The Tiger Times Newsletter

Pleasantdale Middle School

January 16, 2022

Reminder: No school tomorrow, Monday, January 17, 2022 to honor and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Pleasantdale IS Better Together

My One Word...LEAD

Dear Middle School Community,

It was another great week at the middle school! I was in a bunch of lunch periods this week and commented over and over again to the staff and students how much fun they seem to be having while they are at school. There's just such a great energy of laughter, play, and simply being kids. Let me say what I've said numerous times over the past two school years, the kids really love being at our school, seeing their peers, and learning new and interesting concepts! As the principal, I couldn't be prouder of the culture that we're continuing to foster as a welcoming, safe, and caring place for our students!

We are moving forward with our plans for exciting and fun experiences for the kids like Fortnightly (starts this Friday night 7-8:30 p.m. for 8th Graders) and Outdoor Ed for both the 5th Grade (February 2-4) and 6th grade (March 2-4)! We will take all necessary precautions and work as hard as we can to give our students these (and many other) amazing middle school experiences!

Spirit Week this Week (culminating in our Winter Pep Assembly on Friday)!

MLK Monday-No School

Tuesday-Snooze Day (but be on time)-Wear comfy clothes or pajamas

Wild Wednesday-Wear animal print and bring a stuffed animal

Tacky Thursday-Wear an ugly sweater

Big Top Friday-Wear stripes

MAP Testing Recap

Despite our testing challenges, so many of our students still demonstrated growth on their winter MAP test as compared with the fall. The proud smiles when kids came up to me to tell me that they earned their highest score ever are priceless! We continue to work hard to strike the right balance in sharing the importance of any testing that the students do with them knowing that they are so much more to us than a test score. Thank you for helping encourage your child to simply do his/her best! That's all we can ask.

I've enclosed the letter sent out on Wednesday later in the newsletter. If you would like your child to take a MAP retest, please CLICK HERE (please note, retests will occur during the school day).

One Word Challenge Update

My One Word for 2022 is: LEAD

Here's why LEAD is the right word for me in 2022. As I wrote last week, I know "this year is going to be one of hard work, learning, transition, and new beginnings." I wrestled with words like transformation, metamorphosis, and bereshith ("beginning" in Hebrew) since I would be completing my role as the Proud Principal of Pleasantdale Middle School and becoming the next Business Manager, Chief School Business Official, and Transportation Director here in Pleasantdale. But, after much thought and reflection, each of the words that were I WAS CONSIDERING (not each of the words that were speaking to me), involved a complete change of who I am as I transition from being a principal and toward my new role.

The more I reflected, the more I knew at my core that I am not becoming anyone or anything different than who I am. I am still going to be the very same person who will LEAD by...

LEAD by caring deeply about others,

LEAD by working extremely hard to be the very best I can be,

LEAD by learning new things, especially in the areas of school finance and building maintenance,

LEAD by communicating the why behind the decisions that are made,

LEAD by transitioning and supporting the next principal in every way that I can,

LEAD by completing some of the projects that have been started this year,

LEAD by being available for a call or meet or text whenever anyone needs anything,

LEAD by implementing new systems to improve efficiencies,

LEAD by continuing to believe that my higher purpose (or calling) is to positively impact people through education...(I could go on and on but I won't).

2022 is going to be a year of growth and change for me, however, I am not suddenly going to be a different person. I am going to be the same person just in a new and exciting role where I can continue to LEAD and support the students, staff, and families of Pleasantdale in every way that I can.

Finally, I want to once again thank Dr. Palzet and members of the Board of Education for their continued confidence and support of me LEADing in this new area of Pleasantdale. I'm humbled and honored to have been selected.

So, what about you? Send me your One Word for 2022 if you haven't done so already. More words came in this week, like Patience (what a great word that we all could benefit from having more of)! Hit reply and send me your One Word now if you'd like to share.

Covid Updates from the Middle School:

This week was a much quieter week as far as COVID was concerned. As of Friday, January 14, 2022, we currently have 7 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and were being excluded from school/work. Although these numbers are still higher than we had seen prior to winter break, we are seeing fewer positives and fewer students presenting with symptoms than the first week back from break.

