Weekly Communique

December 18, 2020

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Thoughts from Dr. Pacatte

It is safe to say that this school year feels like both the slowest and quickest at the same time. This year has been so different from any year in our history, with a constant flow of challenges, decisions, and changes, while redesigning our educational programs to fit the changing guidelines. Time flies when you are busy. It is hard to believe that we are at Winter Break. However, living and working in a 2-dimensional world, feeling isolated, not having the regular return to school excitement in the fall, and the traditional winter celebrations and events has made this year more painful and slow. The good news is we have made it through and continue to work to make the best of our situation. It is also good to note that there are some traditions that are powering through.


Our annual Middle School Musical is being released this week. Our students and staff have been putting in a great deal of work to create a performance that maximizes the capabilities of technology to bring our students together. Unlike other schools that had their students perform the play while socially distanced and masked, our students performed their parts at home and recorded each performance. They submitted their performance in video segments that were painstakingly pieced together and synced with backgrounds and music to create a theatrical experience. Please consider “attending” a performance of The Land of Forgotten Toys.

There will be a link on our website with directions on how to purchase tickets.


Congratulations to Mrs. Pionke, Mr. Elman, Mr. Ostreich, Ms. Gaul, and students for the completion of this monumental task and another successful performance for our Viking Drama program.


In addition to the musical, we have had concerts performed by our bands and a performance by our Spaulding Drama club. While there are no athletic competitions taking place, we are piloting e-sports this year where we have almost 30 middle school students competing and engaging with other district students outside of the academic world. Our children need outlets and we continue to look for ways to provide these opportunities.


The holiday traditions may be different this year and for some families, family members may be missing. It is appropriate to remember that while we are experiencing challenges and struggles there are always things for which to be thankful. Stay safe and make sure that your loved ones know how much they matter. Please do your best to social distance and follow the guidelines, so no one else is missing from the holiday tables next year.

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Remote Learning/In-Person Learning



The metrics for the Gurnee School District 56 area have shown some promising movement for the Incidence Rate. It has had more than a 60 point drop since November 15. While we are still at 44.5, much higher than the desired 14, it creates the possibility that we could be within a reasonable number to begin bringing students back to the buildings sometime in January. After meeting with the Lake County Health Department (LCHD) and the Lake County Superintendents this week, I received a similar message, there is hope. This, of course, will depend upon how everyone conducts themselves over the break.


According to the LCHD, the COVID outbreaks that took place in schools that were in session could be directly traced to outside student activities such as travel sports, dance, cheer, parties, etc., It is imperative that we all be willing to stay the course so the numbers continue to drop. Those families that signed up to return to the buildings should be prepared for a possible return in January. While I cannot give you a guaranteed date, we are aiming for the 19th of January. This will allow for a two week quarantine following the holiday and time for the metrics to move further down.


The Incidence Rate, positivity rate, and the availability of staff will inform our decision to return. Whether or not we can sustain that will also depend on those three factors. With the arrival of two vaccines, I am more hopeful than ever that we will be able to see our students in person during the 2020-21 school year. Let’s work together to support everyone’s efforts by socially distancing, wearing a mask, and washing hands frequently.

Tweet of the Week

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My Trash Project by Cora Petrovic


One of Mrs. Fahrner's student, Cora Petrovic, took it upon herself to organize a clean-up by Spaulding School. This was Cora's idea, and she got her family to help pull it off.

PE Classes Before Winter Break

Mr. Wojo's physical education classes enjoyed some fun before they left for winter break. Students ran, had to catch presents and throw them into basketball hoops, avoid Yetis, punched or kicked incoming snowballs, jumped through strings of lights, and froze whenever the Grinch appeared. They also did various exercises based on things they liked about this time of year. The activities continued to be paired with the importance of exercising the heart, the body's most important muscle.

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The Land of Forgotten Toys Tickets

Click on the RED bar to purchase tickets.

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Viking Middle School 5 days of Giveaways

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Viking & River Trail Cheerleading

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PTO News

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Warren-Newport Public Library

Information from the Illinois Department of Public Health

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