Marie Murphy Chronicles

1 December 2017


Marie Murphy Recognized by Apple as a "Distinguished School"

Marie Murphy School continued to maintain its status as a leader in educational technology by being named an Apple Distinguished School for the 2017-2019 award window. In applying for the award, Marie Murphy had to provide evidence that our 1:1 MacBook program continues to be innovative and yields positive student achievement results. In receiving the award, Marie Murphy continues be part of an exclusive club - only 400 schools worldwide, from 29 countries, have been identified by Apple as a "Distinguished School".

Special thanks to MM's technology department of Beth Haugeberg, Kelli Lane and Tim Furman for all the work they do everyday to make this recognition possible. Special thanks are also extended to the entire Marie Murphy staff for their progressiveness and willingness to try new instructional strategies to improve student engagement and learning.

Happenings Around the Murph!

You Should Know... Snowflake

As the calendar flips to December each year, Marie Murphy's 7th graders will participate in an event that has been in place for over two decades. Though it has been known as Snowflake Club, Project Snowflake, Snowflake Council, Operation Snowflake, Snowflake Workshop and other monikers, Snowflake has occurred each year at Marie Murphy since the 1992-1993 school year. Education and schools are often defined by the swinging pendulum of initiatives and movements that come and go. Yet for the past 26 years, Snowflake has been a constant. Why?

Snowflake is the middle school version of high schools' "Snowball" training, and elementary schools' "Snowflurry" education. Regardless of the school setting, the foundation of the Snowflake program is the belief that when students affect peers in a positive way, those other students would go on to positively affect others as well, creating a "snowball" effect. Snowflake utilizes this belief to put forth a program of peer-to-peer drug and alcohol prevention. Created in the late 1970s in Rockford, Snowball groups were established throughout schools in Illinois during the 1980s and 90s. No matter the school, Snowflake groups were founded with the intent to start prevention and intervention programs, planned and directed by students with adults serving in an advisory role. In developing drug and alcohol intervention programs, students learn leadership skills, are empowered by making their own decisions, and can see the impact of their decision to stay drug & alcohol free as it relates to their education and life.

The implementation of Snowflake varies depending on the school. At Marie Murphy, 7th graders participate in an all day workshop. The day is structured with multiple small-group sessions taking place. These small-group discussions are lead by Marie Murphy teachers, eighth-grade Snowflake Council members, and Marie Murphy graduates. They review facts and myths about drugs and alcohol. Students are encouraged to look at themselves and identify their strengths, as well as to look at others and respect their strengths. Additionally, there are group discussions on depression, teasing, and bullying. Guest speakers are interwoven throughout the day to provide engagement, motivation and inspiration. All activities revolve around the theme developed by this year’s eighth-grade Snowflake Council, “A Healthy Me is Drug Free”.

Snowflake is an essential component to the Social-Emotional Learning program for 7th graders at Marie Murphy and becomes a touchstone event that teachers and students can refer back to as they continue their SEL studies and conversations.

It's December - Time for Snowflake!

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Marie Murphy Student Council's Philanthropic Endeavors Continue

Student Council made the decision earlier this year to donate money raised at various student council events to a charity that was helping hurricane victims. The Student Council recently voted to give that money to Heart to Heart International based on research done through various charity checker websites that showed the effectiveness of the charity and what percentage of donations actually made it to the people who needed it. Through Coin Wars alone, the Student Council will be donating $1700 to Heart to Heart.

While Student Council will continue to support Heart to Heart International, they would also like to continue the tradition of previous MM Student Councils by supporting a second charity. This is where the student body comes in. Through December 15th, Student Council will be accepting nominations by students for a second charity to support. Any student may submit a nomination. Class representatives have been tasked with sharing this information with their first period/social studies classes to help get the word out.

Student Council still has two large events for the year, so there is still plenty of money that can be raised and donated. Please encourage your child to assist Student Council in finding a worthy organization to help out.

6th Grade Goes Speed Dating...With Some Spicy Non-Fiction Titles!

6th grade students had the chance during English to "speed date" with nonfiction books. In addition to being fun, book speed-dating gives the students a chance to get to know a book before forming a “committed relationship” with it. They must read the cover, front and back flaps, and begin reading the book during the "dating period". This results in the students making an informed choice before they check out the book, and the book they choose will be one they enjoy reading. And if they don't end up liking the book, then there's plenty of other fish in the sea...I mean books in the library!

PTC's Intercultural Evening Showcases Avoca's Diversity and Talents

PTC's 4th annual Intercultural Dinner & Talent Show took place on November 3rd at Marie Murphy and was a sold out event with more than 420 people in attendance. Japanese sushi, Chinese beef dumplings, Pakistani red bean rice cake, Armenian lula kebabs and Greek lemon chicken highlighted cuisine offerings from nearly 30 countries. Student and adult performances took place throughout the evening showcasing the singing, dancing, and performing talents of our diverse community. The event was a huge success and continues to be a highlight of the PTC's outstanding programing for students and families!

Scenes from PTC's Intercultural Dinner & Talent Show

Upcoming Events at MM

December 1: 7th Grade Snowflake Day

December 5: Board of Education Meeting @ 5:30

December 6: Hour of Code For Parents @ 6:00

December 11-16: MM Book Fair

December 16: Science Olympiad Invitational

December 20: 7th Grade to See 'Wicked' at Oriental Theatre

December 22: 6th Grade Roller Skating Party