2020-2021 School Year 
Week #27: April 15 - April 22
New Articles

Repeat Articles

Dates to Remember
NO SCHOOL for Students School Improvement Day -  Friday, April 16th
First Day of Quarter 4 April 19
Parent Conferences Report Card Pick-Up - Wednesday, April 21 (NO SCHOOL for students) 
Every Wednesday - Free COVID Testing @ 955 W Grand

CPS 2020-2021 Calendar: here
Front Office Hours: 8:45am-4:00pm - BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
New Articles
From the Desk of Principal Clarkclark

This week, we finished the third quarter of the school year and are looking forward to welcoming more students back into our building next week.  702 Superstars are signed up for hybrid learning for 4th quarter! Thank you to our staff, students, and families for continuing to follow the district guidelines and protocols to keep everyone healthy and safe. Whether your Superstar is at home or in school, we are looking forward to a successful last quarter of this school year. 

Our LSC held their monthly meeting this week.  The Principal's Report from the LSC meeting can be found here.  The next LSC meeting is May 18th.  All are welcome to attend.

Important Message from CPS: 
NWEA Canceled, Changes to High School Admissions and Promotion Policy policy


Dear CPS Families, Colleagues, and Supporters,
Every year, Chicago Public Schools administers assessments that measure student growth and achievement. The results of district-required assessments are used for many purposes, including public reporting, school and teacher evaluations, student promotion and retention, student program applications, and school summer planning. The district has carefully considered the benefits of administering these assessments in light of the many disruptions our students, families, and teachers have experienced this year and has amended the following assessment requirements:
  • NWEA MAP Growth for students in second through eighth grade is canceled
  • REACH Performance Task administration is canceled
Additionally, CPS is planning to make the following adjustments to the promotion policy, GoCPS admissions process, and the school year 2021-22 school quality ratings plan.
We are recommending the Board of Education approve a modification to the promotion policy that will advance all elementary students to the next grade level in the fall. Similar to SY20, students with final failing grades in reading or math would be recommended to attend summer school. CPS also plans to use federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to help schools provide research-based interventions for students to help ensure they are equipped for future academic success. 
GoCPS High School Admissions 
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, spring seventh grade NWEA was required for all students applying to more than 100 choice programs (IB, STEM, Arts, etc.) and the 11 selective enrollment programs. The Selective Enrollment High School (SEHS) exam was also required for the 11 selective enrollment programs. NWEA was used as:
  • An eligibility factor: Students could not apply to programs unless they met certain minimum criteria.  
  • A selection criterion: Students with higher scores were placed before students with lower scores.  
For SY22 applications, CPS will use one exam, the CPS High School Admissions Test, to determine selection for choice and selective enrollment programs. This test will replace NWEA for choice programs and both the NWEA and the Selective Enrollment High School Exam for SEHS applications. Every eighth grader will take the test-CPS students will take it during the school day at their school, and non-CPS students will take it on the weekends at a designated testing site. Eliminating NWEA and offering all students the Selective Enrollment High School Exam will reduce testing for students who are interested in choice and selective programs, remove the minimum eligibility requirement for programs, and promote equity by providing all students access to the test during school hours. 
The CPS High School Admissions Test will be administered in Fall 2021 and will be used for the upcoming GoCPS application cycle. More information, as it becomes available, will be posted on Additionally, families interested in learning more can attend one of the following public virtual information sessions: Saturday, May 8 at 10 a.m. and Wednesday, May 12 at 4 p.m. A form to RSVP is available at to register to attend one of the sessions.   
School Quality Ratings Based on SY21-22 Data
Given the cancelation of NWEA for this spring, the district will also make a recommendation to the Board not to calculate school ratings based on SY21-22 data. This will be the third year that schools do not receive formal ratings. The basis of this recommendation is that current policy requires that school ratings include growth and that growth requires two test administrations with at least 95% participation. Without NWEA this spring, the district will not be able to calculate existing growth measures and thus will recommend the cancellation of formal school ratings. Instead, the district will publish all available student performance data next year for informational purposes. 
Additional Assessments
While teachers will not administer NWEA or REACH this spring, other assessments will be available, including:
  • Teaching Strategies GOLD observational assessment for pre-k students (required)
  • Kindergarten through second grade assessments in early literacy and math, selected by the school
  • Algebra Exit Exam (optional for qualifying students)
  • STAR exam (optional for options schools)
  • Advanced Placement (AP) exams
  • School-specific curriculum-based assessments
The spring state-required assessments and other district and school assessments will provide teachers, administrators, and families with the critical data needed to understand student progress and plan for how we can support students' through the summer and into next school year. Please reference the CPS Spring EOY Assessment Calendar for a complete understanding of the state and district assessment administrations this spring.
Thank you.

