May - June 2016

May-June 2016 Board Highlights

Oblock Junior High School

French Dinner Cruise

On Monday, May 16th, Mrs. Mendenhall and thirty-six French I students enjoyed a French dinner cruise, aboard the Gateway Clipper. The students had the opportunity to experience French cuisine, culture, games, authentic French Pop music straight from the airwaves of France, and entertainment of Howard Mineone, French comedian and mime, all while sailing along Pittsburgh's Three Rivers.

Pittsburgh Glass Center Field Trip

Twenty-five GATE students recently traveled to the Pittsburgh Glass Center to get a first-hand look at glass making. Accompanied by GATE advisors, Teresa Barker and Karen Mienke, the students viewed a hot glass demonstration and were assisted by the glass center artists and apprentices to create their own paperweight out of hot glass. This was the seventh year for this very interesting field trip. Students attending were Alexis Anderson, Chloe Brown, Natalie Calfo-Carroll, Jarrod Citrano, Cheyenne Copeland, Maria Czura, Aidan Doyle, Robert Flemming, Hailey Helpenstell, Christian Jones, Lily Klucinec, Mackenzie Linderman, Gavin Monick, Joey Panichella, Rachel Parente, Kacie Percia, Nico Ricciardi, Zoe Sallinger, Michael Schorr, Evan Smith, Erica Taylor, Jack Troy, Clark VanBeek, Alex Vidas, and Jordan Westbrook.


Sixteen GATE students participated in the “Ship-a-Chip” competition. The students had to work to mail a Pringles potato chip through the US mail to another school without having it break. The students had to use materials that were 100% recycled materials or decomposable. If the chip made it intact the combination of the smallest and lightest package would win. Four teams were successfully able to mail the chip without having it break. Two teams from Oblock took the top 2 places, with their scores being very close. The runner up team consisted of Christian Jones, Claire Gendron, Kali Minik, and Liza Loebig. Congratulations goes out to the winning team for this year’s Ship-a-Chip competition of Alex Anderson, Cole Kelly, Jordan Westbrook, and Jarrod Citrano. They were able to mail their chip without having it break along with having the smallest and lightest container. It was made out of a recycled cereal box and they used dried out grass clippings as the material they filled their box with to insulate the chip.

Duo Drama

Eleven GATE students traveled to East Alleghey to compete in the Duo Drama competition. Congratulations to Joey Panichella and Rachel Parente who placed first and Kali Minick, Liza Loebig, Jacob Trusky, and Christian Jones who placed second. Congratulations to all of the GATE students who had an outstanding showing at the Duo Drama competition.

Girls’ Softball

The girls’ softball team had a tremendous season under the direction of Ms. Innocenti and Mrs. Mienke. Members of the team include: Francesca Beighley, Hannah Blanford, Ashley Cotter, Chloe Fabio, Molly Giles, Bailey Hulick, Makayla Jackson, Brooke Kundla, Mackenzie Lake, Melanie Mienke, Ashlynn Miller, Sydney Proden, Alyssa Schofield, and Gabrielle Walkup. Great season girls!


The AEO Track Team had a very successful season with 118 7th and 8th grade boys and girls participating. Boys’ Head Coach Wade Campbell and Girls’ Head Coach Courtney Mendenhall were assisted throughout the season by Phil Beatty and Ryan Silvis.

The track and field team had wonderful results at the Plum Invitational. Claire Gendron placed 1st in the hurdles and broke the school record with a 15.5. Robert Hankison placed 3rd in the hurdles and 4th in the 1600m, Angela Valotta placed 6th in the 1600m, Cole Kelly placed 6th in the 100m, the 4X100m relay (Cole Kelly, Miles Tush, Luke Gildea, and Ta'Rasi Means) place second, and the 4X400m relay (Cole Kelly, Miles Tush, Luke Gildea, and Robert Hankinson placed first and broke the school record with 3:49. Anna Betar placed 4th in the shot and 6th place in discus, Khyliah Horne placed 4th in the high jump, Mason Proskin placed 4th in the triple jump, Joel Tarzoho placed 1st in the triple jump and 6th in the high jump, Jillian Durst placed 4th and Emily Kirkpatrick placed 6th in the long jump, Olivia Pernice placed 1st and Jillian Durst placed 3rd in the triple jump. Great job to all of the athletes and helpers at this invitational!

Congratulations to the following students that medaled at the WAADA Championships on Saturday: Olivia Pernice broke the school record and placed first in the triple jump and 5th in the long jump, Lauren Pernice placed 5th in the discus, the boys' 4x800m relay placed 6th (Nathan Toth, Nick Kineck, Justin Mascilli, and Reed Martin), the boys 4x100m relay placed 2nd (Cole Kelly, Miles Tush, Luke Gildea, and Ta'Rasi Means), Robert Hankinson placed 4th in 1600m with a time of 4:57, the girls' 4X100m relay placed 4th (Laura Pearlman, Olivia Pernice, Lauren Pernice, and Hannah Odom), and the boys' 4X400m relay placed 1st (Cole Kelly, Miles Tush, Luke Gildea, and Robert Hankinson). Congratulations to all of the athletes that competed Saturday and to the entire track team for a great season!

