The Whittier Wildcat Word

Friday, February 18, 2022

A Message from Principal Robinson

Greetings Whittier Wildcats,

I hope this communication finds all families doing well!

On Wednesday, February 16th, we had a school-wide virtual Black History Assembly, and it was a huge success! Scholars got an opportunity to learn about the rich history of Africa and the impact it has had on many countries and civilizations today. I'm so proud of the level of engagement and questions asked by our scholars. The presenters were highly impressed by our wildcats! We would like to thank DivCo and PTO for sponsoring this activity and Mr. & Mrs. Dawson for spending the afternoon at Whittier engaging our scholars in meaningful learning!

Have a wonderful three-day weekend!

In partnership,

Principal Robinson

Whittier School - Where I Belong!

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All of February, our school will celebrate the remarkable lives, histories, and contributions of the Black community. We'd love to hear how you and your family are celebrating, too! You can share your Black History Month stories, photos, and videos by tweeting (@OakPark97, using the hashtags #MyD97 and #OakPark97) or emailing

Celebrating Black History Month

If you are looking for ideas of how to celebrate outside of school, check out this excellent collection of books, programs, and special exhibits at Oak Park Public Library.

Upcoming Dates

February 2022 (Black History Month)

21st - Presidents Day - SCHOOLS CLOSED

22nd - Board Meeting @ 7pm

Looking Ahead...

March 2022 ( Women's History Month)

3rd - End of 2nd Trimester

8th - Fireside Chat w/ Whittier Administration

15th - Institute Day - NO SCHOOL

15th - Board Meeting 7pm

17th - St. Patrick's Day

18th - Report Cards go home


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Whittier Wildcat Word Staff Spotlight

One of our goals this year is to strengthen the relationship between home and school. In particular, findings ways for the Whittier community to know the staff at Whittier. Therefore, each week, we will randomly pick a staff member from an envelope to spotlight.

Staff Spotlight - Mrs. Lakresha Johnson: Administrative Assistant

1. Hello! My name is Lakresha Johnson

2. I am one of the Administrative Assistants at Whittier and I have worked here one week!

3. My favorite colors are pink, navy blue, green and white.

4. What I like most about Whittier is that it is in one of my most favorite cities in the state of Illinois and the sense of Community! I have felt welcomed and supported since my first day!

5. If I had a Superpower it would be to have the ability to fly. I think it'll be really cool to have wings and to me flying gives you a sense of freedom.

6. If I was an animal I would be a Cheetah because they are the fastest mammals on land a have the prettiest spots.

7. My advice to all of our Whittier scholars is... What you say matters. What you do matters. What you think matters. YOU matter!

Whittier COVID Mitigations Update

Effective Tuesday, February 22, 2022, the below school-wide mitigations have been updated.

  • No Cohorts During Outdoor Recess
    • Students can play and interact with other classrooms and grades during outdoor recess.
    • Classrooms will no longer be assigned to a particular location during recess times.
    • Playground supervisors' assignments will be updated. All supervisors will have an assigned location to monitor during these times.
  • Outdoor Masking
    • Masks will be optional for outdoor recess and activities, beginning Tuesday, February 22 (see timeline below). Masks will continue to be mandatory inside all of our buildings.
    • Students should maintain physical distance to the greatest extent possible given the space in the school facilities, with at least 3 feet recommended, but not required, between students, and at least 6 feet recommended, but not required, between adults or between students and adults. (IDPH guidance, page 13)
    • PTO has purchased mask lanyards for each scholar to help them keep up with their mask during the many transitions. Hopefully, we will be able to pass those out next week. We asked the families to purchase extra lanyards for their scholar(s).
  • Conversations at Lunch

    • To reduce the risk of aerosol spread, students should continue to focus on eating while they are unmasked and limit talking.
    • Eating in A/B shifts is no longer required in classrooms.
    • Staff/lunch supervisors should continue to utilize videos and activities to limit conversation.
    • Talking is permitted while students are masked.
    • We will need to communicate with staff/lunch supervisors that silent lunch is not expected. We should continue to do our best to keep conversations limited to prevent spread while students are unmasked.

Whittier Advocacy Fund- Family Support Survey

At Whittier, we want to support each student as best we can during these challenging times. Our PTO received financial funds from an anonymous donor that we can use to support our students and families in need.

If you are in need of additional support, please take a few minutes to help us better understand how we can support your family's current needs by filling out a google form ( If your child is identified as needing additional support, someone from our school will be in touch with you within the week. Please fill this out for EACH child in your family. Thank you in advance.

Please note - ALL these responses will be kept confidential and can only be accessed by school social workers, the assistant principal, and the principal.

