December 2014

December 2014 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 (Mrs. Jen Paraschos), Band (Mr. Robert Kalanja), Student Government (Mrs. Jenna Romanellie), yearbook (Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti and Mrs. Linda Innoncenti), 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. 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.

Fourteen members of the AEO gifted program traveled to Woodland Hills High School for the fourth annual K’Nex tournament on December 3, 2014. Students were challenged to build a catapult that could throw a marshmallow four feet into a target with different point values. Congratulations to Maria Czura, Aidan Doyle, Liza Loebig, Kali Minick, and Jordan Westbrook! These students took second place out of thirty teams! Special honors went to Devan Taylor, Madeline Monick, Cole Kelly, Abagail Casey, and Natalee Calfo-Carroll for receiving an honorable mention for their catapults design. Great job to everyone who participated.

A Christmas Carol

The Christmas season was made a bit festive for Oblock students who attended A Musical Christmas Carol on December 5. Mr. Miller and Mrs. Durick took students in the GATE program to the performance at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh. In its 23nd year, the production featured Pittsburgh actor, Tom Atkins, as Ebenezer Scrooge. Students attending were Jonah, Albert, Alexis Anderson, Emily Bolton, Justin Bruno, Natalee Calfo-Carroll, Carter Campbell, Jarred Citron, Cheyenne Copeland, Maria Czura, Dom DeDola, Gabe Esposto, Claire Gendron, Haley Helpenstell, Brandon Horvatic, Christian Jones, Cole Kelly, Liza Loebig, Kali Minick, Madeline Monick, Katie Mozelewski, Rachel Parente, Kacie Persia, Noah Sachs, Devan Taylor, Jack Troy, and Jordan Westbrook.

AEO Snow Club
Forty students and 10 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: Alexa Seigh, President; Adam Garvin, Vice-President; Aden Golebiewski, Treasurer; and Alayna Lewis, Secretary. Faculty chaperoning the trips include Mr. Joseph Miller, Mr. Ryan Silvis, Ms. Linda Innocenti, Mrs. Rose Miller, Mr. Robert Kalanja, Mr. Mike Evans, Mr. Phil Beatty, Mr. Dave Mischen, Mrs. Jen Parachos, and Mr. Joseph Fishell.

On December 5, ten 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. Competing against 18 other teams; Plum's team of Matt Brown, Carter Campbell, Maria Czura, Brandon Horvatic, and Madeline Monick finished 3rd. A special congratulations to Madeline Monick for being the top scorer from Plum!

Anti-Bullying Assembly
On December 9, Josh and Gab, from the Josh and Gab Show came to Oblock to entertain the students and sing about anti-bullying. Josh Verbanets, a former Oblock student and Gab Bonesso explained to students that they were bullied when they were younger because they were different. Everyone gets bullied, yet there are solutions to stop the bullying. They mentioned the various types of bullying that exists--school and cyber-bullying, and then asked students to brainstorm solutions as to what to do to stop or stick up for those getting bullied. Singing and performing their heartfelt and genuine stories for the students, they got the students to share reasons how/why individuals are different. Students were very welcoming and seemed to appreciate the message that Josh and Gab shared.

Oblock Cares Read-A-Thon
Again this year the students of Oblock read for a cause. Every year the AEO students raise money for local charities, including Make-a-Wish, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Plum Food Pantry, and Ronald McDonald House. The goal again 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 nearly 1000 in that two week period, and raised an astounding $6500! Over 300 students and teachers participated. The prize winners who earned gift cards to Game Stop, Target and Starbucks were the following students: Kelsey Gore, Yasmine Durrani, Tony Simboli, Alyssa Slane, Alexandra Ralph, Kyleigh Stohl, Abigail Glasspool, Lizzie Goodlin, Noah Lane, Alex Muse, Chris Fazzini, Matt McKinley, Dylan Tarquinio, and Kenny Bostard, A big thank you goes out to the Reach Out club and sponsors, Mrs. Jen Scharba and Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti for organizing and planning this event for the fourth year.

Orchestra Concert
The season of musical events began on December 10th with the AEO Orchestra playing at Chick-Fil-A for patrons from 6-8 pm. Members of the ensemble named "Christmas Nuts" consisted of David Gale, Mikaele Gauntner, Madeline Monick, Abigail Casey, and Jonah Babusci.

The musical events continued on December 16th with the strings concert. Both 7th and 8th grade performed along with "Christmas Nuts". Favorite pieces consisted of “Hatikvah Fantasia”, and “Ukranian Bell Carol”. Adam Garvin and David Gale played guitar solos consisting of "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies." The 8th grade group consists of 19 members and the 7th grade ensemble consists of 15 members. The auditorium was decorated with thousands of lights for the festivities.

Chorus Concert

The 7th and 8th grade chorus presented their Holiday Concert at the high school on December 9th. Directed by Jenifer Paraschos, the ensembles performed in front of more than 1400 guests. The 7th grade Select Chorus performed "I've Got the Music in Me" with choreography and the 8th grade Select Chorus performed "Long Train Runnin''". Janet Zegar, a retired music teacher from Plum graduate, is the choreographer for the groups. Songs performed by the 8th grade chorus included "Winterlight", a medley of carols in "Season's Greetings" and "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" from the blockbuster movie Frozen. 7th grade selections included "Peppermint Winter" by Owl City, "Hanukkah Nagilah", and "God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen" featuring the baritone section. Nancy Sheehan accompanied the ensembles and entertained during the stage changes.

Team Read Update

Oblock had 65 students in the Hall of Fame with 126 or more points by the holiday break. Lexi Moreland has also made the 500 Point Club already. Four other Hall of Famers are also in the 300 Point Club. At the All-Star level are 86 students (at least 76 points), 258 at the Varsity level (at least 26 points), and 148 at the junior varsity level (at least 10 points). That's 557/612 students at one of the Team Read levels or 91% of the student body.

Library Field Trip

Students from the Battle of the Books and those meeting Mr. Fishell's Challenge in October and November were invited on a field trip to the South Side Works Theatre to view the documentary Nicky's Family. The movie describes the story of Nicky Winton who saved hundreds of children from the holocaust, which parallels Prisoner B-3087 that students read for this year's Battle of the Books. It was a very powerful experience and one that we hope to repeat in future years.

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 quarterly exams, algebra content, online textbook, open-ended questions, and Keystone Exams. English teachers spent time discussing information writing prompts, grammar reviews and benchmark exams, while reading teachers focused on graphic organizers, budget items, novel choices, and reading logs. The social studies teachers were focused on curriculum, pacing, and content activities, while the foreign language teachers collaborated about club ideas and projects. The science teachers discussed labs ideas and projects, budget, materials for lessons and demonstrations, and chapter/section questions. The special education discussed how to motivate students to complete work and IEP accommodations. Across the curriculum contacting parents, 504s, and bullying were discussed.

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