Communicate 58
News from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 7 Issue 7
Friday, Dec. 18, 2015
Happy holidays from District 58!
This photo depicts some of the gifts that the Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club recently donated to District 58 families in need.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another holiday, District 58 wishes you a very joyous season and a happy new year!  District 58 got into the holiday spirit this month, with students and staff enjoying holiday-themed classroom activities and service projects. 

Communicate 58 will feature a  special "58 Doing Good"-themed edition  right after the holidays. This future issue will be entirely dedicated to District 58 holiday service and philanthropic stories. We look forward to sharing it with you.

Please see the links below for some of District 58's holiday highlights!

Kate Nickell: "Nothing is impossible"
O'Neill teacher returns strong after battling cancer

Kate Nickell possesses the ability to put anyone at ease. She greets others with a smile and a warm welcome. An O'Neill seventh grade English-language arts teacher, she comes to work early, leaves late and always does her best. Her energy seems endless.

Yet, there is much more than meets the eye. This past year, Kate has fought - and more importantly,  survived - acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer that affects blood and bone marrow.  This month's employee spotlight shares Kate's incredible survival story . She recounts her journey, including the unwavering support she received from her O'Neill family.

In Kate's word:  "I am not scared anymore. Having cancer and winning the fight has turned me into a fighter. There is nothing I cannot do and nothing I cannot accomplish. I have been to hell and back, and now I can see clearly through the clouds. To me, nothing is impossible anymore."

District 58 joins the Hour of Code

Argonne's Ti Leggett talked about coding with O'Neill students, including these seventh graders in O'Neill's engineering class.
Many District 58 students got hands-on with computer science and coding activities last week for Hour of Code.

Hour of Code is a global movement to inspire students to take interest in computer science. Here in District 58, many classrooms spent time learning about computer science and coding.

For example, Kingsley sixth graders discussed computer science with Rep. Bill Foster via Skype. In addition, s ome O'Neill students learned coding basics from a special guest: Ti Leggett, a computer scientist at Argonne.

Students at Highland and Fairmount eagerly shared what interested them about coding. Read their insights here.
Novel Ideas at Belle Aire
A Glance at our Grants: Episode 2

Belle Aire sixth graders enjoy reading so much that many of their classroom novels are tattered and worn from years of use. Thanks to an Education Foundation grant, their teacher, Patricia Miller, now has a freshly stocked classroom library, featuring popular award-winning children's books.  

View this short video -- Episode 2: " Novel Ideas at Belle Aire" -- to learn why Miller believes these books open conversations about social-emotional learning and the greater world around students. Hear from the students themselves as they share why they like reading and their favorite books.

Check out all "A Glance at our Grants" videos at 
ISBE publishes PARCC results

The Illinois State Board of Education published the 2014-15 PARCC assessment results for District 58.  In reviewing the preliminary results, District 58 is pleased to perform above state average, with  47 percent  of students meeting or exceeding standards in English-Language Arts and  38 percent  of students meeting or exceeding standards in Mathematics. Overall state average is  33 percent.

State Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith encourages parents  not  to over-interpret these first-time test results. PARCC's scoring system is  completely different  from the ISAT assessment. This new scoring system has  higher standards and a new baseline  on which the District's scores will be measured against in the future.

District 58  will not use PARCC assessment scores to identify or place children in any instructional program or service.  Since the PARCC is a new scoring system in its first year, sufficient data regarding the results and the skills/aptitudes they represent are not yet available to make well-informed academic decisions with these results.  

As we have done in the past with ISAT results, District 58 plans to send individual score reports home to families with report cards, MAP scores and other assessment results at the conclusion of the quarter.

Learn more information at 
Community Partnerships
Thank you DG Junior Woman's Club and DG Roadrunners Soccer Club

The Downers Grove Roadrunners Soccer Club annually helps District 58 students from low-income families - providing school supplies in August, coats in October and holiday gifts in December. This year was no exception, as the club provided  500+ gifts for more than 130 students and families in need!

In addition, the Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club sponsored families at three District 58 schools this holiday season. Together they donated $2,500 to spend on the families. Club members strategically purchased gifts on sale, so while they spent $2,500 on gifts, the retail value of all the gifts was about double that figure! 

Both organizations provided more than children's presents to these families; they also donated gift cards for groceries and gas, as well as bus and train passes. 

