September, 2017     

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Superintendent's  Message: 
Disney or Bust!
Dear Families,
Every year, educators join together to celebrate the retirement of our colleagues.  When asked what the current crop of retiring educators plan to do with their new found free time, like clockwork at least one educator speaks with enthusiasm about a planned fall vacation.  Why are they so enthusiastic about a fall vacation?  Because they haven't taken one in 35 or more years! 

Educators spend the vast majority of their lives scheduled around a school calendar.  Travel and vacations are reserved for school breaks.  That means on occasion we miss important family events or turn down invitations to vacation with friends.  But when breaks roll around, our bags are usually packed and we are on the move!  That's why there is a high probability you'll bump into me at the airport during those busy travel times.  Don't fret if you see me.  I'm not checking to see if junior has his backpack and please don't judge if I've swapped the most current edition of Education Week for the latest copy of Travel & Leisure!

I might not be checking for junior's backpack at the airport but I am checking to see if he is in school daily.  How can we expect children to learn if they don't show up to be taught?  According to the U.S. Department of Education ("USDOE"), chronic absenteeism in our public schools is a "hidden educational crisis."  Using data from the 2015-2016 school year, USDOE found that approximately 14% of public school students are chronically absent, meaning they've missed 15 or more days of school in a single school year and the department is sounding the alarm bells for good reason. 

According to research, chronically absent students are at heightened risk for falling behind academically.  Research shows chronic absenteeism prevents many students from reaching learning milestones.  Chronically absent pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first graders are much less likely to read at grade level by 3rd grade and we know that students not reading at grade level by 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.  Additional research has demonstrated that chronically absent students are more likely to demonstrate poor outcomes later in life, including higher levels of poverty and a greater likelihood of involvement in the criminal justice system.  Being in school matters.  Period.

Obviously, a high achieving school district like ours doesn't have a problem with chronic absenteeism right?  Wrong.  According to data Palos 118 reported to USDOE for school year 2015-2016, approximately 15% of our students were chronically absent.  That's slightly higher than the national average!  This high percentage does and will continue to put a strain on our overall performance as a school district, and place a significant number of our Palos 118 students at risk for failure simply because they are missing too many days of school in a single school year.  Moreover, chronic absenteeism diverts scarce resources to paying for costly support services to catch students up when they fall behind.  This has a real impact on every classroom districtwide.  As a school community, we are working together to reverse this troubling trend.

My appeal to families is simple.  Unless your child is sick, please send them to school.  Visit with Mickey and Minnie during winter recess.  I hear the holiday parade at the Magic Kingdom is, well, magical!  Save the beach for spring and summer break but buy the sun tan lotion in February. You'll save a bundle.  Take advantage of the MANY three and four day weekends provided for in our school calendar.  I have fond memories of mom and dad packing the car (a Buick station wagon of course) and lumbering down the highway to visit out of town family and friends over a long weekend.  Don't take extended trips stateside or abroad unless absolutely necessary and if you're going to be gone for more than two weeks, consider enrolling your children in a school where you'll be staying.  Save those extended trips for summer recess.  In short, if school is open please send your children.  If you need help getting them to school, call us.  Every day our talented and caring teachers are building the foundational skills that will determine the future success of your children - and I don't say that lightly.  If you doubt me, try building a new house on a half poured foundation and see what happens.

Welcome back to a new school year!  Thank you for working with us to ensure your child has a successful school year.

Warmest regards,
Dr. Anthony M. Scarsella, 
Superintendent of Schools
Palos South
ELA Pilot
During the 2016-2017 school year, the Palos South English Language Arts committee researched and reviewed materials from the top-rated publishers with the intention of providing our students and teachers with ELA materials that will better align and meet the rigorous demands of the Illinois Learning Standards. After a thorough review process, our committee's work and research culminated in the selection of two programs that will undergo a pilot study which will take place this school year.
Amplify ELA and McGraw Hill's "StudySync" are currently being utilized in select classrooms in grades 6-8. The programs are designed to engage students while advancing reading, writing, critical thinking, speaking and listening skills. Our piloting teachers have received training in the programs along with a comprehensive set of materials for their students. Both programs offer digital resources with print support. Additionally, there are a wealth of resources for students and parents to utilize. 
For more information on these programs, parents can visit www.studysync.com or www.amplify.com/curriculum/amplifyela.  As with all new adoptions, the committee will collect and analyze data from teachers, students, and parents prior to making a recommendation.
Erin's Law
Each school year, students in District 118 will participate in age-appropriate presentations regarding personal safety under the Erin's Law mandate which originated in Illinois in 2014.  Erin's Law requires school districts to teach child sexual abuse awareness education to all students. During the week of October 23rd, children at Palos East, West, and South will be participating in age-appropriate assemblies regarding this very important personal safety topic. Once again, District 118 is bringing back Victor Pacini, motivational speaker and author, who has dedicated his work to helping children understand this sensitive topic. Victor's "Be Seen and Heard 2.0" presentation will be tailored to each grade level and he picks up where he left off last year.   
A letter with the scheduled dates and additional information, including an opt out form, will be emailed to parents in early October. Parents can go to www.victorpacini.com if you would like to preview the program.

Palos 118 Educational Foundation Hosts 
Laps for Literature

Palos West

Palos South

Palos East

Palos 118 Educational Foundation hosted its annual Laps for Literature event on Friday, September 15 2017. Funds raised from the event go directly towards the media centers at each school.
People You Should Know
New MPA & PFA Presidents 
Marie Anne Sliwinski is the new 2017 president of the Music Parents Association (MPA). Her vision for this school year is to increase MPA's visibility and parents' participation in the music programs. The MPA's major upcoming event is Harvest Fest on Friday, October 13. Bands and choirs from the entire district will take part in 16 performances, featuring 200 students. Festivities continue with dinner, raffles, and souvenir items for sale.

Mrs. Sliwinski is a full time working mother of two; Her daughter is in 6th grade at South, and she also has a 2-year-old son. In rare spare moments she enjoys reading and yoga.
Latest read: " A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius" by Stacey Matson

Kori Aldrich is the new Parent Faculty Association (PFA) president. Her top priority is to increase volunteerism and awareness about the PFA and encourage parents to share their time and talents. Mrs. Aldrich is in need of volunteers for the Boo Bash in October, the Cardinal Chase 5K in November, and Santa's Workshop in December. All three events are family favorites and great fundriasers. All money raised goes directly back into initiatives including; funding classroom reimbursements for teachers, providing assemblies for each grade level, hosting author visits, and many others. In her spare time, Mrs. Aldrich enjoys being active with her family doing hiking, biking, and being outdoors. She also likes to travel and is planning a vacation to Switzerland over spring break. Her son is in 4th grade at Palos East.
Currently reading: "A Column of Fire" by Ken Follet

Contact the transportation dept at 708-448-4405 
if interested.

District 118         Palos South         Palos East         Palos West