Let ‘Em Grow

Ms. Tartan’s 4th graders have a unique way of encouraging the growth of their basil plants!

Congratulations, CICS West Belden Class of 2014!


ADORE Conference

ADORE (A Day of Recognition Event) is an annual conference that recognizes the love, sacrifice, and commitment of parents, guardians, and families of children with disabilities in Chicago. Join ADORE to be recognized and honored for the loving difference you make in your child’s life. Participants will have the opportunity to attend workshops and have access to a variety of resources from organizations that benefit families and caregivers of children with special needs.

View flyer: English | Spanish

Date: June 7, 2014
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Location: Hope Institute Learning Academy | 1628 W. Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL

For more information, email: ADORE@uic.edu

To register by phone, call: 312-747-8311

Enrichment Electives Survey

The following survey is for CICS West Belden students in grades 5-8. Please take a few moments to submit your responses regarding possible Enrichment electives next school year. Thank you.

Spring Concert Videos

For your viewing and listening pleasure, the 2014 CICS West Belden Spring Concerts:

The PRIDE Guide Now Available!

Have you picked up our new book? The PRIDE Guide describes, poetically, the classy culture and high expectations at CICS West Belden and features illustrations by several WB students. Get your copy of The PRIDE Guide today by clicking the link above ($14.99) or by visiting the main office, where we have a limited supply available at a discounted rate of $10 each! All proceeds benefit CICS West Belden.

CICS West Belden Field Day

Our first-ever field day was flat-out phenomenal, Bulldog Nation! Thanks to our teachers, parents, and students who helped the inaugural event run so smoothly.

Summer Camp Information

Please click here to explore the variety of camp opportunities that will be offered this summer to CICS West Belden students, including:

Art Camp, Music Camp, Technology Camp, and Uplift Camp.


Mix It Up Day: Wednesday, May 21

“Mix It Up Day” is Wednesday, May 21. Sit with somebody new at lunch. Play with a different group at recess. Talk to somebody that you’ve never talked with before. It’s all about diversity, acceptance, and celebrating our differences…the stuff that makes the world go ’round, Bulldogs!

You may wear a mismatched or mixed-up outfit on May 21. Just make sure that it’s appropriate for school.

Information Session: Monday, May 19


Come learn about the Chicago Public Library’s free summer reading program!

Who: All students and their parents
When: Monday, May 19 at 3:30 p.m.
Where: WB Gym
Why: To find out how to join the Chicago Public Library’s summer reading program and win exciting prizes!

*All students who attend this 20-minute information session will be entered in a raffle to win books and tickets to the Brookfield Zoo!

Breathe Easy, Bulldogs!

Over 20 students in grades 3-8 participated in free asthma education classes at CICS West Belden this month. We would like to thank Jennifer DeVries and the Respiratory Health Association for helping our students understand and manage their asthma through the Fight Asthma Now program. For more information, visit www.lungchicago.org/fight-asthma-now/. As always, big thanks go to Mr. Kumor for consistently providing meaningful health and wellness opportunities for our kids!

WNOW Radio May/June 2014 Update

For your listening pleasure, our May/June radio update is linked below. We have a lot of great things going on from now until CICS West Belden Graduation, so listen and re-listen, if necessary, Bulldog Nation. We look forward to your presence at our many upcoming events!

Teacher Recruitment Fair: Wednesday, May 14

Qualified candidates are invited to join us at our North Side Teacher Recruitment Fair this Wednesday at our CICS Bucktown campus.

  • Meet Campus Directors
  • On-site Interviews
  • Explore Curriculum
  • Meet Distinctive Schools Teachers

Wednesday, May 14 from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m.
CICS Bucktown
2235 N Hamilton
Chicago, IL 60647

Important: Please Fill Out a Witness Slip to Support Charter Schools

Attention, Bulldog Nation: We really need your help…again! In order to continue to do what we do, we’re asking that you take five minutes of your time to fill out a “witness slip” to oppose HB 4527 by Tuesday, May 13.

Click here to complete the form. Please reference the red text in the picture below for guidance.


Thank you for your continued support of public charter schools!

