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Three Mead projects advance to National History Day Competition

Six Mead Junior High School students have qualified for the National History Day competition June 9-13 in College Park, Maryland.

  • Abhay P., Soham G. and Sean Y. qualified in the Exhibit category for their project “Breaking Barriers in Basketball: The 1963 Loyola ‘Game of Change.’”
  • Anirudh C. and Akhilraj C. qualified in the Documentary category for their project “The Chicago Typhoid Fever Epidemic of the 19th Century: How Sickness and Death Can Lead to Change.”
  • Ella S. qualified in the Website category for her project “The Radium Girls: Ottawa’s Shining Women.”

The following four projects by Mead students also earned Superior Ranking at the State History Expo.

  • Anisha A., Brisa B. and Maya J. for their exhibit “The Tylenol Murders: How Seven Deaths Changed America’s Medicine Safety Forever”
  • Dhruv P., Yashas M. and Krish M. for their exhibit “Instigating A Racial Movement: The Springfield Race Riots of 1908”
  • Anmay G. for his documentary “The Sears Tower: A Monument for a Dying Company”
  • Shivshankar P. and Sreedevi P. for their documentary “The 1968 Democratic National Convention Riots: The Power of Protest”

The theme this year was Triumph and Tragedy in History. Students choose a historical topic related to the theme, conduct research, analyze and interpret their sources, and then draw a conclusion about the significance of their topic. Students can present their work as a research paper, an exhibit, a performance, a documentary or a website.

District 54 students, staff receive INSPRA Distinguished Service Awards

District 54 is proud to announce the following recipients of Distinguished Service Awards for 2019 from the Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA):

• Kennedy Apple and Taline Abousamra, sixth-grade students at Dirksen Elementary School, won an award in the Student category.

• Meagan Kasper, administrative assistant for the District 54 Community Relations Department, won an award in the Support Staff category.

• Michele Peacock, Sunita Mani-Sriram and Julie Raio, secretaries at Eisenhower Junior High School, won an award in the Team category.

• Superintendent Andy DuRoss won an award in the Administrator category.

The statewide Distinguished Service Awards program honors individuals and groups who have consistently gone above and beyond on behalf of their schools and whose efforts have enhanced education and conveyed its importance to the community at large.

Kennedy A. and Taline A.

Student winners with their certificatesDirksen has a new sound lab in its library this year, and one of the first projects students worked on was researching and creating a podcast of their choosing. After the project ended, Kennedy A. and Taline A. asked their library media teacher if they could create a regular podcast for Dirksen. This is not a club or a class activity, but a student-created communication with a teacher serving as a mentor.

The girls presented a proposal for a podcast with community announcements, such as upcoming school events and information on extracurricular activities. After finding that the podcast wasn’t reaching the audience size they envisioned, Kennedy and Taline created new material to attract more listeners. They added interviews with teachers and students, with thought-provoking questions. They incorporated interactive segments to engage listeners. For example, if students complete a survey saying they listened, the girls mention them during the podcast. Students are also encouraged to share questions they have for the school during their library time. Taline and Kennedy will research the question and share their findings with all. Kennedy and Taline spend countless hours of their free time working on their planning document. They also skip lunch and recess twice a week to record and edit each episode.

Meagan Kasper

Meagan with her certificateSince Meagan Kasper was hired as the community relations secretary in January 2018, she has taken District 54’s communication efforts to new heights.

Although graphic artist isn’t in her job description, Meagan has a natural eye for good design and has developed or redesigned many flyers, programs and brochures. She even co-facilitated a class on designing with Canva for other support staff at the District 54 administrative center.

While always focused on her work, Meagan makes time to build relationships and enhance morale, so district administrators asked her to co-lead the district’s Happiness Team. Meagan leads the monthly meeting for more than 100 employees. She starts each meeting with activities that enhance relationships between departments.

