The Viking Vibe
What Is Happening In and Around Our Junior High School
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Design Challenges at the Junior High
Posted 10/27/2016 at 11:48:44 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

The month of October was a pretty busy time for us at the Junior High School. Friday October 21, 2016, we came together to learn about Birds of Prey from the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. This assembly was our entry event for our second annual design building wide design challenges.

Last year, we organized three events during the school year to introduce students to the design process and incorporate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). We designed a turkey trap to catch a bad turkey wreaking havoc on the school, a sled for the Grinch to move his Christmas loot and a logo design challenge to display our purpose, passion and pride. These events worked on the 21st century skills that students will need in order to succeed in life: creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking.

As all good educators do, we took some time this summer to reflect and decide how to improve our design challenges to make them even more impactful for students. Our teachers decided that we would have a building theme and each grade level would be engaged in something related to that theme. As our students found out on Friday, the theme this year is birds. Next month, students will learn more about what problem they will be solving in their groups and we are excited to share those moments and the final results with the Hopewell community.

As the first quarter winds down, you hopefully are hearing about activities students are engaged in that may sound quite different than our experiences in school. Gone are the days of passive learning where the sage on the stage deposited information into students. Today’s classrooms are full of students working in small groups to solve problems, to create and to learn how to work together. You should be able to see many examples of this learning via the communication coming home through teacher Remind and Dojo accounts, our Twitter and website pictures, and hopefully through conversation with your children. There are so many exciting things happening, sometimes it is tough to keep up. But as we walk through the hallways, we see students taking ownership of their learning with smiles and confidence.

As always, you can keep up with the busy world of Junior High School via our twitter feed (@HMJHS_Vikings) and our website. Thank you for being such great supporters of education here in Hopewell.

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October Highlight Reel
Posted 10/27/2016 at 11:47:34 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

These are just SOME of the events happening this month at Hopewell Memorial Junior High School:



Eighth grade has been busy preparing for the Third annual Washington DC field trip, which will be this Friday, October 28. Students participated in a project based learning experience where they answered the question: What things would you consider when planning a day trip to Washington D.C. Students worked in small groups to create iternaries for the day which were then shared with peers and voted on. We are excited to add this element of student voice and choice to our field trip.

Sandy Hook Promise representative will be here on November 4, 2016 to present “Say Something” Prevention Program to all students in our building.

Say Something is an education and awareness program that provides tools and practices to:

· Recognize the signs & signals of a potential threat – especially in social media

· Teach and instill in participants how to take action

· Drive awareness and reinforce the need to Say Something

Signs of Suicide Program, sponsored and presented by the Prevention Network, is being presented to our 6th, 7th and 8th grade students on October 24 and November 1st.

(SOS) Signs of Suicide is a school-based suicide prevention program that includes screening and education. Students are screened for depression and suicide risk and referred for professional help as indicated. Students also watch a video that shows them to recognize signs of depression and suicide within themselves and others. They are taught that the appropriate response to these signs is to use the ACT technique-acknowledge that there is a problem, let the person know you care, and tell a trusted adult.

Today, October 25, our fifth grade participated in Global Maker Day. The day involved participating in challenges throughout the afternoon. Every hour, a new challenge was provided and students all over the world tackled these challenges at the same time. It is a wonderful experience for our students and we were excited to participate this year.

Students in Mrs. Feidler’s InnovatED classes spent some time this month learning more about pumpkins, including properties of pumpkins. They spent some time slowing down to really look and analyze what a pumpkin looks like and what is inside. Afterwards, they carved their pumpkins and experimented with roasting the seeds.

Mrs. Fuechslin’s Recycle It! elective took some old textbooks and hardback books no longer able to be used for instruction and used them to create 3-D art work.

Students in Ms. Furman’s science class completed science experiments and created a poster displaying their experiment. Tomorrow during 8th pd they will be hosting a science fair and present their experiments.

16 members of the Band of Hope made their first visit of the school year to Pediatric Specialty Care on Wednesday October 19. They spent an hour entertaining and interacting with the residents.

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Welcome back!
Posted 8/24/2016 at 4:31:18 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Welcome back to a new school year! It seems like just yesterday we waved goodbye to everyone and geared up for a summer of learning, travel and reflection. This year marks a new beginning, not just for our fifth graders, but for our faculty as well. Change is an opportunity to do something amazing (George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset). We welcome new teachers, new courses and a new superintendent to our community of learners. We welcome Mrs. Fiedler as our new InnovatED teacher. She will be leading the charge for STEAM education in our building, working with students in grades 5-8 this year. We also welcome Ms. Babish as a new member of our fifth grade team. And we are excited to welcome Dr. Miller as our new superintendent!


Over the past few years, we have ratcheted up the rigor and instilled some innovated practices in our Junior High. Last year we began annual building wide STEAM challenges and opened up a STEAM room. Students engaged in making and deep inquiry around various topics all while collaborating with peers and real world experts. This year, we are excited to continue this journey to be responsive and innovative educators and to grow our students into 21st century learners and leaders. Learning may look a little different in many of our classrooms this year for both you as parents and for our students, as we are encouraging teachers to innovate their practices. Part of our mission is to nurture empathy and kindness in our learning community. We have chosen the theme of Kindness this year: #Bekind and #Kindnesscounts and we ask that you support us in this venture. As adults, we must model kindness every day because we know are children are watching us.

Our building is also offering 21 new courses this year for students!  Our students in grades 5 and 6 will be taking Robotics or Coding, InnovatED, Tech Ed and an Essential Technology course.  Fifth graders will participate in a Junior High Induction program to support them with the skills they need to be successful in the Junior High.  Seventh and Eighth graders will be exploring elective opportunities such as Astronomy, Theater Tech, Technology Design and Innovation, Ceramics, Recycle It Art, Geography and Current Events, Creek Connections, Cyber Game Design, Cyber Spanish and Cyber French.  Wow! We are proud of the opportunities for exploration students will have here this year and hope to find ways to instill wonder in our learners.  We believe we are meeting our mission of engaging every student, every class and every day through our focus on building relationships and delivering relevant and rigorous curriculum to our students.

We invite you to join us this year: come see our new classrooms and programs and keep in touch through our social media accounts (Twitter: @HMJHS_Vikings and Remind: @jrhighno) along with our website. It takes a whole community to grow every student, every day. We look forward to a great year!

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Welcome Dr. Miller!
Posted 8/23/2016 at 12:15:54 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
It is with great pleasure and excitement that we welcome our new district leader!  Michelle Miller was appointed Superintendent of the Hopewell Area School District and began in the District in July. Dr. Miller remarked that “I feel truly honored to be part of the Hopewell Area School District and feel privileged work with the amazing teachers, administration and staff.  I am looking forward to celebrating all of the successes of our students over the next year.”
 
Dr. Miller, a lifelong educator, began her teaching and administrative career in the Ellwood City Area School District as a Social Studies teacher and then an Assistant High School Principal. 

She then joined the administrative team at Seneca Valley School District as the principal of Haine Middle School, a 5th and 6th grade middle school. With superintendent leadership experience in the districts of Blackhawk and Wilmington, Dr. Miller joins our District with a wealth of school leadership experiences.

Dr. Miller is currently a Board Member for Lifesteps, Inc., Tri-State Study Council, and the Forum for Western PA Superintendents. Upon returning to Beaver County, she has joined the Executive Board for Beaver County United Way and Beaver County Educational Trust.

Dr. Miller is a resident in Chippewa Township and is proud to become part of the Hopewell Area School District community serving the students, parents, and community. Dr. Miller shared that “through our staff and students’ passion, purpose, and pride, the future of Hopewell is unlimited!”

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6TH GRADE DECADES PROJECT
Posted 6/3/2016 at 10:26:05 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Each year the 6th grade participates in a decades project where students learn about the culture and events of the past four decades.  

But rather than ME explaining the project, I thought it would be best to provide a guest blog from a student on the decades project.  

Enjoy!




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May Highlight Reel
Posted 5/24/2016 at 2:08:05 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

These are just a FEW of the awesome things happening at Hopewell Memorial Junior High School this month!  #Greatthingsarehappening

Ms. Kostial’s students are experimenting with vermicomposting as part of their STEAM activity and are happy to have the building responding to their request for paper and water bottle recycling.

Mr. Mawhinney's 6th grade honors class is currently working on their final, which is a 7 mission group project.  Students are thrown into an imaginary world where they are working to combat an viral outbreak.  The students first few missions involve getting to safety and ultimately to the cdc headquarters.  Once there they must analyze the virus and work on creating medicine.  The students must use their mathematical reasoning and knowledge to complete each open ended mission. It encompasses many of the mathematical skills and concepts that they have learned throughout the year.

Thanks to a grant from LOWES and BCET, our school garden outside the main entrance is looking great! Student crafted picnic tables and fencing, along with student landscaping have created a beautiful garden space. Thank you to Mr. Biesenkamp and his 8th grade students for all their hard work and efforts.

Fourth grade students visited the Junior High School last Monday to hear the band and chorus and get a tour of the building. Students were also able to all plant a flower in the new garden space, leaving their first mark on their new school. Parent orientation was held Monday May 23, and we had a wonderful turnout of parents eager to learn more about fifth grade and junior high school. A special thank you to Mr. Kostial and Mrs. Batchelor for introducing themselves to the parents and students and to our NJHS members for volunteering to tour the new Jr High families through the building.

May is time to show off our school’s reading skills! Book Club members and gifted students in 5-6th grade read 6 books and competed against 10 county schools in the Beaver County Battle of the Books on May 3rd. 7th and 8th grade students read 6 books and competed against schools across Western PA at the WPCTE English festival at Duquesne University on May 5th.

Mr. Marchetti, one of our seventh and eighth grade Language Arts teachers, won the Middle Grades Golden Apple Teaching Award through the Prevention Network. The Golden Apple Gala is an event dedicated to honoring superb teachers in the area. They are recognized for their outstanding work in teaching methods and dedication toward education. The 2016 Golden Apple Gala was held at The Prevention Network on Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 6:00 PM.

Mrs. Miller’s fifth grade Language Arts students are creating concrete poems of their choice and will be turning them into T-shirts.

8th grade Language Arts classes are finishing up their novel study of Tom Sawyer complete with a Personalized project or Boat Creation project. Students will be building and racing their boats across baby pools on Friday. Look for Twitter updates on the event.

Mr. Marchetti’s students are also engaging in an end of the year writing project entitled the Marchetti Roast. Students have to use their writing skills and (school appropriate) sense of humor to roast Mr. Marchetti in a professional way.

5th and 6th grade students are creating Virtual Tours of the Junior High to share with the incoming 4th graders. They are using Padcaster video equipment funded by the BCET grant to shoot their videos. We will be posting a few on our website so parents and students can “tour” the junior high school all summer long.

On Friday, May 20, our fifth graders participated in the fourth annual French and Indian War Day. The weather was beautiful and the students and staff enjoyed learning about the time period from the reinactors. Activities included story telling, butter churning and cannon fire, to name a few events. A special thank you goes to Ms. Kostial for organizing the event each year to make history come alive and the PTSA for providing the luncheon and volunteers for the event.

In preparation for the 6th grade SkyZone field trip, Mrs. Kuzma and Mrs. Yurcina’s 6th grade math classes are designing frames for trampolines with a 12”x12” jump area made of saran wrap. Their goal is to make the sturdiest frame to hold the most weight before collapsing, or falling through. Most are getting them up to around 13lbs!!!! Then from what they have learned from the first design they need to make another with the jump area being made from tissue paper. They are loving it, and it is making them think about the design of SkyZone, and the credibility of the saran wrap company and its claims to be tough. All materials used are from the STEAM lab.

This year’s art show was a great success! 1400 art work from grades 5 through 8 were displayed! Students in the Art Club hung everything in one day…Wow! Many of the works of art are still on display around the school.

Our end of the year band and chorus concerts were a huge success! Thank you to Mr. Toporski and Mrs. Wilson for all their hard work with our students to promote the arts in our building!

Room 200 and 201 completed a Steam Project that included Math, Reading and Science. The students needed to read the words Gallon, Quart, Pint, and Cup, identify the units and find containers that equal the correct unit for Gallon, Quart, Pint, and Cups. They had a great time and even made clothes, hair and accessories for their Gallon Girls :)

For more information and photos of these activities and more , please follow us on Twitter at @HMJHS_Vikings
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April's Highlight Reel
Posted 4/26/2016 at 12:54:31 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Here is a quick recap of some of the great things happening here in the month of April.  Check out our twitter feed for more information!

May is time to show off our school’s reading skills! Book Club members and gifted students in 5-6th grade read 6 books and will compete against 10 county schools in the Beaver County Battle of the Books on May 3rd. 7th and 8th grade students read 6 books and will compete against schools across Western PA at the WPCTE English festival at Duquesne University on May 5th.

On Friday April 22, for Earth day the 5th grade class were split into smalls groups and used the iPads to create short videos on how to save the Earth.

Officer Jim Lewis finished teaching his last DARE class of his career last week with the 5th Graders. Officer Lewis has work hand and hand with the Hopewell Area School District for 20 years as both the Juvenile Officer and the DARE Officer. He will finish his 36 year career as a Police Officer in Hopewell Township in May and we wish him the best of luck!

Students from Mrs. Cosnek’s 8th grade class submitted entries for the Pittsburgh Society of Analytical Chemists’ Earth Day illustrated poetry contest. The following students’ work was submitted to the contest:


Isabella Alvarado

Melina Bufalini

Katelyn Carter

Allison Kohar

Cora Reddinger


Mrs. Cosnek’s 8th grade classes are involved in an online Math/Science NHL activity sponsored by Everfi.com. Students work on math concepts such as area of the arena floor and forces, speed and friction in science as they participate in 11 different “games”. They will receive “Stanley Cup” certificates when they complete all 11 games with 70% accuracy. They are able to replay games in order to improve scores and grasp the concept of the game. They are motivated because their simulated locker room is the Penguins who are currently in the midst of the play-offs.

The life skills/autistic support class created an alphabet book by taking pictures around the Jr. High and using the Show Me app on the iPads. They turned out really cute and will be a great addition to our classroom library.

Last week after PSSA Math testing, students across the building participated in a logo design challenge. Students were broken up in to small groups in their homerooms where they collaboratively designed logos to represent Purpose Passion and Pride for the Hopewell Area School District. Homerooms then voted to send one design forward. We will be working to narrow down our logos to be displayed in various ways throughout the district.

Mr. Marchetti, one of our seventh and eighth grade Language Arts teachers, was nominated for the Golden Apple Teaching Award through the Prevention Network. The Golden Apple Gala is an event dedicated to honoring superb teachers in the area. They are recognized for their outstanding work in teaching methods and dedication toward education. The 2016 Golden Apple Gala will be held at The Prevention Network on Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 6:00 PM. All nominees are recognized at the event, and a winner is chosen in each category. We wish him luck in the process.

Our Physical Education Teacher, Mr. Terry Borkovic was recently honored at the 41st annual Beaver County Hall of Fame induction ceremony. We are so proud of Mr. Borkovic. The link to the article is: http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local_sports/beaver-county-hall-of-fame-class-has-something-old-something/article_a051f826-0a89-11e6-88bc-c3299a6d566a.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

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March Highlight Reel
Posted 3/23/2016 at 8:25:51 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

These are just SOME of the events happening at Hopewell Junior High School this month:

Mrs. Miller’s fifth grade math class embarked on a quest to make the BEST lemonade for the most profit. As part of a STEAM project, students created a recipe, utilized a budget, planned and built their lemonade stand and determined pricing for their lemonade which they sold during study hall. Students made graphs to determine who made the most profit. The lemonade was delicious and the students enjoyed a little taste of spring. The students raised $163.48 for the Hopewell Toy Drive.

Mrs. Lehman’s science classes completed their annual Cell City projects, where they built models to represent the various parts of a cell. This year, Mrs. Lehman had students create their representations 3_D utilizing our Success Studio Maker Space to create their cells. Groups then made videos with the green screen to explain their cell representations.

7th grade students in Mrs. Grafton’s classes are using iPads and Google Docs to work on script writing, creating, and editing Podcasts. 5th grade students are working hard to improve their typing skills and research skills by creating Animal Websites on Weebly.

