November 2016

November 2016 Board Highlights

Oblock Junior High School

Veterans’ Day Observance

The Oblock Junior High Social Studies Department wanted to make sure that AEO students understood the significance of Veterans’ Day so they prepared several displays throughout the school and held an assembly during their social studies classes on November 11 where 2010 Gateway graduate, Corporal Nate Kauric from the Marine Corp and Veteran of Afghanistan spoke to the 7th and 8th grade students. Corporal Kauric gave them pertinent information about Veterans’ Day and ended with a question and answer session. There was a second assembly where Colonel Peterson and the JROTC cadets from Plum High School presented a flag demonstration, gave the background and significance of the flag, and listed the veterans who work for the Plum Borough School District to honor their service for our country.

This year’s Veterans’ Day focus was on all major battles of each branch that made a significant difference in American history. Pictures and information about the branches and the battles were on display in the school foyer. Principal, Joe Fishell delivered a “Veterans’ Day Message” at 11:00 a.m. At the conclusion of that message, Caleb Drayer, Nathan Cribbs, Ryan Wesolowski, Matt Diss, Vincent Citrano, Jordan Kocher, Danny Clusta, Kai Johnson, Jeremy Copeland, Richie Hrivnak, and John Hanlon played a trumpet solo, “Taps,” that resounded through the halls of Oblock.

AEO social studies teachers led this year’s activities and did a remarkable job. The classes participated in a brick-honoring project with our students and the bricks were displayed in the main hallway.

In addition to the hard work of the Social Studies Department, the other departments that contributed were the Art Department, which helped with the design, the geography teachers who helped with the hallway displays and battle maps, the Tech Ed Department that helped with construction of materials, and the Music Department that prepared the special music.

Tier Time

Tier Time is a very important element at Oblock Junior High again this year. Both the Math and English Language Arts teachers are preparing and teaching three extra lessons per week to both enrich and remediate their students. Their lessons come from a wide variety of topics ranging from PSSA preparation to curriculum review and content reinforcement. The students are assigned specific days with their math and ELA teachers to accommodate all students with extra practice and challenging material.

Tier Time is beneficial to all levels of students. The GATE students are given time to meet with their advisors to prepare for the upcoming GATE competitions, as well as their ELA and math teachers for enrichment and to challenge thinking. These students are given various tasks and time to discuss specific content items with other students of their caliber. On the other end, students who need more practice and tutoring are receiving extra assistance from their teachers to help them with current class work and additional support with grade level material and practice. Some teachers are coordinating lessons with others in their department to use innovative ideas to encourage and motivate students. Other teachers are teaching their own students using a variety of lesson strategies to inspire learning. Overall, Tier Time seems to be a positive element for the students and teachers alike.

Food drive

In the beginning of November, the annual food drive took place at Oblock. The administrative assistants, Reach Out Club, and Girl Up collected nonperishable items for the Plum Food Pantry. The collection was a huge success because of the students’ enthusiasm to help the community. The goal was to reach 500 items and Oblock students crushed that goal by collecting over 1500 items!


On November 16th, 16 GATE students traveled to Duquesne University for the annual Calcu-Solve math competition. Calcu-Solve is a competition that tests students' abstract math knowledge and reasoning skills. Participants team up for two rounds of group problems and then continue with an individual score for an additional 7 rounds. Problems are centered on geometry, number theory, probability, algebraic concepts, and logical reasoning. With 396 7th and 8th grade students participating from schools all over Allegheny County, Jeffrey Yan finished in 2nd place with 33 out of 35 points. He correctly answered all 9 questions correctly, only needing a hint on 1 problem. Congratulations Jeffrey on being the first Plum student to place at this competition in over 10 years. The other high scorers from Oblock were the following students: Chloe Brown with 25 points, Justin Piel with 21 points, Alexis Beiter with 20 points and Joey Panichella with 19 points. Congratulations to everyone that participated!

French Field Trip

On Friday, November 18, Ms. Mendenhall and 40 French students traveled to Paris 66, an authentic French Bistro, for a French field trip. Paris 66 is run and operated by all French staff. The students took part in full immersion so they had to order in French, ask questions in French, and participated in a question and answer period at end of their meal with the staff there. It was a wonderful experience had by all.

Battle of the Books


The Battle of the Books wrapped up just before Thanksgiving. The nine teams of up to six students had to earn points by answering questions from 15 books. All participants got an autographed bookmark from Jennifer Chambliss Berton, the author of one of the books, Book Scavenger. Each winning team member received a certificate and their team trophy will reside with their teacher sponsor for the year. In 3rd place were the Super Smarties. In 2nd place were the Chic Geeks and in 1st place were the Oblock Warriors.

Oblock Cares Read-A-Thon

AEO students are raising money for local charities, including Make-a-Wish, Plum Food Pantry, and many other local worthy causes. 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 started on November 21, students got pledges from sponsors and set a goal for the number of books they plan to read. The students will now keep track of every book they read from November 21 through December 5. After the Read-A-Thon ends on December 5 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. Oblock's ELA teachers will be organizing and planning this event for the twelfth year.

Capture the Flag

More than 130 AEO 7th and 8th graders and almost 20 faculty members recently enjoyed playing a fun, competitive game of Capture the Flag, during the crisp, fall weather at Larry Mills Park! The students were excited to participate in this activity. The students traveled to Larry Mills Park after school and enjoyed an exhausting game of defending their bases and trying to capture their opponents’ flags. The competition was exciting with the faculty battling the students. Faculty members not only helped organize and monitor the activity, but several also actively participated in the games. All of the students were winners because they had fun socializing afterwards with tasty drinks and yummy cookies provided by the Oblock PTSA.

Library News / Team Read

Dr. Stevens reports that the 300 Point Club already has a 6 members and 2 of those are in the 500 Point Club. The Reading Hall of Fame has 35 other members, each earning at least 126 Accelerated Reader points. At the All-Star Level, earning 76-125 points each, are 48 students. At the Varsity level, earning 26-75 points each, are 287 students. Then 152 students have made it to the Junior Varsity level, earning 10-25 points each. So far this year, 528 students have become members of Team Read.

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