March 2013 Board Highlights
Oblock Junior High
Read Across America Day
On March 1, Oblock students accepted the challenge to participate in AR’s Read the Most from Coast to Coast event. Over 450 students participated! Each participant received a treat and everyone who passed a test was entered into a drawing to win a prize. In addition, twenty-six students were randomly selected to receive gift cards. The event was a big success with students at AEO taking 714 quizzes throughout the day!
Classrooms were busy practicing PSSA anchor glossary terms and 4-square graphic organizers in early March in preparation for the Writing PSSAs which will begin March 11. The reading and math PSSAs will begin April 10-April 17, and the science, April 23 and 24. In addition to reading, English and math classes, all teachers, including art, civics, science, and health, were practicing 4-square graphic organizers and writing topic sentences and conclusions. Jeopardy, Concentration, crossword puzzles and scrambles, and other games were developed by teachers in all curricula to reinforce and practice the eligible content and anchor glossaries. Internet websites, computer games, and Smart Boards were also utilized to provide varied and creative ways to prepare for the testing. AEO students will go into the tests feeling confident and competent!
K’NexEight members of the AEO gifted program traveled to Duquesne University for the annual K’Nex tournament on March 5, 2013. Students were challenged to build a contraption made completely from K’Nex that would solve one of the world’s problems. Quinn Stezoski, Ryan Loebig, Nolan Puhala, and Dom DeFabio made up Team 1, while, Makayla Shreve, Nick Klonowski, Jared Martorell, and Matt Hartley were Team 2. Both teams had 2 hours to assemble the project from scratch and it was accompanied by technical drawings that were generated by Google SketchUp. Team 1 designed a vehicle that doubled as a mobile drill and a cleanup vehicle all rolled into one. Team 2 designed a stationary waste removal vehicle that would pick up and place trash into a receptacle. Both teams did a great job with the competition having to answer questions from professors from the University and top engineers from the Pittsburgh region.
9th Grade Student Orientation
On March 15, 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.
6th Grade Parent Orientation
Approximately 250 parents of sixth grade students attended the orientation program on Wednesday, March 20th at A. E. O’Block 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 counselors, Mr. Joe Miller and Miss Michele Markiewicz and brought to a close by 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, March 21st at the junior high. The guidance counselors will attend each elementary building beginning on Wednesday, April 3rd to begin scheduling the 6th graders for their course selections for next year.
Girls’ Volleyball Team
Coach Erin Cubarney is enjoying her first year as the head volleyball coach. By the end of March, both teams were undefeated with a record of 8-0 for the 7th grade girls and 8-0 for the 8th grade girls. Eighth grade members of the team are Skyler Kutzner, Claire Klippel, Chelsea Burton, Maria Lawhorne, Angela Mamatas, Maddie Cubarney, Alexis Phillips, Cora McKee, and Shannon Soboslay. Seventh grade members include Sofia Chapkis, Jaiden Yocca, Andrea Tomaro, Brie Bialota, Taylor Oravitz, Maddi Sciullo, Bailey Raposa, Maddie Myers, Haley Chiusano, Ashley Friedland, Hanna Sante, and Laney Kiefer.
Community Easter Egg Hunt
The AEO Reach Out Club, under the direction of Mrs. Jen Scharba and Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti, hosted the 8th Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt on March 23. The event, open to all kids ages 0-8, was free to all members of the community. Beginning at 11 a.m., more than 200 youngsters, including the children and grandchildren of several Plum Borough School District faculty members, brought their own baskets and searched Oblock Junior High to collect the more than 4,000 eggs hidden by the following students: Jenna Cecchetti, Emily Wash, Alexis McKinley, Callan Scharba, Kole Lisovich, Marissa Durst, Owen Brooks, Cam Anderson, Cora McKee, Maddie Smith, Alaina Kalbaugh, Jackson Gildea, and Maggie Hanlon. 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.
Team Read, the 500-Point Club, and the 300-Point Club have kept the English and reading teachings at AEO smiling all of March. By the end of the month, 230 students had made it into the highest level of Team Read, the Reading Hall of Fame. Another 170 students are in the All-Star level and could achieve Hall of Fame status by the end of the year, along with 187 Varsity, and 55 Junior Varsity. Students who achieve more than 300 points receive a treat from the school each month; this month they enjoyed cookies and milk during an Activity Period. Students striving for the 300-Point Club can come to the library during activity period to read. Oblock students are ahead of last year’s record for the number of students in all of the levels. Mr. Fishell is extremely proud of the reading the students are doing. The success of Team Read is in part to the elementary teachers who first turn the students on to reading, but also to the AEO principals and teachers, particularly the reading and English teachers, who offer constant encouragement and reinforcement to make reading a life-long skill for AEO students.
The students at Oblock were invited to partake in the March book challenge. There were a number of students who successfully completed the challenge by reading a Dystopian Society book. Congratulations to the following students: Mark Johnston, Thomas Hyland, Tara Marcyjanik, Lilianna Lalchan, Dillon Joyce, Anthony DeRiso, Julia McKee, Tyler Conklin, Ryder Springel, Jordyn Roman, Julie Weyant, Nathan Tan, Cody Stockman, Julia Lawrence, Amber Redburn, Alex Hyland, Bailey Bolkovac, Sommer Lewis, Frank Czura, Marissa Beighley, and Nicholas Frazetta
Professional Learning Communities
PSSA preparation, scheduling for next year, and the 8th grade Activity Night were the subjects of many PLC discussions held both within and across the curricula during the month of March. The English teachers met with the guidance counselors to discuss referrals for support English in ninth grade; both formal data and teacher recommendation were considered in making the final placements. Teachers across the curriculum were developing 4-square open-ended questions and figuring out creative ways to incorporate the anchor glossary for both reading and math. The English teachers discussed finishing up research, the poetry unit, and PSSA preparation. The reading skills teachers met to develop lessons for the rest of the year as well as to discuss Study Island and PSSA testing. The math department discussed lining up curriculum, the pacing of specific lessons, the Keystone Quarterly test for the 3rd nine weeks, and continued PSSA review. The civics, history, and geography teachers collaborated on the curriculum for the 2013-14 school year, primary sources, and specific lessons. The science teachers discussed lessons for specific units on Motion and Force, developed labs and hands on projects for upcoming units as well as worked on the advanced placement criteria for 8th grade. Physical education teachers discussed and clarified the recreation unit and the upcoming obstacle course. The foreign language teachers met to discuss IEP accommodations within the foreign language classes and plans for the activity night. Finally, special education teachers reviewed existing data and drafted evaluation reports.