Communicate 58
News from Downers Grove Grade School District 58
Vol. 9 Issue 4
 December 2017
Season's Greetings, District 58!

Dear District 58 Community,

The holiday season is in full swing, and soon our students and teachers will be home for a much deserved winter break. As I reflect on the year, I am proud of the work we have accomplished together. For example, w e added new English-Language Arts curricular resources, have seen continued growth in our MAP testing scores, and launched a community-wide strategic planning process that will help shape District 58's future.  Together, we are truly preparing our students to be lifelong learners and contributing members of a global society!

To our teachers and staff: Thank you for your commitment to our students' academic and social-emotional success. Every day, you work tirelessly to ensure our students have the best educational opportunities. 

To our parents and community: Thank you for encouraging your children to do their best at school and at home. District 58 is fortunate to have an engaged and dedicated community. We appreciate your support!

And last, but certainly not least, to our students: You are the reason we work in education! Your natural curiosity inspires us and helps us become better educators. Thank you.

I hope you each have a joyous holiday season and a very happy new year.  See you in 2018!

Kari Cremascoli, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Help District 58 plan for the future

What goals should District 58 make? What are the District's strengths and challenges? District 58 wants to hear from YOU!

The District will launch its Vision 58 strategic planning process this January with community forums, focus groups and an online survey open to all District 58 residents. 

Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA), an independent research firm, will lead the District's strategic planning. They will use the community feedback provided to create District 58's new Strategic Plan this spring. This Strategic Plan will guide District 58's decision-making at every level. Come help us envision our future together!

Community Forums:
Community forums are open to all District 58 residents - including parents and residents without children enrolled in District 58 schools - and will take place on:
  • Monday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at O'Neill Middle School (Southside Residents)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at Herrick Middle School (Northside Residents)
  • Saturday, Jan. 27 at 10 a.m. at the Longfellow Center (All Residents)
Focus Groups:
Similar to the community forums, HYA will lead several focus groups with key stakeholder groups, such as District 58 staff, local community groups and parents. They will host focus groups specifically for District 58 parents on: 
  • Monday, Jan. 22 at 1:30 p.m. at the DG Library
  • Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 8:30 a.m. at the DG Library
Online Survey:
The Vision 58 Strategic Planning survey will be open from Jan. 8-27 online at  The survey link will take participants to a third-party website and all responses will remain anonymous. The survey will offer parents and residents another opportunity to share their perceptions of District 58 and their vision for its future.

About District 58's Strategic Plan:

The District 58 Board of Education developed its first district-wide  Strategic Plan   in 2000 and revised it in 2011 with input from parents, staff and community focus groups.  The plan  identifies the District 58 mission, core beliefs and focus areas for future planning. Each summer, District leaders create annual goals using the Strategic Plan as a guide.

District 58 seeks to update its Strategic Plan in 2018 to better reflect the current community's goals for its schools. 

Grove Children's Preschool will host open houses on Jan. 24-25

District 58 invites current and future preschool parents to learn more about Grove Children's Preschool during a winter open house! 
The preschool will will host open houses on:
  • Wednesday, Jan. 24, 6-7 p.m. at Henry Puffer, 2220 Haddow Ave.
  • Thursday, Jan. 25, 6-7 p.m. at
    Indian Trail
    , 6235 Stonewall Ave. 

The preschool invites prospective preschool families to attend from 6-6:30 p.m. and 
current preschool families to attend from 6:30-7 p.m. All parents may tour the preschool, meet the staff and ask questions throughout the open house.

Grove Children's Preschool registration for the 2018-19 school year will open online at on Friday, Jan. 26 at 8 a.m.

Education Foundation partners with KOHA to fundraise for District 58

The Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 is proud to partner with KOHA, a new app technology that will be piloted locally in January 2018!

KOHA serves three purposes: It fundraises for District 58 schools, supports local businesses and awards users points toward exclusive deals and freebies.

More than 25 local businesses in and around Downers Grove have already joined KOHA. (And this number is growing!)

The app is simple to use: 
  1. Download KOHA Life in the App Store or Google Play.
  2. Choose the school you would like to support.
  3. Shop a local business in KOHA.
  4. Snap a picture of the receipt and a portion of your purchase goes back to the school of your choice.
  5. Earn rewards points that you can use at ANY KOHA merchant in the app.
Learn more about KOHA at . Follow them on social media at: ,  and  

Questions about KOHA may be directed to Education Foundation Director and KOHA CEO Janet Alikpala at 
In Our Schools
El Sierra, Highland, Kingsley, Fairmount and Lester explore augmented reality

Fairmount students explore augmented reality during Google's visit.
El Sierra first graders recently chased dinosaurs, while Highland and Kingsley third graders swam through bodies of water. Fairmount fifth graders explored DNA up close, while Lester sixth graders embarked on a Mt. Everest hiking expedition.

How? Google's Expeditions Augmented Reality Pioneer Program team brought its Expedition AR app into these four District 58 schools. Students received mobile devices with Google's built-in augmented reality, or AR, technology. The AR technology mapped the classroom's physical space and placed 3D objects throughout the room. Students used the devices to walk around and explore the objects. Some students also used VR, or virtual reality, components of the app to more closely explore faraway places, such as the Mt. Everest hiking expedition at Lester.

