October 2012

October 2012 Board Highlights

Oblock Junior High School


Bullying Prevention Program
Oblock’s Anti-Bullying initiative began on Monday, October 1st and will run through Wednesday, October 31st.  Ms. Markiewicz, AEO counselor, went into all lunches on October 1 to announce this initiative to all students.  Wednesday, October 10th is STOMP OUT BULLYING DAY, and all students and staff are encouraged to wear orange.  This year’s initiative resembles an anti-bullying campaign by a Carol McCloud known as "Have you filled your bucket today?" 

Teachers are being asked to fill out a ticket with a student's first and last name on it if they see that student doing something positive to prevent another student from being picked on and/or bullied.  Teachers will place those tickets in a “bucket” that is in the office. 

Students will be reminded all month so they can earn more tickets and have more chances to win prizes.  On Wednesday, October 31st, a drawing from the office "bucket" will be held, and several students will receive prizes for taking part in helping their fellow classmates to STOMP OUT BULLYING.  

Ms. Markiewicz is developing the ongoing instruction that adheres to the standards of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. 

On October 3rd, 10 GATE students traveled to Duquesne University for the first of two Calcu-Solve competitions.  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 center around geometry, number theory, probability, algebraic concepts, and logical reasoning.  Congratulations to Dennis Newton, Dominic DeFabio, and Ryan Loebig for being the top 3 high scores from the Plum team!

Oblock Cares Read-A-Thon
AEO students are raising money for local charities, including Make-a-Wish, the Community Food Bank, the Hillman Cancer Center, and many other worthy causes.  This year the students are reading 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 1000 books in 2 weeks!  Before the Read-A-Thon starts on November 19, 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 19 through December 3.  After the Read-A-Thon ends on December 3 at 3 pm, the students will total their books, collect their pledges, and hopefully reach the school goal of 1000 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 will be organizing and planning this event for the second year.


GATE Vocal Competition
Fifteen AEO 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 Victoria Turchick receiving 3rd place in the 7th grade solo category, Shannon Moran earning “Memorable Solo” in the 8th Grade Solo category, and Quinn Stezoski receiving "Best Male Soloist".  Each student performed a solo or with a group using either a Karaoke track or piano accompaniment.  Other students participating from Oblock were Alexis Bruno, Ryan Loebig, Megan Mascilli, Jacob Tarosky, Jordan Williams, Kayla Moio, Lili Lachlan, Jenna Cecchetti, Gabby Miller, Matt Rossi, Jordan Ernst and Jake McGraw.   They competed with 50 performers from five school districts in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties.  This competition is sponsored by the GATE program at Oblock.


Creative Convention
Oblock GATE students Alexis Bruno, Cloe Hall, Claire Klippel, Megan Mascilli, Graham Merlin, Shannon Moran, and Victoria Turchick 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 competed in various challenges related to the theme, "Down on the Farm."  Oblock’s team competed against fourteen teams from five other school districts. The team was coached by GATE advisor, Mrs. Amanda Durick.


Academic Endeavors
Fifteen GATE students, accompanied by GATE advisor, Mrs. Teresa Barker, traveled to South Allegheny Middle School on October 23 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 three teams of five students and saw fantastic competitive results with Dom DeFabio ranking 1st, Ryan Loebig ranking 2nd, Quinn Stezoski ranking 3rd, and Tori Turchick ranking 4th in individual scores. The 1st place overall team award went to Quinn Stezoski, Jacob Tarosky, Dom DeFabio, Ryan Loebig, and Nick Frazetta.  The 2nd place overall team award went to Ryder Springel, Dennis Newton, Graham Merlin, Tori Turchick, and Jared Martorell.  This is the 3rd year in a row Oblock has won this competition.

History Bowl
Sixteen AEO GATE students traveled to the Heinz History Center on October 29 to participate in the History Bowl, an academic event designed to engage students in problem solving and creative thinking. Accompanied by GATE advisor, Amanda Durick, the students had to complete activities within four exhibits at the History Center, while competing against approximately 200 students from area schools. The purpose of the event is to promote interest in American history and the heritage of Western Pennsylvania through the interactive exhibits.  Students did an excellent job and had both a fun and educational experience. Attending the event were Alexis Bruno, Reed Coulson, Dom DeFabio, Carlee Domke, Nick Frazetta, Katharine Jones, Ryan Loebig, Jared Martarell, Graham Merlin, Lilly Pratt, Jordyn Roman, Erin Simqu, Ryder Springel, Quinn Stezoski, Jake Tarosky, and Victoria Turchik.


Girls’ Basketball
The Oblock eighth grade girls’ basketball wrapped up a very successful season, stated Coach Erin Cubarney. The following athletes are members of the eighth grade team:  Rayna Donatelli, Madison Cubarney, Michaela Palmieri, Liz Adamczyk, Maria Lawhorne, Rachael Kipa, Amanda Dynoske, and Brynna Sypolt.  Maria Lawhorne and Liz Adamczyk lead the team in scoring.  Rayna Donatelli and Madison Cubarney are the leaders in assists, and Michaela Palmieri is the team’s top defender.   All the girls have contributed to the winning record of 10-4.  The girls played well this year, and their hope to end the season on a high note was a success at the North Allegheny Tournament.

The members of the seventh grade team are Haley Chiusano, Sydni Whiteman, Emily Daugherty, Autumn Henry, Madison Myers, Alanah Fitzroy, Keri Bellisario, Tifani McElhouse, Rebecca Comer, Leah Kuzinski, Jamie Denzer, Danielle Syeolt, and Rhiannon McCune.  One highlight of the season is that the players rebounded after a 32-1 loss with Fox Chapel and won 3 straight after that.  Coach Debbie Depew confirmed that the girls improved with each game.  The team ended with a great record. 