Drop Off and Pick-Up

Over the last few weeks, we have had an increased number of families dropping off scholars at the Main Office entrance (Harvey Street) before 8 am each day. This has prevented the school buses from dropping off and picking up our scholars efficiently before and after school. We are asking for the support of our families by not stopping or parking when dropping off or picking up your scholar(s) in between the designated School Bus Zone. We have added signs and indicators for this designated space for families. Please use the designated drop-off and pick-up spots (Augusta or N Cuyler) for your scholar(s). Thank you!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.

5Essential Parent Survey for Whittier - We Need Your Feedback, Please Take Today!

This is a reminder that the 2022 Illinois Parent Survey opened on January 11, 2022. The survey window will close on March 11, 2022, so please plan survey administration accordingly.

Link for parents to take the survey:

The survey opens on January 11, 2022, and closes on March 11, 2022.

This Week's Social Emotional Learning Focus (Feb. 14th)

This week we began using the Child Protection Units from Second Step to teach personal safety rules such as safety with guns, sharp tools, fire, and vehicles as well as touching safety in which students learn about safe, unsafe, and unwanted touches as well as rules about touching private body parts. Your child will have an opportunity to use their assertiveness skills to practice asking for help, telling an adult about an unsafe situation, and getting out of unsafe situations. This week our K-3rd grade students learned the “Never Never Rules” that can be found by clicking here. Our 4th and 5th grade students learned how to recognize unsafe situations, whom to report to or contact for help, and how to refuse and say “no” in an unsafe situation. We call that set of skills, “Recognize, Refuse, and Report.” We will teach a total of 6 lessons through the end of March. If you’d like to extend this learning into your home, here are the home links for this week’s lessons:

Kindergarten- Ways to Stay Safe

First Grade- Ways to Stay Safe

Second Grade- Ways to Stay Safe

Third Grade- Ways to Stay Safe

Fourth Grade- Keeping Yourself Safe

Fifth Grade- Keeping Yourself Safe

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District 97 Adopts 5-Day Isolation/Quarantine Guidelines

The Oak Park Department of Public Health officially adopted the new guidelines for schools. As a result, District 97 will utilize the reduced isolation and quarantine times, effective immediately.

(NEW) IMPORTANT: Calling Your Child In Sick from School

Please support Nurse Winkelhake by LEAVING A REASON when you call your child in sick from school. Our nurse follows up on every absence call when a specific reason is not provided. If your child is staying home due to reasons unrelated to COVID-19, sharing that information in the message helps the nurse determine whether a call is necessary. When calling please slowly state:

  1. Your Name
  2. Your Child’s Name
  3. Your Child’s Grade and Homeroom/Advisory Teacher
  4. Reason for the Absence
  5. Best phone number to reach you
We appreciate your assistance with this process!

(NEW) Communicating COVID Positive Cases to Families

To effectively streamline our Covid related procedures and policies, starting the week of January 17, all communications regarding positive student cases and close contacts will happen vis email. Due to the number of cases and the amount of contact tracing, we will no longer be able to call all families of positive cases or close contacts. Please continue to check your email regularly for communications from the school.

All communications will have detailed information regarding the following steps, quarantine/return dates, and other pertinent information. If families have additional questions after receiving a communication, please continue to reach out with questions and concerns. We hope the adaptive format and procedures will help us as a school community better mitigate the spread of covid and better serve our students, staff, and community.

Submit Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination After Second Dose

According to the Centers for Disease Control and state/local health officials, fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine due to potential COVID-19 exposure as long as they are asymptomatic. Additionally, achieving a high rate of vaccination will strengthen our overall safety plan and will put the district in the best possible position to reconsider other mitigations as conditions improve in our community.

To help us reduce any unnecessary quarantines and accurately track our student vaccination rate, District 97 requests that families submit proof of vaccination for their students as soon as they have received their second dose. There are two options:

  • IF YOU HAVE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT: Fill out a brief Google Form and upload a copy of the student’s vaccination card. CLICK HERE to access the Whittier vaccine form.

  • IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT: Email a copy of your student’s vaccination card to Nurse Hilary Winkelhake ( Please include the child’s full name and grade.

Students Who Participated in Clinics at District 97 Schools
If your student completed their vaccine series at one of the school-based clinics, a staff member should have taken a photo of their vaccination card following the second dose.

  • If your child's card was documented, no further action is needed.

  • If your child's card was not scanned or photographed, or if your child did not receive their second dose at a school clinic, please email a copy of the card to your school nurse.

If you have any questions, please contact Nurse Hilary. Thank you for your support and partnership in keeping our schools safe!

