Student Government Participates in Leap for Learning Program

The CICS Irving Park Student Government was recently afforded the valuable and enriching opportunity of participating in an after-school program called Leap for Learning. Our students were able to draft, edit, finalize and present speeches in front of their middle school peers. The students wrote about issues passionate to them; these issues were often school-related, civic, or community-focused. Students explored a variety of topics in their speeches including the selection process for selective enrollment schools in Chicago, globalization of corporate brands, lunchroom cafeteria options, and whether cell phones should be present in the classroom. The students objectives were developed from a variety of Common Core Speaking & Listening Standards. Some of the skills students learned and practiced successfully included rate of speech, fluency, enunciation, tone, persuasive argumentation, and active participation. Our students had fun with the project as it generated some very intelligent and thought-provoking conversations!

CICS Irving Park Third Graders Work Hard by Playing Hard, Too!


CICS Irving Park third graders are maximizing learning time by putting health first because research shows that students who are physically active (running, playing at recess, dancing) for ten solid minutes will perform better on academic tasks for the next 90 minutes.

With this in mind, as well as the general well-being of our scholars, we make health and fitness a priority. The third grade teachers have worked to receive two grants through Donors Choose for “Fitbits,” which are pedometers and sleep trackers. The students are able to take week-long turns wearing these trackers and have found they are less active than they thought. After seeing their step count each day, they then make the effort to move. They have said that those more active days are more fun anyway! In class, the pedometers give us reminders that we deserve a brain break and it is time to get up and move.

At any given time, it is common to hear music through the doorways of the third grade classrooms as they dance, stretch, or hurdle in place behind their desks. Chicago Run has supported our efforts by giving us innovative ideas and incentives to stay active through quick and engaging work-outs both inside and outside. Every teacher and scholar has run (or worked out) about 25 miles each! GoNoodle, a free online resource, leads us in yoga for kids, Zumba, and many more fun fitness routines that our scholars adore.

To conclude this amazing, active and learning-filled year, we are studying health and fitness in a more academic way. Our scholars are learning the five food groups as well as healthy vs. less healthy (and even not healthy) foods. They are creating positive advertising on cereal boxes to teach good habits and are also tracking their own eating, sleep, and activity. The lessons include reading, writing, science and math and help reinforce the fact that we are already doing so much for our bodies and minds. As teachers, we can see the difference in the focus, alertness and engagement of our scholars. Once you go active, you won’t go back!

Teacher Recruitment Fair: Wednesday, May 14

Qualified candidates are invited to join us at our North Side Teacher Recruitment Fair this Wednesday at Distinctive Schools’ 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, Puma 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 Irving Park 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.

Diversity Committee Hosts Cultural Activities

The Diversity Committee at CICS Irving Park has coordinated a range of activities this year to promote and celebrate diversity on campus.

Hispanic Heritage Month
During Hispanic Heritage Month, the Diversity Committee sponsored lunch activities featuring elements of Hispanic culture from around the world, including music, foods, art, and traditions such as Day of the Dead. Students were also encouraged to have conversations about their family backgrounds with their classmates. Community meetings focused on Hispanic culture, and teachers were provided with mini-lessons in order to discuss Hispanic Heritage with their students.

Black History Month
During Black History Month, teachers were provided with mini-lessons, as well as selected days when students toured the school in order to educate IP’s classes about famous African-Americans and their contributions to society. Other events for Black History Month included a lunchtime celebration with African-American art and music spanning the 20th century through present day. Students were also given talking points in order to converse with their peers regarding diversity.

The Diversity Committee also promoted various world holidays, including Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali, and New Year’s Day. Students spoke during community meetings, as well as performed and presented during the winter concert.