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THE QUEST For families, alumni & friends of Quest Academy

SPRING I  2011

State of the School and Move-Up Night 115 Quest Academy families attended the annual State of the School and Move-Up Night on February 10. This year, Head of School Ben Hebebrand focused on the recently adopted Quest Academy “Belief Statements” and how our faculty integrates those belief statements in the classroom.

IN THIS ISSUE State of the school spring Profile Who’s Who the night of all knights volunteer of the year

Four faculty members--Mr. Eric Simon (GR 1), Mrs. Cathy Gruzinsky (GR 3), Mrs. Beth Blaetz (GR 4), and Ms. Alison Ortony (MS Math)— were asked to represent their colleagues and speak to a particular Belief Statement. Each spoke eloquently and passionately about what happens in the classroom each day and how each day is thoughtfully planned with the Belief Statements as guideposts. Mr. Simon spoke about our “Conceptual Understanding” Belief Statement. He illustrated his way of teaching the Cinderella unit over the course of three months. While content is, of course, important, it is also critical to make sure that the content “sticks.” Mr. Simon showed how he also incorporates the Quest Academy Curriculum Map’s deeper Enduring Understandings into the Cinderella unit.

All Quest faculty want our families to understand that teachers are guided by the thoughtful Deeper Understandings as articulated in Quest Academy Curriculum Map --the standards by which teaching and learning is organized. These deeper Enduring Understandings initially were developed by Quest Academy faculty just as our Belief Statements were. The Quest Academy faculty is 100 percent engaged in the design and thought behind our curriculum.

Mr. Simon

As one parent mentioned in the State of the School follow-up survey about Mr. Simon: “It is sometimes difficult to explain to others how Quest does things differently until you have concrete examples. Thank you!” Continued on page 5

the annual fund

Welcome to Quest Academy Be sure to explore and become familiar with the Parents News & Events section to find current information. Visit teacher pages through the Faculty & Staff Directory, update your contact information in the Family Directory. Bookmark the news page - this is where you will find event information, the school calendar, and the Weekly Quest school newsletter.

Inspiring & Challenging Gifted Children


The Quest - Spring 2011


Colleen Praxmarer ‘00 “Quest Academy provided me with the opportunity to pursue my passions and develop new ones. The dedicated teachers provided the environment to foster personal strength and confidence that can only be derived through successes and failures. The academic foundation and character building experience has assisted me in becoming the person I am today.” Lieutenant (JG) Colleen Praxmarer, USN, is stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, as a Surface Warfare Officer. Colleen fondly recalls her days as a student at Quest Academy, reflecting on her great teachers, and the school’s commitment to academic excellence and character education. Colleen’s years at Quest Academy laid the foundation for a stellar career. Fremd High School Class of 2004 11 AP classes, AP Scholar with Distinction Top 6% of Class, Illinois State Scholar The George Washington University Class of 2008 BA International Affairs, cum laude Honors Program Scholar Elliott School of International Affairs Special Honors NROTC Spring 2008 Battalion Commanding Officer Surface Navy Association Award 2008 Intern at NATO Headquarters, Brussels The George Washington University Presidential Scholarship Recipient

The Quest is published for families, alumni, and friends of Quest Academy. It is produced by the Office of Institutional Advancement.

ADDRESS CHANGES Readers who wish to change their mailing address for The Quest, may call Laurie DeSimone at 847.202.8035, extension 461 or send an email to

QUEST ACADEMY Head of School Managing Editor Editor and Designer Photography Contributing Writers

Ben Hebebrand Michael Bates Sharon Rockhill Faculty & Staff Michael Bates

Four year Naval ROTC Scholarship Recipient

Alumni Parent n o ti p ce e R g n ti s a T e in W

Save the Date! Friday, May 20, 7:00pm d’Vine Wine, Palatine, IL Watch for your invitation!

