e-Learning Updates
Update for June 23, 2020
(Published by Dr. Warke on Jun 23, 2020)

Dear Highlands Famileis and Staff, 

I hope this message finds you and your families safe and well. Today,  the Illinois State Board of Education released guidance for schools on the 2020-21 school year. 

This 60-page document has been much anticipated and will go a long way toward answering critical questions all of us share about what the 2020-21 school year will look like in terms of in-person learning, scheduling, wearing masks, social distancing and other measures intended to keep everyone safe and healthy, while also re-engaging students in the learning process.  

Right now, we don’t have all the answers to those questions as this document was released to school districts at the same time it was released to the public. Therefore, we kindly ask for your patience as our staff thoroughly reviews this detailed guidance and implements the suggestions into our transition plan.

We are aware of the urgent need to communicate to families about what to expect next school year and anticipate releasing our own transition plan around July 22.

As you may know, our district formed transition teams earlier this month and has already been discussing options. This guidance will accelerate those conversations, and I’m confident we can put forth a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of our students while maintaining a dynamic learning environment. 

Thank you again for your patience, understanding, and flexibility as we navigated a situation together that none of us could have imagined. 

I will be in touch soon. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy your summer.

Warm regards,

 Dr. Warke

Update for June 13, 2020
(Published by on Jun 15, 2020)

Dear Highlands Families and Staff, 

Have you ever wondered what happens in a school district during the summer months? Well, if you have answered planning, you are correct! This summer is no different. We are planning, just in a different manner than we have ever done before. We are preparing for three options to reopen in the fall, an opening with all students present, an opening we are calling a hybrid opening, and for remote learning. 

Did you know that how we return to school depends on what phase of reopening Illinois is in? When Illinois was in Phase 2-Flattening, and Phase 3 Recovery schools are closed, and remote learning is required. 

In phase 4 Revitalization, schools can open, with the Illinois Department of Public Health Guidance and the Illinois State Board of Education guidance. In phase 5 Restored, everything is back to operational. 

We received summer guidance on June 4 from the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health, and the fall guidance is anticipated as early as Monday. 

With our planning this summer, we have 31 staff members assisting the administrative team on our re-entry task force. We have five sub-committees that are planning for 

  • the health and safety components of our students, staff, and community;  
  • the social-emotional needs of our students, staff, and community
  • the instructional delivery which addresses the use of Schoology, See-Saw, Zoom and other platforms;
  • the instructional day- the what and when during the day ECE-8th grade and
  • parent resources

Please know our teams are working diligently to provide the best plan for the students and staff to return to school in the fall. Information is still changing and evolving, and we are eager to learn from the guidance we receive to make plans for the fall. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding. 

I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy this fantastic weather we are experiencing!


Dr. Warke

Update for June 3, 2020
(Published by Dr. Warke on Jun 04, 2020)

Dear Highlands Families and Staff, 

Monday officially marked the end of the 2019-2020 school year! We were happy to learn that children have the opportunity to participate in some summer sports. Now we need the weather to cooperate! 

We are still waiting for guidance from the state agencies, but our planning for fall continues. 

Have a wonderful week!

Dr. Warke

End of the Year Update
(Published by Dr. Warke on May 29, 2020)

Dear Highlands and Families and Staff, 

Instead of a written message, I created a video message for the end of the school year. You can find it by clicking here. 

Also please take a moment to have your child complete this survey for us.

Parents, here is the link for your survey to provide us feedback and help us to inform our plan for next year. 

Enjoy your summer!

Dr. Warke

Weekly Update for May 22, 2020
(Published by Dr. Warke on May 22, 2020)

Dear Highlands Families and Staff, 

Happy Friday of Memorial Day Weekend! 

Thank you, families, for all you have done in helping us complete the 2019-2020 school year! We could not have done it without your help, assistance, and feedback! Speaking of feedback, please be on the lookout for our parent and student surveys that will be arriving next week. 

Our team continues to plan for three different scenarios for a return to school next fall.  

