November 2017

November 2017 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 10 where, Veterans, Ericka Moore and Andrew Festa spoke to the 7th and 8th grade students.  Ms. Moore and Mr. Festa gave them pertinent information about Veterans’ Day while sharing their own personal experiences.  Finally, they 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, Alec Alese, Michael Cocca, Ana Juba, Kaitlyn O'Keefe, Matt Diss, and Kai Johnson 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.


Oblock’s award-winning yearbook is already being planned and subscriptions are being taken by a dedicated staff of 7th and 8th graders under the leadership of Mrs. Amanda Durick, AEO Art teacher.  The 24-page soft cover book will include colored pictures of all students and faculty.  Additionally there will a video link that will include sports, clubs, and activities.  Yearbooks will be on sale after winter break for $12.  To order, submit cash or a check made payable to Oblock Junior High School to Mrs. Durick.



Reach Out Food drive


In the beginning of November, the annual Thanksgiving turkey food drive took place at Oblock.  The Reach Out Club organized the collection of nonperishable items for Plum families.  The collection was a huge success because of the students’ enthusiasm to help the community.  The original goal was to reach 2500 items and $1000.  Oblock students combined with the Plum Borough community crushed that goal by collecting over 3000 items and over $3000!  A huge thank you goes out to everyone who supported the drive.



On November 9th, 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 around 320 7th and 8th grade students participating from schools all over Allegheny County, Jeffrey Yan finished in 2nd place with 30 out of 35 points.  He correctly answered 8 out of 9 questions.  Congratulations Jeffrey on being the first Plum student to place in back-to-back years.  In the team scoring, the team consisting of Jeffery (30 points), Gowri Warrier (25 points), Rhudra Thakkar (20 points), and Ellie Tongel (8 points) took 4th place overall.  Congratulations to everyone that participated!

Battle of the Books


Oblock's Battle of the Books wrapped up before Thanksgiving. Six teams of six students made it through all 5 rounds, 15 books, and 45 questions. These six teams will get to learn more by attending a World War II documentary hosted at the Southside Works Theatre on November 29. The top three teams got a certificate for each member and their respective team trophy will reside with the members and their teacher sponsor for the year. In third place were FBR (Federal Book Readers). Beating them by 2 questions were last year's 3rd place winners: the Super Smarties, and beating them by 1 question were last year's 2nd place winners: the Chic Geeks. Congratulations!



Robot Theater

On November 20, eighteen members of the GATE program traveled to Springdale Middle/High School with GATE sponsor, Mr. Ryan Silvis for the Robot Theater Competition.  This year’s theme was Famous Structures.  The students needed to learn how to program a working robot using a Hummingbird platform to include at least one moving part, one motion sensor, LED blinking lights, and one voice file using Audacity.  On top of all of this, they needed to combine their robotic work with an artistic diorama of the structure they were assigned.  Overall Oblock did very well.  The top two Oblock teams finished 1st and 2nd in the competition separated by a single point. The 2nd place team created the Great Barrier Reef and the members were as follows:  Rachel Bunch, Gowri Warrier, Ellie Tongel and Ava Wildow.  Members of the winning team team created a diorama of Stonehenge and those members included:  Alexis Beiter, Leila Durham, Alex George, and Addison Sofran.  The winning team members of Alexis, Leila and Addison have successfully won the competition in back-to-back years.  Congratulations students on a job well done!

Women in Engineering


On Tuesday, November 21, Ms. Innocenti and a group of girls traveled to Penn State New Kensington to go to the Women in Engineering field trip. Upon arriving, the girls went to the auditorium to watch the movie, Hidden Figures. Afterwards, there was a discussion with four women in different branches of the engineering field who talked about what it was like to be the only woman in a room full of men. All of the young ladies had a lot of fun doing activities that varied from flying drones to virtual reality to making Oobleck. It was a very beneficial opportunity for the ladies and they hope to attend again next year!



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 8. After the Read-A-Thon ends on December 8 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 have organized and planned this event for the thirteenth year.   



Reflections Competition

In the fall all 7th and 8th grade students were given the opportunity to participate and compete in the Reflections contest.  Reflections is a program that is theme based and gives the students the chance to reflect with their music, art/photography or writing abilities.  The theme for this year was "Within Reach".  The students completed their entries on their own time and submitted them in October.  Many students worked hard and turned in creative products, and the results are now in. First place in the Literature category was Gowri Warrier.  In visual arts was 1st -Natalie Thompson, 2nd -Ava Shroeder, 3rd -Lucas Havans, 4th -Logan Kemmerer, and 5th -Rachel Bunce.  In the 2d Art category in 1st and 2nd place was Gowri Warrier.  In photography in 1st   place -Gowri Warrier, 2nd Place- Amelia Stezoski, 3rd place- Mark Van Orden, 4th place -Hannah Westover, and 5th place -Rachel Bunce.  First place in music was Gowri Warrier.  In the film category was Ryan Kmonk-1st, Gowri Warrier -2nd and Rachel Bunce-3rd.  Congratulations to all students for their time and hard work.



Capture the Flag

More than 120 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

The students at Oblock continue to increase their reading achievement as part of the Team Read program.  There are 129 are at the JV level (10-25 hours of reading), 269 at Varsity (26-75 points), 49 All-Stars (76-125 points), 34 Hall of Famers (126-299 points), and 6 students in the 300-Point Club (300+ points) with two of these already over 500 points.

The Battle of the Books students' experience culminated in a trip to see Nicky's Family, a World War II documentary about Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 children from the Nazis in Czechoslovakia.

Now, two teams of three seventh graders are using their study hall periods preparing their entries for the eCybermission sponsored by the U.S. Army, an online STEM competition for students.

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