Cross Country
Over forty boys and girls participated in cross country this year at Oblock and according to Coaches Mr. Wade Campbell and Mr. Joe Fishell, the team worked extremely hard.  Both the boys’ and girls’ teams had great records this year.  Team Captains this year for the boys were David Palmieri, Jake Lewis, Mark Peterman, and Evan Neff and for the girls Jessica Dupal, Amanda Parente, Mackenzie Kieffer, and Mckenzie Dowlin.  In their final WAADA meet many of the runners won medals.  David Palmieri won 6th place in the championship race, Nick Klonowski won 4th place in the open race, and Mike Kenny was 5th in the open race.  All athletes had a great season, and every single one of the runners improved their times from the beginning of the year to the end.

Thirty-four 7th and forty-four 8th grade boys learned football fundamentals this year under the guidance of head coach, Ryan Silvis and his assistants, Phil Beatty, Adam Szarmach, and Steve Stremple.  Over the course of the season they learned the game of football and improved as a team more than any team in recent memory.  They faced a schedule that put them against the best teams in the WPIAL, such as McKeesport, North Allegheny, and Fox Chapel.  Their record was 1–5, but they were extremely competitive with most games coming down to the final series.  Dominic Carlisano led the team by running the offense as the quarterback and throwing 5 touchdown passes, split between Franklin Mercurio and Reed Coulson.  The defense kept most games close and was led by Aaron Shefler, Corey Thomas, Jaden Fields, Joe Zimmerman and Mercurio.  The 8th grade team finished with a record of 3-5.  The team was led by a trio of running backs, Roman Franchi, Nino Fishetti, and Nick Workman, who were also the leading scorers.  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 6-2.  The game ended in dramatic fashion with Plum scoring early in the 4th quarter to take the lead and then hanging on for the victory at the end.  The offensive and defensive lines are also worth noting as they had a tremendous year on both sides of the ball.  The starting linemen included the following:  Evan Rings, Patrick Goodlin, Brian McCloskey, Jacob Fergusen, Tyler Ruggiero, Keyshawn Smith, John Russik, and Zach Eckman.  As a group, these boys were eager to learn the game and showed tremendous growth over the course of the season.  The future looks bright for Plum football.


Girls’ Soccer
Girls’ soccer coach, Mrs. Courtney Mendenhall led this year’s team to a wonderful season of 14-1-4 with several outstanding performances.  The captains for this year’s team were Brianna Schlegel (8th grade), Jordan Williams (8th grade), and Samantha McCoy (7th grade).   The top three girls with the most goals this season were Brianna Schlegel with 16 goals, Miranda Martin with 13 goals, and Savana Proden with 12 goals.  The top three girls with the most assists were Brianna Schlegel with 13 assists, Kereanna O'Donnell with 12 and Miranda Martin with 11 assists.  Finally, goalie, Shannon Saboslay, did not allow a single goal in the net, in thirteen out of the nineteen games.  Coach Mendenhall said that “this was a wonderful girls’ team.  They really worked together and helped each other on and off the field.”  She is thrilled with this team of girls!


Boys’ Soccer
The 22 boys on the AEO Boys’ Soccer Team had a successful season with a final record of 8 wins, 7 losses, and 3 ties.  Top scorers this season were Payton Goodwin and Callan Scharba with 11 goals each.  Closely behind Payton and Callan were Jason Molinaro and Jake Tarosky.  Jackson Gildea was the starting goalie.  Coach Allen stated that he is pleased with the hard work and commitment from the boys this season.


Music Department
The 2012–2013 school year is off to an exhilarating 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 460 students involved in the choral program, which is another record year of enrollment.  As a member of the ensemble, each student learns to sing with proper expression, technical accuracy, posture, embouchure, breathing technique, and tone production.  The class explores different styles of choral literature and languages.  Each ensemble meets three out of six days in the cycle.  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 20th at 7:00 p.m. at the Senior High School Auditorium. 


Library News
Again this year, the AEO library was very busy in October encouraging students to enter the Team Read competition and to compete in the Battle of the Books.  Fifty-two students have made it into the Reading Hall of Fame with 57 additional at the All-Star level striving to reach the top. An amazing 319 students have already earned 26 points to be in the Varsity level, and an additional 133 are in the Junior Varsity level, making a grand total of 561 students, approximately 84% of the student body, in Team Read.  Eighth grade student, Gabrielle Miller is the top reader with over 500 AR points this year! 

The Battle of the Books has begun and there have been 5 official battles that have taken place on October 22, 24, 29, and 31.  The last battle will be November 5, with the awards on November 7.  

A special book challenge is being issued each month starting in October to encourage students to select notable books, including both classics and current novels.  The October challenge required reading and passing AR tests on two books by R. L. Stine.  The students who passed this challenged were the following:  Matthew Ansell, Hannah Arrow, Christina Guerriero, Jacob Innes, Shawn Cook, Thomas Hyland, Colin Patton, Kayla Proffitt, Jordyn Roman, Eric Scherger, and Brian Sechoka. 


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 the Algebra Keystone tests, activities to help students learn, and homework points.  The social studies department continues to discuss curriculum changes and Moodle.  The technology staff was busy conversing about MicroType 5 and Google Drive. A common subject of PLCs in October for the Reading/English Department was discussing nightly reading goals, reading strategies, and Moodle.  They also discussed graphic organizers and curriculum updates.  The special education teachers discussed comprehension strategies to use before, during, after reading, along with curriculum.  The foreign language teachers brainstormed project ideas and Moodle pages.  The science teachers continue to meet daily to discuss the curriculum, labs, and Moodle, along with budget items and projects.  Across the curriculum many teachers were discussing parent communications, SAP issues, and the upcoming parent-teacher conference day.

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