Remember, when close contacts are identified both inside and potentially outside of school (people who are within 3 feet of a person for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period), our staff, usually our nurse Denise Rende or our district health aide Cassidy Long, will contact you and let you know about the situation. From there, depending upon many factors, information will be shared about the next steps for your child.

Remember, if your child has symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID, please keep him/her home and contact our nurse, Denise Rende. In many cases, we can test your child that day and then determine if he/she can return to class that same day or as soon as he/she feels better. This will also help keep siblings in school as much as possible as well.

Here is the link to the District's COVID Dashboard on the District website. If you have any questions, please reach out to Mr. Sonntag or Nurse Rende.

Pleasantdale IS Better Together

We'll keep saying it, but Pleasantdale IS Better Together so let's stand together, do what's right, support one another, take care of one another, and make this the most successful school year yet!


Griffin L. Sonntag

Proud Principal of Pleasantdale Middle School

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This is such a good reminder for us parents...

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8th Grade Girls' Volleyball Tryouts Tuesday, January 18, 3:30-5

All students who try out must have a sport's physical on file with Nurse Rende before tryouts. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Emso at

7th Grade Girls' Volleyball Tryouts Thursday, January 20, 3:30-5 p.m.

All students who try out must have a sport's physical on file with Nurse Rende before tryouts. If you have any questions, please contact Mrs. Gaughan at

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, January 17, 2022

There is no school tomorrow, Monday, January 17, 2022.
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MAP Testing Disruptions Email from Wednesday, January 12

The following was sent out on Wednesday, January 12. If you would like your child retested for MAP, please fill out the electronic Google form below.

Dear Pleasantdale Middle School Parents,

I wanted to send you a quick update about our MAP testing this week. As you may have heard, we experienced significant disruptions during our testing sessions both yesterday and today.

We have confirmed with the test provider that the issue was NOT a result of bandwidth or test set up on our end, but rather an issue at NWEA, the creators of the MAP test. We have reached out to NWEA to express our frustration with this situation and have been tracking the status of the problems at their website: Given the problems we faced, our students did a fantastic job persevering through the test and completing their testing sessions. Our staff did a phenomenal job encouraging the students while simultaneously troubleshooting many different testing issues that arose.

We realize that these testing disruptions may have caused distractions for our students. Therefore, we will closely analyze the winter testing results and adjust our threshold for a retest should we believe the testing disruption caused students to score lower than expected. Likewise, we will honor any request from either a student or parent for a retest. In addition, if teachers believe a retest is warranted, they can request it as well for any student. If you would like your child to take a MAP retest, please CLICK HERE (please note, retests will occur during the school day).

Again, we thank both our students and staff for remaining calm and being resilient in a very frustrating situation. We expect to have a much smoother testing session in the spring. As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to me.


Griffin L. Sonntag

Proud Principal of Pleasantdale Middle School

1.14.22 Update from Dr. Palzet (from the Friday Packet Email)

Greetings, Parents,

I want to start this week’s message by thanking you for your patience as we navigate through the new quarantine rules released by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) last Friday. Of course, anytime a change is made by IDPH, there is a learning curve for us to implement the change. However, I am happy to report that we have adopted the shortened quarantine timelines and have clarified our test-to-stay procedures. Likewise, we have worked with the other Lyons Township schools to provide a vaccination and booster clinic for our community.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank our families for their flexibility this week as we work to keep as many kids in school as possible. With the new quarantine guidelines, we were able to reach out to families and let them know their new return date. Unfortunately, in the flurry of information released by the state, we also inadvertently notified some parents that their children would be excluded. We were able to correct those mistakes, and I am happy to report that we have cut the quarantine time of several students and staff. We will continue to do all we can to keep kids learning in school and continually work to keep our schools open for in-person learning.

As a reminder, the Lyons Township School Districts are hosting a vaccination and booster clinic on January 20 at Lyons Township High School (North Campus). This clinic is open to any Lyons Township resident age five and up. You can read more about our Township clinic by CLICKING HERE.

