March 2023 Family Newsletter

March 6, 2023

Topic: Updates


Dear CCSD21 Parents and Community Members,


Dr. Michael Connolly
Superintendent of Schools

  • Monday, March 27, 2023 – Spring Break Begins
  • Monday, April 3, 2023 – Classes Resume
  • Friday, April 7, 2023 – No School – Good Friday Non-Attendance Day
  • Monday, April 10, 2023 – Institute Day

For all other school calendar dates, click here


Help CCSD21 celebrate 75 years of excellence!


CCSD21 will celebrate its 75th anniversary this summer, and we want you to aid us in that celebration. The district is asking former students and staff, as well as current staff members, to send a recorded video (or photos) of your experience with our district. You have all held a special chapter in our district and we are delighted to share your special memory with our community. To contribute, visit  this link.

Local, state government officials meet with CCSD21 leadership to learn of district initiatives


Almost 40 local and state government officials descended upon the CCSD21 Community Service Center and Administrative Office on Saturday, Feb. 11, to learn about district initiatives from Superintendent Michael Connolly and other members of the administration.

Read the full story here


CCSD21 receives highest financial profile designation from state for FY22, clean audit that contains surplus

CCSD21 ended its fiscal year 2022 with the highest designation from the Illinois State Board of Education for its financial management, as well as a clean audit – that contained a surplus – prepared by consulting firm Baker Tilly.

Read the full story here

CCSD21 floating idea of ‘finishing kitchens’ in each school; new lift coming to Poe

Among the projects in consideration at CCSD21 are “finishing kitchens,” which would allow a foodservice site to receive fresh fresh food from a production kitchen so that it is able to finish the cooking process on site. A new lift is also set to come to Poe no later than the end of the current school year.

Read the full story here


CCSD21 to roll out ’21st century’ furniture after COVID delays


CCSD21 will soon officially start the rollout procedures for updated, “21st century” furniture in classrooms after the COVID-19 public health emergency shifted the ability to consider it.

Read the full story here


CCSD21 awarded $138,444 high-impact tutoring grant from ISBE

Following an announcement from the Illinois State Board of Education that certain school districts could apply for grant funds to provide students with high-impact tutoring opportunities, CCSD21 applied for and was awarded $138,444 to provide students with additional support and learning opportunities. More information about which students are eligible for tutoring will be shared prior to spring break.

Read the full story here


A future teacher who loves drawing anime characters. Meet Rising Star Katherine V.
A dancer with aspirations of becoming a surgeon. Meet Rising Star Gabriel S.


Two CCSD21 educators among ISBE’s honorees for extraordinary contributions to education

Two educators in CCSD21 were among the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2023 recipients for the Those Who Excel & Teacher of the Year program. Lisa Warner, literacy instructional coach at Tarkington, and Cecilia Franco, instructional specialist for special education, were honored with a Meritorious Service and Special Recognition award, respectively.

Read the full story here
Become a student representative to the board of education!
All current seventh graders are invited to apply to become student representatives to the board of education! One representative will be chosen from each middle school and, come May, will assume office for a one-year term. To be eligible, the student must have decent grades and a good behavioral record, wish to actually be part of a leadership opportunity, and obtain two letters of recommendations from staff members. Applications and more information will become available at each middle school during the month of March.
Cooper sixth grader wins district-wide spelling bee

Five CCSD21 middle schoolers competed on Tuesday, Feb. 8, to crown the district’s best speller. A sixth grader from Cooper eventually emerged V-I-C-T-O-R-I-O-U-S.

Read the full story here
London featured in National Geographic article ‘Adjusting to new lives, 
kids bond over stories of home and hope’
Yuliana arrived at Jack London Middle School, in Wheeling, in the Chicago suburbs, from Ukraine two months after Russian troops invaded her homeland. She and other family members escaped the death, destruction, and cruelty of warfare. But she misses something left behind in that shell-shocked land—her home.
Read the full story here
CCSD21 superintendent meets with Student Advisory Council

Dr. Michael Connolly, superintendent of CCSD21, met on Jan. 27 with the Student Advisory Council, which provides students in sixth through eighth grades a chance to meet with and advise the superintendent and other members of the district’s administrative team on issues and challenges they and their peers face as students in the district, including the rigor and relevance of curriculum. The council is next set to meet on April 28.

CCSD21 superintendent meets with PTO Advisory Council

Dr. Michael Connolly, superintendent of CCSD21, met on Feb. 6 with the PTO Advisory Council, which includes a representative from each individual school’s parent-teacher organization. They toured the new Community Service Center and Administrative Office, continued to develop the PTO manual, and proposed certain working groups by topic. The advisory council is next set to meet on May 1.

Twain hosts internet safety night for parents, students, family members

Twain Elementary School played host on Wednesday, Jan. 25, for a series of three workshops concerning internet safety.

Read the full story here
Holmes students ‘Give Back’ in after-school fundraiser

Approximately 100 students at Holmes gathered on Feb. 22 in the school’s multipurpose room and gym for “Hornets Give Back,” which served as the bookend for a month-long Students Rebuild project in all of the homerooms.

