DeWitt Clinton Elementary School

November 2017 Newsletter

Principal's Message

Dear Clinton School Community,

We just ended the first quarter of school. It is amazing how fast the first few months of school have flown by. I am proud to announce Clinton earned the top distinction of Level 1+ from the Chicago Board of Education. The School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) is the district's policy for evaluating each school's academic performance each year. The rating on this report is based on how the school performed in the 2016-2017 school year, and it is used to determine the school's accountability status for the 2017-2018 school year.

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Our standardized test data is based on the NWEA MAP test. Last year our school's reading growth was better than 78% of schools nationally. Our math growth was better than 91% of schools nationally. This means the majority of our students are meeting their growth targets. In attainment, which reflects the students performing at or above grade level, our school continues to do well. Our reading attainment was better than 81% of schools nationally and our math attainment was better than 90% of schools nationally.

We are proud of our accomplishments, and continue to strive to improve our growth and attainment every year.

In October we had everything from school picture day to several field trips and we celebrated Halloween. Our preschool to second grade students enjoyed parading through the hallways showing off their costumes to our older students.

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As we enter into November, we start to think about Thanksgiving and for everything we are thankful for. I am thankful for being a part of the Clinton School Community for the past 19 years. First as a teacher followed by assistant principal and now as principal. Before working at Clinton, I was involved in the community due to the fact I have many cousins who live in this area. This neighborhood has always held a special place in my heart. Being the daughter of an Iraqi immigrant and the first in my family to go to college I can understand many of the challenges our families face. My parents made many sacrifices throughout the years to ensure my brother and I had the opportunity to attend college. I am thankful they made education a priority and encouraged me throughout the years to preserve and work hard. It is because of them I have been able to follow my dream of teaching children.

It is my goal to provide all of our students with the best education possible and to support them as they move on to high school and beyond. Thank you to all the parents who trust us with educating, supporting, and encouraging your children on a daily basis.

It is always a joy to have our former students come back to Clinton and tell us about what they are currently doing. We have had students who have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, web designers, accountants, and so much more. It is amazing to think about all the students who have passed through Clinton's doors since 1925 and all they have accomplished.

Below you will find our two alumni spotlights focusing on Deep Shah and Rucha Patel. It is quite amazing to see the successful and caring adults they have both become. I had pleasure of knowing both of them through their years at Clinton and the added pleasure of having taught Rucha in 7th grade. Both individuals were hard working, dedicated, and caring students and we are proud of the adults they have become.

If you or someone you know graduated from Clinton encourage them to join our alumni Facebook page. We would love to hear more about the great things our alumni are involved in.

Wishing you very Happy Thanksgiving!

Maureen Delgado

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Alumni Spotlight

Every month we will highlight two Clinton School Alumni in order to learn about their lives after Clinton and how the education they received at Clinton helped them in high school, college, and in their career.

Deep Shah, Class of 2007

What years did you attend Clinton?

I attended Clinton from kindergarten (1998) to 8th grade (2007)

Where did you go to high school? College?

High School - Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy

College - University of Illinois at Chicago

What is your current profession?

Sergeant in the Army National Guard - I have been in the National Guard since 2010 as an electronics repairer. The Army National Guard is like the Army Reserves where we maintain a normal civilian life, but one weekend a month and two weeks a year we attend training events. My job is to repair night vision goggles, GPS systems, and chemical detection systems. With the National Guard, I have been all over America, Poland, and I am currently in the middle east.

Application Developer at Top Box Foods - I develop and maintain the website and mobile app for Top Box Foods. My job is all programming and the best part about it is that I can work from anywhere with an internet connection.

What is your most vivid memory from your time at Clinton?

My most vivid memory would have to be when I was in third grade and Clinton still had the annex. I was playing freeze tag before school with my friends and Rami was chasing me. I looked back to see how far he was and when I looked forward, I ran face first into the fence and chipped my front tooth.

What was your funniest moment at Clinton?

I can't really choose one moment. Whether it was one of the many great field trips or getting yelled at by Mrs. Krasic (Lagis) for acting out, nothing but great times come to mind when I think of Clinton.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

My favorite teacher would have to be Mr. Zak or Mr. Cieslik. Mr. Zak's math class was the reason I was able to continue taking math classes and do great in engineering. Mr. Cieslik is the one who recommended Rickover Naval Academy to me and the exposure to JROTC is what guided me towards the military.

What was your favorite subject and why?

My favorite subject was 7th grade math. I took it with Mr. Zak and he put these new theories and concepts no one had ever seen before into understandable and even fun exercises.

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How did your education at Clinton help prepare you for your current career?

Everything I was taught at Clinton, I was able to carry over to high school and they both became the stepping stones to my engineering career. If it wasn't for the early interest I had in math, I probably would not have chosen Computer Engineering as my career.

