Superintendent's Blog

  • Welcome to the 2017-2018 School Year

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 8/11/2017

    Welcome back to school! I do hope you enjoyed your summer and found time to reconnect with family and friends, and had time to get away.

    Community High School District 94 has been busy preparing for students this summer.  Just this past week we welcomed fourteen (14) new educators to our district who are all excited to meet you and your students. Together with our returning staff, we continue to be student centered and focused on our most valuable assets – people. The keys to a successful school experience are the spirit of relationships, efforts to serve, and a shared sense of responsibility for learning all of which is found in the hallways of West Chicago Community High School.

    Thanks to the support of the community with the passage of the referendum last spring, we have begun planning for the work that will take place at the school over the next 4 years. Throughout the planning process engineering, plumbing, and mechanical improvements are being assessed and scheduled. The current planning will see improvements beginning in the summer of 2018. Much of the north end of the building will have mechanical improvements replacing equipment originally installed in the 1970’s. Beginning in the summer of 2019, additional instructional space will be added to the west side of the building; we anticipate this being completed by early winter. Finally the 1926 section of the building will be renovated beginning in the summer of 2020. Certainly some projects may proceed on schedule and others may be delayed; watch for our weekly Community eNewsletter for school news and updates on our renovation.

    I encourage all parents and community members to get involved and stay involved throughout the school year.  As a family or community member, you can help your student by learning more about their learning experiences and curriculum in which he/she is currently enrolled.  If there is anything we can do to help your child, please do not hesitate to call.  The unvoiced problem cannot be resolved, as the missed opportunity rarely offers itself again. Our goal remains to provide the best possible education for each student.

    Our staff is available to address any questions you may have about our school, district, classroom, or how we may better serve the students of Community High School District 94.  We understand the very important role we play in the lives and futures of our students and wish to be a partner with you to guide them towards graduation.

    I look forward to seeing you in our schools, and wish you a great year!

    Douglas Domeracki, Superintendent, Ed.D.

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  • Analysis and Planning - Inspirational Educators

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 6/14/2017

    A few months have passed since the community voted in favor of our Board of Education’s $37.5M request to increase instructional space, renovate existing spaces and replace mechanical systems at West Chicago Community High School. The focus of this article is to share the planning and processes that have occurred so far, to share what is to come in the future, and to highlight one of our end of the school year activities.

    Analysis and planning; these are the words that best describe what is happening now. Overall, we expect the projects to take up to 4 years to complete.

    Financial Analysis

    Our business office is working with financial consultants to determine timing for the sale of bonds in relationship to the timing of projects. We must balance the need to generate funds against the schedule of work being done and the current and anticipated interest rates to assure we are using these assets wisely.

    Program Planning

    This spring, division heads have been meeting with certified staff, prioritizing and making decisions about future programming for students. Each division will share information with administration and professional services to begin the design process towards facilities that can support 21st century learning opportunities for our students.

    Building Analysis

    If you have undertaken any kind of remodeling project, or watched home improvement shows on television, then you know the challenge that comes with determining what is “behind the walls”. Structural engineers are inspecting the 1926 original high school building, looking not only behind the walls but under the floorboard as well to gauge the integrity of the building and analyze what needs to be done to maintain the aging building. We expect the analysis to be completed this summer, and are hopeful for no surprises!

    Inspirational Educators

    Ten Inspirational Educators were recognized at the staff end of year brunch at West Chicago Community High School on June 9, 2017.

    The WCCHS Illinois State Scholars were asked to think about their high school experience and nominate two teachers who inspired them to think creatively, aroused a special interest, provided guidance, or touched them emotionally. After tallying the students’ choices, the top ten teachers who received the most votes were surprised and recognized at the brunch. They are Nick Caltagirone (Social Studies), Brandon Fantozzi (Choir), Brianne Ferreiro (Science), Candi Fikis (Social Studies), Anna Fulmer (Science), Steve Govertsen (Band), Aaron Hayes (Math), Rich Kost (Language Arts), Nicole Osborne (Language Arts), and Krysta Schoenbeck (Science).

