Communicate 58
News from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 8 Issue 7
Friday, Dec. 16, 2016
Greetings from Dr. Cremascoli:
Have a happy holiday!
Dear District 58 Families,
December marks a very busy time of year here in District 58! I've enjoyed visiting schools and observing students hard at work, eager to learn. I was especially impressed with the number of students practicing their coding skills during the recent Hour of Code Week and with the many outstanding student musical performances over the past month!
I was equally heartened to witness the many charitable endeavors our schools complete this time of year. From giving trees to food drives to toy collections and much more, I am proud that District 58 continually gives back to the community. Finally, December is a wonderful time to enjoy extracurricular activities, such as the recent PTA Reflections Ceremony, middle school sports and holiday festivities.
As winter break approaches, I hope you each experience some time to unwind and relax with family and friends. I wish you all a very joyous holiday and a happy new year. See you in 2017!

Kari Cremascoli, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
New website will launch Jan. 1

Jan. 1, 2017: A new year, a new website! District 58 is pleased to announce that beginning in January, it will launch a new and improved website, still at the same URL:
This new WordPress site will offer an easy-to-use, easy-to-search responsive design, accessible from any mobile device. We hope you find this new website useful, and we welcome your feedback. We plan to add additional content and improvements as the year continues. 
PTA Reflections participants honored
  69 projects will advance to regional competition

Lester artists gather at the PTA Reflections ceremony.
District 58 celebrated all students who participated in this year's PTA Reflections competition during a ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at Herrick Middle School. The District also announced the 68 students whose 69 project submissions will advance to the regional level of the competition.

"I would like to thank all the students who submitted such creative and thoughtful entries this year," said District 58 PTA Council Reflections Chair Laura Legare. "Thank you also to our school chairs for all the hard work they do to make this program possible."
O'Neill secretary publishes book, "Cricket's Good Night"

Regina McCutcheon poses with her book, "A Cricket's Good Night" at O'Neill's LRC.
O'Neill Secretary Regina Houlihan McCutcheon has always loved reading and creative writing. During her 12 years as an elementary librarian, she gleaned a keen sense of the types of books children most enjoy. At the top of that list? Cute, anthropomorphic animals and insects.

Regina's sister, Patricia, is a talented artist. Over the years, the two would chat about co-writing a children's book, but it wasn't until two years ago when these discussions grew deeper and turned into a reality.

Using Regina's librarian background, the duo decided to write a book about a lovable, mischievous cricket.

In Our Schools
Whittier reaches $100,000 playground fundraising goal
A few years ago, a group of moms gathered outside Whittier School, watching their children play. They observed the kids jumping over small, odd-shaped bars, and they speculated what purpose the bars served. After a little research, they learned that the bars once functioned as teeter-totter bases.
Over the years, Whittier's playground has received regular safety maintenance and minor updates, such as the removal of the teeter-totters. However, the playground itself is decades old and was built when Whittier's enrollment was half its current size.
This discovery prompted the moms and Whittier PTA to launch a four-year planning and fundraising effort to upgrade Whittier's primary playground. They requested and received support from the Board of Education, District leaders and Whittier parents. And after two years of planning and two years of fundraising, they finally reached their goal!

"It's been a long road of research, planning and fundraising but after about five years we think we've hit our goal," McGinn said. "Our hope is the playground will be replaced in the summer of 2017."

O'Neill wins Fluid Power Challenge, prepares for Bridge Bust competition

Picture this scene: Two groups are hard at work. One group scrutinizes an elaborate CAD (computer-aided design) drawing of a bridge. Another group collaborates to craft a sophisticated engineering model.
This scene occurred earlier this month. Not at an engineering firm. Not even in a college civil engineering lab. But rather, in Dr. Meg Van Dyke's O'Neill classroom after school Wednesday, Dec. 7. An extension of her science classroom, Dr. Van Dyke invites students to visit after school to tinker with engineering and science. A group of about 10 regulars usually stops by.
"I really enjoy engineering. I love math and science," said Mary, an O'Neill eighth grader in the group. "When I grow up, I'd like to have a job in STEM."
This group recently entered the competitive regional Deltrol Fluid Power Challenge. This challenge required students to gain tremendous knowledge of fluid power and to independently demonstrate their expertise through an all-day competition.
O'Neill won the grand prize.
Now, they're preparing for next month's regional University of Illinois Extension Bridge Bust competition. It's essentially a competition to see which students can build the strongest and best-engineered model bridge. They're determined to win this challenge, too.

