The Whittier Wildcat Word

Friday, April 29, 2022

A Message from Principal Robinson

Greetings Whittier Wildcats,

I hope this newsletter finds all Whittier families and friends doing well!

What a great end to another busy but productive week for all! Thanks to you and your scholar(s) for another great week of school! Please find time to enjoy the great weather we're projected to have this weekend!

Have a wonderful weekend!

In partnership,

Principal Robinson

Whittier School - Where I Belong!

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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

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Ms. Anitra McGee - Administrative Asst.

  1. Hello! My Name is... Ms. Anitra McGee
  2. I am... an Administrative Assistant and how long have you worked at Whittier? I'm not sure, lol!
  3. My favorite color is... Orange
  4. What I like most about Whittier is... Whittier is a family. The entire staff and community are very welcoming.
  5. If I had a SuperPower it would be… Why? My superpower would be to teleport. I love to travel and explore different places.
  6. If I was an animal I would be a/an… because... I would be a Jaguar. They come in many shades(even orange)! They are the largest of South America's big cats and the third-largest in the world.
  7. What advice would you give the scholars of Whittier? I would tell you to hold on to your dreams. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to as long as you work hard and stay determined.

May 2022 -

2nd - Registration Opens

10th - Board Meeting

15th - Fun Fair

16th - 18th Book Fair

24th - Brooks Concert

24th - Board Meeting

30th - Memorial Day - No School

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Teacher Appreciation Week!

Help us say "thank you!" District 97 will be sharing stories to honor teachers who are making an impact during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 2-8. Next week, email us at or tweet @OakPark97 using the hashtags #MyD97 and #OakPark97 to share a positive story or appreciation for your favorite District 97 teacher. Photos, videos, drawings and creativity encouraged! CLICK HERE for graphic >

Registration Information for 2022-23

Online registration for the 2022-23 school year in District 97 will officially launch for all students on Monday, May 2!

This year, the registration window will be open May 2 through July 1 for ALL students—returning, new and kindergarten.

Returning Students

The parent/guardian listed as PG1 in PowerSchool will receive an email from with their student’s snapcode and instructions to register. Emails will be sent on Monday, May 2, 2022.

Complete details can be found at

New Students and Kindergarteners

This year, we have streamlined the process for registering kindergarteners and new students to make it easier for families. Registration can be completed entirely online—no appointments necessary!

  1. First, gather all required documents. Click here for the list >
  2. Next, you will need to create an account in InfoSnap.
  3. Continue in InfoSnap by completing the online registration forms and uploading all your documents. Once you’re finished just click submit.

Please click the links below to learn more about the registration process for kindergarteners and new students.

Remember that the "ABCs" of registration are "D-E-F."
  • D - Documents: All required documents must be scanned and ready to upload before starting registration.
  • E - Early: Registration is a detailed process and we ask that families register early!
  • F - Finish: Registration is finished once you receive a confirmation email from the district.

CLICK HERE for a brief video that outlines the District 97 registration process!

Detailed information about the registration process is available on the district website at

Early Childhood Blended Classrooms

District 97 is currently accepting applications for the early childhood blended classrooms at Whittier Elementary School for the 2022-23 school year. We will have a limited number of spaces available.

We are seeking students who:
  • Are non-IEP students who will be between the ages of 3 and 4 years by Sept. 1, 2022;
  • Demonstrate age-appropriate language and social skills;
  • Are Oak Park residents;
  • Are not enrolled in a preschool program.
The registration window will be open through May 13, 2022. For more information about the Early Childhood Blended Program, please visit


On Friday, May 13, BINGO BASH, Oak Park Education Foundation’s first in-person fundraiser in 3 years, is back and it’s going to be especially meaningful this year. We have all just experienced some of the toughest years of our lives, and we want to bring back some joy, laughter and fun! This year’s event we will be honoring John Hodge, Irving’s principal and will feature guest MC Joel Blecha, kindergarten teacher from Irving as well! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to buy tickets, before they sell out! There will be food, drinks, a wine raffle, a silent auction…and the priceless chance to be with friends, give back to the community and support OPEF in our efforts to bring STEAM education to every child in D97 and beyond! Buy tickets at

Footloose The Musical!

