December 2012

December 2012 Board Highlights

Oblock Junior High School


Activity Period
Activity Period is up and running at AEO with many activities offered during the three-time weekly period.  In addition to old and new clubs, many teachers are using this time as an opportunity to tutor or enrich the curriculum for their students.  Some of the activities and their sponsors are as follows:   Reach Out Club (Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti and Mrs. Jen Scharba), Select Chorus (Ms. Jen Little), Band (Mr. Robert Kalanja), Knitwits (Mrs. Diane Yorkshire), Student Government (Mrs. Jenna Romanelli and Mr. Steve Stremple), yearbook (Mrs. Amanda Durick and Mrs. Karen Mienke), Woodchuckers (Mr. Phil Beatty), Art Club (Mrs. Amanda Durick and Mr. Bill Depew), and Newspaper (Mrs. Karen Mienke and Ms. Melissa Addis).  

Also, the Oblock special areas teachers use the period to allow their students to work on art and music projects.  The special education and skills teachers are working with the target group on PSSA preparation, along with students who are preparing for the PSSAs in the Literacy Lab.  Additionally, many students use this time as an opportunity to do work, research, or complete projects in the library and computer labs. Many students also take advantage of the extra help that is offered by several teachers, especially the math and language departments, for make-up work and tutoring.  Students not involved in these activities are encouraged to work on homework, to read their AR books, or to complete unfinished class work.


Ten members of the AEO gifted program traveled to Woodland Hills High School for the second annual K’Nex tournament on December 4, 2011. Students were challenged to build a contraption made completely from K’Nex that would move a ping pong ball 5 feet to a resting stop.  Nick Frazetta, Quinn Stezoski, Ryan Loebig, Nolan Puhala, and Jared Martorell made up Team 1, while Ryder Springel, Makayla Shreve, Blake George, Jared Carr, and Matt Hartley were Team 2.  Congrats to both teams who worked hard and did well in the competition.

A Christmas Carol
The Christmas season was made a bit festive for Oblock students who attended A Musical Christmas Carol on December 6.  Mr. Joe Miller took students in the GATE program to the performance at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh.  In its 21st year, the production featured Pittsburgh actor, Tom Atkins, as Ebenezer Scrooge. Students attending were Frank Czura, Megan Darnell, Carlee Domke, Nick Frazetta, Blake George, Matt Hartley, Jonathan Hiener, Katharine Jones, Tevor Keys, Ryan Loebig, Jared Martorell, Megan Mascilli, Alexis McKinley, Lilly Pratt, Hanna Sante, Erin Simqu, Ryder Springel, Quinn Stezoski, Jacob Tarosky, Victoria Turchik, Carmen Veltri, Sophia Weingrad, and Lauren Williams.


AEO Snow Club
Forty-six students and 9 faculty members at Oblock are gearing up for some fun in the snow at Hidden Valley this winter.  Under the direction of guidance counselor, Joe Miller, a five-week ski program beginning in January has been planned for students who enjoy skiing and/or snowboarding.  Lessons will be available for both beginners and more advanced participants.  Officers for this year are as follows:  Mark Peterman, President; Savana Proden, Vice-President; Elliot Peterman, Treasurer; and Miranda Martin, Secretary.   Faculty chaperoning the trips include Mr. Joseph Miller, Ms. Ginny Quillen, Mr. Ryan Silvis, Ms. Linda Innocenti, Mrs. Rose Miller, Mr. Robert Kalanja, Mr. Mike Evans, Mr. Phil Beatty, and Mr. Joseph Fishell. 


On December 7, nine members of the GATE program traveled to Greensburg-Salem Middle School for the second of two Calcu-Solve competitions this school year.   Calcu-Solve is a competition that tests students' abstract math knowledge, reasoning skills, and computational accuracy to solve ten rounds of math problems. The topics are chosen from various math concepts like geometry, number theory, probability, algebra, and logical reasoning.  Plum's team of Nick Klonowski, Claire Klippel, Frank Czura, and Katherine Jones placed 5th after a clean sweep by the four home teams of Greensburg-Salem.  A special congratulations to Nick Klonowski and Quinn Stezoski for being the top two scorers from the Plum teams!


