Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 6 Issue 11
Thursday, March 12, 2015
District 58 educators receive Outstanding Teacher Awards


The Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club honored four District 58 educators with an Outstanding Teacher Award during a special ceremony on Friday, Feb. 27. This award recognizes area teachers who demonstrate excellence in education. 


"All four of these teachers exhibit exceptional dedication to their students and profession. I am so proud of them and happy that they've been recognized for their good work," said Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli.


Congratulations to this year's District 58 Outstanding Teacher Award recipients!

  • Christine Balagtas, fifth grade teacher at Pierce Downer School, nominated by Madeline Riske, current student
  • Kathryn Chick, sixth grade teacher at Fairmount School, nominated by Catherine Lestina, former student and senior at South High School
  • Diana Rhoades, second grade teacher at Lester School, nominated by Braden Filip, current student
  • Kathleen Tice, third grade teacher at Indian Trail School, nominated by Molly Clinnin, former student and senior at South High School

Read interviews with this year's Outstanding Teacher Award recipients. 

District will offer optional kindergarten enrichment program


District 58 is excited to offer an Optional Kindergarten Enrichment and Enhancement Program this fall in Title 1 schools: El Sierra, Henry Puffer, Highland, Indian Trail and Kingsley. 


Parents who reside within these schools' boundaries may choose to enroll their child in this new, optional, fee-based enrichment program, which is offered in the afternoon as a complement to the District's existing high-quality, half-day kindergarten program, thus providing participating students with a full school day of instruction and enrichment.

District 58 will continue to fully fund and support its half-day kindergarten program. All required curriculum and content will continue to be provided within that half-day program. Students enrolled in the optional enrichment program will participate in the existing half-day session in the morning and then continue on to the optional enrichment program in the afternoon. There, they will receive additional enrichment opportunities in literacy, math, social studies and science, as well as exploration in physical education, music, multimodal learning, socialization and play.


Parents residing within Title 1 school boundaries may enroll their incoming kindergarten student for the optional afternoon enrichment program during the Kindergarten Roundup orientation events this spring. A schedule of Kindergarten Roundups is available on 


The District hopes to eventually expand the program district-wide in future years.


District 58 administrators designed the Optional Kindergarten Enrichment and Enhancement Program using years of research, data and community outreach regarding local kindergarten enrichment needs, as well as the collective, concerted efforts of local kindergarten teachers and principals.


"We received more than 2,000 responses to our recent parent kindergarten survey," said Dr. Matt Rich, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. "The majority of parents of current and soon-to-be kindergarten students indicated they would be interested in enrolling their child in an enhanced longer-day kindergarten enrichment program.


Read the entire story here.

 Annual Fit Fair returns March 26


It's back! The annual District 58 Fit Fair will return on Thursday, March 26 from 6-8 p.m. at O'Neill Middle School. This family-favorite, free event introduces parents and children to fun ways to get fit. Each year, this event packs both of O'Neill's gyms and the cafeteria. Visitors can enjoy a mini-game of bowling, a yoga demo and a healthy food tasting. They can also complete a health screening and talk to a local physical therapist and a chiropractor. Don't forget to enter the raffle to win a fantastic prize!


Would you like to feature your health-oriented business at the Fit Fair? We still have limited spaces available. To participate, businesses are asked to offer a raffle donation. Contact Mary French at if you are interested. 


Read more here.

 Eighth graders invited to apply for Select 58 Recognition Award


Education Foundation logo Eighth graders - it's your time to shine!


Please consider applying to the Select 58 Recognition Award program. This prestigious award is given to the top 58 students to serve their school and community. 29 Herrick students and 29 O'Neill students will be selected for this honor.


All students may apply for this award, as long as they are passing their classes. The award recipients will be recognized at an awards banquet in May.


Please complete the below application and submit to your school office by Monday, March 23. Remember: you will need one reference letter! We've provided the application in both Microsoft Word and PDF formats. Please complete the application in whichever format you prefer.


Select 58 Application (Word Format) 


The Select 58 Recognition Program is sponsored by the Education Foundation of District 58.

 District hosts parent tech and assessment workshops


Have questions about the technology the District uses? Unsure about the types of assessments the District administers? 

The District will host several parent seminars to help families better understand District programs and learning opportunities. These sessions are open to all District 58 families. You don't need to register in advance - just show up!