District 58 sincerely thanks the Downers Grove Roadrunners (especially Carl Turk and Lisa Forst), as well as the Downers Grove Junior Woman's Club (especially Elizabeth Kinder) for their generosity. The District also thanks everyone else in the community who helped make a District 58 family's holiday more joyous.

School Spotlight
Highland fifth and sixth graders perform a swingin' jazz concert

Highland fifth and sixth graders performed a swingin' jazz concert for family and friends this month! Check out this two-minute highlight video.
Student artists celebrated at
PTA Reflections Ceremony

District 58 staff and PTA members hosted a PTA Reflections Ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at Herrick Middle School. The ceremony honored all students who participated in this year's Reflections art contest, and gave special recognition to those students whose projects were selected to move forward to the regional competition. Congratulations!

View a list of Reflections participants here.
(Names with an 
asterisk (*) denote students who will proceed to the Regional competition.)
Cinnamon the therapy dog helps Indian Trail students

Meet Cinnamon the dog. Cinnamon and his owner, former special education teacher Karen Click ( right), occasionally visit Indian Trail School for pet therapy. There, they meet with small groups of students who may need additional help with behavioral skills and communication.

Together, the students learn how to read cues and practice impulse control, with assistance from Cinnamon, Ms. Click and Mallory Wielgolewski ( left), Indian Trail's social worker.

"The therapy dog has been a huge help for the students," Wielgolewski said. "The dog represents a nonjudgmental friend. Students are more sensitive about respecting the dog's personal space, since the dog cannot communicate his needs. The students often surprise me by connecting social-emotional learning and zones of regulation lessons from the classroom to the skills we practice with Cinnamon. It's very impressive!"
Pierce Downer fifth graders engineer Lifesaver race cars

The winning race car team!
Kelly DeMarco, a Pierce Downer fifth grade teacher, challenged her students to build race cars using only paper, lifesavers, paper clips, straws and tape. Students would operate the racecars by blowing on them. Successful racecars needed to travel the farthest on a straight line.
Her students formed teams and designed, built and tested their model cars. They used different scientific variables to test and improve upon them.

"Students applied STEM skills and truly got to think like a scientist during this project," DeMarco said. "In teams, they planned, built, tested and perfected their race cars, similar to how actual engineers and scientists design prototypes of real-life tools."

The project concluded when students competed to see which team designed the best race car. Students raced their top-performing car, called their elite race car, as well as their second-highest performing car, called their "premiere" car. 

Board News
The Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Monday, Dec. 14. Read Board Briefs here.

The meeting included: 
- Flag salute and presentation by Lester School
- A spotlight on the Optional Kindergarten Enrichment & Enhancement Program, along with options for potential expansion next school year
- A review of PARCC results
- And more!

The next Board of Education Regular Meeting will take place Monday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Longfellow Center, 1435 Prairie Ave.
Community e-flyers
E-flyer logo
  District 58 logo
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 [email protected] or 630-719-5805. 
In this issue
Happy holidays from District 58!
Kate Nickell: "Nothing is impossible"
District 58 joins the Hour of Code
Novel Ideas at Belle Aire
ISBE publishes PARCC results
Thank you DG Junior Woman's Club and DG Roadrunners Soccer Club
Highland fifth and sixth graders perform a swingin' jazz concert
Student artists celebrated at PTA Reflections Ceremony
Cinnamon the therapy dog helps Indian Trail students
Pierce Downer fifth graders engineer Lifesaver race cars
Board news
Community e-flyers
Reminder: Science Fair registration closes today!
Reading Games volunteer news
SIT Conference

Reminder: Science Fair registration closes today!

Sign your child up for District 58's annual Science Fair here by Friday, Dec. 18. The registration password is "science".

Reading Games volunteer news

District 58 is looking ahead -- way ahead! 

Want to help plan the 2017 Reading Games? The 2017 Reading Games will be a joint effort between District 58 staff and the PTA.

Come to a meeting Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. at Whittier School to learn more!

SIT Conference

Do you have a third grader or older interested in science and tech? Sign him or her up for the Students Involved with Technology (SIT) Conference, which takes place Feb. 20 in Bensonville!

The SIT Conference offers hands-on activities, competitions, a key-note speaker and much more. 

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