Join us for our All-School Musical of "Footloose The Musical!" Get ready to be dancing in the aisles to some of these iconic songs from the 80's! Congratulations to our 110 cast and crew students who are working hard to bring this production to life! "Everybody cut footloose!"

  • Friday, April 29, 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 30 at 2:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.
  • Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 7 at 2:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Bingo Bash is Back!

Love Bingo? Love supporting Oak Park Education Foundation? Love Prizes? You’re in luck! Bingo Bash is Back! Friday May 13 is the night to join your fellow OPEF supporters in a night of fun, fabulous food + drink, bingo and the chance to win amazing prizes! Get tickets or tables at and join us, so we can be together again. Your support will allow us to continue offering our amazing STEAM programs and camps. We can’t wait to see you!

District 97 to Resume Hot Lunch on April 11

District 97 to Resume Hot Lunch on April 11 - Menus Now Available
Beginning Monday, April 11, all District 97 schools will resume serving hot lunch. The new menus and nutritional information are linked below.

The current cold breakfast/lunch menu will be in place through Friday, April 8.

Lunch Reminders

  • Meals brought from home must be nut-free.
  • Lunch will continue to be served at no cost to families.
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This year our school is sponsoring the CAN DO Drive for our local Food Pantry, Beyond Hunger, again! With job and work losses amounting amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, Beyond Hunger has even more people visiting their pantries. Now more than ever they need our support to meet this growing need. Online donations allow Beyond Hunger to offer the essential nutrients that people need right now. Just $1 allows Beyond Hunger to provide 3 meals. Whittier will be collecting these specific foods at school. Please ONLY bring these items:

• Jelly
• Peanut Butter
• Canned Chicken Soup
• Cheerios’ Cereal
• Canned Mixed Vegetables (low sodium)
• Diced Tomatoes
• Tomato Paste
• Bagged Rice (White or Brown)
• Refried and Dry Beans (Pinto and Black)
• Canned Pineapples

You can donate to the Whittier School CAN DO online fundraiser page by clicking here. Feel free to share this link on social media to help Beyond Hunger. Our fundraiser runs from April 1st-30th.

Feel free to contact Mrs. Weiss ( with questions.

Afterschool Playground Supervision

As the weather gets warmer, we wanted to remind families about after-school supervision. We provide supervision until 3:15 (2:45 on Wednesdays) each day. After that time, students need to head home. Our students are very excited to play after school in the nicer weather, and we want to make sure this is done safely. If students are going to stay to play together after our supervision, we require a parent or guardian to be present on the turf, blacktop, or playground to supervise. Thank you for helping us provide a safe, fun environment for all students after school.

Whittier's COVID Mitigations *UPDATED*

We are reaching out with a few updates going into effect on Monday, March 7, 2022.

Monday, March 7, 2022

  • Breakfast starts in our Whittier Cafeteria at 7:15 am

    • Students arriving for breakfast should enter the 5W door (located directly across the playground)
    • Students will be able to enter directly at 7:15 am. Due to supervision, students will not be able to enter before 7:15 am.

  • Arrival/Dismissal Updates

  • All classes will enter the building and dismiss from the blacktop during Arrival/Drop-off. Students will no longer enter the building through the Harvey entrances before 8 am. Teachers will communicate and show students the new lineup location before school on Monday.

