wednesday, Dec. 17. The envelope was addressed to all preschoolers, and was postmarked from the North Pole. Wow!

Indian Trail's fifth grade teachers and students visited the preschool classrooms with the envelope in tow. When opened, they discovered it contained letters addressed to each preschooler!

The fifth graders found their preschool buddies and read their letters aloud to them. Afterward, they enjoyed a few minutes of classroom playtime together.

Pierce Downer fifth grader performs in the Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker


Lily Freebury performs as a Snow Tree Angel in the Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker.

Pierce Downer fifth grader Lily Freebury has a very special job this holiday season. Dressed as a Snow Tree Angel, she ushers the Snow Queen and Snow King on stage during the Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker. 


We recently interviewed Lily to learn more about her experiences performing in this classic Christmastime ballet! Here's an excerpt from the interview:


What is it like to perform in the Joffrey Nutcracker?

I auditioned in September and we started rehearsals the beginning of October, practicing every Sunday at the Joffrey Tower in studios with huge windows overlooking State Street! The Snow Tree Angels had our first rehearsals with the Joffrey dancers the week of dress rehearsals, just two days before opening night!  The children's cast is split in two and so I perform in half of the 30 shows.  We have to be at the theater an hour and a half before the show starts. We get dropped off on Michigan Avenue and have to walk down an alley to the backstage door! We go to our dressing room and wait. The Snow Tree Angels have to go to "wigs" and then to "costumes" - we can't get dressed in the dressing room since our costumes are so big! We don't get completely ready until we go up to the stage!  We get the "tree" dress on in the wings right before we go on!


Do you have any fun backstage stories?

We have to be at the theater a long time before the show starts, and the Snow Tree Angels go onstage right before the end of Act 1, so we have a lot of time in the dressing room. We share our dressing room with the "Party Girls" and so we all play card games and board games (no electronics are allowed backstage) and just hang out!  I love that I am onstage during the snow scene. The snow is actually made of tiny pieces of paper and is kind of loud when it falls to the stage. Our teacher, Katie Kirwan, had to teach us how to blow the snow off of our faces without making it look weird to the audience and without spitting!  It was hilarious when she was showing us!


What is your favorite thing about the Nutcracker and ballet? 

I love ballet!  At my school, the Academy of Dance Arts, I take almost eight hours a week of just ballet! I am so happy that I get to be onstage in such a beautiful show with real ballerinas doing what I love with them. I have had so much inspiration from the professional dancers - they are all so amazing and have been so kind to us! All the other Snow Tree Angels are really nice too and I have made a lot of new friends!


Is there anything else you'd like to share? 

I never would have thought that the dancers speak to each other during the ballet on stage but they do!  Sometimes it is about the dance or their steps and sometimes it is like acting. Our "Drosselmeyer" is Fabrice Calmels and he is so amazing! During our scene he talks in character to Clara and to us onstage and it was so surprising to me the first time it happened! 

Santa's Secret Shop spreads holiday cheer at Fairmount
Fairmount students purchase the holiday gifts they picked out at Santa's Secret Shop on Dec. 6.
Many Fairmount students got their holiday shopping done during Fairmount's Santa's Secret Shop on Dec. 6! Parent and sixth grade volunteers set up a temporary holiday shop in Fairmount's gym, filled with crafts and presents on sale for $5 or less. 

The Fairmount students who attended had a blast shopping for the perfect gift for their family members!  Volunteers helped the kids find, purchase and wrap the gifts. It was the perfect opportunity for the students to get their shopping done without mom or dad seeing their gifts!

58 Doing Good
58 Doing Good: District 58 schools host many holiday charitable activities
El Sierra teachers sport their jeans to school as part of the "Jingle Jeans" fundraiser.
Every District 58 school has given back to the community this holiday season, through food and coat drives, giving trees, mitten trees and family fundraisers. 

