Woodlawn Principal's Blog 8/6/21

Welcome back to the Woodlawn Principal’s Blog!  For those of you who do not know me, I am Greg Grana and this year will be my 16th year as principal of Woodlawn and 21st year as a D96 administrator.  I feel your admiration through the computer.  Most of my career has been at the middle school level, 16 years as a principal and 26th year of dealing with the middle school mind makes my experience unique.   I have learned that the middle school brain isn’t quite ready to make the best of decisions...at times. Personally, I am blessed to be surrounded by a great staff, amazing students and a supportive community.  Together, we have built Woodlawn into a model school that has been visited by other school districts from around the world.  Please know that you can email me, call or even stop by anytime you want.  If I am not in a meeting, I will be happy to talk with you.  Read the blog carefully because I tend to throw in little quips that make me chuckle and I hope you get a laugh out of them as well.  Do not read it too carefully because because I am usually up against the deadline and proofreading is not a skill of mine.  

Incoming 6th Grade Parents

I apologize for my first communication being so harsh.  Earlier this week, I sent out a reminder about physicals and dental forms that needed to be turned in.  There were so many, I just sent out a blanket email.  Thank you for your understanding.  If you still haven’t turned in your forms, we cannot send out a schedule for your child.  Schedules go out next Friday.  

Woodlawn Staff-New Members of the Pack

Steven MacDonald - Instruction Aide

Megan DeSilva - Speech & Language 

Saba Mahmood - School Psychologist

Lizzy Dupree - Special Education Teacher

Melissa Jakstas - Physical Education 

LeAnne April - Math Teacher

Here is my promise to the Woodlawn community.  I will continue to bring in the best teachers. Period. That may sound arrogant, but Woodlawn has a culture that welcomes new staff members, develops their leadership and watches them move into higher level leadership or administrative roles.  All of this begins by bringing in people who have students and their needs at the forefront of our thinking.  

District Information

Please see information below from the Superintendent’s Message.

On what will be a “journey towards normal,” we are excited to share the following layers of mitigation that will not be necessary to open the 2021-2022 school year.

  • No longer requiring daily self certification. Rather, by signing the acknowledgement form,  sending your student to school each day (or attending work as an employee) is certifying that your student (or you as an employee) are symptom free
  • Moving from 6 feet of distancing to 3 feet of distancing to accommodate an additional 1,000 students
  • Resuming normal food service operations
  • Resuming special lunch and dessert day activities
  • Resuming locker and “cubby” assignments
  • Reopening of locker rooms for student use
  • Removing restrictions on “shared material”
  • Resuming all clubs, activities, and sports with mitigation measures in place.
  • Eliminating classroom relocations when a student or staff leave with symptoms.
  • No masking outdoors (regardless of vaccination status).
  • Using the “Test to Stay” option in order to minimize in-person learning disruptions (view the linked video for more information).

For up to date information, please click on the link below to access the Superintendent’s Message from the most recent board meeting.

Superintendent’s Message from 7/31/21

LINK to all Superintendent’s  Messages

Student Schedules, Bus Information, Locker Assignments

Student schedules, bus information, and locker assignments will be available electronically on the morning of Thursday, August 12th. Please look out for an email from the district on the 12th.


There will be free lunch available for all students this year. More information to come.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS – Locker Set Up Day is August 17 th from 4:30-6pm


Log in to Membership Toolkit to order the following for your student:

  • Gym clothes and locks (required for all Woodlawn students)
  • Locker shelving (a student and parent favorite!)
  • Spirit wear
  • Dessert day and special lunch
  • And more!

You can also sign up to volunteer for PTO committees as well as dessert day and special lunch.

Join us in the gym on Locker Set Up Day – August 17th – to pick up your ordered items.

PRE-ORDER by AUGUST 16 TH AT NOON to receive pre-order incentives on gym clothes and locker shelving. Pre-order now in the comfort of your home! If you do not pre-order beforeLocker Set Up Day, please be prepared to wait in long lines that day to place your order.

Check out the PTO Blog for additional details. Contact Elizabeth Owens or Bob Christian with questions.

Opening Day

Opening Day will be Thursday, August 19th, 2021 from 7:45 AM - 11:10 PM. 

Please note, this is a HALF DAY.

The first full day of school will be Friday, August 20th, 2021 from 7:45 AM - 2:30 PM.

HERE is the D96 Calendar for the 21-22 school year.

Arrival Procedures for Parent Drop Off

Parent drop off will start at 7:30AM. Students will be dropped off at the main entrance of the Woodlawn parking lot located in the front of the building. Please drop off and go.  It creates a log jam in the parking lot when you sit at the front of the drop off lane while your child texts or creates a Tik Tok.  

