October 2011

October 2011 Board Highlights

Oblock Junior High

Bullying Prevention Program


To kick off the bully prevention program during National Bullying Prevention Week, the students at AEO participated in Unity Day, sponsored by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.  All students, faculty, and staff were asked to wear orange in support of the cause.  Students received orange wristbands to wear that day.  Bullying issues are discussed Wednesdays in the cafeteria. During this time students were reminded about the four rules relating to bullying at Oblock Junior High: 1. We will not bully others; 2. We will try to help students who are bullied; 3. We will try to include students who are left out; and 4. We will report bullying.  Activities helping students to understand and accept diversity have also been included in the lunchtime sessions. Guidance counselors Nicole Kociela and Joe Miller are available following the talks to listen to students’ concerns or answer additional questions.  Mrs. Kociela is developing the ongoing instruction that adheres to the standards of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. 


Oblock “Read Around the Clock” Read-A-Thon


AEO students are raising money for local charities, including Make-a-Wish, the Plum Food Pantry, the Hillman Cancer Center, and many other worthy causes. This year the students are reading around the clock for a cause. By participating in the Read-a-Thon, the students will help to make a difference in the lives of others. The goal for this year’s Read-a-Thon is to read 500 books in 2 weeks! Before the Read-A-Thon starts on November 9, the students will get pledges from sponsors and set a goal for the number of books they plan to read. The students will keep track of every book they read from November 9 through November 23. After the Read-A-Thon ends on November 23 at 3 pm, the students will total their books, collect their pledges, and hopefully reach the school goal of 500 books! Prizes will be awarded to the top earners, and a pizza party will be awarded to the class with the best overall participation.  Oblock reading teachers, Mrs.

Rose Miller and Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti have organized and planned this event.


GATE Vocal Competition


Five AEO GATE students, under the direction of music teacher Ms. Jen Little, participated in the ESSPA (Eastern Suburbs Special Programs Association) Vocal Competition at Greensburg Salem Middle School. The students did an outstanding job, according to Ms. Little, with Adriana Bernatskaya earning “Memorable Solo” in the 8th Grade Solo category.  Each student performed a solo using either a Karaoke track.  Other students participating from Oblock were Tori Monstrola, Megan Oravetz, Logan Tomko, and Lisa DiVittorio.   They competed with 39 performers from five school districts in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties.



Academic Endeavors


Ten GATE students, accompanied by GATE advisors Mr. Joe Miller and Mrs. Teresa Barker, traveled to South Allegheny Middle School on October 12 to participate in the Academic Endeavors Competition. The Academic Endeavors is a competition in which students are challenged to compete against other schools in the following strategic/logic games:  Quiddler, Boggle, Scrabble, Blockus, and Othello.  Oblock entered 2 teams of five students and saw fantastic competitive results with Noah Coulson ranking 1st and Victoria Michaels ranking 5th in individual scores.  The 1st place overall team award went to Noah Coulson, Victoria Michaels, Ana Benitez, Jared Carr, and Dom DeFabio.


Creative Convention


Oblock GATE students Jared Carr, Tom Frank, Emily Oehling, Victoria Michaels, Spencer Zacher, Ryley Handyside, Rachel West, Tori Monstrola, Megan Oravetz, and Logan Tomko recently competed at the Creative Convention at Springdale Junior/Senior High. The students competed in four creative thinking tasks requiring brainstorming, project construction, creative thinking, and performance. The students built a replica of a ship used to discover a fictional country, drew a flag, and performed a skit for their new country. They competed in verbal contests where they named explorers, countries, and created words from countries. Oblock’s team competed against East Allegheny, Gateway, Greensburg-Salem, Highlands, McKeesport, South Allegheny, Woodland Hills, and Springdale. The team was coached by GATE advisor, Mr. Brian Stevens.


Library News


Again this year, the AEO library was very busy in October encouraging students to enter the Team Read competition, to “get caught reading,” and to compete in the Battle of the Books. Thirty-three students have made it into the Reading Hall of Fame with 53 additional at the All-Star level striving to reach the top. An amazing 311 students have already earned 26 points to be in the Varsity level, and an additional 163 are in the Junior Varsity level, making a grand total of 560 students, approximately 84% of the student body, in Team Read. Seventh grade student, Gabrielle Miller is the top reader with over 400 AR points this year! The November challenge is Code Talkers by Joseph Bruchac, where students read the book, pass the AR test, and compete for a prize. The Battle of the Books has begun and the first official battle (quiz) will be November 22.  


Girls’ Basketball


Oblock girls’ basketball wrapped up a very successful season of 9 wins and 7 losses. The highlight of the year was beating the overpowering Penn Hills girls at home!  Notable players were Lexi Dudding, starting point guard; Mandy Majocha and Ashley Amato, and Maddy McDade shooting guards; Kathleen Crossey, starting small forward; and Alexa Nolan starting center.  According to Coach Bernie Pucka, “All six of these players are leaders, and they all contribute in every aspect of the game.”  He looks forward to working with them at the varsity level.  The seventh grade team also had a successful season of 8 and 8, under the head coaching of Mrs. Malloy-Cubarney, assisted by Bernie Pucka.  The highlight of the year was their come-from-behind win at home against Gateway.  Coach Cubarney recognized five players as leaders who contributed in every aspect of the game and worked well together as a team:  Rayna Donatelli, starting point guard; Maddy Cubarney, starting shooting guard; Michaela Palmieri, starting small forward; Liz Adamczyk, starting power forward; and Maria Lawhorne, starting Center.  At the close of the season, Coach Pucka stated, “We had a really successful year.  Everyone improved, and the future of Mustang basketball looks bright!”