  • Traffic Flow/Student Safety
    • School buses are the only vehicles allowed on the 700 block of Harvey for student drop-off. Take note of new signage on the west side of the 700 block on Harvey, designating the bus loading area.
    • The 700 block of Cuyler will be one-way, northbound, during school drop-off and pick-up times, assisting families who drive students to school. The 700 block of Cuyler has signage noting the drop-off/pick-up status from 7 am-4 pm on all school days.
    • The area around our school is bustling at the beginning of the day and at dismissal time. We encourage our students to walk to and from school.
    • If you are driving your child to and from school, the following are the designated drop-off/pick-up areas:

600 Block of North Cuyler Avenue

700 Block of North Cuyler Avenue

600 Block of North Harvey Avenue (South of Augusta)

Effective Monday, February 28, 2022

  • Student drop off and pick up
    • Masks will be optional outdoors for families and students during drop-off and pick-up.
    • Mask is still required to enter the school building.
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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.

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Week of April 25th

This week our kindergartners continued Second Step instruction and learned that it’s important to notice when students are being left out, that inviting others to play is a caring thing to do, and they practiced inviting someone to play with them. Being included is an important need we all have and learning and practicing how to invite others to join in is a skill that can be taught, learned, and reinforced! Our first and second graders had a booster week where they caught up on social-emotional learning, social justice lessons, or were retaught important expectations. Our third, fourth and fifth graders took the Panorama student climate survey during their SEL time this week.

There are no home links this week!

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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Green Team Offer

Through the end of April - we have partnered with Periwinkle Peacock, an Oak Park company who makes reusable snack and sandwich bags (amongst many other things) and who will give us 20% of sales with the code 'WHITTIER-PTO'.

Rai$e The Rims

Basketball Court Q&A Sessions

Although the membership voted to move forward on raising money to add three new hoops and courts to the blacktop, the PTO will continue to gather feedback and ideas throughout April. Register for our Wednesday 6:30pm Q&A sessions here. Review our initial proposal here.

PTO Needs Your Help to Rai$e The Rims!!!
To make these hoops happen we will need the time and talent of those who are interested in bringing these hoops to Whittier. If you or your kid(s) would like hoops at Whittier, can you help with:

  • Flyer and Signage Design - Designers and artists! Advertising to the Whittier boundary community and signage at the school.
  • Flyer Distribution Lead - will need to coordinate getting flyers to families to distribute on blocks
  • Fundraising Tracker - keep communication channels updated with where we are with our goal
  • Community Communications - Marketers! Talk with and coordinate with local businesses and news outlets on our efforts.
  • Basketball Hoop Installation - Artists! We would like an onsite installation to show our progress and how much we have to go.

April is Autism Acceptance Month

April is Autism Acceptance Month! Learn more and find resources through the Oak Park Public Library.

April is Arab American Heritage Month

April is Arab American Heritage Month! Be sure to check out the Oak Park Main Library to see the beautiful display currently showing in the Idea Box! Check out OPPL's website for more videos and resources!

OPEF Bingo Bash

The time is now...for Bingo! Early Bird Pricing for Bingo Bash ends April 15! Register now to get special pricing for tickets and tables. You can also choose to donate to our Bingo Prize fund, which helps local small businesses, and buy raffle tickets to win an Instant Wine Cellar (24 bottles of wine selected by Anfora Wine Merchants). We can't wait to see you, and celebrate this year's Staszak Outstanding Educator Award winner, John Hodge, Principal of Irving! Visit for tickets and details!

Could your child benefit from extra practice in math?

Most students could, so several PTOs in Oak Park are collaborating to offer a 6-week

program to give 2nd through 5th graders a boost in math, starting the week of April

11th. Weekly sessions will be led by D97 teachers over Zoom and are meant to

supplement in-school instruction. Students from any elementary school in Oak Park are

welcome. Total cost is $72 for the sessions. Financial aid is available for those who

need it.

