Monthly Archives: September 2015

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21 09, 2015

Volunteer for Upcoming Admissions Events

By |2018-12-17T11:34:09-06:00September 21st, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

volunteers1The admissions office is gearing up for Open Houses! We are looking for parent volunteers to check-in, chat up and tour small groups of prospective families. Open houses are conducted on select Wednesdays from 8:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. We begin in Mitchell Commons and end with small group tours. These parent led tours give prospective families a peer perspective of the school – a priceless opportunity. We hope you can partner with us for one or all of these recruitment events.

Open House Dates:

Wednesday, October 7
WednesdayOctober 21
WednesdayNovember 4
WednesdayNovember 18

If you are available to share your Ancona experience with incoming families, please email admissions. On behalf of the admissions office, we are excited to partner with many you of again and some of you for the first time!

17 09, 2015

Honest Conversations October 4, 2015

By |2018-12-17T11:34:10-06:00September 17th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

Join Us for an Honest Conversation

honest conversation.fw

Please join us for the first Honest Conversations meeting in Hyde Park at the home of an Ancona family:

Sunday, Oct. 42-4PM

Children are welcome!  There will be space for them to play while the adults talk.  So that we can plan, we ask that you RSVP by Thursday, October 1 to Radiah Smith-Donald at .  Feel free (not obliged) to bring a snack for sharing.

This year, we will focus on the concept of privilege.  “Privilege” is a loaded term which initially brings to mind images of wealth and power.  However, privilege also includes the unearned (and often unconscious) advantages and opportunities we all enjoy to some extent, depending on our education, country of birth, sex, gender, race, physical appearance, physical ability, and other factors.

Q.  In what ways are we and our children privileged?
Q.  What luxuries and limitations does our privilege afford us?
Q.  In what ways are we disadvantaged or demoralized by other people’s privilege?
Q.  How and when should we talk to our kids about privilege?

These questions, along with occasional short readings and other media, will frame our conversations.

17 09, 2015

Ancona Parent Connection’s First Meeting

By |2018-12-17T11:34:10-06:00September 17th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

 The Ancona Parent Connection (APC) will hold its first meeting of the year on Thursday, October 1 at 6:30pm at Ancona.  All parents are invited to attend!

 About APC:

The Ancona Parent Connection (APC) is a gathering place for parents with the aim of strengthening and supporting the Ancona School community.  While Room Parents at Ancona act as a liaison between parents and classrooms to communication information and recruit volunteers for school-led activities, the APC focuses on parent-run initiatives to support families, engage the community, and enhance the Ancona experience.

APC activities may include:

    *Parent events – e.g., book clubs, theatre nights, panel discussions
    *Community-wide events – e.g., Ancona Fun Run, movie nights, spirit wear
    *Information exchange – educational events, resource fairs, online forum
    *Whatever we (the parents) want!
All Ancona parents are welcome and may participate as much or as little as fits with their availability and interest.  Please email to join the organizing committee or if you have any questions or suggestions.
17 09, 2015

The Strategic Plan: 2015

By |2018-12-17T11:34:11-06:00September 17th, 2015|Curriculum Connection, Parent News|0 Comments

Come to the Town Meeting on October 6, 2015! Ancona is embarking on a thrilling and fast-paced strategic plan to get us where we want to go in only three years. In very short time, we determined what we need most and can accomplish by listening to you and each other.

    • Fall 2014 – Spring 2015: Dozens of interviews with parents, staff, and students
    • May 2015: Faculty survey and parent survey
    • May 2015: Town meeting
    • June 2015: Board retreat
    • July – Aug 2015: Strategic Plan Task Force (SPTF)
    • October 6, 2015: Town meeting 

With great motivation, and unfaltering dedication to what we had discovered, the board and SPTF have captured a daunting variety of goals – 43 of them! These goals fit into seven broad categories:

  1. Education Program
  2. Fiscal Strength
  3. Economic Diversity, Tuition and Financial Aid
  4. Enrollment and Retention
  5. Facilities
  6. Communications
  7. Community Building

When we began leading this process, we imagined that emerging with three goals would be commendable and realizable. But as we saw the fine details of each of these goals, we agreed that they all needed to be done and – unexpectedly – could be done. Avoiding a more common strategic plan that would take 5 years to arrive at and 10 years to complete (and be outdated right away), we sought goals that met these criteria:

  1. Low-hanging fruit: Goals should be realizable in 3 years or less, and cost nothing or very little
  2. High leverage: Goals should have a large effect for enrollment, retention, and reach a broad audience of many constituents

The board dedicated its entire retreat, six  hours, to articulating these goals. Next, twelve volunteers of the SPTF – parents, board members, staff, faculty, and the Head – spent nine hours (plus homework!) to refine this list and respond to the needs parents and faculty helped us identify in the school year. You may see your own thoughts reflected in these goals, and when you do, I hope you’ll jump up with me to lend your shoulder to the wheel.