Students represented Hopewell Memorial Jr. High School in the annual Math 24 competition held at Midland School on March 15. Mrs. Battisti took our students who performed well and had a great day.

Seventh grade students in Family and Consumer Sciences planned and hosted breakfast, luncheon and dinner these past two weeks for the administration. We were served an Easter Luncheon, an Irish dinner and a delicious brunch. Students created invitations, decorated for the event and served us the food they prepared. It was a wonderful and enjoyable event for all.

The following students participated in the K’Nex Challenge at Penn State Beaver: Aiden Riggle, Aidan Rusnak, Logan Parrish, Jay Rose, Butchy Hagan, Sebastien Jenkins, Spencer Heiland, Brandon Wadding

Mrs. Steff’s 8th grade Honors classes are completing book reviews using the Aurasma app. Students read books, created summaries and then built a videocast using the green screen in our Success Studio. When you hover over the book cover, the student’s video comes up explaining what the book is about. The plan is to place these in a binder in the library so students can use them to choose books they are interested in reading in the future.

The Art Club is well on their way to completing the decorations for both the art show and the Beaver County Spelling B, hosted by Hopewell. We are so excited to share what we have prepared for the art show, so set your calendars for May 17th from 5-7 and attend the coolest art show here at the J.H.S. Bring your friends, family and especially your children to this event to participate in all of the fun activities...Hope to see you there!

7th grade Honors Language Arts students are preparing for their book project in which they will interview a kindergarten student at Margaret Ross and create a book incorporating that student for the kindergarteners. This is our first year doing this and we are so excited to see the results!

The following students will be attending the Regional Science Fair on April 1st as representatives of Hopewell Junior High School: Chandler Dameron, Nate Miller, Joseph Ozimok, Trent Nan, Ryan McCafferty, Nate Given, Santiago Maza-Urick, Anneli Shadel, Karri Albertini, Michael DePace, Katelyn Carter, Ross Nixon, Chloe Belcufine, Sebastian Cooper, Anthony Slate, Kara DiNardo, Austin Dohl, Katie Klingensmith. We wish them good luck!

The students in Mrs. Herda’s Science classes have researched and built individual Biomes with Cereal boxes. The students are also working in groups to build a Biome with blocks.

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#cybersafety
Posted 3/21/2016 at 11:48:03 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]


Social Media. Two words that make parents cringe. Our children often know more about the latest trends than we do, but this is one area we cannot afford to be behind. This morning our 5th and 6th grade students were lucky enough to hear a presentation from Mr. Little from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office. He spoke with the students about using social media. Most students raised their hands when Mr. Little asked them how many of them have a social media account, including Instagram, Oovoo, Snapchat and/or Facebook. He then asked them how many of the students were already 13. Few hands remained up. Mr. Little reminded them that they themselves are pretending to be something they are not on line if they are not 13 and are utilizing social media. The point being, if you are not being honest, is it that hard to believe others are not.



During the presentation, Mr. Little reminded students that they are taking a huge risk by accepting friend requests from people they do not know personally. Just because someone has mutual friends or has a nice looking profile picture does not mean they are who they say they are. Predators can find out your exact location just from looking at a picture. He also encouraged students to make sure their parents know their passwords.

The students had many questions and may be coming home with some new perspectives on social media and safety. We encourage parents to talk to your children and monitor their use closely. There are many resources to learn more including the following:

Common Sense Media

The 12 Apps That Every Parent Of A Teen Should Know About

While it may be easier to “ban” social media from your house, it also makes it more likely that kids will sneak and not be honest about what they are experiencing. Just as we taught our children to cross the street safely, and how to ride their bikes around the neighborhood, we definitely need to teach them how to utilize social media positively. The hard part is, we learned the former ourselves, the latter is new to us adults, too.

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NJHS Induction Ceremony Guest Blog
Posted 3/10/2016 at 10:30:16 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

By Mrs. Kuzma

So I imagine when you first found out that you were chosen to be inducted into NJHS and were told to choose a teacher to pin you, some of you immediately had one person in mind. Others may have had a few, and needed some time to think about the one you felt had the biggest impact on you.

You chose the teacher behind me as the one who stood out to you. The one who encouraged you. The one who pushed you to love learning more than you thought you could (or maybe pushed you to love learning for the first time). You enter their classroom daily expecting to be motivated to work hard, pushed to rise to challenges, and to meet their expectations. And most times you feel the desire to go far beyond what they expected.

Because they INSPIRE you some way.

-Maybe it’s the way they greet you when you enter the room making you feel like you’re their favorite kid in the class.

-Maybe it’s the passion they feel as they tell stories of the Civil War like they themselves were actually the ones at battle.

-The excitement the show as they explain the incredible journey of blood as it moves through the body.

-The way they made Social Studies funny… How can that even be that Social Studies is FUNNY?

-The way their favorite novel quickly became your favorite as they read to your class using the voices of all the characters.

-The celebration they share when you finally get how to find the percent of a number or how to play that high note on your flute.

We have a little secret to share with you… (Little do most students know this). We as teachers come to work every day, some leave young kids with a babysitter, or aging parents with a caregiver. We enter the doors of the school and leave that our lives behind for a few hours. We do that because of YOU. When it seems as though we are the ones who inspire you (and we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t), you, too, inspire us.

You expect great things from us. You come to class with excitement ready to learn from US – not from the books we have from which to teach, but from us. You inspire us to come to work early to get ready for the day, and leave late so we can check those tests you’ll want back the next day. You inspire us to have our books by our bedside so we can fully understand and prepare for the firing of unexpected questions you’ll have for us during tomorrow’s lesson. You inspire us to drink our coffee on Saturday mornings searching through Pinterest for fresh new ideas to keep up with your 21 century minds. You inspire us to learn what we can about the learner you are so we can reach you and teach you to the best of our abilities.

YOU are OUR inspiration.

Think deeply about this power you hold. How do you use that power? Who else are you inspiring around you?

Do your actions towards others inspire your friends to be kind?

Do your behaviors in the cafeteria and the hallways, when there’s a sub in your classroom inspire respect?

Are your words when you’re with your friends at the football game, at the mall, or at the movies an inspiration to other kids around you?

How about your text messages, your comments posted on Instagram, your snapchat photos – an inspiration for dignity and self-respect?

Think deeply about this power you hold.

Your teachers need you to use that power when you’re at school. Your parents need you to use that power at home. Your friends need you to use that power when you’re around them. The world needs you to use this power in positive, meaningful ways. How are you using it?

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STEAM Walk
Posted 2/16/2016 at 2:24:46 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
On Thursday, our community got together to celebrate the grand opening of a new classroom space.  The Key To Success Studio was named by the students and contains our STEAM and Maker Education supplies.  

A large part of the STEAM and Maker Education movement hinges upon student leadership and agency to determine and solve real world problems.  To that end, our STEAM walk was facilitated completely by students.  Our eighth graders ran stations throughout the building to teach the community about some of the new technology we are incorporating.  Students, parents and teachers were able to participate in guiding Sphero through a maze, using Makey Makey to play a banana piano, creating circuits using play dough and creating marble runs.  Additionally, Robert Morris University taught participants about 3D printers and Thermo-Fisher demonstrated how to recognize elements through the use of light.  The high school presented their Seaperch robot in the pool and the Rube Goldberg machine built for competition at the science center.  

The following day, our students came back to assume the role of teacher in showing our staff how to utilize our new resources to make learning relevant and engaging for students.  Teachers spent the afternoon learning about STEAM and project based learning, and participating in a Maker Design Challenge.  It was wonderful to hear the laughter and team work coming from the STEAM room. It is wonderful to work with a staff with such a passion to connect with our students to make learning dynamic and engaging for our students.

We have appreciated all the community support, especially with materials for the Success Studio. Our PTSA has been extremely supportive of our efforts.  These opportunities would not be as easy to implement without your support.  

Pictures of both events can be found on our Twitter page @HMJHS_Vikings.  


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STEAM WALK INFORMATION
Posted 1/21/2016 at 3:36:35 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Click below for information about our first annual STEAM walk!!!

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Project Zero and STEAM
Posted 1/21/2016 at 3:34:03 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

On Monday, I was lucky enough to spend the day with 14 colleagues from our building engaged in some deep thinking around how we create a cultural of learning in our schools.  We attended sessions like one where we discovered new ways to help students sharpen their working memory utilizing a new note taking strategy and we spent some time learning more about the impact Maker Education can have on student learning.  
Like our students, we were given a design challenge to complete and it was neat to see how we worked as a team to get the job done.

This year, many of us have been engaged in some deep thinking and exploration around the concepts of STEAM and Maker Education.  We have begun creating and implementing school-wide design challenges and some teachers are taking some new risks with project based learning.  We are excited to share some of these things with you at our first annual STEAM Walk on February 11, where you will get a chance to see just what STEAM is really about.  

Opportunities to meet with our regional colleagues and learn from experts in the field of education, like the opportunity we had on Monday, are essential for our continued growth.  We, as educators, need to model our quest for continuous improvement and the curiosity we would like to see exhibited in our students.  


By the end of the day on Monday, we each left feeling invigorated with the new ideas and knowledge that we gained.  As we move ahead with our STEAM room and activities, we are excited to try some new things and share them with our community.  Our Twitter page will be the main place to find the innovative practices going on at the Junior High.  You can find us @HMJHS_Vikings.


To Find out more about Project Zero, watch this video.
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American Girl Facebook Event
Posted 1/21/2016 at 2:47:29 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
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Digital Etiquette at HMJHS
Posted 12/18/2015 at 12:53:14 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
As we enter into the holiday season, a season of gift giving, I would like to take a moment to address an issue we are experiencing at the Junior High. Assuming many students will receive new phones, IPods, IPads and other electronics for the holidays, this seems like a good time to review our policies and procedures.
Students ARE permitted to register E-Reader devices here at the Junior High. Forms and specific rules can be found in the main office. Students are permitted to use these devices to read previously downloaded materials only.  

Students ARE also permitted to listen to music or play video games with headphones or without sound on the bus.  As long as it does not cause a distraction to the driver or interfere with other passengers, we think it is a great way to stay occupied during a long bus ride.
Students ARE NOT permitted to utilize their cell phones or other electronic devices from 7:30-2:55 pm in our building. This includes taking pictures, texting and using SnapChat and other social media. According to the handbook, students are provided with one warning and the device is held in the office for the remainder of the day when caught violating our policy. After this, the student will be assigned TLC and the device is held in the office for a parent or guardian to pick up.

Students ARE NOT permitted to take pictures or use social media, like Instagram or Snapchat on the bus.  

Please remind students to turn their devices off while in
the building. Please do not text your child during the day.  If you
receive a text message from your child, please encourage them to use the phones
in the office, or the nurse, to call you.  If your child texts you that they are sick and need to be picked up, please remind them that students going home sick must go through our school nurse. This is for a number of reasons. First, students who are sick should be screened to determine if they need immediate medical attention. Secondly, students who are deemed appropriate to go home are cleared medically for attendance purposes. Thirdly, this is the procedure in place in the building so that each and every student is accounted for, which we ask everyone to respect.
We all want our children to be safe on social media, and taking pictures while in the school building, posting selfies and pictures of friends, violates the safety of your child and of others.  Additionally, we do have students who are not allowed to have their pictures taken and we would like to respect the wishes of those families.  Pictures should not be taken in bathrooms or locker rooms, as there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in these areas. And finally, the misuse of cell phones also disrupts and distracts from the learning environment. We ask that you review digital/electronic etiquette with your children to help support our efforts here.

Taking a moment to review these policies as a family helps send the message that we are all part of the same team playing the same game by the same rules.  We appreciate your support.



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Anti-Bullying Activity
Posted 12/10/2015 at 1:43:53 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Each person is part of the bigger picture 

hand in hand we stand against bullying
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How is a part also a whole?
Posted 12/1/2015 at 3:40:18 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Can something be known and also unknown?  What allows it to be called unknown?  What more would you need to call it known?

Can something be a part and also a whole?  What makes something whole?


Today, some fifth, sixth and seventh graders explored these big questions with Mrs. Webster and Mrs. Wilson through an exercise called close looking.  After spending some time learning methods to slow thinking down and encourage creativity through professional development sessions with the Children's Innovation Project, Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Webster facilitated activities involving slowing down and really examining things with the goal of digging deep and learning more.  Students examined, drew and questioned items as simple as a screw and as complex as a mother board to determine what was both known and unknown about items.  

We hope that students walked away with a sense that they hold the power to make ideas more complex, to dig deeper and question in an effort to know more.  Learning is infinite - there is no end.
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Billions in Change
Posted 11/25/2015 at 12:23:03 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Junior High students and staff spent our morning learning about how science and technology can be used to change the world.  We began our morning watching the documentary Billions in Change.  Students learned about major global issues such as lack of clean water and energy and how one man is choosing to try and make a difference.  

Manoj Bhargava, CEO of Living Essentials, recounts an old Indian proverb about a blind man walking towards a well.  If he falls in, who is responsible: the blind man or those who watched and said nothing?

Students were asked to ponder this question in their homerooms, and spent some time thinking about what the video means to them, here at the Junior High.  We hope to continue the dialogue as the year progresses.  

As we head home to celebrate a national holiday where we are asked to pause and give thanks for all we have, we hope this experience today also reminds us to pause and remember our duty to each other.  

Happy Thanksgiving from the Junior High School.  We hope everyone is ready to roll in December, as we have a lot more learning left to do!

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Full STEAM Ahead
Posted 11/25/2015 at 12:21:31 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
As you may already know, the Junior High is creating a STEAM Lab/Maker Space to provide students with opportunities for STEAM activities.  Today we kicked off our efforts with our first building wide Design Challenge.

Students worked in small groups to build turkey traps to catch Bad Turkey, who is misbehaving throughout the school.  

As we walked the halls, we heard "I have an idea!"  "Let's try this!" and other sounds of students engaged in solving a problem.  What a wonderful morning full of 100% student engagement.


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Happy Veteran's Day
Posted 11/12/2015 at 10:17:50 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
While it is nice to have a day off from work and school, sometimes it becomes difficult to pause and be purposeful on the day meant to honor the brave men and women who serve our country with all the other things we pack in to making the most of our day off.

This year, students in Mrs. Burak and Mrs. Furman's classes took time out of their busy schedules to recognize the veterans who teach and work in our building.  Each service member was provided with a small token of appreciation and honored on a bulletin board in our building. 



But remembering that these men and women risked their lives daily, one day certainly does not seem like enough of a thank you.  And that is why I was so touched by our eighth grade students last Friday on the Washington, D.C. field trip. While visiting monuments, we came across a group of veterans visiting our nations capitol.  Without prompting, a number of students approached the veterans and thanked them for their service to our country.  I was so honored to be associated with a group of teenagers with such awareness and thoughtfulness for others. You could see on their faces that the family members and veterans were also pleased and touched.  I realized that genuine, unplanned gratitude is something I should strive to do more in my daily life. We get so consumed with going through the routines, sometimes we forget to pause and be thankful for what others do.  Or at least I do.   Which is one reason I love working with this age group.  They make me a better person.

So for all Hopewell families who have been touched by or who have served our country, thank you.  
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Mix It Up Day!
Posted 10/26/2015 at 2:06:33 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Teaching Tolerance launched a national campaign over a decade ago, Mix It Up at Lunch Day.

This day encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries and make new friends.


Cafeteria tables will be numbered and ready for students during lunch on

October 27, 2015.

Fifth and sixth grade students will be given a number for their assigned table for the lunch period. Students may have familiar faces at their table or they may not. The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to meet someone new, make a new friend, learn something about a student they may not know, and to see that it is ok to MIX IT UP!

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NWEA testing
Posted 10/22/2015 at 1:09:52 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Over the past month, you may have heard your children discussing some testing they have taken on the computer called the NWEA MAP test in their Language Arts and Math classes. This test is a non-graded benchmark assessment given building wide.

