2020-2021 School Year 
Week #28: April 22 - April 29
Dates to Remember

IAR Testing May 3- May 19
PTO Meeting May 10 5:30
LSC Meeting May 18 6:00
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
IAR Testing Schedule
Grades 3-8iar

Dear Skinner Family,

Every year, Chicago Public Schools administers federally-required state assessments that not only demonstrate how our students are growing academically compared to their peers across the state, but also help us  determine where additional school support and resources are needed. This year, eligible students will be required to take these assessments in person at school, including students who are learning remotely. As we continue to navigate our response to COVID-19, please know that our top priority is keeping our students and educators safe.  

This spring, your child will take the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR), which measures student mastery of the Illinois Learning Standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics in grades 3 through 8. Over the course of two to three days, students will take the IAR between May 3- May 21, 2021. We will communicate the exact dates your child will take the IAR at school, as well as other important information, in the coming weeks.

To ensure the health and safety of students and staff during in-person testing, we will follow these protocols at our school:
  • We will fully sanitize all rooms before and after testing, following the district's enhanced cleaning procedures.
  • We will clean and disinfect computers and other equipment using the provided wipes in each classroom.  
  • We will require anyone entering the building to complete an online health screener and pass a temperature check. 
  • We will require anyone entering our school to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • We will require all students and staff to wear a cloth face covering while inside the building, including during the test and testing breaks. Masks can be removed for eating and drinking, and strict social distancing will be required when masks are removed.
  • We will ensure students are seated six feet apart in rooms with no more than 50 people and at no more than 25 percent capacity.
  • During testing breaks, students will remain in their testing room and maintain strict social distancing.
  • We will implement restroom break procedures to ensure all students entering a restroom are socially distanced, wearing cloth face coverings, and cleaning their hands.
  • We will establish and communicate clear arrival and dismissal procedures.

Please reach out to Dr. Brown, our Assistant Principal, with any questions about IAR. Thank you for your commitment to your student's academic success.

Deborah M. Clark 

THANK YOU to Skinner Parent Mrs. Dirkx for her generous donation of office supplies! Ms. Dirkx is the parent of a Kindergarten and 3rd grade Superstars!

Dear Mr. Lee and Ms. Zamiar, 

Thank you very much for all of the effort, time, and devotion you have put into the debate team. We appreciate you being our coaches all year. Because of debate, there has been a "spike in the numbers" of great memories and friendships made throughout the year! 

The 2020-2021 Debate Team

Dear Skinner West Families - 

For students who are considering participating in the Skinner West Debate Team next year, the Chicago Middle School Debate League is piloting a one month mini-debate season in the month of May. 
Students who choose to participate in this mini-debate season will be taught the Public Forum style of debate. Public Forum is a more conversational and less evidenced style of debate than the Policy style of debate that we use during the regular season. 
For students who are new to debate, it is a great opportunity to be exposed to competitive debate in a less-structured, accessible manner. If you find that you enjoy debate, it will give you a head start on hopefully transitioning into our Debate team next year.
For all students, especially those who are already experiencedin Policy debate, this is a great opportunity to begin preparing for next year's debate season. Public Forum is a chance to hone your persuasive speaking, rebuttal, and cross-examination skills because the stats and examples are not as crucial in this style; making solid arguments is the key here.  Learning Public Forum is also a great opportunity to meet students with a similar interest from other schools and make new friends through a common ground in debate. 
For any incoming 5th graders who are interested in joining the Debate Team in the 2021-2022 season, you must either participate in the Public Forum Mini-Season or attend the Chicago Debate Summer Institute (CDSI) in order to apply to join the Skinner West Debate Team a year early. (We are normally only open to 6th - 8th graders.) 
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: 

We hope to see as many Skinner students as possible at the Chicago Debates Public Forum Season!

