Communicate 58
Latest news from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 6 Issue 12
Thursday, March 26, 2015
The books were in our favor:
The Reading Games is a success! 


The Reading Games 2015!
This two-and-a-half-minute video captures the fun and excitement of this year's The Reading Games competition!

More than 600 District 58 students came to O'Neill Middle School for one common purpose on March 14: to share their excitement for books at the second annual The Reading Games!

Students formed teams for this popular district-wide competition last fall. Over the following months, team members collaborated to read 15 books from one of two lists: Level 1 and Level 2. On March 14, they got dressed up in team uniforms or team costumes and competed in three rounds of questioning against other teams reading the same books.

Whittier teachers Deb Krygeris and Christy Gergits coordinate the Reading Games. They said the competition's goal is to increase the number and quality of books read by District 58 students.

"I love The Reading Games because it's so exciting to see kids compete about books they've read. They take the competition very seriously and come to The Games to try to answer every question correctly," said Krygeris. "After The Games are over, I enjoy watching my students continue to read the books that are part of a series or select a new book by a Reading Games author. That's when I know we've met our goal!"

Highland's Storm Readers team echoed Krygeris's sentiment. When asked what she liked about The Reading Games, Highland Storm Reader Gianna said, "we got to read and we got to do our best."

"Everyone works together and we work very hard on everything and we're all just having really fun!" added teammate Dana.

Throughout the day, The Reading Games held drawings, where they gave away some really cool prizes, like a Kindle Fire and a package of The Reading Games books autographed by the authors. The prizes were donated by area businesses and the Education Foundation.

At the end of the Reading Games, the teams held a celebration, where one "lucky tribute" from each team was randomly selected to win a small prize. In addition the Reading Games announced the top-scoring teams from both level one and level 2. This year's top-scoring teams were the Hillcrest Reading Rebels and the Belle Aire Nerd Side.

Congratulations to all Reading Games teams who worked hard and had fun reading 15 books these past few months! Thanks also to Mrs. Gergits, Mrs. Krygeris, Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli and everyone who helped make The Reading Games successful. Thanks also to the Education Foundation for your generous support!

View photos from The Reading Games here.

Poi Dog Pondering will perform at Education Foundation fundraiser
Herrick student Eva Bednard will play with the band


In previous years, Poi Dog Pondering performed to sold-out crowds at the Tivoli. Get your tickets now for their April 23 show! Proceeds will benefit the Education Foundation.

The Downers Grove District 58 Education Foundation will welcome Poi Dog Pondering to Classic Cinemas Tivoli Theatre on Thursday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The Tivoli is located at 5021 Highland Ave.

Eva Bednard, a Herrick seventh grader, will perform with the band. Poi Dog Pondering first invited Eva, a rock violin student, to play at their Ravinia show last September. 


All proceeds from the show will benefit District 58 Education Foundation programs, which include the Grants Program, Select 58, Distinguished Service Awards and more. Learn more about the Education Foundation at     


The two previous Poi Dog Pondering shows at the historic Tivoli Theatre received rave reviews and played to sold out audiences. To add to the amazing vibe, Classic Cinemas will increase the size of the stage by 50 percent. 


Purchase tickets online at or in person at the Tivoli Theatre. The show only has a few tickets remaining, so please purchase tickets soon! Tickets cost $58 for general admission and $95 for VIP seating in the first 10 rows.


The show will offer a full bar. Guests must be 21 years old to enter, and security will check IDs.


Poi Dog Pondering formed in the early 1980s and performs a variety of acoustic and electronic music that crosses over several musical genres. They've gained a reputation for fun and heartfelt performances enjoyed by crowds of all musical interests.


The event is sponsored by Classic Cinemas Tivoli Theatre, Rank Entertainment and the Lemon Tree Grocer.

Two District 58 students advance to National PTA Reflections

Conor Schewe, Henry Puffer student, took the above photo and entered it into the PTA Reflections competition. His entry, called "The World Would Be A Better Place If We Had More Trees," will advance to nationals.

The State PTA Reflections art competition selected two District 58 projects to advance to the National PTA Reflections competition, where their artwork and

Connor Podjasek, O'Neill student, will advance to the National PTA Reflections competition for his thought-provoking photo, "Stop the Clock."

creativity will be featured among the top young artists in the country! 

  • Connor Podjasek, O'Neill, will advance to the national competition in the Photography category, for his photo, "Stop the Clock" (photo featured to the right). 
  • Conor Schewe, Henry Puffer, will also advance to nationals in the Photography category, for his photo "The World Would Be A Better Place If We Had More Trees" (photo entry pictured above).  

The State PTA Reflections competition also announced awards for four other District 58 students:

  • Emma Gramm, Highland: Honorable Mention in Dance Choreography for "Just Be You"
  • Elijah Hsu, Hillcrest: Special Artist Award in Visual Arts for "What Makes World Go Round"
  • Samantha Mark, O'Neill: Honorable Mention in Literature for "Breath"
  • Ellis Sioukas, Highland: Honorable Mention in Photography for "Leaves of Peace"

 All students who have advanced to the National Reflections competition and those receiving Honorable Mention and Special Artist recognition will be individually recognized at a special ceremony on Saturday, March 28 at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill. 

