TJ Today

Thomas Jefferson Middle School

January/February 2018

Jan. 27 - ISSMA Vocal and Piano Solo and Ensemble

Jan 28 - Parent Mix and Mingle - See details below

Jan. 29 - Athletic/P.E. Fundraiser begins

Feb. 2 - Diversity Activity and Blood Drive 2:00-7:00 pm

Feb. 3 - ISSMA Instrumental Solo and Ensemble

Feb. 7 - Midterm of 3rd quarter

Feb. 8 - 6th grade World Language Presentation @ 6:00 pm

Feb. 9 - National "No One Eats Alone" Day with Activities

Feb. 16 - Mid-Winter Break

Feb. 17 Science Olympiad - Regionals

Feb. 19 - Presidents Day

Feb. 27 - PTSO Meeting @ 6:00 pm

Feb. 28 - 7 & 8 Band Concert @TJMS 7:00 pm

Parent Mix and Mingle - 1-28-18

This is a fun night for the parents of the TJMS kiddos to get together and mix and mingle. It is an open event so come early, leave early or come late. It is $5 PP at the door to include pizza and soft drinks. Adult beverages are extra. We HAVE to have a proper head count, so please make sure to RSVP. Please email Angie Crossin with any questions. Happy New Year!!

  • Sunday, January 28
  • from 4:00 - 6:00 Tony's Pizza, 218 Lincolnway, Valparaiso.

Geography Bee

Geography Bee

The TJMS Geography Bee was held on Wednesday, January 17, after school in Mrs. Joll’s room.

For weeks prior, students had shown up bright and early for Kahoot practices. Students from all three grades attended and displayed their geography knowledge. It was quite impressive! When the official BEE rolled around, we saw many familiar faces--and some new ones! It was quite the competitive group of kids. But in the end, there could only be one champion! After three rounds and many elimination rounds--one TJ student was victorious!

Congrats to Emmett Richter for being the TJMS 2018 Geography Bee Champion!

Honorable mention to Micah Nathan (2nd place) and Kobe Davenport (3rd place).

Emmett will now go on to try and qualify for the Indiana State Geography Bee which will take place in April. Good luck, Emmett!

Micah Nathan, Emmett Richter, Kobe Davenport

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Student Activities: Diversity, Kindness, and No One Eats Alone!

  • Diversity and Kindness - All students will be participating in a discussion and activity focusing on diversity Friday, February 2. We are coordinating this event with our VCS School Culture and Student Services team in conjunction with No Name Calling Week and other school-wide activities focused on kindness and tolerance. Every morning for two weeks leading up to this activity, students have heard morning announcements about being kind to one another. On Friday, February 2, we will show all students a video produced by high school students in Oregon discussing diversity and tackling intolerance. Students will have follow-up discussion circles and team building activities to reinforce the lessons learned. Parents are invited to view the video: Students Speaking the Unspoken
  • No One Eats Alone - This event is sponsored by MHS (Managed Health Services). A theater group will be presenting to students before lunch, and then at lunch members of MHS and TJMS staff will be mixing it up in the lunchroom by encouraging students to sit with others that day. We will have conversation starters on the lunch tables, and students will be receiving a Swag Bag to bring home. Here is a link to the No One Eats Alone Website.

TJM Athletics and PE Fundraiser

TJ Athletics and PE will be hosting a fundraiser Monday, January 29, to Tuesday, February 13. Students will be asked to sell cookie dough, tumblers and MLB fan flags. Top prizes consist of tickets to a Chicago Bulls game (which includes the ability to go onto the court, shoot lay-ups/free throws and watch the pre-game shoot courtside) and a remote control drone with HD camera. The presentation and additional information for the fundraiser will take place on Monday, January 29, during PE classes.

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TJMS 1st Annual Pep Rally

Students and staff were recognized for their effort, character, and commitment to the values of TJMS. We came together to celebrate several accomplishments. TJMS was awarded “A” status by the Indiana Department of Education for the 2016-2017 School Year. The gym was full of cheers as we announced our success. In addition to the “A” status as a school, recognition was also given to individual clubs, athletics, and extra-curricular groups.