Mr. Lee

Who:  Middle School students from 4th grade through 8th grade 
What: Chicago Middle School Debate League - Public Forum Debate 
Where: Zoom
  • The CMSDL will be using Zoom in anticipation of potentially exceeding the limits for people in a Google Meet. 
  • Practices will take place on Wednesdays from 4:15 pm to 5:45 pm, starting May 5th and continuing until about the beginning of June.  
  • There are currently two competitions planned, as well as a tournament sponsored by All State. The tournament sponsored by All State will take place on June 4th. Students will have to qualify/be selected to compete in the All State tournament. The other competitions are likely to be 2-3 rounds, and will take place after school on a Thursday and Friday, as rounds are only approximately 45 minutes long. The planned dates are May 27-28, and June 10-11.
  • Fun, supportive environment with students from throughout Chicago area
  • Great staff and speakers sourced by the Chicago Debate League, the league we compete in during the regular debate season
  • All materials provided
  • Low cost (and possibly even free)!
  • Students who qualify for the Public Forum Tournament on June 4th have the opportunity to win scholarships as prizes, courtesy of All State. 
  • Please fill out the following survey to indicate preliminary interest: Public Forum Interest Survey 
    • We will email the official registration link to everyone who completes the survey once we have it from the Chicago Debate League. 
  • Official Registration will open next week

Letter from CPS:
Supporting students after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial
Dear CPS Parents, Families, and Educators, 
As we heard the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has been coordinating with the City of Chicago on a comprehensive plan to ensure residents can express themselves peacefully.
To ensure our students' needs are being met, CPS has developed resources to help educators create a safe space where students can ask questions, express their feelings freely, and have productive conversations. We value student voice and believe it is important for our young people to have opportunities to share their perspectives and engage in meaningful inquiry with their teachers and peers.
We understand that this trial and its verdict have raised many emotions for our communities, and we know that some students will bring their feelings, questions, and worries to their teachers and classrooms. We are confident that our educators will be able to guide students through these discussions with thoughtfulness and sensitivity, and we will do everything we can to support them in this important work. 
As parents, we want to encourage our families to have open conversations with your children and offer them the space to speak freely and honestly about their feelings. Our young people will look to us in the coming days for guidance, and our commitment to you is that CPS classrooms will be safe spaces for your children to consider these issues.
Janice K. Jackson, EdD        LaTanya D. McDade, EdD
Chief Executive Officer         Chief Education Officer
Chicago Public Schools        Chicago Public Schools

Teacher Connections: Get to Know Science Teacher 
Mrs. Stacey Thorne Thorne

What three traits define you? 

What is your favorite book and why? 
Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Morrison is my favorite author. I love this book because of the lead character Pecola Breedlove. She is so sad. I feel like the only love she can get is from the reader.

What are your hobbies or interests?
Singing - I have been singing since before I can remember. I sang in a wedding band for 20 years. 
I am a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. 
I love trivia. My favorite TV show is Jeopardy!

Why do you enjoy teaching Skinner?
I love teaching at Skinner because of the diversity. I learn so much from the students.

What is a fun fact that you would like to share?
I love to make up songs on the spot. I can turn most anything into a song.

Teacher Connections: 
Get to Know Ms. Jenna Fisher, SEL Teacherfisher

What three traits define you?
Compassionate, Innovative, and Love of Learning

What is your favorite book and why?
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
This is my favorite book because I read it to my little brother Kaley growing up, he has passed on, so this book always brings back special memories.

What are your hobbies or interests?
I'm an adventurer--hiking, kayaking, biking, camping, basically anything in nature keeps me grounded.

Why do you enjoy teaching Skinner?
I love Skinner students and families!

What is a fun fact that you would like to share?
I love blues and soul music! Recently I've been listening to Leon Bridges and Black Pumas.

Repeat Articles
From the Desk of Principal Clarkfrom

We welcomed 702 Superstars back to the building this week for the start of 4th quarter hybrid learning! 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 last 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 testing


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 Lomax

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

Class of 2021 - Important Dates class

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.

Letter from CPS:
Supporting Students During Tragedy resources

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. 

Debate Team - Superstars at City Championshipchamps

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 project

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 Teacherkind

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 science

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.

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

Stay Connected

 Visit our website at for more information about what's happening in school.
Front Office Hours: 8:30am - 4:30pm
In-person by appointment ONLY.  Phone: 773 534-7790
All comments, suggestions or requests to submit information to this newsletter should be emailed to
Communications Volunteers are welcome. Donate your time to help increase communications and contact us!
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Deborah M. Clark
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