El Sierra gets jazzy at music concert

This two-minute video shows highlights from El Sierra's recent 5th/6th grade winter concert. The students not only sang historically relevant jazz songs, they also explained each song's place in history. Nice work!
Students join the Hour of Code

Many students across District 58 participated in Hour of Code activities during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 5-11! 

Hour of Code is an international movement designed to introduce children to computer science through exciting and child-friendly coding games and activities.

View a photo gallery featuring Hour of Code photos from Kingsley and Pierce Downer sixth grade classrooms! 
58 Doing Good
Thank you, holiday helpers!
  Local groups donate toys, winter clothes to DG58 

The Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club supported several families this holiday season.
Downers Grove is an incredibly generous community! This holiday season, District 58 received many winter clothing and toy donations from a variety of organizations, including the Downers Grove Roadrunners Soccer Club, the Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club, Family Service Shelter, the Knights of Columbus, Cubs Scouts. several PTAs and Student Councils, and countless others

District 58 sincerely thanks each of you for your time, thoughtfulness and donations. Together, these efforts will help our District 58 children and families in need enjoy a warmer and merrier holiday!
Hillcrest Service Club eagerly gives back to the community

Above: The Hillcrest Service Club writes letters to active military on Dec. 1. These letters will accompany a $1,600 donation and be given to Operation Care Package. The Service Club raised this money through their Donut Forget the Troops fundraiser.

Hillcrest Speech Pathologist Lauren Diamond and Fifth Grade Teacher Brittany Cerny collaborated this year to start a new school club: the Hillcrest Service Club. During the club's first meeting, students brainstormed how they wanted to help the community this school year. Every week since then, the group has embarked on a new project!

"We started this club this year to do a bunch of different service projects around the community and our school!" said Lauren Diamond, Hillcrest speech pathologist and club co-sponsor. "So far this year we have helped our janitor and teachers by completing cleaning and organizing projects around the school, raked leaves for a nearby church, read stories at an adult day center, made treat bags for the DG police department, and even raised over $1,600 for Operation Care Package through a student run initiative called 'Donut Forget Our Troops!' where classes competed to raise money to earn donut treats!" 

During their most recent meeting, we interviewed eight students to learn about their favorite service projects.

Large donation to Blessings in a Backpack will help District 58

District 58/Blessings in a Backpack received nearly 100 of these bins, filled with  food for children in need.
Blessings in a Backpack is a national nonprofit that provides children in need -- including children in District 58 -- with food to eat over the weekend. 

Recently, Tyson Foods held a local employee fundraiser, during which staff purchased, sorted and donated nearly 1,800 bags of food to the District 58 chapter of Blessings in a Backpack. This food will feed all District 58 students in need for six weekends! In addition, Classic Cinemas/Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove offered to store the bags until they're ready for weekly distribution to schools.

Thank you, Blessings in a Backpack, Tyson Foods and Classic Cinemas/Tivoli Theatre for your generosity!
O'Neill Cadettes spend their day off helping a good cause

O'Neill Middle School Cadette girl scouts kicked off their Thanksgiving break in the best way  possible -- by helping those in need. The girls volunteered their time packing boxes of food for Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit that provides food to children in need worldwide. Each volunteer packed enough food to feed one starving child for seven months! Thank you for your service, Cadettes!
Pierce Downer Family Fun Night accepts donations to help local kids

The  Pierce Downer Student Council recently hosted a holiday-themed Family  Movie Night. While the event was free, the students collected donations to support purchasing holiday gifts for local families in need.
The Family  Movie Night showed Elf and Home Alone, and everyone enjoyed hot chocolate and solid family time.  Pierce Downer thanks everyone who made a donation! 
Community E-flyers
E-flyer logo New community e-flyers were posted Dec. 1 and Dec. 15  on the District 58 e-flyer page.    Click here to visit the page  or view the e-flyers below. 