School-issued Devices (Chromebook) for Hybrid Learning chrome

Reminder: For all students participating in hybrid learning, students must have a CPS school-issued device when at the school.  The device should be fully charged and brought with the charger and headphones. 

Non-CPS devices are NOT permitted in the school building.  A CPS device will be provided to those who use a non-CPS device at home during remote learning.

If you need to request a device from the school or are having issues with a previously issued CPS device, please notify your child's teacher or our tech coordinator, Mr. Lomax, at

Letter from CPS:
Supporting Students During Tragedy tragedy

On March 29, 2021, a 13-year-old student from Gary Elementary School was shot and killed by a Chicago Police Officer. The student's name was Adam Toledo, and he was a member of our CPS family. His death, along with release of the bodycam footage, are raising many emotions for our students, and are compounding what has already been a stressful and unprecedented time. 
To meet our children where they are, CPS developed Supporting Students: Adam Toledo, a guidance document that includes a set of professional and mental health resources to help our educators create a safe space where students can ask questions and express their feelings freely. In addition, this guidance will support staff in addressing the social and emotional needs of our children, and will help them ensure sensitive issues and differing points of view are handled with the appropriate thoughtfulness and care. If it is helpful to you and your family, here is a one page guide from our guidance to help you facilitate a conversation with your child about the shooting. 

Class of 2021 - Important Dates grad

8th Grade Graduation Pictures
Thursday, April 29, 9am-12pm

Graduation pictures will take place at Skinner West.  Each student will be given a set time to come in for pictures. Health and safety measures will be taken into consideration. Caps and gowns are expected to be delivered prior to pictures. Therefore, they will be distributed on the day of pictures. 

8th Grade Virtual Graduation 
Thursday, June 17 - virtual graduation will be broadcasted in the evening.
More graduation details to be announced.

Debate Team - Superstars at City Championshipcity

The Skinner West Debate Team participated in the Chicago Middle School Debate League's City Championship for the 2020-2021 season on Saturday, March 6. 

The overall topic for the year is: 'Criminal Justice Reform', and the cases being debated at this Tournament were 'Money Bail' , 'Predictive Policing', and 'Body Cameras'.  About 158 debaters across 81 teams from 15 schools competed at the tournament, but the students did a great job against some tough competition and won the awards listed below.

Some highlights we would especially like to point out are: 
1) Skinner West qualified 9 teams for the State Tournament (out of a total of 18 qualifying teams)

2) Skinner West won 51% of all possible awards at the tournament (37 out of 73).

3) Maura S. was named Skinner West's Most Valuable Debater (MVP) for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Novice Individual

JV Individual
20thEmiliano B.15thRenz L.
17thMel L.
11thSebastien C.
14thSimra K.10thVishal S.
10thNatalie Z.9thRebecca B.
9thSam A.8thAnushri V.
8thXibao Q.7thAdrija D.
3rdCeleste D.6thSamar M.
2ndGrier B.5thDarwin B.
1stAllison C.

Varsity Individual
8thDarian K.
7thKatelyn T.
6thAadi K.
5thMatthew Z.

Amber P.

Sophie M.

Novice Team
JV Team
13thMax F. and Paras C.
8thVishai S. and Tanmay G.
12thEmika M. and Mel L
4thRebecca B. and Renz L.
7thTvisha H.. and Natalie Z.
3rdDarwin B. and Samar M.
6thCharlotte S. and Nimay P.