Anna Deberry, ‘10 Anna is a freshman at Woodlands Academy. Her favorite classes are Algebra 2/Trigonometry and Literature. She is in all honors classes (AP courses are not offered to freshmen at Woodlands). Her extracurricular activities include Choir, WACOR (Woodlands Academy Council of Representatives), H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Protect Esteem), Manager of Woodlands varsity volleyball team and a member of the Chemistry, Marketing, Spirit and Baking Clubs. Anna would like to go into neurology and be a research doctor.

Andrea sings in the freshman choir and is also a part of a mixed grade acapella group at school. She dances on the JV Poms team all year round. Over the summer, her Poms team went to a camp/competition and Andrea was selected to perform at the Capitol One Bowl in Florida during the halftime show. She also continues to take jazz, ballet, tap, lyrical and pointe at Bataille Academie of the Danse as a member of Elite Company, the top group of dancers at her studio. Just recently, Andrea played the role of a “Shark” in the show West Side Story at Cutting Hall.

the bassoon in the Midwest Young Artists (MYA) youth orchestra, sings in the Red Rose Children’s Choir (co-directed by Quest’s very own Jacque Negus), while she also plays in her high school’s band and orchestra. Sarah has auditioned into several competitive festival orchestras.

Max Farbman, ‘10 Max is a freshman at Buffalo Grove High School and currently involved with interests that he developed at Quest Academy, including Technical Theater, Science Olympiad and Scholastic Bowl. He is also on the drum line with the Buffalo Grove High School Marching Band and performs with an orchestra and a percussion ensemble at Midwest Young Artists. Max most enjoys Honors Biology and is taking AP Human Geography.

Connor Chang, ‘08 Connor’s favorite classes at Barrington High School are Video Production I, Chinese II Honors, Junior English and the Interrelated Arts, and AP US History. He currently takes both AP US History and AP Calculus AB.

She enjoys AP Chemistry most. The coursework is fairly difficult and there is more work than she’d really like to do on a given night, but it’s nothing she can’t handle, and she finds the material interesting and rewarding. Plus, she gets to blow stuff up at least three times a week!

Mack Lee, ‘10 Mack is a freshman at Stevenson High School. He most enjoys Chemistry and English (AP courses are not offered to freshmen at Stevenson). In Chemistry, he does many amusing labs and it is mainly math-based (he loves math), while his English teacher has revealed many interesting tools in the English language that he had never seen or realized before. Mack was recently a cast member (Jet) in the musical West Side Story, one of only three freshmen to make it. The musical took so much of his time that he didn’t have time to participate in any further extracurricular activities other than being a member of Midwest Young Artists and TYMP (Talented Young Mathematicians Program) - a math club for regional math contests. He recently made an extremely hard decision to not continue tryouts for basketball, as he didn’t want to give up his dedication to his violin. Mack will likely be heading to the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) and is considering applying to MIT, Northwestern (HPME Medical School), University of Illinois and Princeton. Andrea Nicholson, ‘10 Andrea is a freshman at Fremd High School and enjoying every second of it! She is taking all honors classes (English, Algebra II, Biology), French III, Choir and PE and AP World History. She particularly enjoys English and Biology.

He is the vice president of the Otaku (Japanese anime and manga) Club and a member of the Chinese Club. He has also participated in several school plays and has almost all of the requirements for membership of the National Thespian Society. Connor is considering the University of Southern California, New York University, Emerson College, San Francisco State University, and Ithaca College. He plans to major in film and minor in linguistics. Shelby Daniel-Wayman, ‘08 Shelby spent freshman year at Willowbrook High School, where she got involved in theater, speech team, and choir. She applied and was accepted to the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) for sophomore year in hopes of finding more challenging academics. She definitely found them, and those challenges have spurred her interest in both French and Medical Research. Her favorite class is a Seminar in Animal Behavior, which is focused on reading and analyzing the scientific literature. Shelby is currently on the speech team, in the creative writing club, in the medical society, and she serves as both a peer tutor and a writing center tutor at IMSA. For speech team, she has placed at multiple tournaments, including first place at the Plainfield North tournament last year. Shelby plans to study French as well as biology with the intention of becoming a medical researcher. Sarah Farbman, ‘07 Sarah is a senior at Buffalo Grove High School. She plays

This year, Sarah is taking AP Chemistry, AP French, AP lit, and AP Calc BC. In previous years she’s taken AP English Language, AP US history, AP World History, and AP Human Geography.

