Communicate 58
News from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 6 Issue 15
Thursday, May 7, 2015
O'Neill takes top prize and $60K
in national education competition


O'Neill students learn they won the $60K Follett Challenge grand prize!
O'Neill students learn they won the $60K Follett Challenge grand prize!

A little ingenuity and a lot of hard work helped O'Neill earn the $60,000 grand prize in the Follett Challenge, a national education competition, last week. This annual challenge seeks to identify the most innovative schools in America. O'Neill won it for its Conquest of the Realm reading program, which raised the school's voluntary reading participation rate from 17 percent to 80 percent in just a few months.


"Congratulations O'Neill students and staff," said Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli. "This award is a wonderful acknowledgement of your hard work and dedication. We are very proud of you!"


The announcement came the morning of April 30 during a special all-school assembly to celebrate the conclusion of this year's Conquest of the Realm reading program. School leaders announced the 2015 Principal for the Day Abby Casmere and Vice Principal for the Day Jillian Scott. At 8:59 a.m., the school led a countdown as they awaited Follett to announce the competition's winner.


View a video describing Conquest of the Realm in depth at www.follettchallenge.comRead more at

Select 58 eighth graders honored at awards banquet May 6
Select 58 recipients from O'Neill Middle School
Select 58 recipients from Herrick Middle School

Congratulations to this year's Select 58 eighth graders! The Education Foundation annually awards 58 eighth graders -- 29 from Herrick and 29 from O'Neill -- who display exceptional service to their school and community. 


The students were honored during a recognition awards banquet on May 6 at Herrick, which included dinner, entertainment and inspiring speeches by Nicole O'Toole and Lauren Taylor, two former Select 58 students.


More photos will be posted on the District's "Photos and Stories" page later today, May 7.


Select 58 students:

Erica Alves

Elizabeth Andonova

Shelby Berghorst

Josie Bondarowicz

Kelly Brinkman

Allison Calek

Rose Carlson

Abigail Carlson

Abigail Casmere

Blake Cassani

Peter Crowe

Brynn Davis

Marion Deal

Kate DeAlba

Thomas Diehl

Brin Driscoll

Olivia Duax

Colin Dunn 

Samantha Erb

Giana Fallara 

Jillian Foster

Joseph Galvan

Samuel Goedert

Anthony Grammich

Nicole Grgnato

Gianna Grippo

Katherine Gross

Audrey Guerin

Audrey Gusel

Liam Johnson

Eleanore Krick

Benjamin Kulat

Annie Leinart

Holly Lueken

Katherine Lyda

Kelly Lyons

Noah Maguigad

Melissa Manzo

Mia Marconi

Samantha Mark 

Carminie Marro

Logan McGrath

Julia McGuire

Randi McKay

Nicholas Miller

Emma Nykiel

Trevor Owcarz

Jillian Paladino

Ryan Pavinato

Matthew Perry

Clare Quirin

Anna Richards

Parker Smith

Alena Spreitzer

Conor Thomas

Andrew Tyrell

Mary Wilson

Lindsay Wydra

Distinguished Service Award recipients inspired each other 


Henry Puffer Teacher Andrew Kupisch and El Sierra Principal Jason Lynde won this year's Distinguished Service Awards.

El Sierra Principal Jason Lynde remembers his first year of teaching fondly. District 58 hired him to teach at Herrick Middle School. He enjoyed the camaraderie among the staff and the enthusiasm among his students.


One of his students really stood out. This eighth grader, Andrew Kupisch, had an incredible work ethic and sense of humor, Lynde remembered.


"Andrew was the type of student who wanted to include his teachers and friends in the things that interested him," Lynde recalled. "When he learned that I hadn't seen the movie 'Spaceballs,' he told me I'd like it and lent me his copy."


Kupisch, now a third grade teacher at Henry Puffer, continues to share his interests with teachers, friends and now his students, as well.


"During Earth Week, my students and I wondered how much food people throw away, so we sent a few tweets to notable chefs and did some independent research," Kupisch said. "We learned a lot!"


Kupisch likewise remembers his eighth grade teacher fondly. In fact, he said Lynde, along with his parents and his sister, all inspired him to become a teacher.


"Jason understands that to be an effective teacher you need to know the

The students who nominated Lynde react when they learned he won the Distinguished Service Award.

heart of the student, you need to understand what motivates them," Kupisch said. "That's something I've taken with me as I've developed into a teacher."


Lynde and Kupisch once again stood side-by-side last week, as the Education Foundation named them this year's Distinguished Service Award recipients. This award is annually presented to two District 58 employees who consistently exceed expectations.


