September 3rd, 2019

Twitter Highlights: Week 1

You don't need to have a twitter account to see the highlights from the past week. We are working to create a positive learning environment that is equitable, inclusive and focused on the whole child. No need to have a twitter account to view!

Welcome to our 2019-2020 School Year

We are off to a great start this school year! As a staff, we spent a considerable amount of time these first days focusing on creating a positive learning environment for all our students. Students have been provided a number of opportunities to connect with their teachers and classmates, learn about our expectations, and understand that everyone plays an important role in creating a strong culture and climate here at our school. You can expect to receive a Middle Matters communication from me weekly on Sundays or the last day of a holiday. The information shared by our PTO will also be contained in this weekly communication so you have all the information needed about Brooks in one location.

Please check out the information below regarding the 3Bes of Brooks, Picture day, Chromebrook Distribution, PTO News, Community Programs, Clubs and Sports information, and much more.

~April Capuder


The Brooks 3 Be's: Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be Safe

We spent the first few days of school focusing on creating a positive learning environment for our students. They had opportunities to build relationships with classmates and teachers and we also established expectations for the school year. Our 3 overarching expectations for all students is to “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe.”

We shared information with them on an array of topics that included the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, backpack expectations, cell phone expectations, Chromebook usage, and the overall 3 Be's of Brooks Middle School outlined in our Student Behavior Expectations. Teaching students these basic expectations is an integral part of building a positive culture and climate that is inclusive. We emphasized the “Why” as it pertains to norms and agreements regarding building expectations and how all members of our school community contribute to creating a positive culture and climate at Brooks Middle School. Here is a link to the presentation shared with our students during our grade level Welcome Assembly. Our 8th graders will be attending this assembly tomorrow, Tuesday, September 3rd.

A few areas to note:

Our “Away for the Day” expectations for cell phones.

  • Cell phones are to be turned off upon entering the school building, stored in the students’ locker, and not turned back on until the dismissal bell rings.

  • Students violating these expectations will have their device taken by an adult and turned into the main office. The student can pick it up at the end of the day. If this happens 3 times, the parent/guardian of the student is required to pick it up from school and develop a plan to help the student follow the expectations.

  • Possession of a cell phone is a privilege that may be forfeited by any student who fails to abide by these expectations.

  • These expectations do not apply to students who have documented medical exemptions that require the use of technology to monitor health conditions.

I am asking that you support us in holding students to meet these cell phone expectations. Please watch this 2 minute video that supports the “Why” behind our expectations. Click on this link for additional information about keeping cell phones “Away for the Day” while in school.

Brooks Handbook

Please review our Brooks Handbook with your student. Your student if they haven't already will be asking you to sign that you and your student have read and reviewed the expectations outlined within the handbook. You may also acknowledge that the handbook has been reviewed electronically, using this form.

Backpacks, cinch sacks and small bags

Contained on our School Supply list and within the Brooks Handbook, we've outlined the expectation regarding backpacks. Our hallways but more importantly out stairways are very crowded during passing periods. Students carrying oversized backpack has created unsafe situations in the stairwells. To help ensure the safety of our students, we are asking that students only carry cinch sacks or small backpacks/bags that have dimensions no larger than 6 inches deep as well as 18 inches tall and 14 inches wide. Here is the excerpt from the Brooks Handbook. In terms of what as student really needs to carry, since all of our textbooks are online and classroom sets are available to use during class, they need only to carrying their Chromebook (once distributed on 9/4), pen/pencil case, folder/paper and a novel. Lastly, if a student chooses to carry a smaller bag, this will reinforce students skills in planning and organization to minimally think about their morning classes and afternoon classes.

We appreciate your support in helping your student meet our community expectations and working with us to create a positive learning environment for all students.

Attendance and Tardy reminders


We strive to improve the attendance of all of our students. Each minute of each school day provides opportunities for learning and it’s noticeable when students miss time. Absences, even if they are excused, can add up to academic trouble. Missing only 2 days a month (excused or unexcused), means your child misses 10% of the school year. As a school district, our goal is to have students in attendance 98% of the time, which translates to about 1 absence per trimester. Here is some helpful information to guide your decision related to your child’s health and school attendance. If your child is going to be absent, please notify the office prior to 9:00 a.m. by calling (708) 665-3074. When we do not receive a call from a parent, school regulations require that parents/guardians are contacted to verify the child's absence. If we are unable to reach a parent, we will record the absence as unexcused.

TARDY Reminders

We open the doors in the morning at 8:50am for students to navigate to their lockers and their first class of the day. The school day tardy bell rings at 8:55am. If a student arrives on or after 8:55am, they will need to check into the main office to get a pass and will be marked tardy to school.