She is applying at Grinnell College, Carleton College, Princeton University, Yale University, Indiana University, Northwestern University, Tufts University, University of Denver and Pomona College. She plans to study linguistics, as well as English, music, French, and chemistry. Sarah’s GPA is approximately 5.5 weighted and a 5.0ish unweighted (Buffalo Grove uses a scale in which an A is 5.0 for regular classes, 5.5 for honors classes, and 6.0 for AP classes). Her ACT score is a 33. Jillian Johnson, ‘07 Jillian is a senior at Fremd High School where her favorite courses are the many social studies classes she fits into her schedule. Jillian has taken many AP courses since her sophomore year, and this year is taking AP Statistics, Macroeconomics, Government, Literature, and Psychology. Jillian devotes her free time to several extracurriculars, including Model United Nations, for which she is a member of the Executive Committee, and National Honor Society. She also works several days a week and maintains ties with Quest by serving as the assistant coach for both of the girls’ basketball teams. She has received recognition for her academics and extracurriculars, including

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We’d love to hear from all alumni and their parents! Please drop us a note to let us know where you are and what you are doing. Email us at



The Quest - Spring 2011

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Quest Academy WHO’S WHO Elisé Lammers

Cindy Larsen

Kristin Samojedny

Class: MS Drama Hometown: Chicago (South Shore)

Class: Grade 1 Hometown: I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

Class: Kindergarten Hometown: Palatine, IL

Why I Teach: There is no better place to start changing the world than to teach kids something that has the potential to create harmony among all races and cultures. It also teaches people to be confident, to listen, to work cooperatively, and to value taking risks. Quest is a nurturing environment that treasures the arts. It is a safe place to encourage students to push their boundaries and discover their potential to be emotive or funny or both. Quest is filled with intelligent, eager children who have the ability to absorb more advanced creative concepts. Teaching at Quest is a joy and an honor.

Why I Teach: Quest Academy is a magical place - the kind of magic that breathes life into one’s soul. There is no other place in the world I would rather be. My passion is my life work, and for this I am grateful.

Why I Teach: I teach because I love children! I was a merchandising manager for many years before going back to school to become a teacher. In that job, I never felt as though I was truly making a difference in people’s lives. As a kindergarten teacher, I can see that the children need me and that I need them.

Hobbies & Interests: Acting, directing, Latin dancing, watching movies, Capoeira, writing, reading, hiking, traveling, yoga, running, cooking, playing piano and volleyball, and having a ball! Favorite Movies: My favorite genre is romantic comedy. The Princess Bride is my all-time favorite movie (which is why I integrate it into the 6th grade curriculum). I also love When Harry Met Sally, Pulp Fiction, Amores Perros, Stealing Beauty, Slum Dog Millionaire, Pride and Prejudice, and The Notebook. Favorite Books: I like anything by Charles Bukowski. I love Elizabeth Gilbert. My favorite book is probably The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Now I’m reading Deepak Chopra’s Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul. Favorite Quotation: “If you’re only making one mistake a week, you’re not trying hard enough.” About Me: Four years ago I bought a condo with my mother in Rogers Park. In addition to teaching at Quest, I have several other part-time jobs. I do admissions testing for Northwestern’s gifted and talented program, I am an apprentice to a mask-maker who makes beautiful theater masks out of neoprene, I perform with a group called, The Murder Mystery Co. (consider hiring us for your next party!), I audition for commercials and theater, and I direct shows outside of Quest. I will be returning to Alaska this summer to direct the Lynn Canal Community Player’s summer youth production. I haven’t chosen the play yet, but I am honored to be working again with Alaska’s oldest community theater. Before I head northwest, I will be assistant-directing A Red Orchid Theater’s youth ensemble in Theater 7’s Landmark Project at the Greenhouse Theater in June. In case you haven’t caught on, I love to stay busy!