Parent Technology Support sessions
  • Wednesday, March 25 at 12:45 p.m. at the DG Public Library, 1050 Curtiss St.
  • Wednesday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Longfellow Center, 1435 Prairie Ave.
  • Wednesday, May 13 at 12:45 p.m. at the DG Public Library
  • Wednesday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Longfellow Center
Parent Learning, Assessment and Reporting Overview
  • Wednesday, March 25 at 1:45 p.m. at the DG Public Library
  • Wednesday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Longfellow Center 
  • Wednesday, May 13 at 1:45 p.m. at the DG Public Library
  • Wednesday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Longfellow Center
Distinguished Service Award nominations are due March 17


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 remarkable contributions of District 58 employees. 

Don't delay: Applications are due on Tuesday, March 17. You may email applications to or you can mail or drop-off them off at the ASC. Send to:

Administrative Service Center
attn: Megan Hewitt
1860 63rd St.
Downers Grove, IL 60516

Michelle Rzepka named new Hillcrest principal


District 58 is happy to announce the appointment of Michelle Rzepka as Hillcrest School's new principal beginning this July. Rzepka will replace Hillcrest Principal Paula Thomas, who retires at the end of this school year.


"I am honored to accept this appointment. From day one it has been evident that Downers Grove has the collaborative team environment that I was looking for and I am eager to work with the students, staff and families of Hillcrest," Rzepka said.


Learn more about Mrs. Rzpeka here.

58 Doing Good
District 58 students raise money, shave heads for cancer research

Three Whittier students and one Henry Puffer student generously
(l-r) Herrick students Donald Peters and Emma Nykiel, and Whittier student Ethan Peters, shaved their heads and raised more than $6,000 for childhood cancer research.
raised/donated money and shaved their heads for St. Baldrick's this month. The St. Baldrick's Foundation funds research for cures for childhood cancers.

Herrick students Donald Peters and Emma Nykiel and Whittier student Ethan Peters raised more than $6,000 and shaved their heads on March 6 at a St. Baldrick's event in River Grove. This is the third year Emma has participated, and the sixth year for brothers Donald and Ethan.

Henry Puffer student Robert Huth, before shaving his head

Meanwhile, Robert Huth, a 9-year-old Henry Puffer student, shaved his head March 10 for children's cancer research. He also donated 18 months of hair growth to an organization that specializes in wigs for cancer patients.


"Robert is a very thoughtful boy who wants to be a scientist," says his mom, Nancy Huth. "Several years ago he told his pediatrician that he wanted to help cure cancer someday. Knowing that everyone wants cancer cured as soon as possible, Rob's decided to help the only way he could for a nine year old -St Baldricks and donating his hair."


Thank you, District 58 students, for your incredible generosity!

Kingsley, Lester, Pierce Downer raise $1,600 for disease research

Kingsley, Lester and Pierce Downer schools recently held fundraisers to raise awareness and money for rare disease research.


The Kingsley Student Council hosted a "Dance Off Disease Day." 

 "The Ki
ngsley Student Council raised over $700 for the Global Genes Fund in support of SASED and Rare Disease Day," said Deanne Jacobs, sixth grade teacher at Kingsley.


During the week of Feb. 23-26, Lester School Student Council sponsored a

Kingsley students celebrate "Dance Off Disease Day" to fundraise for the Global Genes Project and support SASED and Rare Disease Day.

Penny Harvest to raise money for the Global Genes Project, one of the leading rare and genetic disease patient advocacy organizations in the world. 


"Lester's goal was to raise awareness and money for those living with rare diseases, including three students in District 58," said Marina Kasicki, Lester teacher and Student Council moderator.

On Feb. 26, all students and staff were given denim ribbons to wear and encouraged to wear their favorite pair of jeans to school to show support for World Rare Disease Day. In addition, teachers could pay a dollar per day to wear jeans. Lester raised nearly $700 for this great cause!


In addition, Pierce Downer staff recognized Rare Disease Day by donating $10 to wear jeans to school. Pierce Downer staff raised $195 to donate to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

School spotlight
O'Neill gets fired up for chemistry

O'Neill's seventh grade science teacher, Dr. Meg Van Dyke, led a very hands-on celebration of Chemistry Day on Thursday, Feb. 26. 


