News from Homewood School District 153/ November 17, 2016
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A Letter from the Superintendent

Before parent-teacher conferences next week and our extended Thanksgiving break, I wanted to report on the atmosphere in our schools this past week and tell you how proud and thankful I am to be a part of this wonderful learning environment.
I know we have all been unsettled by the coverage in the press of incidents of harassment, threats and violence-some in educational settings-in the wake of last week's election.
Thankfully, we haven't seen those incidents here in our schools. For that, I credit the years of groundwork we have laid in the school district through our SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) and PBIS (Positive Behavioral and Intervention Supports) programs. From their first days at Willow School until we promote them to high school, our students are intentionally taught and reminded that all students are welcome here. That we are all made better and stronger and richer by being in one another's company and learning from each other. That we expect them to treat all people with kindness and respect. That disagreement is normal and expected but disrespecting any student or staff member will come with serious consequences.
Respect. Responsibility. Kindness. These are the hallmarks of Homewood Schools. We stress these principles not only because they promote academic success but also because they help build character and good citizenship that will serve students well throughout their lives.
But I also must place credit with the greater Homewood community where people continue to want to live and work and send their children to school, not in spite of its diversity, but because of it. Our school culture of inclusiveness, respect and kindness could never take hold with students if it wasn't being nurtured and backed up by parents at home and by our local places of worship, businesses and other organizations and institutions.
So this Thursday, please know that I will be offering up even more thanks than usual for our parents, grandparents, and greater community. I will be forever grateful for the many, many ways you support Homewood Schools.
Best wishes for a restful and fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday.

Dr. Dale Mitchell, Superintendent
Please take the survey!
District 153 parents and guardians are encouraged to take the State of Illinois' "5 Essentials" survey to gauge school environment. You can take the survey at home by clicking here:
  • Takes less than 10 minutes to complete
  • Available in English and Spanish
  • Parents with children enrolled in more than one school may take the survey for each school
District 153 Says Thank You to Area Veterans

District 153 was honored to host several local veterans at Churchill School for the 2nd Annual Veterans Appreciation Breakfast on Nov. 11th.

There were so many wonderful moments: 
  • (Right) U.S. Army veteran Dan Savage surprised his mom, Willow School Principal Mary Ann Savage, via FaceTime
  • Honored guests were asked to stand during the playing of the song from their branch of the military
  • Music was provided by the James Hart Chamber Orchestra, the Homewood Children's Choir, the James Hart Choral Ensemble, and the James Hart Jazz Band.

 The school district is grateful to be able to teach students about the true meaning of the holiday.

James Hart sends a talented dozen to local music festival

Congratulations to the 12 students who participated in the Illinois Music Educators Association District 1 Festival at Lincoln Way Central on Nov. 5th. Students are invited to participate through an audition process. The students competed against hundreds for the honors, performing selected solo works for the judges to earn their places. Only a small percentage of the very top musicians from about 60 schools were selected.

L to R: Grace Gallus, orchestra; Andrew Heligas, choir; Savannah Holly, choir; Grace Anderson, orchestra; Tacy Graham, orchestra; Alex Bertucci, choir; Asya Lengel, orchestra; Isabella Jackson, choir; Sofi Riedel, choir; Kirkland Benson, band; Damian Nava, orchestra. Not pictured: Madilyn Harris, orchestra.
'Tis the Season to Give

As the holiday season gets underway, James Hart students have been busy collecting and donating various items. 
Above,  former school board member Tom Brabec (center) joins students at James Hart to pack and transport the school's donations to the Thornton Food Pantry. The food drive was part of the school district's "Tom Brabec Day of Service," to honor the former board member's service. Churchill School collected personal care items for Suburban Access.

The Friends of Rachel Club at James Hart School collected over 75 pounds of candy from all three schools to share with those serving our country.

Homewood PTA Wants to Know: What's Your Story?

Reflections is a National PTA arts program that asks students to create works of art in any of the following categories:  Dance Choreography;  Film Production;  Literature;  Music Composition;  Photography; and  Visual Arts  
The theme this year is "What Is Your Story?"
For the program, students can create as many projects as they like, in as many categories as they like.  All entries must be submitted to the Homewood PTA through the student's local school office by December 1.  Projects will then advance through a judging system through council, district, region, state and national levels of the program.  Notification of student progress through the levels will occur as updates are received from the Illinois PTA. Official program rules, a student entry form, and a themed poster are attached to this email for your review and use. 
A final celebration will occur at SPOTLIGHT '17 at Millikin University on Saturday, May 13 in Decatur, Illinois. The day will consist of a free celebration of arts for all children in Illinois, and will include arts workshops, Reflections galleries, and student recognition.
For additional information about Reflections and the arts in Illinois, please visit or

Or contact Homewood PTA Reflections Chair, Camille Byrd O'Quin at  (832) 599-4512 or

Student Entry Form
To Get Your Thanksgiving Holiday Off to a Great Start...

...nothing beats the unbridled enthusiasm of Willow School kindergartners! They danced up a storm on Nov. 10th at a party to celebrate their own good behavior. 

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

PTA Launches 1st Schwan's Campaign of the Year

Homewood PTA is once again joining with Schwan's Cares to offer you delicious food options...delivered right to your door!! 

Whether it's ice cream, breakfast items, gluten-free options, heart-healthy options, quick dinners or delicious sides, Schwan's has what you're looking for!!  Schwan's is also nationwide, which means you can share this fundraiser with friends and family in other states!!

You can order at, (campaign # 30478 "Willow Elementary School") This is the first of 3 campaigns we will run this year....naming each after one of our wonderful schools!

OUR CAMPAIGN BEGINS ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH.  WE WILL RECEIVE 20% PROFIT ON ALL FOOD SALES (40% OF GIFT CARD SALES) UNTIL JANUARY 8, 2017.  After this date, we will receive a smaller profit, until the campaign ends.
Support Your Schools as You Shop Amazon for the Holidays!
Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchases to Foundation 153 through its Amazon Smile program.

1. Go to
2. Login into your Amazon account
3. Select "Homewood Foundation for Educational Excellence"
4. Shop!
Upcoming Events

Nov. 17          Butter Braid order pick-up, JH cafeteria, 4:30-7:00 pm
Nov. 21          No School: Parent-Teacher Conferences
Nov. 22:         No School: Parent-Teacher Conferences
Nov. 23          No School
Nov. 24          No School: Happy Thanksgiving!
Nov. 25:         No School
Nov. 30:         Voyage to Excellence, HF High School North Fieldhouse, 7:00-8:30 pm
Dec. 8:           James Hart Choir Concert, JH gym, 7:00 pm
Dec. 12:         School Board Meeting, JH Media Center, 7:00 pm
Dec. 20:         Concert: 4th/5th-Grade Choirs and HCC, JH gym, 7:00 pm
Dec. 22:          Early Dismiss Day
Dec. 23:         Winter Break Begins
Jan. 9:           No School: Staff Institute Day
Jan. 10:          Students return
Homewood School District #153 | 708.799.8721 |