District 58 will host the DuPage East Region Reflections Recognition Ceremony at Herrick on Wednesday, April 29 at 7 p.m. All projects that advanced to the regional and/or state level will be displayed.

The National PTA Reflections awards will be announced May 1. Good luck, Connor and Conor!

Four prolific children's authors will visit District 58 for Author Fest


Many District 58 students will get the opportunity to meet their favorite children's authors during the annual Author Fest from April 15-17! District 58 will welcome authors Barb Rosenstock, Laura Huliska-Beith, Blue Balliett and Tom Watson to the fest this year. 


The authors will talk about how they became writers, discuss their craft, answer students' questions about writing and/or illustrating, and share insights about careers in literature.


This annual PTA-sponsored event alternates each year between north side and south side schools. This year, El Sierra, Fairmount, Indian Trail, Kingsley and Whittier will host the event.


Anderson's Bookshop will host a public book signing and photo opportunity with all four authors on Friday, April 17 from 7-8 p.m. We hope you can attend!

Whittier, Lester and Pierce Downer succeed at Destination Imagination
Photo shared by C. Loftus


The Whittier, Lester and Pierce Downer PTAs sent 20 Destination Imagination teams to the recent regional competition in Glen Ellyn. An incredible 10 of the 20 teams advanced to the state competition, which will take place April 11!


"The Destination Imagination program encourages teams of learners to have fun, take risks, focus and frame challenges while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts and service learning," said Colleen Loftus, the program's local coordinator. "Our participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process. Teams may showcase their solutions at a tournament."


Congrats to our advancing teams!


DI Donuts

That One Team

Bionic Brain Builder Lab

The 5th Grade Community 6

Team Imagination Volcano

Battle Bunnies

Tiger Pizza Crushers

Mystical Marshmallow Sky-DI-vers

Sleepy Ninjas

On Top of the World 


View more photos here!

58 Doing Good
O'Neill staff raise $2K supporting alumna's St. Baldrick's fundraiser


O'Neill alumna Sarah Ansah, class of '14, shaved her head to support St. Baldrick's and childhood cancer cure research. To help Sarah's mission, O'Neill students and staff raised $2,000 for St. Baldricks! Thank you all for your generosity.
Book inspires Hillcrest to help bring fresh water to South Sudan
You can donate to the Hillcrest Well Fund, too!

"You gotta read this book," Hillcrest fifth grade teacher John Smoke says excitedly. He holds a copy of "A Long Walk to Water" by Linda Sue Park.

Last fall, Smoke's class read the book; it's a true story about a Sudanese Lost Boy who survived in a refugee camp without fresh water for 10 years. After he moved to America, he started a non-profit called "Water for South Sudan."

"It really hit a nerve with my students," Smoke says. "They wanted to help."

After brainstorming ideas, Smoke's class launched the Hillcrest Well Fund. They're aiming to raise $15,000 to build a well in South Sudan.

 Right away, Smoke's students displayed a giving spirit. One student donated the $10 she earned shoveling driveways; another student fundraised for the Well Fund while caroling. Another student convinced his extended family to donate to the well fund in lieu of Christmas presents this past year.

"This project is giving the students an intrinsic feeling of giving," Smoke says. "They are freely giving without any expectation in return. It's a good skill to learn at this age."

Smoke added that the Well Fund has delivered lessons in a variety of school subjects. His students explored South Sudan's geography and history. They learned how to write proper fundraising and thank you letters.

"I asked my students to write a fundraising letter to a business," Smoke says. "We've already received mailed responses from seven businesses - five of which sent a check! Each day, the kids ask me, 'Do we have any new mail?!' They get really excited."

Smoke also incorporated the Well Fund into math class.

"We have 375 students in our schools. If every student asked three people - like a neighbor or grandparent - for $10, then we would raise $11,250 and be close to our goal," Smoke said.  "The students learned the power of multiplication when figuring out these numbers."

The students are also learning speech skills. All Hillcrest fifth grade classes will lead a community assembly on Thursday, April 9 at 7 p.m. in the Hillcrest school gym. The assembly will teach the audience about South Sudan's history and need for water, through fun skits and informative presentations. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Want to donate to the Well Fund? Send donations to Hillcrest School, c/o Mr. John Smoke, 1435 Jefferson Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516.

Belle Aire sixth graders are embarking on a similar project. Learn more about what they're doing in the next issue of Communicate 58!

School spotlight
Kingsley student shines when meeting celeb chef Robert Irvine 


Patrick McCloskey (right) and family meet celebrity chef Robert Irvine, center.


It's been an exciting year for Kingsley sixth grader Patrick McCloskey!  He earned auditions for Junior Master Chef and NBC's Food Fighters, and he recently won a contest, sponsored by the Lemon Tree Grocer, to meet celebrity chef Robert Irvine! Irvine stars in a variety of Food Network programs, including Restaurant: Impossible and Restaurant Express. 