Hobbies & Interests: I love to cook and garden. There’s something very therapeutic about pulling weeds and digging in the dirt. I also love to find a great bargain. I’ve been called the queen of thrifting. Favorite Music: I would describe my musical taste as diversified. My all time favorite songs would be Suspicious Minds and Always on My Mind by Elvis Presley. Favorite TV Shows: I love the Food Network and TLC. I had a dream last week that I was working at Carlo’s (Cake Boss) bakery, and Buddy was teaching me how to decorate sugar cookies. :) Favorite Books: My favorite books are those written by Dr. Suess, Jan Brett and Jodi Picoult. Favorite Quotation: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi) About Me: Top three things most people do not know about me: I was VERY shy and introverted as a child. In September, Chris and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I am a cancer survivor.

New Director of Teaching & Learning Mrs. Beth Blaetz (GR 4, Owls), has been named Quest Academy’s new Director of Teaching and Learning. As Head of School Ben Hebebrand said of Mrs. Blaetz, “Her appointment is both a testament to our school’s professional development opportunities and to her initiative and passion to continuously pursue targeted, professional development in the field of gifted education and specific subject areas.” Mrs. Blaetz officially begins her duties on July 1.

being named a National Merit Scholar SemiFinalist, an AP Scholar with Honor and an Illinois State Scholar. Jillian is applying to five colleges: Grinnell College, Northwestern University, Carleton College, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She plans to double major in political science and public policy analysis and expects to attend law school. Jillian will be applying for several merit-based scholarships specific to each college she is interested in, as well as a few general scholarships, such as those offered through the National Merit Scholar program. Jillian has maintained a 3.65 unweighted and 4.5 weighted GPA while taking a rigorous

course load, and received a 34 on her ACT and a 2240 on her SAT.

Stevenson’s “Give-a-thon,” Stevenson’s largest fundraiser, benefiting the local food pantry.

Abby Rosenson, ‘07 Abby is a senior at Stevenson High School. She is an active member of Stevenson’s Chapter of The National Honors Society. Aside from her honors classes, Abby has taken AP European and United States History and AP Writing and Composition. She is enrolled in AP French Language, AP Government, AP Calculus, AP Microeconomics and college-level Earth Science. This year, Abby was on a committee for Stevenson’s second annual “Spirit Fest” – a $20,000 fundraiser benefiting a local charity and she received the Jefferson Award for her contributions to the event. She is also currently a student-leader for

Outside of school, Abby spends most of her time training as a competitive gymnast, training 20 hours a week at a private club and has gone to the State competition every year since the 4th grade. In the summer, she enjoys traveling to various parts of the country on mission trips to repair damaged homes. Abby’s favorite activity on these trips is shingling roofs. She has been spotted turning cartwheels upon a recently repaired roof in Maine.

Why I like Quest: Gifted children are complex, intelligent, and funny! I enjoy challenging them and helping them to achieve goals that they never thought they could! I love the energy at Quest and the community feeling that surrounds me. Hobbies & Interests: I love reading, shopping, talking to friends, watching sports (THE CUBS and all FOOTBALL), going to the movies, teaching, and most importantly trying to become a better person.

State of the School Continued from page 1

Favorite Music: I love all kinds of music, but not that twangy country stuff. I like certain music for certain activities. I like Damion Rice when I write report cards, any hip-hop when working out, classical music when teaching, and some sad love songs when I’m feeling mellow.

Mrs. Gruzinsky “I thought that her presentation was very well done. It helped

More Follow-Up Survey Parent Comments: me to think about the ways in which I as a parent can also provide challenges for my children in an exciting, explorative way.” “Your excitement and passion for the kids shined through in your examples. My take away from your presentation was that the kids were learning to take academic risks in a safe environment in your class.”

Favorite TV Shows: My favorite shows are Modern Family, The Middle, The Office, and How I Met Your Mother. I really enjoy comedies and things that make me laugh. Anything sarcastic will work! Favorite Movies: My favorite movies list starts with old school movies like Fletch, Pretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles. I like romantic comedies like Love Actually. I also like movies that make you think and movies that change you as a person. I hate scary movies!

