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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The Klaeren clan: banding together

Capital Grille worker
The Klaeren family out to dinner at Capital Grille.

“Mom and dad” is not something students usually call their teachers at DGS, but for the Klaeren family, it’s an exception. The Klaerens can practically call DGS a second home to them, considering each family member is there everyday. The Klaeren family consists of math teacher Chris Klaeren, special services teacher Kathy Klaeren, junior Jonny Klaeren, freshman Danny Klaeren and freshman Eleni Klaeren.

Chris Klaeren’s only thoughts about the Klaeren clan attending DGS was that it is a convenient thing for the family.

“Nothing negative, it’s definitely more convenient. Other parents have to go out of their way to drive their kids here and there and growing up it was always a nuisance when they were at O’Neill and sporting events. Now it’s always here,” Chris Klaeren said.

Each day all five of them wake up at the same house, drive to DGS and drive back to home and sleep in the same house. Most families do not spend as much time together as they do. Another special factor of the family is that Danny Klaeren and Eleni Klaeren are twins.

“I love having my parents at this school because I get to have them here and just like my mom said, if I ever need anything it’s super easy to kind of just go to her room and my dads room as well,” Jonny Klaeren said.

Jonny Klaeren Overview:

Jonny Klaeren and Danny Klaeren after their football game. (Kathy Klaeren)

Jonny Klaeren is in his third year at DGS. Jonny Klaeren is an incredibly active and involved student at DGS He is a member of the DGS varsity football team and competes in shotput and discus in track and field. In addition to those activities he participates in ACE, BlueCrew, Snowball, and serves as a mustang access leader.

“Jonny is a very personal and outgoing person. He just is who he is. What you see is who he is,” Chris Klaeren said.

In addition to all he does at school, Jonny Klaeren works at Westmont Yard working the birthday parties. He also enjoys lifting and hanging out with his friends.

During the school day Jonny Klaeren enjoys teasing his father Chris Klaeren, who happens to be Jonny’s math instructor.

“Sometimes I’ll call him Mr. Klaeren to mess with him and make him mad,” Jonny Klaeren said jokingly.

Chris Klaeren Overview:

Chris Klaeren is in his 29th year as a math instructor at DGS. He was raised in Elmhurst where he attended York High School.

Chris Klaeren thought the idea of his wife, Kathy Klaeren, joining him at DGS was a good idea. He loved the idea that his kids would go to the same school their parents teach at.

But his wife, Kathy Klaeren did not, she initially thought the concept was questionable but eventually she fell in love with it.

“I didn’t think it was going to be a good idea for them, but I kind of love it now. I just wanted to make sure they have their own freedoms and things like that, but I think we have it worked out, so I’m not too much in their space,” Kathy Klaeren said.

Kathy Klaeren Overview:

Kathy Klaeren has been with DGS since 2001, where she teaches English as a second language. Kathy spends her free time cooking Greek food, shopping online and reading.

Kathy Klaeren is an early riser in comparison to her family, leaving around 6:30 a.m., while her husband and three children “attempt” to leave at 7:35 a.m.

“We all wake up at different times, but leave at the same time. One of us likes to wake up a little later and make us late and then our dad gets upset at him. We’re expected to be in the car at 7:35, but a lot of the times things change and we have to adjust because the younger brother likes to be late,” Jonny Klaeren said.

The Twins Overview: Danny Klaeren & Eleni Klaeren

The twins are in their first year at DGS. They were participants in the Downers Grove Panthers program until the eighth grade, with Danny Klaeren playing football and Eleni Klaeren cheerleading.

“The twins aren’t as outgoing as Jonny, but they have come into their niche pretty well and better than I thought they would,” Chris Klaeren said.

Eleni Klaeren is now a member of the DGS JV cheer team and coaches the junior 5th grade Panthers. Danny Klaeren is a member of the DGS freshman football squad. The twins like hanging together with their friends and ‘sometimes’ enjoy seeing their parents at DGS.

“My dad likes to embarrass us all the time,” Eleni Klaeren said.

Klaeren Life Overview:

Jonny Klaeren, Danny Klaeren and Eleni Klaeren taking a picture together on the lake. (Kathy Klaeren )

Chris Klaeren and Kathy Klaeren have both worked at DGS for a long time, and their children have grown up on a personal level with several teachers. Chris Klaeren and Kathy Klaeren have also witnessed their children’s friends grow up.

“We have grown up with so many of these kids, and it’s fun to see them now in the building but they always called up Mr. and Mrs. Klaeren, they always had that same level of respect,” Chris Klaeren said.

Calling teachers by their last names is difficult for the twins since it goes against their normal routine of calling them by their first names.

“Some of them I don’t actually know their last name so when I see them I’ll just call them by their first names,” Danny Klaeren said through a laugh.

One teacher at DGS has known Jonny Klaeren, Eleni Klaeren and Danny Klaeren since they were born. They say Elizabeth Fields is like a second mother to them.

“My kids have known so many teachers in the building as our friends and have known them more personally on a first name basis. So for example, Beth Fields has known them since they were born and they call her ‘Betch’ because they couldn’t pronounce Beth when they were little. It’s been a funny joke for sometime when Jonny yells ‘hey Betch’ while the other kids don’t hear it correctly,” Chris Klaeren said.

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