March 2012

 9thGrade Student Orientation

On March 1, high school principal Ryan Kociela, assistant principal Mike Loughren, and guidance counselor Kerry Plesco visited AEO to talk to the 8thgrade students about courses offered at the high school. They explained the three main tracks student might pursue: support, academic, and honors. As part of the transition program, the principals gave the students information about electives and stressed the importance of selecting courses that would appropriately challenge the student. They explained that rigor is emphasized at the high school and that students should talk to their parents and counselors when scheduling classes for next year.


Orchestra Festival
On March 10, 2012Kelsey Evans and Nolan Hulick were selected to participate inthe PMEA Junior High District Orchestra Festival at Deer Lakes. Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) is a service organization to music education in the Commonwealth. The membership includes those engaged in music instruction at all levels, from preschool through college and university, retired educators, as well as those in the music industry. The students are selected by tryouts and director recommendation. AEO students Kelsey Evans, cello, and Nolan Hulick, bass, along with PHS ninth grader Julia Maksinchuk, violin, rehearsed and performed an exciting concert featuring music from an Italian Folk Festival, Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No. 3, Sibelius’s Finlandia, music From Scheherazade by Rimski-Korsakov, and the Suite from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


PSSA Preparation
Classrooms were abuzz with PSSA anchor glossary terms and 4-square graphic organizers in early March in preparation for the Reading and Math PSSAs which began March 14. In addition to reading, English and math classes, all teachers, including art, civics, science, and health, were practicing 4-square graphic organizers and writing topic sentences and conclusions. Jeopardy, Concentration, crossword puzzles and scrambles, and other games were developed by teachers in all curricula to reinforce and practice the eligible content and anchor glossaries. Internet websites, computer games, and Smart Boards were also utilized to provide varied and creative ways to prepare for the testing. AEO students went into the tests feeling confident and competent!


6thGrade Parent Orientation
Approximately 200 parents of sixth grade students attended the orientation program on Wednesday, March 21stat A. E. O’Block Junior High to learn about the junior high’s academic program and to ease the transition from elementary to junior high.  The program was led by guidance counselors, Mr. Joe Miller and Miss Michele Markiewicz and brought to a close by Principal, Mr. Joe Fishell.  All parents received information about athletics, activities, medication policies, transportation, additional orientations and the dress code.  Parents were also able to have individual concerns and questions addressed one-on-one following the scheduled program.  The entire 6thgrade class attended their first student orientation on Monday, March 26that the junior high.  The guidance counselors will attend each elementary building beginning on Tuesday, March 27thto begin scheduling the 6thgraders for their course selections for next year. 


Girls’ Volleyball Team
In his third year as head coach of the AEO volleyball team, Mr. Phil Beatty has enjoyed a very successful season with help by Mr. Joe Miller. By the end of March, the team record was 8-2 for the 7thgrade girls and 9-1 for the 8thgrade girls. Team captains are Maddy Gestrich and Amanda Kiefer for 8thgrade and MariaLawhorne and Alexa Ferchawfor 7thgrade. According to Coach Beatty, “The future of Plum volleyball looks bright. We were so thrilled to win the Hempfield Tournament!” Eighth grade members of the team are Megan Abriola, Kayla Anderson, Kathleen Crossey, Madison Gestrich, Clairissa Hankinson, Amanda Kiefer, Manday Majocha, Madison McDade, Alexa Nolan, Megan Rengers, Cara Schutzman, and Credence Yocca. Seventh grade members include Jordyn Bankert, Chelsea Burton, Madison Cubarney, Alexa Ferchaw, Nicole Gilboy, Claire Klippel, Skyler Kutzner, Maria Lawhorne, Cora McKee, and Alexis Phillips.


Community Easter Egg Hunt
The AEO Reach Out Club, under the direction of Mrs. Jen Scharba and Ms. Lori Senkewitz, along with the Student Council, under the direction of Mrs. Jenna Romanelli, hosted the 7thAnnual Community Easter Egg Hunt on March 31.  The event, open to all kids ages 1-8, was free to all members of the community.  Beginning at 11 a.m., more than 150 youngsters, including the children and grandchildren of several Plum Borough School District faculty members, brought their own baskets and searched Oblock Junior High to collect the more than 4,000 eggs hidden by the following 7thand 8thgrade students: Morgan Booker, Olivia Koch, Lindsay Kadlecik, Carly Sipe, and Kendall Pearson. The Reach Out and student council students collected donations of plastic eggs throughout March and spent many hours filling them with candy donated by faculty and staff. Generous community members and staff in the district donated all of the eggs and candy for the egg hunt.

Library News
Team Read, the 500-Point Club, and the 300-Point Club have kept AEO librarian Susan Pinal smiling all of March. By the end of the month, 228 students had made it into the highest level of Team Read, the Reading Hall of Fame. Another 160 students are in the All-Star level and could achieve Hall of Fame status by the end of the year, along with 183 Varsity, and 65 Junior Varsity. As of March 31, eighth grader Noah Coulson has earned an impressive 2070 points, earning him the school record for the most number of AR points EVER! Gabrielle Miller is in second with 1834 points. Students who achieve more than 300 points receive a treat from the school each month; this month they enjoyed cookies and milk during an Activity Period. Students striving for the 300-Point Club can come to the library during activity period to read.  Mrs. Pinal stated, “We are ahead of last year’s record for the number of students in all of the levels.  We are all proud of the reading our students are doing.” She attributes the success of Team Read in part to the elementary teachers who first turn the students on to reading, but also to the AEO principals and teachers, particularly the reading and English teachers, who offer constant encouragement and reinforcement to make reading a life-long skill for AEO students. 


Professional Learning Communities
PSSA preparation, scheduling for next year, and the 8thgrade Activity Night were the subjects of many PLC discussions held both within and across the curricula during the month of March. The English teachers met with the guidance counselors to discuss referrals for support English in ninth grade; both formal data and teacher recommendation were considered in making the final placements. Teachers across the curriculum were developing 4-square open-ended questions and figuring out creative ways to incorporate the anchor glossary for both reading and math. The English teachers discussed finishing up research, the poetry unit, and PSSA preparation. The reading skills teachers met to develop lessons for the rest of the year as well as to discuss Study Island and PSSA testing. The math department discussed Study Island, Smart Board lessons, Moodle, syncing lessons, and MSP progress. The civics, history, and geography teachers collaborated to discuss lessons and multi-cultural week. The science teachers discussed lessons for specific units and compared textbook information to correlate with the SAS to develop outlines along with developing labs. Physical education teachers discussed and clarified the recreation unit and the upcoming obstacle course. The foreign language teachers met with the other special teachers to prepare for the 8thgrade Activity Night at the high school while special education teachers prepared for administration of the modified reading and math PSSAs. 

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