Black River Middle School

"A School to Watch"

November 2018

Students Embrace STEM Class at BRMS

Mr. Gray's Innovation and Design class, otherwise known as STEM, is one of the Related Arts courses that students are enrolled in once per quarter. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It's a method of study designed to give students opportunities to put their knowledge into action. Essentially, it teaches them to become innovators by evaluating information, solving problems, and designing equipment or methods to perform or solve tasks.

The BRMS STEM classes are off to a tremendous start this fall. Sixth graders are focused on turbines and how different types generate electricity. The lesson culminates with students constructing and testing their own wind-powered generators. Meanwhile, seventh graders are concluding a unit on catapults. First, they studied the physics, principles, and history of these tension-based launching mechanisms, and then they were tasked with building the first of two catapults from the unit. Based on what they learned, students were able to choose the style of catapult they wished to assemble: mangonel, trebuchet, or ballista.

Finally, eighth graders recently completed their carbon dioxide (Co2) dragsters. After studying the effects that drag and friction have upon bodies moving through the air, the students built and raced their dragsters on a track. The eighth graders are now engrossed in the robotics unit; as a matter of fact, they'll be the first group to use the new Tetrix Prime robotic kits which introduce coding to the construction phase of the lesson.

For students who are eager for additional STEM opportunities, the extracurricular STEM Club is a way to have fun with friends while furthering their design and build skills. The focus of the club is to construct robots to compete in a decathalon. For additional information, contact Mr. Gray at:

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Lady Bulldogs Capture Soccer Championship!

The wind was howling and the air was chilled on Saturday afternoon, November 3, when the BRMS Girls Soccer Team walked onto the pitch for the championship game. With nearly a perfect record of 14 and 1, the Bulldogs had more than earned their place that day. The team's determination was clear in the match against Pequannock, and the girls once again proved their strength as a team by securing a 5-0 shutout along with the title of Morris County Junior Champions!
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Sixth Grade Veteran's Day Program Honors Local Vets

On Monday, November 19, BRMS hosted a Veteran's Day program for the sixth grade students. The event honored 16 veterans representing all five branches of service. They were treated to a special luncheon where they socialized and shared stories.

The assembly featured Chester Police Chief Tom Williver, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, who addressed the students on his military service and commitment to law enforcement after being discharged. Chester Borough Mayor Janet Hoven and Chester Township Mayor Marcia Asdal were also honored guests.

Dr. VanWoert and Principal White thanked the veterans for their service and participation in the event. Students viewed a brief documentary on the history of Veteran's Day which was augmented by the veterans in attendance who shared their individual experiences in the military.

Andrew Honeycheck, Retired Post Commander of American Legion Post 342 in Chester, provided each sixth grader with a StarsForOurTroops memento to mark the occasion.

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Inspiration Cafe Links Students to Dynamic Professionals

A heartfelt discussion between Dr. Piascik and Mr. Pizzo regarding the integration of school and community led them to implement the BRMS Inspiration Café. It's a program that enables students to interact with noted professionals who share the passion that fueled them to pursue their life's work. At a time when adolescents are discovering who they are and what they'd like to be, the Inspiration Cafe is designed to ignite a fire within the students and deepen their personal goals.

The speakers attend either in person or via video conference, and they speak with the students during their lunch period. The presenters offer real-world practical advice and answer questions on the path they took to their careers. The initial event took place on November 2 and was a resounding success. Anyone interested in being a guest speaker should visit for more information.

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Faculty Fun Facts at BRMS!

BRMS is a community. As such, this newsletter regularly features highlights about the people who make our school a special place. This time, please meet Guidance Counselor Amal Azzara and Security Coordinator Arnel Villalobos. Did you know?

Mrs. Azzara:

1. Enjoys hiking, rock scrambling, and getting lost in the woods.

2. Worked in marketing prior to pursuing a career in education.

3. Has ridden a camel to the Egyptian pyramids-- twice!

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Mr. Villalobos:

1. Played college basketball.

2. Rode a bike from New Jersey to Washington, DC.

3. Enjoys coaching kids in basketball and baseball.

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Technology Brings Literature to Life for 7th Grade Students

Seventh grade students in Mr. Pizzo's and Mrs. Aiello's language arts classes have been reading a book called Refugee by Alan Gratz. Thanks to the power of technology, the BRMS students recently experienced firsthand the plight of a student currently living in a refugee camp in Uganda. Using Google Meet along with a Promethean Board and a set of speakers, a conference call between the Chester students and the refugee girl located 7,000 miles away enabled the children in two vastly different parts of the world to connect.

The young refugee explained that after an attack on her city, she ran for safety and hid for four days and four nights without food or water. Her story inspires hope and demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit. We are grateful to have the technical ability to bring literature to life and to offer the BRMS students a more global view of the world.

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The BRMS Guidance Corner: C.A.R.E. Club Debuts at BRMS

The BRMS C.A.R.E. Club had its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, November 14. The acronym stands for Community, Acceptance, Responsibility, and Empowerment. Club members are excited to spread thanks and kindness throughout the school. The first two projects are thank-you cards for the faculty and staff in honor of Thanksgiving, and a school-wide intentional acts of kindness game called BKind Bingo. The club's co-advisors are Mrs. Elberty and Mrs. Mansolino. They would be happy to welcome new members!
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Coming Soon:

December 6- Band Concert 7 p.m.

December 7- Senior Citizen's Holiday Party

December 17- Chorus Concert 7 p.m.

December 21- Early Dismissal 12:25 p.m.

December 24-Jan. 1- Happy Holidays!