    Presenting the awards to the teachers were students (from left to right) Josh Bowen, Jacilyn Doncoes, Lauren Long, Danny McComb, Jennifer Orr, Jenna Palka, Harsh Patel, and Max Smith.

    2017 Inspirational Educators

    2017 Inspirational Educators are (sitting from left):  Nick Caltagirone, Aaron Hayes, Krysta Schoenbeck, Brianne Ferreiro, Candi Fikis, Anna Fulmer, Steve Govertsen, Rich Kost, Nicole Osborne and Brandon Fantozzi. Students presenting the awards are (standing from left) Jennifer Orr, Harsh Patel, Lauren Long, Jenna Palka, Danny McComb, Josh Bowen, Jacilyn Doncoes, and Max Smith.

    Dr. Doug Domeracki, Superintendent

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  • The new SAT - How does it differ from the ACT?

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 4/25/2017

    With the Illinois State Board of Education’s adoption of Illinois Learning Standards and Common Core, the state has retired many of its old assessments and replaced them with those that will give educators data to help guide instruction. The SAT has debuted this year as ISBE’s choice for the assessment of 11th grade students for state and federal accountability. For 15 years, through the 2015-2016 school year, the state had provided the ACT as part of the annual Prairie State Achievement Exam. This article will explain the differences and similarities between these national assessments.

    Since 2001, the college entrance exam funded by the Illinois State Board of Education was the ACT. The ACT consists of four distinct subjects:  Reading, Math, English and Science. Students are given 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete the exam that contains 215 questions.  The highest score is 36. Comprehensive practice exams are not available. Almost all U.S. colleges accept the ACT.

    The SAT is in its first year of use as an 11th grade assessment. The SAT consists of three subjects:  Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. Students are given 3 hours to complete the exam that contains 154 questions. The highest score is 1600. Comprehensive practice exams are available for students for free. All U.S. colleges accept the SAT.

    The SAT primarily assesses reasoning skills, whereas the ACT focuses on a student’s knowledge. Both of these are paper/pencil exams with a bubble answer sheet.

    Our students took the SAT exam on April 5 during the school day. SAT Scores will be available mid-June. The scores will be part of students’ permanent academic record, but are not submitted to colleges unless requested by the student. Students who would like to take the ACT can pay to take the exam with an outside company.

    If you would like to see what students have experienced with the SAT, try some sample questions for yourself at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/inside-the-test.

     

    Doug Domeracki, Ed.D., Superintendent

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  • Referendum Thank You

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 4/5/2017

    The referendum passed with 59.52% of voters in favor of the proposal. The numbers demonstrate the strong community support that exists in Community High School District 94.

    The Board of Education has been a good steward of the community's resources and has made decisions in the best interest of our students.These funds will enable our board to continue their work to provide 21st century educational experiences for our students today, tomorrow, and in the future.

    On behalf of the students at West Chicago Community High School, thank you for your continued support.

    Dr. Doug Domeracki
    Superintendent

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  • Janus - The progress of past to future

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 2/28/2017

    In the midst of planning for the 2017-2018 school year I am reminded of the Roman god, Janus. This symbol of change and transitions, the progress of past to future, is indicative of our planning process in Community High School District 94. As we continue the work of providing our students with a comprehensive 21st Century education, I would like to share some accomplishments this school year, and share future plans our Board of Education has initiated for next school year.

    Last year we began a focus on improving school climate. School climate is a critical component of any school who wants to tap into the full potential of students. There are many research studies to indicate that a positive climate marked by connectedness, empathy, and support promote students to challenge themselves and explore academic opportunities in the school. To that end, we have been working this year to codify that concept at WCCHS. As a school, we have rallied around the concept of making WCCHS a connected community that demonstrates compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, encouragement, and resilience by developing ethically responsible students. Faculty, staff, and students have all been engaged in this conversation at various levels including faculty meetings, ROAR, and Student Council. The most recent example occurred this month when 145 students and 15 adults came together to make a global impact by volunteering at a not-for-profit world-wide food distributor.

    This school year, we have been taking a fresh look at our programming at West Chicago Community High School to be sure we are evolving to meet the instructional needs of 21st Century learners. New courses for 2017-2018 include AP Computer Science Principles, Technical Mechanics, Environmental Science, and Forensic Science. Providing our students with authentic learning experiences that make connections to the real world is a priority. 

