Communicate 58
News from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 6 Issue 14
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Students meet their favorite writers, illustrator at Author Fest
Children's book illustrator Laura Huliska-Beith enjoyed spending time with Indian Trail's Young Author's Contest participants. (photo contributed by Elizabeth Sigale)

More than 1,840 District 58 students spent time with a famous children's book writer or illustrator last week during Author Fest.


"This year's Author Fest was fantastic! The kids had a lot of fun learning about writing and illustrating," said the fest's co-coordinator Kimberly Schmurr. "Plus, the authors were very impressed with how interested the students were in their presentations."


This year's Author Fest featured writers Blue Balliett, Barb Rosenstock and Tom Watson, as well as illustrator Laura Huliska-Beith.


"This was one of the best Author Fests yet," said Indian Trail LRC Director Taffy Sanger. "These authors really went above and beyond to connect with the kids."


Sanger pointed out a couple of examples: After his presentation, Watson enjoyed lunch with Indian Trail's The Reading Games participants, and Huliska-Beith had lunch with the school's Young Author's Contest students.


In addition, some authors commented on the Downers Grove community in general. Balliett, who resides in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, said she was very impressed with the community-feel of Downers Grove.


"Your schools are all nestled into the neighborhoods, making it ideal for students to walk or bike to school. I also noticed children playing together on Main Street in downtown Downers. This was a lovely sight to see. You belong to a wonderful community!" Balliett said.


The annual PTA-sponsored Author Fest event alternates each year between north side and south side schools. This year, El Sierra, Fairmount, Indian Trail, Kingsley and Whittier hosted the event from April 15-17. The authors visited these schools and talked about how they became writers and/or illustrators, discussed their craft, answered students' questions about writing and/or illustrating, and shared insights about careers in literature.


View more photos from Author Fest here.

Sign up for summer school!


District 58 will host a variety of summer learning opportunities to help students progress academically during their summer vacations.

To register for regular education summer school and/or band/orchestra classes, please visit

Click "Login" and enter the password. 

The password is summer.


Summer school is open to students enrolled in public, private or parochial schools. However, to participate, students must live within the District 58 attendance area and be entering kindergarten through eighth grade.


Please register early, as space is limited. The registration deadline is May 22, 2015. Transportation is not provided. 


Learn more information about District 58's summer learning opportunities!

Last chance! Poi Dog Pondering concert is tonight at the Tivoli


Very limited tickets still remain for tonight's Poi Dog Pondering concert at the Tivoli Theatre! You can purchase tickets in person at the door tonight.


All proceeds from the concert will benefit the District 58 Education Foundation's programs, which include the Grants Program, Select 58, Distinguished Service Awards and more. The show will take place tonight, Thursday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.


The Tivoli is excited to present its new and enlarged stage for tonight's concertgoers! The show will also offer a full bar, which means guests must be 21 years old to enter.


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

District opens registration for 2015-16 school year


  Parents may now register their children online for the 2015-16 school year. Last week, the District sent parents personalized registration information via email and backpack mail (or U.S. postal mail for current seventh graders). These messages included your child's personalized "snapcode," a password that lets you log onto your child's registration page. 

To register visit and enter your child's snapcode.

If you would prefer to register your child using paper forms, please visit your child's school to register, or download the forms online on your child's school webpage.

School spotlight
Four District 58 teams advance to Global Destination Imagination


The DI Donuts, Whittier, earned first place in the Fine Arts category, thanks to their hard work and excellent teamwork. 

Four teams from District 58 displayed their quick thinking and creativity at the recent state Destination Imagination tournament, qualifying for its prestigious global competition next month!


Congratulations to the DI Donuts, Team Imagination Volcanoes and That One Team, all from Whittier School, as well as the Sleepy Ninjas from Pierce Downer School.


Destination Imagination is an international program that encourages teams of students to complete challenges related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), the arts and service learning. It hosts annual competitions at the regional, state and global level. In District 58, school PTAs organize the program.


"Our participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process," said Colleen Loftus, Destination Imagination coordinator for Pierce Downer.


Destination Imagination teams form months in advance. The competition provides a list of challenge categories, and each team selects one challenge to complete. They prepare a creative solution and present it at the competition. In addition, each team completes an "Instant Challenge" to test their quick critical thinking skills.


Learn more about each advancing team, and view more photos here!

Herrick Robotics Team earns
two trophies at 4-H competition


The Herrick Robotics Team competed in the 4-H Robotics Team Competition/Showcase on Saturday, April 11 at Abbott Middle School in Elgin. Five different teams represented Herrick. The team of Jeremy Blumka, Nina Ghanayem, Julia McGuire and Josh Woods earned the Reserve Grand Champion Award (second place out of 29 teams). The team of Shea Casey, Grace Chalberg, Sophie Marro and Reilly Mitchell earned the Teamwork Award.


The Herrick Robotics Team comprises 23 seventh and eighth graders who have met weekly since December through a grant sponsored by the University of Illinois Extension Office and Altria. They work on engineering and programming Lego EV3 robots as well as building teamwork and collaboration skills.


Story and photos contributed by Herrick Science Department Head Jill Henry.

Whittier sixth graders get real-life perspective on careers in law


Attorney Cynthia Pietrucha shares insights about  law careers with Whittier sixth graders on Law Day.

Want to work in law? Whittier sixth graders are gaining unique, real-life glimpses into such a career this month.


