August-September 2014 Board Highlights Oblock Junior High School
7th Grade Orientation
Seventh grade AEO students were given a positive beginning to the new school year through the opportunity to visit the school prior to opening day. On August 19, seventh graders became familiar with their bus stops and were given pertinent information in the auditorium about their schedules, the curriculum, the dress code and other school policies by Principal Joe Fishell, and guidance counselors, Mr. Joe Miller and Ms. Markiewicz. Approximately 275 students took advantage of this orientation program.
Oblock Junior High Walk Through
Seventh and 8th graders, along with their parents and siblings, had an opportunity to visit the school on August 18 and walk through their schedules in order to become familiar with room locations. Approximately 2000 people circulated through AEO between 12-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. One of the biggest benefits of this walk-through, especially for the 7th graders and students new to the school, was being able to locate their lockers and practice their combinations. Several Oblock parents were also present to distribute PTSA enrollment forms and answer questions. This special day made the transition from summer to school more comfortable for both students and parents.
Student Handbook Orientation
A review of the Student Handbook was presented in the auditorium to the 7th graders on September 5 and the 8th graders on September 8. Important policies and procedures were explained to each group, focusing on the dress code, weapons policy, drug and alcohol policies, cell phone policy, and discipline procedures. Students were directed to read more comprehensively all aspects of the handbook and to discuss the information with their parents in order to understand important policies and avoid any infractions. They were reminded to return the sign-off pages in the front of the handbook referring to FERPA, computer usage, random drug testing, and school policies.
Fall sports are in full swing at Oblock Junior High School with over 150 students competing as either players or managers. Fifty young boys (22 8th graders and 28 7th graders) are playing on the Mustangs Football Team, coached by AEO teacher, Mr. Ryan Silvis, and assisted by Mr. Steve Stremple, Mr. Phil Beatty, and Mr. Adam Szarmach. Holiday Park’s Mr. Wade Campbell and his assistant coach, Mr. Joe Fishell are getting around 45 Oblock boys and girls in shape through cross country. Mrs. Caitlin Schuchert is coaching 20 young boys in soccer, and Mrs. Courtney Mendenhall is back and now coaching the girls’ soccer team, overseeing an enthusiastic team of 22 young women. Mrs. Cubarney is coaching the 8th grade girls’ basketball, while is Ms. Katlyn Griffin is coaching the 7th grade girls’ team. Go, Mustangs!
Oblock students have been encouraged to begin their quest for the Reading Hall of Fame by earning 126 AR points. Each point is equivalent to about 1 hour of reading. In October, a monthly book challenge will also begin. The idea behind the monthly challenge books is to encourage students of all reading levels to explore both the classic and modern favorites. Last year, 298 AEO students made it into the Reading Hall of Fame and the teachers hope to increase that number this year.
Team Read/Library News
Oblock is working hard again with reading this year as more incentives and programs challenge the students to read more than they ever have. Students are listening to excerpts from books during their lunch period, they are already being rewarded by getting in the lunch line first when they reach the Reading Hall of Fame, and teams are already preparing for the Battle of the Books.
Many students have already earned numerous AR points to guarantee their place in the Reading Hall of Fame as part of the library’s Team Read competition. All students may participate in Team Read by accumulating Accelerated Reader points in order to reach one of the four levels of the program: Junior Varsity, Varsity, All-Star, or Hall of Fame. There are 9 students at the Hall of Fame level already. Eight students are at the All-Star level, 129 at Varsity level, and 236 have made it into the JV reader level! That’s a total of 382 students who have made it into one of the levels!
The library recently hosted the Scholastic Book Fair for students and also gave parents the opportunity to purchase books at Open House.
Currently, with a maximum of six students per team, four teams are already preparing for the annual AEO Battle of the Books competition. The students have until October 10 to sign up. Books from the Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice list are circulating among the team members as they prepare for the first day of competition in November.
A record number of challenging, yet enjoyable, activities have been planned this school year for the GATE students at AEO, according to Mr. Joe Miller, GATE coordinator. The advisors this year are Mrs. Amanda Durick, Mrs. Teresa Barker, Mrs Terry Trenz, and Mr. Phil Beatty. The year will begin with Academic Endeavors on October 16 which Mr. Miller will sponsor and will end with the Academic Challenge on May 1 sponsored by Mr. Beatty. Three field trips are planned including visits to the CLO’s A Musical Carol, Faraday Lecture, and a Glass Fused Tile Workshop at the Pittsburgh Glass Center sponsored by AEO art teacher, Mrs. Durick.
Professional Learning Communities
PLCs are up and running at Oblock! Teachers are gathering at 7:30 a.m., during common open periods, lunch, and after school to dialogue about academic issues and to share ideas. Open House, Parent-Teacher Conference Day, and parent communication were discussed in several PLCs. Moodle has made its way into many PLC minutes as ways to communicate with parents and students, as well as catch up from absences. The reading/English teachers have been meeting to discuss AR requirements for nine weeks, goal books, nightly reading sheets, graphic organizers, the use of planners, changes to the common core, EdInsight data, and the new ELA PSSA test. The Special Ed teachers discussed the IEP forms and data collection. EdInsight, understanding PVASS data, and specific lessons were areas discussed in the Math Department. Social studies teachers discussed Sapphire, curriculum, and Google Classroom. The health and PE teachers discussed assignments and curriculum. Foreign language discussed the progression for enriched and exploring, along with the foreign language club meeting during activity periods. Across the curriculum, teachers met to discuss contacting parents, time out procedures, and using technology.
An exhilarating and informative evening of meeting teachers and learning about the curriculum was enjoyed by 420 parents and family at Oblock’s September 25, Open House. In addition to meeting their children’s teachers, parents had an opportunity to purchase subscriptions to the school newspaper, buy candy grams for their children, shop at the Scholastic Book Fair, and support the PTA by purchasing tickets for the Chinese Auction. PSSA scores were distributed and guidance counselors were available to answer parent questions.