  1. Regular Opening-school opening on August 19, 2020, for students and staff, to return to the building. 
  2. Hybrid Opening-school opening on August 19, 2020, students are split into two groups of 10-12 students. Students rotate attending school in full-day shifts. Group 1 (M, T) W- Remote Learning- for a building deep clean; Group 2 ( Th, F).  
  3. Remote Learning-school opening on August 19, 2020, to a remote learning environment. 

At this time, we are waiting for guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health. We have heard this guidance will be coming around June 1, 2020. We will continue to refine our plans once we receive guidance from these organizations. When finalized, we intend to hold virtual town hall meetings so that you have opportunities to learn more about the return to learning for the 2020-2021 school year. 

From our Technology Department

This is a reminder that if you want to purchase your laptop, you must do so by midnight on May 26th.  If you have purchased your child’s laptop by then, log-in to the district website, and on the “My Account” page, you will find a link to download a program to remove all district applications and settings from the laptop along with directions on how to use it.  If you have chosen not to purchase the laptop, please return it on June 1st.

Please be on the lookout. The Principals will be sending you more information about what is happening at our buildings on June 1st. 

Have a great Memorial Day!

Dr. Warke

Update for May 15, 2020
(Published by Dr. Warke on May 15, 2020)

Hello, Highlands Families and Staff, 

It was nice to see the sun come out this afternoon! We hope this message finds you safe and well. Thank you so much for your help with the supply pick up. We appreciate your assistance with getting the supplies back to your children. We are still working on a process for our lost and found items so that they find their way back to your homes! Stay tuned!

Students Last Day of Remote Learning

At the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, it was announced that the students' last day of remote learning would be May 27. Elementary students' virtual award ceremony is May 29. Please look for information from Ms. Magruder about the celebration. 

Report Cards 

Report cards will be sent home on June 2. Due to remote learning, teachers will be giving feedback to students for the third trimester with suggestions and thoughts for what students can work on during the summer months.

District devices allowed to remain with students for the summer. 

We have had numerous requests for students to be able to keep devices over the summer. We have worked out a plan to allow that to happen for all our students. Devices will enable students and families to continue to work on reading, writing, and math throughout the summer. Please look for more information from Ms. Magruder.  

 2020-2021 School Calendar 

The calendar for the next school year was approved at the board meeting on Tuesday evening. You can find it on the District's website or click here for quick access. 

Stay safe!

Dr. Warke

Update for May 8, 2020
(Published by Dr. Warke on May 10, 2020)

Dear Highlands Families and Staff, 

When you look out your window and see the spring flowers in bloom, the leaves budding on the trees, perennials sprouting from the ground, the earth does not seem to know how different the world is right now. Typically, we would be having our spring band, orchestra, and choral concerts, our 8th graders would be having their traditional end of the year trips and celebrations, our hallways filled with projects, and everyone would be talking about their summer vacations.

Instead, we are conducting interviews for new teachers over zoom. Our conversations are about what the opening of school may look like next school year, if we can hold concerts or after school activities, when our school opening day will be, and what the "new school normal" is with COVID 19 in our world. Nothing that we want to talk about, but conversations that we have to have to prepare for our children and their learning experiences. 

Over the past eight weeks, you have been on a journey with us that none of us expected. If you are like me, I’ve been grieving the fact that we are not physically at work, with our work families experiencing the day to day interactions of that environment. For us educators, it is why we do what we do. It brings us joy to be with children every day, to see the lightbulb moments of learning, to hear the children explain learning a new concept in their own words, to see them walk in the hallway in pairs delivering items to the office, or picking up things they inadvertently left at home.  We were not prepared for the level of uncertainty and routine we knew to come to a grinding halt. I have been trying to establish a new routine. I must say, it has been challenging, and my children are grown! 

I wanted to take a moment to address a few of the questions we have received about project-based learning. Questions that I have heard are, “Why introduce Project-Based learning at this time?” and “Why not continue with what we know?” There were several reasons for the implementation. One was feedback not only from our parents but also from our teachers. Two, there was additional guidance received from the State on remote learning. Three, our e-Learning plan was designed for snow days, or emergency days, not extended periods like learning through a pandemic. Four, we needed to incorporate more standards into the students’ learning experiences to minimize the learning loss. 