Varsity Team
5thKinzie W.. and Grier B.
5thAmber P. and Tony Z.
4thAditi S.. and Vedika S. 
4thSophie M. and Katelyn T.
2ndCeleste D. and Allison C.

JunHui G. and Matthew Z.

Aleksia L. and Maura S.

Classroom Connections - 4th Grade Biography Bottle Project biography

My 4th grade class recently completed their 3rd Quarter Book Report projects.  For this assignment they read a biography about a person they were interested in and either wrote a written report or created a presentation about their selected person.  Additionally, students recreated their person by using a 2-liter (or similar) plastic bottle.  Students decorated their bottle to resemble their famous person.  

Attached are a few images of their final product- enjoy! -Mrs. Rosenzweig

Teacher Connections - 
Get to Know Ms. Candice Growe, Kindergarten TeacherGrowe

What three traits define you?
Happy- I am always smiling! 
Outgoing- I am a social butterfly full of energy and ready to chat always!
Organized- I truly feel that the key to success is staying two steps ahead!
What is your favorite book and why?
My favorite book is For One More Day by Mitch Albom
**This is a great book that leaves you thinking......"
What are your hobbies or interests?
  • Taking long walks along Lake Michigan
  • Workout classes such as kickboxing and Barre Class
  • Shopping with friends
  • I love taking vacations to warm places and like to take a trip every chance I get.
  • Spending time with my family. I have 8 nieces and nephews ranging from 2 years old to 10 years old. All but one live in Michigan! There is not a thing I wouldn't do for any of them!
Why do you enjoy teaching Skinner?
I genuinely love the profession that I chose. Working with children is my passion and would continue to be no matter where I lived. However,
I have been teaching at Skinner since I moved to Chicago nearly 13 years ago. My colleagues are like family. Mrs. Clark, our principal, does a fantastic job of encouraging team planning. The Skinner staff all work together, watch out for each other, and get along exceptionally well. It genuinely feels like home away from home. 

What is a fun fact that you would like to share?
My grandma is 97 years old and is my hero. She lives in Michigan and calls me every morning before school just to say hello and tell me she loves me. She is a Holocaust Survivor and one of the most kind-hearted , generous human beings I have ever known. I aspire to be just like her!

Teacher Connections -  Get to Know
Mrs. Anna Puleo McGowan, 6th/7th Gr. Science Teacher McGowan

What three traits define you?
1. Persistence
Growing up in Boston, Massachusetts, I was a kid who did not take no for an answer.  If I was told I couldn't do something, I would double down and figure out how to do it.   In grade school, I was teased for speaking English with an accent, since Italian was my first language.  From then on, I perfected my speaking voice so that it had no trace of my hometown or cultural affiliation. One day, my uncle told me I did not need to go to college since I was "going to get married and have children anyway."  From that moment on, I planned to attend the best college I could find.  And I did!  I received a full scholarship to Harvard-Radcliffe College.  I believe this trait allows me to grow and learn by pushing through adversity, reflecting on failure and adjusting my goals.
2. Sense of Humor
To me, the best antidote to a difficult situation is humor, and I try to apply that trait in my daily life.  Some of my favorite comedians are Jim Gaffigan, Dave Chappelle, Larry David, Tiffany Haddish, Wanda Sykes, and Conan O'Brien. One of the best experiences of my young life was seeing the great George Carlin in concert.  During this pandemic, my ability to be funny has been considerably dampened, given all of the struggles that are happening to each of us.  However, I still try to make students laugh and smile in class as we learn important science content and practice evidence-based writing skills.  As Charlie Chaplin once said, "A day without humor is a day wasted."   
3. Love for Learning
I have had a passion for knowledge ever since I can remember.  My younger brother Paul was an unwilling student when I wanted to "play school." I loved languages and took six years of Latin, three years of attic Greek and eight years of Italian.   I studied for AP exams by attaching study notes on the wall and recreating lectures out loud.  After exploring other careers such as healthcare marketing, management consulting and advertising, I reconnected with my love for learning by going back to graduate school and becoming a science teacher.  And I have not stopped learning since I became a teacher 12 years ago.   I have received additional certifications in Math, ELL, Computer Science and STEM education, and I am applying to get my Algebra endorsement.  I am humbled by how much I have yet to learn, and I hope I can go on many more academic adventures.