We continue to closely monitor the COVID metrics in our communities and within our schools. It is important to mention that our rate of in-school transmission continues to be zero. This means that students are not contracting COVID at school. The positivity rate in the three zip codes we monitor (60480, 60025, and 60027) is 11.14%. The total number of students excluded due to a positive test is nine, and the total number of students excluded due to exposure is 16. You can review these metrics and many others on our COVID District Dashboard.

Be well, stay well,


Here's a picture--actually two pictures--no agenda, no caption--just two pictures taken 103 years apart

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And another...100 years apart...just fascinating to me...

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Interesting thought for today...

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Funny of the week...because we all need to laugh...

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Lunch Menu Each Week!

January Lunch Menu Link

Here's this week's lunch menu! They wanted me to let you know that things could come up and offerings may change but they will do their best to stick to the posted menu.

Lunch is provided free to all students again this school year!

If your child has any issues at lunch, please report it to Mr. Sonntag via a phone call or an email (

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Tiger Tip-Line

Pleasantdale Middle School Tiger Tip-Line

While it is always best to talk directly to a staff member, we understand that sometimes this can be uncomfortable or difficult for students or parents. At Pleasantdale Middle School, we offer the Tiger Tip-Line as an anonymous tool for reporting unsafe, uncomfortable, or unkind behaviors and situations. We explicitly teach the students that if they ever see something or hear something that makes them feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or is unkind, either online or in person, they should tell a “trusted adult” which could be parents, school personnel, or other adults in their lives. The Tiger Tip-Line can be accessed here.

The Extracurricular Calendar 21-22 link will take you to a live version of the calendar that allows you to click on each before and after school activity to find out more details. The live version of the calendar also allows you to see any changes that are made.
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Picture Book Club is starting

Interested in joining Mrs. Steinmetz to help pick which books I read to the elementary students in March and April?

Join us for the picture book club after school on Monday, Jan 10th and 24th!

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LGBTQ+ Alliance Club

Did you know that about 2 million teenagers identify as LGBTQ in the USA alone? If you would like to learn about them, join the LGBTQ Alliance club!

Our mission is to educate, celebrate, and support. We accept people who identify as LGBTQ and people who don’t!

We have meetings every other Tuesday in Room 33, our next meeting is on January 11th, we hope to see you there!

Student Council

Student Council meets every Wednesday morning from 7:30 - 8:15 in the Library. If a student has a conflict on Wednesday they may come to Rm 25 on Thursday morning from 7:30-8:15. All Pleasantdale students are welcome to attend at any time during the school year. Please see Mrs. Driscoll or Ms. Newberry if you have any questions.

Come to Art Club!

Art club is happening this week! We will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school from 3:25- 4:25. Art club is open to all students who enjoy making art.

Paw Prints Literacy Magazine and Website Needs Your Writings and Artwork!

Paw Prints

Explore the updated Paw Prints website to see this year’s amazing submissions and to submit your own writing, photography, or artwork. Congratulations to Lauren M. for winning the Paw Prints fall submission raffle! She won a $10 gift card to Starbucks. Everyone, please keep submitting your writing and artwork for the Paw Prints website and magazine. We will do another raffle in March for all the submissions between December and February.

Do you want to share your artwork, writing, and photography with our community? All students can submit their work on the Paw Prints 2021-2022 Submission Form link. Your artwork will be displayed on a website and may be included in the Paw Prints magazine published in May.

Paw Prints is a student-led club that publishes a website and magazine full of student writing and artwork each year. Students are encouraged to start submitting writing and artwork for publication consideration in our 2022 student magazine.

All forms of writing are welcome including poetry, fiction, argumentative, nonfiction, and informational. Additionally, students should consider submitting photos of artwork from class or personal projects, as well as photography.

You can submit writing and art from your classes, personal projects, and hobbies, or art club, as long as you made it after May 1, 2021.

Begin submitting your entries now using this 2021-2022 submission form!

If you have any questions, contact Mrs. Deaton at

Pleasantdale Environmental Action Team (PEAT)!

PEAT - The Pleasantdale Environmental Action Team - is back this year! We will be meeting on Mondays after school from 3:25 - 4:25 once a month. The other Mondays will be devoted to our recycling programs here at Pleasantdale.

