April 2010

Top Ten Banquet and Honors Night
Three hundred and fifty AEO students will be recognized for academic excellence at the upcoming Academic Awards Night and Honors Breakfasts. At the Academic Awards Night on May 25, 83 seventh graders and 42 eighth graders will be honored for achieving a 4.0 GPA; also on this night, 12 students will receive special awards for elective areas and the prestigious American Legion Awards will be presented to the 8th grade girl and 8th grade boy who best exemplify the qualities of leadership and citizenship. The faculty greeting will be delivered by retiring math teacher Ed Grachen, and musical entertainment during the dessert social will be provided by the AEO Strings Group, under the direction of Mr. Robert Kalanja. High school senior Sara Townsend will deliver the alumni address. Members of the 8th Grade Select Chorus, directed by Ms. Jen Little, will also provide entertainment. At the Honors Breakfasts, 110 seventh graders and 115 eighth graders will be recognized for achieving grade point averages between 3.4 and 3.9. Under the direction of guidance counselors Nicole Kociela and Joe Miller, both events are being planned by more than 28 teacher volunteers. These events recognize and honor AEO students who have worked all year to achieve academic success. The theme of the events is “Education is not preparation for life; Education is life itself.” - John Dewey

7th and 8th Grade Select Choirs
The new additions to the choral program at A.E. Oblock Junior High have been very busy and successful this year. The 7th and 8th Grade Select Choirs, under the direction of Ms. Jenifer Little, practice both in class and after school. According to Ms. Little, the new groups are honors programs for students who show talent and an interest in singing. In addition to performing in their seasonal concerts, the 8th grade group has also performed at Adlai Elementary School, during Activity Period for AEO friends, and at the 6th grade orientation. The 7th grade group has also performed at the December concert and during Activity Period, and is also busy rehearsing for the final May 19 Concert which will feature the 7th and 8th grade choruses in addition to the select choirs. The select groups perform in the style of Glee and are choreographed by Plum High School senior, Alexandra Zegar. According to Ms. Little, “The group has exceeded my expectations. Their dedication and willingness to perform with choreography is remarkable!” Members of the 8th grade select choir are Rachael Adamski, Brian Albert, Laura Allston, Samantha Brown, Jordan Cioppa, Kyra Crawford, Brianne DeGore, Nicholas Figurelli, William Fuhrer, Kathryn Hagood, Grant Imbarlina, Matthew Innes, Deanna Liberatore, Emily Matisko, Amanda Mayo, Allison Mazur, Camryn McCabe, Jack Murray, Samantha Nieser, Anthony Pavia, Claudia Peterman, Morgan Predmore, Andrew Reynolds, Anna Ridley, Rebecca Rieger, Maura Rusch, Rachel Satira, Nicholas Satovich, Abigail Sebunia, Logan Smith, Jordan Thomas, and Kiersten Torma. Seventh grade chorus members include James Alverson, Kayla Anderson, Deana Bellante, Adriana Bernatskaya, Ryan Binkley, Melissa Braun, Emma Burgman, Angela Campbell, Nicolette Casarcia, Madison Cheripka, Ryan Connelly, Ashley Counmahan, Alexandra Coyle, Lisa Divittorio, Ramsy Donatelli, Madison Gestrich, Candace Graham, Bryanna Holby, Amanda Kiefer, Rebecca Lee, Natalie Marco, Madison Mercurio, Alexander Pogue, John Shipley, Michael Simboli, Daniel Smih, Haley Stefancis, Jacob Susalla, Alexander Tejchman, Rachel Valotta, and Taylor Williams. Community Easter Egg Hunt The AEO Reach Out Club, under the direction of Mrs. Jen Scharba and Ms. Lori Senkewitz, hosted the 6th Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt on April 16. The event, open to all kids ages 1-10, 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 the halls of Oblock Junior High to collect the more than 4,000 eggs hidden by the following 7th and 8th grade students: Hannah Adamski, Deana Bellante, Jessica Lloyd, Danny Bergless, Jake Chapla, and Tyler Scharba. The Reach Out students collected donations of plastic eggs throughout March and April and spent many hours filling them with candy donated by faculty and staff. Many of the study hall teachers were willing to work with the Reach Out sponsors to help get the eggs filled. Generous community members and staff in the district donated all of the eggs and candy for the egg hunt.

GATE Art Competition
Oblock Junior High GATE students recently competed in the 2011 Art Expo held at Gateway Middle School. Seventh grader Victoria Michaels won second place in the competition for her individual artwork. The Art Expo, which had a theme of “Pop Art,” consisted of an individual art competition where students brought personal artwork they created based on the theme, an artwork created on site as a team, and identification of pop artwork. Based on a combination of points from the three activities, awards were given in two categories: individual and as a team in both the high school and middle school age groups. Seven school districts competed in middle school and high school categories, totaling 60 students. This was the third year for this art competition, and the third year Oblock has competed. AEO’s team, sponsored by art teacher Mrs. Amanda Durick, included Thomas Blaskovich, Victoria Michaels, Tori Monstrola, Emily Oehling, and Rachel West. Congratulations to the team for their outstanding performance!