    Now in our second year of incorporating Chromebooks as a student learning tool, students and teachers have used the Chromebook to support learning and assist with student organization. The Chromebook has become an essential tool in the classroom. In the future, students and teachers can expect the world of educational technology to keep evolving with new technology and apps being developed, and teachers finding creative ways of using the technology. As an example, teachers are creating Digital Breakouts, in which students must use critical thinking, problem solving, troubleshooting and collaboration to solve digital problems.

    This technology does not eliminate the need for textbooks, however. While many publishers provide textbooks in both printed and electronic formats, not all textbooks are best used electronically. Some are simply not available electronically. The Board of Education recently approved the adoption of the following textbooks for the 2017-2018 school year:  Technical Drawing with Engineering Graphics (15th edition), Industrial Mechanics, Child Development, Early Stages Through Age 12, Krugman’s Economics for AP (2nd edition), Street Law (9th edition), Criminal Justice in America (5th edition), The Practice of Statistics (5th edition), Forensic Science: An Introduction (3rd edition), MyCrimeLab, and Environmental Science: Your World, Your Turn.

    While looking at school climate, technology, courses, and textbooks for the future, we must also focus attention on our aging facilities – the original building  was built over 90 years ago; sections of the building were built in 1955, 1965, and 1978. The bond debt from the 1999 classroom addition will be paid off in late 2017. Based on a survey conducted last December, community members encouraged our Board of Education to move forward with a $37.5M bond referendum that will be on the April 4, 2017 ballot. Citing the need to preserve and protect the community’s investment in our high school buildings, the survey shows support to replace roofs, windows, lighting and plumbing systems where needed, and make security improvements that insure student and staff safety. More information can be found at www.d94.org/referendum.

    Learning from the past to make changes for the future is what the Roman god Janus represents, and it is what we do to provide the best educational opportunities for the students entrusted to us.

    Doug Domeracki, Ed.D., Superintendent

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  • Under Consideration - April Referendum

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 1/6/2017

    The Community High School District 94 Board of Education is considering putting a referendum question on the ballot in April, 2017 to authorize the sale of bonds to make some much needed infrastructure repairs and increase educational opportunities for students at West Chicago Community High School.

    The District underwent a full infrastructure assessment of West Chicago Community High School, defining and prioritizing needs. Sections of our building were built in 1926, 1955, 1967, 1978, and 1998. As with a home, HVAC, roofs, boilers, plumbing, etc. all have a life cycle. Eventually, repairs become overwhelmingly expensive and these items must be replaced.

    A window of opportunity exists now that provides the opportunity for the community to consider improvements to a building almost 100 years old. In 1997, the community authorized the selling of bonds to build a classroom addition on to West Chicago Community High School. Those bonds are going to be paid off in 2017. With the permission of the community through a referendum, the District can extend that tax rate, and use those funds to make infrastructure improvements at the school over time. This can be done without an increase to the current tax rate.

    The Board is currently balancing infrastructure needs with providing increased educational opportunities for students. One option being considered is to increase trade and vocational options for students who may or may not attend college, so we are graduating students who can immediately become productive members of society.

    The ability to provide a new course is dependent upon space. The current facility doesn’t provide this additional space, although the 1998 addition was built to accommodate a second floor for future expansion.

    The Board has presented two projects to the community through a phone survey and an internet survey to determine interest in renovations to the high school. But the Board would like to broaden their reach to even more stakeholders. Residents of District 94 may attend one of two Community Forums that are being planned at West Chicago Community High School, 326 Joliet Street, West Chicago; the first is on January 10 at 6:00 p.m. in Commons, and the other is on January 14 at noon in the Learning Resource Center – use Entrance H on the south side of the building for either meeting.

    If the Board decides to put a referendum proposal on the ballot, they would need to make the decision by their January 17, 2017 meeting.

    More information will be available on the District’s website at www.d94.org/referendum

    Doug Domeracki, Ed.D.