Ancona has two town meetings a year. At the next one, people from throughout Ancona’s community will come to hear each of these brave volunteers explain our process, the goals, and our next steps. Please come! A plan sits on a shelf; but a people carry the world forward.

When we make progress toward these goals, we will have a stronger, better Ancona, a more creative Ancona, an even better place for kids to learn, an even better place for parents to claim, and a school that is geared for the future with momentum, change, and brilliance.

17 09, 2015

Ancona Town Meeting: October 6, 2015 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

By |2018-12-17T11:34:12-06:00September 17th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

In accordance with Ancona’s bylaws, we are hosting a Town Meeting for all members of our community, including students, parents, alumns, staff, teachers, neighbors, trustees, and anyone else who is part of our community. This meeting will focus on our new Strategic Plan, to cover the next three years, through the end of 2018.

You can preview these goals by downloading the printable PDF here. Or just come to the Town Meeting and learn about them all at once!

It overwhelms me to think of how many people and how much effort people put into getting here. Last year, dozens of individual and group meetings led to a parent survey, teacher survey, and a June board review of organizational needs. We formed a Strategic Plan Task Force over the summer that turned this massive variety of requests into a carefully organized set of specific but reasonable goals that we could attain in three years with minimal investment in our tight budget.

True to Ancona’s attention to process, the Town Meeting’s structure will cultivate conversations. First, we’ll show you the Strategic Plan. Then you’ll travel between small groups to unpack the goals and decide where you want to throw your support. We’ll reconvene so we all can hear each other’s thoughts before moving forward.


6:30 Welcome and overview
6:45 Presentations by the Strategic Plan Task Force
  • Education Program
  • Fiscal Strength
  • Tuition & Economic Diversity
  • Enrollment & Retention
  • Facilities
  • Communications
  • Community Building
  • 7:15 Breakout groups (self-guided)
  • 8:00 Q&A with Board President Keith Bevans and Head of School Ari Frede
I am deeply grateful for the investment you have made in material change for this school. Now, I ask you to join me at the Town Meeting to examine these goals and get excited about what will happen next. In the next three years, Ancona will become much more of what it wants to be, and you will be here for it!

NOTE: The time of this meeting was changed — it originally started at 6, but will actually start at 6:30.

7 09, 2015

Outdoor Learning Space Update

By |2018-12-17T11:34:13-06:00September 7th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

AnconaOLS_01Dear Ancona parents,

Have you seen the Outdoor Learning Space (OLS) taking shape? This is an exciting time! Visit our Facebook page and look at pictures of our progress, and videos from the perspective of the bucket scooper on the backhoe!

We really wanted to premiere the OLS on the first day of school, and instead, students will see multiple unveilings over this month because of construction’s typical (and unwelcome) delays that follow every well-planned project. Our summer campers and All Year Montessori students have been following this same process closely. In true Ancona fashion, students can monitor and update the steps of construction, and recognize what goes into — and underneath! — the facilities all around them.

We will be having the same amount of recess and playtime, but off-site at local parks. Namely, these will be Kenwood Park (south of the Ancona School) and the unnamed park at 47th Street near Lake Shore Drive. We are taking extra precautions to make sure this goes off smoothly, and all our teachers are pitching in to make sure kids get all the playtime they need, just like they would at the OLS.

  • If you haven’t yet submitted your child(ren)’s emergency form(s), please do so immediately.  Teachers will carry these to the park.
  • Please send your children to school every day with:
    • a water bottle
    • sunscreen
    • shoes appropriate for playing in the park (closed toe, good traction, good support)
  • Teachers will have their cell phone with them, a first aid kit, and an epi-pen (for students with a prescription).
  • On inclement weather days, recess will be held inside between available spaces.
  • Although we have had no problems in the past, we are seeking extra police presence at the two parks during our recess times.
  • We are also reaching out to Shoesmith Elementary, which uses Kenwood Park very regularly, for coordination and collaboration
  • After-school recess will be held indoors from 3:15-3:30

Some parents are volunteering to help chaperone kids to and from the park. Thank you! If your teacher reaches out to you for this help, you will feel so good by pitching in. (What a great excuse for getting outside for exercise!) And if your child has a midday appointment scheduled (say, a doctor or dentist), please understand that if the class has already left for recess, we will try to reunite your child with the classroom for recess, but sometimes your child may need to wait with an adult at the school until they return.

