TJ Today

Thomas Jefferson Middle School

March 2017


Feb. 28-March 1 ISTEP+ Part One

Mar 2 - 7/8 Concert TJMS - 7 pm

Mar 9 - Band Fest - BF Gym - 7 pm

Mar 13 - Almost Spring Concert 5/6 at 7:00 BFMS

Mar 14 - Almost Spring Concert 7/8 at 7:00 BFMS

Mar 17 - Super 70's Party 3:00-4:30

Mar 16 - 17 - Spring Variety Show 7pm TJM

Mar 27- 31 Spring Break - No School

Science "O" Way to Go!!

On Saturday, February 25, 2017, IU Northwest hosted its 15th annual Science Olympiad Regional tournament. Thomas Jefferson Middle School Science Olympiad team took first place among 17 other middle schools. This is just one of the many regional tournaments held in Indiana. The team won 13 firsts, six seconds, one third, and one fourth place, medaling in 21 of 23 events.

Our first place finish means our team has qualified for the State tournament which will be held at IU Bloomington on March 18th.

Science Olympiad is a national competition that provides standards-based challenges to its competitors. Many of the events involve interactive, challenging and inquiry based, hands on approaches to learning between various disciplines of chemistry, physics, earth and environmental science, and engineering.

Congratulations to the TJMS Science Olympians!

Teresa Nelson

Lily Rengstorf

Lauren Skadberg

Ian Smith

Amol Verma

Caden Hamscher

Ethan Hutton

Micah Nathan

Isaac Utesch

Ari Kessler

Max Trowbridge

Joel Teeple

Zach Heskett

Calvin McMurtrey

Zach Hatseras

Xander Green

Big image

Circle The State With Song

Nine TJMS students participated in Circle The State With Song at Hebron High School on February 25th. These young ladies spent many hours outside of school time learning 7 songs. On Saturday, they joined nearly 300 other middle school students from northwest Indiana and spent the day in rehearsals with a guest conductor followed by a wonderful concert. Great job, ladies! Pictured from left to right: Diya, Mia, Talyn, Emily, Lauren, Emily, Riley, Mckenna and Tiffany.

Big image


The following students (pictured below) recently competed in the regional MATHCOUNTS Competition at VU: Adam Biggs, Patrick Brogan, Devishi Jha, Maralee Lockridge, Shannon McCall, Connor O'Dell, Joel Teeple, Amol Verma, and Sydney Vorrier. Pictured on the right is Devishi Jha and her father, Coach JHa. She took first place Individually and won the Count Down Round. Shannon McCall placed 5th, Patrick Brogan placed 6th, and Sydney Vorrier was in the top 12. The team of Devishi, Shannon, Joel, and Sydney took 1st place. This team along with Patrick Brogan will be competing in the state competition March 11th.
Big image

8th Grade College Game Days

Recently, students participated in an event at TJ called "College Game Day." Each Advisory researched information about a college, made a poster, filmed a commercial and performed the college fight song with a march or dance routine. This was a fun and educational experience for the students.

Eighth graders have been finalizing their high school schedules and making decisions about summer school. Last week's swim test gave out students a chance to experience what physical education class may be like at VHS.

On March 14, we will take a field trip to the Porter County Expo Center to simulate life and career experiences at an event called "Envision the Future." In addition, our students will get a taste of college life during two upcoming college visits scheduled for April 25 and May 2. Stay tuned for more information next month.

7th grade - book versus movie

In what has become an annual event, seventh graders at TJMS will be participating in"Giver Day" on March 24th. All students will be reading The Giver by Lois Lowry in their Language Arts class during the month of March. Dealing with themes of utopian and dystopian societies, The Giver has been a popular choice for middle school students who have enjoyed newer novels such as The Hunger Games, the Divergent trilogy, and The Maze Runner. This book has been a favorite of students since its publishing in 1993 and continues to hold classes spellbound through its creation of a world that is seemingly perfect, but so desperately not.

Giver Day will allow each of our seventh grade students to take place in a "Ceremony of Twelve"--a coming of age moment in the novel that involves assigning each child a career by their interests and skills. Thomas Jefferson students will participate in this ceremony and analyze the jobs that they are assigned along with a team of their classmates. This analysis will use their critical thinking and persuasion skills to convince their teachers that their job is the most vital in the community.

In the afternoon, students will experience the ultimate book versus movie experience! They will watch the movie version of this novel and, if they are like classes of the past, will echo a teacher's dream phrase: "The book was WAY better!" We look forward to sharing this experience with our students before our spring break begins!

