May / June 2014

May-June 2014 Board Highlights

Oblock Junior High School


French Dinner Cruise
On Monday, May 5th, Mrs. Mendenhall and thirty-three French I students enjoyed a French dinner cruise, aboard the Gateway Clipped.  The students had the opportunity to experience French cuisine, culture, and entertainment all while, sailing along Pittsburgh's Three Rivers.


Art Field Trip
On Thursday, May 8, fifteen members of the art club took a field trip to the Pittsburgh Glass Center.  They were escorted by Mrs. Amanda Durick and Mr. Joseph Miller.  Students watched a demonstration by an artist making a vase with a handle out of hot glass.  Students each created their own paperweight from hot glass.  This trip was funded by a grant from PPG industries.  To qualify for the trip, art club members had to read an art related book and pass an AR test on it.  Members attending the trip were Katherine Bodnar, Kylee Brucker, Mikaele Gauntner, Lauren Hoover, Samantha Johnson, MacKenzie Kieffer, Alexa Kozub, Erin Maguire, Megan Mascilli, Mercedes May, Breanah Minefield, Madeline Monick, Nathan Ng, Alexandra Ralph, and Diamond Rice.

 Pirate Game              

The Oblock Junior High chorus students of Mrs. Jen Paraschos have been busy practicing the National Anthem in preparation for their performance prior to the June 8 Pirate game.  More than 150 students, accompanied by an additional 600+ families, friends, and faculty, will be attending the event which, according to Mrs. Paraschos, “…is a great outreach project that not only affects members of our community but extends beyond Plum as well.”  The students will stand in the outfield at PNC Park and perform in front of thousands of people.  Also, Mrs. Paraschos added, “It gives me an opportunity to teach the National Anthem and discuss the importance of this to our country.”  Guidance counselor, Mr. Joe Miller assisted in planning this important event.


Holocaust Guest Speaker
During the activity period held on May 9, Mr. Feyerman came to speak to our 8th grade students.  Mr. Feyerman is a survivor of 5 concentration camps during the Holocaust.  He told his remarkable life story to our students, who were amazed at the determination, strength and willpower he had to get through this grim ordeal. 


Life Science Department
The 8th grade Life Science Department would like to thank Susan Campbell and PPG Industries for their $1000 Public Education Leadership Community grant for the second year in a row. This money goes to support the Trout in the Classroom program. This program, sponsored by Trout Unlimited and the PA Fish and Boat Commission, is designed to foster an awareness of brook trout’s role in cold water conservation.  Students will raise brook trout from eggs to fingerlings, eventually releasing them into a state approved stream.


Girls’ Softball
The girls’ softball team finished a solid season under the direction of Coach Froehlich.  Members of the team are as follows:  Marissa Beighley, Keri Bellisario, Sidney Young, Sara Corcoran, Gabrielle Fischetti, Abbegail Froehlich, Deanna Pernice, Melinda Pivik, Britney Shanter, Sidney Shanter, Karina Singh, and Olivia Wendell.


Junior High Play
This year the Oblock Jr. High Drama Department will put on the "Broadway Dinner".  For the Broadway Dinner, the students will transform the cafeteria into a cabaret space for fine dining.  Dinner this year will feature an "Italian Bistro" theme including chicken breast Parmesan, pasta side-dish and canolli cheesecake desserts. Seats for the dinner are $9.00 and are sold on a first come - first serve basis.  Students performing in the Broadway Dinner will also act as the wait staff by serving the food and bussing the tables between courses.  Musical numbers ranging from A Chorus Line to Wicked will be performed.  The show date is May 27th and dinner will be served at 6:30 pm.  Please call (724)733-2400 ext. 3143 to reserve seats.


The AEO Track Team had a very successful season with 120 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 Bernie Pucka and Ryan Silvis. 

Notable accomplishments this season were the place winners at some of the invitationals the athletes attended.  Karrson Ewing placed 2nd in the 100m and 400m.  He placed 1st in the 200m and 5th in the 4X100 relay.  Karrson also won the boys' track MVP award with 26.5 points at the Plum Invitation!  RJ Hart, Marcus Thomas, Frank Czura, and Karrson Ewing placed 5th in the 4x100 relay.  Matt Berezanich placed 6th in the long jump and 5th in the triple jump. Kat Jones placed 4th in shot put. Tori Turchick placed 4th in discus. Conrad Hankinson placed 1st in the 1600m.  Colin Lewis placed 6th in the 110m hurdles and Shawn Cook placed 5th in the 110m hurdles.  Maddie Monick placed 6th in the 100m hurdles. Sam McCoy placed 6th in the 400m. Hunter Linhart placed 3rd in discus. Congratulations to the track team for an outstanding season!!  