Challenge-24 GATE Competition
Eighth grader Nathan Turchick recently participated with the GATE program in the Challenge-24 competition at Jefferson Municipal under the direction of Teresa Yosi, junior high math teacher, and Karen Ramsey, Adlai Elementary teacher. Challenge 24 is a competition where students string a series of four numbers together using any of the four basic mathematical operations to make the number 24. The problems range from easy to medium to hard and the fastest individual wins the card. Nathan finished 5th place out of 20 students in the grades 7-8 bracket. Congratulations, Nathan!

Holocaust Speaker
Mr. Harry Schneider from the Holocaust Center in Squirrel Hill recently spoke to Oblock Junior High School 7th and 8th graders about his experiences in Poland, Russia, and a displacement camp in Austria during World War II. Sponsored by the Jewish Community Center, a department of the United Jewish Federation, Mr. Schneider, accompanied by his wife of almost 50 years who is a Pittsburgh native, kept the students spellbound as he related the personal atrocities that he suffered as a very young child while traveling on a train from Poland to Russia that was frequently bombed, and while hiding for two years in the forest and being constantly on the run from Hitler’s troops. Following a childhood of hiding and surviving on bare necessities, Schneider, his mother and sister were finally reunited with his father in a DP (Displaced Person) camp. Later, in 1948, he was one of 125,000 Jews permitted to enter the United States by President Harry Truman. The lessons that Mr. Schneider told the students he wanted them to learn from his talk were to eliminate hatred and to remember the Holocaust so that it never happens again. The information that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust and that 90% of the Jews in his homeland of Poland were killed was sobering for the students to hear. Students were impacted by his talk and carried the discussions into their classrooms throughout the day, and were encouraged by Principal Joe Fishell to continue the discussion at home with their parents and grandparents. The assembly was arranged by AEO world history teacher Mr. Ron Sakolsky through Mrs. Samantha Patty, coordinator of the Jewish Community speakers.

Reading Hall of Fame
There was cause for celebration in the library on April 22 when 8th grader Heather Stemmerich broke last year’s record by becoming the 206th member of the Reading Hall of Fame. Ironically, Heather was also the 206th member last year, reaching the Hall of Fame on the last day of school! By the end of April, nearly 220 students, almost 35% of the student body, have made it into the Reading Hall of Fame this year with another 136 at the All Star level trying to reach the top. An additional 212 students are in the Varsity level and 64 in the JV Readers levels. Students have until the end of the school year to become Hall of Fame members. Another milestone in reading was reached in April when 34 students made it into the 300-Point Club; last year only five students had earned 300 points by the end of the year! New members for April include Nicholas Carlisano, Kelsey Evans, Allyson Donnelly, Natalie Marco, Daniel Allman, Candace Graham, Nickolas Palmer, Jessica Lloyd, and Stevanakelly Dolence. Seventh grader Noah Coulson has achieved the most points of all students with 1418.6; an additional three students made it into the 500-Point Club in April: Ericson Litzinger, Kim Schwartz, and Nicholas Comer. At the end of the year, the three students with the most points will receive $25 gift cards to Barnes and Noble. New members of the Hall of Fame for April are Patrick Crossey, Alexa Nolan, Daniel Smith, Nicolette Casarcia, Gary Hill, Josh Dupal, John Caffas, Nathan Turchick, Abby Sebunia, Matt Nestor, Max Flowers, Madison Mercurio, Zack Taylor, Leah Ruggiero, Heather Stemmerich, Emily Oehling, Kendall Pearson, Danielle Sellers, Jen Kucrtek, Kiersten Torma, Chelsea Cerra, Alexus Giles, Brian Magnus, Peyton Clair, Julia Maksinchuk, Crista Messenger, and Jennifer Riggs. The competition for the Kennywood Tickets will be ending soon; the students with the most points in each 7th grade reading class will be awarded a free ticket. Also, the top five 7th graders and the top five 8th graders with the most points will get free tickets.

Intramural Tennis
More than 25 AEO 7th and 8th graders and two teachers are enjoying physical activity outdoors through the newly formed Intramural Tennis Club. The students go to the high school on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the month of May and receive skills instruction and some practice time. According to physical education teacher Ms. Ginny Quillen, who helped create the club along with Ms. Linda Innocenti, the purpose of the program is to keep kids active and help them to learn a lifetime sport.

Professional Learning Communities
Scheduling, the Keystone Exams and alternative education were the subjects of ongoing professional dialogue at AEO in April. The Math Department met to examine the structure of the Keystone Exams and to determine the scheduling of the tests for optimal results. The civics teachers were meeting with the reading/English teachers to develop a packet of questioning skills and strategies based on Bloom’s Taxonomy to improve their students’ critical thinking skills, while teachers in the Family and Consumer Sciences Department met to discuss ways to modify the curriculum to take into account budget cuts and how to encourage more students to be involved in community service through the family and consumer sciences program. One idea they are in the process of developing is an after-school babysitting class. Teachers in the Science Department have been meeting regularly to develop a new non-renewable energy source unit that culminated with a written essay and 4-Square and an oral report accompanied by a Power Point presentation. They also met to prepare for their role in the 5th grade Science Family Night. Social studies teachers discussed the Holocaust unit, adding a Holocaust guest speaker, and began planning content for the final exam. The physical education teachers discussed the candidates for the 8th grade PE awards and began making plans for the obstacle course. The foreign language teachers discussed final exams and a Spanish and French Culture Day for the end of the year. Additional PLCs focused on troubleshooting computer problems, providing help for failing students, and specific curricular units.

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