Several students and parents in the District's new biliteracy program, which is housed at El Sierra, nominated Lynde. Kupisch was nominated by six of his current students and parents.


"When I learned I was nominated for a DSA, I was blown away," Lynde said. "It showed me how much the biliteracy program meant to the families. The biliteracy teacher, Maria, deserves the credit, but to know that the families appreciate how much I support the program means a lot too."


Likewise, Kupisch was surprised and excited to learn he received an award nomination.


"I had no idea. I was very honored and humbled," Kupisch said. "It's so humbling to know that someone even considered me as a DSA nominee. I appreciate it so much."


Congratulations to Andrew Kupisch, Jason Lynde and all of our 2014-15 DSA nominees! View a video honoring our nominees here!

Learn more about the new Building Bridges PTA Committee

Does your child have an individualized education plan (IEP) or 504 plan? Would you like to connect with other parents who have special needs children? Do you have questions about special services in District 58?


If you answered yes to any of the above questions, please consider attending an informational night for Building Bridges, a new group started through the Downers Grove Area PTA Council. The meeting will take place Wednesday, May 13 at 7 p.m. at Hillcrest School, 1435 Jefferson Ave.


Like its namesake, this new PTA group aims to build bridges between families with special needs children and the school community. Committee Chairpersons Mia Churma and Lisa Schue, as well as Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Jessica Stewart, will lead the meeting, seeking input about what a group like this could mean to your family and the community at large.


To attend, please sign up or just show up! Please consider liking the Building Bridges Facebook group

Welcome Jackelyn Cadard,
new preschool coordinator!


Jackelyn Cadard

District 58 proudly announces Jackelyn Cadard as its new preschool coordinator.
While new to this job, Cadard is not new to District 58. She has worked as a Henry Puffer preschool teacher since 2007.


"Since that time, she has served on numerous district committees, launched several pre-kindergarten initiative pilots and provided teacher leadership within the program. We're pleased to have her onboard in this new capacity!" said Jessica Stewart, assistant superintendent for special services.


Since her childhood, Cadard felt inspired to work with young learners and families. She enjoyed spending time with her aunt, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.


"She has taught me the importance of nurturing, patience, flexibility and respect when working with young learners and families," Cadard said. "I look to utilize all of those learning lessons my aunt and my eight years of classroom experience provided as the new preschool coordinator." 


Outside of District 58, Cadard is the assistant varsity softball coach for Naperville Community School District 203. She also provides community service for Little Friends and other local organizations.


"I am passionate about early childhood education because of the opportunity we as educators have to provide a safe, nurturing environment for young students to learn and prosper," Cadard said. "We have the ability to lay groundwork for our students' future academic success." 


Cadard received her educational specialist degree in administration and supervision from National-Louis University. She also earned her master's degree in special education from National-Louis University and her bachelor degree in early childhood education from the University of Illinois.

It's Teacher Appreciation Week! Celebrate with a Green Apple

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, the Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 invites families to give thanks to a special teacher or staff member with a donation to its Green Apple Teacher/Staff Recognition Program.


With each donation you make, the Education Foundation will send a specially designed Green Apple Award card to the teacher or staff member you are honoring, with a custom message from you. Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli and/or the school principal will hand-deliver all Green Apple Awards to their recipients. 


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 school year, the District 58 Education Foundation awarded nearly $28,000 in grant funds to District 58 teachers! 


Donations may be sent by check or with PayPal online at All donations are tax-deductible. Please send questions to If you would like your Green Apple Award to be hand-delivered, please submit your donation by Friday, May 29. 

Poi Dog Pondering show raises $25,000 for District 58


The Education Foundation, in partnership with the Tivoli Theatre, hosted a tremendously successful evening with Poi Dog Pondering at the Tivoli April 23. The show netted about $25,000 for the Foundation and its programs that benefit District 58 schools.

"This is our biggest fundraiser of the year!" said Education Foundation President Amy Kovacevic. "It brings parents, friends and colleagues together to enjoy an excellent concert in a spectacular venue." 


The show also included a cameo by Herrick student Eva Bednard, who performed with the Poi Dog Pondering band. 


The Education Foundation offers a special thanks to Classic Cinemas, who has donated the Tivoli Theatre every year since the first event 12 years ago. In addition to Classic Cinemas, this year's event sponsors were Lemon Tree Grocer, Tobias Music and Rank Entertainment.


View more photos and information here.

