TJ Today

Thomas Jefferson Middle School 2019-20

November 2019

Nov. 5 - District Spell Bowl @ KV

Nov. 11 - Veterans Day Program - 2 presentations: 8:40-7th & 8th gr and 9:40-6th & TJE

Nov. 15 - Cathie Bledsoe presenting Cybersafety program

Nov. 16 - State Spell Bowl Competition

Nov. 25 - 3rd Rotation for AA starts

Nov. 27 - Dec. 1 - Thanksgiving Break

Dec. 19 - 11:30 Dismissal for Students

Dec. 20 - Jan. 5 - Holiday Break

Veterans Day Program

As is tradition at TJM we will be having 2 Veterans Day presentations Monday, Nov. 11 at 8:40 and 9:40. Grandparents or other special adults to students are invited to join them in this celebration. For details please see the invitation that was sent home. Hope to welcome lots of people helping us honor our Veterans.

6th Grade Off To A Good Start

The second quarter is in full swing at TJ!

This past week was Red Ribbon Week and the 6th graders at TJ participated in large numbers to support the cause. They also learned about the history of Red Ribbon Week and why we celebrate it.

Parents, 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.

  • If you see a low test score, please encourage your child to take advantage of our retake policies!

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

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

7th Boo-gata

7th grade ended the first grading period with the annual Boo-Gatta!! This is an interdisciplinary unit. For science on this day, students had the chance to eat chocolate covered mealworms. A lot of students were brave and ate the worm! For English, students created scary stories. The math portion was an integer-themed Jeopardy game. Mrs. Murvine's class won the Jeopardy tournament!! Students were captivated by a spooky story told by none other than Mr. Harnew himself. Students also created "boats" for the regatta portion. Viking Times raced against each other for the Boo-Gatta title! Ms. Blakley's Viking Time now holds the winning title for this race.

Currently in Language Arts, students have started to read one of three different novels (A Long Way from Chicago, Freak the Mighty, or Uglies). They have been doing an amazing job with the in-class discussions and writing assignments, and we are looking forward to doing an in-depth study of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol in December! Students in social studies have just finished the history of Africa. We are now going to start looking at monotheistic religions beginning in the Middle East; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each topic will last between 1 and 2 weeks. In math class, students are beginning to work on solving proportions involving percents. They will learn about real-world applications such as sales tax, discounts, and gratuities.

8th Continues Legacy

For over the past 20 years, the TJMS 8th graders have had the opportunity to listen to Eva Mozes Kor speak about her experiences as a holocaust survivor. Her message was one of perseverance, strength, and forgiveness. Sadly, on July 4th, 2019 Eva passed away on an annual visit to Poland. Because her story carried such an important message, the 8th grade teachers decided to carry on Eva’s legacy at TJMS by watching her documentary, Eva A-7063. After the students watched Eva’s story, they took a virtual tour of Ana Frank's house and received their 8th grade t-shirts.

We also had some Halloween fun….

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The TJMS Spell Bowl team took FIRST PLACE at the Willowcreek Invitational on October 8th, posting a final score of 67 out of 72.

Perfect rounds were posted by Ally Telesky, Lena Allison, Vincent LaFollete, Kate Norrod, Sylvie Goss, and Preston Hughes. Amy Yu posted a near-perfect round and Liam Strietelmeier closed out the competition to seal the victory.

TJ was also able to field a Team “B” that tied for second place overall, spelling 56 out of 72 words correctly. Matthew Joseforsky and Abi Lansdowne were perfect spellers in their respective rounds, with Nate Phillips and Naomi Bosman posting near-perfect scores. Also aiding in Team B’s efforts were Addi Clark, Abby McAlpine, Ceci Alvarez, and Tyler Edwards.

Remaining team members were able to participate in the contest by spelling alongside their peers to gain competition experience. These students were Danelle Rivera, Lauren Earl, Wyatt Fields, Sofia Alvarez, Dayvon Williams, and Danni Fisher. Special thanks also go to our team scorekeepers Evan Olsen, Sofia Alvarez, Addi Clark, and Tyler Edwards.

