McKenzie Monitor

October 12, 2018

Principal's Note: Time Flies When the Interim Principal is Having Fun!

Greetings McKenzie Families,

I'm happy to let you know that Rachel Filippi will be returning to her role as your building principal on October 19th. We'll have several days of overlap time to transition her back into her role as your fearless leader, so I'll likely be onboard until October 23rd. I know Rachel has been dearly missed, but please know how much I have enjoyed this interim role. McKenzie teachers are truly superior and it has been a joy to work in such a professional, friendly work environment. Similarly, I can't say enough nice things about the hardworking, dedicated McKenzie PTA. Wow! And last but certainly not least, your children have been a delight and are such eager learners. Many thanks to all for the extraordinary support I've received during my time here. This has been a joy for me, but alas, I won't miss the 5:30 am alarm!

Interim Assistant Principal, Judy Gutwillig, will still be here holding down the fort with Rachel until Assistant Principal Meghann Young returns from her maternity leave (later this year).

Have a great weekend!



PS I thought you'd like a peek at the Filippi boys that have been keeping Rachel and her husband so busy during her maternity leave. Enjoy!

Building Bridges in 1st Grade "STEM" Class

Supporting the Writer's Workshop Model at Home

This past Monday, our district had the opportunity to come together for a professional development day. We are dedicated to the continued growth and development of our teaching team, and days like Monday offer time for collaboration and learning that will directly support our students’ learning and skills.

One of the focused training areas was writing instruction. Two years ago, we began using a new instructional resource to support our curriculum, the Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop model. As a result of the workshop model, you may notice some changes in your child’s writing. Thus, I wanted to share some key “takeaways” so that you can support your young writer(s) at home:

  • Focus on the writing process, not the final product. The goal is to write more because research tells us that increased opportunities for writing improve skills! Focus on your child’s efforts, and on the vivid use of details, and figurative language that your child is using. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes are part of this process, but not the main focus. The goal is to help your child get his/her ideas in writing.

  • Every piece of writing will not be turned into a polished final product. That’s okay! We hope to gradually increase your child’s comfort and ability to embrace the editing process, and that’s quite an accomplishment!

  • Children love to write for a specific purpose and for a real audience! If you want to encourage writing at home, try having your child write about a specific experience in a letter to grandma or a blog that other family members can follow. As an extra bonus, it is highly motivating if family members can write back to your young writer.

  • Storytelling is a big part of writing. Encourage your child to tell you stories, even if they aren’t ready to write them down yet. If your child draws a picture to tell their story, ask him/her to describe it. This is how we all started as writers! Becoming a writer takes time.

The home-school partnership is vital to student academic success. We are excited to share this information with you so that you can support our efforts at school. We are growing inquisitive and articulate writers through the Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop model. It is a writing journey that we are excited to take with each child.

Operation Gratitude - October 30 - November 5

With Halloween approaching, it is time for Operation Gratitude, headed by staff member, Miss Allie Denton. Surplus Halloween candy goes into care packages that are sent to our military heroes, past or present. Last year, McKenzie donated over 250 pounds of candy!

Students will be writing letters to the heroes at school, which will accompany the candy, but letters can be written at home as well. This year, Allie is broadening the scope of the project by inviting our students to write letters at home to service men and women. These letters will be included in the packages. Last year, 22 student letters were sent. The goal for this year is to send over 100 letters. If you'd like to have your child support this effort, letters or drawings may come from home. Some letter writing tips include:

  • Letters should indicate if the letter is written to a first responder, a new recruit, a veteran, or a deployed troop member

  • Start salutation with "Dear Hero" or "Dear Brave One." Offer thanks for selfless service.

  • Do not include the date or year.

  • Share a personal story or interest.

  • Only include the student's first name.

  • Also include the teacher's name, the grade level, Miss Denton's name, and your child's teacher's email or school address.