Read the full story here
To see photos of the submitted postcards, go here
London students hear from author on parents’ story of fleeing Nazis during World War Two

“Like acid on skin, inflicting drops of pain, my father shared with me the details of his life and eventual escape from the Nazis during World War II,” started Irving Karchmar as he stood behind the lectern at London Middle School on Feb. 24 and explained his family history.

Read the full story here
Kilmer students participate in ‘Kindness Rocks’ project

Kilmer Cougars on Friday, Feb. 17, took part in a schoolwide Kindness Rocks project. “At Kilmer, we are always modeling the importance of being respectful and kind students and citizens,” said Principal Annette McBride. Students enjoyed designing their own rocks with positive affirmations. They will be used to beautify the front of Kilmer School and will serve as a reminder to always be kind.

Frost students create ‘informational books’ on several topics

Throughout the second trimester, Mrs. Sajdak’s class learned about informational writing. They drafted pieces on various topics on which they are “experts.” After a lot of practice, each student chose their favorite topic and created a book, including a cover, table of contents, pages with headings, a glossary and an “About the Author” page. The books were bound together, and the kids took turns reading them to each other to celebrate their finished work. Topics our students felt they were “experts” at included dinosaurs, friendship, dogs, flowers, the Titanic and others. Everyone was very proud of their work and eager to share!


Kindergarten and new student registration now open!

Registration for students new to CCSD21, including new incoming kindergarten students, is now open.

A child whose fifth birthday falls on or before Sept. 1, 2023, is eligible to enroll in kindergarten for the 2023-2024 school year.

New registrants will need to provide the following documents:

– Three proofs of residency

– Birth certificate – official birth certificate issued by the county clerk in the county in which the child was born. Hospital certificates are not acceptable.

Depending on the child’s grade, additional forms may need to be completed.

To begin the registration process, please visit the CCSD21 Registration Portal. If you are unsure what school your child will attend, visit our School Boundary Map and enter your address. After families complete the new student online registration and upload all required documents, an email will be sent to the family confirming that the child is registered for the 2023-2024 school year.

If you have a student currently enrolled in CCSD21, including a preschool student, registration for the 2023-2024 school year will begin in May. Returning student information will be sent out on a future date.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected] .

Ending of the federal COVID public health emergency
On Jan. 30, the Biden administration announced it would be officially ending the federal public health emergency (PHE) on May 11. The PHE has allowed for millions of Americans to get and keep health insurance during the pandemic, and provided for free COVID testing and vaccination.
Vaccines provide considerable protection against the most serious COVID symptoms. People at least two months from their initial vaccine series or booster are eligible to get a bivalent booster – which helps protect against newer strains of the COVID-19 virus. Please visit for a location nearest you.
As we prepare for the end of the PHE, it is important that Medicaid beneficiaries keep their address and contact information current with the State of Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to make sure they receive notices of when they need to reapply. Medicaid members can update their addresses either by calling the HFS hotline at 877-805-5312 or by visiting this link.
The district will continue to monitor the trajectory of the virus and make any necessary changes as it sees fit, even though most preventative measures have been withdrawn.



Camp Invention STEM Camp is back!
Camp Invention® STEM Camp is Back! Camp will be held June 12-16, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for CCSD21 students entering grades 1-6 in Fall 2023.
Look for an email early next week with more details about Camp Invention.
The application link will be sent via Parent Square on Friday, March 10, 2023 at 6 a.m.

Join Us at The Indian Trails Library:

Check out the calendar of events  for specific activities and times for the month of March.

Summer Learning Academy

We are excited to begin preparations for the 2023 CCSD21 Summer Learning Academy. This summer’s academy will be July 10 – July 27, 9:00-12:00, Monday through Thursday at Twain Elementary School and Holmes Middle School. Students will participate in 3 one-hour long classes during the academy. We are planning to offer both enrichment and extra support classes for students, both in core areas (math and reading) and in areas of interest.

Students needing additional support will be receiving invitations based on their standardized test scores. Additionally, each school will have a number of designated slots for students who would like to participate in the enrichment classes.

More information will be provided in March. We are looking forward to a fantastic summer of learning!

Language Services

Did You Know… As a district we are proud to celebrate the diversity of our learning community! These are some traditions and holidays celebrated and acknowledged in our community this month. This month we begin by celebrating  Read Across America ,  International Women’s Day,   St. Patrick’s Day ,  Greece’s Independence Day ,  Holi ,  Casimir Pulaski’s Day ,  Beginning of Ramadan .  If you’d like to learn more, click on the links above: Don’t hesitate to reach out and share it with our Language Services Department to add to our resources!

Math Spotlight: Pi Day

Every year on March 14, math teachers across the nation celebrate the annual math holiday, Pi Day! This nationally recognized holiday shines a spotlight on an important member of the irrational number community – pi (also known by its nickname of 3.14). This number is special and unique for many reasons. It’s the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter – regardless of the size of the circle. It’s also a special type of number called an irrational number, meaning there is no way that it can be written as a fraction instead of a decimal – the digits continue on and on infinitely, never repeating a pattern. The current Guinness World Record for the most decimal places memorized is 70,000, which took nearly 10 hours to recite!

