Monthly Archives: October 2015

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29 10, 2015

Don’t Miss the Next Honest Conversation

By |2018-12-17T11:33:57-06:00October 29th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

honest conversation.fwJoin us for the next Honest Conversations meeting Sunday, Nov. 222-4 p.m. at the home of an Ancona family. This year, our focus is on the concept of Privilege.

Privilege is a loaded term that initially brings to mind images of wealth and power.  However, privilege also includes the unearned (and often unconscious) advantages we all enjoy to some extent, depending on our education, country of birth, sex, gender, race, physical appearance, physical ability, home language, etc. Pick up photocopied articles that we will use for the November meeting at the main office.

What is Honest Conversations?
Honest Conversations grew out of Ancona’s first Diversity Symposium and is a parent-organized group that meets bi-monthly to discuss the challenges we face raising thoughtful children in a diverse society. Observing that even at our progressive and multicultural school, certain conversations were difficult and certain subjects seemed taboo, four Ancona parents led a round table discussion about the challenges that continued to face us fifty years after the school’s founding.

All families are welcome to attend. Discussions are interesting, fun, and a great way to meet other parents. Children who accompany parents to the meeting will be provided a safe space to play while the adults talk. Join us!
Please RSVP to Ancona parent, Jana French at

29 10, 2015

Lost and Found

By |2015-10-29T09:51:44-06:00October 29th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

All items in the lost and found will be on display in the foyer after school for the remainder of the week. We will also have the lost and found out during tomorrow’s assembly. Please be sure to stop by before Friday after school to claim your goods before we donate them to charity.

28 10, 2015

Solar Powered by the Genius of Ancona Students

By |2018-12-17T11:33:57-06:00October 28th, 2015|Curriculum Connection|0 Comments

By Balazs Dibuz, Director of Teaching and Learning and Sylvia Glassco, Head Teacher, 5th / 6th Grade Mathematics

Just in time for longer nights and shorter days, and the onset of sunlight deprivation that will last more than six months as we stumble through another cold Chicago winter, the solar panels our 5th and 6th graders acquired through a grant have arrived and been installed on the small roof over the “old entrance.” Hurrah! And, no, I am not being ironic; it really is a good thing that the panels arrived when they did. While they do produce 8KW of output under optimal conditions, which is about 2% of the school’s overall electricity usage, the Chicago winter, when conditions are far from optimal, is a perfectly acceptable setting for this teaching tool. Students will be able to monitor the variations in energy produced by the panels as we begin to replace some of the school’s dirty energy with renewable.

solar panels on roof

We have solar panels because our 5th and 6th graders, as part of their “Climate Change Model Summit” last year, proposed an increased investment in alternative energy as one way to tackle the climate change-causing effects of greenhouse gas (carbon, methane, etc.) emissions, and we wrote a Curriculum Connection article about it, and Jonathan Pereira, a parent of two younger students at Ancona, together with an organization called Earth, Wind, & Solar Energy, helped us apply for a grant through the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and Fred, our maintenance manager, and Reggie, our Director of Finance and Operations, prepared the building to make the install possible. That is, we have solar panels because we worked as a community to get them.

Now that the panels are installed, the learning can continue. Some of the first lessons related to the panels will have to do with realities and limitations, as the panels could not be installed in the location our students’ analysis determined would be optimal for the collection of solar energy. The challenge of connecting to the existing electrical system, and of finding a structurally suitable location, were unanticipated factors that made this process true experiential, or project-based learning; dealing with real-world challenges only increases the learning potential involved in the project. Our students, excited to see tangible results of their efforts, will now track the energy production of the solar panels. With careful attention to seasonal and weather-related variation, students will examine the physical processes of energy conversion (from solar to electrical energy).

But our students won’t stop there. They are eager to explore ways to increase the size and scope of Ancona’s solar panel array, as well as other uses of alternative energy, and to improve the overall efficiency of Ancona’s energy consumption. Last year’s Climate Change unit was a catalyst that served to bring together our students’ prior knowledge and environmental questions with our collective community desire to identify and address real-world problems. Students hope that this learning experience will be just the beginning, a project that will continue to grow with them and inspire future “generations” of scientist at Ancona.

28 10, 2015

Halloween Assembly

By |2018-12-17T11:33:58-06:00October 28th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

assembly_halloweenAncona assemblies bring our entire community together and often reinforce the power of our inclusive school. Please join us for a spooky good time with sing-a-longs and musical performances at the annual Halloween Assembly. As you know, Halloween costumes are permitted this year on Friday, October 30. 

Costumes should be appropriate for school activities (e.g., PE, recess), or students should bring a change of clothes.

If your family’s religious observance conflicts with our Halloween assembly or the way we are celebrating the day, please write a note to the school so we can excuse your child’s absence. Assemblies begin at 8:35 a.m. in the Ancona gym.