Your family can help by:

  • Donating extra Halloween candy
  • Donating other items needed items: Deodorant or sunscreen (Travel Size, non-aerosol), Foot Powder (Travel Size), Gum, Hand Warmers, Lip Balm and playing cards. (Please visit the Operation Gratitude Website for further information to learn about other items that can be donated.)
  • As an alternative--or in addition to donating candy--we need help with mailing all of these goodies. You may send in a monetary donation to the McKenzie school office to help cover shipping (Tax-deductible, must be turned into the office.)
  • Collection boxes will be out in the lobby starting on Tuesday October 30th and will be removed on Monday, November 5th after school. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Allie with any questions, and thanks in advance!
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Rotary Club Book Donations (2nd Posting)

Please send new or gently used books to McKenzie for the annual book drive sponsored by the Rotary Club. Collection bins are in the front hallway at McKenzie.

Parenting in the Digital Age (2nd Posting)

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Adult English Language Offered (2nd Posting)

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PTA News and Information

PTA News:

Thank you!

Thank you to the following PTA chairs for helping to provide McKenzie students with so many wonderful experiences and events!

Kelly Levine-Walk/Bike to School Day and Environmental Awareness Week

Dawn Li- Directory

Kelly Warner- Bulletin Boards

A special thank you to parent, Seth Reinick, for rebuilding the bench in the Mckenzie Garden using recycled materials. The garden is so much better thanks to you!

Don’t Miss These Events!

Fall Frenzy:

Join us for McKenzie’s annual indoor fall festival, Fall Frenzy, Tonight! October 12th from 5:30- 8 pm! Bring the whole family for a night filled with games, crafts, pumpkin decorating, freeze dance, the cake walk and more!

Book Fair: SAVE THE DATE! The annual book fair will run from Tuesday, November 6th to Friday, November 9th. NEW THIS YEAR: The Book Fair will be open during conferences. Plan to shop before and after you meet with your child(ren)'s teacher.

Help Wanted:

Share the Warmth: Help us collect 200 winter coats sizes 4T-16 for kids in need. We would also love donations of kids' hats, scarves and gloves. Please send donations with your child during the week of October 15 - Oct. 19! All donations will go to the students at our sister school, Carman Buckner Elementary, in Waukegan. Please wash before donating, thank you!! Thank you in advance for helping to Share the Warmth this year!

Garden Volunteers:

Please sign up to help out in the garden! The McKenzie Gardens are open to students during their lunch/recess times. It’s a fun opportunity for parents to interact with the kids as they explore the gardens, dig in the dirt, plant or create an art project. Sign up here:

Library Media Center Volunteers:

The library media center needs your help! Volunteers needed for a shift in the morning and a shift in the afternoon each day that school is in session. Help re-shelve books while getting a sneak peak at your child’s library lesson for the day. Please check out the library website for your child’s class time and the Sign up here:

Book Fair: Volunteer opportunities coming soon! Check your calendar now for availability!
Monday, November 5th, set-up from 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Tuesday, November 6th through Friday, November 9th, 2-hour shifts

Friday, November 9th, clean-up from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Other Happenings:

iGINITE: Have you contributed to iGNITE? Did you know that the PTA (you!) directly sponsors field trips, in-school speakers and presentations, and the McKenzie Garden’s activities through your iGNITE contribution? Without your contribution, these endeavors do not occur. To cover the projected costs, the requested contribution is $125.00 per McKenzie student but the PTA welcomes your contribution, whatever the amount. Please contribute at today!

After School Clubs: Chess, coding, sports, acting, cheerleading, dance, science, movie making, cooking, drawing, girls power hour and engineering…there's something for everyone! Sign up now for the late fall session of after school clubs at McKenzie! Cancellations due to low enrollment begin 10/19, so register today to guarantee your child's favorite is a go.

Garden Project: We're looming in the garden and need fabric to do so! If you have any spare fabric or old t-shirts that you don't need, we'd be happy to use them for a garden project. Please drop off the fabric in the office vestibule - there will be a box. Thanks!

Order Yearbooks Now:

Buy a yearbook now for the “early bird” discount of $21! Yearbooks can be purchased here: Contact Sarah Traficanto at with questions. Early bird pricing ends October 31st.