Being on time to class is essential for optimal learning for all students. This school year when a student reaches 15 tardies within a trimester, they will meet with their advisory teacher to develop a strategy to ensure the student will get to all classes on time. At 25 tardies within a trimester, the student will be required to participate in a circle discussing tardies during their social time and parents/guardians will be contacted. At 35 tardies within the trimester, parents/guardians will be contacted to meet with their student and an administrator to develop a tardy contract.

Chromebook Distribution

Chromebook Distribution on Wednesday, 9/4

Student will be receiving their Chromebooks during PE class this Wednesday, September 4th.

Why International Baccalaureate?

The IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective learners. See this graphic that outlines the top 10 reasons why IB is amazing!

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Picture Day - Tuesday, September 3rd

Students received an order from on the first day of school from their advisory teacher. They will turn in the form to the photographer.

Students will be taking their photograph during their PE class.

Picture retake day is scheduled for October 10th, 2019

Home Avenue pedestrian bridge

You should have previously received the information regarding the closing of the Home Avenue pedestrian bridge. Below is the information previously shared by our district office. Information about the project is available online at If you have any questions or concerns related to the construction, please email

The Village of Oak Park will be temporarily closing the Home Avenue pedestrian bridge over the I-290 Expressway for the month of September in order to complete surface repairs and patching. The bridge is scheduled to be closed starting Monday, September 2, and will remain closed until Tuesday, October 1.

This temporary closure will require that students from Brooks Middle School and Lincoln Elementary School who normally cross the bridge use an alternate walking route to and from school. The village has designated the Oak Park Avenue bridge as the safest alternate route over the expressway, which ties into existing school walking routes along Harrison Street and the west side of Oak Park Avenue.

In order to ensure the safety of students who will be utilizing the temporary route, the village will have crossing guards at both ends of the Oak Park Avenue bridge. Temporary barrier walls will be placed on both sides of the bridge in order to protect pedestrians and bicyclists from vehicle traffic. The village will also refresh crosswalk lines along the alternate route, which will be marked with detour and “temporary school walking route” signs.

Please see the following map to view the alternate route, as well as the locations of the signs: Home Avenue Bridge Closure - Temporary Safe Walking Route

The health and safety of our students is our highest priority, and we will continue to work with the Village of Oak Park to address any issues or concerns that may arise during the completion of this project.


Approximately 10% - 15% of students have a food allergy. The most common allergen item is nuts of any kind.

Every food-allergic reaction has the possibility of developing into a life-threatening reaction within minutes. Some individuals may react to merely touching the substance, while for others, consumption of a tiny amount of that food can cause a reaction which could be fatal.

  • We strongly encourage packing nut-free products in your student's lunches

  • We strongly encourage sending nut-free products on field trips

  • There is NO food sharing between students at any time during school

How to identify safer foods for your children to eat:

  1. Please read all packaging to ensure the item is not produced on equipment shared with nuts

  2. Additional safe options may be viewed at:

We appreciate your partnership in promoting the health and safety of our children. For additional information, questions, or concerns, please contact our school nurse, Nancy Radogno (


  • PTO Welcome Back Night: Food Truck Fun on Wednesday, September 4th from 6:00pm to 7:30pm
  • Coffee with Capuder: Friday, September 6th from 8:30am to 9:30am in Brooks Commons
  • Fall Map Testing begin week of September 9th
  • Curriculum Night: Thursday, September 12th from 6pm to 8pm
  • Student-Led Conferences: Thursday, October 24th from 12:45pm to 8pm
  • End of Trimester 1: Friday, November 15th
  • Trimester 1 Report Card: Friday, December 6th

PTO News

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PTO Back to School Celebration: Wednesday, September 4th 6:00pm to 7:30pm

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Sing up for Starship Lunch: Begins on Tuesday, 9/17

Sign up for Starship Lunch to begin on Tuesday, September 17th

Take a break from packing or buying lunch every Tuesday! The Brooks PTO is once again pleased to offer an alternative purchased lunch option for students on Tuesdays from Starship Restaurant. Starship is a local restaurant in Forest Park that caters lunch for Brooks on Tuesdays. These lunches are the primary fundraiser for the PTO.

More information can be found here. Follow this link to sign up online. If you prefer to pay by check please send an email requesting a paper form to Orders must be placed by September 8 and lunches will begin on September 17.

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Zero Waste — you can do it! Three baby steps…

If you don’t have a reusable water bottle for your kiddo, what are you waiting for? These are widely available -- even thrift stores will have a stash, and you can easily disinfect it and be good to go.