The District had a team of stakeholders work from October to February to develop a new Strategic Plan. This plan will guide the District and its decisions for the next five years. Our new mission, By empowering students as partners in learning, the District 106 community fosters academic ownership, dynamic learning experiences, and empathetic citizens supports project-based learning by allowing students to own their learning with scaffolded support and actionable feedback from their teacher. PBL projects, plus instruction in reading and math, allow for the students to read, write, analyze, reflect, and interpret information. These projects promote higher-level skills producing critical thinkers and problem solvers. We know and recognize this is not traditional learning in the sense of education as we know it when we went to school, but we know that research supports this method of learning with teacher support and feedback. 

We also know students need routine. Your feedback has allowed us to improve our programming for our children throughout this crisis. We appreciate the feedback. We do not know what we do not know. Together we can make this a better experience. We will have a final survey at the end of May to help us continue to plan and strengthen our programming. 

Other questions we hear right now are, “What does next school year look like?” When will we be starting?” The short answer is, at this time, we don’t know. Information is still changing at a rapid rate. We can have an answer one day, and then the data can change the next day. What I can tell you is that we are developing three plans. 1)A plan to return as normal, 2) A plan for a hybrid of in-person and remote learning, and finally, 3) A plan for remote learning. I will continue to communicate information as we learn more information. 

Sadly, we have canceled our enrichment summer programming. We are sending a survey out to families of students who previously qualified for our summer achievers programming. We intend to run our achievers programming beginning July 20-August 13. 


Next week is student supply pick up. Below is the information for pick up. 

How will I pick up my child(ren)’s belongings/classroom supplies?

Please place your last name on a sign in the front and side window of your vehicle. Your child(ren)'s belongings/supplies will be brought to you using a no-contact system similar to grocery stores. No student pick up of materials is permitted. To ensure the safety of everyone, we ask that no parents or students exit the vehicles during this pick-up time.

Families with students in both buildings will need to stop at each school entrance to receive student materials.

Elementary School

Supplies will be packed up into bags with student names. Tables will be set up outside for each letter (e.g., there will be a table marked "A," "B," etc.). Please pull up to the appropriate table, and a district staff member will bring your items to your vehicle (e.g., into your trunk).

We are collecting library books and Leveled Readers for K and 1. Label these items with your child’s name and teacher’s name. Please put any items in your trunk, and these items will be taken out of your trunk by the person putting your child’s belongings into your trunk. 


Middle School

Your child’s school materials and P.E. uniform will be placed in a plastic bag with his/her name on it. For 8th grade students, relevant graduation materials (cap/gown, diploma jacket, etc.) will be included as well. Tables will be set up outside for each letter (e.g., there will be a table marked "A," "B," etc.). Please pull up to the appropriate table, and a district staff member will bring your items to your vehicle (e.g., into your trunk).

We are collecting library books. Label these items with your child’s name and teacher’s name. Please put any items in your trunk, and these items will be taken out of your trunk by the person putting your child’s belongings into your trunk. 


Monday, May 11:

9:00am - 12:00pm -- Last Name A-D

1:00pm - 4:00pm -- Last Name E-I


Rain Date: Tuesday, May 12


Wednesday, May 13:

9:00am - 12:00pm -- Last Name J-M

1:00pm - 4:00pm -- Last Name N-Q


Rain Date: Thursday, May 14


Friday, May 15:

9:00am - 12:00pm -- Last Name R-U

1:00pm - 4:00pm -- Last Name V-Z


Rain Date: Monday, May 18


Note: Please email your building principal if your assigned date/time doesn't work for your schedule.

The teachers deserve a huge thank you, especially during this week, Teacher Appreciation Week for all they do every day. Now more than ever, we know how hard they work for our children. Thank you for your partnership in learning. 