Meagan is also committed to fostering partnerships. For example, she organized the Schaumburg Parent University Summer Camp Expo, reaching out to organizations, promoting the expo and staying late to ensure the event was successful. When asked to take notes for the District 54 Education Foundation’s golf committee, she took her involvement to the next level by also procuring numerous donations. These activities are beyond the expectations of her position, but she happily tackles these challenges to support the families we serve.

Michele Peacock, Sunita Mani-Sriram and Julie Raio

The three secretaries with their certificatesThe secretaries at Eisenhower Junior High School in Hoffman Estates have established strong relationships with staff, students and parents to best support student learning and well-being.

The secretaries are usually the first people that students, families and staff encounter when they enter a school, and often the first people our new families meet. Eisenhower’s secretaries are known as the office queens because they give each patron the royal treatment. They have the talent of turning a challenging circumstance into an opportunity to build a positive relationship. They approach each situation by first being active listeners, and then communicating in a supportive manner to ensure all individuals feel heard and respected.

The Eisenhower secretaries keep students at the center of their work. They mentor students who need additional social or emotional support, and are often sought out by students looking for a personal connection with an adult at school. They make connections with these students and consistently demonstrate that they care about them unconditionally. One secretary bought a winter jacket for a student who could not afford one. Another bought two of the students she mentors graduation gifts. Even when the students leave Eisenhower, they will often see these secretaries cheering them on at high school.

Superintendent Andy DuRoss

Andy DuRoss with his certificateWhether talking to a parent, meeting with a teacher, or engaging with students while visiting schools, District 54 Superintendent Andy DuRoss prioritizes building relationships to enhance communication.

One of the biggest impacts a superintendent can make is enhancing the district’s culture. In 2017, DuRoss brought the positive psychology principles outlined by Harvard Researcher Shawn Achor to District 54. This training demonstrates how happiness and optimism fuels performance and leads to success. When DuRoss talks about student success, he is not just speaking about academic success but social and emotional success as well. He is committed to the happiness of his students and employees.

In 2018, DuRoss invited parents, community members, administrators, teachers and support staff to serve on the District 54 Strategic Plan Task Force. The district adopted new goals and four focus areas: innovation, whole child success, exceptional employees and fiscal responsibility. From this work, District 54 launched an innovation task force and rolled out a new social-emotional learning curriculum. Under DuRoss’ leadership, the positive culture in District 54 continues to thrive and student achievement continues to grow.

INSPRA honored all District 54 recipients during its annual Distinguished Service Awards luncheon on May 10 in Bolingbrook.

Brief from the Board Meeting on May 2

The School Board recognized 24 students from throughout the district who were finalists in the 2019 Spanish Language Speech Contest held on May 2. Students in third through eighth grade had the opportunity to submit videos in two categories: native Spanish speakers and Spanish as a second language speakers. Finalists were invited to the contest at MacArthur School on May 2, where judges gave them awards for first through third place.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular school board meeting on April 18, 2019
  • The minutes of the special reorganizational board meeting on April 25, 2019
  • The resignations, leaves and retirement of personnel
  • Checks dated April 26, 2019
  • The purchase of Chromebooks for the 2019-20 school year from Dell
  • The purchase of software licensing and support from Dell, CDW-G and Synercomm
  • A proclamation recognizing May 7 as National Teacher Day.

New Business: 

  • The Board appointed representatives from the community to serve on the District Citizens’ Advisory Committee for the 2019-20 school year
  • The Board approved a revised scheduled of board meeting dates for July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.


  • Board members Charlotte Kegarise and Mary Kay Prusnick visited our 22 elementary schools on April 30 to deliver a book to the school libraries in recognition of Charlotte’s 25 years of service on the School Board.
  • Board members also congratulated the students who participated in the District 54 Battle of the Books Tuesday and the Spanish Speech Contest today, and thanked the staff members who supported them in these endeavors.

Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 7:20 p.m.


District 54 teams selected to present at TECH 2019

Teams of students from Stevenson Elementary School and Mead Junior High School will represent School District 54 at TECH 2019 on May 7 at the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield.