Dismissal Procedures for Parent Pick Up

Students will exit the front entrance of the building at 2:30 PM. Please wait in a single file line around the perimeter of the Woodlawn parking lot.  We do not want our students walking through the parking lot for safety reasons.  Remember that it is a parking lot and drive slowly.  

Arrival Procedures for Bus Riders

Students who ride the bus to school will be dropped off at the main entrance. Students will exit the bus and wait outside or in the cafeteria until 7:30 AM. 

All students must wear a mask on the bus at all times.

Dismissal Procedures for Bus Riders 

Students who ride the bus will exit the building through the main entrance. Buses leave Woodlawn around 2:37PM.  Watching the buses pull away is always a highlight of my day. (jk)All students must wear a mask on the bus at all times.

Activity Bus Dismissal Procedure

Starting on Monday, August 23rd, the Woodlawn Activity Bus routes will begin. 

Students board the buses starting at 3:15 PM. The buses typically leave at 3:25 PM.

All students must wear a mask on the bus at all times.

Activity buses are available for the students who qualify for busing during the school year. If students are NOT a bus rider to and from school, the students are unable to take the activity bus. 

**Please note that due to bus driver shortages in Illinois, we are unable to guarantee the activity buses will be available to start the year or that the activity buses will be on time. At this time, the bus company is estimating that the buses will be leaving Woodlawn up to 30 minutes late. This means that students will not be leaving Woodlawn until 3:50 PM. It is highly recommended that parents arrange for rides if a student is staying for clubs, activities, and study halls. The district continues to work with First Student to solve this problem.  

Picture Day- Save the Date

Picture Day will be Wednesday, September 1st. More information to follow.

Curriculum Night- Save the Dates

6th Grade Curriculum Night:  Tuesday, August 24th.

7th and 8th Grade Curriculum Night:  Thursday, September 2nd.

More information to come.

Attention 7th Graders in Orchestra and Band

In the past, 7th grade students in Band and Orchestra have had the opportunity to elect to take Art, Music, or TASOL as an independent study class. This independent study took place during the second half of the Flex period. 

Starting this school year, students in Band and Orchestra will no longer have the option of a 20-minute independent study period. This change is new to the 21-22 schedule.  This will allow more consistent availability to receive support from their teachers during the Flex period.

Daily Announcements

The Daily Announcements will be posted daily starting on August 19th. 

Finally, this is the part of my blog where I tell a story, share a belief or commend someone on a job well done.  It usually has very little to do with education, but it has a feel good tone to it.  

I still have a few years to go before I retire. It is interesting because you start thinking about how to leave the school in perfect condition for the next person.  I also think about some of the funny things that happened to me in my career and this story immediately comes to mind.  When I exited college, there wasn’t a teaching job to be found.  After working 18 months for my brother, I went back to education as a substitute teacher in order to get my name out there.  One lovely spring day, while the kindergarten students were in complete control of the classroom I was in, the school had a surprise fire drill.  During explore time, with 5 year olds all over the room doing their thing, this piercing noise rang through the room.  Having never experienced a fire drill, the students looked at me with shock and desperation.  All of the students except for the tiniest 5 year I had ever seen.  This student immediately bolted out the door and began running down the neighborhood street.  It was time for quick thinking...I had the students sit down where they were and cover their ears and motioned for them to stay where they were. I am guessing that 15-20 seconds had passed.  At that point, I went after my mini sprinter.  Now, when I tell you this 5 year old girl was fast, I am talking Road Runner fast. Making it to the steps outside, I looked down the street and saw this dot about 100 yards (or more) away from me in a full out, going for the Olympic gold medal sprint.  Seeing that this was 30 years ago, I got on my horse (meaning I sprinted as fast as I could) and tried to catch this speed demon.  When I finally ran her down, we were quite a distance from the school.  I caught her from behind and her little legs didn’t stop moving.  She was scared, I was exhausted and we walked back to the classroom.  With this little angel in my arms, we made it back to the room, only to be greeted by the principal. “Mr. Grana, we do not leave a classroom full of students during a fire drill.”  Luckily, sarcastic Greg didn’t answer because there were a lot of things I could have said.  Instead, I explained the situation and much to my surprise, I still received a dirty look from the boss.  I thought to myself, “If I ever become a principal, I am going to ask questions first and then make a judgement.”  I am not sure what happened to that 5 year old, but my guess is that she lettered in track in high school.