Obstacle Course
To round out a year of fun and fitness, the AEO Physical Education Department will hold the annual Obstacle Course Competition on the last day of school.  Sixteen students qualified for the event by recording top times in gym class.  The 7th grade girl qualifiers were Jillian Tishko, Maddie Monick, Emme Lawton, and Alex Ralph.  The 7th grade boys were Conrad Hankinson, Sam Pagano, and Justin Decheck.  The 8th grade girl qualifiers included: Jasmyn Floyd, Kat Jones, Sydney Williams, and Sam McCoy.  The 8th grade boys were Sean Scott, Connor Karkowski, Zach Scholtz, Marcus Cestra, and Colin Lewis.


Music Concerts
The 7th and 8th grade Chorus, under the direction of Jenifer Paraschos, performed their spring concert on May 21st.  This year, there are 480 students involved in the choral program.   The 7th and 8th grade Select Ensembles performed “September” and “You Can't Stop the Beat” in the style of Glee.  Alexandra Zegar, a graduate of Plum High School and Point Park University, is the choreographer for the groups.  The 7th grade students performed “Hello, Susie Brown” which is an American Folk Song.  Another one of their selections was “Pete Pete”, a popular children's song game from Ghana.  The 8thGrade Chorus entertained the audience with numbers like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, and ”Swing Down, Ezekiel”.

Jess Frew, Izzy Russo, Adriane Redburn, Carly Chandler, Maddie Machtley and Justin Bruno were the featured 7th grade students.  Mila Liberto, Karrson Ewing, Karen Dopico, Victoria Lefchik, Megan Curnow, Nicci Schoedel and Haley Dikun were featured 8th grade students.  Summer Lewis, 8th grade chorus member, performed piano selections during the stage changes.  The concert was accompanied by Janet Zegar.

Mr.  Robert Kalanja's Orchestras had their Spring Strings Concert on May 7th.  Four groups played.  The 7th grade orchestra played pieces such as “Kings Court" by Susan Day and "Ode to Joy" by Beethoven.  Next, the chamber orchestra performed "Fire Dance" by Soon Hee Newbold.  The 8th grade orchestra played pieces such as “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles and “Rondeau” by Mouret which is the theme to Masterpiece Theater.  Also featured in the strings concert was a guitar ensemble from the 7th and 8th grade general music classes, who played "Yankee Doodle," "Spanish Theme," and "Happy Birthday."

Finally, Mr. Robert Kalanja’s 7th and 8th grade bands entertained on May 15th.  The bands featured pieces were "Amazing Grace" and "Edinburgh Castle" by John Kinyon.  The bands also joined with high school students, who were directed by the high school band director, Mrs. Bethany Loy.  Together, they formed a Jazz band and played three pieces.  "Ready to Mango" by Victor Lopez was their featured and favorite piece of the night.  After the concert many families and students met at the Dairy Queen on Rt. 286 for ice cream and food for a music booster fundraiser.



Honors Breakfast for Honor Students
The Honors Breakfasts on May 28 (for 8th graders) and May 27 (for 7th graders) recognized 79 8th graders and 113 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.


Professional Learning Communities
AEO teachers were meeting throughout the month of May to discuss final exams, aligning curriculum to the common core, activities to honor academic excellence, and strategies to keep the students working and turning in assignments.  The Honors Breakfasts and Awards Nights were discussed in PLCs consisting of teachers across the curriculum.  Seventh grade reading and reading skills’ teachers discussed changes in curriculum for next year, audio books, and Hall of Fame success.  Foreign language teachers discussed final exams and writing prompts to promote higher level thinking skills.  English teachers discussed final exams, lessons, and curriculum and the common core changes for next school year.  Math teachers collaborated on the preparation for the Keystone exams and common quarterly assessments.  Special education teachers discussed the concerns they had about possible changes for next year.  The music department discussed the changes in curriculum, success of concerts, and concert dates for next year.  The PE and health teachers discussed the obstacle course, fitness test, and final exams.  The social studies teachers talked about hands-on activities, primary source documents, and reviews for exams.  Finally, the science teachers discussed the how the changes in the curriculum will affect their teaching next year, the differences in labs, and the units of study. 


An impressive 2014 yearbook was distributed at AEO recently under the direction of reading teacher Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti, and English teacher Mrs. Jennifer Scharba.  Students look forward to this day and enjoy getting the signatures of their friends and teachers, especially the 8th graders who want to preserve their junior high memories.  Yearbook staff members this year included Marissa Beighley, Samantha Casile, Maria Caughey, Juwanna DelGiacco, Julianna Giarrusso, Brianna Lentz, Breanah Minefield, Kayla Proffitt, Madison Sciullo, and Andrea Tomaro.