What advice would you give to current Clinton School students?

Take school seriously, but have fun while doing it. I strongly believe one of the best parts of childhood is having the best time you can, within certain limits. Pay attention in class, ask questions, and even if it may not seem like it, the education you get at Clinton will help you down the road. When all this is said and done, enjoy your childhood with friends! I met Rami in 3rd grade and 15 years later, we're still best friends!

Rucha Patel, Class of 2002

What years did you attend Clinton?


Where did you go to high school? College?

High School- Lane Tech High School

College – University of Illinois in Chicago

Graduate School – Chicago State College of Pharmacy

What is your current profession?


What is your most vivid memory from your time at Clinton?

8th grade when we went to Washington DC. It was my first time ever going any where outside of Chicago by myself. It was such an amazing trip and so educational.

What was your funniest moment at Clinton?

The talent show. I can’t remember what grade this was, but my two closest friends, Mary and Decorte, and I entered the talent show. We sang a song in front of the entire school. It was such a fun experience, but when I look back at it, it makes me laugh, in a good way. We were so young and so fearless. We would practice so much for it, it felt like we were our very own teen girl band! It was the best! Before I met them, I definitely was a shy, timid, kind of a to-myself type of girl. Their friendship made me come out of my shell. I started to make more friends, started to be more involved in things, be more social, be more of a go-getter, and it is truly the reason I am who I am now.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

There were many. The first was Ms. Kanoon (now Mrs. Delgado). She was the best. She was so personable, so friendly, so inspiring, just simply amazing. She was not only our teacher, but she felt like a friend too. It made me want to be the best at everything I did. I wanted to be the best in trying to learn because I wanted to make her proud. It was that year that I became such close friends with Mary and Decorte. It felt like I had a family outside of my family. It was where I learned that friendship is something to cherish and that true friendship does exist. They made my years at Clinton so amazing and that much more fun. I will always cherish that, no matter how many years go by. That year was also the year that I went into the honors program. Mrs. Delgado inspired me to do this. It made my parents so proud and I have Mrs. Delgado to thank for that. I remember I was scared and didn’t think I could do it, but she saw the potential in me and pushed me to be that much better.

Second, Mr. Wester. He was such amazing. He was our history teacher. He knew all of my family. There were 4 of us that all went to Clinton. He knew everyone and was so kind to all of us. He made history fun. It made us want to learn more about our past and want to learn more. He took us all to Washington DC and Springfield so we could learn about our history first hand. It was a year and trip that I will never forget.

What was your favorite subject and why?

Probably science. It was honestly the only subject that made sense to me. I loved it, it was such an interesting subject. I remember, I dreaded doing all the science projects growing up, but it felt so good every time I won, so every year I wanted to do something better. It pushed me to want to learn more. It definitely sparked my interest in science, which lead me to pursue a degree in science in undergrad and become a pharmacist.

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How did your education at Clinton help prepare you for your current career?

Every year at Clinton, it felt like I was becoming a better person and that I wanted to keep pushing myself to become successful. It all started when I went to the honors program, that’s when I knew I could do anything. I went to high school, took all AP class. I went to college and did very well. And then graduate school to become a pharmacist. I wanted to keep learning. I will say, the journey was tough, but the end is so rewarding. I made amazing best friends through the journey and am now married and living in the city.

What advice would you give to current Clinton School students?

Never give up. It sounds cliché, but it’s completely true. Keep pushing yourself to be the best. Set a goal and do everything you can to get there. It will be well worth it in the end. I had some rough patches throughout my years, but it didn’t keep me down. You have to get back up and keep going. Make good choices, choose the path that will help you be a better person and achieve your goals. Surround yourself with people that want to see you grow. They will be the ones that you turn to when you feel like things are getting hard, they will be the ones that will help you get back up and get to your end goal. For me, it definitely started in elementary school. It was where I learned how to be a better person, learned about the potential in myself; it was where I learned to make good friends and how important that is. Clinton school will always be where my amazing journey started.

Curriculum Updates


This month in pre-k, we are learning all about trees! We have been observing and comparing trees to learn about the different types of animals that live in trees, the food that comes from trees, and how the trees change as the seasons change. Students have been excited to watch the leaves change colors and begin to fall off the trees. In math, we are working on counting, number recognition, and one to one correspondence. Students can be seen practicing these skills below as they count colored leaves to represent different numbers on each tree. We are learning a new letter each week and discovering the letter’s sound and different words that start with that letter. We have also been busy working on writing our own names!
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October has been an amazing month for kindergarten. Each and every student is off to a wonderful start and we couldn’t be more proud. In SEL our students are learning to be assertive and problem solve on their own. They are learning to share and use kind words when talking to friends. Kindergartners are learning about their emotions and how to identify their own feelings. These are all very important learning tools for students to be successful in the future.