Obstacle Course

To round out a year of fun and fitness, the AEO Physical Education Department held the annual Obstacle Course Competition during the last week of school. Eighteen students qualified for the event by recording top times in gym class. The 7th grade girl qualifiers were Jillian Durst, Emily Kirkpatrick, Paige Moorehead, Sydney Linhart, and Taylor Griffin. The 7th grade boys were Dylan Geraci, Reed Martin, and Billy Guzzi. The 8th grade girl qualifiers included: Ashley Sullivan, Claire Gendron, Angela Valotta, Kali Minick, Lauren Newton, Abigail Glasspool. The 8th grade boys were Robert Hankinson, Mason Proskin, Nick Rende, and Brady Oblock.

Music Concerts

The 7th and 8th grade Chorus, under the direction of Jenifer Paraschos, performed their spring concert on May 10th. This year, there are 480 students involved in the choral program. The 7th and 8th grade Select Ensembles performed “Je Le Vous Dirai”, "Salvation is Created” and "Try to Remember". The 7th grade students performed “The Nightingale”, "As I walked through London City" which is an English folk song. Another one of their selections was “This Is It!” from the Bugs Bunny Show. The 8th Grade Chorus entertained the audience with numbers like the patriotic selection "Stars and Stripes", and ”The Rhythm of Life” from the musical "Sweet Charity".

Mia Pampena, Audrey Lawrence, Olivia Rivett and Jaime Seneca were the featured 7th grade students. Liza Loebig, Kali Minick, Tyler Gallagher and Nate DeLuce were featured 8th grade students. The concert was accompanied by Judi Figel.

An additional performance occurred on Friday, May 13th where the 7th and 8th grade Select Chorus performed at Holiday Park Elementary School. The fourth, fifth and sixth grade students attended the assembly. The junior high chorus students performed selections from our spring concert. Students also had the opportunity to introduce themselves and explain what they like about being a junior high student.

Mr. Robert Kalanja's Orchestras had their Spring Strings Concert on May 12th. Three groups played. The 7th grade orchestra played pieces such as “Rondeau" and "Dance of the Samodivi" by Soon Hee Newbold. The 8th grade orchestra played pieces such as “Kings Court” by Susan Day and “Eclypsis” by Sean O'Laughlin. Also featured in the strings concert was a guitar ensemble from the 8th grade music classes. They played played "Yankee Doodle," "Ode to Joy," and "Surf Rock."

Honors Breakfast for Honor Students

The Honors Breakfasts on May 19 (for 8th graders) and May 18 (for 7th graders) recognized 87 8th graders and 124 7th graders for achieving grade point averages between 3.4 and 3.9. Each student received a hearty breakfast and a special certificate. Congratulations to those hard working students.

Career Fair

Students from Plum Senior High School who attend Forbes Road CTC were at Oblock to provide students with career information. These students were here representing their fields of interest. Some of the careers that were represented were the following: electrical technology, automotive technology, advertising design, multimedia design, advanced manufacturing, early childhood education, landscape design, collision repair, cosmetology, culinary arts, EMS, and computer networking security. Oblock students were very interested and asked the Forbes students a variety of quality thought-provoking questions. An excellent experience was had by all.


Students at Oblock received both a paper copy of the yearbook and a video yearbook this year, which was created by Mrs. Durick and the yearbook staff. Yearbook staff members this year included Cosette Swan, Emily Segar, Francesca Beighley, Kelly Maguire, Alana Stecker, Kasey Fischer, Phoenix Olsavsky, Caitlin Jackson, Julia Vargo, Taylor Rebholz, Natalie Norcera, Ella Spears, Mallory Sourlas, and Sydney Linhart.

8th Grade Picnic

AEO 8th graders enjoyed a picnic day the last week of school to allow them to celebrate their graduation from junior high school. These deserving students attended a gathering at Oblock Junior High where there were fun activities to participate in. They were able to engage in many activities including water balloons, dunk tank, and socializing with their friends. Lunch, cookies, and drinks were provided for the students.

Talent Thursday Extravaganza!

All year Oblock students have been able to display their talents during their lunch periods. On June 2, AEO enjoyed the second Annual, Talent Thursday Extravaganza. All the acts practiced to put on a show for the entire school. The seventh and eighth grade students thoroughly enjoyed the performances. Congrats to all participating students!

AEO Art Gallery and Annual Art Show

Art is a dynamic element of Oblock Junior High. The art department has been making constant additions to the permanent art gallery in the hallways to display exceptional art work completed by students. In the halls dazzling exhibits of creative projects are on display for the 15th annual Art Show.