Oblock Cares Read-A-Thon
This year the students of Oblock read for a cause.  Every year the AEO students raise money for local charities, including Make-a-Wish, the Community Food Bank, the Hillman Cancer Center, and many other worthy causes.  The goal for this year’s Read-a-Thon was to read 1000 books in 2 weeks.  Before the Read-a-Thon started the students got pledges from sponsors and set goals for the number of books they planned to read.  From November 19 through December 3, they kept track of the books they read and then collected their pledges.  The students read over 1000 in that two week period, and raised an astounding $7246!  The top earners were Zoe Ward (1st), Marissa Beighley (2nd), and Alyssa Towchick (3rd).  Those three students will get to choose among the following prizes:  Beats headphones, Flat Screen TV, or $50 in iTunes gift cards.  Finally, Lexi Lerchey read the most books during the two weeks with a total of 9!  She won a Kindle for her accomplishment.  There will be a total of 25 gift cards given away for all the winners.  A big thank you goes out to Oblock reading teachers, Mrs. Rose Miller and Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti for organizing and planning this event for the second year.


Orchestra Concert
The season of musical events at AEO began on December 18 with the Winter Orchestra Concert presented by Mr. Robert Kalanja’s strings’ groups.  Both the 7th and 8th grade orchestras, along with the Candy Cane Quintet, participated in the evening’s program.  The 7th grade orchestra, consisting of 29 members, played a variety of pieces. Their favorite piece was "Hatikvah Fantasia".  The 8th grade group, consisting of 31 members, included their favorite selections, "Kindle the Hanukkah Lights" and "Let It Snow!"  The eighth grade Candy Cane Quintet consisted of Brianna Marks, Marley Kohan, Amy Kerchner, Amanda Nichols, Angela Mamatas, and Alex Billstone.  The group played various holiday tunes before and after the concert and handed out candy canes to the audience.

Chorus Concert
The 7th and 8th grade chorus presented their Holiday Concert at the high school on December 20th. A total of 489 students, directed by Ms. Jen Little, performed in front of more than 1400 guests.  The 7th grade Select Chorus performed "Footloose" with choreography.  The 8th grade Select Chorus performed “Ding Dong! Merrily on High” and "Let's Get Loud", complete with choreography.  Alexandra Zegar, a dance major at Point Park University, is the choreographer for the groups.  Judi Figel, Elementary String Specialist, accompanied the ensembles and entertained during stage changes.  Another special feature this year was Amber Stawecki, piano / vocals.  As a self taught musician, Amber performed many popular songs that are heard on the radio.  Songs performed by the 8th grade chorus included "A Charlie Brown Christmas”, "Up on the Housetop", and "Beautiful December".   Seventh grade selections included “Hanukkah Nagilah”,"December's Keep", and the students favorite "Frosty and the Handjive".

Library News
There was a record-breaking 112 students who made it into the Reading Hall of Fame by the holiday break (last year there were 98).  Librarian, Susan Pinal reports that 5 students are part of the 300 point (and over) club, 112 students are in the Hall of Fame, 126 are at the All-Star level, 278 are in the Varsity level, and 97 are at the JV level.  A total of 613/671 students, 91.4% of students are in one of the levels!  The top point earner at the end of the month was Gabrielle Miller.  To celebrate the record-breaking 112 students in the Hall of Fame, each student will get a cookie during lunch.


Professional Learning Communities
AEO teachers continue to meet and dialogue in PLCs about curricular and academic issues.  Much of the activity was centered on midterms and budgets as teachers were discussing material covered in the first semester, developing common midterms, and determining instructional materials and supplies to be replenished or added for next year to enhance instruction.  This month, the Math Department discussed curriculum lining, curriculum writing, and quarterly exams to prepare for the Keystone Exams.  English teachers spent time refining and enhancing their Moodle pages, and discussing research changes and midterm exams, while reading teachers focused on the 4-square graphic organizers and reading logs.  The social studies teachers were focused on Pearl Harbor Day, while the foreign language teachers collaborated about midterm exams and vocabulary.  The science teachers discussed Moodle, Study Island, labs, and midterms.  The tech. ed. department talked about the possible activity projects and their success on the K’Nex field trip.  The special education discussed how to motivate students to complete homework and class work.  Across the curriculum activity periods, student make-up work, working lunches for students, and parent contacts were discussed. 

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