Stay safe and well, 

Dr. Warke

Friday Video Message
(Published by Dr. Warke on Apr 24, 2020)

Hello, Highlands Families and Staff! 

Here is a video message for the week.

Dr. Warke

End of the Year FAQ
(Published by Dr. Warke on Apr 23, 2020)

With Governor Pritzker declaring schools to remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, we recognize there are many questions to be answered about our current school year and regarding the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. While our school buildings will remain closed, teaching and learning will continue until the end of the school year. As a reminder, our last day of school is June 1. 

Our community lunch program will also continue until June 1. Lunches may be picked up on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 11 am-1 pm at the Administration Center. We hope that any and all families in need will take advantage of this opportunity. Please come take meals for your student(s) if you can benefit from this service, and please share this message with anyone else you feel may benefit. You can look for additional communications and reminders from Mr. Duback, Director of Operations, in this regard. Any questions regarding lunches can be sent to mduback@district106.net.

Please reach out to the school offices or administration center with any questions or concerns.

LaGrange Highlands #106 Administration Center 708.246.3085

Highlands Middle School 708.579.6890

Highlands Elementary School 708.579.6886

More questions will likely arise in the upcoming weeks and we will continue to communicate and answer questions as they arise.

What about the end of the year traditions (graduation, Honor’s Day, etc.)

8th Grade Graduation Wednesday, May 27, 6:00 pm. 

Families will be assigned a time to arrive for the drive-through graduation ceremony. 

More information to come. 

8th Grade Honor’s Day Celebration Friday, May 22 at 1:00 pm

The annual celebration will be live-streamed. Details will be forthcoming. 

Elementary End of Year Assembly:  Friday, May 29, Time TBD

Our end of year assembly to recognize our students who have participated in clubs, our Bob Barnes Award Winner, SCOTY Award Winner, 4th Grade President’s Awards and our end of the year slideshow will be live-streamed.

Elementary Family DIY Field Day: Details and Dates/Times to follow

Elementary Grade Level Step Up Meetings: May 26-May 29 Grade level teachers will host zoom step-up meetings.  In these meetings, all of the students in a specific grade level will meet the teachers in the next year’s grade level. 

More information to come.

How will I pick up my child’s classroom supplies?

We ask that you please place your last name on a sign in the front and side window of your car. Supplies will be brought to you using a no-contact system similar to grocery stores.  No student pick up of materials is permitted.

Families with students in both buildings will need to stop at both entrances to pick-up materials.

Middle School

Your child’s school materials/p.e. uniform will be placed in a plastic bag with his/her name on it. 


Supplies will be packed up into bags with student names.  

Monday, May 11:

9:00 - 12:00 Last Name A - D

1:00 - 4:00   Last Name E - I

Rain Date: May 12 

Wednesday, May 13 :

9:00 - 12:00 Last Name J - M

1:00 - 4:00   Last Name N - Q

Rain Date: May 14 

Friday, May 15:

9:00 - 12:00 Last Name R - U

1:00 - 4:00   Last Name V - Z

Rain Date: Monday, May 18

**Please email your building principal if your assigned date or time doesn’t work for your schedule.

How and when will district technology be returned?

District 106 offers graduating 8th-grade students and their families the opportunity to purchase the laptop that the student has been issued for the last four years. With the social distancing requirements, this sale will occur online through a website that we are developing. The website will go live on May 11th, and families will be able to purchase the device their student has been assigned for $225. Sales will close on May 27th. Families who purchase the laptops will receive instructions on how to remove district settings and software from them. They will not need to come back to school for any reason. An email will be sent to families of graduating students with further instructions when the website is operational.

Graduating 8th-grade students who are not purchasing their laptops will need to turn their devices during a drop-off day that will take place on June 1st. See below for more information.

Students who are finishing the 2019-2020 school year in grades 5 through 7 will retain their laptops over the summer as long as they plan to return to Highlands Middle School in the fall of 2020. We are preparing a set of operating system upgrades that students will be required to install prior to the beginning of summer. Laptops will connect with district systems remotely to let us know if these upgrades have been installed. Families whose students have not completed the upgrades will be notified and may be required to make an appointment to bring their laptop to school to have the updates installed. While web filtering will remain turned on over the summer and parents can continue to monitor their children’s web browsing using the Securly Home app, 

The district will not be actively monitoring student behavior online over the summer.