Kindergarten students are learning how to identify the beginning sounds in words. They are working on sounding out letters to form words. They are using their own lives to create small moment stories during writing. We are able to tell the characters and setting in a story, as well as retell the story using beginning, middle, and end.

Our students are moving quickly in Math and we are so excited to see how they are grasping on to mathematical concepts. We are starting to work on numbers 6-10. Kids can compare numbers, tell what is more or less, and identify what small numbers make up larger numbers. We are also working on writing numbers 1-10 and identifying number words.

We are so excited for our field trip to the Fire Department to learn more about our community around Clinton. We love learning about our school community and what is around us. Each class has also adopted a tree around the school to watch and observe as scientists throughout the year. Kinder is off to a great start and we know that our classes will continue to grow in many ways.

1st Grade

Our second month of first grade has flown by! In reading, students are learning to identify not only the characters and setting of a story, but also the problem and solution. Students are also being introduced to nouns, types of punctuation and when to use capital letters. We have also begun to learn new vocabulary using Wordly Wise. In Writer's Workshop, we have been writing small moment stories and bringing them to life by telling small steps and unfreezing characters by writing more details about them. We have also been studying the author George McClements to incorporate some of his skills into writing. In math, first graders learned to add and are currently working on subtraction.

In Social Studies, students have been learning about being a good friend. First graders have loved learning about plants and animals in science! We planted terrariums, learned about animal habitats, tried to grow new plants from old plants and planted wheat seeds in a straw! We also had a field trip to the Botanical Gardens, where students learned all about how seeds travel, planted seeds and walked through the greenhouses, despite the rain!

In first grade we are learning about focusing and following directions by using our attentescopes and using self-talk.

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2nd Grade

October has been a busy month of learning in Second Grade and we would love to share with you some highlights of this past month! In reading, we continued to read realistic fiction texts, learned how to identify plot of a text, and how to compare and contrast story elements. Guided Reading is already up and running in most of the second grade rooms! In Writer's Workshop, we continued writing small moment stories, looked at the work of our mentor author Jane Yolen, and even tried to use some of her writing moves in our own writing.

In math, second graders began Go Math! Chapter 2 and discovered how to use place value to model, write, and compare 3-digit numbers. We were also engaged in fun, meaningful, and differentiated activities during Math Centers!

In Social Studies, we began learning about different types of communities. Second graders explored what different communities, such as urban and suburban, look like and compared them to our own urban communities!

Last, but not least, the second graders had a great time being scientists as they continued learning all about Solids and Liquids, in our FOSS Science Unit. Students participated in hands-on investigations as they discovered properties of solids. We also learned about how solids are used to build towers and what are properties of successful towers. Some of us even researched famous towers from around the world.

As we roll into November, the teachers are excited to meet all the second grade parents on Parent Teacher Conference Day on November 15th!

3rd Grade

In language arts, third graders have been exploring the elements of a story, using independent leveled texts. They have been learning about characters, particularly, the differences between character feelings and traits. In writing, they are working hard on their own personal narratives.

In math, students have been learning about the meaning of multiplication- how to represent multiplication in different ways, use properties of multiplication, and strategies for multiplying. Third grade scientists have been observing and studying seeds- germination and life cycle.

Finally, in Second Step, third graders have been thinking about empathy- they are learning to think about and identify others' feelings and perspectives!

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4th Grade

The month of October has been filled with fun and exciting learning. Students are building their social and emotional skills through our Second Step lessons every Tuesday. Students are practicing giving each other compliments, showing empathy, and role playing different scenarios.

In math, students are working in multiply 2-digit numbers through area models, partial products, lattice, and using the standard algorithm. With this skill, students are solving multi-step word problems involving multiplication, addition, and subtraction.

In science, students are working with magnets and determining what happens when two or more magnets interact. Students are using real-life objects and discovering which materials would stick to magnets. Students are using their science journals to write their observations, questions, and results.

In literacy, students are using their Wordly Wise books to build their vocabulary. Students are reading nonfiction text to determine main idea, cause and effect, text structure, and creating their own timelines. Students are working in jigsaw groups and guided reading groups to continue building their fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. In writing, students are still finishing up their realistic fiction pieces and starting with opinion writing.

We look forward to more engaging learning in the month of November.

5th & 6th Grade

Literacy & Social Science - Students in 5th and 6th grade continue to work hard in Literacy and Social Studies! While both grades continue to learn about history, 5th graders are focusing on Native Americans across North America and 6th graders are uncovering the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia. In Literacy, our students continue to work at their instructional levels with a variety of texts, specifically nonfiction and realistic fiction. Students celebrated their published writing that corresponded to their respective reading units of study. Our 5th and 6th graders are growing readers and writers!