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 Fun Fest in Harmarville.  There were able to engage in many activities including bowling, laser tag, pool, and arcade games.  The eighth graders enjoyed socializing with their friends, listening to a DJ, and a lunch of pizza, cookies, and drinks were provided for the students.

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 3 in the school cafeteria, where 52 seventh graders and 64 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, Brooke Raposa, and the 8th grade boy, Jonathan Hiener, 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. Danielle Hiener delivered the alumni address.  Members of the 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 “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  Nelson Mandela

Special awards were presented to individual students in several categories at the Awards Night.  The categories and recipients included the following:  Chorus— Mila Liberto; Band— Julia Lawrence; Orchestra— Victoria Turchick; Art— Cloe Hall; Technology Education— Lucas Foster; Physical Education— Jasmyn Floyd and Ryan McIntosh; Computer Applications— Anthony Lagrotteria; Spanish— Marissa Beighley; and French— Frank Czura. 

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 13th annual Art Show. 

This year several eighth grade students participated in two large scale permanent projects.  The first one being a tribute piece to Cancer.  The project included glass/ceramic tiles that represented every color of cancer ribbons.  The tiles are surrounded with words of hope, faith, courage, fight, and brave.  The idea for the project is based on those battling cancer, survivors, and a tribute to those who have passed.  Mr. Depew and the eighth grade art club completed a large photo mosaic, themed nature, making the mosaic pieces out of wood cut at different levels.  The students then added photos to the project that were taken by the students.  Along with the large scale projects, students created several projects to the collection. Cloe Hall created a project using foam core board in the entrance of the lobby, with the theme of the project being left brain right brain.  The figure on the left represents the academic side and the right figure represents the creative side (ARTS).  

The seventh grade projects included plaster pop art sculptures and papier-mache gargoyles. Drawing projects included pop art, comic enlargement drawings, graffiti names, and zentangles.  Art club created scratch art collages of popular book covers.  Mrs. Durick's classes also created large paper flowers as a group.  Zoe Nonnenberg led a group project that was a scene from Alice in Wonderland that is a collage of found materials.  It is hanging in the front lobby.

From the decorated Pop Art comic drawings to the graffiti artwork to the Mosaic table and chairs, 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." 


Library News and Top AEO Readers
The Art Club took a field trip to the Pittsburgh Glass Factory at the beginning of this month thanks to a grant from PPG.  The students that read an art book from a list of selected titles (and passed the AR test) were able to attend free of charge.

The week of May 12-16 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 ended with 297 students earning a place in the esteemed Reading Hall of Fame (48% of students at AEO).  To reach this prestigious goal, students had to read an average of 25-30 books and accumulate more than 126 Accelerated Reader points.  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 nine years ago, the Hall of Fame only had 31 students!


Nineteen Hall of Fame members made it to the prestigious 500-Point Club (7 more than last year) and all getting at least a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, with the top three receiving $25 gift cards.  The top three point earners for the year were Vanessa Wright with 1108.4; Madeline Monick with 784; and Sommer Lewis with 747.6.  Other members of the 500-point club were Marissa Beighley, Gabriella Elliott, Ian Dryburgh, Zainab Hassan, Alexandra Ralph, Jonah Albert, Elsa Van Beek, Mika Gauntner, Bailey Weber, Carter Campbell, Jade Vrabel, Matt Brown, Jacob Kloc, Meghan Christmas, MacKenzie Kieffer, and Aidan McIntosh.  In addition, AEO had 95 All-Star Readers; 174 Varsity Team members; and 51 Jr. Varsity Team members.  That means 99% of the students made it into one of the categories!  Also, 39 lucky Hall of Fame students won a gift card to either Barnes & Noble, Burger King, iTunes, Pizza Hut, Subway, Starbucks, or Target and three kindle fires were also raffled off.


The theme for the book challenge in May was all about Food.  The students who successfully completed the challenge were Jonah Albert, Ian Dryburgh, and Hunter Dzikiy.


Students who had the most points in their individual reading classes were also awarded free Kennywood tickets.  Winners were as follows: Jonah Albert, Marissa Beighley, Carly Chandler, Meghan Christman, Noah Csuy, Dominic Dedola, Richie Driscoll, Ian Dryburgh, Gabriella Elliott, Zainab Hassan, MacKenzie Kieffer, Amanda Klein, Jacob Kloc, Lydia Krueger, Marissa Lamanna, Sommer Lewis, Hunter Linhart, Madison Lippert, Ian Materkowski, Brandon McCoy, Madeline Monick, Diamond Parker, Cassidy Schrecongost, Shane Tucci, Elsa Van Beek, Bailey Weber, and Vanessa Wright.


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