Students in kindergarten through fourth grade along with 8th-grade students who are not purchasing their laptops must turn in their device to the district on June 1st. Students must return their iPad or laptop, the power adapter, charging cable, and case. If there are any known issues with the device please include a note in the case describing any issues.  

The June 1st device drop off will occur from 9:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. in three separate locations by last name.

Last name from A-H: Elementary Entrance on Laurel Avenue

Last name from I-R: Administration Entrance on Plainfield Road

Last name from S-Z: Middle School Entrance on Plainfield Road

Families can bring all devices that a family has to drop off to the same location. You will drive up to the drop-off location in your vehicle, open a passenger side window, and someone from the district will take the devices from you. No walk-up or bicycle drop-offs will be permitted due to the district compliance with social distancing requirements. 

What about our Summer Technology Sale? 

We would very much like to have a technology sale, but our ability to do so is dependent on the status of the gathering restrictions put in place by Governor Pritzker’s executive orders. If restrictions are lifted enough where we can carry on the sale, the district will do so.  Communication with families through the district website will precede any sale.

What about the 2020 Summer Program?

Highlands will regretfully be canceling all Summer Enrichment classes and activities. If you have registered your child for a Summer Enrichment class(es) and have paid course costs, these charges will be reversed and your money refunded in the coming weeks. 

The district continues to explore creative planning regarding Summer Achievers classes and Extended School Year (ESY) instruction. Most likely, these programs will be shifted to the latter half of the summer, with the tentative dates of Monday - Thursday, July 20th - August 13th.   More information will be available regarding Summer Achievers and ESY in the coming weeks.

Will the calendar for the 2020-2021 school year be different?

With in-person instruction suspended through the end of the 2019-20 school year, our 2020-21 School Calendar has not been impacted, yet. Could it be? Yes, potentially, if shelter in place is extended even further by the Governor. If this were to happen, we would prioritize the current Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring break periods and continue aligning with LT’s calendar. We do know that many of our families count on our breaks remaining consistent and we also know that a number of our families appreciate having our calendar match LT. If the 2020-21 School Calendar is impacted, it may end up being a situation that calls for a decision that represents what is best for learning. 

Will my child be promoted to the next grade level for the 2020-2021 school year?

Yes. The expectation of our e-Learning or remote learning program is ‘student engagement’. We want to focus on the continuity of learning as to avoid any major gaps in academic progress within and between grades. Our staff has done and continues to do a remarkable job to help make sure we are able to ‘get back to normal’ as quickly as possible once in-person instruction resumes. Our approach is in alignment with the recommendations from the Illinois State Board of Education that the ultimate aim needs to be: 1) All students have opportunities for continued learning that focuses on critical standards; 2) Districts work to minimize instructional loss; and 3) Students and families are given routines and structures to ensure they stay connected to schools and learning. If you have any specific concerns about a retention or promotion situation, please contact your building principal.

What impact will all these weeks of e-Learning have on my child? Will he/she be behind for the 2020-2021 school year?

We realize that this is a major concern of Highlands’ families and staff.  What we most want all to know is that we are calm and confident in progressing student learning and minimizing loss upon return. As educators, we recognize that, as we come back together, we will need to assess our students to guide and tailor our instruction, meeting each student where they are and moving them forward. Please know that our staff is doing everything possible at this time to minimize any learning setbacks. If we are noting differing skills upon returning to face to face instruction, Highlands’ staff will work proactively to pivot as needed to address the emerging skills of our learners. Our transition plan back to face to face learning is as follows:  

Once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and Highlands has an opportunity to transition back to formal classroom instruction, these components will be taken into consideration to assist with the transition back to the formal learning environment. One or two remote learning planning days will be utilized for this transition. 

