April 2014

April 2014 Board Highlights

Oblock Junior High



GATE Art Competition
On Thursday, April 3, 2014, GATE students competed in an Art Competition with the theme of impressionism. Students participated in individual art category, art history quiz, and made a group project.  GATE students who participated on team A were Alexis Bruno, Megan Darnell, and Cloe Hall. Team B consisted of Katie Mozelewski, Tori Turchick, and Carmen Veltri. There were 8 teams and 6 school districts in the middle school section. Team A won second place in the over-all competition. Congratulations to all attending participants.



9th Grade Student Orientation
On Monday, April 7, high school principal, Ryan Kociela and guidance counselor, Kerry Plesco visited AEO to talk to the 8th grade students about courses offered at the high school.  The presentation explained the three main tracks students can pursue:  honors, academic, supported.  As part of the transition program, the presentation emphasized the importance of selecting courses that would appropriately challenge the student, along with which electives the students can choose.  Mr. Kociela finished his presentation by explaining the rigor of 9th grade and emphasized that each student should talk to their parents and their guidance counselors about scheduling their classes for next year.  He also emphasized the students will be taking three Keystone exams during their time at the high school. Eighth to 9th grade scheduling will begin on Monday, April 14th.


6th Grade Parent Orientation
Approximately 280 parents of sixth grade students attended the orientation program on Thursday, April 10th at A. E. Oblock Junior High to learn about the junior high’s academic program and to ease the transition from elementary to junior high.  The program was led by guidance counselor, Mr. Joe Miller and Principal, Mr. Joe Fishell.  All parents received information about athletics, activities, medication policies, transportation, additional orientations, and the dress code.  Parents were also able to have individual concerns and questions addressed one-on-one following the scheduled program.  The entire 6th grade class attended their first student orientation on Thursday, April 17th at the junior high.  The guidance counselors will attend each elementary building beginning Mid-May to begin scheduling the 6th graders for their course selections for next year. 


Community Easter Egg Hunt
The AEO Reach Out Club, along with the high school GLA, under the direction of Mrs. Jen Scharba, Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti, and Mrs. Amy Martello, hosted the 9th Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt on April 12.  The event, open to all kids ages 0-8, was free to all members of the community.  Beginning at 11 a.m., more than 150 youngsters, including the children and grandchildren of several Plum Borough School District faculty members, brought their baskets and searched Oblock Junior High to collect the more than 4,000 eggs hidden by many Reach Out and GLA members from both the junior high and high school.  The Reach Out students collected donations of plastic eggs throughout March and spent many hours filling them with candy donated by faculty and staff.  Generous community members and staff in the district donated all of the eggs and candy for the egg hunt. A special thank you to Grand Slam pizza for donating a free pizza to each child who participated in the egg hunt.


Oblock Junior High Girls’ Volleyball Team VS. Faculty Fundraiser
The Plum Oblock Junior High Girls’ Volleyball team hosted a fundraiser on Friday, April 11th from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Oblock Gym. The undefeated girls’ volleyball team competed against the junior high teachers and junior high boys’ basketball teams!  All proceeds were donated to the Alyson Higdon Memorial Trust. Alyson was a volleyball player on the McKeesport junior high girls’ volleyball team. The Plum players and Coach Erin Cubarney will present the Plum community's donation during the Plum vs. McKeesport volleyball game on April 16th.  Admission was free, but donations were accepted at the door. There was also a bake sale held during the games.  A giant thank you goes out to everyone who participated, volunteered their time, purchased raffle tickets, or helped out with the volleyball game on Friday evening in any way.  The teachers who participated were Mr. Silvis, Mrs. Barker, Mr. Mischen, Mr. Russo, Mr. Pucka, Ms. Senkewitz, Mr. Oto, Mr. Bernardi, Mr. Depew, Mrs. Mendenhall, Mrs. Schuchert, and Mr. Sakolsky.  A special thank you goes out to the volleyball moms who had the idea and made all this happen.  The fundraiser raised over $1500 and was a huge success.