For more information and to register by March 26, visit

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

Whittier Wildchat

The Whittier PTO breaks down The Rundown on our weekly Whittier Wildchat podcast and has a weekly special guest to help you stay in the know. Subscribe today!
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West Cook YMCA Swim Program

West Cook YMCA Offering Complimentary Sessions for Access to Swim Program
The West Cook YMCA is offering District 97 families a complimentary session in its Access to Swim program, which will include a swim assessment of all children and placed in an appropriate class based on swim level and the skills of the children. The program is designed to increase the opportunity for swimmers to gain access to water safety and swim lessons for all of our communities and families. The Access to Swim program is for children ages 3 to 12 years old in Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Melrose Park, and Maywood and/or who are students in Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview School District 89, River Forest School District 90, Forest Park School District 91, or Oak Park School District 97. CLICK HERE for more details >

OPRF Summer Sports Camps - Registration Opens April 25

District 97 students are invited to participate in Huskie Sports Camps this summer! Registration opens Monday, April 25, at 10 a.m. CLICK HERE for the program flyer >

Imagine OPRF Project 1 Open House - Monday, May 9, 2022, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

See the high school's most significant renovations in 50 years! Join OPRFHS to tour their newly renovated spaces, as well as physical education spaces slated for Imagine OPRF Project 2. CLICK HERE for the event flyer >

Save the Date - April 30 Prescription Take Back Day

Oak Park Township is collecting unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medicine on Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please stop by Oak Park Township at 105 S. Oak Park Avenue for safe disposal of medication. They are unable to dispose of needles or creams.

For more information, contact Prevention Services at 708-383-8005, ext. 125 or

Menstrual Products and Diaper Drive - April 8 - May 13

The Women in Business group is sponsoring a menstrual products and diaper drive from April 8 through May 13. Drop boxes are located throughout the community, including the District 97 Administration Building, 260 Madison St. For more information, visit

Click here to view the Women in Business Menstrual Products and Diaper Drive registry on Amazon.

District 97 to Continue Nut-Free Lunches

All District 97 schools are currently operating as nut-safe facilities to ensure student safety. This has been a critical measure in protecting our students with severe nut allergies, particularly during a time in which our lunch procedures have an added layer of complexity due to COVID-19.

As the district eases mitigations in the coming weeks, and as we prepare for the return of hot lunch after spring break, we are mindful that schools may continue to utilize classrooms and/or modified lunch procedures. In order to maintain safe environments for all of our students, all of our schools will continue to be nut-safe. Please assist us in this endeavor by refraining from sending your child to school with nuts or nut-related products for lunch or snacks.

Please contact your child’s school nurse if you have questions about the safety of any food products that you may be considering sending to school with your child. Thank you for your support with this preventative measure!

Supporting the Transition to Masks Recommended, Not Required

Dear District 97 Staff and Families,

As we previously shared, all District 97 schools will move to an environment that recommends, but does not require, mask wearing in school buildings beginning March 17, 2022.

District and building leadership teams have been planning and preparing for this change throughout the week. This included collaborating with our climate and culture coaches to create lesson plans for students, ensuring that plans and resources are in place for students and staff who are immunocompromised, meeting with teachers and support staff to address their concerns and prepare them for classroom conversations on masks, and compiling resources to share with families.

We want to share as much information as possible with you now in order to help you and your student(s) prepare for this transition. In the coming days, principals will be engaging with their students, staff and families to communicate information that may be specific to their buildings. We will continue to provide regular updates about the district’s COVID-19 mitigations via email and will maintain an FAQ for common questions that arise.

Masks Recommended, Not Required - March 17

Beginning Thursday, March 17, the decision to wear a mask at school will be at the discretion of each family. On that date, masks will become recommended, not required, in all District 97 schools, the administration building, and school buses. This change also applies to after-school activities and events. Click here for an FAQ that addresses masking protocols.

Please be aware of four important points as we make this transition:

  • Schools will not segregate or seat students based on mask use or vaccination status.

  • Beyond reminding students to follow their family’s wishes, teachers and staff will not track parent wishes or monitor mask use of students.

  • Schools will not segregate students based on mask use.