Cross Country


Fifty-One boys and girls participated in cross country this year at Oblock and according to Coaches Mr. Wade Campbell and Mr. Jake Klemencic, the team worked very hard. Both the boys and girls teams had great records this year.  Team Captains were DaJoun Bell, Dillon Joyce, Evan Neff, and Michael Kenny for the boys. Girls’ captains were Jessica Dupal, Amanda Parente, Kailey Zalevsky, and Kayla Anderson.  DaJoun Bell, Billy Rhodes, David Palmieri, Ryan Loebig, Jessica Dupal, Amanda Parente, Kailey Zalevsky, and Nickole Norcera have contributed to the team by medaling and placing well in some large invitationals. Coach Campbell stated, “I had a great team and a great group of kids this year! I am looking forward to seeing many of my runners return for track this spring."




Seventy-four 7th and 8th grade boys learned football fundamentals this year under the guidance of head coach Ryan Silvis and his assistants, Phil Beatty, Bill Depew, and Dave Dziewulski. The 7th and 8th grade football teams both ended their season with winning records going 3-2 and 4-2-2 respectively. The highlight of the year was playing the season finale under the lights at the high school and winning that game by the score of 37-6. Leading scorers on the team this year were Nick Pampena (5Tds), Roman Franchi (4Tds), and Patrick Crossey (4Tds). The offensive and defensive lines are also worth noting as they had a tremendous year on both sides of the ball. The starting linemen include the following: Eric Trenz, Zack Nolan, Ryan Accettulla, Mike Carragino, Mike Simboli and Jake Tecak. Not only is this group of kids a terrific bunch of athletes, but as a whole they maintain high GPA’s and are true leaders within the school. This is a group of kids that anyone would be honored to have had the chance to coach.


Girls Soccer


Girls’ soccer coach Courtney Martz led this year’s team to a wonderful season of 9-1-2 and several outstanding performances. The top scorers for the girls’ team were Miranda Martin with 8 goals, Nicolette Casarcia and Alyssa Reedy both with 6 goals. Leading the assists were Aylssa Proviano with 7 and Savana Proden with 6.  The 8th grade captains were Chelsea Hubner and Nicole Iounnou and 7th grade captain was Briana Schlegel. Coach Martz said that she is “very proud of the Girls’ Soccer Team; they displayed a great deal of maturity, responsibility, respect, and discipline this season.”  


Boys’ Soccer


The 22 boys on the AEO Boys’ Soccer Team had a successful season with a final record of 9 wins and 3 losses.  The team was led by Captains Brian Magnus, Jacob Chapla, and Brandon Biss who did an excellent job motivating while displaying leadership and selflessness throughout the season, according to Coach Chris Allen. Leading the boys in goals were Brian Magnus with 16 goals, Jacob Chapla with 9 goals, and Tyler Scharba with 7 goals. Coach Allen stated that he is thrilled with the hard work and dedication from the boys this season.

Open House


An exhilarating and informative evening of meeting teachers and learning about the curriculum was enjoyed by more than 615 parents and family at AEO’s October 6 Open House. In addition to meeting their children’s teachers, parents had an opportunity to purchase subscriptions to the yearbook and school newspaper. PSSA scores were distributed and guidance counselors were available to answer parent questions.


Music Department


The 2011 – 2012 school year is off to an exciting start in the music department at A.E. Oblock Junior High this year.  The 7th and 8th Grade Chorus, under the direction of Jenifer Little, is busy rehearsing for their upcoming holiday concert.  This year, there are 454 students involved in the choral program.  This is 65 more students than last year.  As a member of the ensemble, each student learns to sing with proper expression, technical accuracy, posture, and embouchure, breathing technique and tone production.  The class explores different styles of choral literature and languages.  The 7th and 8th grade Select Ensembles are busy rehearsing repertoire in the style of GLEE.  Students for these groups were selected by audition and are choreographed by Alexandra Zegar, a 2011 Plum graduate who is studying dance at Point Park University.  The Holiday Concert is Thursday, December 15th at 7:00 p.m. at the Senior High School Auditorium. 


Professional Learning Communities


The AEO teachers continue gathering at 7:30 a.m. or during common open periods to discuss academic issues and to share lesson ideas. The math department was busy discussing math lessons with curriculum alignment, mapping and Smart Board notes, along with Keystone weaknesses, PSSA preparation, and an Improvement Plan. The social studies department continues to discuss Moodle and creating warm-ups with an emphasis on bloom’s taxonomy. The geography and science departments have been working out where there is overlap in curriculum. The technology staff was busy developing clubs and activities to involve the largest amount of students. A common subject of PLCs in November for the Reading/English Department was discussing nightly reading goals and the Accelerated Reader data for each class. They also discussed graphic organizers and updates on Moodle. The physical education teachers discussed the success of the Intramurals and the benefits for the students. The science teachers continue to meet daily to update/revise the new curriculum cycle and develop writing prompts and graphic organizers for each unit. Additional PLCs have been held by the Social Studies Department as the plan the Veteran’s Day ceremony and displays throughout the school.

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