We interviewed Patrick to learn more about these experiences, as well as what inspires him to cook.  


Read an excerpt from the interview below. The entire interview is located here!

What was it like to meet Chef Robert Irvine?

Meeting him was great! I was so excited getting ready for the dinner.  I got dressed up and wore a tie. Before leaving the house, I took time to shine my shoes. My mom thought I shouldn't bother because we were running late.  She hates to be late. 


The funny thing is that Robert Irvine remarked on how I was dressed! He asked me to open my coat so he could see my nice tie. Then, to everyone's surprise, he mentioned my shined shoes. He told me how important it is to stay neat and organized as a chef. He told me a story about hiring someone to work for him in his kitchen. It had come down to two candidates and Chef Irvine chose the person with the clean shoes. He told me to always keep my shoes shined and make a good presentation.


It was so awesome to meet a celebrity chef and it was a night I will never forget. Then the owner of Lemon Tree gave me the opportunity to tour the kitchen and meet the chef and that was great! It was so nice of them to take time on one of their busiest nights to meet with me and let me tour the kitchen. Shaun and Chef Tim were so great to me. I will never forget this night.

Patrick enjoyed an informational tour of the Lemon Tree Grocer's kitchen. 


What interests you about cooking?

I love to see people enjoy the food that I fix. I enjoy the food when I put an effort into making it and it pays off with a delicious meal.

What is your favorite meal to cook?

My favorite thing to cook is chicken and cheese enchiladas with a tomatillo guacamole. Last night, my sister and I made an anniversary dinner for my parents and everything turned out great. 

Pierce Downer tackles the Survivor Snack Challenge


Pierce Downer students sample baby kale during the Survivor Snack Challenge on March 25.

The Pierce Downer Healthy Kids Committee partnered with the Willowbrook Whole Foods to host the second annual Survivor Snack Challenge. For three days this week, participating students can try healthy foods and beverages that may be new to them. So far, they've sampled chia water and maple water; baby kale and purple cauliflower.


"The Survivor Snack Challenge was thought up after I basically threw my
hands up in the air in defeat watching my kids complain when I asked them to try new, healthy foods. Being a huge 'Survivor' fan, I thought why not make it into a fun challenge for them!" said Missy Hansen, Pierce Downer mom.


Children who wanted to participate asked their parents to complete a permission form to return to school. For every food or beverage the student sampled, they received a stamp. Whichever class samples the most foods and beverages will earn a Healthy Class Party, which will include fun Survivor challenges and games!

Overall, most students realized that healthy food can also taste good, though there were a few exceptions whose facial expressions said it all.


"You can't win them all over, but I was impressed to see how many kids really enjoyed the new foods," said Debbie Kartsounes, a Pierce Downer Healthy Kids Committee member. "The baby kale was definitely more popular than the maple water."


After spring break, all participants will receive a Survivor Snack Challenge recipe book that the Pierce Downer Healthy Kids Committee will put together.


View more photos here.

Pi Day: Indian Trail fifth grader memorizes pi to 170 digits!


Tvisha and Patrick, fifth graders at Indian Trail, memorized pi to an incredible 98 digits and 170 digits, respectively. Their prize? They got to get the first pieces of pie for their class's Pi Day celebration!

How many digits of pi can you memorize? 3.1415... umm...

Patrick, a fifth grader at Indian Trail, memorized pi to an AMAZING 170 digits, winning this year's pi memorization contest at Indian Trail. Wow, incredible! Classmate Tvisha came in second place, memorizing pi to an incredible 98 digits.

"I really like math," Patrick said with a smile.

Indian Trail fifth graders also celebrated Pi Day by discussing the importance of pi in mathematics, designing a skyline to the digits of pi, and, of course, enjoying a nice slice of pi(e).

View more photos from the festivities here.

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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
The books were in our favor: The Reading Games is a success!
Poi Dog Pondering will perform at Education Foundation fundraiser
Two District 58 students advance to National PTA Reflections
Four prolific children's authors will visit District 58 for Author Fest
Whittier, Lester and Pierce Downer succeed at Destination Imagination
O'Neill staff raise $2K supporting alumna's St. Baldrick's fundraiser
Book inspires Hillcrest to help bring fresh water to South Sudan
Kingsley student shines when meeting celeb chef Robert Irvine
Pierce Downer tackles the Survivor Snack Challenge
Pi Day: Indian Trail fifth grader memorizes pi to 170 digits!
Community e-flyers
District 58 on social media

Like us on Facebook Follow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
Congrats Science Fair
regional award winners!

Outstanding + going to state:
 Giana Fallara
Clare Quirin

Korina Luco

First Place:
 Kate Sosnovsky
Julia Paterek
Nikita Lukhanin
Brianna Backman

Second Place:
Mason Adams
Looking ahead

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

March 27
- End of third quarter
- Spring break begins after dismissal!

April 7
- School resumes
- 7-8 a.m.
Financial Advisory Committee at ASC

View the entire 2014-2015 calendar.
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