The test is one way we gather data on our students’ progress to inform our instructional practices. The results of these tests help us see what skills students have mastered and which skills they need to work on next in order to continuously grow. You can find out more information via their website or by contacting us at [email protected] or [email protected]

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Maker Space Learning Comes to the Junior High
Posted 10/20/2015 at 2:01:38 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Last week, we had the privilege of visiting Mrs. Battisti's Enrichment class, where students were actively engaged in the Spaghetti Tower activity:





This type of activity is typically categorized under the STEAM education movement, or Maker Space learning, where we give students the ability to use teamwork and creativity to complete a task or find a solution to a problem.  It was wonderful to see the students engaged in a task that looks simple, until you see conversation students have while engineering their towers.


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Student Assistant Program
Posted 10/20/2015 at 1:56:57 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

 

Are you worried about your child because they are not doing well at school either academically or socially/emotionally? 

The Student Assistance Program (SAP) can help. The HMJH SAP team consists of school and agency staff that is available to help you and your child access school and community services. Contact your child’s school counselor or visit the SAP tab on the web page for more information.

 

Strategies SAP members use with students include:

*Meeting with you child 1:1 to talk about their concerns and review academics

*Communicate with parents about goals and progress

*Make referrals to community agencies

*Talk with other SAP team members about suggestions for additional support for your child.

*Communicate with your child’s teachers about progress in their class.

Community services that families can be connect to include:

*Outpatient Counseling or positive teen programs (a list of potential providers can be given to you)

*Food, clothing and heating supports

*The Caring Place for Grieving Children

* Referral to drug and alcohol services

Visit our SAP Information page for more information about the program.
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September Highlights
Posted 9/28/2015 at 10:04:20 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Here are just SOME of the things happening in the Junior High this month!

The students in grade 7 completed their Real World Math Projects. They were asked to pick a job and identify three ways in which that job used math. They also had to write 1-2 paragraphs explaining how math is used. The project involved the creation of a poster with visual representations of the job. Some classes presented to the principals, as well.

Mrs. Herda’s science class participated in their first lab, “Growing Crystals.” The students were actively engaged in this hands on learning experience. It was nice to see the learning that was taking place with real life experiences.

The 8th grade Language Arts students are really enjoying and are very enthusiastic about reading The Outsiders, so much so they have been discussing the book outside of their LA classes and with their other teachers.

Mr. Kostial received a grant for new equipment for my Trout in the Classroom program. The source of the funding is Water Resources Education Network (WREN) Source Water Protection Collaborative Grant provided to the League of Women Voters of PA Citizen Education Fund by a Safe Drinking Water Act Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for Drinking Water Source Water Protection administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Denise Kraus-Decanio of Creswell Heights Joint Authority was instrumental in making this grant possible for us. The grant total was $1,050. Mr. Kostial was able to purchase a new chiller, 2 new filters and other supplies for the Aquarium.

8th grade students designed their own experiments with bouncy balls and bubbles and then performed the experiments, collected data, graphed data and drew conclusions. The honors 8th grade students will soon be designing experiments or engineering projects for the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair to be held at Heinz Field on April 1, 2016.

Students in Mrs. Lindner’s study halls are working extra hard to increase the students’ abilities in their identified areas of weakness.

Eleven girls in grades 6-8 have signed up for our first Girls on the Run. Coach Kuzma and Coach Blyzwick started the program today and will be meeting with the girls on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The program ends with the girls participating in a 5K run in North Park this winter.

Ask your children for more information about what they did this month in school!
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Open House
Posted 9/24/2015 at 10:08:55 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Unable to join us tonight at Open House? 

We have attached the power point for Keys for Success here at the Junior High!
Attachment: Open House 2015.pptx
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Welcome Back!
Posted 9/1/2015 at 10:42:43 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Dear Parents/Guardians:

We are very happy to report a successful start to yet another school year! We too, extend our gratitude for those efforts put forth preparing your child for the academic challenges ahead.

All employees of Hopewell Memorial Junior High School ask that you continue to be attentive to your child’s progress as the academic year evolves. Continue your dialogue with your child about the school day. Use questions such as “What was one thing you learned today?” “What is one problem you are having trouble solving?“What was the best part of your day?” “Do you have any homework this evening?” “Are there any tests, projects and/or reports that you need to prepare for?” These are just ideas for starting conversations each day. It is our hope that your child will soon initiate these conversations. If you do so at the onset, it will become part of a daily routine.

You may also check on your child’s progress via the CSIU Parent Portal. Registration procedures should be posted shortly. In the event that you have any questions or concerns, email the teacher offering instruction for that particular class. Email addresses for all Jr. High faculty members can be found under the Faculty Directory link of the Jr. High Webpage.

In the event that you do not have Internet access, or are more comfortable speaking directly with the teacher, you may contact the individual via telephone. Please realize that when calling, you will likely not be able to speak directly to your child’s teacher on account of their instructional schedule. Feel free to leave a message indicating your concern. Teachers will respond to your concern in a reasonable time frame.

As in years past, we will continue to utilize a proactive approach when dealing with student concerns. Should your child express uneasiness related to his/her academics and/or social interactions, we ask that you please contact us immediately. You may also communicate this information with your child’s corresponding school counselor (Mrs. Batchelor – 5th/6th grades or Mrs. Rodgers 7th/8th grades). Collaboratively, we can work towards resolving any “roadblocks” that might lie in your child’s pathway towards success.

Once again, we thank you for your efforts and look forward to seeing you at Open House on September 24, 2015 (6:30PM – 8:00PM).

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December Highlight Reel
Posted 12/19/2014 at 2:06:37 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Here is a sampling of just SOME of the things going on at the Junior High School this month:

The 7th Grade Computers Classes have participated in Code Week and have successfully completed an hour code. The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 30 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104. After completion, the students earned certificates of completion and were looking forward to learning more in the future!

The 5th Grade Computers Classes have been hard at work keyboarding and creating documents in Google. They recently created a table which details various keyboard shortcuts to help the students improve their speed and efficiency while using a computer.

7th grade Language Arts classes went to see “A Christmas Carol” last week – they read the book or play in class and were able to see it brought to life. Students were able to pick Tim Heartman's brain about the intricacies of a stage production after the musical Christmas Carol at Byham Theater.

7th grade History classes chose their Greco/Roman Day roles and began research this week. They will be compiling their research on an organizer in Google Docs so it can be utilized in their language arts classes to write their speeches.

Mrs. Pollick’s Language Arts classes used the iMovie app on the iPads to create book review videos. Students used a mixture of their voice recordings, video, graphics, sound and music to create book reviews. The results very varied: some high-tech, some creative and fun.

5th and 7th grade students in Mr. McKenna's gifted classes made interactive Christmas cards over the past few days. The cards featured Christmas trees with interactive ornaments, snow falling in the background and Christmas carols. The 8th grade students are finishing up video games that they designed and programmed. The games include an intelligent tic tac toe game, that utilizes and algorithm for intelligent play. Also, a student created a pac man game that mimics the famous arcade game. To put this in perspective, recently, code.org held another Hour of Code, in which millions of students around the world participated in an hour of coding utilizing the Scratch programming language, which is what the students in the JH are using. Even President Barack Obama participated. The 8th grade students at Hopewell have spent approximately 4 weeks developing and iterating on their games.

Finally, the 6th grade students are finishing their dragster robots. Using the VEX robotics system; the students are building cars, while trying to create the fastest car as possible. Students are manipulating gear trains to try to eliminate as much torque as possible within their robots while increasing the speed. When done, the students will graph the distance traveled versus the time, and then use the slope/intercept formula to calculate the speed of their robots.

The Creek Connections Activity group was featured in Allegheny College’s December newsletter at Hopewell Community Park as they participated in a nature walk, creek sampling of macro invertebrates and conducting water chemistry.

In Social Studies, Mrs. Parrish’s fifth grade students did research on a European Explorer. With guidance from Mrs. Lash on how to research, students used library books and e-books to find information to give the Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? about the explorer. We then used the TREE graphic organizer that the students have been taught for persuasive essays in Language Arts (PSU We-Write) to create a google presentation about why their explorer “changed the world”. In addition, the students are writing an acrostic poem about the explorer using their research information. The presentations will be made during Social Studies class.

After taking the iPad class, Mrs. Furman is beginning to incorporate the iPad during class by taking assessments on it and using it as a communication device.

5th grade had a good time at the Carnegie Museum on Friday, December 12th. They learned and reinforced concepts about different regions of Native Americans, which were presented in Social Studies class.

Students in 5th grade Language Arts classes have been using the We Write program to help them with persuasive writing. This is a collaborative effort through Penn State to improve student writing.

Mrs. Harcar’s sixth grade math class explained and used scientific notation to write large and small numbers. They discussed things that represented very large numbers (ex. Miles to Pluto) and even had a guest presenter (Mrs. Cosnek) to discuss things that represent very small numbers. This cross curricular activity is one example of how we keep students engaged and continue to make connections between concepts in various classes to enhance student learning.

Mrs. Lash, Mr. Clemens, Mrs. Rodgers and Mrs. Steff are finishing up Toy Drive collections and organization for the distribution this week. With the assistance of the elementary and high schools, our district is able to support many of our families who experience hardships over the holiday season. We appreciate all the work these individuals do to provide support for our Hopewell families.

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Mr. DeNome's Christmas Delight
Posted 12/18/2014 at 2:04:29 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Sixth grade spent some time this month studying winter holiday customs around the world.  Some countries eat special foods, some have special songs and there are a variety of different kinds of Santa Claus figures who deliver gifts.  But I would be willing to wager, no other community has Mr. DeNome's Christmas Delight.  

Each year, right before the holiday break, Mr. DeNome, our peppy Physical Education Teacher, hauls out his accordion and treats the students to a sing-along of their favorite holiday tunes. Students have a chance to lead the group in a song.  Think of it as accordion karoake.  The students have a good time and it serves to get us all in the holiday spirit.  

After all the hard work our students have put in this month, it is nice to treat them to a little fun.

Happy Holidays!
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sixth graders learn about career choices
Posted 12/16/2014 at 12:53:23 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
On Tuesdays this year, sixth graders have the opportunity to learn about careers from professionals in a variety of fields.  After obtaining feedback from students about professions they are interested in exploring, Mrs. Batchelor has organized speakers to come and speak to students about their careers and what it takes to get there.  Students have the opportunity to ask questions and learn about possible career choices.  If you have a sixth grader, ask them what careers they have discussed so far...


If you would like to come and speak to our students, in person or virtually, please contact Mrs. Batchelor for information on how you can participate!
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Activity Period
Posted 11/25/2014 at 1:29:46 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
The middle school years are considered a unique time for children, so much so, that much research is being done on middle level education.  The National Association for Middle Level Education has come up with 16 characteristics of a strong middle level education published in a book entitled, This We Believe (2010).  One of the characteristics listed is curriculum that is challenging, exploratory, integrative, and relevant.  

This year, in an attempt to be responsive to our students, we have added a short activity period to the end of the school day. Fifth and sixth grade students are working on study skills, Accelerated Reader and organization.  Seventh and Eighth grade students are involved in exploratory activities, such as African Dance, Chess/Checkers, Model Building, Cup Stacking, Intramural sports, Chorus, Band, Board Games, Kickboxing and Hunting 101, to name a few.  Every day, as I travel around visiting different activities, I see students engaged in problem solving or physical activity, or often, both.  Additionally, students requiring more support academically are able to meet with content specific teachers during this time.  

This time also allows students and teachers to get to know each other outside of the curriculum, which is another tenant of strong middle level education:  Every student’s academic and personal development is guided by an adult advocate.

If you haven't yet, please ask your child about the activities they picked and encourage them to explore new ones at the end of the nine weeks.  We are enjoying this time and see it as a real opportunity for student growth.
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Service Learning this Holiday Season
Posted 11/25/2014 at 1:14:57 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Often times when we think of community service, we look outside our local communities and either donate time, or money to those in need who may live far away.  Of course there is nothing wrong with this, but for me, the most meaningful service is what we can accomplish in our own backyard.  Our holiday programs for local families in need are two of my favorite to support because:

1. They are impacting our local community and 

2. They both involve lots of hands-on activities for the students, not just donating money, but actually collecting, sorting, and delivering items to families in need.  

This year,  Mrs. Steff and Mrs. Lash from the Junior High, along with National Honor Society students and high school sponsors, will be delivering Thanksgiving Dinner to over 50 Hopewell families in need. The entire district stepped up to help the NHS and NJHS raise money for this annual event with multiple NHS and NJHS fundraisers and a dress down day for teachers, all of which netted over $1000. Also, Indy, the Jr High, and High School had a food drive collecting tons of nonperishables to share.


Next up for this group . . . The Toy Drive!  

Here are some ways to support our students' efforts this holiday season:

  • Visit our Amazon Wish List by going to Hopewell Area School District Amazon Wish List (or search for “Hopewell Toy Drive” on Amazon) Items can be purchased through this secure site with your credit card or with an Amazon gift card (sold at local Giant Eagle stores). All items will be shipped directly to the junior high school library so they can be sorted and delivered to families the week before Christmas.

  • Purchase an Amazon gift card or write a check out to “Hopewell Area School District” with “Toy Drive” in the memo. Gift card and check donations can be sent to Nicole Lash in the Hopewell Junior High Library (2354 Brodhead Road Aliquippa, PA 15001). All donations must be received prior to Thursday, December 11, 2014.

  • Advertise our fundraiser by sharing our wish list on your social media page. You can do this by following the Amazon Wish List donation instructions and clicking on the share buttons on the right-hand corner of the page.



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SockTober
Posted 10/27/2014 at 10:10:56 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Guest Blog from Mrs. Kuzma's Sixth Grade Homeroom:

Hopewell Jr. High School is having a sock drive called SOCKTOBER.  Mrs. Kuzma's class, room 204, is having this amazing sock drive!  Our group used the chromebooks to create flyers to spread the word.  Students who bring in socks can create their own sock to hand on their lockers.  

Our goal is 100 new pairs of socks.  This will end October 31st.  All of the socks donated will go to local homeless shelters.  Lots of people need our help! So donate some socks!

Thank you for helping us to do our part in helping the homeless.  Remember, there is no I in team.

#socktober
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Teamwork
Posted 10/15/2014 at 3:33:59 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Yesterday, after a long day of teaching, our staff gathered together for a faculty meeting in the school library.  We listened to our OLWEUS student representatives as they presented the results from last year's OLWEUS student surveys.  This information tells us what is successful and where we need to improve in our efforts to curb bullying in our schools.  The students ended with some positive comments their peers have made about our OLWEUS program.  

I was struck by the theme of the comments.  Some students indicated how much they enjoyed having two teachers working with them.  They also expressed feeling empowered to stand up for themselves and others.  But mostly, they talked about liking the teamwork activities.  Don't we all?  Feeling as if you are a member of a greater community, of a team that is working together for the common good... keeping our community strong.  If our students are learning that THEY are the keepers of the culture and each other, we are doing something right.

And then I looked out at our faculty, which gathered in their PINK for our first faculty meeting PINK OUT event, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, and I thought, "I have a great team!"  We have teachers working together every day to make this the best Junior High School experience possible for our students.  I am so proud of our student centered approach, and our ability to come together and smile.  I look at this picture and think: how lucky we all are to be teaching at Hopewell Memorial Junior High School.  

 
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Talking to your students about grades
Posted 9/26/2014 at 3:25:22 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Progress reports were just sent home this week marking the middle of the first nine weeks. For some students, this is a time for celebration. Maybe they are struggling in a tough class and have managed to maintain a passing grade, or have shown academic prowess throughout their daily schedule. For other students, progress reports are a little more disappointing. Students may not be working up to their potential, not completing homework or classwork in a timely fashion.

I have been asked often how parents should address poor grades and have always reiterated that poor grades are not a reflection on parents, but on the student.

Then, just this week, I received my copy of a weekly Love and Logic newsletter I subscribe to entitled, "Responding to Poor Grades." What timing! The article, written by Dr. Charles Fay, reminds us of a couple important concepts to remember when addressing students about their performance.

First, as frustrating as it is, we cannot learn for our students. It is their job to do the learning. We can support them, provide extra tutoring, assist them in finding a quiet place to study and help them learn skills necessary to follow through. We need to create a climate where we model the importance of continual and lifelong learning. But ultimately, we cannot do school for them.