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Bravo Summer Camp

Register For Bravo Summer Camp Today!
3-Week Sessions for Actors: June 13 - July 2 & July 5 - July 23
2-Week Sessions for Crew: June 20 - July 2 & July 11 - July 23

Open to Current 4th - 8th Graders
Registration Deadline - March 12, 2022
Register Here

Diversity Committee - D97 DivCo Black History Month Family Zoom Workshops

D97 families are welcome to join ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson as she shares her knowledge about Black History—the foundational Black History that spans centuries and, more specifically, history rooted in West Africa.

BRONDIHOUSE Registration: Click below to register for the workshop AND you will need to complete a second short registration when you register using the ZOOM link below.

Sunday, February 27th, 10am-11am: Grades 3rd through 5th:

Restaurant Fundraiser With Starship

Every Tuesday in February we are partnering with Starship for a fundraiser benefitting the Whittier PTO. Mention the Whittier Fundraiser when you order lunch or dinner and 20% of your total will be donated. View their menu and Learn More here.

Chicago Wolves Family Day Event March 13

Join Whittier students, teachers, families, alumni, and friends for an afternoon of fun at a Chicago Wolves hockey game at the Allstate Arena. Everyone will be seated together in the same section and receive a FREE Chicago Wolves hat. Learn More

Winter Mingle At Maya Del Sol - NEW DATE 2/19

In an effort to build adult connections at Whittier, the PTO will be hosting a Mingle At Maya event on February 19, 2022, from 1pm-4 pm. This will include food, football, and trivia! Safety is our utmost focus at this event and you can learn more about the event and buy your ticket today here.

DON'T MISS IT! WildChat with Principal Robinson

WildChat interviews our very own Principal Robinson! He talks about his road here, memorable moments, and whose host kid is his favorite(J/K)! The episode drops on February 7th! Listen Here Apple Google Amazon


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Vaccine/Booster Opportunity in Oak Park on Saturday, Feb. 12

The Oak Park Health Department is hosting a vaccine clinic for anyone age 5 and older from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 12, at OPRF High School. Click here to register.

Individuals can sign up for their primary vaccine series or for a booster dose. Booster doses are available for anyone age 12 and older who completed their primary vaccination series at least five months ago. Anyone under the age of 18 attending the clinic must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. If you are coming for a booster dose, please bring your vaccine card with you. For more local COVID-19 vaccine information, visit

Information about Acceleration Opportunities in District 97

Looking ahead to the spring, District 97 is preparing to implement the Single Subject and Whole Grade Level Acceleration process for students eligible for acceleration in the 2022-23 school year.

District 97 believes that all students should be challenged and supported to develop to their maximum potential. For students who demonstrate they may benefit from accelerated placement, we provide opportunities to participate in an instructional setting that is usually reserved for students who are older or in higher grades than the child. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Single subject acceleration
  • Whole grade acceleration

In accordance with the Illinois Accelerated Placement Act, District 97 has continued to refine procedures to ensure equitable access to acceleration opportunities for all students. New this year: all students who are grade eligible to take the Illinois Assessment for Readiness (IAR) must participate in the assessment in order to be deemed eligible for acceleration. The IAR is a critically important measure in determining the mastery of grade level standards and must be considered by the school team along with other sources of data.

Referrals for single-subject and whole-grade acceleration will be accepted from March 1 to May 15 of each school year. The general process is outlined HERE.

Information about the District 97 Accelerated Placement Program, including definitions and timelines, can be found at We will send additional communication to families as we near the opening of our referral and application windows next year. Additionally, Family Acceleration Night will be held Wednesday, February 7, 2022, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This information session will provide an avenue for families to share questions as well as receive information about the acceleration process. Please find additional information in the information session flyer.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us by visiting our Let’s Talk page ( and clicking the button labeled “Acceleration.”

COVID-19 Symptom Checklist and Instructions for Symptomatic Students

In October, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education released updated guidance and an updated exclusion decision tree. As a result, we have updated some of our protocols and required documents for symptomatic students. CLICK HERE for a one-page summary of the required steps and testing for students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Reminder: Stay Home When Sick!

Staying home when sick is essential to keep COVID-19 infections out of schools and prevent spread to others. Symptoms that should be monitored daily by District 97 staff, families, and students are:

  • Fever (100.4 or higher)
  • New cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue from unknown cause
  • Muscle or body aches from unknown cause
  • Moderate/severe headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
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As always, thank you for your continued collaboration and support! Have a wonderful weekend. We look forward to seeing our scholars bright and early on Tuesday!

John Greenleaf Whittier Elementary

Where You Belong!

Patrick CL Robinson


Twitter: @PCLRobinson

Chasity McComb-Williams

Assistant Principal

Twitter: @mccombwilliams