Beyond academics and extracurriculars, all staff and students work endlessly to make TJMS the best school possible. Before the Pep Rally, staff and students nominated each other and were recognized at the assembly in the following categories: Passion & Excitement, Above & Beyond, Leading the Way, Better Than Yesterday, and Everyday Hero.

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8th Grade - Prepping for VHS

Recently, eighth grade students participated in a simulation called “Economic Survivor,” modeled after a program offered in conjunction with Valparaiso University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Students in each Advisory were randomly given labor, land, and education tokens and competed to see who had the greatest percentage of survivors. This meant that students needed to finish with land, food, and clothing. According to the game, everyone has the ability to work hard, but life may be easier for those with an education and/or land. Mrs. Joll’s Advisory won the event. Another method used to educate students and honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr., involved students watching and discussing “The Children’s March” to understand how the young people protested using nonviolent methods to the inequities that were taking place in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

The VHS guidance department met with eighth graders on January 23 to talk about high school scheduling. Topics included credits, diplomas, summer school and tips to succeed in high school. TJ guidance counselors will meet with Social Studies classes on January 31 to further discuss and answer questions.

Since the first semester ended in December, the mid-term for the third grading period will be on February 7.

Mark your calendars for 8th grade field trips on March 14 and March 20. More information will be coming soon.

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7th grade - pushing forward

With a few weeks of the third quarter under their belts, the 7th grade students and teachers at TJMS are pushing forward with our daily endeavors. From solving equations and essay writing to tracking earthquakes and earning pesos, our 7th graders are engaged in a plethora of academic activities designed to challenge and enrich. With 8th grade and high school on the horizon, the development of skills to increase success at these ensuing levels is essential.

7th grade is a transitional time when students begin to look ahead to high school. Change is a fact of life. Friendships may change, study habits may vary, but stability is important in the life of a 13-year old. Meaningful consequences and family support can go a long way in assisting a 7th grade student to find success.

As our 7th grade students strive for independence, it can be a struggle to determine how much support should be given to them. Regularly checking Skyward may provide much insight into the academic success of your child and may give you an opportunity to speak with your child about their current successes or failures. Every week, advisory teachers meet with each student to review and monitor your child’s progress. It is also okay to occasionally, or regularly, check your child’s assignment notebook to stress the importance of organization and work completion. Parental involvement is essential for academic success.

6th Gr. - Poetry Contest

What’s new with 6th grade?!

The 6th grade ELA classes are hard at work preparing for the 2018 TJMS Poetry Contest!

CLASSROOM CONTESTS: Thursday, February 8, & Friday, February 9.

ALL-GRADE CONTEST: Thursday, February 15.

Two finalists and an alternate from each classroom will be selected to compete at the 6th Grade Contest on Friday, February 15, 2018


1/26 read in class; read/recite

2/2 poem memorized

2/7 dress rehearsal

2/8-2/9 class contest!

Students are encouraged to DRESS to illustrate their poem and/or use PROPS in their presentation. Entertain the audience and convince them that you know your poem inside and out, and have fun with it. BE DRAMATIC!!!


PRIDE celebration for the third nine weeks will be held at the Boys and Girls Club.


What are we learning at the moment?…

● Social Studies—Ancient Rome (Rome test will be on Friday, January 26)

● Math— Geometry

● Science— Ecology

● ELA—Poetry

Parents, as always, if you could please:

● Check grades and assignments on Skyward/Canvas weekly.

● If you see a missing assignment, communicate with your child and let them know it needs to be completed/turned in.

● Contact your child’s teacher with any questions/concerns if your child is struggling academically—We all want your children to be successful!

● Students will need earbuds/headphones for classes and Brainology. If your child doesn’t have any, they can be purchased at the TJ Bookstore.

● Encourage your child to keep up to date on his/her reading counts points!