Mrs. Blaetz

Favorite Books: Some of my favorite books are A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and some lighter books by Elin Hilderbrand. I usually get to read children’s picture books and I love those too! I still like Wacky Wednesday. Favorite Quotation: “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” (Winston Churchill) About Me: I grew up in Palatine and attended Fremd High School where my father was the football coach and my psychology teacher. (I, of course, got an A. HaHa!) I have two brothers and a sister. Mark is married to an elementary principal in Palatine and Matthew is 24 and just starting his career. I have a sister Allison who is expecting a baby this month, which will make me an aunt for the first time! I’m not married and have no kids, but would love for that part of my life to begin.

“I think it is fantastic you are pursuing further education in gifted learning. It is difficult for many to really comprehend that teaching the gifted is different than teaching other students.” We as parents really appreciate your dedication to our children.” “Loved her energy, enthusiasm, and love for teaching! I am working on my clone machine!”

Ms. Ortony

“Thank you for sharing your passion of teaching. I feel that I also now have a much better understanding of MAP testing and benefits of supplemental tools like ALEKS.” “We love the focus on Math! Keep up the great work! We need more Mathletes.”

Abby is considering attending Davidson College or Rollins College. Her ACT is a 31 and GPA is 4.24.



The Quest - Spring 2011

The Night of All Knights

Over $258,000 was raised on Saturday, March 5.

Thanks to all who made it such a special, fun, and successful evening!

Right: PSA Co-President Lora Kadlec & Don Mitckess

Below: Auction Co-Chairs Meredith Park & Laura George with their husbands Ed & Gregg

Above: Shawna & Marc

Brauer Above: Karen Dickerson accepts the 2011 Volunteer of the Year recognition award from Head of School Ben Hebebrand Below: Emre & Veronica Karaca

Below Center: Cathy & George Reichl seated on the famous Al Kuper Adirondack Chairs.

Above Center: Bijal Patel,

Miwa Gardi, & Candice Sunderlin

Left: Nancy Hurst & Trustee

Curtis Maas

Above: David ‘04 & his dad Quest Academy Board Chair, Jim Erbs

Below: Deepika & Rahul Miglani

Above: Faculty & friends supporting the Spot Auction for Fine & Performing Arts Above: Gregory & Cereesa Lacey

Left: Mandy & Matthew Lewandowski

Left: The PE faculty clean-up well! Jeff Ryder, Tim Krentz, & Tom Voeller

Far Left: Alma-Marie & John Graf

Portrait Photography By Barbara Shapiro

Candid Photography By Paul Bishop



The Quest - Spring 2011

The Night of All Knights

Fast Facts: 250 paid guests. A record $118,000 raised during Spot Auction for the Fine & Performing Arts. First-ever Grand Sponsor: Cedar Street Advisors

Above: Al & Joann Kuper with their daughter and son-in-law, Anne & Paul Reader Below: Faculty Mary Barrios (LS Music), Mark Jurewicz (LS Science), Lucia LuckettKelly (LS Drama), & Elisé Lammers (MS Drama) perform a skit prior to the Spot Auction

Above: Cindy Larsen (GR1), Lindy Rosenson, Anne Roberti, and Shirley Miller Right: Director of Athletics Jeff Ryder & Director of Institutional Advancement Mike Bates Below: The Koala (PK) table guests seem to be enjoying themselves.

Above: Auction Co-Chairs Meredith Park & Laura George

Bottom Ben Hebebrand congratulates Wade Light, winner of the King’s Ransom 50/50 raffle.

Below: Siva Thayu & Jeremy Marmer

Above: Current Board Chair Jim Erbs, Chair-Elect Chris Dickerson, & Head of School Ben Hebebrand Above Center: Jennifer ‘04 & her mom Alumni Parent Barbara Stubing

Below Center: Trustee Luke Praxmarer greets his fans!

