Communicate 58
News from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 6 Issue 16
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Meet Spencer the therapy dog
Dog helps students develop skills, confidence


Hillcrest greets two very special visitors every Monday afternoon: Mrs. Trish Borla, and her certified therapy dog, Spencer. They visit students in the District's Developmental Learning Program, or DLP.


The DLP comprises students with known or suspected intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are often combined with behavioral issues or communication disorders. To accommodate these students' special needs, the program offers a low student-to-staff ratio, integrated services and, since last December, dog therapy.


"Spencer is very calming for our students with more significant behaviors," said Anna Demlow, DLP teacher. "His mild manner regulates some of our students with autism. It's almost an unspoken bond between the children and Spencer."


Read more about Spencer's visit to the DLP classroom!

Want your child to keep his or her iPad this summer? Learn how!

Students who join District 58's Summer Online Enrichment Program may keep their District-issued iPads all summer long! 

To participate, parents must complete and return this permission form to their child's teacher by Wednesday, June 3. Be sure to circle "Yes" when the form asks if your child would like to keep his or her iPad. 

The Summer Online Enrichment Program is a new, free math and reading program designed to help keep our students' skills up this summer. This program will offer direct links to online math learning tools, such as IXL and Khan Academy. Participants will use these tools to complete their weekly math practice expectations. The program will also feature an Online Reading Log that students may use to record their minutes spent reading.

Students will receive notes of recognition and encouragement from their school's teachers as they complete the various goals in this online tool.

The Summer Online Enrichment Program is one of many summer learning opportunities that District 58 and its partners are offering! Learn more


Matt Leiser, Megan Ryder named Apple Distinguished Educators
Matt Leiser
Megan Ryder


Two District 58 employees were recently named Apple Distinguished Educators. 


Congratulations to Lester School Second Grade Teacher Matt Leiser and District Instructional Coach Megan Ryder!


The Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Program began in 1994, when Apple recognized K-12 and higher education pioneers who use a variety of Apple products to transform teaching and learning in powerful ways. Today it has grown into a worldwide community of more than 2,000 visionary educators and innovative leaders who are doing amazing things

with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. Apple is pleased to welcome Matt Leiser and Megan Ryder to the ADE Class of 2015.  


Learn more about this group of innovative educators online.

District 58 students may now access free e-books with iPads

It's never been easier for students to find a good book, thanks to a unique partnership between District 58 and the Downers Grove Public Library.

All District 58 students - even those who are not Downers Grove residents - may now access the Downers Grove Public Library's entire 3M Cloud Library collection using their iPad. 

If your children join the District 58 Summer Online Enrichment Program and keep their iPads this summer, they'll have thousands of books at their fingerprints all summer long!

In addition to the 3M Cloud Library, District 58 has also received rights to use three other free e-book collections: Axis 360, Follett Shelf and Overdrive.

Read details on how to access these e-book collections. If you have questions, please contact your child's school's LRC director.

Please be aware that the e-book collections contain some titles that may be inappropriate for children. As always, please monitor your child's activities on their iPad, including their use of eBooks.

Learn more about the free e-book collections that District 58 students may access!

58 Doing Good
Hillcrest raises nearly $16,000 to build a well in South Sudan

Earlier this year, Hillcrest fifth graders set a lofty classroom goal: to raise $15,000 to build a well in South Sudan, an area that lacks access to clean water.

To measure their progress, Hillcrest fifth graders built a cardboard-brick well. Each brick signifies a fundraising milestone.

In an interview last March, Hillcrest fifth grade teacher John Smoke said, "We aren't sure if we'll make it, but we'll try our best. If anything, this fundraiser will teach students the intrinsic feeling of giving."

Yet, the Hillcrest community rallied together, gathering support from other District 58 families and the Downers Grove community/businesses. Hillcrest fifth graders even led an evening assembly explaining the fundraiser's significance. Assembly guests included Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli, Board President Sallie Lupescu and Mayor Martin Tully.