What is your favorite book and why?
I was once a voracious reader, but now I don't read for pleasure very often.  A recent favorite book was "Radical Acceptance:  Embracing Your Life With the Heart of the Buddha" by Tara Brach, PhD.  Having grown up in a Roman Catholic household, I was never exposed to other religious traditions until I became an adult.  I was curious to read how Buddhism approaches life's challenges and how I could benefit from these philosophies.  One of the positive benefits I acquired from reading this book is a daily practice of meditation.  I like to use the Calm app for guidance, and I found that this book coupled with meditation has eased the uncertainty of our present time.

What are your hobbies or interests?
Believe it or not, I used to be quite athletic.  I was one of the taller kids in my neighborhood so I learned to play touch football, badminton, soccer, and the occasional Jane Fonda aerobics workout.   I still like to do Zumba and strength training when I am not grading late work. (See #2: Sense of Humor).  I also love to sing, dance, travel and listen to live concerts. My musical taste is quite eclectic, and I like many new artists that are popular today as well as old fogie artists like Cat Stevens, Elton John, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.  Before the pandemic, I chaperoned a group of my daughter's friends to a Rex Orange County concert, and I was easily the oldest person in the mosh pit.      

Why do you enjoy teaching Skinner?
As a product of K-12 public school education, I am passionate about teaching at a school that is accessible to all students with various backgrounds and abilities.  I am proud that Skinner offers students a Classical education that is also robust in science and STEM.  It is also unique that Skinner offers two languages, and I believe every person should be proficient in one or more languages. Lastly, our students are so interesting, precocious and kind.   I have taught at several CPS schools, and I can safely say that this is the best environment for teachers and students alike. As a relative newcomer,  I love the welcoming atmosphere and collegial rapport among our Skinner teachers, staff, parents, and administrators.

What is a fun fact that you would like to share?
One fun fact about me is that I have perfect pitch.  I am a classically trained flute player who played in a concert band from 7th grade to 12th grade, and I then played flute and piccolo in the Harvard Marching Band.  I took up the flute again during the pandemic, since I sold my original one long ago, and I am now teaching my daughters how to play.  I can still play a mean Jethro Tull flute solo.

Repeat Articles
Virtual Report Card Pickup Day is Wednesday, April 21st conference

Third Quarter ends Thursday, April 15th.  There is no school for students on Friday, April 16th for School Improvement Day.  Virtual Report Card Pickup Day is Wednesday, April 21st. There is no school for students on April 21st. Parents can check ASPEN for 3rd quarter grades and report cards will also be mailed to parents.  Parents, you may request a conference with your child's teacher during the times listed below. More details will be provided by your child's homeroom teacher. 

10:00-1:00   Parent Conferences
1:00-1:45   Teacher Lunch Break
1:45- 5:00   Parent Conferences

School Calendar 2021-22: Next School Year Begins August 30th - One Week Before Labor Daycal

To ensure that students can begin the school year sooner than they typically would after a disrupted school year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide students with more instructional time in advance of high-stakes exams such as AP, IB and SAT, the 2021-22 school year will begin for all CPS students on Monday, August 30, 2021 - one week earlier than the district's traditional post-Labor Day start. This change was approved by the Chicago Board of Education at its monthly meeting earlier this week. Click here  to view the full academic calendar for the 2021-22 school year. 

From the Desk of CPS desktops

Important Dates from the Desk of CPS
  • April 19: First Day of Quarter 4

  • April 21: Applications open for Pre-K programs. Visit to learn more.

  • April 30: First Round GoCPS Results Released

My Voice, My School Surveyvoice

Our annual My Voice, My School Survey is an opportunity for parents and guardians to share feedback on their family's experience in their school and the district this year. Please go here to complete the survey by 4/30.

