Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 6 Issue 10
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015
O'Neill wins $30,000 and named 
Follett Challenge semi-finalist


O'Neill Middle School won $30,000 as a semi-finalist in the Follett Challenge this monthThe award will fund academic goods and services, such as books and e-books, which can be used throughout District 58. 

"To see our video come up as one of the three semi-finalists was an incredible feeling and moment," said Tasha Squires, O'Neill's library teacher.


O'Neill will continue to compete for the Follett Challenge grand prize: an additional $30,000. The winner will be announced April 30.

O'Neill submitted a video highlighting its innovative Conquest of the Realm program to the Follett Challenge. The judges scored entries based on critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration. In addition, the judges based 20 percent of their votes on the number of public votes the video received. 


Thank you District 58 community. Your votes helped O'Neill achieve this award! 


Watch the Conquest of the Realm video at 


Read the entire story here.

Local legislators discuss education policy with District 58

Student Council members from O'Neill and Herrick introduce the legislators at the 2015 Legislative Breakfast on Feb. 13 at O'Neill Middle School.


District 58 held its annual Legislative Breakfast on Friday, Feb. 13 at O'Neill MIddle School. The event drew a large group of local legislators, community leaders and District 58 administrators.   


Three local legislators - Sen. Christine Radogno, Rep. Ron Sandack and Rep. Patti Bellock - participated on a panel to discuss education policy.


The legislators were introduced by O'Neill Student Council members Matthew Perry, Srushti Desai and Jillian Scott, and by Herrick Student Council members Kyle Johnson and Daniel Adam.


The three legislators answered a variety of questions that ranged from education reform and last year's Senate Bill 16 to PARCC concerns, full-day kindergarten

Rep. Patti Bellock, Rep. Ron Sandack and Sen. Christine Radogno listen attentively during the 2015 Legislative Breakfast.

and the effect the new Rauner administration may have on education in Illinois.


"I think you're going to find that education is our new governor's number one priority," Rep. Bellock said. 


Rep. Bellock added that the budget will always be a challenge, even when education is a top priority. 


"Illinois is $7 billion in debt, and Medicaid and pension costs

will only go up, squeezing funding for education and other basic services," she said.


Rep. Sandack shared input on education policy reform.


"K-12 education will get attention that it hasn't received, which I think is good. But there will be challenges and changes. I believe there will be some school choice aspects in the mix. We'll see changes that will challenge us. We need to be prepared."


Highland School parent Kylie Spahn expressed her concerns with the new PARCC assessment, particularly the amount of instructional time it will use. She asked for the legislators' thoughts on assessments.


"I think there's merit to having standards, and I think we need to test our kids to see if they meet those standards," Sen. Radogno said.


Sen. Radogno said she hopes the State Board and education experts will determine and enforce one set of core standards and measurements for Illinois schools. Rep. Sandack agreed and emphasized that school districts need to try the exam and see what happens to gain better insights about the assessment once it is administered.


Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli concluded the breakfast by thanking the legislators for sharing their insights and learning from our discussions.  


She asked for their "help in overcoming the constant political battle cries to reform education as well as [their] support to celebrate and strengthen what's working" within our schools.  


To our legislators Dr. Cremascoli said, "We need your help to ensure that our children and all children throughout Illinois have access to high quality education.  We need your help to ensure that continuous improvement in public education relies on the wisdom and innovation of public educators who work with students every day."


In addition to the three legislators, Congressman Peter Roskam's community relations director, Anna Stachulak, attended in Congressman Roskam's place and shared discussion points with him. 


The Legislative Breakfast was hosted by the Board of Education's Legislative Committee. The guests enjoyed a light breakfast and entertainment provided by the O'Neill orchestra and band. 


The Board of Education thanks everyone who attended the breakfast, especially to the legislators who took the time to participate on the panel and answer questions important to the District 58 community. 

Review presentations from PARCC parent information sessions

District 58 hosted two PARCC parent information sessions on Feb. 18. The meetings explained how the District will administer the exam this March and gave parents the opportunity to try out some PARCC components using the computerized testing platform.

Parents are welcome to view the Feb. 18 PARCC presentations below:
 Kindergarten Roundups will take place in March and April


Parents of incoming District 58 kindergartners will have the opportunity to visit their child's school, meet the principal and staff, and get their questions answered during the upcoming annual Kindergarten Roundups this March and April. 

Parents whose children will be five years old on or before Sept. 1, 2015 are encouraged to call their neighborhood elementary school prior to the Kindergarten Roundup for information about registration.

Education Foundation news
Nominate a District 58 employee for a Distinguished Service Award
Applications are due March 17
Highland parents and staff celebrate Cheryl Varys, who received a Distinguished Service Award last year.

Do you know a District 58 employee who truly goes above and beyond?