Secondly, and probably the one that make us go crazy as parents and educators, we ultimate cannot control the decisions independent minds make. Sometimes our children will make poor choices. Our role is to structure the consequences that will result when poor choices are made and to follow through with those consequences.

Dr. Fay goes on to remind us that there are many people throughout history who were not successful in school but still made a positive impact on society. Sometimes, especially as someone who chose this profession because I believe so very deeply in the importance of education, I need that reminder. Struggling, even failing, is sometimes a better lesson than succeeding.

So how do you respond when your child brings home grades that are not up to expectation? According to Dr. Fay, research shows that grades and behavior are likely to increase with positive, empathetic responses from parents and teachers. By telling a child you are available to help them come up with a plan to improve their school performance, you are sending a message that 1. The expectation is good grades/effort and 2. It is the child’s responsibility but you will help support them to make changes.

We also encourage you to reach out the teachers, and encourage your children to do the same. Open lines of communication are so vital to the success of our school community. Teachers will be happy to share their observations, and what they believe your child can do to meet with success in their classrooms.

If you are not familiar with the Love and Logic program, it is a discipline philosophy that encourages children to make positive choices and learn from natural consequences for their behavior while teaching empathy and critical thinking skills. You can find out more by clicking here.



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September 2014 Highlight Reel
Posted 9/25/2014 at 10:27:59 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

September came and went rather quickly!  Now that we are in the school groove, academics are picking up.  Hopefully your children are coming home excited to tell you about some of the things they are experiencing here at the Junior High.  But, if they are anything like typical pre-teens, you probably get the one word, "fine" in response to your questions.

Here at the Viking Vibe, we attempt to provide you with a monthly update of some of the activities of which we are the MOST proud.

Here is a list of just SOME of the things we have accomplished this month:

The 5th grade students are participating in a new AR program in efforts to increase reading level, improve reading comprehension, and increase enjoyment. We have added several new components to the reading and test taking, that of writing about their reading, and sharing thoughts about their book with other students. Homeroom classes are using activity period for AR reading, writing in AR journals, and active discussions about books. We added a nine-week homeroom challenge (competition) also, based on class with the highest average of points per student.

The 7th graders in Ms. Lehman's classes learned how to classify things scientifically. Their "creatures" are hanging in the hallway. On a side note, they have hatched 3 Monarch butterflies in the classroom. The chrysalis were donated by Mrs. Judy Mihok.

Mrs. Rodgers visited the 7th and 8th grade classrooms to introduce herself and the different things she does and how she can be a resource for them. Mrs. Rodgers visited the 8th grade classrooms to do a goal setting activity. Common goals throughout the 8th grade are to improve grades, make NJHS, get fit and help others more often. A bulletin board with all of the goals can be found outside of the café.

Mrs. Lash and Ms. Aleva are collaborating on a project to that will entail Ms. Aleva’s Honors History 8 classes creating a pamphlet detailing the historical significance of the 10 monuments they will be visiting in Washington, DC on December 5th. The information will be copied and distributed to all 8th graders to better prepare them for the trip.

Friday, September 19 kicked off our OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Program. Through the hard work of our OLWEUS core team and OLWEUS student representatives, we had a phenomenal event. The high school drum line performed. Students participated in lessons on empathy, friendship, encouragement and team work. The morning ended with a school wide picnic. The students responded to the positive energy and were reminded that we are a community of learners that must work together as a team to prevent bullying in our school. Homerooms will meet throughout the year to participate in mentoring and team building activities. To find out more information about the OLWEUS program, visit the following website:OLWEUS Anti-Bullying Program


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May Highlight Reel
Posted 6/2/2014 at 11:14:43 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Here is a summary of just SOME of the wonderful things that happened this month at the Junior High School.
  • On May 10, 4 of our students competed in the finals of the Algebra Competition: Danica Dong, Jake Walker, Gina Morrison and Nicholas Barth. Gina Morrison won the entire competition and Nicholas Barth won the first round which took place in the beginning of April.

  • On May 9, fifth grade students spent a wonderful day in the sun, learning about life for settlers and Native Americans in the 1700s. From churning butter, to weaving, to marching with (wooden) rifles, to learning how early settlers cleaned up after going to the bathroom, our fifth graders learned more than a textbook could ever provide. If you would like to see the pictures, or read more about the even, check out the article in the Beaver County Times. A special thank you goes to Ms. Kostial, who created this event for the fifth grade and spends a lot of time and energy organizing the event. It is such a neat experience for our students!

  • The past few weeks have been filled with Band and Choral concerts and our annual art show.  This year Mr. Toporski highlighted some student soloists who performed solos and duets during the concert. 

Carinna Lapson – “My Favorite Things”

Matthias Holbert & Sadie Houston – “A Whole New World”

Ellen Davis – “Mean”

Jacob Ujhazy – “Linus and Lucy”

James Caplinger – “Put On A Happy Face”

Ganina Gonzalez – “My White Knight”

  • This year's Spring Art Show highlighted talent from all four grades at the Junior High.  If you weren't about to view and enjoy the show, a small sampling is available to view here as a PDF file.  See more at: Art Show Artwork
  • Mrs. Gailey’s 6th grade social studies class has just wrapped up a project on countries using the IPads. Students created narrations, videos and pictures to make IMovies about their country. The results were great and the students had so much fun learning to create and edit videos.

  • Mrs. Steff's Honors Language Arts classes also used the IPads for some movie creations, having students dress up and perform Shakespeare, creating movies using the IMovie app. It was wonderful seeing students dressed up in costume. Currently Academic Language Arts is creating IMovie trailers to summarize Tom Sawyer.

  • 8th grade science students have used the Chrome Books to create presentations about the different topics in our plate tectonics unit. Students narrated and asked questions of their classmates. Each had to use multiple representations and imbed two appropriate videos within the presentation. Their use of the technology has increased exponentially and the quality of their work would be appropriate to use for students who were homebound and needed to make up this unit! The class critiqued the work and gave both positive feedback and areas in need of improvement (which were few).

  • Traditional students used the Chrome books to watch videos on the three types of plate boundaries and completed vocabulary squares using multiple representations found within the videos. They have also been color-coding and marking plate boundaries on world maps.

  • 7th grade took an end of the year field trip to the zoo.  The students reported enjoying a wonderful day.  Thank you to the seventh grade class club and sponsors Mrs. Battisti and Mrs. Muller for organizing the fun day.

  • The 8th grade field trip on the Gateway Clipper was also a huge success.  Students learned some science and history about the Pittsburgh Rivers while on their cruise.  Thank you to the eighth grade class club and sponsors Mrs. Scheidemantel and Mrs. Cosnek.

  • The annual 8th grade Send Off, sponsored by the PTSA, was held on Friday night, May 30th.  There was a tattoo artist, photo booth, food, dancing, and multiple activities in the gym, including Sumo Wrestling.  The students had a blast.  Congratulations to the 8th graders on a successful junior high experience!  And thank you to the PTSA for hosting such a special event.
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Fifth grade students travel back in time to 1700s
Posted 5/13/2014 at 1:01:59 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Last Friday, May 9, fifth grade students spent a wonderful day in the sun, learning about life for settlers and Native Americans in the 1700s.  From churning butter, to weaving, to marching with (wooden) rifles, to learning how early settlers cleaned up after going to the bathroom, our fifth graders learned more than a textbook could ever provide.

If you would like to see the pictures, or read more about the even, check out the article in the Beaver County Times.

A special thank you goes to Ms. Kostial, who created this event for the fifth grade and spends a lot of time and energy organizing the event.  It is such a neat experience for our students!
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Text comes to life for our fifth grade students
Posted 4/22/2014 at 11:04:55 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Last week, Mrs. Antonella’s 5th grade Language Arts classes had a guest speaker: Mr. Antonella!

After reading the Dolphin Tale, a true story about a dolphin who was given a prosthetic tail, the students were treated to a real world expert in prosthetics.

Mr. Antonella, who lost part of his leg and wears a prosthetic limb, was kind enough to come and talk to the students about his experiences. The students got to see the equipment he uses, ask questions and even touch the prosthetics. Much of the technology Mr. Antonella benefits from today was used on the dolphin in the story. 

Often times, we see people with a disability and are unsure how we should behave.  Do we pretend we do not notice?  Do we ask them about it?  Sometimes the not knowing makes us so uncomfortable, we are unable to take the time to learn more about the person and what they are experiencing.  What makes this such a great opportunity is that our students could ask questions, in a safe, respectful environment that helped them truly understand what having a prosthetic limb is all about.  Mr. Antonella even took the students to the gym to race them, proving he was differently abled, not disabled. The students were on the edges of their seats during his visit, and asked some very profound questions.

We appreciate the time he took to spend the morning with us.  I am sure our students will not forget such a positive experience.

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2014 NJHS Infductees
Posted 4/9/2014 at 3:08:19 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Click below to see the newest Inductees into NJHS.

/uploads/91951D42-9CB8-422C-849C-88830A1924C4/NJHS 2014.pdf
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RoboCup Champions!
Posted 4/9/2014 at 3:06:29 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Congratulations to the 5th and 6th grade students enrolled in the Hopewell Memorial Junior High School gifted program for their efforts at the RoboCup competition.  Hopewell students won first and second place while also receiving recognition for their Engineering Design Journal.  The winning team from Hopewell also posted a perfect score during the final round, which is the first time that has happened in the RoboCup competition.

The students who participated yesterday were:
Anneli Shadel
Carly Jena
Hanna Magill
Noah Stickles
Joseph Ozimok
Ben Woolsey
Connor Wayne
Kennedy Lindsey
Trent Nan
Anthony Mitchell
Nate Miller
Ryan McCafferty
Kari Albertini
Chandler Dameron
Michael DePace
Jacob Forrest

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Live in the Sun!
Posted 3/25/2014 at 1:08:55 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Check out the lyrics and movie for our Fairchild Challenge at Phipps/Challenge #5: Eco Music Video!

Out of the 5 videos submitted with over 60 students participating in the process, the staff voted and one was selected and sent in as Hopewell Jr. High's entry: "Live in the Sun" by Alexandra Trimber, Victoria Likovich, Gina Morrison, Gianna Morelli, Taylor Parrish, & Madison Stonebraker.


 

Attachment: IMG_0037.mov
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February Highlight Reel
Posted 3/1/2014 at 1:13:49 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

·         On February 14, our seventh grade students transformed the Junior High School into a Greek festival.  Traffic was wrapped around the building as students arrived early decked in Togas and elaborate costumes representing ancient Greek Gods, Goddesses, leaders, cooks, servants and slaves.  As is the tradition, the eighth grade class helped decorate the hallways for the underclassman.  It was wonderful!  We had pottery, music, and wonderful food in addition to learning about various aspects of Ancient Greek culture.  A special thank you to the parents who help support this special day, as well as the Social Studies department: Mrs. Tranelli, Mr. Vallecorsa and Mr. Clemens, who put a lot of time and effort into orchestrating the event. 


Mrs. Steff's 8th grade Honors Language Arts classes participated in the Pittsburgh Public Theater's Shakespeare Monologue and Scene contest on Feb. 6.  Forty seven students performed a monologue or scene of their choosing from a Shakespeare play in front of some of Pittsburgh's premiere theater directors & producers.  All students did a fantastic job and enjoyed the experience.

Collaborating with Mrs. Lash, Mrs. Parrish’s fifth grade students conducted research on an European explorer for Social Studies.  They used traditional textbooks and e-books to locate information.  Once their research was completed, each student created a slide show, about the explorer, in their google account.  The slide shows were then presented during Social Studies class

In Mrs. Parrish’s math class, students completed a "snowman" project.  The students were given the challenge of building a construction paper snowman following specific guidelines: as close to 50 lbs and $25.00 as possible without going over. Students were given a list of materials to build and " dress" the snowman such as snowballs, hats, scarves, coal, buttons, brooms, etc.  Each item was assigned a weight and price. Students presented their snowmen or snow women, to the class.

 

·         Mrs. Scheidemantel academic 7th graders just solved the mystery of “Whose Your Daddy”.  After an earthquake caused a sudden evacuation of a hospital, 3 babies got mixed up and the students had to figure out what baby belonged to what set of parents.  They used their knowledge of genetics to reunite Mr. and Mrs. Al Leele with baby number 3, Mr. and Mrs. Gene Poole with baby number 2, and Mr. and Mrs. Arron Haye with baby number 1.

 The traditional 7th grade students studied how the cell copies it’s DNA and then makes the 3 kinds of RNA and then makes a protein out of an amino acid chain.  The entire class’ DNA and protein chain is hanging in the upstairs hallway.  They realized how special our cells are and also how everyone is different because of the proteins made due to the difference in DNA as no one in the class had the same pattern of DNA.


Milan Sites and Olivia Stokes organized a drive to collect items that fellow sixth grader, Haley Cooper, needed after a fire damaged the family’s home.   The girls decided on a list of items with some suggestions from Haley, wrote a letter, copied and distributed it to the kids in 6th grade.  After only a few days, 2 large boxes of items have been purchased and/or donated to help the family.  We are expecting much more to be donated by our generous families in the week ahead.

 

·      Mr. Gill’s iPad students created lessons using the Educreations App that they can share with each other and also refer back too when they forget how to solve a problem.  Check it out:  http://www.educreations.com/lesson/view/word-problems-7/16539693/?s=07gYvd&ref=app

 The Honors 8th grade Science classes completed a project on the Winter Olympics and the events’ correlations to Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion.  Students chose an event, stated the Law, drew or chose an action picture of the event, indicated force vectors and provided an explanation of the relationship between the actions and the laws of motion.

 

·         All 8th graders are using their knowledge of Newton’s Laws to design and construct either balloon-powered toys or pasta pod race cars.  Some of the design team names are:  NASCAR Noodles, Pasta People, The Thinkers, The 4Ever Axles, and PoP!   They are also busy composing music videos for the Fairfield Challenge.

 

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Last Chance Yearbook Sale!
Posted 2/24/2014 at 12:10:05 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

"LAST CHANCE" YEARBOOK SALE:

For this 'last chance' sale, yearbooks will be on sale Thursday, Feb. 27-Tuesday, Mar. 4 and will cost $22/cash only.  They will be sold during lunches. Parents can also go to YearbookOrderCenter.com (order number 4105) and purchase a yearbook for $22. + $3.50 handling fee.  Any questions: Contact Donna Steff, 724-375-6691 ext. 4229 or [email protected]

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My Teacher Is Mean
Posted 2/19/2014 at 5:00:44 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
As I look around at our faculty, I do not think "mean" really applies, but I have had students, in frustration or who are upset about getting redirected, make these sorts of statements.  As a parent, I have been told multiple times I am mean when my own kids don't get their own way.

I came across this article about what you can say or do when your child comes home from school and complains about his or her teacher and thought it was very helpful.

Just remember:
Each teacher has his or her own style, and kids need to learn how to adapt. Just as kids benefit from teachers who are very warm and patient, they also can learn from some who are more business-like and demanding. 

I hope you find this article as helpful as I do!



Attachment: my-teacher-is-mean.pdf
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Teacher Feature
Posted 2/14/2014 at 8:01:51 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Can you guess which teacher on the staff this year had our newly retired Mr. Pierce and Mrs. Steff, to name a few, when she was a Hopewell student?  And now she works in Mrs. Steff's department!


This year we are lucky enough to be joined by Ms. Fuhr, our new seventh grade Language Arts teacher. Ms. Fuhr is with us for 2 periods this year, and we are so glad to have her as an addition to our staff. She received my undergrad at Clarion University where she majored in Middle School Education with a concentration in English. When
Ms. Fuhr was in high school, she was torn between being a teacher and a dietician. When it became time to decide, she knew that teaching was something she could see herself enjoying after 5, 10, and 20 years into her career.

 

Those who have her in class are probably not surprised to hear her say that the secret of her success is staying organized. It helps her when creating and teaching lessons. She tries to keep material in order so she do not feel stressed or overwhelmed.

When asked what one thing Ms. Fuhr has learned that she wants her students to learn, it is this:

Always set goals for yourself. These include both short-term goals and long-term goals. Not only does setting goals help you stay focused on your priorities, but you will feel good about yourself upon achieving a difficult task.