  • Teacher Justin Gross and his Stevenson students – Cordelia B. (fourth grade), Leonidas C. (fourth grade) and Diya P. (sixth grade) will present Mission to Mars: A Cross-Curricular, Cross-Grade Level STEM-Based Experience.
  • Teacher Julie Collier and her Stevenson students – Angelina B. (sixth grade), Sonia P. (sixth grade) and Mya S. (sixth grade) will talk about Blue Screen Productions: Making Movies to Demonstrate Learning Across the Curriculum.
  • Teacher Tom Pfeifer and his Mead students – Ella S., Sreedevi P. and Maya J. – will share Present Outside the Classroom Science Fair Projects Gone Viral!

Mission to Mars – Stevenson
Students work on a Mars project
The Mission to Mars project began as a Discovery Education STEM Connect lesson in which students used technology to develop solutions for landing humans on Mars. Fourth-grade students researched and designed their own spacecraft utilizing a variety of materials in their classroom, while sixth-graders designed habitats that could sustain life on Mars. Throughout the process students participated in cross-grade Google Meet sessions to share their learning, ask questions and give advice.

“By allowing our students to showcase their unique learning experiences, they begin to take ownership of their education and realize that what they are doing goes far beyond the classroom walls,” Gross said. “Our students are identifying real-world problems or tasks and are working collaboratively, across grade levels, to solve them. It has been inspiring to watch students take on different leadership roles because what they are learning genuinely interests them and they are motivated to make a difference.”

Blue Screen Productions – Stevenson
Students work on a blue backgroundCollier and her students will show how creating movies enabled students to apply communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity skills, also known as the 4Cs, while demonstrating mastery of content. Films created by the students included book trailers to hook readers, horror movies to review challenging math tasks and an anti-bullying public service announcement created in partnership with the production crew of Elk Grove Village Television. Sixth-graders are currently helping students in the school’s special education classrooms create personalized videos to remember their time at Stevenson.

“Our students fully embraced the district’s focus on innovation this year and the impact on learning is quite remarkable,” Collier said. “Sixth-graders utilized our classroom technology in a wide range of learning experiences that prompted further inquiry.”

She said the most impressive technology-based creations were student-produced movies.

“Working in teams, students lived out the 4 C’s as they completed their projects,” Collier said. “As educators, we strive to build an environment where students take the lead. I’m so proud of these students for taking ownership for their learning.”

Science Fair Projects Gone Viral – Mead
Pfeifer and his students will show how they publicized their scientific investigations via individualized websites and engaging podcasts, providing an opportunity to communicate and collaborate with a virtual audience.

“Students use their Chromebooks to not only communicate their scientific findings locally, but also globally,” Pfeifer said. “They are able to navigate the various platforms that are offered by Google Apps for Education to spread their scientific ideas through multiple mediums.

“Students can learn through multiple platforms including videos, slides presentations, podcasts and the internet. The digital world is literally at their fingertips. Instead of being the science sage on the stage I am their navigational guide on the side.”

Click here to check out the Mead podcast series!

Legislators and the public are invited to TECH 2019, during which 115 teams of students and teachers from schools throughout Illinois will demonstrate how technology is being used in the classroom to increase student engagement. TECH 2019 is presented by Illinois Computing Educators, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to leadership in education through technology. For more information about TECH 2019, visit

Special Reorganizational School Board Meeting – April 25, 2019

Call to Order

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Results of the Canvass of the April 2, 2019 School Board Election:
The School Board accepted the results of the canvass of the April 2, 2019 School Board election. Bill Harper, Barb Hengels and Mary Kay Prusnick were elected to the School Board.

Oath of Office for Newly Elected Board Members:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Pete Hannigan administered the oath of office to the newly elected board members.

Adjournment Sine Die

Call to Order of New Board

Appointment of President and Secretary Pro Tem: Mary Kay Prusnick was appointed as the president pro tem and Bob Kaplan was appointed as the secretary pro tem.