Please consider nominating that individual for a Distinguished Service Award! The Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 annually hosts the Distinguished Service Awards program to recognize the outstanding contributions of District 58 employees. Please see the below links for more information or to nominate an employee.


Distinguished Service Awards - Frequently Asked Questions (please review before completing the nomination form)



Nominations are due Tuesday, March 17 by 4:30 p.m. They may be emailed to or mailed to: 


Administrative Service Center

Attn: Megan Hewitt

1860 63rd St.

Downers Grove, IL 60516


If you choose to mail your application, please send it early to ensure its timely arrival. Late nominations will not be considered.


The Education Foundation will present Distinguished Service Awards to two District 58 employees: one classroom teacher and one non-classroom employee. In addition, all nominees will be honored during a special reception in late April.  

Harlem Wizards game gives back to District 58

The Education Foundation thanks the more than 1,500 people who had a fantastic time attending the District 58 vs. Harlem Wizards game on Feb. 15! 

Featured video
Featured video:
The Harlem Wizards Practice Files


Practice Files: We're playing basketball!
Practice Files: We're playing basketball! This video features local celebrity DJ/Coach Josh, Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli, Herrick Principal Matt Neustadt and Herrick students/basketball players Cooper Marks and Quinn Stephens.

View the Practice Files, a funny four-part video series highlighting how some of the players, led by Coach Dr. Kari Cremascoli, prepared for the game! Each video is very short and sweet!

School spotlight
O'Neill gets a dose of med school 


O'Neill science teachers Janette Syverson and Sarah Pinkus created O'Neill Medical School.

Eighth grade science marks a time when students learn about human body systems: the endocrine system, immune system, etc. It's fairly cut and dry.

But this year, O'Neill science teachers Sarah Pinkus and Janette Syverson took things to a whole new level to encourage critical thinking and pique student interest in a medical field.

They opened OMS - O'Neill Medical School, as well as OMS Hospital.

"Essentially, we tried to simulate the medical school experience," Pinkus said.

The science teachers divided their students into seven groups. Each group independently studied a different human body specialty, ranging from gastroenterology to cardiology. Though, they could always visit the emergency room (aka their teacher's desk) if they needed extra help. They then shared their knowledge with the entire class and took a Board Exam. When they passed, they graduated to Clinics. During Clinics, they studied all seven specialties.

Ms. Syverson, local medical professionals and O'Neill eighth graders pose beside their presentations. 

For eighth grader Matt Hansen, this project has been fun yet challenging.

"We had to learn a lot on our own, which was interesting but also more work. This project made us work together as a team. We had to think outside the box," he said.

And this is exactly what Syverson intended.

"We wanted to challenge our eighth graders to take the initiative to learn on their own. We wanted them to use critical thinking and to bounce ideas off each other," Syverson said.

To graduate from Clinics, students not only had to pass a comprehensive physiology exam, they also had to correctly "diagnose patients" during a Grand Rounds simulation.

Pinkus and Syverson worked with O'Neill mom Jenny Davis to prepare 36 fictional patient files. Davis used her real-life experience as a nurse to create realistic-looking files that listed patient vitals and symptoms. Students had to analyze the files, diagnose the "patient" and defend their diagnosis during the Grand Rounds.

O'Neill eighth graders created presentations for the Grand Rounds.

"The patient files also included some symptoms that the students might not have previously studied, so it got them researching and learning more new information," Davis said.

To prepare for their Grand Rounds presentation, Pinkus and Syverson invited several local medical professionals to visit their classroom and help answer questions the students had.

"The students really felt important since actual doctors were taking time to visit them," Pinkus said.

"Having professionals here really raised the level of concern among students. It seemed more real to them," Syverson added. "The kids were sincere when asking the 'real' doctors questions. It piqued their interest in medical fields."

Once the students completed their Grand Rounds, they could proudly say they graduated from O'Neill Medical School. Congrats, students! 


View more photos.

Henry Puffer celebrates
Random Acts of Kindness Week

Henry Puffer students and staff celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Week Feb. 9-13. During the week, teachers provided students with opportunities to surprise each other with acts of kindness. 


Here are a few photo highlights from the week!

Henry Puffer second graders write compliments to each other.
Mrs. Murphy's kindergartners brainstormed ways to be kind to each other.
Mrs. Hurckes' class finished the week by making a donation to the West Suburban Humane Society.
Kingsley PTA hosts Toy, Sport and Baby Equipment Resale March 7

Like a good deal that also helps your community? Come to the 15th Annual Kingsley School PTA Toy, Sport and Baby Equipment Resale on Saturday, March 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kingsley School, 6509 Powell St.

The resale will offer a variety of gently-used toys, electronics, craft supplies, backpacks, sporting goods and baby equipment for low prices. A percentage of the proceeds will support the Kingsley PTA. 

 "Very few children's items have been purchased new in my household, and very few items have been thrown away when no longer needed, thanks to this resale," said Missy Phifer, resale coordinator.