The students once again have produced a wide variety of amazing works of art. Art student Praj Perez created an unbelievable tree sculpture made using wire and wood. The sculpture was very time-consuming which involved Praj twisting wires to create each tree branch. This year again we had students create some larger works of art. In particular students created a Banks inspired graffiti project on a school locker. Students also have been working on a painting of Mr. Fishell, the students Michaela Verrico and Rebecca Gras have been working on the painting. The painting is being completed on a recycled door and acrylic paint. Besides all the larger projects many students have produced some really interesting works of art, students have explored photography, printmaking, metal sculpture and also using recycled materials to create one of a kind works of art. The art show will be on display starting May 12th and run until June 1st. Again this year was another very successful display of student creations.

The seventh graders focused on the ceiling tile project, creating many designs on the ceiling tiles throughout the school. In addition, students drew realistic portraits in their choice of media, and many students created papier-mâché drawings independently or in groups. Seventh graders finished out art class directing and filming their own stop-motion animations, many of which will be playing during the art show. Art club created independent projects - ceiling tiles, drawings and paintings.

From the decorated Ceiling Tiles to the recycled artwork to the photography and printmaking, the displays both awed and impressed the visitors who attended the Band Concert and the Academic Awards Night activities.

"Art teaches nothing but the significance of life."

Awards Night

Students who achieved exceptional academic success this year at A.E. Oblock Junior High School were recently honored. The event was the Awards Night on June 1 in the school cafeteria, where 80 seventh graders and 90 eighth graders were honored for achieving a 4.0 GPA; also on this night, 12 students received special awards for elective areas. The prestigious American Legion Awards were presented to the 8th grade girl, Gianna Marasco, and the 8th grade boy, Robert Hankinson, who were selected by their teachers for best exemplifying the qualities of leadership and citizenship.

Principal Joe Fishell welcomed parents and students. Musical entertainment during the dessert social was provided by the AEO Strings Group, under the direction of Mr. Robert Kalanja and AEO Band, under the direction of Mrs. Erin Marion. Matt Saich, delivered the alumni address. Members of the 7th and 8th Grade Select Chorus, directed by Mrs. Jenifer Paraschos, provided entertainment.

Mr. Miller, Ms. Markiewicz, and more than 25 teacher volunteers planned the event. The event recognized and honors AEO students who have worked all year to achieve academic success. The theme of the event was "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." – Thomas Edison

Special awards were presented to individual students in several categories at the Awards Night. The categories and recipients included the following: Chorus— Tyler Gallagher & Elizabeth Loebig; Band— Cole Kelly; Orchestra— Elizabeth Jenkins; Art—Nathanael DeLuce; Technology Education— Jacob Carradine; Physical Education— Claire Gendron & Robert Hankinson; Spanish— Abigail Casey; and French— Daniel Cocca.

Library News and Top AEO Readers

The 300 Point Club and Fantasy Baseball Math Club attended a Pirate game at PNC Park thanks to a grant from PPG. The morning of May 26 started with a weather presentation by local meteorologists Jeff Verszyla from KDKA and Stephen Cropper from WPXI. Then students had time to start their workbooks by completing a scavenger hunt for stations located throughout the stadium with answers to the questions.

May 6-13 was the annual spring Scholastic Book Fair. Students went to the Book Fair during their reading or English class and were able to return for purchases before school or during their study halls. It was a great time to get books for summer reading! Overall the book fair was a huge success! A large portion of the profit from the book fair went to purchase prizes and gifts for the Hall of Fame Breakfast.

Competition for the Reading Hall of Fame has 204 students earning a place in the esteemed Reading Hall of Fame. To reach this prestigious goal, students had to read an average of 25-30 books and accumulate more than 126 Accelerated Reader points (hours). Encouraged by a support team including Principal Joe Fishell, activity period/study hall teachers, and the reading/English teachers, the students moved through the junior varsity, varsity, and all-star ranks before being inducted into the Hall of Fame. When this program started eleven years ago, the Hall of Fame only had 31 students!

Twenty-two Hall of Fame members made it to the prestigious 500-Point Club, breaking the previous record of 19 set in 2014. All received a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, with the top three receiving $25 gift cards. There were also 6 students earning more than 1,000 points (Erica Taylor, Emily Stetzer, Anna Betar, Lexi Moreland, Gavin Monick, and Aiysha Matin), breaking the previous record of 3 set in 2012. To top it off, Erica Taylor earned 4,426.2 points, shattering the previous single season record of 2,746.3 points set in 2012. In addition, AEO had 114 All-Star Readers; 206 Varsity Team members; and 66 Jr. Varsity Team members. Also, several lucky Hall of Fame students won gift cards to either Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kennywood, or Target ranging from $5 to $125.

Students who had the most points in their grade or the most in their individual reading classes were also awarded free Kennywood tickets thanks to the PTSA.

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