Week 15

To carry Spirit Light

into world-winter-night….

—Rudolf Steiner

Season’s Greetings Urban Prairie Families.

How ready the entire world is for a break right now. As our community disperses tomorrow and we enter into the very darkest nights of the year, I am certain that more than a few of us will wrestle alone with whatever this time of year brings for us. That is the nature of the winter solstice and the nature of human existence. We can’t – and should not – shy away from that reality. And so…

Tonight we gather in the darkness, and let the light of community, with all our foibles and quirks and humanness, plant seeds of hope within each of us. I look forward to seeing you, and I’m so excited for the special treat of our Solstice Choir.

A note on our return. On behalf of our front-line workers here in the classrooms at Urban Prairie and on behalf of our entire community of families whose health situations vary so widely, we ask that you please consider getting a COVID test if you travel or gather in large groups over the holiday break – regardless of whether testing is required in public health guidelines and also regardless of your vaccination status. Scroll for more on this.

Alumni corner. I always love sharing alumni news! Siah Berlatsky ’18 (whose reviews as Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs appeared in the newsletter I hope everyone received via snail-mail last month) has just announced her next starring role: Macbeth in Macbeth at Chicago Youth Shakespeare. See the show at The Edge theater January 14, 15, 16. Tickets and more info are available here.

Curious what life is like for our alumni? We’ll be hosting an Alumni Panel via Zoom on February 8. Mark your calendar! Watch last year’s Alumni Panel on our YouTube channel.



p.s. We’re still reaching for our fundraising goal! Add your end-of-year gift to help us reach our $100,000 goal.

Calendar Highlights

December 16 Festival of Light Solstice Spiral, 6pm

December 17 Last day of school before Winter Break – no aftercare

Dec 20-Jan 2 Winter Break – no school

January 3 School resumes

January 6 Vaccine Clinic #2

January 7 First Friday Coffee

Festival of Lights Solstice Spiral TONIGHT

THIS EVENING, December 16, the community will gather in our play lot for a choral performance by our grade 4-8 students, followed by a community sing-along and walk through the solstice spiral.

  • Grade 4-8 Solstice Choir must arrive between 5:50-55pm through the Ashland doors.

  • Festival begins promptly at 6pm.

  • If you have not yet RSVPed, please click here.

  • Masks required.

  • All are welcome!

School News

A Note on Return to School

As many of you are aware, the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, and other midwestern states are experiencing a significant increase in COVID cases and positivity rate right now. We truly hope you enjoy your time away from school this month, but please consider getting a COVID test after large social gatherings or travel, even where it is not required by the school or public health departments, regardless of your vaccination status.

The best way to keep our community safe is to ensure that we are not bringing the virus into the classrooms of Urban Prairie.

Testing resources:

  • Free walk-in testing site, 140 S Ashland (Link)

  • Testing site near school, 1059 W Taylor Street (Link)

  • Loop Medical Center fast / free PCR tests, 1921 S Michigan (Link)

According to CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D., “The highest COVID rates are currently in the Midwest and New England, but this week two warm weather states – California and Mississippi – are back on the advisory. Don’t assume you’ll be fine if you travel someplace warmer than the Midwest. The only way to ensure you’re protected as well as you can be, is to be fully vaccinated and wear a mask when you’re around other people in public.”

Vaccine Clinic II at Urban Prairie

Our second covid vaccine clinic is scheduled for Tuesday, January 4, 2022, from 3 pm to 6 pm. Both first and second doses of the 5-to-11 vaccine and adult doses and boosters will be available again. Mark your calendars and register here!

Winter Break Travel

Remember that if you are planning to travel over the upcoming winter break:

  1. Please inform us about your travel plans via admin@urbanprairie.org regardless of vaccination status or city restrictions!

  2. Fully vaccinated students have no travel restrictions, but if they experience any COVID symptoms in the 14 days after traveling, please let us know right away and get a COVID test before returning to school.

  3. If your not-yet-fully vaccinated student travels to a state on the City of Chicago Travel Advisory (link):

    1. Get a COVID test after returning home and provide it to UPWS before coming back to school.

    2. Monitor for symptoms for 14 days upon return. If your student experiences any symptoms of COVID, please keep them home. If the symptoms last beyond 24 hours, please get a COVID test and provide the results to the school or obtain an alternative medical diagnosis from a healthcare provider.