Please bring cash or checks only. No credit or debit cards will be accepted.

View more information and a complete list of resale items at

Valentine's Day fun
at Lester and Indian Trail

Every District 58 school has its own Valentine's Day traditions. This year, we checked out two special events that take place at Lester and Indian Trail.

The Upside Downers perform for Lester second graders each Valentine's Day.  (l-r): John Oberlin, Bill Morgan, John Morrison and Bruce Rhoades

Diana Rhoades' second grade Lester classroom has a fun Valentine's Day tradition. Rhoades' husband, Bruce, sings with a barbershop chorus called the Chorus of DuPage. 

"His quartet, the Upside Downers, go out to do singing Valentines every year, and he's been coming to my classroom each Valentine's Day," Rhoades said. "The kids love it, especially with their iPads! They were able to record and photograph the group."
Indian Trail second graders enjoy a Valentine's Day ice cream social.

Meanwhile, at Indian Trail, students enjoyed a special Valentine-themed ice cream social. This PTA-led event started last year and offers students a quick break to celebrate sweets and all things red and pink! 

O'Neill seventh graders teach their teachers about creative apps


During February's Teacher Institute Day, O'Neill teachers attended a variety of professional development classes. One such class was taught by a group of 

unlikely teachers: O'Neill's very own students!


Led by Instructional Coach Megan Ryder, a group of 10 O'Neill seventh graders shared their knowledge on creative apps with their teachers.


"The teachers rotated through the rooms and were given a small demo of the app and an example of how it could be used in their specific subject area," Ryder said. "For example, math teachers saw an example relating to math for each of the following apps: iMotion, Explain Everything, Educreations, Inspiration and Chatter Pix."

Fairmount gets kids pumped for
One Book One School

Fairmount's One School, One Book program is underway! This year, the entire school embarked on a journey to read "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" by E.L. Konigsburg. All students and staff received a copy of the book, as well as a special T-shirt.


The students have been reading the book for the past few weeks. During this time, they've decorated the school with a museum theme and incorporated the book's message into "Random Acts of Kindness Week." The Student Council also collected art supplies to be donated to an art studio for adult artists with disabilities. The event will wrap up Feb. 26 with a showing of the film in the school gym. 

Lester students enjoy Chicago Wolves field trip

Lester sixth graders recently attended a Chicago Wolves game. Not only did they enjoy the game, they also learned a lot through the Wolves' "Schooled by Skates" progam!

The Wolves provided each student with an educational packet that relates hockey principles with science, physics, math, health and geography. For example, they completed a science unit called "Newton's Toybox," which focuses on Newton's laws of motion and friction. 
Board news

The Board of Education held a regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 9 at the Longfellow Center. Topics discussed include:

  • Flag salute and presentation by the El Sierra Student Council and PTA
  • "Spotlight on our Schools" - Digital Citizenship Curriculum for Students and Supports for Parents
  • Superintendent's Report
  • Business Report
  • Committee Reports
  • Board community engagement enhancement
  • Approval of the 2015-16 school calendar

The Board of Education also held a Curriculum Workshop on Monday, Feb. 23. The workshop featured three presentations demonstrating Downers Grove Grade School District 58's potential kindergarten program enhancements, as well as its recent district-wide academic achievements and innovative thinking.

View the Curriculum Workshop presentations below:
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
O'Neill wins $30,000 and named Follett Challenge semi-finalist
Local legislators discuss education policy with District 58
Review presentations from PARCC parent information sessions
Kindergarten Roundups will take place in March and April
Nominate a District 58 employee for a Distinguished Service Award
Harlem Wizards game gives back to District 58
Featured video: The Harlem Wizards Practice Files
O'Neill gets a dose of med school
Henry Puffer celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Week
Kingsley PTA hosts Toy, Sport and Baby Equipment Resale March 7
Valentine's Day fun at Lester and Indian Trail
O'Neill seventh graders teach their teachers about creative apps
Fairmount gets kids pumped for One Book One School
Lester students enjoy Chicago Wolves field trip
Board news
Community e-flyers
District 58 on social media

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Save the date! 


The District's popular
Fit Fair
will take place on March 26! 
Get a first look at the 2015-16 calendar

District 58 has posted its 2015-16 calendar. 
To view it, visit and click on the "About" tab. From there, select "District Calendar 2015-16." 
Looking ahead

Friday, Feb. 27
Teacher Institute Day. No school.

Sat., March 7
9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Kingsley Toy, Sport and Baby Equipment Resale at Kingsley

Sunday, March 8
Daylight savings time begins.

Week of March 9
PARCC assessment

Monday, March 9
7 p.m.
Regular Board of Education meeting at Longfellow

Sat., March 14
8:30 a.m.
Reading Games at O'Neill

View the entire 2014-2015 calendar.
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