While this activity was fun, it also served important educational purposes. Teachers could select which Google AR experience they wanted for their students to explore, tying it to their curriculum. For example, Katie Cronquist's El Sierra second graders explored natural habitats.

"We're studying habitats in science right now, and the Expeditions AR experience is helping the students immerse themselves in different habitats without leaving the classroom," Ms. Cronquist said.

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade inspires Belle Aire sixth grade float designs

The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade annually showcases large, majestic balloons that bob along the parade route. But how do these giant balloons stay up? Belle Aire sixth graders set out to find an answer!

"We began by watching a short video on Science Friday about the Macy's parade and the science behind keeping these enormous balloons afloat," said Tricia Miller, Belle Aire fifth/sixth grade teacher. "The students read a short text about Tony Sarg, who was a puppeteer and worked for Macy's."

The students used this new knowledge to design and engineer their own Thanksgiving balloon floats. 

New Herrick fundraiser focuses on kindness, nets almost $22,000 

The top fund-raisers got to duct tape Principal Mr. Neustadt and Assistant Principal Mrs. Gray to the wall!
Thinking outside the box, Herrick Middle School experimented with a new way to raise money - introducing Raise Craze! During this fundraiser, students performed acts of kindness for others while raising money for their school. They emailed friends and family about their good deeds and asked them to consider making a donation to Herrick. No pledges, no selling - just kindness! Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well to their pleasant surprise, it was that simple. Raise Craze was a HUGE success, netting nearly $22,000! 

58 Doing Good
Pierce Downer donates holiday stockings to families in need

The Pierce Downer PTA Service Learning Committee recently hosted a Stocking Stuffing Party to benefit Sharing Connections, a local charity that provides furniture and household items to those coping with a crisis.

"Pierce Downer School students and families as well as Pierce Downer neighbors generously donated stocking-sized toys," said Melanie Jankauskas, a Pierce Downer parent.

Students gathered in the school gym and filled 125 holiday stockings with the donated toys and gifts. Sharing Connections CEO Deborah Rickert joined the students and talked about how the organization impacts the local community.

58 Doing Good: Please contribute your school's service story! 

Tis the season for charitable giving! Did your child's school or school group complete a service project this holiday season? Please share it with for possible publication in a future Communicate 58 issue and on the District's 58 Doing Good website!
Community E-flyers
E-flyer logo
District 58 emailed new community e-flyers to all parents on  Nov. 30 and Dec. 15. E-flyers are also posted on the District 58 e-flyer page at and listed below.

In this issue
Season's Greetings, District 58!
Help District 58 plan for the future
Grove Children's Preschool will host open houses on Jan. 24-25
Education Foundation partners with KOHA to fundraise for District 58
El Sierra, Highland, Kingsley, Fairmount and Lester explore augmented reality
Macy's Thanksgiving Parade inspires Belle Aire sixth grade float designs
New Herrick fundraiser focuses on kindness, nets almost $22,000
Pierce Downer donates holiday stockings to families in need
58 Doing Good: Please contribute your school's service story!
Community E-flyers
Reminder: School environment survey closes Friday
Board of Education news
Upcoming Board meetings
PTA Reflections - 68 projects advance
Community generosity
District 58 on social media

Like us on Facebook Follow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube

Reminder: School environment survey closes Friday

The District 58 Parent School Environment Survey is open through Friday, Dec. 22. 

Please consider taking this short survey!  Your input will help guide our ongoing school improvement efforts.

News from the Board of Education

The Board of Education held its fall Financial Workshop on Monday, Nov. 27. The workshop focused on financial forecasts, as well as the recently-passed evidence-based model of school funding.

The Board held a regular business meeting on Monday, Dec. 11. The meeting featured the ELA curriculum, the 1:1 technology survey, Highland School enrollment and more.

Upcoming Board meetings

Monday, Jan. 8 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee at the ASC


Monday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at the Downers Grove Village Hall


Wed., Jan. 24 at 7 a.m.: Meet & Confer Strategic Plan Committee Focus Group at Longfellow

PTA Reflections - 68 projects advance

District 58 celebrated all students who participated in this year's PTA Reflections competition during a ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at Herrick Middle School.

The District also announced the 67 students whose 68 project submissions will advance to the regional level of the competition. Great work!

Community generosity

District 58 thanks everyone who has graciously donated items to help our families in need this holiday season. For example:

The Downers Grove Roadrunners donated holiday toys, gifts and other goodies for 75 students in need.

The Knights of Columbus donated several coats in all sizes. Plus, several generous individuals donated coats and cold weather accessories as well.

The Downers Grove Knit Club donated many hand-made hats, gloves and scarves.

Compass Church donated blankets and gift cards to help local homeless families.

Thank you for your help!

Here are upcoming dates:

Monday, Dec. 25-Friday, Jan. 7
No School: Winter Break

Monday, Jan. 15
No School: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Friday, Jan. 19
End of Second Quarter

Saturday, Jan. 20
Science Fair at O'Neill Middle School

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.