March 2015 Board Highlights
Oblock Junior High
In the fall all 7th and 8th grade students were given the opportunity to participate and compete in the Reflections contest. Reflections is a program that is theme based and gives the students the chance to reflect with their music, art/photography or writing abilities. The theme for this year was "The world would be a better place if …". The students completed their entries on their own time and submitted them to the library in October. Many students worked hard and turned in creative products, and the results are now in. In the category of music was David Gale in 2nd place. Congratulations to all students for their time and hard work.
GATE Chess Tournament
On March 12, Oblock Junior High hosted the GATE Junior High Chess Tournament. Sponsored by ESSPA (Eastern Suburbs Special Programs Association), the event is held annually under the direction of junior high GATE coordinator, Mr. Joe Miller. Dr. Brian Stevens, Oblock librarian, served as adjudicator, making sure that all matches were correctly scored and judged. Eighth grade students Emily Bolton, Madeline Monick, Devon Taylor, and Jade Vrabel registered all the students, and kept score. Participating school districts were Steel Valley, Springdale, Greensburg Salem, East Allegheny, Woodland Hills and Plum. Oblock had one team participating, and one student who played for another team, due to a shortage of players. The Plum team consisted of Carter Campbell, Aidan Doyle, Christian Jones, and Aidan Wetmore. Justin Bruno also played in the tournament.
Classrooms were busy practicing PSSA vocabulary and graphic organizers in March in preparation for the ELA, math, and science PSSAs which will begin April 13 and run into May. The ELA PSSAs are the week of April 13, the math PSSAs begin the week of April 20, and the science the week of April 27. In addition to reading, English, math, and science classes, all teachers, including art, civics, and health, were practicing 4-square graphic organizers and writing topic sentences and conclusions. Jeopardy, Concentration, crossword puzzles, 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!
9th Grade Student Orientation
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, high school principal, Ryan Kociela, assistance principal, Shannon Crombie, 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. Mr. Kociela and Mrs. Crombie presented information to the eighth grade parents Tuesday evening to reinforce the information discussed with students. 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 the week of March 30.
Community Easter Egg Hunt
The AEO Reach Out Club, under the direction of Mrs. Jen Scharba and Mrs. Shannon Cecchetti, along with the high school GLA, under the direction of Mrs. Amy Martello and Mrs. Cathy Phillips, hosted the 10th Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt on March 28. The event, open to all kids ages 0-8, was free to all members of the community. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., more than 200 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 February and 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 the administrative assistants for donating supplies and coming to pass out the hot chocolate to all the kids who participated in the egg hunt.
Team Read, the 500-Point Club (3 students), and the 300-Point Club (22 more students) have kept the English and reading teachers at AEO smiling all of March. By the end of the month, 142 more students had made it into the highest level of Team Read, the Reading Hall of Fame. Another 121 students are in the All-Star level and could achieve Hall of Fame status by the end of the year, along with 204 Varsity, and 92 Junior Varsity—96% of Oblock students! Students who achieve more than 300 points receive a treat from the school each month; this month they will receive their permission to go on a field trip to PNC Park. Students striving for the 300-Point Club read a lot on their own outside of school. 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.
As for Mr. Fishell's Monthly Book Challenge, which was on Women's History for March, Cassidy Schrecongost read and passed the AR quizzes from the list.
Professional Learning Communities
PSSA preparation and scheduling for next year were the subjects of many PLC discussions held both within and across the curricula during the month of March. The 8th grade English teachers met with the guidance counselors to discuss the appropriate English levels for ninth grade; both formal data and teacher recommendation were considered in making the final placements. Teachers across the curriculum were developing graphic organizers to coincide with open-ended TDA questions and reviewing for PSSA tests. The English teachers discussed ways to review the various types of writing for the PSSAs. 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 Keystone exams, quarterly assessments, common core standards, procedures, and continued PSSA review. The science teachers discussed lessons for specific units, technology, curriculum, PSSA review, and ongoing projects. The social studies teachers met and discussed close readings, supplemental materials, and PSSA prep. The foreign language teachers met to discuss IEP accommodations within the foreign language classes and plans for activity periods. The music department discussed music theory, chorus selections, and scheduling. Finally, computer applications teachers reviewed computer connections and sharing in Google Docs.