Speaking of recycling - we are still collecting the following items to be recycled at school:

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Rainbows Group at the Middle School is Up and Running on Thursdays

Many of you are familiar with Rainbows from the elementary, but I am excited to announce that we are adding a group at the middle school! With everything that has happened over the past 18 months (I can't believe it's been 18 months), now more than ever, there are needs from our students to have a safe space to find support as they navigate grief and loss. These feelings might be from death, divorce/separation, or other traumas and we want to be here for our students. See the flyer below and reach out to the sponsors for more information or to share a part of your child's story with them.
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Open Library

Open library will run all year long on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 3:25-4:25

No need to sign up, just show up as needed or wanted! You can come to the library to study, read, work with other students, or even just to hang out.

Contact Mrs. Steinmetz or Mrs. Schmager if you have any questions.

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This Week...Make it a Great Week!

See the calendar above for more information about activities:

Monday, January 17-No School-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Tuesday, January 18-Day B (for 7th/8th Grade Science and Social Studies Classes)

Snooze Day Tuesday - wear your pajamas to school

Wednesday, January 19-Day A (for 7th/8th Grade Science and Social Studies Classes)

Wild Wednesday - bring a stuffed animal and wear animal print to school

Thursday, January 20-Day B (for 7th/8th Grade Science and Social Studies Classes)

Tacky Thursday - wear your ugly sweaters to school

Friday, January 21-Day A (for 7th/8th Grade Science and Social Studies Classes)

Big Top Friday - wear stripes to help us celebrate our circus pep assembly

End of the Day Winter Pep Assembly hosted by the Student Council

8th Grade Fortnightly--Must have signed up in advance--

7-8:30 p.m., North Gym, Enter Door 6--by the Gym.

Next Week...The Choice is Yours

See the calendar above for more information about activities:

Monday, January 24-Day B (for 7th/8th Grade Science and Social Studies Classes)

Tuesday, January 25-Day A (for 7th/8th Grade Science and Social Studies Classes)

Wednesday, January 26-Day B (for 7th/8th Grade Science and Social Studies Classes)

Thursday, January 27-Day A (for 7th/8th Grade Science and Social Studies Classes)

Friday, January 28-Day B (for 7th/8th Grade Science and Social Studies Classes)

Fortnightly-7-8:30 p.m., North Gym, Enter Door 6--by the Gym.

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Pleasantdale PTO

We have such a great partnership with the Pleasantdale PTO! Please join it by going to their website (if you haven't done so already) and offer your time, talents, or treasures to partner with them to support our schools!

Also, check out all of the great activities they have planned for this year!

Join the Pleasantdale PTO here

Sign up for Amazon Smile to support the Pleasantdale PTO

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Previously Shared Information

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COVID Information for Parents from the Nurses

COVID-19 Info Sheet for Parents

If anyone in the household has one of the following symptoms…

  • Fever (of 100.4 or higher)

  • Headache

  • Shortness of breath

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Fatigue from an unknown cause

  • Muscle/body aches from an unknown cause

…Please do all of the following:

  1. Let the school know via Pick Up Patrol or through the attendance line.

  2. Keep all siblings home until the symptomatic person has had a negative COVID test.

  3. Schedule a COVID test - COVID tests can be done at your child’s school, or at any medical clinic of your choosing. At home tests cannot be used as proof of a negative test.

  4. Send COVID test results to either Nurse Lisa or Nurse Rende:

Elementary School

Nurse Lisa:

Phone number: (708) 246-2028

Middle School

Nurse Rende:

Phone number: (708) 246-7619

  1. If COVID test results are POSITIVE, keep all siblings home and contact Nurse Rende or Nurse Lisa for a date to return to school. We strongly recommend that all school-age children in the household get tested for COVID if there is a positive case in the household.

  1. If COVID test results are NEGATIVE, siblings are safe to return to school. The symptomatic child should return once symptoms have begun to improve.

    1. Exception: Children must stay home for at least 24 hours after experiencing a fever of 100.4 or higher, and at least 48 hours after experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.

If you are waiting to get your child tested, please DO NOT send your child (or siblings) on the bus or to school.

Please sign up for text alerts...