  • Our COVID-19 testing partner, SHIELD Illinois, will continue to require masks in testing areas, since collection sites are technically considered healthcare facilities. This means that students participating in weekly SHIELD testing will be required to wear masks in the collection area only. The district will have disposable masks available, however, we encourage families to make sure that their students bring their own masks on their designated testing days.

District 97 recently provided staff and students with high-quality KN95 masks, and we will continue to have a large supply available for those who would like them. Surgical masks will be available throughout the buildings as well.

Supporting Immunocompromised Individuals

As we begin to ease COVID-19 mitigations in our schools, we are especially mindful of our students, staff and families who are immunocompromised or at greater risk for severe illness. As always, if you have any concerns about your child’s medical condition, please reach out to your school nurse.

The district’s safety plan will continue to include several important layers of protection, including weekly SHIELD testing, proper ventilation, social distancing, daily cleaning and disinfection, and frequent hand washing (click here for a summary of current mitigations). The district currently has a large supply of high-quality KN95 masks in both adult and children’s sizes, which may be utilized to provide extra protection during the school day. Please contact your school principal if you are in need of additional masks.

The updated CDC guidance includes recommendations and resources for individuals who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness. They have also created a web page, “Families and COVID-19,” that contains helpful information and tips for making decisions and keeping your family safe. If you are seeking additional help, please reach out to your school and we will do our best to address your concerns and connect you with local resources.

Social-Emotional Supports and Family Resources

It is to be expected that there will be a range of emotions about our transition to “masks recommended and not required.” Students may be anxious, excited, apprehensive, or eager and those feelings may evolve as the transition sets in. Some of our students have never been in school without a mask, so for those students this will be a new experience.

As we move towards this transition, our emphasis is on the social-emotional needs of our students and supporting each other as a community. Our school staff will support classroom communities that encourage inclusiveness, belonging, and care. Our district Culture and Climate Coaches, in collaboration with our school-based PBIS/Culture and Climate teams, have designed resources to support classroom conversations, which will begin the week of March 7. They have also prepared resources for families to support the conversations that will happen at home to support students with this transition.

Regardless of a family’s decision about mask wearing, preparing your child for this change in their learning environment may put them at ease.

  • Communicate Kindness: You can help your child understand that the pandemic has caused many unknowns, and everyone is working to do what is best for their families. Being different is ok and respecting difference is an important part of our community. Another family’s decision may not be the same as their own and that is ok.

  • Clear Expectations: As we get closer to March 17th, depending on the developmental age and stage of your child, explain why your family has decided that wearing or not wearing a mask at school is best for them. Set clear expectations for your child’s behavior at school. Reinforce the need to respect differences. You may want to discuss with your child what respect looks like/sounds like.

  • Model and Practice Skills: If your child feels self-conscious about wearing or not wearing a mask, help them to put words to their feelings. You can develop a script with them and practice with them how to respond directly. For example, “I feel better wearing/not wearing a mask at school; what should we play at recess?”

  • Encourage Your Child to Speak Up: Remind your child that it is important to speak to an adult at school if they notice a student being mistreated or if they have been mistreated. Promoting a culture of mutual respect should include feeling safe to speak up. Help your child to identify a trusted adult(s) at school that they can go to.

School rules and behavior expectations remain the same: bullying is not tolerated. Our Bullying Report Form is available for students, staff, and families to report bullying behavior.

Additionally, it’s important that we prepare our students to be flexible should masks become required indoors again due to a state or local mask mandate or if we experience high transmission in our community, per CDC guidelines. This is not something that we want to happen. However, as we have experienced throughout the pandemic, we should expect the unexpected and be prepared to listen, learn and take action when necessary to address the safety of our students, staff and families.

We encourage all members of our district community to reinforce these messages with our students and to model the kindness, empathy and respect that we are teaching in our classrooms.


Dr. Griff Powell and Dr. Patricia Wernet

Co-Interim Superintendents

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.
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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