    Superintendent

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  • Redefining Ready - Cyber Security

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 10/25/2016

    Redefining Ready 

    The Illinois State Board of Education and superintendents across the state are redefining what it means to be ready for college. This movement is to leave behind a single test score indicator of college readiness (i.e. a single ACT or SAT score) and develop a system that uses several indicators to determine if a student is ready to be successful at the college or university level.

    Educational leaders are developing a research-based rubric to define new college ready designations. The traditional ACT or SAT score will now become just one of many ways a student can show readiness for college. Other indicators being considered include combinations of GPA, academic measures such as Advanced Placement Exam scores, grades in Advanced Placement and Dual Credit courses, and career indicators such as attendance, community service and military service.  Dubbed “the gateway to college”, research shows that students who are successful in Algebra II are also successful at the college level.

    I am greatly anticipating the final version of this work, as we know students are much more than their ACT or SAT score – one assessment does not define their entire knowledge base. Students learn in a variety of ways, and they should be able to demonstrate readiness in a variety of ways. Watch for more information as this research-based work is completed.

    Want to learn more? Visit https://www.edutopia.org/blog/college-and-career-readiness-redefining-ready-anne-obrien.

     

    Cyber Security

    With recent cyberattacks in the news, and all of our students using wireless devices for schoolwork, I want to reassure our community that our network is secure. Our managed wireless network is password protected and encrypted using Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), a security standard for the wireless industry. Once you get connected to our network our servers and data are protected by a redundant firewall ensuring that no one can get to any data or servers they are not allowed to see. As our last measure of security, we have a web filter that blocks inappropriate websites and malicious software from being downloaded.

    Dr. Doug Domeracki, Superintendent

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  • Welcome Back!

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 9/1/2016

    Welcome back to school!  Even with the extended summer break, September has arrived so quickly. I do hope you enjoyed your summer and found time to reconnect with family, friends, and had time to get away. Our summer at school was filled with remodeling, renovation, and construction – all with the hope of further creating an environment that promotes student learning.

    Community High School District 94 has been busy preparing for students this summer. Just this past week we welcomed twenty-four (24) new educators to our district who are all excited to meet you and your students. Together with our returning staff, we continue to be student centered and focused on our most valuable assets – people. The keys to a successful school experience are the spirit of relationships, efforts to serve, and a shared sense of responsibility for learning, all of which is found in the hallways of West Chicago Community High School.

    Speaking of our hallways, a large percentage of our building received some extensive remodeling work this summer. The projects included upgraded flooring and lighting, work to the pool mechanicals, a facelift in the cafeteria and serving areas, and a re-design of the math and science wing. The changes to the math and science areas are dramatic. They include the addition of natural light and lighting upgrades, flexible learning spaces with vibrant colors to encourage creativity, and 21st century resources to engage learners. As our staff and students return, we are excited to reveal these new learning spaces. 

    We invite you to see what the excitement is all about! Join us at our open house to see the upgrades and changes to West Chicago Community High School on Friday, October 7th from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. Everyone is invited. 

    Our staff is available to address any questions you may have about our school, district, classroom, or how we may better serve the students of Community High School District 94. We understand the very important role we play in the lives and futures of our students and wish to be a partner with you to guide them towards graduation.

    I look forward to seeing you in our schools, and wish you a great year!

    Dr. Douglas Domeracki, Superintendent

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  • Late School Start Fosters Enhanced Learning Opportunities

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 8/16/2016

    Despite the oppressively hot temperatures this summer, the construction projects at West Chicago Community High School stayed on schedule and are nearing completion. We are excited about the enhanced learning opportunities these new spaces will provide for our students.

    This week, the 2nd floor Science Division will be turned back over to us. These classrooms have new lighting, ceiling tiles, paint, flooring, cabinetry, white boards, and a new configuration. Most of the science rooms are now “paired” with another science classroom. In between the two rooms are a shared storage area and a small flex space that can be used for student testing, student group work, or can be used as a conference room as needed. Furniture and equipment will be moved into science classrooms this week and next.  

    Another change in this area is the flexible learning space in the Science Division. Located at the intersection of Senior Hall and the auditorium hallway, this area can be used for presentations or small group work. Near this space, a large window has been installed at the end of the hallway, bringing natural light to this section of the building originally constructed in 1965.