58 Doing Good
Belle Aire donation will provide 84 people with clean water for life


Belle Aire sixth graders recently hosted a Water Challenge to raise money to help bring more clean drinking water to South Sudan. The sixth graders challenged the District 58 community to drink nothing but water from April 13-24 and donate any money saved to the non-profit, Water for South Sudan.

Belle Aire is proud to announce that they raised $1,932 during their Water Challenge fundraiser! According to "Water for South Sudan," this money will provide clean and safe drinking water for about 84 people for life!


"The kids are absolutely thrilled with their efforts," said Tricia Miller, Belle Aire sixth grade teacher and fundraiser coordinator. "We continually talk about a small group of students being able to make a difference, and they finally see that this is possible!"


Miller added that her students are incredibly grateful for the support of the Belle Aire and District 58 communities during this endeavor.

Hillcrest kicks off fundraiser to build an inclusive playground 




That's the best word to describe Hillcrest students on the morning of May 1. They attended a special assembly to kick off the Student Council's spring fundraiser, called "Funding for Fun." The fundraiser seeks to collect $10,000 for Hillcrest's future all-inclusive playground.


As the students watched a video describing what an inclusive playground looks like, their jaws dropped and they vocally marveled at it. "Wow!" they exclaimed.


Once built, the Hillcrest all-inclusive playground would be the first of its

Hillcrest parent Peg Chaidez and her son, Owen, lead Hillcrest's effort to build an inclusive playground.

kind in DuPage County. The playground would be accessible and fun for all children -- those with and without disabilities. 


Peg Chaidez, a Hillcrest parent, is leading a crowdfunding effort to make the Hillcrest all-inclusive playground a reality. She started a non-profit called The Dream Build Play Experience to coordinate the effort. All donations are tax-deductible.


Hillcrest students may bring donations to their classroom. Class totals will be recorded on a bulletin board outside the front office. When classrooms meet certain goals, they will receive prizes, such as popsicles, free time and a pizza party.


The general public may donate to "Funding for Fun" as well. Donate online at 


View more photos from the kickoff here.

Buy one-of-a-kind art at Puffer's Community Art Fair on May 7

The Henry Puffer Student Council will host its second annual Community Art Fair on Thursday, May 7 from 6:30-8 p.m., during the school's open house. All may attend!


Back by popular demand, this art fair will sell student-designed wooden key chains for $2. These handy key chains are rumored to work well as iPad case tags, as well. About 300-400 key chains will be for sale.


In addition, Puffer students designed three spectacular murals (4'x4') that represent peace, love and happiness. The murals will be up for bid in a silent auction. Can't attend the fair, but want to participate in the auction? Email your bid to


All art fair profits will be split between the American Red Cross and the Global Campaign for Education.


Learn more about the Community Art Fair on the District's 58 Doing Good page.

Fairmount raises $5,400 to support local autism center


More than 100 Fairmount community members came together to support families with autism at the recent Walk the Walk for Autism in Hinsdale. Organized by the Fairmount Student Council, the school raised more than $5,400 for the Charlie's Gift Autism Center! This organization provides therapy and services for children with autism and their families.


Fairmount gives a special thanks to Student Council moderators Bob Luciano and Jennifer Pope.

Eight schools collaborate to support Cupcake Classic 5K


Eight District 58 schools have collaborated to raise awareness about rare diseases! The schools are encouraging families to participate in the Noah's Hope Cupcake Classic 5K, a race that donates proceeds to Batten Disease research. The race is May 17 and starts at McCollum Park in Downers Grove.


Participating schools include the Whittier and Kingsley student councils, as well as the Belle Aire, El Sierra, Henry Puffer, Pierce Downer, Herrick and O'Neill PTAs. Even if you do not attend these schools, you may still support this cause!


The race celebrates the birthdays of Noah and Laine, two Downers Grove children with Batten Disease. Every participant will receive a delicious birthday cupcake at the race's conclusion. The event includes a 5K race and a Kids 1-Mile Run.


Noah's Hope was developed by Noah and Laine's family to raise money to find treatments and a cure for Batten Disease, a terminal disease in which there currently is not a cure. Learn more about Batten Disease at


Learn more about the Cupcake Classic at

Whittier offers heartfelt donation to recent Illinois tornado victims


The Whittier Student Council recently led the Whittier Cares-Hearts for Tornado Relief fundraiser to collect money for the victims of the April 9 tornadoes in Illinois.