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week

CICS West Belden Students Join Peers, Tour Notre Dame

Because of their exemplary behavior and consistent academic achievement, 55 Distinctive Schools students earned the chance to visit the University of Notre Dame last week. CICS Bucktown, CICS Irving Park, CICS Prairie, and CICS West Belden each sent several representatives who were able to witness both the bustle and beauty of a storied college campus!

Family Matters

Distinctive Schools produces Family Matters, a monthly electronic newsletter, to keep parents and families informed about news and activities throughout our network of schools.

Click here to read this month’s edition of Family Matters.

Past issues of the Family Matters newsletter are available on the Distinctive Schools website.

CICS West Belden Wins $100,000 Technology Planning Grant

Breakthrough Schools: Chicago announced today that CICS West Belden is one of seven public schools in Chicago to win a Next Generation Learning Challenge-planning grant to support whole-school transformation with the goal of increasing personalized instruction for our students. According to Breakthrough Schools: Chicago, CICS West Belden and the other grant winners “share a clear vision of next generation personalized teaching and learning in which all students are engaged and empowered to take charge of their own learning, while all educators have access to robust data to pinpoint student needs, allowing them to quickly accelerate or remediate with students.”


This grant was made possible through a local-national partnership led by Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), The Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund), and LEAP Innovations. The CICS West Belden proposal lays out an ambitious plan of adopting a whole-school blended learning model comprised of rotation labs, which will allow students to assume greater control of their learning through digital and adaptive programs, peer collaboration, one-on-one intervention from educators, and small group instruction. We are also looking to add more technology options for all of our students.

CICS West Belden was also a 2013 recipient of Summer Design Program launched by The Fund. Through the 2013 Summer Design Program, CICS West Belden’s educators and administrators developed an innovative professional development model that has effectively utilized both virtual instruction and educator collaboration to improve teaching school-wide. Three past NGLC grantees in Chicago are already showing the transformative impact of this grant program, as they’re well on their way to creating 21st century centers of learning. CICS West Belden and the six other 2014 recipients will join them in evolving the public education landscape in Chicago and transforming the lives of Chicago’s youth.

CICS West Belden was featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune today!

Introduction to Día: Children’s Day, Book Day


Children’s Day/Book Day, also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), is a celebration of children, families, and reading held annually on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Join us on Friday, April 25 to learn more about Día and how our school community can celebrate Children’s Day, Book Day!

Introduction to Día: Children’s Day, Book Day
Introducción a Día: El Dia de los Niños, El Dia de los Libros
Friday, April 25 at 8:15 a.m.

Students Create and Collaborate on Another Magnificent Musical

Have you ever wondered why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears? CICS West Belden students explored that question in their performance of the annual 5th grade musical,“Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.” This year’s show was a musical adaptation of the West African folktale and was especially notable because, not only did students sing and act, but also played accompaniments on live instruments, danced, and created both set pieces and original costumes. The show afforded our students the opportunity to connect emotionally to the arts through music, drama, dance, visual art, and literature.

Enrichment teachers, Mr. Lyerly (library/media), Ms. Ausmann (music), and Ms. Gore (art), each focused on a specific aspect of the play. In library/media class, students developed acting skills like expression, projection, pantomime, blocking, line memorization, characterization of movement, and constructive criticism. Each character in the play was an animal and students researched their particular animal to accurately depict its mannerisms for the performance. Furthermore, library/media students analyzed the meaning of the play and character motivations.

In music class, students sang authentic African folk songs and/or songs composed in an authentic African folk style. They also accompanied themselves utilizing a small percussion ensemble, including xylophones, djembes, bass bars, and various smaller instruments. While the melodic lines were simple, the accompanying rhythmic patterns were complex and fostered independent rhythmic skills, students’ knowledge of form, and note reading skills. In addition to singing and playing instruments, students performed complex dances requiring teamwork and cooperation amongst all students.

In art class, students created their own costumes using traditional West African textiles and stamping techniques. Students analyzed the meanings of Adrinkra symbols in order to authentically represent their character information and character traits in their textile designs. Students also painted a scenic backdrop that transformed the stage into an African jungle.

In addition to fostering unique aesthetic viewpoints, students simultaneously developed their 21st century skills- creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication – skills that are embedded throughout all parts of this production.