So how can we celebrate this fantastic math holiday? For little ones, take time to look for circles and other shapes that are all around us in the world. Talk about what makes circles different from other shapes. For older kids, do activities to focus on the digits of the number itself (such as making a bead bracelet where each color represents a certain digit (red for 1, blue for 2, etc.)). Or get a collection of different-sized circular objects (for example, jar lids or bottle caps) and look for the pattern that emerges when they measure around and across each circle. And for any age, make sure to enjoy some pie!


Becoming a Substitute in District 21

We had some wonderful new sub candidates that applied to work with us this past Spring and throughout the Summer.  Many of these subs are right from our community!  We’re excited for these additions to our sub group but we’re not done yet.  We are continuing to hire subs each month.  Please let your neighbors and friends know that we are still hiring throughout the school year.

Whether you want to help us out one day a week or every single day, the choice is yours.

Below is the link for people to apply:
Sub Application

We still have openings in our sub pool for the following positions:

Secretary – $100/day

Health Assistant – $100/day

Teaching Assistant – $125/day

Teacher – $131/day

Long term teacher (more than 10 days in the same classroom) – $210/day

In addition, any subs who work 100 days this year will receive a $1,000 bonus at the end of the year.

Here is information from the Illinois State Board of Education about becoming a teaching assistant or teacher sub:

Become a Substitute Teacher

Kassidy Lindholm, Social Worker at 
London Middle School 
Kassidy Lindholm loves to travel. In fact, she lived in Ecuador for two years after college. “I love to go to places that are very different from mine to see beyond my own life. It helps me understand others better,” said Kassidy.  Among her favorite places are India, Turkey and most of South and Central America.
Read the full bio here
Sarah Mendoza, ELSP Teacher at 
Riley Elementary School
Sarah Mendoza gets to experience a glimpse into the life of her students that most teachers don’t see. She delights in being part of the connections that her students make at school. Sarah is a special education teacher in the Educational Life Skills Program at Riley Elementary School  where she helps students with both academic and functional life skills.
Read the full bio here
Is there a staff member you’d like to nominate for “My Why?” Email Cass at [email protected] or Andy at [email protected]!



Internet Services and Data Center Upgrade Outages

Our Internet provider and offsite Data Center host, Net56, will be performing major upgrades to their network infrastructure over the next month during off peak times to increase overall performance and security to our Internet Services and Data Center access. On the Saturday’s shown below, please expect that internal services including PowerSchool and Skyward will be unavailable, as well as Internet connectivity within the District. Please plan around these dates/times if you are needing access to services after hours.

March 4 – 6 PM – 12 AM

March 11 – 6 PM – 12 AM

March 18 – 11 AM – 9 PM


Read the February/March edition of the Link Together newsletter!


February 23, 2023 Board Meeting
The livestream video of the February 23 Board of Education meeting can be viewed here.
Next Meeting
The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting of Community Consolidated School District 21, Wheeling, Cook County, IL, will be held on March 16, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. at the CCSD21 Community Service Center and Administration Office, 959 W. Dundee Road, Wheeling, IL 60090.
Highlights from the February Board of Education meeting:
  • Board President Phil Pritzker and board members Staci Allan and Arlen Gould lamented the passing of Avrum Poster, a former longtime faculty member of CCSD21
  • Pritzker honored Dr. Alyssa Shlensky Shapiro, principal of Twain, on being named the Illinois Principals Association’s North Cook Region Elementary School Principal of the Year
  • Pritzker also recognized Lisa Warner and Cecilia Franco for being named among the Illinois State Board of Education’s Those Who Excel Awardees this year
  • The board wished an early happy birthday to Micheal DeBartolo, assistant superintendent for finance and operations
  • Dr. Beatrice Reyes Childress, assistant superintendent for equity and learning, provided an update on the Advanced Learner Program
  • Childress also announced that CCSD21 was awarded a $138,444 grant from ISBE to provide students with additional support and learning opportunities. The district will recruit certified teachers and paraprofessionals to provide 1:1 and small group tutoring to students in the areas of reading and math
  • Dr. Michael Connolly, superintendent of CCSD21, highlighted a plan to have student representatives appointed to the board. Students ascending from seventh grade will be able to apply through their middle school’s offices in March, and “if everything goes according to plan,” they would be officially elected in May to serve a one-year term
  • DeBartolo highlighted the upcoming renovations to the playgrounds at Field and Riley, both of which are expected in late July; he also highlighted the rollout of 21st century furniture across the district, to begin with first- and second-grade classrooms and the language arts classrooms in the middle schools
  • DeBartolo also commended Jose Alvarado on becoming the first head custodian in any of the district’s administrative buildings: “Jose is the absolute best person for this. He makes this beautiful place an even warmer place to be.”