    Work continues in the first floor Mathematics Division. Located at the bottom of the ramp outside of Bishop Gym, this area is in the process of receiving new lighting, ceiling tiles, paint, flooring, and white boards. A new window has been installed on this floor as well. This area should be turned back over to us next week, so we have time to prepare the rooms for staff and students.

    Twenty new faculty members will be joining us this school year. New administrators include Veronica Lange, Division Head of World Languages; David Pater, Director of Student Services (formerly Dean of Students); and Jenna Windt, Dean of Students. New faculty members include, Career and Technical Education Division teachers Angela Gentile and Ashley Walsh; Humanities Division teachers Alison Jonesi, Gabriela Raudales, and Nicole Stadler; Language Arts Division teachers Jamie Culen and Mary Fremeau; Physical Development Division teachers Jordan Corvella, Thomas Nall, and Vincent Walker; Science Division teachers Rebecca Hahn and Adam Singer; Special Education Division teachers Timothy Dovichi and Katelyn Sullivan; World Languages Division teachers Magdalena Bromberg and Andrea Contreras; and Social Worker Kaitlin Flanigan and Guidance Counselor Deborah German.

    Our doors open for students on Tuesday, September 6. We are excited to welcome our new freshman class and encourage them to explore their interests and get involved in clubs, activities and/or sports right from the start. Not only is this a great way to meet people, but it immediately enhances their school experience, improves achievement, and connects them to the school community in a remarkable way.

    Once the renovation work is finished we will be scheduling an open house for the public. Please be on the lookout for the date and time to visit us and see the improvements in the science, mathematics, guidance, Student Activity Center, home economics, and childcare facilities that have been completed in the last few years. For a sneak peek, visit the construction photo gallery on our website at www.d94.org/construction.

    I look forward to a great school year!

    Dr. Doug Domeracki, Superintendent

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  • Construction creates 21st century learning spaces

    Posted by Becky Koltz at 7/14/2016

    As students left West Chicago Community High School on May 25, 2016, they walked out of a science department designed and built in the 1960’s. This September, they will return to 21st century learning spaces designed to be adaptable, engaging, and inspiring for both students and teachers.

    Construction began right after Memorial Day, 2016 on Phase III of the master facility capital plan at West Chicago Community High School in Community High School District 94. Estimated to cost approximately $5 million, it is the largest project of the past 3 summers. 

    The target this summer is the portion of the school that was constructed in 1965, housing math and science classrooms. In all, 14 science rooms and 16 math rooms will receive makeovers.

    “A key component of science learning is exploration and investigation, said Moses Cheng, principal.  “The new rooms allow teachers and students to do that - teach and learn in an environment that supports exploring and investigating in a 21st century way.”

    “The vision for teaching and learning at West Chicago Community High School is to have students ‘think critically in each discipline’”, said Allister Scott, assistant principal for teaching and learning. “In science we want students to develop the content knowledge, critical thinking skills, and problem solving skills of a scientist. To develop these critical skills and content knowledge, students must collaborate, be active problem solvers, be inquisitive learners, and be able to communicate scientifically. The new science learning space will help teachers to create the classroom culture that facilitates this learning.”

    Some science rooms will include furniture on wheels to allow for flexible placement and grouping of tables for demonstrations and projects. This type of learning space gives teachers the ability to adapt the flexible space to the activity going on during the lesson. The science wing also incorporates multiple nontraditional learning spaces, such as small workrooms for students that teachers can utilize to support student learning. In addition, near the science rooms will be an open space that can be used as a classroom for special projects or presentations. (See photos below).

    The calendar for both the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years were modified to create a very long summer for this and other construction projects. School ended before Memorial Day this past spring, and does not begin again until after Labor Day for our high school students.

    The community will be invited to visit West Chicago Community High School this fall to view the upgraded spaces resulting from the past 3 years of construction projects. In the meantime, architect renderings and photos of the construction progress can be viewed at www.d94.org/construction.

    Dr. Doug Domeracki, Superintendent

    Architect Rendering   Architect Rendering

    Before   Before Construction

    Current 7-12-16   Current (7/12/16)

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