Science & Math - 5th and 6th grade Math and science is going strong! In 5th grade, we are clarifying our favorite division strategies and beginning to apply our basic facts to decimals. In science, we are exploring how the solar system works beyond our earth and moon! We are also looking forward to teaming up with Ms. Jaimes’ Kindergarten class for a twice monthly mentorship! In 6th grade we are pushing ahead to ratios and proportional relationships by exploring how we use those in the real-world (think discounts and calculating tips!) In science we are exploring how society determines the value of a natural resource by studying rocks and minerals.. Both classes have begun the science fair process and are completing their experimental design!

7th & 8th Grade

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In 7th grade literacy we are just finishing our first published piece of writing. We are sharing these compositions with our peers and celebrating our status as authors. We will continue developing our narrative writing skills in the next unit by writing historical fiction pieces. This unit will weave together social science with our literacy units. Along this same vein, we will be reading historical fiction novels in our classroom as well.

In social science we are wrapping up our unit on the exploration of the Americas and moving on to the colonies that formed in the United States. Students will be exploring life in Jamestown, the Salem witch trials, and unearthing the roots of unrest in the New World that led to the fight for independence from England.

Our 7th graders have also had the important job of being role models for our kindergarten students. Every other week we have spent time reading with kindergarten students or working on their writing skills. It was been an amazing opportunity to see the maturity our 7th graders can embody when called to be role models for their younger classmates. It has been the highlight of the year thus far!

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This November students in eighth grade will be continuing their study of linear equations and beginning their study of functions in their math classes. Science classes will continue to study elements and the periodic table as well as finishing up their science fair projects. In reading, eighth graders have been and will continue to build on collaborative discussions by incorporating Socratic seminars and debates in their weekly lessons. Social Science classes will be beginning their study of the progressive era.


The library program ramped up in October now that classes have settled into our new routines. Ms. Mernick introduced the Illinois Readers' Choice Awards, a program in which kids all across the state are able to read an assortment of great books and vote for their favorite. Awards are given each spring to kids' favorite book in each of three grade ranges represented at Clinton: the Monarch Award for grades K-3, the Bluestem Award for grades 3-5, and the Caudill Award for grades 4-8. Students have already begun reading and enjoying this year's titles. In addition to book checkout, Ms. Mernick has been working with classes on various projects and skills, such as science fair research and online responsibility/safety. Next month will bring additional collaboration with classrooms on authors, science, technology and more.
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English Language Learner (ELL) Program

In October, our English Language Learners (ELs) have been busy settling into classroom routines, including reading groups and math centers. Our newcomer students in 4th-8th have just finished writing about journeys and have also presented their research projects in social studies. Our 2nd grade EL students have been working on expanded form in math, and have been learning words, such as digit, one, tens, hundreds, and thousands. They've been also learning to change 3-digit numbers into number words. 5th grade EL students are about to start a biography unit and will be reading about the young Afghan education activist, Malala Yousafzai, and have also been working on honing their multiplication skills. 6th graders and 7th graders just finished their realistic fiction units in reading and are publishing their own realistic fiction stories. 7th graders also wrote book reviews about the books they read independently in literacy!

Social Emotional Learning (SEL)


Every week, students in grades pre-K-8 have time built-in for Social and Emotional Learning, with teachers utilizing the Second Step curriculum-a program that focuses on social skills and academic success. During this current unit, students are learning to be assertive while respecting the similarities and differences in other people. Being assertive means to say your opinions, thoughts and beliefs in a respectful, clear and honest manner. It is direct but not offensive.

SEL at Home:

Kids gain confidence by entering into activities, clubs, teambuilding, etc. Provide opportunities for your child to be a member of a team, take charge of a project or lead others. When disagreements happen, encourage your child to identify their feelings and practice how to express them to other people by:

  • Staying calm
  • Making eye contact
  • Using a clear, confident voice.
  • Listening
  • Acknowledging the other person's feelings

Success At School

Teaching your child to be assertive while being respectful is important in building healthy friendships. Knowing how to stand up for yourself is especially important when it comes to bullying, teasing or peer pressure and other negative behaviors that can occur at school.

Donors Choose

Ms. Elaine Mernick's Donors Choose - Send Our School on a Magical Journey Through Chicago!

We are pleased to announce our Donors Choose grant for last month was fully funded! A special thanks to all the donors who helped to fund this project.

All students throughout our school will read the book "Rickshaw Reggie: Chicago Neighborhoods" by Kathleen Dragon as part of our 3rd annual One Book, One School initiative. It tells the story of Charlie, who thinks he knows everything a kid needs to know about Chicago, until he's taken on a magical journey through Chicago's diverse neighborhoods. Our students will go along for the ride, discovering aspects of Chicago they may never have imagined.

For a full week, students, teachers, and staff will become immersed in the story and collaborate on a series of lessons and activities inspired by the themes of the text, which include Chicago history, cultural appreciation, diversity, and more.