For example, the class recently celebrated "Law Day" with a visit from Cynthia Pietrucha, a local attorney. Pietrucha explained the significance of Law Day and told students what she does on a day-to-day basis. She encouraged aspiring lawyers to work hard and pursue their dreams, and she described the different types of work that lawyers can do.


The visit was part of the DuPage County Bar Association's Lawyer Outreach Program.


"We were especially interested in participating in this program because the sixth graders learn about the development in government and law systems in Social Studies, and this is an awesome vehicle for them to connect/compare the ancient systems to our modern U.S. system," said Whittier sixth grade teacher Ericka Zagorski.


Next week, Whittier sixth graders will visit the DuPage County Judicial Center to participate in a mock trial in an actual courtroom, supported by real attorneys and judges. The sixth graders will act as attorneys, jurors, defendants and witnesses in a fictional case called "Social Media and Student Rights: Students' Rights, Wrongs and Responsibilities/Randy Cullen v. Principal Mary Skinner."

Belle Aire sixth graders dissect fetal pigs with DGN students


Recently, 29 Belle Aire sixth graders visited Downers Grove North High School, where they dissected fetal pigs with the assistance of teachers and older DGN students. The students learned a lot about biology and the inner workings of fetal pigs!


When asked what motivated him to help facilitate this event, DGN Science Chair Mr. Heinz responded, "Learning by doing is one of the most powerful types of learning that can take place. Learning through teaching others is even more powerful. It was great that we had both of these ideas happening simultaneously at this event, as the North students were able to engage and encourage the young students from Belle Aire, whom I suspect even taught some things to the teenagers!"


Belle Aire Parent/Volunteer Kristi Kattapong wrote a great story on this learning experience. Read it at

It's spring: Music is in the air!

The spring marks the time when our District 58 students display their

musical talents for their families and friends during a variety of concerts and musicals.


Visit the District's "Springtime music in District 58" page to view a photo album from some of the District's recent music performances. 

f you would like to share a photo to add to the album, please email 

Herrick hosts multi-generational book sharing event April 16

Can junior high students and their grandparents and older adult family friends really enjoy the same kind of books? They're two very different demographics. Turns out, they can! 

The Herrick LRC hosted its annual Community Read & Share event on Thursday, April 16. 

This unique event blends middle school students with older generations -- mostly grandparents -- for a one-day multi-generational book discussion.

Students and their guests were given a list of popular middle school books and asked to read one before the event. At the discussion, they were grouped by book. They enjoyed discussing the books amongst each other.

"Overall we give this book a 95 percent," one grandmother said of the novel 'If You're Reading This' by Trent Reedy. 

At a different table, a student shared, "We all really enjoyed the characters in the book 'Schooled'. We're all in agreement overall!"

Belle Aire offers creative way to recycle, share books and puzzles

Belle Aire recently hosted its annual Book and Puzzle Exchange. During this 
event, students can turn in books that they've read and pick new ones that have been turned in by others. The more books that they turn in, the more books they can then "buy" at the Exchange.


Traditionally, a Belle Aire sixth grader writes a story recapping the event. This year is no exception! Sixth grader Evan Kattapong-Graber wrote a very informative article and shared some photos. Read/view it here:

Board of Education news
The Board of Education held a regular meeting Monday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at O'Neill Middle School

The April 13 Board of Education meeting featured the following: 
Retiring Board Member Dr. Liz Davis hugs PTA President Kim Costello, who presented her with the PTA Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Flag salute by Herrick Middle School
  • Recognition of Dr. Liz Davis, retiring Board of Education member, which featured a performance by the DG Children's Choir
  • Spotlight on our Schools: Developmental Learning Program review, Special Education updates and next steps
  • Superintendent's Report
  • Business Report
  • Committee Reports
  • Other business, including the approval of June 5, 2015 as the last day of school. 

Download the Board Briefs here.  

Community e-flyers
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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
Students meet their favorite writers, illustrator at Author Fest
Sign up for summer school!
Last chance! Poi Dog Pondering concert is tonight at the Tivoli
District opens registration for 2015-16 school year
Four District 58 teams advance to Global Destination Imagination
Herrick Robotics Team earns two trophies at 4-H competition
Whittier sixth graders get real-life perspective on careers in law
Belle Aire sixth graders dissect fetal pigs with DGN students
It's spring: Music is in the air!
Herrick hosts multi-generational book sharing event April 16
Belle Aire offers creative way to recycle, share books and puzzles
Board of Education News
Community e-flyers
District 58 on social media

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Looking ahead

April 23
- 7 p.m.
5th/6th Northside Orchestra Concert at Herrick
- 7 p.m.
Poi Dog Pondering District 58 fundraiser concert at the Tivoli

April 27
7 p.m.
BOE Budget Workshop at Longfellow

April 28
-  7 a.m.
BOE Policy Committee meeting at the ASC
- 3:45-5:30 p.m.
Distinguished Service Awards Ceremony at Ashyana Banquets
- 7-8 p.m.
Herrick Chamber Ensemble at Herrick

April 29
-  7 p.m.
Southside Elementary Orchestra (4th) and Chamber Strings Concert at O'Neill

May 4
7 a.m.
Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at the ASC
- 7 p.m.
BOE Reorganization at Longfellow

May 5
- 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Elementary End of the Year Band/Orchestra Celebration at the Tivoli

May 6
- 6-8 p.m.
Select 58 Recognition Banquet at Herrick

View the entire 2014-2015 calendar.
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