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5th and 6th Grade Outdoor Ed Update

Thank you to everyone who has filled out paperwork and paid for the 5th or 6th-grade Outdoor Ed field trip already! We're so excited about the trips in early 2022!

Remember, 5th graders are going February 2-4, and 6th graders are going March 2-4.

For those who haven't turned in paperwork or paid, Mrs. Lauermann and Miss McCarter have created this awesome website that has links to everything you need. Please turn in the paperwork and make the online payment as soon as possible.

Tiger Times Translates!

Tiger Times Translates

One of the many things I love about our Pleasantdale Middle School community is our diversity. When one watches our student population enter the building each day, they might not see the diversity I am speaking about because from afar, one can only see our wonderful community at a surface level. Each and every one of our students and families has a unique story of ups and downs, triumphs and challenges, great days and tough ones.

One of the things we've worked hard on over the past 4+ years is inclusivity and supporting all members of our community not only being accepted but being celebrated. Some examples of this are creating a fund to support all of our students participating in our activities and field trips, bringing students with special needs back to their home school to learn with the children in their neighborhood, and finding ways to ensure that our parents who speak a different primary language at home can fully engage and support their children and our school. It may surprise some of you to learn that the majority of our students and families speak another language at home in addition to English!

This week, I want to highlight the translate feature for this newsletter through Google Translate. I know that Google Translate is always improving, but if this can help even one of our parents or grandparents support their child better at our school, then it is definitely worth it!

If you're reading this newsletter on your phone or iPad, click on the person-looking shape in the lower right corner. Then click translate, then choose your language.

If you're reading this newsletter on your computer, click on the word translate in the upper right corner. Then click translate, then choose your language.

The Leadershop Partners with Tiger Time! Homework Assistance Program!

Tiger Time! Homework Assistance Program is set up to support students who would benefit from help while doing their homework.

This program is run by teachers are Pleasantdale Middle and occurs Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays from 3:30-4:25 p.m.

The Leadershop is going to work with our teachers on Mondays and provide mentoring and fun from 4:25-5:00 p.m. each day.

In addition, the Leadershop is going to provide our students another day of support on Wednesdays from 3:30-5:00 p.m. for homework help, mentoring, and fun! ***Please note that we are still working on securing 5 p.m. bus on Mondays and Wednesdays.

So, students can have homework support at school on Mondays (until 5), Tuesdays (until 4:25), Wednesdays (until 5), and Thursdays (until 4:25) at school.

To sign up for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays until 4:25 p.m., please contact the staff members below:

5th Grade: Mrs. Barbara Triggs,

6th Grade: Mrs. Peg Riordan,

7th Grade: Ms. Andrea Mars,

8th Grade: Miss Alainey Embury,

To sign up for Mondays and Wednesdays until 5 p.m., please fill out this form here or see the flyer below.

If you just want to learn more, please contact Mr. Sonntag.

MASH (Missed Assignments Study Hall) Begins

At 6-8th grade, students who miss completing multiple homework assignments in a given week will be assigned a study hall on Friday connected to lunch to support their completion of these missing assignments. Parents will be notified when their child will be attending MASH.

Order Yearbooks Anytime Through

Yearbook Ordering Now Open-Order only through

Like last year, all yearbook ordering is done through Please note that no families were able to order yearbooks at registration.

New this year (optional)-2 free, customizable pages-order now for the discount but pages due by April 2, 2022.

Yearbook: regular price $27.28 (tax included price)

All of Tree Ring's promo materials have pre-tax amounts listed.

***New Feature this year: Customized pages***
Great for kids who have photos from outside-of-school events. Customize Your 2 Free Pages with photos from your computer, Facebook, Instagram, Google Drive & more. Customized pages need to be completed by April 2, 2022, but you should order your yearbook today!

The 2 Custom Pages are FREE and are printed ONLY in your book.

Go to
Enter your school’s passcode:

Or if you want to watch this 5:46 video that Mr. Madsen made, click here.


-In the upper right-hand corner, click Buy Yearbook.

-Enter in School Passcode 1016070138064895

-Create an account with (or log in with last year's credentials)

-Fill out student Info--(Important) For teacher select not applicable (n/a)

-Once the student's name and information populates, click the green "Next" button

-Then click the "Let's Go" green button towards the bottom.