She invited students from Bloom Trail High School to visit her classroom, and together the students conducted exhilarating  science experiments that helped spark interest in science among some of Dr. Van Dyke's students. 


Even Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli, pictured to the left, bravely got involved in an especially flammable experiment! 


View more photos here.

Hillcrest teacher Joanne Fiene named an Elite 100 Teacher

District 58 congratulates recently-retired Hillcrest School fifth grade teacher Joanne Fiene for being named an Elite 100 Teacher by IXL, an online guided math and language arts program.


Fiene retired from Hillcrest in June 2014 after serving District 58 for 42 years. During her final two years of teaching, she used IXL to supplement her math instruction. The program, which aligns with Common Core Standards, measures each student's math aptitude and tailors problems to their level. The more problems a student solves, the more math skills the student masters. Fiene created a friendly competition, challenging her fifth grade students to spend at least 20 minutes each night completing IXL math problems for homework.


During the 2013-14 school year, Fiene's 22 fifth grade students solved nearly 300,000 IXL math problems on their own. This enriching activity was reflected in Fiene's students' MAP scores.

"Their MAP scores improved substantially," Fiene said. "90 percent met or exceeded expectations. I am just so proud of the kids for doing as well as they did."


Fiene added that the friendly competition motivated her students to complete their nightly homework and achieve more math skills. She noted that two students voluntarily stayed after school each day to work on IXL problems, and another student who not only solved all 319 fifth grade math skills, but also completed 100 sixth grade skills.


Learn more about Fiene's story on the District's "photos and stories" Web page.

Five O'Neill students awarded in Junior High Art Contest


The Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club awarded five O'Neill Middle School students in its annual Junior High Art Contest, including its top Best in Show and First Place prizes. The contest is open to all junior high students living within District 58 or District 66 boundaries, including students attending non-public schools.


"Our students are incredibly talented and creative," said art teacher Elizabeth Lukes. "They certainly deserve this recognition, and I'm very proud of them!"


Congratulations to the Junior High Art Contest winners!


Best in Show:

Kate Riley, O'Neill

First Place:

Sami Mark, O'Neill

Therese Malinowski, O'Neill


Second Place:

Katie Leinart, O'Neill

Yaseen Ahmed, Avery Coonley


Honorable Mention:

Andrea Davenport, O'Neill

Jason Huang, Avery Coonley

Kara Troe, Avery Coonley 

The Downers Grove Junior Women's Club honored the recipients during a ceremony in late February. The Community Bank of Downers Grove has displayed the winning artwork.


For more information on the contest, visit

Herrick video named a finalist in Create & Explore 40K Giveaway


Once again, thank you District 58 community for voting to support our schools!


Diversified Woodworks named Herrick teacher Jill Henry's "Room for Improvement" video a finalist in its Create & Explore 40K Giveaway! Her video shows how Herrick could benefit from new science lab furniture.


Her video received 2,536 votes, placing her in the top 10 overall! Diversified Woodworks will review all finalists and announce the winner in the next week. The winner will receive $40,000 in new school furniture.


Great work and good luck, Herrick!

Fairmount kindergartners celebrate Dr. Seuss Day


Dr. Jayne Yudzentis, assistant superintendent for personnel, reads a Dr. Seuss book to Fairmount kindergartners Friday, March 6.

Fairmount kindergartners learned lots about language while celebrating Dr. Seuss Week! The children studied rhymes, word families and sentence structure while enjoying the whimsical verbiage of the beloved children's author.


"We're using Dr. Seuss to incorporate rhyme into their world," said Barbara Potocki, Fairmount kindergarten teacher. "They love it. It makes school extra fun."


Students also learned art and technology skills with a Dr. Seuss twist. Students learned how to scan stories with their iPads, and they drew pictures of Dr. Seuss characters. They practiced their fine motor skills by creating their own hats, modeled in Cat in the Hat fashion, of course.


Fairmount Principal Tony Coglianese and Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Jayne Yudzentis even joined the fun, reading a Dr. Seuss book to the students Friday afternoon.


View more photos from Dr. Seuss Week here.

Pierce Downer hosts fun whirlyball family fundraiser
Pierce Downer parents raised funds for their children's school while participating in an evening of fun in Lombard. Whirlyball was the highlight of the event - a fun, yet competitive game that combines lacrosse, hockey and basketball while driving bumper cars. 