Professional Development

Teachers will participate in professional learning that consists of topics in the areas of 

  • Trauma-Informed Practices
  • Curriculum Compacting
  • Assessment Practices  

Curricular Development

Teachers will meet in horizontal and vertical grade level teams to discuss the critical standards that were addressed while e-Learning. Also, teachers will address the standards that need to be re-visited to allow students additional time to master the necessary skills students need to know and be able to do to be successful at their previous grade level. 


Students will be assessed to determine where their skills are in order for teachers to assist students with any learning loss that occurred during the time away from formal instruction. 


Instruction will be designed at the receiving grade level to incorporate standards that need to be addressed based on the information received from the preceding grade level. Additionally, intervention, remediation, and acceleration will be provided to each student based on assessment results.

School Closure for Remainder of the Year
(Published by Dr. Warke on Apr 17, 2020)

Dear Highlands Families and Staff, 

It has been an entire month of e-learning, or remote learning since COVID-19 swept across our area and changed the daily landscape as we knew it. Washing your hands, social distancing, wearing a mask when you go out, and staying home if you are sick has helped us remain safe and healthy. Today we learned in Governor Pritzker’s announcement that school would close for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. I am sure this brings sadness to your heart as well as questions to the forefront of your mind. 

We had a plan just in case this happened. We will provide you with an FAQ next week to answer some of the questions that may be on your mind like What about the end of the year traditions? Will I be able to pick up my child’s classroom supplies? What about Summer Programming? What about our Summer Technology Sale? We have the answer to those questions and more! 

I am proud of the creativity of our teachers as they have implemented project-based learning as well as instruction to enhance the learning experiences for our children. We ask you to complete this survey to provide us feedback. Our partnership with you helps us move forward in these unprecedented times.  

Lunch pick up continues on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11-1 at District Office. Anyone who needs a lunch is welcome. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Duback at mduback@district106.net. 

Please visit our e-learning page for updates and a list of helpful links. We update the helpful links regularly. 

Thank you to everyone who decorated their doors to show your Highlands spirit. Here is a video for everyone to view. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did! 

No one had any idea the year would turn out like this. We thank you for all you are doing and appreciate your continued support. 

Stay healthy and well!

Dr. Warke


Update for April 5, 2020
(Published by Dr. Warke on Apr 05, 2020)

Hello, Highlands families, staff, and students. 

Here is a video message for our upcoming week. 

Stay safe and healthy!

Dr. Warke

e-Learning Extension Until April 30
(Published by Dr. Warke on Mar 31, 2020)

Dear Highlands families and staff, 

Earlier today, Governor Pritzker announced that Illinois schools would remain closed through April 30, 2020, to protect the health, safety, and welfare of everyone. Highlands has been implementing our e-Learning plan and will continue to do so until we receive word we can transition back to regular instruction. 

We recognize that you did not sign up to be a teacher, and that parenting is a full-time job. As we look at the sustainability of our e-Learning experiences, we do not want you to feel frustration around instructing your child on daily assignments. We would instead ask you to encourage perseverance in problem-solving, asking your child questions around the task or if they have “phoned a friend,” and finally, reaching out to the teacher. 

With the extension of e-Learning for a longer time, we are working with staff to provide students with cross-curricular project-based learning experiences allowing your child to practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills while engaging in a learning experience that will be motivating, challenging and allow for creativity.

Next week, we will be taking Monday, April 6, and Tuesday, April 7, as planning days to allow the staff to plan for sustained e-Learning instruction. This means that students will not have any lessons posted on either Schoology or See-Saw on Monday or Tuesday of next week. All e-Learning instruction will resume on Wednesday of next week. Additionally, we will keep with the original calendar and continue to have Friday, April 10, as a non-attendance day. 

No one knew at the beginning of this school year that we would be navigating a pandemic, but together we will persevere and do what is necessary to stop the spread and to flatten the curve of COVID19. I will continue to send updates as we receive additional information from the Illinois State Board of Education. Thank you for your partnership. 

Warm regards, 

Dr. Warke