So if you are walking past the MAP room and see Ms Fuhr, welcome her to our building! We are glad to have her on staff.

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Be the Change
Posted 2/14/2014 at 10:46:31 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."  
—Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank


On Monday, January 27, 2014, our 8th grade students once again participated in a video teleconference of Holocaust survivors.  This has been a phenomenal opportunity for our students to hear from living primary sources.  These survivors tell first-hand accounts of the horrors they experienced, first being discriminated against in their own neighborhoods and schools and then once they were forced to live in concentration camps.  One man, a veteran, tells of his experience as an American stumbling upon and liberating the emaciated survivors in Bergen Belsen.

It is haunting to hear their tales.  Each year we come one year closer to losing these voices, as they grow older and older.  And we become further and further removed from the event.  Sadly, there will come a day when we no longer hear these voices and tales in such a personal way.  But we will have the stories to remind us of what happens when we allow evil forces to prevail.  

I see this incident as a global example of what happens when we let the bullies win.  When those who know change needs to come are unable to actively stand up for injustice and merely turn a blind eye. When we talk to our students about bullying, we cannot make promises that we can force others to be nice, but we can encourage the bystanders to engage in appropriate anti-bullying responses.  As Anne Frank reminds us, we all have the ability to improve the world, our community, our school and we don't have to wait.  Because waiting too long can have dire consequences.

A special thank you to the PTSA for funding the event.


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January Review
Posted 2/14/2014 at 10:29:16 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Even with all the snow delays and cancellations, we have been busy in the new year.  Here is a sampling of things going on in the Junior High School during the month of January:

Our Chromebook carts are up and running. Students in each grade have been working diligently on them to complete projects. On January 20, Mrs. Lash. Mrs. Todd and Mr. Keiper inserviced staff on how to use the Chromebooks to enhance student engagement and collaboration. It was well received by the staff and we would like to thank these teachers for their efforts.

The Third annual Greek Day is happening on Friday, February 14th!! Students have been using their Chromebooks for research and speech writing. Everyone is excited to share what they have learned with the staff and their fellow students. This is a great cross curricular effort between Language Arts and Social Studies and has become a strong tradition here at the Junior High School. If you have some time, please consider coming to see the Junior High transformed into Ancient Greece. There will be some tasty food, too!

On Monday, our 8th grade students once again participated in a video teleconference of Holocaust survivors. These survivors tell first-hand accounts of living in concentration camps. It is haunting to hear their tales. It provides our students with primary source information as they prepare for their Holocaust unit in the Language Arts curriculum. A special thank you to the PTSA for funding the event.

Several of Mrs. Fuechslin’s 5th and 7th grade student art works are on display in the administrative offices. Please check out the beautiful work hanging there.

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MLK Day
Posted 1/20/2014 at 12:07:23 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

 

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.  

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December Highlight Reel
Posted 1/2/2014 at 1:01:35 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Here is a sampling of just some of the activities happening last month in the Jr High School:

Greek Day research is in full swing. Students are using the Chrome Books to begin their research. A special thanks to Mrs. Lash for all of her hard work!!

Mrs. Burak and Mrs. Furman’s classes completed their annual community based field trip in partnership with NJHS students. The students visited the Beaver Valley Mall to complete their Christmas shopping and put into practice the functional skills they have been practicing in the classroom setting.

Mrs. Parrish’s classes have been engaged in some Christmas (Holiday) theme activities this month. In Language Arts, to practice using figurative language such as alliteration, synonyms, antonyms and homophones, the students wrote alliterative sentences about Santa and his reindeer. The students were given an incorrect version of the”Night Before Christmas” Poem. They had to write the poem using correct homophones, synonyms and antonyms. In math, using presents in a stocking, students practiced fractions. Using geometric shapes and math tools (compass, ruler, geometry template) they created a holiday themed picture.

Mrs. Todd’s 5th and 7th grade computer classes participated in the “Hour of Code” during Computer Science Education Week. Students were challenged to try out the basics of computer programming.

Mr. Mawhinney’s Bridge to Algebra class recently completed the Presidential Election Project. The students used the 2012 data from the school vote and proportional reasoning to predict outcomes from the state, country and national level.

Ms. Kostial’s  fifth grade social studies class created Native American Monopoly games to reflect the four Native American cultural regions.

Mrs. Pollick’s 7th graders are completing their final projects for A Christmas Carol. Honors students could make dioramas of a stage scene from the story, make a newspaper page including an article of an interview with Scrooge, or do a performance of a scene (live or video-recorded). Dioramas and newspapers will be displayed in the display case outside of the gym. Academic classes will be acting out a scene from the play in our new textbook after break.

Mrs. Scheidemantel’s 8th grade science class is using the power of discovery to try and identify unknown powders based on chemical and physical properties.  The traditional 7th grade is studying mitosis while manipulating knives, forks and spoons (chromosomes).  The academic 7th grade is using pipe cleaners to represent chromosomes to show how meiosis and crossing over can produce 4 different cells after 2 cell divisions. It is these differences that make each one of us unique individuals.

The wireless project is finished and the Chromebooks are making their way through the building.  Fifth grade students in Mrs. Adams', Ms. Kostial's, Mrs. Antonella's and Mr. Sundy's classes have had some opportunities to experience the brand new Chromebooks.  Mrs. Gailey's Language Arts class also had some fun navigating through the new textbook series online program. This week, Seventh graders will all utilize the Chromebooks to begin their Greek Day research projects.  A special thank you to Mrs. Lash, Mrs. Todd and Mrs. Mihok, and our tech department, Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Wyckoff, for supporting us in getting this technology into the hands of teachers and students.

After 2 days of library research, Mrs. Cosnek’s academic and honors science students wrote an essay discussing the history or scientific development of an innovation or discovery that most affects the daily life of an American teenager. The essays of Carly Belich, Corinna Lapson and Tyler Nardi were submitted to the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh as entries in the Middle School Essay Contest. Best of luck to our Hopewell students!

On Monday, December 9, 12 7th and 8th grade band and chorus members spent an hour at Hopewell Pediatric Specialty Care entertaining the patients with holiday music.

Mrs. Lash, Mrs. Steff and Mrs. Battisti organized the Hopewell School District’s annual Toy drive this year. Our community was generous enough to buy gifts and donate time to help purchase, organize, and distribute the toys and clothing. Our faculty raised over $1000 from a dress down day on December 13th. This year we were able to provide 129 kids and 70 families with tons of gifts.



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Hopewell Memorial Junior High School Door Decorating Contest
Posted 12/17/2013 at 12:55:23 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]



Hopewell Junior High just completed our annual door decorating contest, sponsored by the Newspaper Club. Mr. DeSalle won first place. Mr. Vallecorsa won second and Mr. Gill and Mrs. Todd tied for third place.

Here are some of the doors from the contest:

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I'VE GOT THE POWER!
Posted 12/17/2013 at 10:52:41 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Music is a great way to get students engaged in the curriculum, and assists with memory and retention.  Just think about how you learned your ABCs, or how many songs you still know the lyrics to, years after you no longer play them on repeat.  

Mrs. Kuzma put this concept to the test recently w
hen introducing the concept of Powers of 10.  The students entered the room hearing the song “I Got the Power” – from back in our day…  many knew it, sang along, danced and laughed at the 90’s hair and clothing style from the video on the screen.  It was a perfect song to sing throughout Math that day as they discussed and learned about exponents – especially the awesome “power of 10”.

 

When teaching multiplying by positive and negative powers of ten, Mrs. Kuzma organized a dance party with the song “Cupid Shuffle” .  They danced and sang the lyrics “to the left to the left…. To the right to the right…”    The kids just thought it was all for fun until....they started moving the decimal to the left and the right when multiplying by the powers of ten and it all came together.  They then understood that the dance party wasn’t just for fun, it was for MATH!  


This is a great example of engaging students for learning, using a multi-disciplinary approach, complete with physical activity.  Now, they've got the power!

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Christmas came early this year...
Posted 12/16/2013 at 3:00:14 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
The wireless project is finished and the Chromebooks are making their way through the building.  Fifth grade students in Mrs. Adams', Ms. Kostial's, Mrs. Antonella's and Mr. Sundy's classes have had some opportunities to experience the brand new Chromebooks.  Mrs. Gailey's Language Arts class also had some fun navigating through the new textbook series online program. This week, Seventh graders will all utilize the Chromebooks to begin their Greek Day research projects.  

As I walked into the library, I was greeted by smiling faces, telling me how cool the Chromebooks are.  The possibilities for digital collaboration, and bringing the real world into the classroom will expand exponentially as we roll out this new technology to our students.  

Look for more to come after the holidays, but for now, ask your child if they have worked with a Chromebook this month and how they think technology will enhance their education.  
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Posted 12/16/2013 at 2:37:35 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
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November Highlight Reel
Posted 12/16/2013 at 2:34:38 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
November was a busy month here at the Junior High School!  Here are just a FEW of the events from the month:

Mr. DeSalle’s IPAD Pilot students are creating a presentation using the Educreations app on cell division and will display them on the screen using the Apple TV.

This fall the NHS and NJHS have once again teamed up for the Thanksgiving Food Drive. Earlier today, 44 families came to the high school and picked up a complete Thanksgiving dinner. All the nonperishable items were collected from all five district buildings and $940.00 was raised from a faculty dress down day. An additional $793.00 was raised by the NJHS. Many other clubs and organizations have donated as well.

Next up, both the NJHS and NHS students are volunteering as servers at the Josh Prigorac Benefit spaghetti dinner this Sunday, December 1st. Under the supervision of Bill Smith, Nicole Lash, and Donna Steff, our students work tirelessly to help improve the sometimes dire situations of others. Coming in December - a team of teachers from all five buildings has formed a new Toy Drive committee. So far we have over 75 children from our district on Santa's nice list. Stay tuned for details.

Thanks to the PTSA's generosity in supplying transportation, the entire 8th grade class was able to attend the Faraday lecture at Soldiers and Sailors Hall on November 12. Tickets were provided by the Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh and the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh.

Ms. Adams and Mrs. Lindner received a math grant for their students to work on math facts fluency. The grant utilizes a computer based program to teach math facts. The students are really liking the program and the teachers hope to make some great strides in improving student automaticity of basic math facts.

The Bridge to Algebra classes completed Nan’s Pumpkin Pie problem. The students had to use proportional reasoning to fix a batch of Nan’s Pumpkin Pie that Kant Boyquell botched. The students had to work with fractions and mixed numbers, as well as proportions.

Congratulations to Corinna Lapson who won first place in the American Chemical Society’s illustrated poetry contest with an energy theme. She will receive a cash prize for this award and her entry will move on to the national contest! Good luck, Corinna!!

Mrs. Pollick’s class just finished making book review podcasts (with the assistance of Mrs. Lash). Students chose a book they have read, enjoyed and wanted others to read. It gave them an opportunity to analyze what makes a successful story. We are also in the midst of writing original short stories that we will publish in a class anthology. Next Up for Mrs. Pollick’s classes: A Christmas Carol Project….. stay tuned.

Ms. Fuhr’s Language Arts class just finished a compare/contrast paper which included four paragraphs. The students worked very hard on the assignment. They used peer editing to revise each other’s papers. Ms. Fuhr was VERY pleased with the success of their work.

With the building’s wireless project coming to a close, we anticipate the much anticipated roll out of our Chromebooks after the holidays. You should hopefully hear some good news on this front shortly….

On December 6, 2013, the Junior High School and PTSA are hosting our first annual LUNCH WITH A SPECIAL SOMEONE for our fifth grade students. Students are inviting one adult to attend lunch and browse the book fair with them. We are hoping this is a successful event we can make an annual event to help us building community in our building.

Mrs. Scheidemantel's science classes have been VERY busy this month. Her 8th grade class is discovering about endothermic and exothermic reactions by combining liver and potatoes with hydrogen peroxide. Her academic 7th grade class is learning about mitosis by manipulating knives, forks and spoons (used to represent chromosomes) through the cell cycle. Ask your child about it! Mrs. Scheidemantel's traditional 7th grade class learned why it is not a good idea to drink salt water...ask them about the carrots in salt water!

 Mr. Sundy and Mrs. Parrish’s social studies classes have been learning about different Native American cultures. The students have written their own buffalo hide stories, made Kachina dolls and carved soap into their own examples of scrimshaw. We have also been able to visit places like the Cliff Palace by using Google Earth.

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Fifth grade students study Native American Cultures
Posted 11/26/2013 at 8:27:36 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Entering Mr. Sundy's class today, I was greeted with the fresh clean scent of soap.  Lining the shelf under his window were student samples of scrimshaw, which they made from carving soap. 

Mr. Sundy's and Mrs. Parrish’s social studies classes have been learning about different Native American cultures. The students have written their own buffalo hide stories, made Kachina dolls and carved soap into their own examples of scrimshaw. We have also been able to visit places like the Cliff Palace by using Google Earth.

Through hands on activities that simulate experiences Native Americans would have enjoyed, and through the use of technology to bring the world into our classrooms, our students develop knowledge and appreciation of our history.  The students also worked on creating writing samples, while tied into the curriculum, that enhance communication skills.


Here are some examples for you to enjoy!







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Thanksgiving Food Drive
Posted 11/25/2013 at 2:28:02 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]


 

Pre-teens and Teenagers often get a bad rep... for being self-centered and ego-centric.  And while sometimes, this is true (and developmentally appropriate) there are many other times their lights shine brightly. 

This fall the NHS and NJHS have once again teamed up for the Thanksgiving Food Drive.

On Tuesday, 44 families will come to the high school to pick up a complete Thanksgiving dinner. All the nonperishable items were collected from all five district buildings and $940.00 was raised from a faculty dress down day.

An additional $793.00 was raised by the NJHS. Many other clubs and organizations have donated as well.



This event is an important one for our community, and here at the Junior High School, we see this as one of many ways in which we instill empathy and compassion for those in need.  We are thankful for those who donated.  This annual act of service is a reminder about the importance of taking care of our community.
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8th graders attend Faraday Lecture at Pitt
Posted 11/25/2013 at 11:01:33 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Thanks to the PTSA's generosity in supplying transportation, the entire 8th grade class was able to attend the Faraday lecture at Soldiers and Sailors Hall on November 12. Tickets were provided by the Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh and the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh.

Here are some of student's comments when asked to write a review of the event:

  • Finale using the Rueben Tube woke people up with the fire dancing and different music playing to demonstrate sound waves.
  • When Professor Greg Gould from Cal U lit methane bubbles on volunteers' hands I was amazed!
  • I was completely awed by the beautiful artwork of the building.
  • Due to technical difficulties, I give my experience 2.987654321 out of 5 stars.
  • Cool science projects. Gould entertained the audience.
  • His demonstrations totally change the way you view physics.
  • I had many opportunities to learn about subjects like density and sound waves.

All in all the science faculty think that this annual event is a great opportunity for the students.

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October Highlight Reel
Posted 10/31/2013 at 11:11:59 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]


These are just a few of the many wonderful things that happened this month!


 

  •      This year Hopewell Jr. High 8th graders are participating in the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps Conservatory. Under the direction of Paula Cosnek, Donna Steff and Christopher Kieper, students are participating in 6 different competitions throughout the school year, including writing, cuisine, music videos and more. In October, students in Mrs. Steff's 8th grade honors classes wrote Haiku poems to reflect "nature around the block". Of the 50 poems submitted, students critiqued one another's work and selected 20 top poems to be included in a book for submission to the contest. Students also created the cover art and included drawings and photographs to depict the inspiration for their poems. The next challenge will be in November where students in Mrs. Cosnek's science classes will create "green cuisine" recipes - a low impact healthy snack - and be required to judge one another's creations to select a top 3 to submit to the Phipps challenge. We'll keep you posted!

  •       On Friday, October 4, our Student Council sponsored a school wide assembly about bullying and working together. Mr. Bob Harvey, a native Pennsylvanian spoke to our students about determining and pursuing their gifts and talents, and to work together to reduce bullying. The message echoes our weekly discussions in homeroom during our OLWEUS class meetings.