From the City of Chicago Travel Advisory website:

“The best protection you can have against COVID, no matter where you travel or what new variants emerge, is full vaccination, and booster shots for those who are fully vaccinated,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “The Midwest is the current COVID hot spot as temperatures drop and people spend more time inside, so please protect yourself and get vaccinated.”

After School Programs Winter 2022

Circus Club

Circus Club for grades 1-6 starts January 10. Considering signing up but not yet committed? Please email sophie.baumgartner@urbanprairie.org. Sign-up forms are at www.operoo.com.

Claim Your Lost Items!

Please follow this link to view a slideshow inventory of our Lost and Found items. To claim your item, please email dani.ruiz@urbanprairie.org and include the item name(s). We will donate any leftover items following winter break.

Board News

Dear Urban Prairie Community,

On behalf of our Board of Trustees, I would like to extend our warmest well wishes to you and your extended families this holiday season. May the weeks before us bring replenishment and joy to every member of this community, and may the rest of the school year shine as brightly in our hearts as the past several months we just had the pleasure to travel together.

Feliz Navidad,

Danila Miranda

President, Board of Trustees

Parent to David and Natalia UPWS’20 and Elena ’23

Community Connections Corner


Please know that no gift is ever required or even expected, especially for those struggling financially. In case you do want to contribute however, CC is managing an electronic payment link for teacher, support staff, and admin gifts this season. Please be sure to include a note/memo and the person/teacher you would like to acknowledge. If there’s no memo, the money will be distributed evenly. December 31st will be the last day for donations. All gifts will be distributed upon return to school in January and marked as coming from the UPWS community. Cash gifts can be dropped off in the main office, but for safety’s sake, electronic payment is preferred. Please email me with any questions you might have.

Teachers link: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=4FQSDBHD48K7A

Admin link: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=DYYN6B5ZMHSX4

Auxiliary/specials teachers:


Feeling like a little more community connection?

We’ve made a private Facebook group! This group is for discussions, reminders, open play-dates, item donations, proud moments, and anything else we can think of. This link is available for 48 hours, but you’ll always be able to join.


Parents! Yearbook Team needs your help.

Photos, photos, photos! If you have any photos of any events last year(in-person or remote), we would love it if you could share them with us! Send them to me at anne.mcdonough@urbanprairie.org.

Let’s Get Together!

Looking for someone’s contact to build community, connect with other families, get your children together to play? Find each other here!


Volunteer Opportunities

Have some time to lend a hand? Community Connections is always building our volunteer team and would love to have you! Please email me at anne.mcdonough@urbanprairie.org or come to one of our 1st Friday Coffees to chat.


Vaccination Status Updates

Is your student newly vaccinated? Please complete this updated Google Form or email admin@urbanprairie.org with your student’s vaccination dates!

Attendance Procedure

Remember to please email or call if your student will be late or absent from school!

Please report the reason for an absence; if your child is experiencing symptoms we will continue to follow our current COVID protocols.

Outerwear Guidelines

As the weather fluctuates wildly, please send your students prepared with layers! Here is a temperature guideline, please dress for the low so they are prepared for whatever comes!

  • 70 degrees and warmer: Shorts, short sleeves

  • 65 – 70 degrees: Long pants required, short sleeves acceptable; long sleeves encouraged on cloudy and/or windy days

  • 50 – 65 degrees: Long sleeves required; jacket layering recommended

  • 40 – 50 degrees: Jacket required; additional layering recommended

  • 30-40 degrees: Multiple layers required; outermost layer must include winter jacket, hat, and gloves / mittens; scarf highly recommended for all ages / required for lower grades (EC – 3)

  • Below 30 and if snowy: Snow gear required – winter jacket, snow pants, hat, gloves / mittens, and boots

Rain: Please send rain jackets, pants, and boots on rainy days!

  • NO umbrellas

  • A full change of clothes kept at school, especially for younger students, will enable us to keep students dry and learning.


For curriculum and classroom related questions and concerns, please start by contacting your class teacher or subject teacher.

Administrative questions may be directed to:

Dani Ruiz, Operations Coordinator


Sophie Baumgartner, Pedagogical Operations Coordinator


AJ Lee, Director of Operations & Finance


Sharla Paul, Head of School


Jen Kang, Director of Curriculum & Instruction


Jenn Zielinski, Director of Enrollment Management