The team has been practicing for the Area meet at Kankakee Valley Middle School on November 5th. This competition will determine which teams qualify for the state finals on November 16th at Purdue University. Way to go, Spell Bowl team! Keep up the awesome work!

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Music Dept. News

ISSMA Solo and Ensemble Contest - It is time to register for the Indiana State School Music Association District Solo and Ensemble Contest. Any band, choir, or orchestra member can choose to participate in this contest by registering through their music teacher before Friday, Nov. 22. Please check with your child's music teacher for details.

Strolling Strings will perform at the Porter County Youth Services Holiday Open House, Thursday Dec. 5 and at various shops during Valparaiso's Holly Days Celebration Fri. Dec. 6.

This Is Our Story for - the VCS music festival and art show will be Mon. Dec. 9, 7:00pm at the high school. Come enjoy a free night of entertainment from TJMS, Cooks Corner, Flint Lake, Northview and Immanuel students


Student Council has been busy! We had an amazing Red Ribbon week celebration that ended with a Halloween costume fundraiser with proceeds going to hurricane relief. On October 23, Judge Mary DeBoer and TJMS SRO Shannon Morris spoke to students about the legal and emotional consequences of drugs. It was an impactful presentation, and we are thankful for their dedication to helping our TJMS students make good choices! We are still collecting Box Tops, Strack and Van Til receipts, Staples receipts, and NEW toiletry items. We will be making toiletry gift bags in the beginning of December!


Thank you to all who participated in the Shoe's pizza giveback night! Our next meeting is Wednesday, November 13th at 5:30pm in the Flex Room. We will be discussing the upcoming middle school dance, and going over some new business. Our next giveback night is at PANERA on November 20th from 4:00-8:00pm. We look forward to seeing you there!

Games Club

Games Club is off to a great start! Students are enjoying challenging each other to Sorry, Risk, Uno, Clue, Life, Jenga, and many other games. They have even been bringing in some of their own electronic games from home. It's never too late to join our club. See Mrs. Highlan for a permission slip. The next Games Club dates are Tuesday, November 12 and 19 and Tuesday, December 3, 10, and 17.

Clean out those Closets - Seeking Game Donations

Games Club would love any gently used or new games that your family is not playing. Some of our games have seen years of love, and we'd appreciate new choices or replacements. If you have games to donate, drop them off in the office or send them in with your child. Thank you in advance!


Did you know that we ran out of yearbooks last year? Buy now and make sure you get your copy--don't be left without a yearbook at the end of the year! Orders can easily be placed online by clicking the button below.

Share your pictures

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!

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News from Guidance

We are excited to introduce Naviance Student – a mobile-friendly, comprehensive website that you and your child can use to make plans about colleges and careers. Naviance™ is a service that we use in the Valparaiso Community Schools Counseling Department for grades 6-12 to track and analyze data about college and career plans, and it provides up-to-date information that’s specific to our school and to individual students . Students have been introduced to Naviance during their Viking Time classes. We encourage you to ask your student about it and let him/her show you the program on their Chromebook. More parent information will be coming throughout this year.

Builders Club News

Hello, TJ! We just recently elected our new Vice President, Natalie Gill! Builder’s club is so excited for the new addition to the leadership team. The last hike went wonderfully, so thank you to everyone who helped. We also added three posts with trail stickers so hikers could better follow our trail. Choco-o-lots is just around the corner on November 14th. If you like chocolate and want to sample some of the area’s finest, see a Sunrise Kiwanis member for tickets. Builders Club will be baking chocolate sweets for this delicious fundraiser. Speaking of sweets, we are collecting candy for Treats for Troops! Candy will be sent to the troops serving overseas. You can bring in your candy on Friday, November 1st, Monday, November 4th, or Tuesday, November 5th! Happy Belated Halloween, everyone!

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The Builders Club Leadership Team left to right: Natalie Gill (Vice President), James Beebe (Adopt-a-Trail Chairperson), Grace Almaraz (Communications Chairperson), and Addi Clark (President)

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