Election of Officers

  • The Board elected Bob Kaplan as president.
  • The Board elected Charlotte Kegarise as vice president.
  • The Board elected Ken Van Dyke as secretary.

Establishment of Schedule for Regular Board Meetings:
The Board approved the dates for School Board meetings for July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020. All regular meetings will begin at 7 p.m. in the Board Room in the Rafferty Administration Center. Special open and closed meetings will take place at 6 p.m. in the Board Room in the Rafferty Administration Center. Click here for the meeting schedule.

Adoption of Rules, Regulations, Policies and Procedures:
The Board adopted the rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the prior District 54 School Board.


  • The Board thanked the Hoffman Estates Park District for recognizing the MacArthur Environmental Club as this month’s Best of Hoffman for spearheading the creation of a butterfly garden.
  • Board members and Superintendent Andy DuRoss thanked Mary Kay Prusnick for her leadership as the board president the past two years.

Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 6:30 p.m.


Brief for the Board meeting on April 18, 2019

Before the meeting, the School Board honored the students whose artwork was chosen for display in the board room. Click here to view a slideshow with the artwork.

During the meeting, the School Board recognized

  • Keller student Armando Gomez who won the 2019 Outstanding Student Technology Award from the Infinitec Assistive Technology Coalition Center,
  • Mead student Dhruv Patel who took fifth place in the Illinois You Be the Chemist Competition and
  • Teams of students from Frost, Mead and Lincoln Prairie for awards they received at the National Fluid Power Challenge.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session school board meetings on April 4, 2019
  • The resignations, leaves and retirement of personnel
  • Checks dated April 12, 2019
  • The treasurer’s report on cash and investments for February 2019
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for March 2019
  • A contract for summer moves at three locations
  • A resolution authorizing the sale by sealed bid of vacant land on the corner of Thacker Street and Verde Drive
  • The purchase of computer assessment software for MAP and AAPPL
  • The purchase of junior high world language instructional materials
  • The purchase of technology equipment, licensing and support
  • The amended school calendar with Thursday, June 6 being the last day of school (this will be a half-day of attendance)
  • The destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session school board meeting held on Oct. 5, 2017 for which approved minutes already exist

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss shared two #WeAre54 videos. Click on each name to watch the videos about Keller student Armando Gomez and Hoover teacher George Schaupp.

Board President Report:
Board President Mary Kay Prusnick announced that the school board will have its reorganization meeting at 6 p.m. on April 25. Mary Kay Prusnick, Bill Harper and Barb Hengels were re-elected on April 2 and will take the oath of office at the meeting. Afterward, the board will elect officers. Prusnick thanked the school board and administration for supporting her during her term as president.

District Citizens’ Advisory Committee Report:
Board Member Barbara Hengels reported that DCAC received an update on the District 54 Education Foundation and Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum.

District 54 Foundation Report:
Board Secretary Bob Kaplan announced the Foundation was honored to be recognized as the Volunteer Organization of the Year from the Village of Schaumburg. He also encouraged everyone to support the Foundation by eating at Global Gyros on April 23; eating at Lou Malnati’s on May 1; and participating in the golf outing on June 10. Click here for more information on all of these Foundation fundraisers.

New Business: 

  • The Board approved the purchase of Creative Curriculum, a new Early Learning Center curriculum.
  • The Board approved revisions to the following policies:
    • 4:110(d) – Transporting Students on Field Trips,
    • 4:150 – Environmentally Safe Schools,
    • 4:170(b) – Standardized School Crisis Plan and
    • 4:110(c) – Vehicle Accident Procedures.
  • The Board appointed Lisa Garza as the assistant principal at MacArthur International Spanish Academy for the 2019-20 school year.


  • Board members thanked the SEA and SEEO for inviting them to the annual meeting on April 15, with guest speakers Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison and Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin.

Adjournment: The Board adjourned at 7:58 p.m.






Schaumburg Park District involves Hale students in planning the redesign of park next door

The installation of the Schaumburg Park District’s new playground at Falk Park adjacent to Hale Elementary School this summer will be especially exciting for Hale students — because they have been involved in the planning.