By the end of April, they amazingly reached their goal - and then some - raising nearly $16,000 for the nonprofit organization Water for South Sudan. The organization recently shared that the Hillcrest School Well will be built during South Sudan's next drilling season, which begins in December. Once the well's construction is complete, Water for South Sudan will share photos of the wonderful end results!

Did you know? The Belle Aire Student Council held a Water Challenge last month and raised nearly $2,000 to Water for South Sudan. This donation will provide about 84 people with clean water for life!

Read an earlier story highlighting Hillcrest and Belle Aire's efforts to support Water for South Sudan.

District 58 families donate $55K to American Heart Association
Pierce Downer families jump rope together during a Jump Rope for Heart activity.

District 58 enjoys a 30-year partnership with the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart program, and for good reason! The program offers District 58 a win-win situation: it educates students about heart health, and it provides families an easy opportunity to donate to a great cause.

This year, District 58 families donated more than $55,000 to support the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart program! Thank you for your incredible generosity.


"I'm so thankful for our partnership with District 58," said Mary Lou Torrison, youth market director for the American Heart Association. "The PE teachers go above and beyond to teach their kids and families about the importance of heart health and to raise lifesaving funds for the AHA."

The AHA provided District 58 with heart-healthy learning materials - posters, suggested PE activities, lesson plans and more. PE teachers had a wonderful time teaching important heart-health lessons and leading fun exercises! Some even invited grandparents and relatives to join the fun!

Learn more about District 58's Jump Rope for Heart participation on our 58 Doing Good page:

Henry Puffer walk/run event raises $1,200 for St. Baldrick's

The Henry Puffer Student Council led a walk/run fundraiser on May 22 to support the St. Baldrick Foundation. Thanks to their school community's generosity, they raised more than $1,200 to support childhood cancer research!


For a small donation, participants - students, parents and staff - could run laps around Henry Puffer (it's a farther distance than you might think!).  Donations of $50 or more gave participants the opportunity to shave their head or dye their hair green.


Photo provided by Henry Puffer teacher and Student Council moderator Katie Hurckes

Belle Aire donates $225 to support Nepal relief efforts

Belle Aire students and staff raised $225.66 for the nonprofit Watts of Love. Student Council sponsored a Hat Day on May 8. Students wore their favorite hat and donated $1. Teachers contributed $5 to wear jeans for the week.


Kevin Kuster, from Watts of Love, will travel to devastated Nepal this month to distribute life-changing solar lanterns and headlamps. The people of Nepal do not have electricity in their huts. The solar lanterns and headlamps will improve their quality of life by extending their day for work and education.

Pictured in the photo to the right: Belle Aire Student Council Executive Board: Adam, Arden, Ella and Emily, pictured with Kevin Kuster from Watts of Love. 

- Contributed by Joan Mommsen, Belle Aire LRC Director and Student Council moderator
School Spotlight
13 aspiring writers selected to go to Young Authors' Conference 


Kingsley's Hannah Venzon displays the certificate she received at the Young Authors' Conference.

Thirteen students represented District 58 at the Illinois Young Authors' Conference in Normal, Ill., on May 16. The students were selected among hundreds who entered original stories into the District's Young Authors' Contest.


The conference was a dream come true for young writers. It featured literary discussions, author workshops, book talks and meet-and-greets with published authors. 

For example, Kingsley student Hannah Venzon and her mom, Kim, enjoyed listening to children's author Jim Aylesworth speak.


"Hannah came away with many ideas to help her further her interest in writing," Kim said.


This annual event exists to celebrate exceptional writing by students in grades K-8.


Congratulations to District 58 Young Authors' Conference representatives! 