Students and staff decorated paper hearts and then returned them to the Whittier Student Council along with donations for the tornado relief effort. In just two days, over $330 was collected and donated to the McCormick Foundation 2015 Illinois Tornado Relief Effort Campaign! With their matching funds, Whittier's donation resulted in a $495 gift for those in need! As an added bonus, the entryway to Whittier School is now decorated in a sea of colorful hearts, demonstrating the caring spirit of our Whittier community!

-Story contributed by Deb Krygeris, Whittier teacher and Student Council moderator
School Spotlight
O'Neill student wins Award of Merit at National PTA Reflections


Connor Podjasek, eighth grader at O'Neill
District 58 congratulates O'Neill Eighth Grader Connor Podjasek for winning an Award of Merit at the National PTA Reflections art competition on May 1. Only four students from Illinois received an award at the national level.


Connor received the Award of Merit in the Photography Category for his photo entry, called "Stop the Clock."  His winning photograph will be featured at several national art galleries in the coming year.


The PTA Reflections art competition annually invites students nationwide to reflect on a common theme and create

Connor's award-winning photos, "Stop the Clock."

original works of art in the categories of dance choreography, film production, literature, 

music composition, photography and visual arts. This year's theme was "The World Would Be A Better Place If..."


Two District 58 projects advanced from the state competition to nationals. In addition to Podjasek, Henry Puffer student Conor Schewe also advanced to the national competition for his photo, "The World Would be a Better Place If We Had More Trees."


"It was very exciting to see two of our District 58 student projects make their way to Nationals," said Hemaxi Mistry, District 58 PTA Reflections program coordinator. 


Learn more about the National PTA Reflections art competition here.

Herrick, O'Neill students excel at American Legion speech contest


(L-R) Marion Deal, Alexa Park, Abby Casmere, Kelly Lyons and Parker Smith
Congratulations to middle school students Abby Casmere, Marion Deal, Kelly Lyons, Alexa Park and Parker Smith, who represented District 58 in the annual American Legion speech contest at Post 80 in Downers Grove last month.

Students voluntarily prepared verbal presentations on the U.S. Constitution or its amendments. Topics included "We The People," "Women's Suffrage" and "Religious Freedom," among others. 

Herrick student Marion Deal took first place, followed by O'Neill student Parker Smith in second. Congratulations!
Board of Education news
The Board of Education held a Budget Workshop on April 27 and a
Board Reorganization Special Meeting on May 4.

During the Reorganization, the Board swore in incumbents John Miller and Doug Purcell and new member Elizabeth Sigale

Sigale replaces Dr. Liz Davis, who retired after serving the Board for 12 years.

In addition, Board President Sallie Lupescu nominated Board Vice President John Cooper to the President's seat. The Board took action to appoint Cooper as the new Board President and Doug Purcell as Board Vice President.

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
O'Neill takes top prize and $60K in national education competition
Select 58 eighth graders honored at awards banquet May 6
Distinguished Service Award recipients inspired each other
Learn more about the new Building Bridges PTA Committee
Welcome Jackelyn Cadard, new preschool coordinator
It's Teacher Appreciation Week! Celebrate with a Green Apple
Poi Dog Pondering show raises $25,000 for District 58
Belle Aire donation will provide 84 people with clean water for life
Hillcrest kicks off fundraiser to build an inclusive playground
Buy one-of-a-kind art at Puffer's Community Art Fair on May 7
Fairmount raises $5,400 to support local autism center
Eight schools collaborate to support Cupcake Classic 5K
Whittier offers heartfelt donation to recent Illinois tornado victims
O'Neill student wins Award of Merit at National PTA Reflections
Board of Education News
Community e-flyers
District 58 on social media

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Looking ahead

May 7
- 7 p.m.
Open houses at several District 58 schools. Please check your school's calendar for details.

May 10
Happy Mother's Day!

May 11
-  7 p.m.
BOE regular meeting at Longfellow

May 13
- 12:45 p.m.  
Parent Tech Workshop at the DG Library
- 1:45 p.m. 
Parent Learning, Reporting and Assessment Overview at the DG Library
- 6:30 p.m.
Parent Tech Workshop at Longfellow
- 7:30 p.m.
Parent Learning, Reporting and Assessment Overview at Longfellow

May 14
6:30 p.m.
Gifted Open House at Whittier

May 19
- 7 p.m.
Herrick Band Concert at Herrick
- 7 p.m.
O'Neill Band Concert at O'Neill

May 21
- 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Third Grade Gifted Open House at Hillcrest
- 7 p.m.
Herrick Orchestra Concert at Herrick
- 7 p.m. 
O'Neill Concert Band and Jazz Band Concert at O'Neill

View the entire 2014-2015 calendar.
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