December 2013 Board Highlights
Oblock Junior High School
Select Chorus Holiday Video
The eighth grade Select Chorus, under the direction of AEO chorus teacher, Mrs. Paraschos, was selected to perform a holiday video greeting which will be sent to local school districts. Plum High School TV productions taped their holiday greeting which will be available to view on the school website.
Children’s Hospital Performance
Students from AEO’s Select Chorus participated in Mark Milovats 2013 “Christmas in Hawaii” 16th annual holiday extravaganza on December 1, an event that benefits Arnold Palmer’s Latrobe Hospital Foundation, Children's Hospital, and the Children's Miracle Network. The performance was held at the Byham Theater and was taped for television. The students who participated in the performance were the following: 8th graders-Mason McAndrews, Megan Mascilli, Karen Dopico, Colin Lewis and Sommer Lewis and 7th graders-Jessica Frew, Jillian Tishko, Ben Tishko, Izzy Russo, Carly Chandler and Abby Dippolito.
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), Knitwits (Mrs. Diane Yorkshire), Student Government (Mr. Steve Stremple), yearbook (Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti and Mrs. Jen Scharba), 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. 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.
Eight members of the AEO gifted program traveled to Woodland Hills High School for the third annual K’Nex tournament on December 4, 2013. Students were challenged to build a castle made completely from K’Nex including a drawbridge, tower, and line of defense. Congratulations to Ryder Springel, Blake George, Jonathan Hiener, and Bowen Henry for narrowly missing a first place victory by one point! Special honors to Jonathan Hiener for winning 'best overall blueprint' for his work on the Google SketchUp program.
A Christmas Carol
The Christmas season was made a bit festive for Oblock students who attended A Musical Christmas Carol on December 11. Mr. Joe Miller took students in the GATE program to the performance at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh. In its 22nd year, the production featured Pittsburgh actor, Tom Atkins, as Ebenezer Scrooge. Students attending were Emily Bolton, Kylie Briggs, Alexis Bruno, Justin Bruno, Sofia, Capkis, Frank Czura, Megan Darnell, Dom DeDola, Blake George, Cloe Hall, Matt Hartley, Bowen Henry, Jonathan Hiener, Brandon Horvatic, Katharine Jones, Jared Martorell, Megan Mascilli, Alexis McKinley, Madeline Monick, Katie Mozelewski, Lilly Pratt, Jordyn Roman, Makayla Shreve, Ryder Springel, Devan Taylor, Victoria Turchik, Carmen Veltri, Jade Vrabel, Sopia Weingrad and Lauren Williams.
AEO Snow Club
Forty-four students and 11 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: Sara Pearlman, President; Cam Pivirotto, Vice-President; Kole Lisovich, Treasurer; and Tori Turchick, 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, Mr. Dave Mischen, Mrs. Jen Parachos, and Mr. Joseph Fishell.
On December 6, 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. Plum's team of Kylie Briggs, Matt Hartley, Hanna Sante, Tori Turchick, and Matt Brown put up a good fight against a clean sweep by the four home teams of Greensburg-Salem. A special congratulations to Ian Dryburgh for being the top scorer from Plum!
Author and Wilkinsburg graduate, Mr. Chuck Herring spoke to AEO students on December 11, about bullying and the variety of places where bullying takes place. Mr. Herring discussed why bullies bully. He had a handout for students to write their thoughts and opinions about why students talk about each other, why students use words to hurt others, and how students overcome negative talk. Mr. Herring stated, “Bullies like to tear everyone else down” to make themselves feel better. Students were very welcoming and seemed to appreciate Mr. Herring’s words of wisdom: “Figure out who you are,” and “Leave a legacy for others to follow your path.”
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, the Community Food Bank, the Hillman Cancer Center, and many other worthy causes. 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 26 through December 6, 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 $6312! The top earners were Kenny Bostard (1st), Jordan Braverman (2nd), and Marissa Beighley (3rd). Those three students will get to choose from a variety of prizes. 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 third year.
The season of musical events began on December 4th with the AEO Orchestra playing at Chick-fil-a for patrons from 6-8 pm. Members of the ensemble named "Violins & Udders" (instead of others) consisted of Victoria Turchick, Kennedy Deen, Greg Perez, Shelbie Ford, MacKenzie Kieffer, Hanna Rindt, Marissa Beighley, Alexis Bruno, and David Gale on violin, Chloe Hall and Carmel Scarpine on cello, Frank Czura on guitar, and Carmen Veltri on piano.
The musical events continued on December 12th with the strings concert. Both 7th and 8th grade performed along with "Violins & Udders". Favorite pieces consisted of “Little Drummer Boy” and “Songs of Christmas”. The 8th grade group consists of 25 members and the 7th grade ensemble consists of 22 members. The auditorium was decorated with thousands of lights for the festivities.
The 7th and 8th grade chorus presented their Holiday Concert at the high school on December 17th. Directed by Jenifer Paraschos, the ensembles performed in front of more than 1400 guests. The 7th grade Select Chorus performed "Iko Iko" with choreography and the 8th grade Select Chorus performed "This Joint is Jumpin'". Alexandra Zegar, a dance major at Point Park University and Plum graduate, is the choreographer for the groups. The select groups will combine to perform a unique version of Tchaikovsky's "Sugar Plum Fairy". Songs performed by the 8th grade chorus included "Under Winter Moon" and a lively arrangement of "Jingle Bells". 7th grade selections included "Bidi Bom", "A Holiday Invitation", and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". Judi Figel, Elementary String Specialist, accompanied the ensembles and entertained during the stage changes.
Oblock had 90 students in the Hall of Fame with 126 or more points by the holiday break. Vanessa Wright has also made the 500 Point Club already (versus none last year at this time). Nine other Hall of Famers are also in the 300 Point Club (compared to 5 at this time last year). At the All-Star level are 134 students (at least 76 points), 242 at the Varsity level (at least 26 points), and 104 at the junior varsity level (at least 10 points). That's 570/620 students at one of the Team Read levels or 91.9% (91.4% last year at this time).
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 midterm exams, algebra content, open-ended questions, and Keystone Exams. English teachers spent time discussing research changes, projects, and midterm exams, while reading teachers focused on the 4-square graphic organizers, budget items, novel choices, and reading logs. The social studies teachers were focused on Pearl Harbor Day and content activities, while the foreign language teachers collaborated about midterm exams and projects. The science teachers discussed inventory items for labs and projects, budget, lab equipment for radiation and atmosphere units. The special education discussed how to motivate students to complete work and IEP accommodations. Across the curriculum contacting parents, 504s, and bullying were discussed.