Pittsburgh Glass Center Field Trip
Twenty four GATE students recently traveled to the Pittsburgh Glass Center to get a first-hand look at glass making.  Accompanied by art teacher, Amanda Durick and computer applications teacher, Terry Trenz, 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 fifth year for this very interesting field trip.  Students attending were Emily Bolton, Alexis Bruno, Frank Czura, Megan Darnell, Tanner Froehlich, Blake George, Matt Hartley, Jonathan Hiener, Brandon Horvatic, Katharine Jones, Alexis McKinley, Madeline Monick, Katie Mozelewski, Greg Perez, Lilly Pratt, Hanna Sante, Ryder Springel, Devan Taylor, Victoria Turchick, Elsa Van Beek, Carmen Veltri, Jade Vrabel, Sophia Weingrad, and Lauren Williams.

PTA Reflections Awards Dinner and Ceremony
On the evening of April 24, many Oblock students were honored for their work in the Reflections Program.  These students were credited for their work in the contest earlier this year, and again last night because their work was selected to move on to the district wide competition level.  There were a variety of categories in which students could have entered.  The following students were acknowledged district wide through a delicious dinner and awards ceremony afterwards.  In the Literature category Sommer Lewis was awarded second place.   In the Visual Arts category Kayla Green came in first place.  Finally, in the music composition category, David Gale won first.  Congratulations to all of these students on a job well done!


Mars Track Invitational
On April 24, thirty schools participated in the Mars Invitational Track Meet.  The following students from Oblock placed in the meet:  Karrson Ewing, 8th grade, tied for the boys' MVP of the meet.  Karrson Ewing won first place in the boys' 100m dash with a time of 11.73 seconds.  Karrson also won first place in the 200m dash with a time of 24.14 seconds.  Samantha McCoy, 8th grade, won second place in the girls' long jump.  Samantha jumped 15.1 1/2 feet.  Katherine Jones, 8th grade, won third place in the girls' shot put.  She threw the shot 30'9". Congratulations to all of these athletes!



Professional Learning Communities
Scheduling, curriculum, final exams, and alternative education were the subjects of ongoing professional dialogue at Oblock in April. The math department met to discuss the upcoming Algebra Keystone exams by using daily bell work and next year’s curriculum, along with specific lessons, sharing notes, and topics that still need to be covered. The history teachers were meeting to discuss common exams, current events, and the pace for teaching new curriculum. The reading/English teachers discussed the writing unit, the review unit for the end of this year, nightly reading and AR success, and curriculum for next school year. The foreign language teachers met to discuss final exams, awards night ideas, projects, and the importance of taking foreign language classes. The computer teachers conversed about Google accounts, Gmail, and the conversion to Google Drives (from u-drives) for next year. Teachers in the science department met to discuss content, curriculum, labs, final exams and ongoing projects. The art teachers discussed the art show, scheduling, and curriculum. The physical education teachers discussed the candidates for the 8th grade PE awards and began making plans for the obstacle course. The special education teachers discussed transitioning students into high school and created a schedule to distribute to teachers. Additional PLCs focused on activity period procedures, athletic eligibility, student handbook procedures, providing help for failing students, and specific curricular units.

Reading Hall of Fame

By the end of April, 250 students have made it into the Reading Hall of Fame with another 118 at the All Star level trying to reach the top.  An additional 179 students are in the Varsity level and 64 in the JV Readers levels.  That is 98% of the students at Oblock that have achieved one of the levels!  Students have until the end of the school year to become Hall of Fame members.  At the end of the year, the three students with the most points will receive $25 gift cards to Barnes and Noble from Book Fair profits.


Thanks to a PPG grant, the 300 Point Club Members also got to take a trip to the Frick Art & Historical Center.  This experience reflected some of the history and historical fiction books that students have read in the library this year.  A deeper background knowledge in that era will help reading comprehension on such topics in the future.


The competition for the Kennywood Tickets will be ending May 14; the students with the most points in each 7th grade reading class will be awarded a free ticket. Also, the top five 7th graders (not already top in their class) and the top five 8th graders with the most points will get free tickets.  These tickets are paid for mostly by the PTSA and supplemented by library fines.



Library News 

Because the President proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, the April book challenge reflected that theme.  Students chose their books from a selected list of library books.  The following students successfully completed this challenge: Jonah Albert, Zainab Hassan, Marissa Beighley, Megan Masiilli, and Ian Dryburgh.  These students will earn a special treat from Mr. Fishell.


Thanks to a grant from the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, the library also received 20 Kindle Fire HDX 7s, already loaded with a number of books and apps that can be used in the library or signed out by teachers to use in the classroom.


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