Students expressed themselves creatively by demonstrating originality and inventiveness in making textile stamps, bringing life to the script, and their musical choices. Students and teachers collaborated respectfully and responsibly to create a shared work of art while utilizing their critical thinking skills by analyzing and interpreting the script, making connections between the folk tale and their production, and reflecting critically on their experiences. Kids learned how to communicate effectively in diverse environments and media through singing, playing instruments, dancing, acting, and costume making.

These unique opportunities are possible because CICS West Belden and Distinctive Schools are committed to the importance of a valuable arts education. While reading, math, and science are cornerstones of a child’s education, the arts allow students a consistent opportunity to connect with each other, create an expression of truth and beauty, and tangibly express the ineffable. The philosopher Plato once said, “I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”

These cross-curricular Enrichment projects are further made possible each year by the Oppenheimer Teacher Incentive Grant, which funds project-based learning in Chicago Public Schools.

For more on the musical, listen to WNOW Radio or view the pictures on our Facebook page.

Parent Spotlight: Mrs. Molina

Parent Spotlight is a monthly feature that recognizes parents who go above and beyond to help the CICS West Belden school community.

This month, we recognize Cheyla Molina, PTO president, and so much more. Mrs. Molina is a fixture in and around our school and we appreciate her on so many levels. For starters, her gregarious nature is both unmistakeable and contagious, as she routinely implores those in her presence, be they young or old, to move to her ever-present, energetic beat.

Each May, in celebration of “Teacher Appreciation Week,” she spearheads an astounding annual effort in which many of our proactive parents partake- an authentic Latin luncheon. The savory scent of carne asada is noticeable for blocks, complemented by spicy salsas, tamales, and other unique culinary experiences- many of which are refreshingly new to members of our staff.

While we ultimately take pleasure in highlighting those special instances that are, in many ways, unique in experience alone, we can also readily recognize several notable contributions from this special parent volunteer in the form of a quick, yet impressive, list. Mrs. Molina has also helped CICS West Belden by:

-Donating the piano that rests atop our stage
-Coordinating uniform sales for our students and their families
-Leading the charge in our advocacy work, recruiting representatives here in Chicago and downstate in Springfield
-Serving as a reliable liaison between political representatives and our school
-Donating time to help in our school office

Though we’re probably forgetting something, we hope that Mrs. Molina, like so many of our incredible parents, understands our sincere gratitude for her many contributions to our school community. Our students and teachers are very appreciative, and also look forward to formally recognizing many more of our parents who, without question, are integral to everything we do! Thank you.

Summer Cooking Camp Opportunity


Our friends at Common Threads are offering a free summer camp opportunity (transportation included) for students who are interested in cooking!

Please click here for more detailed information and a printable application.

You may also register by following this link. Please visit the office if you would like to register online using our computer lab.

Music Students Fuse Folk with Technology

CICS West Belden 6th graders are getting creative with technology again, Bulldog Nation! In their recent GarageBand folk unit, students researched and brought in folk music that they identified as unique to their respective cultures. They identified specific folk characteristics through writing, and then created new versions of their songs using the program GarageBand. Students worked in groups to sing and record their songs, add accompaniment, variations, and different sounds that they created – such as clapping, laughing, or percussion sounds on their desks. At the end of the unit, students presented their songs to the class and explained how the song they chose met folk characteristics while also detailing how they mixed and edited their pieces in GarageBand. Great job, Bulldogs!

Join Us in Springfield for Lobby Day on April 8

CICS West Belden Supporters,

We need your continued support! With 15 anti-charter bills being proposed this year, we must make sure our voice is heard. On April 8, we will travel to Springfield with other charter networks to fight for the sustainability of school choice.

Please contact your child’s homeroom teacher or Ms. Collins to sign up.

Click here for more detailed information about the day’s events.

New After-School Care Services at CICS West Belden

Dear Parents,

We learned recently that our after-school care services provider, Learn It, will no longer be able to provide its services at our school after Friday, March 28, 2014. This change is the result of lack of enrollment and a shortage in collection of necessary dues. While the situation arose unexpectedly, please know that there will be no interruption of after-school services at CICS West Belden. Our school staff has agreed to continue to maintain operation of the after-school care program independent of Learn It.

