November 2015
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If you haven't noticed, we've certainly been busy throughout Palos 118!  
In just the past few weeks, we've held parent teacher conferences, discussed ways to improve our schools at our Fall Board Retreat, saluted our veterans at South's Annual Veterans Day Ceremony, and successfully hosted our first ever district-wide BooBash. We've also been celebrating American Education Week - a week in which we take time to celebrate public education and the public educators responsible for our student success. 
So as the Thanksgiving Holiday approaches, I reflect on all the wonderful programming we're able to offer our students and families and I'm grateful that as a school district we have the resources, the community support and outstanding support organizations to do so.  I'm also thankful for our dedicated staff, child focused school board, and engaged parents, without whom we would not be able to accomplish so much.
I wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving, and look forward to seeing you at the many holiday events and festivities in the upcoming weeks.   
Anthony M. Scarsella,
Superintendent of Schools
Palos South Honors Veterans
Student Council Vice President Nat Oliven reads names from the Memorial Honor Roll.

Over 40 servicemen and women were honored on  Wednesday, November 11 at Palos South Middle School's annual Veterans Day Assembly.  The service pays tribute to the parents, grandparents, and other family members and friends of the students and staff of Palos School District 118 who have served the country.
Organized and planned by Palos South's Student Council, the program included the placing of the POW/MIA flag, remarks from student council officers and Palos Heights Mayor Robert Straz. Veterans were recognized individually by students and presented with small mementos of gratitude. The Palos South Performing Arts Ensemble sang "God Bless the USA," and honorees also stood to be recognized as the Cardinal Symphonic Band played musical tributes to each of the service sets.
Presiding over the ceremony in his 14 th year was longtime Palos resident Lt. Cmdr. Scott Allen, Ret. of the U.S. Navy whose three children are all graduates of Palos 118. "I've been attending these types of events for 30 plus years and this is by far the most extravagant and best-run event at any school I've ever been to," Allen told the crowd. "Thank you for taking the time to honor America's servicemen and women."
Palos VFW Patriot's Pen Essay Contest winners Nicholas Skweres, Ella McDevitt, and Daniel Clough read their winning essays on "What Freedom Means to Me." At the conclusion of the ceremony, Trumpeters Luke Christy and Gianna Hurley performed "Taps."
Cold Weather Safety Information

As the winter approaches, our streets get icy and the snow piles up creating additional safety precautions to be observed.  When the bus approaches, students should stand at their stop five minutes before their scheduled time in a line - not running around.  When the bus comes to a complete stop, the driver will motion that it is safe to board.  The students should be looking at the driver for any additional instructions as the driver observes the traffic for any unforeseen safety concerns.
Santa's Secret Shop
Saturday, December 5
9 a.m. at Palos South

Little ones can experience the excitement and pride of buying gifts for their loved ones at Santa's Secret Shop sponsored by the PFA.  Our elves assist young shoppers through merchandise selection and purchase, guide them to the wrapping center, and return them safely to their parents.  While kids are shopping, parents have time to enjoy home baked goodies, explore the vendor fair, or relax. Look for more information in upcoming eCouriers.
Boo Bash 2015

The Palos 118 PFA's firt Boo Bash Halloween party at Palos East on October 24 was an enormous success. Interest was so overwhelming, the PFA split the party into two time slots in an effort to accomodate as many families as possible. Children enjoyed dancing, a magic show, participating in games, a costume parade, and venturing down a "Haunted Hallway."
People You Should Know...
Palos 118 Support Organization Leaders
Mrs. Anastasia Angelos is the Chairperson of Palos 118's Educational Foundation, a  not for profit organization that provides funding beyond the means of conventional public funding for educational opportunities for district students.  Their major fundraisers are Laps for Literature, the employee-match program, Trivia Night, and the Spring Plant Sale.  The Foundation is currently reaching out to alumni to create a data base for future events. While Mrs. Angelos has been a Foundation director for the past four years, this is her first year as chairperson. She and her husband and have been married for 27 years and have three children, all proud graduates of Palos 118.  Outside of her work with the Foundation, she has been doing what she loves - working as an ELL teacher.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family.  When not watching one of her children's sporting events, she enjoys reading.  
Currently Reading: "And Still We Rise: The Trial and Triumphs of Twelve Inner-City Students" by Miles Corwin.  