A group with their playground designWhen the park district told Hale Principal Brian Kaszewicz last fall that the playground was slated for replacement in summer 2019, Kaszewicz asked if Hale students could be involved. He told park district staff that District 54 students are participating in project-based learning to foster the skills of collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking and that this would be a powerful opportunity for them to make real-world connections.

“We wanted students to be invested in the work and connected to the whole process — to see the different jobs associated with the playground and the layers that go into making something like this happen,” Kaszewicz said.

The park district met with Kaszewicz and Hale Literacy Coach Jenny Clark several times to discuss plans and options for the design of the playground. Park district staff also provided resources for students and staff to further the project-based learning opportunity, such as equipment catalogs, budget information and safety regulations and guidelines.

A playground blueprint“Anytime we can get the kids involved in this type of project, it’s a good learning experience for them,” said Todd King, Superintendent of Parks and Planning for the Schaumburg Park District. “It’s very practical and hands-on, and it’s something they’ll remember for a long time.”

Clark said the project-based learning opportunity — to ensure the new playground would best meet the needs of all Hale students — was revealed during an all-school assembly in February.

Kindergarten students had written persuasive letters to Kaszewicz stating why they thought the playground should be replaced. Although the playground had already been slated for replacement, at the start of the assembly, Kaszewicz announced that the kindergartners had convinced him, and that Hale School would be participating in the playground redesign.

Teachers have incorporated the playground project-based learning lessons in a variety of ways based on the needs and interests of their students, Clark said.

Survey resultsFor example, kindergarten students created and participated in a survey about their favorite playground equipment and talked about what they would like to see added. After discussing how they could bring in other voices, the students surveyed first- and second-graders about what color they would like to see on the playground. They incorporated all of this information when working in groups to draw blueprints for the new playground.

“One person draws, and one person writes, and one person labels,” said Kriya, a kindergarten student. “It makes me happy to get to draw, color and write.”

Kindergarten students also connected with the work in other subject areas, including social studies and math.

“When the kindergartners see that they had a part in designing the playground and that the park district let us have some say, it’s going to make them feel important,” kindergarten teacher Alyssa Molaro said. “They will see that the work they do in school really does matter, and it has meaning.”

Putting together a surveyFirst- and second-grade classes will write opinion pieces about which of three pieces of equipment they would most like to see installed on the new playground. They also took a survey, and tallied which pieces of equipment students in other grade levels use the most.

“I think it was a really good idea because then we could know which one they did the most, and which ones they didn’t really go on,” said Laila, a second-grade student. “We would know which ones they liked, and which ones they didn’t like.”

Third- and fourth-grade students surveyed students about what equipment they enjoy using and what they would want to see on the new playground. They also partnered with students in the special education classes at Hale to determine which equipment they enjoy and use most, then discussed accommodations that would make it a better experience for students with disabilities.

“The third- and fourth-grade students observed that the students (in special education classes) didn’t play as much on the playground, and we want to incorporate more elements that appeal to them,” said third- and fourth-grade teacher Kaitlyn Netzel. “A lot of rich conversation about accommodations stemmed from that.”

Two students tally what equipment is being usedFifth- and sixth-grade students discussed the history of playgrounds and compared older and newer playgrounds, including elements of safety and inclusion. They then examined the Hale playground based on regulations and guidelines the park district had shared. The students looked at factors such as the width and depth of the protective surface around the equipment, the safety of individual pieces of equipment and the distance between pieces of equipment, said Garrick, a sixth-grade student.

“I didn’t know the swings had to be a certain amount of space away from other equipment so it would be safe,” said Milena, a fifth-grade student. “We want to make sure that the playground will be safe.”

As a final project, the fifth- and sixth-grade students will create and present a public service announcement, safety expectations video, website, or 3D design and explanation.

Clark said this project-based learning challenge provided a unique opportunity for Hale students.