After much planning and anticipation, we are going to have an amazing space for kids to play, unlike anything else I have ever seen. Some believe the playground will be famous. We are so very fortunate to have this for our community! I will write again with updates as the OLS makes more progress.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and cooperation, and welcome back!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why isn’t the Outdoor Learning Space open in time for school?

We have been assured that the entire playground will be open for play by the end of September. Our timeline for this project was tightly aligned with the beginning of school, but we ran into delays when we discovered some soil was contaminated and needed deeper excavation and special disposal. We completed this and the playground is even safer because of it. Most other delays have had to do with the fabrication of the playground apparatus itself. Outsourced pipe benders in Quebec had a traditional week-long holiday, for instance, and the Canadian playground manufacturer has been working nights and weekends to make up the time. They are making sure this landmark playground meets all of its high safety standards. By their own assessment, they see this custom design (planned with Ancona’s Harelik Award-winning parents/architects, Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen) as welcoming close attention by city officials and playground industry colleagues, so they are trying to meet especially high standards.

What’s left to be done on constructing the playground?

In Canada, they have received all the pipes and already bent them — a rather amazing process for pipes significantly wider than what you usually see in Chicago playgrounds. First, they will conduct a dry-fitting to make sure all the pieces connect safely. Next, they send them out to be powder-coated (painted). On September 14, they will load the playground parts onto trucks — including all 27 legs! — and prepare to get through customs at the border, in addition to the 12-hour drive down here from Ontario. As long as no other manufacturing problems delay that time period, the delivery will come around September 16. Weather could interfere with our construction, too, such as rain that prevents a cement pour. On the other hand, the contractor that has been working with us on preparing the ground and foundations has often run ahead of schedule, been neat and exacting, so we have confidence that the work will be top quality.

Why can’t the field be done earlier?

In fact, it can! We plan to have multiple unveilings of the Outdoor Learning Space as soon as each one is ready. By our current plan, we expect to be able to open the following portions sooner than the playground:

    • A two-person swing at the north end of the play space, fenced off from the construction area for safety.
    • The nature area at the south end of the play space (outside the gym), including the sand area and water area, and another two-person swing.
    • The gravel track around the field will be open even while the fenced-in sod is taking root for 2-3 weeks. After it takes root, we will open the field, probably around the same time as the playground.

But my kid needs to play!

We agree! We are preserving their scheduled recess and PE time. They will play in lots of places. As you read in the plan above, we will use two parks, the Gym, the Commons, and room 104 during these times, in addition to their classrooms, where kids opted to stay on inclement weather days.

What about teams that need to use the field?

The only team that needs the field is Flag Football, and those parents are already using our solution. After dropping off athletes at Ancona, Flag Football will practice at the 47th St. park, and student pickup will be at Ancona at the end. Tayé is in touch with all these parents, but call her at 773-924-2356 x233 or write to her if you have questions.

What about fire drills and evacuations?

Actually, only two rooms have to change their evacuation plans, and even then by only a few steps to get out to their designated meeting spots. One of those rooms is the Commons, where children don’t congregate for long periods of time. The other is room 102 (Peggy), who now has a shorter route to walk, and (depending on the emergency) has quick access to 3 different exits. We are confident in our revised plan. Our contractor graded the construction space so that kids walking an evacuation route will be like walking on a level dirt road. Teachers have been acquainted with the new plan, and administrators will be pitching in during high-need times — whether a crisis or a recess that needs an extra pair of hands — until the OLS is completed. All hands are on deck!

When we take the long view of this project, the few short weeks we wait for it to be completed will be overwhelmed by the fantastic spectacle of our kids playing their hearts out with new challenges in their home-away-from-home. More than one parent has said to me, “Ancona parents are reasonable, and know that construction always has delays with it.” I think these steady hands were trying to calm me when my anticipation of the final product was getting a little too ecstatic. I will be romping around with the rest of them, and I hope you will, too. (The structure is rated for 100,000 pounds, so let’s put it to the test!)

2 09, 2015

Sign-up for Lunch

By |2018-12-17T11:34:13-06:00September 2nd, 2015|Parent News|1 Comment

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 5.22.03 PMAncona’s has once again partnered with Gourmet Gorilla to provide individually prepared hot and cold lunches for the 15-16 school year. If you like, let them do all the heavy lifting with their light, lean and sustainable recipes. Download the order instructions for Ancona families or skip to the online order page here.

Preschool Order Form or Elementary School Order Form

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