Please note two important items regarding this transition:

  • Families of students who would like to participate in the after-school program for the first time after March 28, 2014 will be responsible for paying the $7.50 per day participation fee; all fees collected are used solely to provide after-school care services. Unlike Learn It, the new CICS West Belden After Care Program will not accept any state funded childcare assistance.

  • Ms. Gina Olivares will organize the new CICS West Belden After Care Program, which will run from 3:30 to 5:45 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (1:50 to 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday) each week. Parents will be required to by pay cash or money order on a weekly basis and remain in good standing to ensure continued participation in the program. Please complete the bottom portion of this form if you would like to register for the new CICS West Belden After Care Program.

WNOW Radio March 2014 Update

For your listening pleasure, our March radio update:

Technology a Terrific Tool for CICS West Belden Sixth Graders

Ever wonder how an effective and balanced blended learning environment looks? Look no further than Mr. Kissane’s room, where traditional instruction meets technology and kids make all the magic! Earlier this school year, Mr. Kissane’s 6th graders produced PRIDE raps using GarageBand to create loops, mix, and edit their products. Take a listen:

More recently, they created movies that depict the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Take a look at Anabelle Del Rio’s movie:

Mr. Kissane also partners with Digital Youth Network to further explore using technology as a creative tool. Stay tuned to our website for more output from our technologically talented students in 6th grade. Coming soon!

CICS Receives Funding, Still More Advocacy Work Ahead

Thanks to your advocacy efforts, CICS has earned substantial funding that was owed to charter schools! Help us further bolster our equal funding advocacy efforts by joining us in Springfield on April 8. Stay tuned to our website and/or Facebook page for impending details.

Who’s Looking at You?

CICS West Belden art students recently learned to recreate animal textures like fur, feathers, scales, and wrinkly skin by studying images of animal eyes in the picture puzzle book “Who’s Looking at You?” by Stephane Frattini. Students used chalk pastels to replicate the eyes and to accurately depict the animal textures. We are so proud of our WB artists’ efforts!

Click on any picture to enlarge it.

Bulldog Bulletin: March 2014 Edition

Dear CICS West Belden Families,

We are halfway through 3rd quarter and our students continue to amaze us with their motivation and their commitment to education. Our teachers have also been working very hard to not only set goals for students but also adjust their instruction to meet the needs of every child in their classroom. We have been looking at student needs and making necessary adjustments to ensure that every student is receiving the appropriate instructional resources and programs.

I am very excited about our SET program running on select Saturdays from now through May. This is an opportunity for students to come in and work with teachers on specific skills that they need to continue growing on their academic journey. We implemented SET because of the instructional time that we lost with the cold school holidays. If you are still interested in signing up, please see the main office.

ISAT testing is a few days away for our 3rd-8th grade students. Please encourage your children to do their best, take their time and answer questions using all of the skills they have practiced with their teachers over the past few months.

I want to take the time to thank all of our parents and families that have been working hard to sell chocolate to raise money for our school. We can’t thank you enough for all of your time doing this. We are excited to see how much money has been collected!


Mr. Frauenheim
Director, CICS West Belden

Important Dates:
March 3-7: ISAT testing
March 12: 11:30 a.m. dismissal
March 14: WBPTL Bingo Night at 4:00 p.m.
March 26: Spelling Bee
March 28: 3rd Quarter ends
March 28: Dress Down Day! Wear yellow for RESPECT for $2

Staff of the Month: Ms. Gore, Art Teacher
Ms. Gore is new to West Belden this year but you would never know it. She has been such a wonderful addition to our staff. Ms. Gore truly wants all students to be successful and she is willing to help support our school however she can. Ms. Gore has been preparing our students to participate in fun and exciting art projects. We are also very impressed with her engaging art lessons. Our students love when it is time for art class. Thanks, Ms. Gore, for making art FUN and interesting!


Parents can help children be prepared for the ISAT by helping them do the following:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Arrive to school on time (7:55 a.m.)
  • Positive structured evenings and mornings
  • Healthy breakfast and meals throughout the week
  • Words of encouragement
  • Practice test taking strategies
  • Pep talks and motivation!