TJMS Athletics and P.E. Fundraiser

TJ Athletics and PE will be hosting a fundraiser Monday, January 29 to Tuesday, February 13. Students will be asked to sell cookie dough, tumblers, and MLB fan flags. Top prizes consist of tickets to a Chicago Bulls game (which includes the ability to go onto the court, shoot lay-ups/free throws and watch the pre-game shoot courtside) and a remote control drone with HD camera. The presentation and additional information for the fundraiser will take place on Monday, January 29 during PE classes.

December Pride Card Winners

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Student Council Update

The TJMS Bookstore will be reopening soon! Thanks to the support of the TJMS PTSO, the bookstore will be open on Wednesdays (during all three lunches) starting in February!

Upcoming meetings- Meetings are held on Wednesdays in the Auditorium and start at 7am!

· January 31

· February 14

· February 28

Upcoming Spirit Days:

· 1/26 Viking Pride

· 2/2 Super Bowl spirit

· 2/9 Viking Pride

· 2/14 Wear red/pink

· 2/16 Viking Pride

· 2/23 Dress like your favorite teacher

Remember Your Yearbooks!

This year, we will be telling the stories of the year. Our theme is "We"--and our yearbook will be showing how TJMS joins together to accomplish amazing things! Orders can easily be placed online by clicking

Parents and students--We KNOW you take amazing pictures--like those amazing action shots during sporting events or group shots of you and your friends---and we want to publish your work in our yearbook!

Have you downloaded the Replayit app on your phone yet? No? No worries! You can upload your amazing photos by visiting

Thanks for sharing your moments with us!

Media Center Happenings

TJMS & Digital Citizenship

Congratulations to TJMS for continuing to demonstrate a commitment to teaching students how to be safe and responsible with technology. Our school officially received the Digital Citizenship School Certification from Common Sense Education for the 2017 - 2018 school year by meeting various requirements, such as delivering digital citizenship instruction to multiple grade levels and proactively communicating with parents about relevant topics. Next up: Mrs. Hurley will work with our sixth grade group to focus on the philosophy behind Data Privacy Day, celebrated on January 28, 2018. Students will engage in NOVA’s Cybersecurity Lab to learn how to create strong passwords and to protect a network. In February, we will celebrate Digital Learning Day by creating a photo booth activity for our students, which will include props that communicate the importance of being a good digital citizen.

More Makerspace Opportunities

Thanks to our successful book fair, we were able to add even more activities to our Makerspace. New products include littleBits Arduino Code Kit, littleBits Cloudbit Starter Kit, and several craft projects - such as Quote Art and Loom Bracelets. Mrs. Hurley is piloting a sign-up system with the sixth graders that allows students to directly schedule a day they’re able to come in to explore. This week, we hosted an advisory activity that used our Sphero SPRK+ robots to find all books on a list and navigate a Sphero to the spot. Next up, students will have a chance to play Sphero bowling, which prompts students to use effective coding, aimed at knocking down the most pins. In seventh grade, Madisyn Myskewitz is our first student to complete all tasks included in the 3Doodler Bootcamp module. Well done, Madisyn! We also want to give another shout out to Valparaiso Schools Foundation for all of the grant opportunities that have helped equip our media center with hands-on learning fun!

Builders Club News

As the advisor of the Builders Club at TJMS, I am so proud of the giving spirit our members displayed at the end of 2016. Members gave their time, singing talents, and good cheer to shop for Angel Tree recipients, carol at a local nursing home, and ring bells for the Salvation Army. A special thanks to their parents for helping with the driving and allowing their children to participate.

We started 2017 off with two guest speakers from Valparaiso University. They worked with members to plan for future Builders Club projects through assessing their perceived community need. I am looking forward to seeing where that takes us this spring.

Meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of each month. It’s never too late to join, and If you have missed some meetings, I encourage you to come back! We will be planning upcoming events at our next meeting, so be listening to the announcements to find out how to be involved.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Student Success - Homework and Study Table Procedures

This is a link to our Student Success procedures

  • Homework is posted on your child's Canvas Calendar. Create a parent Canvas Observer account using this link on our website.
  • Grades are posted on Skyward

During the 2017-18 school year, the Social Services Team for Valparaiso Community Schools is able to provide food for students in need on the weekends! Contact Ms. Keown if interested.