Julia Szostak, Belle Aire
Mia Passi, El Sierra
Diana Kwak, Fairmount
Lauren Hill, Henry Puffer
Max Polaski, Highland
Hannah Crowe, Hillcrest
Jack Kamuda, Indian Trail
Hannah Venzon, Kingsley
Lincoln Geist, Lester
Kathryn Rutkowski, Pierce Downer
Alexa Moy and Claire Mathews, Whittier
Kira Matheson, O'Neill
Whittier third graders find creative and new innovative ways to learn


Whittier third grade teacher Louise Modine found fun ways to mix things up and incorporate technology into three different projects this spring! Check it out:

Architecture Tours: Modine assigned pairs of students a famous Chicago building to research. With LRC Director Kelly Coleman's help, the students researched and wrote a traditional paper on their building. But that's not all! Here comes the incredibly innovative part:


"They used their iPads to mirror their building on the smartboard, which created an artistic replica of their building. We put all of their buildings together to create the Chicago skyline," Modine said. "Plus, each building has a code on it. If you scan the code on their building with an iPad mini, a video presentation pops up of the students giving a tour of their building as they report on their research!"


Pizza Book Reports: Students took a bite out of a good book for their "pizza book report," a unique spin on the traditional book report. Modine partnered with Kara Jurinek, fellow Whittier third grade teacher, for this project.


"Students read a realistic fiction book that is at their 'just right' level," Modine said. "They created a pizza where each slice contains a literary element that we have studied throughout the course of the year."


The completed "pizzas" then got placed into a real pizza box, donated by the local downtown Downers Grove Giordano's.


Virtual Bookshelf: All Whittier third graders wrote their autobiography using the "book creator" app.


"I created a virtual bookshelf on my smartboard so that at open house, parents and students could simply tap on the book and view it. Amazing!" Modine said.


Keep up the creative work!

Highland fourth graders celebrate Roald Dahl Day


Highland fourth graders recently explored the wonderful world of Roald Dahl. They read several of his beloved children's classics and completed related assignments.


Their Roald Dahl classroom unit culminated in a very special Roald Dahl Day celebration. Students could dress up in costume, and they saw a live play version of "The BFG."


"This is our way of rewarding them for all of their hard work," said Diana Springer, Highland fourth grade teacher. "The costumes included Willy Wonka, Matilda, a Giant Peach, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, Oompa Loompas, Witches and so many more."


After the field trip, fourth graders returned to Highland for more Roald Dahl Day fun. Students played a Roald Dahl trivia game and enjoyed themed snacks, which included peaches to honor "James and the Giant Peach" and Wonka candy.


"Five of the Wonka bars had Golden Ticket Homework Passes hidden in them!" Springer said.

Special thanks to Mrs. Diana Springer for sharing this photo. View the entire story and more photos here!

Congressman Roskam teaches Belle Aire sixth graders


Belle Aire fifth graders recently enjoyed a visit with Congressman Peter Roskam. He taught them an interactive lesson on "How a Bill Becomes a Law." Thank you Congressman Roskam for spending time with our students! They learned a lot from you!
Board of Education news
The Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, May 11 at the Longfellow Center. Topics discussed included: 
- Flag salute and presentation by Highland School
- Spotlight on our schools: STEM update
- Superintendent's report
- Business report
- Committee reports

Read the Board Briefs for the May 11 Board of Education meeting.
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
Meet Spencer the therapy dog
Want your child to keep his or her iPad this summer? Learn how!
Matt Leiser, Megan Ryder named Apple Distinguished Educators
District 58 students may now access free e-books with iPads
Hillcrest raises nearly $16,000 to build a well in South Sudan
District 58 families donate $55K to American Heart Association
Henry Puffer walk/run event raises $1,200 for St. Baldrick's
Belle Aire donates $225 to support Nepal relief efforts
13 aspiring writers selected to go to Young Authors' Conference
Whittier third graders find creative and new innovative ways to learn
Highland fourth graders celebrate Roald Dahl Day
Congressman Roskam teaches Belle Aire sixth graders
Board of Education News
Community e-flyers
District 58 on social media

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Have you registered your child yet for the 2015-16 school year? If not, visit for instructions or look for an April 15 parent email on registration.
Give a
Green Apple!

Give a special District 58 teacher or staff member a Green Apple Award to celebrate the end of the school year. Learn more here.
Looking ahead

June 4
- 5-6 p.m.
O'Neill eighth grade promotion at Downers Grove South
- 7-8 p.m.
Herrick eighth grade promotion at Downers Grove North

June 5
Last day of school
- Half attendance day

View the entire 2014-2015 calendar.
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