Left: Chuck Gerage & Samantha Stupak

Bottom: Alumni parents Kim Greenbaum, Paulette Yanow, Trustee Jane Hauser, Director of Information & Communication Sharon Rockhill, & Trustee Mary Lynn Bernacchi

Below: Alumni parent & former trustee, Nancy Hurst

Below Center: Director of Student Life Jessica Patti

Grand Sponsor: Page Level Sponsors:

Cornerstone National Bank & Trust Company First American Bank Kroeschell Engineering, Inc. Willow House, Inc.

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Volunteer of the Year And, the 2010-11 Quest Academy Volunteer of the Year is….Karen Dickerson! Karen has volunteered at Quest since the first of her four daughters Katie, started here many years ago. She has served as a room mom, worked numerous PSA events, volunteered with the Drama, Band and Choir programs and worked on Auction, including four years as Co-Chair! She also started the Girl Scout program at Quest and is still successfully leading it. Needless to say, Karen is a true inspiration to and tireless advocate for Quest Academy. She is a terrific representative of all Quest Academy volunteers who give so freely of their time and talents. Thanks to all of our volunteers!

Quest for Success Annual Fund

Thanks to those Current Families who have helped us grow to 46 percent participation. Just 45 more families to reach our 65 percent participation goal. “Leave” your mark with a gift of any amount that is comfortable for your family.

We have secure, on-line giving capability. Go to and click on the button below to make your annual fund gift today!


10 The Quest - Spring 2011

The International Festival provided an opportunity for our community to share its diverse cultures through displays, performances, and food.

The Girls’ Varsity Basketball Team won their first conference championship (Fox Valley Athletic Conference).

12 The Quest - Spring 2011

Office of Institutional Advancement

Quest Academy Inspiring & Challenging Gifted Children

500 North Benton Palatine, Illinois 60067 847.202.8035

CALENDAR OF EVENTS APRIL April 13  | WED Art Fair and Ice Cream Social 6:30pm April 15  | FRI Grandparents & Special Friends Day 8:30 - 10:30am April 20  | WED PSA Spring Book Fair, Barnes & Noble (Deer Park) 9:00am - 9:00pm April 27 - 29  | WED - FRI 4th Grade Outdoor Ed - Indiana Dunes April 25 - 29  | MON - FRI Musical Tech Week April 29  | FRI Willy Wonka Performance 7:00pm April 30  | SAT Willy Wonka Performance 3:00pm

MAY May 01  | SUN Carol Dweck, Mindset Lecture 3:00pm May 05  | THUR Illinois State History Fair, Springfield May 14  | SAT State Track Meet, Peoria May 17  | TUE Volunteer Appreciation Coffee 8:30am May 18  | WED Band and Choir Spring Concert 7:00pm May 20  | FRI Alumni Parent Reception 7:00pm d’Vine Wine, Palatine May 23 - 27  | MON - FRI Middle School Trip Week May 24  | TUE Lower School Choir Concert 8:45am May 25 - 27  | WED _ FRI 5th Grade Outdoor Ed - Galena May 30  | MON NO SCHOOL - Memorial Day

Grandparents & Special Friends Day Friday, April 15 - 8:30 to 10:30am Calling all Grandparents and Special Friends! Mark your calendars for this wonderful morning. Send any contact information updates to

Alumni Rafting Trip Friday - Sunday, June 10 -13 Mr. Stoffregen has made the reservation and the date is set! Hope you all can join us for a fun and relaxing weekend at Wildman Whitewater Ranch.

JUNE June 2  | THU Graduation 7:00pm June 3  |FRI Last Day of Classes June 10-13  |FRI-SUN Alumni Rafting Trip

QUEST ACADEMY  I  OUR MISSION Quest Academy provides gifted children with a challenging curriculum and a nurturing environment. Our program emphasizes sound character along with scholarship and creativity in both the academics and the arts. The Quest community values the individuality of each child and encourages each to strive for personal excellence.

The Quest April 2011  
The Quest April 2011  

The Quest magazine April 2011