Teacher and Staff Gifts:

Show your teachers and the McKenzie staff your appreciation during the holiday season by contributing to teacher and staff gifts! Your contribution will include holiday gifts for all teachers and staff. The suggested amount is $40 per student. Thanks in advance! Please note this will be the only time to donate to the teacher gift fund; there will be no end of year collection. Please be sure to contribute by November 16th. Contribute here:


Community News

Please use this link for Community News

Upcoming Dates


  • Share the Warmth 10/15-10/19
  • Quarter 1 Ends 10/30
  • Early Release and Halloween 10/31 (no PM Kindergarten; AM Kindergarten 8:35-10:00; Grades 1-4 8:35-11:55)


  • Daylight Savings Time Ends - set clocks back one hour 11/4
  • Book Fair 11/6-11/8
  • No School - PT Conferences and PTA Fall Teacher/Staff Dinner 11/8
  • No School PT Conferences 11/9
  • Veteran's Day Observed 11/12
  • Share the Feast 11/12-11/18
  • Share the Joy 11/12-11/18
  • PTA General and Exec Board Meeting 11/13
  • No School (Thanksgiving Break) 11/19-11/23
  • Share the Feast 11/26-11/30
  • Share the Joy 11/26-11/30
  • School Play Mary Poppins, Jr. Performances 11/29


  • Carman-Buckner Holiday Shop 12/8
  • PTA Exec Board Meeting / Holiday Celebration 12/11
  • Variety Show All Cast Meeting 12/11
  • No School - Winter break 12/24-1/4

  • School resumes 1/7
  • PTA General and Exec Board Meetings 1/8
  • Open Gym Night 1/14
  • No School - MLK Day 1/21
  • Open Gym Night 1/28
  • Kindergarten Registration opens TBD

February 2019

  • SIP - Early Release 2/1
  • Mindfulness Evening Program 2/4
  • Open Gym Night 2/11
  • PTA General Board Meeting (State of the School presentation) with Exec meeting to follow 2/12
  • No School Presidents' Day 2/18
  • RED Week 2/18 -2/22
  • Open House 2/20
  • RED Week presentation 2/22
  • Mindfulness Evening Program 2/25
  • Open Gym Night 2/25

March 2019

  • Mindfulness Program (students and adults): 3/4
  • Variety Show Tech Week 3/4 - 3/7
  • Variety Show Special Needs Show 3/9
  • Variety Show Week 3/11 - 3/16
  • PTA General Board Meeting and Exec Meeting 3/12
  • Mindfulness Program (students and adults): 3/18
  • No School - Spring Break 3/25 - 3/28

April 2019

  • PTA General Board Meeting (Highcrest Presentation) and Exec Board meeting: 4/9
  • Gardens to Re-open 4/15
  • PTA Earth Week/Green Committee 4/15 - 4/19
  • Kindergarten Orientation (PTA Presentation and Tours): 4/17
  • No School - Good Friday 4/19
  • PTA Conferences - Early Release 4/25
  • PTA Teacher Staff Spring Conference Dinner 4/25
  • No School - PT Conferences 4/26

May 2019

  • Staff Appreciation Week 5/6 - 5/10
  • PTA Spring Teacher/Staff Luncheon 5/9
  • PTA General and Exec Board Meeting 5/14
  • PTA Pup Fun Run 5/17
  • PTA Volunteer Thank You Brunch 5/21
  • 4th Grade Outdoor Ed 5/22 - 5/24
  • No School - Memorial Day 5/27
  • PTA Exec Board Luncheon (no meeting ) 5/28

June 2019
  • PTA Field Day 6/7
  • PTA General Board Meeting (if needed for budget): 6/10
  • PTA Fourth Grade Farewell 6/13
  • PTA Last Day Popsicles and Lemonade 6/14

Regular School Hours


Kindergarten AM 8:35am - 11:10am

Kindergarten PM 12:40pm - 3:15pm

Grades 1st - 4th

Monday - Thursday 8:35am - 3:15pm

Friday 8:35am - 2:15pm

Student drop off will begin at 8:20am, and the first bell will ring at 8:30am. Please refer to McKenzie's calendar for important dates/holidays.