-Click the green "Checkout" button

-Enter Payment Information (Credit Card, Check, or PayPal) $27.28 final price.

-Or if you want to watch this 5:46 video that Mr. Madsen made, click here.

Questions? Send our yearbook sponsor, Mr. Madsen, an email at

School Spirit Fridays!

As we continue to build school pride with our new(er) logo and school colors (navy, Carolina, white), we are encouraging students and staff to participate in School Spirit Fridays by wearing anything Pleasantdale or our school colors to school!

Pick Up Patrol (PUP) is being used differently this year and in middle school

Pick Up Patrol (PUP) is being used differently this year and in middle school. Here are the ways it is different:

1. We are not having families complete a health screener each morning. If your child has any COVID-19 symptoms, please keep them home and indicate this in PUP and our staff will call you in the morning.

2. We ARE utilizing PUP for attendance purposes at the middle school. This includes if your child is going to be absent, be late to school, or need to be picked up early.

3. We do not use PUP like the elementary school in terms of letting us know how your child is getting home from school. As the students transition into middle school, please discuss with your child how they are getting home each day prior to them heading off to school. In those rare cases when something changes mid-day, please call the main office at 708-246-3210 and we will let your child know of the change.

We need you ready to go with Pick Up Patrol just in case your child is absent. If you have not been able to log in, please email Stacey Tantillo at or call the office at 708-246-3210.

For those of you who are logging in from the old app, we have been told that you need to use the website. The directions for this are below:

Go to the website

Log in--and if you don't remember your password, do a forgot password.

From the webpage, you should be able to do attendance.

If this works, go back to that login page and add the page to your home screen by clicking on the box with the up arrow at the bottom of your phone, scrolling up until you see "add to Home Screen" and click that. It should go on your phone and look like an app. If you have an android phone, follow the directions HERE.

Collections at the Middle School-Keep Collecting, Please

We collect the following at the middle school:

1. Pop Tabs-The Pop Tab competition by grade has begun so please continue to collect Pop Tabs for us throughout the year. We donate them to Ronald McDonald House to support families of children with cancer.

2. Box Tops for Education-These are all given to the PTO to support our schools! There is an App and all you have to do is scan your receipt each time you grocery shop. I use it and love it! It could also be a "kid job" at home.

Throughout the year, there are other collections and drives that occur. Keep an eye out for how you can support the causes that are important to the students and staff here!

Follow Us on Twitter @Pdaleprincipal for updates and pictures of the happenings around the middle school!





Follow pdalemsactivities on Instagram for reminders about school spirit days and events throughout the year!

Future Events/Activities Update

Please, please, please continue to read each email you receive from either Dr. Palzet or Mr. Sonntag. Important information about the questions you have will be coming through these communication channels. Thank you!

Communications to Start the Year

Here are the two main communications that were sent out previously to kick off the 2021-2022 School Year!

2021-2022 Welcome Back Letter to Families (corrected)

8.18.21 Day Before School Begins Email and Phone Call

Questions? We're here to help!

Athletics: 708-246-7382

Mr. Mark Dreher, Athletic Director,

Attendance notification: 708-246-3210, extension 5 or email before 8:20 a.m., please.

Health Office: 708-246-7619

Mrs. Denise Rende, Nurse,

Main Office: 708-246-3210, extension 0

Mrs. Stacey Tantillo, Secretary,

Ms. Maria Cuevas, Clerical Aide,

Mrs. Brianne Malatt, Assistant Principal,, 708-246-7373

Mr. Griffin Sonntag, Principal,, Office: 708-246-7609, Cell: 630-280-4704

Social Worker: 708-246-7505

Miss Taylor Karey, Social Worker,

All Staff Email Addresses

Pop Tab Challenge for Ronald McDonald House

5th Grade is in the lead...just saying!

Keep saving your tabs as we'll do another collection before the end of the school year!

This is a project that is near and dear to our own Mrs. Steinmetz's heart as she shared a little bit of her story in 2019 at our fall pep assembly. You can check out the 1:50 video here.