·         Mrs. Kuzma’s Social Studies classes are in the process of researching, and using their note-taking skills learned in class this 9 weeks.  They are working with Mrs. Lash and Mrs. Kuzma to learn about Russian culture.  They will choose 5 aspects of culture (art, religion, kid's life, food...) to research using a website.  They will then note-take on note cards, and create a script to be used when narrating a Photo Story (or slide show) on the computer.  We will share the Photo Stories and what we've learned with our classmates next week.


  •        Our 8th grade Career Café is up and running. Damon Neal presented on careers in the juvenile service field. Jeremy Gill, who does information technology and Greg Cerminara, VP of Transportation Design/Planning from Michael Baker Corp. will be presenting this week. Thank you to Mrs. Rodgers for organizing this lunch time career exploration opportunity for our students!

  •       7th grade students in Mrs. Tranelli’s classes have been doing pharaoh projects with a cooperative group. They will present their findings to the class. Research has included creating a timeline and family tree and researching domestic and foreign policy practices of their pharaoh. They have utilized the library and the expertise of Mrs. Lash for their projects. They will present them this week.

  •     Mrs. Rodgers brought the CHOICES program back to the 8th grade for the second year. The students participated on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. This program teaches students the benefits of making good educational and life choices and the positive impact these choices have on their futures.

  •       So far this year the 5th and 7th grade students in Mrs. Fuechslin's art classes have submitted 238 artworks for display on Artsonia's website. Check out what our students are making at Artsonia! Enjoy the show!

  •      In Mrs. Parrish’s 5th grade Everyday math class, students reinforce skills through the use of games. The goal is to score more points by choosing numbers that have the most factors.

 

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Eighth graders embrace a challenge!
Posted 10/28/2013 at 10:56:46 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]





I am pleased to announce that our eighth graders are representing Hopewell Junior High School in the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps Conservatory.  

The Fairchild Challenge is a series of 6 challenges.   Schools can choose how they want to go about involving their students (within a class, a grade, an entire school, a club or organization, etc.).  All of the challenges are matched to the Pennsylvania State Standards in many disciplines.  Each challenge is multidisciplinary, allowing students of diverse interests, abilities, talents, and backgrounds to excel.  Challenges will highlight important environmental issues in local, regional, state, and global community.

At the end of the year, schools will be awarded with certificates of participation, and top placing schools will be awarded with $1000, $750, $500 or $250 prizes to be used for their environmental science programs and green initiatives.

Under the direction of Mrs. Cosnek and Mrs. Steff our students will compete in areas as diverse as writing, cuisine, music videos and more. In October, students in Mrs. Steff's 8th grade honors classes wrote Haiku poems to reflect "nature around the block". Of the 50 poems submitted, students critiqued one another's work and selected 20 top poems to be included in a book for submission to the contest. Students also created the cover art and included drawings and photographs to depict the inspiration for their poems. 

The next challenge will be in November where students in Mrs. Cosnek's science classes will create "green cuisine" recipes - a low impact healthy snack - and be required to judge one another's creations to select a top 3 to submit to the Phipps challenge. 

This challenge is an example of putting students first.  Having the students creating the standards and critiquing their work by these standards, relating content to relevant topics and current events, these are all ways in which we are creating rigorous and relevant curriculum for students. 

We'll keep you posted!

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Literature Circles
Posted 10/26/2013 at 7:48:49 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
I was lucky enough to spend some time in Mrs. Gailey's literature class the other day.  The students had read an abridged version of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.  They had worked in small groups to come up with questions for each chapter, and had a whole class discussion around the student created questions.  

As the students debated the answers to the questions, they were expected to refer back to the text or make real world connections to the concepts in the book.  Both of these are strategies used to aid comprehension and can be found in the Common Core Standards as well.  

It was fun watching the students become animated over a classic novel.  The room was noisy with spirited debate.  As I watched the students, I noticed that most were, quite literally, on the edges of their seats, completely engaged in the conversation.  They actually groaned when class was over!

What an enjoyable morning for both me and the students.
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September 2013 Highlight Reel
Posted 10/7/2013 at 1:42:00 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]




Thursday, September 19, the high school Marching Band, under the direction of Mr. Keiper, performed for Margaret Ross Elementary School and our junior high school students on the field between our buildings.  Mr. Keiper began by introducing each section of the band and explaining how the band prepares for performances.  The band and Vikettes played selections from this season's halftime show, which features music from Top Gun, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and Animal House.  Bringing our students together from various buildings to listen and appreciate the hard work and talent of their fellow students is such a positive experience.  Our students thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Thank you to the high school and Mr. Keiper for the performance

 

·         Monday, September 23 kicked off our OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Program.  Through the hardwork of our OLWEUS core team, Student Council and NJHS, we had a phenomenal event.  The senior football team spoke about the importance of teamwork, the high school and junior high school cheerleaders performed, as did the high school drum line and junior high school band.  The students responded to the positive energy and were reminded that we are a community of learners that must work together as a team to prevent bullying in our school.  Homerooms will meet beginning Wednesday to participate in mentoring and team building activities.    

 

         The 6th grade math teachers did a Landmark and Line Plot project called “You’ve Got the Cutest Lil’ Babyface.”   Each student brought in their birth height and weight and worked with a team of 5 to calculate their landmarks.  We then worked as a class to calculate the whole class landmarks to make a giant line plot of each class’s information.  Once we had all landmarks we were able to “think outside of the graph” to introduce outliers and how they affect the mean.  The students were encouraged to bring in their cutest baby picture to line the hallways and show just how cute they are!!

 

·         With the purchase of our new cafeteria tables, many of our teachers removed the desks from their room and took the older, round tables for their classrooms.  This has provided a better classroom set up to let students actively converse and collaborate in group tasks, setting the stage for increase collaboration to meet our 21st Century Learning Goals.

 

·         Mr Toporski’s seventh grade music students used an online mixing program to create their own techno songs.  They shared them within their classes and many of the songs were quite good.

 

·         Mrs. Scheidemental’s science classes were hard at work this month.  Seventh grade is learning about classifying.  They are naming and classifying aliens and creating a dichotomous key.  They will then participate in a gallery walk and peer evaluation. 

 

·         Mrs. Cosnek and Mrs. Scheidemantel’s Eighth graders are learning the elements of the periodic table.  The students have constructed a giant periodic table in the hallway.  Each student randomly chose an element and was responsible for making the appropriate element key.  Students are also working on ad campaign signs and video games or music CD’s complete with song lyrics based on their respective elements!  The  purpose of the sales pitch and poster is to convince the class to buy their element.

 

·         This year Art Club had an overwhelming number of kids sign up.(80)  It should make for a fantastic art show this year!

 

·         Mr. McKenna’s class last week was given by CMU Robotics Academy 7 brand new VEX IQ robots  and a competition field to use with his classes.  The VEX IQ robots and the programming language associated with them have just been released, so Mr. McKenna’s students will be some of the first in the entire world to use the robots and test the programming language.  The robots were given to Mr. McKenna because he will be helping the Robotics Academy to develop and write their new curriculum for these robots. 

 

 

·         The Bridge to Algebra classes completed a real world math project.  They had to research a job they saw themselves doing in the future and find 3 ways it utilized math.  Then they created a poster illustrating the job.  They also had to write 1-2 paragraphs explaining how math was being used in that field.

 

 

·         And of course there is this little IPad pilot we are running with a seventh grade math and science class.  Other than a couple of technical glitches, the IPads are up and running.  Mr. Gill, Mr. DeSalle and the students are now using them exclusively (no papers).  The students seem to prefer the IPad over textbooks.  



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IMAGES FROM KICK OFF
Posted 10/7/2013 at 12:52:55 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
On September 23, the Junior High gathered in the Gym for our annual OLWEUS Anti-Bullying Kick Off Assembly.  

·        Through the hardwork of our OLWEUS core team, Student Council and NJHS, we had a phenomenal event.  The senior football team spoke about the importance of teamwork, the high school and junior high school cheerleaders performed, as did the high school drum line and junior high school band. 

The students responded to the positive energy and were reminded that we are a community of learners that must work together as a team to prevent bullying in our school. 

Homerooms will meet Wednesday mornings during an extended homeroom session to participate in mentoring and team building activities.   


To find out more information about the OLWEUS program, visit the following website: OLWEUS Program Information.


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Marching Band Performance
Posted 9/20/2013 at 11:44:27 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Thursday afternoon at the Jr. High, the skies were clear and the weather was perfect for a High School Marching Band performance.  Mr. Keiper and the Hopewell High School Marching Band performed for Margaret Ross Elementary School and our junior high school students on the field between our buildings.  

Mr. Keiper began by introducing each section of the band and explaining how the band prepares for performances.  The band and Vikettes played selections from this season's halftime show, which features music from Top Gun, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and Animal House.

Bringing our students together from various buildings to listen and appreciate the hard work and talent of their fellow students is such a positive experience.  Our students thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Thank you to the high school and Mr. Keiper for the performance.
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IPad Pilot Update
Posted 9/9/2013 at 1:54:13 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
This morning Mr. Katkich and I visited our IPad Science and Math classes to see how the students and teachers are progressing with their IPads. 

Mr. DeSalle and the students were in the Science Lab working on an experiment.  They recorded their findings through Notability.  I asked the students how they liked the IPads so far, and they told me they liked them because:

1. They did not lose any papers and felt for organized
2. They did not have to carry around a lot of heavy books

As we delve deeper into our course creation, I expect to hear even more reasons why this is a great way to learn, but this seems like an appropriate response for the third week of school, when everyone is just learning how to use ITunesU.



Mr. Gill's class began with students using Khan Academy to review a new concept.  Some students listened once, some needed a few repetitions, but they all ended up learning the concept of absolute numbers.  We saw students having an opportunity to work at their own pace and become comfortable with a resource they can use for enhancing their learning, or for reinforcement.  

We are off to a great start!

A quick reminder that students do not need to have an IPad to use Khan Academy.  Last year, I blogged about the program and how to access it from any computer, for free.  
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I Knew You Could!
Posted 9/6/2013 at 11:27:49 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

 


Summer always provides us time for reflection and goal setting.  As I enter my second year as an administrator in Hopewell, one goal I set for myself was to become more visible and build more relationships with our student body.  There is a growing body of evidence that suggests these habits will increase student engagement and decrease discipline referrals.  Plus, it just makes me happier and more energized to be in classrooms and talking to students.  

 

 

I have been visiting 5th grade classrooms with our 5/6 counselor, Mrs. Batchelor, to introduce myself, discuss making good choices and answer any pressing questions they may have about the Junior High.  I read I Knew You Could, A Book for All the Stops In Your Life to the students.  It’s a great book about finding the right track and how it takes hard work to get through challenges.  The train offers some great strategies for staying on track, including asking friends for help, taking breaks when you need to rest and recharge and remembering that sometimes things are tough and you have to just keep trying.

 

We asked our students to share strategies for staying on the right track, and to reflect upon challenges they think they will face this year that will be new for them.  The kids had some great ideas and many had the same concerns or challenges to share.  It has been enjoyable and hopefully the students walked away armed with the knowledge that we have high expectations but are here to help them meet those expectations.

 

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New Cafeteria Tables!
Posted 9/5/2013 at 10:53:47 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
You might have thought it was Christmas around here if you saw my face on Tuesday morning.

 I was greeted with a symphony of banging and clanging coming from the cafeteria.  Our new cafeteria tables arrived bright and early and were set up in time for lunch on Wednesday.  And they are so cool!

 We chose tables that fit with our 21st Century Learning initiative.  They are wavy so that students can easily see and communicate with those sitting a little further down the table.  Each student has their own seat, so no need to bump or crowd.  And best of all, the tables hold enough students so that no one is left out with our old "8 to a table" policy.  

As with any change, no matter how exciting, there were some grumbles from those students who like things to remain the same. I think, though, most were pleasantly surprised and happy with the change.  I know our lunch duty teachers are!



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A New School Year Begins!
Posted 8/20/2013 at 12:28:13 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Our junior high school has begun to buzz with activity, as teachers have begun returning to set up their classrooms, and attend meetings and trainings.  

Much of our focus has been on technology.  Just last week, 20+ teachers and administrators gathered with an Apple trainer for IPad training.


 
In addition to a number of "selfies" taken (check out Mrs. Steff!), the group gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in how the IPad works and how they can begin utilizing it in the classroom to enhance instruction.

One of the take-aways for me was the SAMR model for incorporating technology in the classroom.  



While we envision moving our classrooms into a 21st century learning model, we have a learning curve that will occur for the staff, parents and students.  I am willing to wager it will be a much steeper curve for us as adults than for the students!

So this year, we hope you will be as supportive of our journey as possible, understanding that sometimes we may strike out and sometimes we may hit a homeroom with the technology.  Our goal is to be closing in on the MODIFICATION and REDEFINITION phases for technology integration by the end of the year, but, as with students, we will be at different places with different classes throughout the year.   

Oh, and just for the record, the trainer asked us to take self-portraits, so Mrs. Steff was not off task.  

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Technology Galore!
Posted 8/2/2013 at 1:57:10 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
They have arrived!  

Our Chromebooks for the fall have arrived, which is the first step in our 21st Century Education Initiative.  Bringing technology into the hands of students on a more frequent basis increases collaboration and communication, and sets the stage for growing 21st Century Learners.  This, along with our Seventh Grade IPad Pilot, means the hallways of the Junior High School will start to look and feel differently as the year progresses.

As you walk through the hallways, you will notice collaboration spaces, filled with round tables, as well.  These spaces are meant for students to work together in a cafe like atmosphere, to promote cooperative and project based learning opportunities.

This will be a year of growth - we don't have it all figured out, but we are excited to be on this journey of discovery with our school community!

Looking forward to a great year!
Reply Posts
Posted 9/5/2013 at 11:00:39 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Thank you for your support. Mr. Katkich and I try to express to our staff how much we admire their willingness to take risks and try new things. We ask our students to do that every day. Sometimes it is tough being vulnerable. This year will be quite the learning curve but we are up for the challenge!!
Applause
Posted 8/27/2013 at 10:58:07 AM by [anonymous visitor]
Applause for your innovation and energy as a staff! It is not always easy to start down a new path. Our students are lucky to have such great teachers and leaders. Have a great year. Go Vikings.
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8th grade Walk for Autism
Posted 5/24/2013 at 3:28:23 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

On Thursday, May 23, 2013, approximately 90 members of the 8thgrade class at Hopewell Memorial Junior High School walked over to the track at Tony Dorsett Stadium and completed a 5K.  The students raised $188.00 for the Autism Speaks organization.  This is the fifth annual Walk for Autism completed by the 8thgrade class.  Thank you to all who participated and donated.

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A Little History Lesson
Posted 5/22/2013 at 2:26:07 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

This year, we have focused much of our efforts and professional conversations around two big words: STUDENT ENGAGEMENT.  How can we continue to enhance our curriculum to increase the rigor and relevance for our students?  How do we keep them engaged and bring what is in their textbooks to life? 

Throughout the year I was fortunate enough to attend some professional development activities with members of my staff in which we really delved into the importance of literacy and active learning.  Ms. Kostial, one of our fifth grade teachers, took much of what we discussed in these meetings to heart and spent a large portion of the year revamping the way she taught social studies to enhance the students' literacy skills.  

Fifth grade students taking Cornell Notes? Check!  

Analyzing Primary Sources?  Check!

And then, she went above and beyond, solidifying this learning by organizing a truly 
fabulous experience for our fifth graders.  Through her efforts, real-world experts came to our doors, and made learning truly come alive.


On May 9, our fifth grade students were treated to a day of Historical Reenactments 
and hands-on activities that brought the French and Indian War to life.  The pictures featured in the Beaver County Times show what a wonderful learning experience this was for our students.  You can see the slideshow here: 

 

As a former social studies teacher, I get a little bit nerdy about history, but when we have opportunities like this, even the most wary history student has something to get excited about.  Feeling a little rusty on your French and Indian War facts?  We have fifth graders who can help you out with that!

A special THANK YOU to Ms. Kostial for organizing this opportunity for our fifth graders.  

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Race Cars in Education???
Posted 5/22/2013 at 1:49:46 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Our very own Mr. McKenna was recently the featured blogger foROBOTC.net Blog.  