28 10, 2015

HSAP Presents: High School 101

By |2018-12-17T11:33:58-06:00October 28th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

hsap photo

Designed for parents of middle school students, High School 101 unpacks the high school admissions process.

When: Tuesday, November 3
Where: Mitchell Commons
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Who Should Attend?
This workshop is useful for parents who want to have a better idea of what to expect in terms of the application process and testing requirements prior to a student’s 8th grade year. We will discuss strategies for selecting just right high schools, share ways to help students manage stress and possible disappointment, and answer any questions about standardized testing, grades, attendance, and recommendations. Current 8th grade parents are also invited, as they will have an opportunity to ask any clarifying questions and share any insight into this process.

Laurie Ortega-Murphy, Registrar and Assistant to the Head of School, Jacki Neistat, Middle School Student Support Coordinator, and Tony Gleason, School Counselor, will also be present to answer any questions.  Please contact the main office or email Middle School Dean Christina Kuszewski Rouches at

28 10, 2015

2015 Photo Retake Day

By |2018-12-17T11:33:59-06:00October 28th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

photo retake day.fwSibling photos and students who qualify for a retake share their smiles on Tuesday, November 17 from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Please contact the Ancona main office for more information about retake guidelines.

15 10, 2015

Head of School Perspective: Camp Edwards

By |2018-12-17T11:34:00-06:00October 15th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

Last week I received the rich opportunity to attend camp with the 3rd/4th graders. Our students at this level attend Camp Edwards in Wisconsin every fall and spring.  They walk through the marshes, study pine forests, enjoy community meals and campfires, learn archery and climb rock walls. This camp experience was deeply and wonderfully Ancona; it was led by children.

As I observed, I noticed that students were out in front, ahead of their teachers, reinforcing how to conduct themselves at meals and discussing what great things one should do with free time. Even at mealtime and in cabins, it was clear that the 4th graders were modeling the expectations of this rich experience for 3rd graders. Our students took on roles of cleaning, setting tables, and hopping to get condiments with responsibility and zeal. Given the task of preparing for an evening presentation, three of them discussed past skits in an attempt to invent something even more unique and novel this time around. As they arrived closer to their own ideas, the higher their energy and investment rose.

Head of School Photo

When taking their hand at a bow and arrow, when trying to start a fire (for a long time!), and when attempting to climb over the projecting “nose” of the rock wall, students chose experiences that were both challenging and of high interest. Interestingly, adult hands did not get between them and their adventures. While I watched one tenacious risk taker (see time-lapse video) struggle to start a fire with flint and steel, teachers and chaperones offered words of encouragement, but rarely stepped in to “do it for them.”

I have to admit, there was some typical family nervousness about my daughter’s first night sleeping away at camp. After the campfire, though, she came right up, hugged and kissed me with a definitive “good night Daddy,” and disappeared with her cabin mates into the night.

This is Ancona: Kids in front. Kids making the choices. Adults behind, leading with questions. The authenticity of Ancona’s myriad learning experiences involves kids so much more than anywhere else. If your child had the choice between answering her own question and answering an adult’s question, which would she choose? Which would you want them to choose?

15 10, 2015

Halloween at Ancona

By |2015-10-15T13:19:34-06:00October 15th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

Kids own Halloween! Halloween costumes are permitted this year on Friday, October 30.

  • No props, toy weapons, toys, or masks, please. Also, no suggestive costumes. 
  • Please do not wear a costume that could scare a 3-year old.
  • Costumes should be appropriate for school activities (e.g., PE, recess), or students should bring a change of clothes.

If your family’s religious observance conflicts with our Halloween assembly or the way we are celebrating the day, please write a note to the school so we can excuse your child’s absence.


15 10, 2015

Learn About Ancona’s Financial Aid Process

By |2018-12-17T11:34:01-06:00October 15th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

FADid you know that 33% of Ancona families receive financial aid?  The diversity of our community is reflected in our mission, our strategic plan, and how we budget for financial aid.

Ancona will host two information sessions about all things Financial Aid. Come learn about the process, preliminary awards and the role of our new Financial Aid Committee. Join us for either of our two meetings to be held in Mitchell Commons.

Thursday November 5 from 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Thursday November 5 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

15 10, 2015

Strategic Plan News

By |2015-10-15T14:11:14-06:00October 15th, 2015|Parent News|0 Comments

Thanks to all the families who came out to the annual Town Meeting.  If you missed it, we used this meeting to introduce our Strategic Plan 2015-2018. Parents, board members, faculty, and staff all came to discuss in detail a great variety of goals that are all imagined as big levers for school improvement. We’re thrilled that 36 members of our community volunteered for committees and task forces that will guide these goals to completion! This is the early stage of the strategic plan, so there is still time to sign up for the goals you are passionate about. Contact the Advancement office today for information or to get involved at 773.924.2356 ext. 226.

View Strategic Plan >
View Timeline > 


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