As for lunches, says “If you’re looking for ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, figuring out how to pack a zero waste lunch or even just reducing lunch waste is a great place to start. Cutting down on disposables in the kitchen usually has a higher upfront cost. But the investment will pay off long term.”

An easy place to start is a sandwich wrapper and some snack bags. They're widely available, easy to clean — and every time you use one, that’s a plastic bag you’re not throwing away! The sandwich wrappers also act as a built-in placemat, which is nice. Just hand wash and air dry. This simple swap could save you over 300 bags a year for one student!

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Volunteer with the Brook’s PTO

The PTO is committed to enriching the experience of students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School through supporting a positive school environment, facilitating the development of positive relationships within the community, advancing school equity initiatives, and creating an environment where all students have access to school resources and opportunities.

We have an opening for an 8th Grade VP. This role helps plan 8th grade dance and a winter staff appreciation dinner.

Email the PTO BoardEmail if you are interested or have questions!

Community Programs

Distribution of information by a community group in accordance with District 97 policy does not imply, directly or indirectly, that the group's program(s), event(s) and/or services(s) is sanctioned, sponsored or endorsed by the district, the Board of Education or the superintendent.
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Clubs and Sports Information

Girls on the RISE - 6th Grade Girls & 7th Grade Girls

Girls on the Rise is a program offered in partnership with Brooks and the Oak Park Township. Girls on the Rise provides prevention and empowerment to minority girls. We strive to instill confidence in girls to utilize problem-solving skills through communication and respect without retaliation. Our program plans to build social, communication and leadership skills, healthy relationships with peers and adults, raise self-esteem and self-awareness and create a sisterhood of strong young ladies.

The 6th Grade Girls group's 6th Grade Girls first meeting is on Tuesdays, 9/3 from 3:30pm to 5:00 pm in room C105.

The 7th Grade Girls group's first meeting is on Wednesday, 9/4 from 3:30pm to 5:00 pm in room C105.

The 8th Grade Girls group will begin meeting on January 15th, 2020.


Eco Eagles will be meeting TUESDAYS at 3:30 in Room C202 starting, September 3rd.

Students who are passionate about helping the environment, gardening, saving endangered species or who just want to do interesting things outdoors should check out the ECO EAGLES, the Brooks ecology club. We have made award-winning films, gone on cool field trips, implemented fun fundraisers and raised awareness about many different issues. We are open to whatever you are interested in, so join us!

Chess Club

Play chess games against other club members..checkmate!

Chess club will begin this week, Tuesday September 17th and will meet in Mr. Hausfeld's new classroom C108 from 3:30pm to 5:00pm.

Singing Groups Offered at Brooks (extra-curriular and co-curricular)

The Women's Ensemble (name TBD)

This group will be made up of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students whose voices present as female. Individuals are admitted to the highly popular co-curricular groups through an audition process in September. *Students do NOT have to be enrolled in Band, Chorus or Orchestra curricular classes to audition for these groups*. The repertoire for this group will include vocal jazz, showtunes, pop, and classic choral literature. This group will rehearse Tuesdays from 8-8:50 am.

  • Auditions September 4, 5, or 6 at 8am (just come to one). First rehearsal will be Tuesday Sept 17

The Men's Ensemble (name TBD)

This group will be made up of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students whose voices present as male. Individuals are admitted to the highly popular co-curricular groups through an audition process in September. *Students do NOT have to be enrolled in Band, Chorus or Orchestra curricular classes to audition for these groups*. The repertoire for this group will include vocal jazz, showtunes, pop, and classic choral literature. This group will rehearse Wednesdays from 8-8:50 am.

  • Auditions September 4, 5, or 6 at 8am (just come to one). First rehearsal will be Wednesday Sept 18

The Select Mixed Ensemble (name TBD)

This is an extra-curricular choir made up of 7th, and 8th grade students that focuses on vocal jazz, showtunes, pop, and classic choral literature. Individuals are admitted to the highly popular co-curricular groups through an audition process in September (and possibly a re-audition in December). Students involved in this top group must be enrolled in Band, Chorus or Orchestra during the day, and will be asked to sing with one of the other extra-curricular choirs. This group will rehearse Thursdays from 8-8:50 am.

  • Auditions September 4, 5, or 6 at 8am (just come to one). The first rehearsal will be Thursday Sept 20

GBMS Curriculum Night

Thursday, Sep. 12th, 6-8pm

325 South Kenilworth Avenue

Oak Park, IL

Please mark your calendars to join us.