Check out A Teacher's POV to read about his experiences teaching Robotics here at Hopewell Memorial Junior High School.
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Art Show and Band Concert
Posted 5/22/2013 at 1:48:48 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Last Friday signaled that the countdown to summer has officially started.  Why?  The spring concert season was underway with an evening band concert and our annual art show, presented by the Art Club.

The Junior High was filled with adults and students browsing student art work.  Our students organized art projects for children to participate in.  As someone with NO artistic ability (even my stick figures lack any real skill), I am amazed at the skills our students have!  Click here for some examples of our students' artistic talent.

Our band and chorus students culminated their year of hard work with a string of concerts, both in school and for parents and community members, this month.  Our 7/8 Band wow'ed us with their rendition of Les Miserables, which was one of the last pieces they learned and one of the most difficult.  And our 5/6 bands sounded like veteran performers.  Chorus and Glee Club shined. 

These performances demonstrate the effectiveness of project based learning:  giving students an achieveable (but challenging) goal, preparing and then sharing the outcomes with an authentic audience.  
It seems like just yesterday, we were welcoming these students into our building, trying to cope with the oppressive heat,  and now we are fanning ourselves in the gym, enjoying the arts.  

Once again, a great job by all our Hopewell Viking Artists and Musicians.
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April Good News
Posted 5/6/2013 at 12:03:41 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
April brings more than showers... here are just some of the activities going on in April at the Junior High School.

·          This month our students wrapped up their PSSA testing for Reading and Math and 8th grade Science.  The students worked VERY hard, and judging from their comments, we anticipate strong results.

 ·         After working hard all morning on their PSSA tests, our sixth graders competed for the District Competition Spelling Bee, the winners of which will represent Hopewell in May at the County level competition held at the Beaver Area School District.  The students didn't go down without a fight, and battling it out at the end were our two finalists Jordan Lydon and Jacob Ujhazy.  The word that left the last man (or in this case woman!) standing was "malicious." 

 

·         Our 8th grade Honors Science students participated in the Creek Connections symposium at Camp Kon-O-Kwee.  Each April, all participating Creek Connections classes join together to share their waterway research with other schools. Each school sets up numerous displays and poster presentations about their research projects and finds out what other schools have done. Displays are often very creative, fun, colorful, and professional. The event also includes presentations, hands-on afternoon activities, and opportunities to interact with environmental organizations and groups. The day is full of activity. Students may find themselves asking questions about another school’s water quality data, identifying aquatic insects, playing a game, or discovering ways to protect creeks.

 

·         Mrs. Steff’s 8th grade Honors Language Arts class is reading Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  In May, students will perform their interpretations for the class using costumes and props.  Might we have a few future actors and actresses among us?  As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players…”

 

·         In Ms. Kostial’s fifth grade social studies class, students are measuring trees in their neighborhoods to compare to the trees described in primary source journals of explorers visiting this area when it was considered the frontier!  This is a great example of making learning concrete and tied to the present.

 

·         On Earth Day, our fifth grade classes cleaned up the school grounds and planted seeds.  They worked so hard and we are so appreciative of their hard work.

 

·         Mrs. Kuzma’s social studies classes completed three projects to wrap up and reinforce what they learned in social studies this year.  They chose from a menu: a simple starter project (a flag or a map), a more complex main dish project (game, news report, wanted poster…) and completed a take-out project at home (sculpture, diorama).  Projects had to be a representation  of one of the three areas in the world studied this year – Europe, Latin America, Russia. 

 

·         Mrs. Pollick’s classes are reading folk tales and analyzing the cultural context.  They have watched some videos from Youtube to get a good picture of the culture.  This especially helps with the Aztecs since they are no longer around.  Yet another great example of how we can use technology to bring the outside world into the classroom in interesting ways!

 

·         Mr. Mawhinney’s classes spent some time looking at real world situations.  With each situation, the students wrote an equation.  They then used the equation to graph the real world situation.  Next, they used the graph to answer questions about the situation and analyzed the results.

 

·         Mr. DeSalle’s science classes participated in an inquiry lab where the students tried to determine why water here boils around 95 degrees when it should boil at 100 degrees C.  Interested in the answer?  Ask a seventh grader!

 

·         All band and choral students have been diligently preparing for their spring concerts!  We are excited to hear the fruits of their labor.


·         This month our students wrapped up their PSSA testing for Reading and Math.  Students worked very diligently and we are anticipating strong results.  8thgraders began their science PSSAs today. The test will continue tomorrow, as well. 

 

·        After working hard all morning on their PSSA tests, our sixth graders competed for the District Competition Spelling Bee, the winners of which will represent Hopewell in May at the County level competition held at the Beaver Area School District.  The students didn't go down without a fight, and battling it out at the end were our two finalists Jordan Lydon and Jacob Ujhazy.  The word that left the last man (or in this case woman!) standing was "malicious." 

 

·        Last Friday our 8th grade Honors Science students participated in the Creek Connections symposium at Camp Kon-O-Kwee.  Each April, all participating Creek Connections classes join together to share their waterway research with other schools. Each school sets up numerous displays and poster presentations about their research projects and finds out what other schools have done. Displays are often very creative, fun, colorful, and professional. The event also includes presentations, hands-on afternoon activities, and opportunities to interact with environmental organizations and groups. The day is full of activity. Students may find themselves asking questions about another school’s water quality data, identifying aquatic insects, playing a game, or discovering ways to protect creeks.

 

·        Mrs. Steff’s 8thgrade Honors Language Arts class is reading Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  In May, students will perform their interpretations for the class using costumes and props.  Might we have a few future actors and actresses among us?  As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players…”

 

·        In Ms. Kostial’s fifth grade social studies class, students are measuring trees in their neighborhoods to compare to the trees described in primary source journals of explorers visiting this area when it was considered the frontier!  This is a great example of making learning concrete and tied to the present.

 

·        On Earth Day, our fifth grade classes cleaned up the school grounds and planted seeds.  They worked so hard and we are so appreciative of their hard work.

 

·        Mrs. Kuzma’s social studies classes completed three projects to wrap up and reinforce what they learned in social studies this year.  They chose from a menu: a simple starter project (a flag or a map), a more complex main dish project (game, news report, wanted poster…) and completed a take-out project at home (sculpture, diorama).  Projects had to be a representation  of one of the three areas in the world studied this year – Europe, Latin America, Russia. 

 

·        Mrs. Pollick’s classes are reading folk tales and analyzing the cultural context.  They have watched some videos from Youtube to get a good picture of the culture.  This especially helps with the Aztecs since they are no longer around.  Yet another great example of how we can use technology to bring the outside world into the classroom in interesting ways!

 

·        Mr. Mawhinney’s classes spent some time looking at real world situations.  With each situation, the students wrote an equation.  They then used the equation to graph the real world situation.  Next, they used the graph to answer questions about the situation and analyzed the results.

 

·        Mr. DeSalle’s science classes participated in an inquiry lab where the students tried to determine why water here boils around 95 degrees when it should boil at 100 degrees C.  Interested in the answer?  Ask a seventh grader!

 

·        All band and choral students have been diligently preparing for their spring concerts!  We are excited to hear the fruits of their labor.

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6th grade spelling bee
Posted 4/11/2013 at 9:05:14 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Yesterday, after working hard all morning on their PSSA tests, our sixth graders competed for the District Competition Spelling Bee, the winners of which will represent Hopewell in May at the County level competition held at the Beaver Area School District.  The students didn't go down without a fight, and battling it out at the end were our two finalists Jordan Lydon and Jacob Ujhazy.  The word that left the last man (or in this case woman!) standing was "malicious."  



Both students will represent Hopewell Memorial Junior High School at the County competition.  

Congratulations to all participants for a job well done. 
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6th grade student scores in top tier nationally on ACTs
Posted 4/3/2013 at 11:10:52 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

We are proud to announce that our very own Jacob Ujhazy received a 98% on the ACT Explore test.  Jacob took the test early through Carnegie Mellon University and earned a perfect 100% in English and a 95% in Math placing him in the top tier range in the country on ALL subsets: English, math, reading and science.

And while this is a pretty awesome feat for a senior in high school, it is even more amazing when you consider that Jacob is only 10 years old! 

Congratulations to Jacob on this enormous accomplishment.  We look forward to his continued progress in his next few years with us.  

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March Highlight Reel
Posted 3/26/2013 at 1:14:02 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
The Junior High School Staff and Students did not let the blustery March weather stop us from accomplishing a lot this month.  Below is a list of just SOME of the great things happening here this month:

***On Tuesday, March 19, 20 Seventh and Eighth grade students were inducted into the Junior National Honor Society. Members are those students who have been selected due to their outstanding performance in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and citizenship.  These areas represent the four pillars of both the National Junior Honor Society and the National Honor Society.  There is no cut-off for participation.  It is open to all students who demonstrate these pillars.  The evening began with each of the four officers explaining the four pillars and lighting the candles and the faculty address was given by Mrs. Paula Cosnek.  Thank you to the Mrs. Donna Steff and Mrs. Nicole Lash, the NJHS Club Sponsors, for organizing such a special night.

*** This month the Junior High Visual Arts Club has been busy making “Tapas Plates” to raise money for a potter’s wheel. The plates are approximately 6 x 6 inches in size and come in a variety of colors – you can even custom order your color and design. Art club members will be selling the plates for 5$ each. If you are interested in a plate you may contact Mrs. Fuechslin, or any club member.
 
***Mr. Mawhinney’s Pre-Algebra students finished all three parts of the Pirate Math Problem.  A pirate, who looked an awful lot like Mr. Mawhinney, asked the class to help him decide whether to risk traveling in a leaking boat to retrieve a treasure on an island.  The students were given a map and very little information to work with.  They had to work together to formulate questions that the pirate could answer.  Because pirates are not known for their strong math skills, the students had to make sure their questions were strategic and would yield the information they needed. The students were going to have to prepare to share their strategies and problem solving steps with the class.  Students had to solve various algebraic problems, including setting up equations to determine how much hold each person earned and calculating the probability that the pirate would find his treasure if he lost his map. 
 
***Mr. DeSalle’s students created a fictitious city and then identified all the possible locations that pollution may come from to effect groundwater.
 
***Mrs. Cosnek’s students have been working hard during their Simple Machine’s unit.  Several classes constructed Recycling Mobiles to demonstrate how to balance a two-tiered lever arm out of recyclable materials and one of the honors classes designed a Rube Goldberg machine to accomplish a simple task in a complicated manner using all 6 simple machines connected to one another!
 
***Seventh grade music students created press releases for new music albums in Mr. Toporski’s class.  The students came up with new album concepts, drew album covers and typed up press releases.
 
***Sixth grade students in Mrs. Yurcina’s class explored new technology during their probability unit in math.  Using the new Apple TVs, the students played some games to make the study of probability more exciting and engaging.
 
***Sixth graders in Mrs. Gratson’s class are dying Easter Eggs… using Onion Skins!  Want to try it at home?  See the directions below!

 ***Seventh grade history students made geography come alive through a March Madness Activity. Students reviewed states and capitals while also learning a little bit about some of the colleges and universities participating in the NCAA Tournament.  This was a great way to reinforce geography skills, and get our students talking a little bit about collegiate possibilities.  Sadly, Mrs. Webster’s bracket is not looking so hot (poor Tarheels) but seeing this activity in action inspired me a little more for the tournament. 
 
 ***If you are at all interested in American History and need a refresher on John Brown, ask an 8th grade social studies student in  Mrs. Tranelli’s class.  8th Grade classes created John Brown newspaper articles about his execution using primary and secondary sources, so they are able to answer the who, what,  when, where, why and how.
 
*** 7th and 8th grade Honors History classes are starting preparations for their debate program.  Teams have been picked and assertions have been given. 
 
*** Mrs. Antonella and Mr. Sundy’s classes just finished publishing webpages on endangered animals.  Mrs. Lash and Mrs. Todd co-taught the lessons on web searches and website creation.
 
 
*** Students in Ms. Wallace’s class used fruit loop cereal to make patterns. Some students created an ABAB pattern while other created ABC pattern or an ABB pattern. After the students glued their patterns down they also created a letter pattern, a number pattern and a color pattern to go with their original pattern.

***Hopewell students took home FIRST PLACE in the First Annual Robo Cup competition held at Ambridge High School on March 21st.  Congratulations to Mr. McKenna and his team!  We are so proud of you!
 
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Hopewell Teacher Organizes Robotics Competition
Posted 3/25/2013 at 10:37:46 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
The first annual Robotics Competition, held at Ambridge High School was organized by consortium president and Hopewell teacher Mr. Jason McKenna.

Our Hopewell team took home the first place award, as well!

Congratulations to Mr. McKenna and our students for their hard work!

Read the full article from
the Beaver County Times here.
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Careers in Energy
Posted 3/25/2013 at 8:56:00 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

This year our science department is collaborating with Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania as part of the Junior Achievement Energy curriculum.  Mr. Marty Knuth, Vice President of the Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. , came in to talk to the students about the Marcellus Shale.  The students learned the steps the Natural Gas Industry take and the materials they use for drilling. 

Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.

Junior Achievement programs help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Students put these lessons into action and learn the value of contributing to their communities.

What makes JA unique is the wealth of experience the JA volunteers from the community bring into our schools, engaging students in the curriculum while sharing their experiences with students. This brings both rigor and relevance to our classrooms, connecting students with real world experts, which is one of the four key components for learning.

It was a great experience for our eighth grade students with more to come.  Ms. Amy Dugan of Chesapeake Energy is scheduled to join us Tuesday for Lesson 4… and the Junior Achievement coordinator is working on the third and final guest speaker for the following day!

 

To learn more about the Junior Achievement Energy Curriculum, please click here.

 


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National Junior Honor Society Induction
Posted 3/21/2013 at 10:30:19 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Tuesday evening Hopewell Teachers joined parents and students to induct 20 seventh and eighth grade students into the Hopewell Memorial Junior High School National Junior Honor Society (NJHS).  Members are those students who have been selected due to their outstanding performance in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and citizenship.  These areas represent the four pillars of both the National Junior Honor Society and the National Honor Society.  There is no cut-off for participation.  It is open to all students who demonstrate these pillars. 

The evening began with each of the four officers explaining the four pillars and lighting the candles, which represent both the pillars and the internal flame that lights one’s way along the pathway towards personal success.  These students embody the true definition of leaders in their academic and social communities.  As Mr. Katkich reminded us during his congratulatory address, when he quoted the great Maya Angelou: 

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

 For me, this quote embodies the essential and unifying theme of NJHS and the Junior High School community.  As scholars, we learn more about the world around us, how to think critically and gain empathy for those around us.  We learn to see things and think about things through different lenses, not always the ones we typically use.  In service, we learn to treat others with respect, doing for others who need help, whether it be a kind word of support, a smile or a warm meal.  As leaders, we model this kindness and compassion for those around us, striving to rise above the peer or social pressures we will encounter throughout life, and make decisions balancing that which is best for us and with that which is best for those around us.  And as members of our both our local and global societies, our duties as citizens revolve around our interactions with others, our duties to each other.


Middle school is a time when students try on many hats and struggle between being dependent and independent.  To see 20 students inducted into such a prestigious activity is a real testament to the work their families, friends, community leaders and teachers have done to guide these students towards personal success.   It was touching to see the teachers who were asked to pin individual students, representing the strong bond that can grow between a teacher and his/her student.   As Mrs. Cosnek reminded us during her faculty address, it takes effort to become a well-rounded individual who excels in scholarship, service, leadership, and citizenship.    Congratulations to the new inductees!


Row one (front row): Gina Morrison, Lauren Kaminski, Carinna Lapson, Gianna Morelli, Taylor Parrish, Alexis Ozimok, Carly Belich, Danica Dong, Ganina Gonzalez, Brea Davis-Vazquez

Row two (back row): Chad Kypta, Lauren McCoy, Cody Gillock, Nicholas Barth, Mitchell Heranic, Sylvan Rotuna, Zachary Hall, Sabrina DiGiacomo, Allison Martin, Bella Zuccaro





 

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Tapas Plates
Posted 3/15/2013 at 11:51:03 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

 

This month the Junior High Visual Arts Club has been busy making “Tapas Plates” to raise money  for a potter’s wheel. The plates are approximately 6 x 6 inches in size and come in a variety of colors. Art club members will be selling the plates for 5$ each. If you are interested in a plate you may contact Mrs. Fuechslin, or any club member. Plates may be custom made with your choice of design and color. Place your custom order now!