Smiles and laughter filled the night as more than 100 attendees enjoyed Whirlyball matches, bag games, socializing and bidding on auction items. 


One item up for auction that garnered a lot of interest was "Downtown Downers Day" with principal Justin Sisul. The special day with Mr. Sisul includes a limousine ride from school, lunch downtown, a visit to Anderson's Bookstore to pick out a book and dessert at a local ice cream shop! Other items auctioned off were Chicago sports team themed art that Pierce Downer students created with their fingerprints and paint. Best of all, the proceeds from this special night will help fund the wonderful programs provided through the PTA.


Story contributed by parent LaVonne Czech, photos contributed by parent Amy Goray. Thanks for sharing!

Lester fourth graders explore Adler, first graders enjoy Shrek   



It's field trip season in District 58, and Lester is no exception!


Lester's fourth graders recently had the opportunity to visit Adler Planetarium in Chicago, where they got a more hands-on look at how our solar system functions. Meanwhile, Lester first graders saw one of their favorite movies come to life during Shrek the Musical at the Spotlight Youth Theater.


Thanks to Lester teachers Ms. Gina Ciamprone and Ms. Megan Winnecke for sharing these photos!


See more photos from these trips.

Highland hosts Family Bingo Night

Highland families escaped the winter doldrums in late February for a fun-filled Family Bingo Night.

Families and teachers played bingo side-by-side, and awards were presented. 

View more photos from the fun! (Credit: parent Luis Ruiz)
Board news

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

  • Flag salute and presentation by the Pierce Downer Student Council and PTA
  • "Spotlight on our Schools" - Social-Emotional Learning
  • Approval of the Optional Kindergarten Enrichment and Enhancement Program
  • Appointment of Michelle Rzepka to the Hillcrest School principal position
  • Superintendent's Report
  • Business Report
  • Committee Reports
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
District 58 educators receive Outstanding Teacher Awards
District will offer optional kindergarten enrichment program
Annual Fit Fair returns March 26
Eighth graders invited to apply for Select 58 Recognition Award
District hosts parent tech and assessment workshops
Distinguished Service Award nominations are due March 17
Michelle Rzepka named new Hillcrest principal
District 58 students raise money, shave heads for cancer research
Kingsley, Lester, Pierce Downer raise $1,600 for disease research
O'Neill gets fired up for chemistry
Hillcrest teacher Joanne Fiene named an Elite 100 Teacher
Five O'Neill students awarded in Junior High Art Contest
Herrick video named a finalist in Create & Explore 40K Giveaway
Fairmount kindergartners celebrate Dr. Seuss Day
Pierce Downer hosts fun whirlyball family fundraiser
Lester fourth graders explore Adler, first graders enjoy Shrek
Highland hosts Family Bingo Night
Board news
Community e-flyers
District 58 on social media

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Save the date! 

Author Fest will return April 15-17!

This festival alternates between north and south schools. This year's fest will take place in the south, at El Sierra, Fairmount, Indian Trail, Kingsley and Whittier.

Read more in the next newsletter!
May the books be in your favor.

The Reading Games competition is this weekend. Good luck participants!
Good luck Science Fair regional finalists!

Our young scientists will compete this weekend. 



Brianna Backman

Giana Fallara

Korina Luco

Clare Quirin 

Karin Schroeder 



Mason Adams

Alex Karrow

Braden Moore

Nikita Lukhanin

Julia Paterek

Kate Sosnovsky  

Looking ahead

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

March 17
- Distinguished Service Award nominations due

March 18
- Note: Legislative Committee is canceled
- 7-8 p.m.
Middle School Music Festival at Downers Grove North

March 23
- Select 58 applications 
- 7 p.m.
BOE tours at Highland and Belle Aire schools

March 24
- 7 a.m.
Policy Committee at ASC

March 25
- 12:45 p.m.
Parent tech workshop at DG library
- 1:45 p.m.
Parent assessment overview at DG library
- 6:30 p.m.
Parent tech workshop at Longfellow
- 7:30 p.m.
Parent assessment overview at Longfellow

March 26
- 6-8 p.m.
Fit Fair at O'Neill

March 27
- End of third quarter
- Spring break begins at the end of the day

View the entire 2014-2015 calendar.
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