Students measure the playground equipment“We’re providing them skills to look at the world in a different way,” she said. “Most kids have seen a new playground and been excited for the new playground. Our kids are going to see it and be excited about specific pieces of equipment, colors, safety features, accommodations and other aspects. They’re not just going to have a different appreciation for Falk Park – they’re going to be able to look at any park and recognize these things.”

Kelly Collins, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, said it is wonderful to have a project-based learning opportunity that benefits the school and community.

“The fact that the whole school can be part of this is pretty amazing,” she said. “Even though the sixth-graders aren’t going to be here next year, this is something they can take with them.”

Students discuss photos of playgrounds then and nowThe learning can continue once the playground has been built, as well, Kaszewicz said.

“It will be a great opportunity to have that real-world application so close to us,” he said. “There have been so many different opportunities that presented themselves as we went along, and it’s been fun to see the teachers find those teachable moments and adapt the problem to what the students are coming up with.”

The old playground will get a new life, as well, Kaszewicz noted. The park district will donate the equipment to a company that will refurbish and install it in an area of need, and the park district will share with Hale any thank-you letters they receive.

Fourth grade families invited to instrumental music meetings

During April, information about enrolling for school band and orchestra is being distributed to District 54 fourth grade students. Students interested in playing the trombone, trumpet, clarinet, flute, cello, viola, or violin should return the Enrollment Form to their school or turn it in at one of the enrollment meetings. No previous music experience is necessary to play an instrument.

Parents/guardians and students should attend the meeting at the junior high the student will eventually attend, where more information will be available. The same information will be presented at each school, so if you cannot attend the meeting at your child’s future junior high, you may attend at a different junior high.

Enrollment Meeting Dates

  • Addams Junior High – Monday, April 29 (7:00 pm)
  • Mead Junior High – Monday, April 29 (7:00 pm)
  • Eisenhower Junior High – Tuesday, April 30 (7:00 pm)
  • Keller Junior High – Tuesday, April 30 (7:00 pm)
  • Frost Junior High – Wednesday, May 1 (7:00 pm)

Band and orchestra lessons will start in September. If you have questions, please contact the band or orchestra teacher at your child’s school.

District 54 to honor student Board Room artists April 18

On Thursday, April 18, District 54 will host a gallery walk and reception honoring the students whose artwork was selected to be displayed in the Board Room for the next year. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the District 54 Professional Learning Center, 522 E. Schaumburg Road. The public is invited to attend.

Student Artwork Slide Show

Junior Journalist Update from Lincoln Prairie – By Sophia S.

The parking lot is overflowing with cars. Excited families crowd the halls, eager to see their children’s hard work. Every single classroom is filled with final products, showcasing the projects students have created over the course of 14 weeks. Everything from interactive activities to performances are present. What scene is being described, you ask? None other than the Lincoln Prairie EXPO.

EXPO, which is short for exposition, was the big event of the 2018-2019 school year. At Lincoln Prairie, the big events are on a three-year rotation. They are EXPO, a school musical and WITWILP (Where In The World Is Lincoln Prairie). For each of these, different Project Development Times (PDTs) are created in order to delve into different things related to the events. These PDTs are classes where different grade levels work together to complete projects. The main focus of the PDTs can vary from the arts to science. Since the theme of the 2018-19 school year is “Inspiration,” the PDTs created work meant to inspire others.

After many weeks of creating and perfecting, Lincoln Prairie hosted the infamous EXPO on March 13: a one night only event where each student’s final product is displayed. There were scheduled performance times for those with a dance, mini musical or comedy skit they wanted to share. The groups who were not performing were provided with a room to exhibit their projects, meant to model a convention. Students in that PDT decorated the rooms to fit what they were learning. The final products are then showcased in an elaborate way. For example, the silent movie PDT decorated their room to look like a movie theater and that group had the movies they made playing on a projector.

The purpose of EXPO is to celebrate all the hard work students have put in to completing their final projects. Inspiration can come in so many different forms, which was extremely apparent during EXPO. Best of all, the teachers were so inspired that they cleaned everything up for us!