Mrs. Gina Miller is serving in her first year as President of the Parent Faculty Association (PFA.) The PFA's goals are to provide enhanced educational programming and fun activities for the children and families in the district. The PFA's major fundraisers and events include the Sham Rock n Roll, Cardinal Chase 5K, and most recently, the Boo Bash Halloween Party. The PFA is  currently revitalizing Santa's Secret Shop to bring the families a fun twist on an old favorite.  Mrs. Miller is also a lunch/playground supervisor at Palos East.  She has been married for 21 years and her two children have both attended District 118. Her son is currently a student at South, and her daughter is now attending college in New York. In her spare time, Mrs. Miller enjoys spending time with family and friends - especially watching her son play baseball and watching her daughter dance in NYC.
Currently Reading: "Born Standing Up" by Steve Martin.
curriculumcornerThe New Generation of Assessment
As we enter into an educational era focusing on higher standards for achievement and the expectation that all students who graduate high school are college and career ready, we must expect changes along the way.  One constant in education is that parents play an important role in the learning process, and your support is essential to your child's academic progress.  
To help parents transition with today's educational changes, I think it is important to understand that one of the major shifts in 21st century learning is that schools are no longer just measuring what students know, but we must also hold a high priority on what they can do.  This is why you will continue to see and hear the terms performance-based learning and performance-based assessment.  The goal of performance-based learning is to help students become motivated, independent learners who know and use essential concepts, information, skills, and work habits.  These skills will help them be successful regardless of the type of career path they choose to pursue.
To assess deeper levels of learning, schools need to begin to place more of an emphasis on performance-based assessments that can either be completed in the classroom or done as homework.  This is not a new concept to our teachers or students, but as we begin to explore new textbook series and digital resources, we notice less of a focus on measuring what students can recall, and more of an emphasis on what they can do.  This shift can be difficult for parents to understand as many of these assessments do not lend themselves to study guides that involve the regurgitation of facts and rote memorization, but they specifically measure a child's ability to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills. 

As we continue through this process, teachers will be encouraged to share feedback with students (and parents) explaining what was accomplished and why they received a particular grade or rating. This is usually provided through the use of rubrics or specific written feedback, sometimes asking the child to explain or elaborate for additional credit.  Effective assessment needs to be continuous and ongoing, and our teachers will continue to assess students in multiple ways throughout the school year. 

As with all challenges associated with education, the key to every child's success is effective communication between the teacher, child, and parents.  I am confident that our entire learning community will continue to move forward to ensure that our students are ready for the world that awaits them.
PARCC Update:
This spring, students in grades 3-8 will once again be taking PARCC tests as required by the Illinois State Board of Education. After considering feedback from school districts and parents, ISBE has announced that testing times will be reduced, and the Performance Based Assessment (PBA) and End of Year Assessment (EOY) will be combined to one testing window.  To summarize, students in grades 3-5 will take 3 ELA tests and 4 Math tests.  Students in grades 6-8 will take 3 ELA tests and 3 Math tests. 

District 118 plans on administering the PARCC tests during the window of March 18th through April 27th.  All students will complete their English Language Arts (ELA) tests between March 18th and April 1st (prior to spring break), and Math tests will then be administered from April 12th through April 27th.  As like last year, students will only take 1 test in a day.  Specific dates and schedules for each grade level will be sent out at a later date. 

Districts are beginning to receive preliminary data from last spring's PARCC exams.  Once the data is reviewed and officially released by the Illinois State Board of Education, we will begin to share results.  We anticipate that this will occur in December.  

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