 

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February Highlight Reel
Posted 3/7/2013 at 9:48:51 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

February was a short but productive month at the Jr. High:

 

·        If you were wondering why your 8th graders were raiding the pantry for pasta this month, this is why:  The 8th grade science classes constructed jet toys and pasta pod racers which demonstrated engineering skills while using the concepts from the Forces and Motion unit.  Both creativity and speed of vehicles were evaluated.  There was serious competition to design a car from just pasta and glue!

 

·        Our sixth graders are making excellent progress on measuring angles and plotting coordinates and our fifth grade math is reading and writing numbers into the billions as well as performing lattice multiplication.

 

·        Mrs. Pollick began her poetry unit this month by asking students to bring in a poem.  She purposefully left the assignment open ended and found that many of her students brought in poems they wrote themselves!  The students were so proud to share their own work, demonstrating another way students are engaged in their learning. 

 

·        Sixth grade LA is also studying poetry, using figurative language to compose their own poems. 

 

·        Our sixth grade scientists are building food chains and food webs.  Part of this unit involves dissect owl pellets and analyzing contents.  This may not be something you want to discuss over  dinner, but I know the kids would love to share what  they found…

 

·        Students in Mr. DeSalle’s science classes spent a week conserving water at home, and many got their families involved.  The goal was to see how much water they wasted daily. 

 

·        Math 8 students completed the Classroom Diagnostic Testing. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has developed on-line classroom diagnostic assessments for reading, mathematics, and science.  The diagnostic assessments will be available for students in grade 6 through high school. These tests are meant to provide teachers with data on their students, demonstrating what they know and what skills they need to address, helping us differentiate to meet the needs of all our learners. 

 

·        If you have taken a canoe trip on any river, or lake, ask an Algebra I student how to find the water current speed using systems of equations.  Mr. Thellman’s classes spent some time this month studying this real world application of Algebra!

 

·        Speaking of Algebra,sixth grade is in the process of completing a full menu of delicious algebraic equations in 6th grade.  They started out with simple equations we called “Appetizers”, introducing vocab like “constant and variable terms”, coefficients, variables, etc.  most were ready to move on to “heavy apps” and then came the “entrées”– Algebraic equations using subtraction and positive/negative numbers.  Mrs. Kuzma reported that many, many of her kids were ready for the challenge of “Desserts”.  Some are stuffed, but she even has several that were so excited they were doing well on the equations, that they wanted a few“After Dinner Mints”(those are the hardest of the hard!).  It was a fun way to get all the kids hungry for Algebra.  They’re fired up that they’re doing things that their parents and teachers didn’t do until we were in high school!  IMPRESSIVE!

 

·        The Junior High Envirothon team has started to study for this year’s Beaver County Envirothon this May. We wish them luck!

 

·        The 7thgraders played a game of Whose Baby in Mrs. Scheidemantel’s class.  They used their knowledge of genetics to figure out who the parents of the babies were after they got mixed up in the nursery.

 

·        Mr. Erath and Mr. Mawhinney had the students go on a scavenger hunt to find various shapes and figures throughout the room.  The students then had to draw, measure, and label the shapes.  Finally they had to use the formulas to calculate area, perimeter, volume, circumference etc.

 

·        Five 7thand 8thgrade  Chorus students participated in the PMEA District 5 Jr. High Chorus Festival on February 8, 2013.  The culminating concert was extremely well received by all.

 

·        Many of our seventh grade students are participating in a morning Math Success Program this month in preparation for the PSSAs.  This program was organized and designed by our math department as another way to support students in learning the concepts and skills necessary to succeed in math.

 

·        Some of our students celebrated the 100thday of school this year by comparing various items.  They felt and saw the differences between 100 pennies and 100 pieces of rice.  They also made a 100thDay snack by counting out ten of each type of snack.  For Valentine’s Day, Ms. Wallace and her students practiced their computation skills by using a math mat, dice and Sweet Tart hearts.  They did a great job and it was nice to see them enjoying a math activity.

 

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A Pirate's Life For Me...
Posted 3/4/2013 at 3:17:14 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

7th grade Pre-Algebra students had a guest facilitator last Thursday.  A pirate, who looked suspiciously like Mr. Mawhinney asked the class to help him decide whether to risk traveling in a leaking boat to retrieve a treasure on an island.  The students were given a map and very little information to work with.  They had to work together to formulate questions that the Pirate could answer.  Because Pirates are not known for their strong math skills, the students had to make sure their questions were strategic and would yield the information they needed. The students were going to have to prepare to share their strategies and problem solving steps with the class.

At first, many of the students appeared a little puzzled.  How could they solve the problem when they had very little to work with?   But the Pirate was a natural teacher, asking questions to encourage the students to think critically.  Students had to explain what strategies they would use to find the answer.  I was impressed with the tenacity of the students as they wrestled with higher order problem solving. 

 

You know it is a successful lesson when a student leaving class early for an early dismissal tells her group mates, “Text me later and tell me what you find out.”

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Greek Day
Posted 2/15/2013 at 8:43:14 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Our half day of school today was action packed for the students in the junior high.  Entering the building today, I was greeted by togas, ferns and the delicious smell of homemade Greek food.  
Greek Day has become an annual tradition at Hopewell Memorial Junior High School, and this was my first time experiencing it.  Each year, the seventh grade class is charged with organizing the event. Each student chooses a Greek character, researches and creates a brief speech, explaining who they are.  They memorize and perform for the staff and students on Greek Day.  Eighth grade lends a hand by decorating the building for the event, and the seventh grade comes dressed in their part.  This year I met Pan, King Midas, the Three Witches who shared one eye, a number of soldiers and warriors, and Pandora, to name but a few.  We had artisans making pottery, and even some "Greek cheerleaders."

I was struck by the magnitude of this event and the deep level of student engagement I witnessed.  Students took ownership for their assignments; they worked diligently for weeks memorizing speeches, cooking and creating costumes.  The authentic audience of staff and peers made the learning come alive.  Having the eighth graders assist with preparations really emphasizes our community - a place where we are responsible to work together and help each other out.  

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to teach a class where the students were practicing their speeches.  When I asked them what was going to happen during Greek Day, their faces lit up as they explained the tradition.  They remembered attending last year, and seeing the "older" students perform their roles.  This, too, made the event all the grander.  You witness it and learn from the older students, and look forward to participating when your turn comes around.  

This day is one large example of how we are striving DAILY to prepare our students to meet the demands of the 21st century by bringing the world into the classroom and creating opportunities for students to interact with each other, and with teachers in authentic learning experiences.


I am so proud of our students for their hard work.  A special thank you should be given to our Social Studies Department, who organizes and hosts the day: Mrs. Tranelli, Mr. Clemens and Mr. Vallecorsa.  
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January Highlight Reel
Posted 1/31/2013 at 8:42:14 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

These are just a FEW of the many happenings from the month of January:

 

·        Fifth graders in Mrs. Parrish’s class have been busy reading the novel Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.  They are meeting to discuss the characters and plot in literature circle groups.  Research shows literature circles are an effective way to increase student engagement and enhance reading comprehension in adolescent learners.  Hoot’s theme of bullying compliments our school wide OLWEUS program. 

·        As the semester wound to a close, students in Mrs. Steff’s Language Arts classes were busy leading book discussions as part of their AR Book Bingo Project.

·        Mrs. Scheidemantel’ scientists are busy studying DNA.  Students took their names and figured out, using a resource paper, what amino acids are in their “names” by using Letters to DNA to Amino Acids.  They then constructed the DNA, showcasing their work in the hallways. 

·        Mrs. Cosnek’s Science Club members spent the month of January working at lunch to construct a complicated roller coaster from a Kleenex set.  Although the construction followed the directions, the car did not have enough momentum to make the loop.  While the students were frustrated, they have been trouble-shooting and problem solving like scientists.

·        Mrs. Kuzma’s 6thgrade social studies classes have been busy researching the customs and cultures of Russia.  With the help of our library resources, the students practiced note taking strategies they learned in class to design a photo story.

·        Mr. Mohrbacher’s Language Arts classes have spent some time this month writing poetry and creating artwork to go with it.

·        Our talented jazz band students composed a 6-measure solo and performed it for their class!

·        Mr. Sundy’s students practiced and performed a readers’ theater activity about Abraham Lincoln, which he recorded!  Even though the fifth graders were nervous about performing in front of a camera, it gave Mrs. Webster and Mrs. Batchelor a chance to see how expressive they were in their roles. 

·        Interested in learning about genetics?  Mr. DeSalle’s science classes got to see genetically altered fish, which led to a class discussion about genetics and what might be altered in the future.

·        Fifth graders in Ms. Kostial’s science class conducted an experiment that involved the hatching of Brine Shrimp Eggs to determine the ideal salinity for hatching as part of their Foss Science program.

·        Ms. Wallace’s students have been working all semester to recite their address, phone number and birthday with minimal support.  It has been very rewarding to see them share this information with their teachers!

·        Students in Mrs. Blyzwick’s Wellness class have been busy with their New Year’s Resolutions.  Through the use of technology like MyFitnessPal and ChooseMy Plate, the students have been analyzing student nutrition and tracking their own goals for activity and nutrition. 

·        Seventh grade students composed their own African drumming songs and performed them for their peers in Mr. Toporski’s music class. 

·        Mrs. Pollick’s seventh grade Language Arts classes are in the midst of a project to learn more about Civil Rights. In preparation for the novel The Watson’s Go to Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis, students have been researching the early 60s and the Civil Rights Movement.  This knowledge has helped them analyze the novel.

·        Fifth graders got a chance to create their own webpages about animals which they published.  If your fifth grader completed Computer class last nine weeks and you did not get a URL link to view, be sure to ask your child to show you their webpage!  They were so well done and looked very professional.

·        Mr. Mawhinney’s study hall has become a preferred activity as of late.  Students have learned how to play Math 24 and are eager to play – hopefully once all their studying is complete.

·        Some of our eighth graders have been very busy this month participating in a Math Success Program in the mornings.  This program is meant to increase student’s abilities and confidence with their math skills in a small group, strategic environment.  Students come down for homeroom and meet with two of our 7/8 grade math teachers for some small group instruction.  Next month, our seventh graders will have the same opportunity to improve their math skills.

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International Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust
Posted 1/27/2013 at 8:08:32 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. 
Elie Wiesel

 

On Friday, students in 8th grade had a unique opportunity to participate in the International Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust.  Each year, on January 27th the United Nations remembers the Holocaust that affected Jews, Gypsies, Poles and other Slavs, and people with physical or mental disabilities.   

On Friday, the Goodwin Holocaust Museum and Education Center hosted a conversation, joining students to Holocaust survivors via a live teleconference.  Our students learned about what the Holocaust was like from the eyes of both the prisoners 
who somehow survived and the soldiers who freed the prisoners from the concentration camps.  Our students also got to ask questions.  These eyewitnesses to history offered insight into their lives and how they were forever changed by their experiences during the Holocaust.

Language Arts classes have read or are reading The Diary of Anne Frank and studying the Holocaust.  This opportunity is one of many ways teachers work to bring relevancy to the subjects we teach.  Primary sources are the most powerful tool we have to retell the past and make history come alive for our students.  We are so fortunate to still have individuals who can tell us about their experiences during this time in history. 

This experience also reminds us that we must never forget the suffering of others with the hope that we can prevent horror in the future.  It took resistance from every day citizens, like Miep Gies to save their peers from this tide of discrimination and hatred.  When we see tragedy or injustice, even on a smaller scale, we must protest and stick up for those with no voice.  I hope our students, when reading Anne’s diary and listening to these personal accounts from the teleconference take this lesson with them into the world.  As Elie Wiesel said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. “

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

By Martin Niemöller

 

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On the power of books
Posted 1/25/2013 at 9:09:10 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
How can I help my child become a better reader?

As with athletics, performance improves with practice. You can create a culture of reading in your household by doing the following:
  • Encourage your child to read at home. 
  • Read with your child
  • Start a home library
  • Visit your local library or bookstore on a regular basis
  • Let your child see you reading.
  • Discuss books that each of you has read
  • When reading with your child, stop and ask questions to be sure your child is comprehending what is read. 

Reading with your child, no matter what the child’s age, is an important part of developing a good reader and building a lifelong love of reading and learning!
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Happy Birthday MLK
Posted 1/24/2013 at 8:52:09 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

This week we celebrate the birthday of one of our nation’s leaders.  A man who reminded us by his own actions that we should not use physical or verbal violence to settle our differences and to strive to create the Beloved Community.   Happy birthday, Dr. King.


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Tex-Mex Tacos
Posted 1/18/2013 at 12:40:49 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]


Mrs. Tranelli's history class must have been hungry after their history lesson on the Texas and Mexican conflict today.  Students worked in groups to create a lesson to teach their peers and one group decided to make TACOS.  What could be better than students taking ownership of their own learning through active engagement? Anything food themed, I think!
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Where is Mr. Gill?
Posted 1/16/2013 at 8:44:02 AM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
Here are the Junior High, we like to play "Where's Waldo" by practicing the skills we are learning, especially in math:


Where can we find Mr. Gill this morning?



Remember your order of operations? PEMDAS
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New Year - New You?
Posted 1/10/2013 at 1:31:59 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]

The New Year brings with it a fresh start and an opportunity to improve one or two things we always wanted to try, but never quite got around to.  I have become quite jaded with the whole New Year’s Resolution thing because I never quite have the will power to follow through with my resolutions long term.  And apparently I am not the only one:

Fast Facts About New Year's Resolutions

    

  63% of people say they are keeping their resolutions  after two months

  67% of people make three or more resolutions

  Top four resolutions:

Increase exercise

Be more conscientious about work or school

Develop better eating habits

Stop smoking, drinking, or using drugs (including caffeine)

  People make more resolutions to start a new habit  than to break an old one.

And that got me thinking… how do you keep a resolution?  Philosophically, I believe we should all strive for continuous improvement, but it seems like a waste of time to promise to do something you won’t follow through with.  So, I did some research.

One of the tips I hear over and over again is to make sure you resolution is realistic and achievable.  Losing a gazillion pounds in one year or cutting out chocolate completely probably are not realistic, but devoting thirty minutes, three times a week to exercise gives you lots of leeway to meet your goal. 

As we approach the end of the first semester, we may not want to think about year-long resolutions, but rather, something we can do THIS nine weeks to improve our school experience.  One, small and easy change may be to spend 15 more minutes each day (or even three times a week) exercising our brain, through homework or studying.  Fun?  No.  Important and doable? Yes.

A great tool for getting this done is a program called Khan Academy.  The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization on a mission:  changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

All of the site's resources are available to anyone completely free of charge.  Here is how it works:

Students can make use of an extensive video library, interactive challenges, and assessments from any computer with access to the web.  You can use the video library to type in a question or a topic and watch a teacher teach the lesson or concept.  You can rewind and view as many times as you need.  Then you can actually practice sample problems and get immediate feedback on how you are doing!  All within minutes.  Parents have unprecedented visibility into what their students are learning and doing on the Khan Academy.

This is 15 minutes worth trying, I think, and just may help you keep your resolution to get better grades in school for the second semester.

Check out Khan Academy today!

 

 

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Let Your Light Shine
Posted 12/21/2012 at 12:18:07 PM by Jessica Webster [staff member]
With all the sadness surrounding the last week, it was not until Wednesday night’s Band and Chorus concert that I started to get the “Holiday Bug.”  You know: that excitement that comes knowing your family and friends will be celebrating your traditions? The time of year you can snuggle a little longer under the covers in the morning and linger a little longer in your pajamas?  It is that magical time that reminds us what is really important: family, friends and community. 

 

Seeing our community come together to celebrate the hard work and talents of our students illuminated our best.  I have always seen musical groups as a metaphor for the power of the collective.  Each voice, each instrument, contributes to the bigger picture to make some beautiful.  Someh