The January Communicate 58 will feature the District's charitable holiday activities in
Henry Puffer second graders pose beside their classroom giving tree.
greater detail, but for now, here are some highlights. Please note these are just a few examples of the many, MANY wonderful charitable things our schools are doing this season!

Highland's Student Council collected clothing for FISH and toys/presents for the Humanitarian Service Project. "I think we've collected a record-breaking number of presents this year! I'm very impressed with Highland's generosity," said Highland Principal Dr. Judy Kmak. Most other District 58 schools, such as Henry Puffer (pictured to the right) also hosted a winter clothing and/or present collection.

El Sierra's teachers had the option of donating $1 to wear jeans to work. The money raised will fund the school's daily 10 a.m. fruit break.
Hillcrest also hosted a similar program.

O'Neill's Student Council is aiming to raise $500 to help struggling community members via their annual Santa Good Cause fundraiser. They collect donations every day during homebase.

Belle Aire teacher Tara Fulton discussed world hunger with her students. For part of their lesson, they collected and donated food for a local food pantry. It helped bring their world hunger lessons closer to home. In addition to Belle Aire, many other District 58 schools are also hosting food drives to help the needy.

Pierce Downer fifth graders will hold an auction this Friday. Students will bring gently-used items to school, and their peers will bid on the items they want. All proceeds will be donated. It's a win-win-win situation!

Did your child participate in a charitable project recently? Let us know! Email information to or share on Twitter using hashtag #58DoingGood.

In the meantime, visit our 58 Doing Good page for more recent activities!
Highland Student Council members begin to pack up Giving Tree donations. They will bring the donations to FISH and the Humanitarian Service Project.
Thank you Roadrunners and Rexnord!

They did it again! The Downers Grove Roadrunners Soccer Club and Rexnord company generously offered to purchase holiday presents for District 58 students and families in need. 

They bought 60 children presents to help make their holiday merrier and their new year even better! The Roadrunners visited each school to make gift deliveries.

Both the Roadrunners and Rexnord also donated school supplies at the beginning of this school year.

Thank you Roadrunners and Rexnord for your generosity! We appreciate it very much!
Puffer's Smooch the Pooch raises $475
Henry Puffer Student Council members pose with a very cute little pooch.
Late last month, Henry Puffer's Student Council hosted a unique fundraiser that garnered a lot of giggles - and donations!  Their Smooch the Pooch fundraiser gave students and teachers the opportunity to kiss a cute little dog, in exchange for a donation.

The fundraiser netted $475, which Henry Puffer used to purchase turkey gift cards for their Thanksgiving baskets. The baskets were given to families in need. 

Board news
 The Board of Education held a regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 8 at the Longfellow Center. Topics discussed include:
  • Flag salute and presentation by the Fairmount Student Council and PTA
  • Full-day kindergarten exploration update
  • Superintendent's Report
  • Business Report
  • Policy Committee Report
  • Adoption of 2014 Certificate of Levy
  • Acceptance of the FY2013-14 Audit Report
  • And more!

The Board of Education will hold its next regular meeting Monday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Longfellow Center, 1435 Prairie Ave.
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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 Community Relations Coordinator Megan Hewitt at or 630-719-5805. 
In this issue
Happy holidays from District 58!
Green Apple Awards make an impact on District 58 teachers, staff
Hour of Code gets students psyched for computer science
Giving back: Students buy books for Herrick's classroom libraries
Henry Puffer solar-brates its four recently installed solar panels
Pierce Downer student wins contest, scoring a fire truck ride to school
Mail from the North Pole arrives for Indian Trail's preschoolers
Pierce Downer fifth grader performs in the Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker
Santa's Secret Shop spread holiday cheer at Fairmount
58 Doing Good: District 58 schools host many holiday charitable activities
Thank you Roadrunners and Rexnord!
Puffer's Smooch the Pooch raises $475
Board news
Community e-flyers
District 58 on social media

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Looking ahead

Dec. 22- Jan. 2
Winter Break. No school!

View the entire 2014-2015 calendar.

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