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 shares 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
Greetings from Dr. Cremascoli: Have a happy holiday!
New website will launch Jan. 1
PTA Reflections participants honored 69 projects will advance to regional competition
O'Neill secretary publishes book, "Cricket's Good Night"
Whittier reaches $100,000 playground fundraising goal.
O'Neill wins Fluid Power Challenge, prepares for Bridge Bust competition
El Sierra gets jazzy at music concert
Students join the Hour of Code
Thank you, holiday helpers!
Hillcrest Service Club eagerly gives back to the community
Large donation to Blessings in a Backpack will help District 58
O'Neill Cadettes spend their day off helping a good cause
Pierce Downer Family Fun Night accepts donations to help local kids
Community e-flyers
Parent survey closes Dec. 16
Board News
Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee meeting recap
Upcoming Board meetings
Science Fair reminder
Save the date: Harlem Wizards
District 58 on social media

Like us on Facebook Follow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
Parent survey closes Dec. 16

The District 58 Parent School Environment Survey will close tonight (Friday, Dec.  16) at 11:59 p.m. 

This survey offers parents a valuable opportunity to provide input, which will be used by principals and administrators as they plan school improvement efforts.

Board News
The Board held their regular Board meeting on Monday, Dec. 12. Read the Board Briefs or view the meeting agenda.

The meeting included:
- A spotlight on the Education Foundation Teacher Grants Program. The Foundation awarded 31 grants worth nearly $23,000.

- A Kingsley Playground Committee update

- A Highland Student Council/PTA presentation

- Adoption of the 2016 Certificate of Levy at $53.4 million

- Acceptance of the 2015-16 Audit Report

Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee meeting recap

The Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee held its inaugural meeting on Dec. 6. 

The committee reviewed its purpose, goals and next steps. Members divided into five groups to create committee mission statements.

Committee Chair Elizabeth Sigale said that all five mission statements reflected similar themes, relating to the committee providing a venue for regular, truthful communication and feedback to review district progress on its goals and to develop a road map for updating the District's Strategic Plan.

The Committee will hold its next meeting on Jan. 12 at 7 a.m. at the Longfellow Center. Committee meetings are open to the public.
Upcoming Board meetings:

* Tuesday, Jan. 3
7 a.m.
Financial Advisory Committee at the ASC
* Please note: This date may change. Any changes will be posted online.

Monday, Jan 9
7 p.m.
Regular Board Meeting at Longfellow

Tuesday, Jan 10
6 p.m.
Building Tour and PTA Meeting at O'Neill

Thursday, Jan. 12
7 a.m.
Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee Meeting at Longfellow

Wednesday, Jan. 18
3:45 p.m.
Legislative Committee at the ASC

Thursday, Jan. 19
7:30 a.m.
Coffee with the Staff at Indian Trail
Science Fair reminder

Calling all young scientists! It's time to sign up for the 36th Annual Science Fair!

Registration will close tonight, Friday, Dec. 16. Please sign up  online. Please note: the registration prompts will ask you to sign in to your SQUIRREL account.

The Science Fair will take place Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at O'Neill Middle School. Students in grades 1-8 may participate! 

Save the date: Harlem Wizards

Mark your calendars: The Education Foundation will welcome the world-famous Harlem Wizards to Downers Grove on Sunday, Feb. 12 at Downers Grove South! 

The Harlem Wizards will play the mighty District 58 Downers Grove-trotters basketball team, comprising your favorite teachers, principals, staff and community members! 

The Education Foundation will send families more information about this fun event after winter break.