Help CPS Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week month
Join CPS in celebrating and honoring our educators during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 3-7:
  • Create a video to tell our CPS teachers how much they mean to our school communities; use this form to send us a short 5-15 second video and/or a quote appreciating the educators in your life no later by Sunday, April 25. 
  • Nominate a teacher to be featured on the CPS blog using our Good News Form

Food Benefitsfood

All CPS students are now eligible for food benefits as a result of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT). All CPS students, regardless of income or citizenship status, are eligible for P-EBT. Families will receive P-EBT cards automatically and do not need to complete an application. For additional information on this program, please view the FAQs or call the Healthy CPS Hotline at 773-553-KIDS.  You can find the FAQs here

Funding Drive for Skinner Parent Kathleen Lyonslyons

Kathleen Lyons is a beloved parent member of the Skinner School/Whitney Young community and mother to two recent Skinner graduates. She has volunteered in the science lab many times and was even brave enough to take home our pet hissing cockroaches for the summer! Our students learned about chickens when she brought their pet chicken to visit our classroom. She and her family need support right now, as she has been denied coverage for her cancer treatment. 

Read more in this Chicago Sun-Times article about her situation.  

Visit this GoFundMe Page to provide support.
Classroom Connections - 
3rd Grade Women's History Monththird

Throughout the month of March, third graders have been reading and learning about important women in history.  Students read passages and used text evidence to answer questions about women such as Amelia Earhart, Clara Barton, Susan B. Anthony, and more.  They also demonstrated their learning by creating fake social media pages for these women.  Check out some examples of their historical Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Very creative!

Teacher Connections:
Get to Know 3rd Grade Teacher Mrs. Sarah DeJulio teacher1

What three traits define you?
loyal, hardworking, caring

What is your favorite book and why?
The Power of Moments because the book explains how brief experiences can change lives. 

What are your hobbies or interests?
Running, Yoga, grilling, Netflix, Target shopping! 

Why do you enjoy teaching Skinner?
The students are interested in learning and hardworking. The parents support the teachers and their children in a way that allows for optimal learning. 

What is a fun fact that you would like to share?
I am currently pursuing an Educational Leadership degree (Principalship).

Teacher Connections:
Get to Know 7th Grade Teacher Mr. FitzSimmons teacher2

What three traits define you?
(I had no idea how to answer this, so I asked my partner):
Thoughtfulness, Patience and Kindness

What is your favorite book?

This is difficult.  Favorite book is Clockwork Orange because it was challenging, thought-provoking, and just well written.  My favorite author is Neil Gaiman, from his graphic novels, to his young adult fiction, to his works of fantasy.  Favorite genre is sci-fi and fantasy.  From the Shire to Hogwarts I am a sucker for fantastic fantasy.


What are your hobbies/Interests?
The arts (literature, music [preferably live], theater, and arts of all types and mediums), nature/animals, and figuring out how to be a new dad

What do you enjoy about Skinner West:

I actually enjoy quite a bit about working with our Superstars.  There are the development and self-explorative age of our Upper Grade students, their quirky senses of humor, and mostly inquisitive/curious nature.  Many of our students are truly passionate about learning for the sake of learning and that can be such a rare quality.  Mostly though, it is in our diversity.  In few other places in our city can you see such a mixture of all that is Chicago in one place.  In many great ways, we are Chicago.  I love that.


What is a fun fact about you?

I am a fairly large Potterhead and believe you can tell a lot about a person by what house they represent (or lack of a house for my muggles out there).  I am mostly Hufflepuff, sometimes Ravenclaw, and don't mind being a Ravenpuff.   

Nominate a Teacher of the Yearisbe

Do you have a favorite Skinner West teacher? Nominations for the 2022 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be open until Friday, April 23, 2021. Learn how to nominate your teacher for this Illinois State Board of Education sponsored award.

Stay Connected

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Deborah M. Clark
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Mark T. Skinner West School, 1260 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL 60607