6th Grade -

English - Ms. Coberg’s class will be starting the Poetry Unit! We will be reading poetry and creating our own poetry book.

Mrs. Strayer's Literature classes recently finished their Poetry unit. Students wrote over 20 different styles of poetry, which they shared during Bandersnatch times in a circle on the auditorium stage. These poems are now being organized and illustrated into a Poetry Collection - something Mrs. Strayer hopes her students will save and enjoy many years from now.

Mrs. Strayer's Language classes have been struggling with the correct use of subject and object pronouns. If your student corrects you, please be kind! They are on the lookout for pronoun mistakes!

Both Literature and Language Arts classes are readng Gary Paulsen's Woodsong in preparation for tracking mushers during the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race, which begins Saturday, March 4. Students are intrigued and somewhat dismayed by Paulsen's encounters with his dogs and nature.

Next up for the Literature classes is A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle's science fiction classic. Language classes will continue perfecting those pesky pronouns!

Math - Our current unit of study is volume and surface area of 3-dimensional shapes. We will be wrapping up this unit of study in the next week. The students did a great job making nets of rectangular prisms and enjoyed our hands on activity with the nets. Students found the surface area and volume of their own net, as well as several other nets. Next our sixth grade students will be learning about rates, ratios, and proportions.

Science - Science classes have officially completed the Astronomy unit and are now discussing Ecology.

Chapter 8, Populations and Communities, identifies different parts of our environment, including biotic and abiotic factors affecting an organism. We will identify factors that limit population growth and how populations change in size. We will explore interactions among living things, discuss some cool ways animals avoid predation.

Social Studies - The Social Studies classes wrapped up the Middle Ages this past week. Joan of Arc won our Jousting Tournament, thereby winning the trophy for Mrs. Highlan's homeroom. We are starting our study on the Renaissance and Early Modern Europe. Mrs. Hamilton's kids will soon start March Madness, so get your coloring pencils sharp and ready to go! Thanks for continuing to check your student's progress in Skyward. We have only three weeks left in the grading period and want the kids to finish strong.

Orchestra Concerts

It's time for the orchestra to perform their "Almost Spring" concerts.

Fifth and sixth grade will perform Monday, March 13, 7:00pm at BF middle school. The seventh and eighth grade program is Tuesday March 14, also at 7:00pm at BF. Come hear great classics like Pachelbel's Canon in D Major. Enjoy hits from the Beatles. Dance to the Macarena! Free fun!

Have you bought your YEARBOOK yet?

Yearbooks are still available for online ordering! Purchase those priceless pictures before they disappear forever! is the site to visit. Be sure to click on Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Valparaiso, as there are several of us out there!

Questions? Email Mrs. Strayer or call: 531-3140

Student Council Update

  • The student council is partnering with the Philanthropy Boot Camp to promote a food drive to help our local food pantry. We are hosting a Breakfast Food Drive March 6-10. Please send non-perishable items any and every day that week. It will be a homeroom competition, and the winning room at each grade level will earn a trip to the game room.
  • Friday, March 10, is Pajama Day - Bring in a donation for the food drive or donate $1 and wear your coziest jammies for the day.
  • Friday, March 17, is Flashback Friday! We're going back in time to the 1970's! It will be a groovy spirit day. Then students are invited to stay after school for our Super 70's Party. The main gym will be transformed into a dance floor, the field house will have volleyball and basketball, the game room will be open, and so will the concession stand. Fun will be had by all!

Builders Club News

This past month, Builders Club members focused on "Giving to Guatemala" by collecting band aids, toothpaste, toothbrushes, diaper cream, neosporin, and other medical necessities. These items were given to a local group of doctors and nurses traveling to Guatemala in March to provide medical attention to those in need. Upon returning, members will be treated to a slideshow to see the benefits of their donations.

Are you a "cat person" or a "dog person?" Our next project will poll TJM teachers and students while raising funds for the Porter County Animal Shelter. Listen to the announcements to hear the "purr-fect" way to participate and the best "dog-gone" way to donate!

Meetings continue to be on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 3-3:45. See you there!

Common Sense Media

"Have questions about your child and social media? Worried about cyberbullying? Interested in knowing best online practices for families? Then check out the Common Sense Media Family Tip Sheets on the TJMS website. It is under the Digital Citizenship Tab."

TJM & Digital Citizenship

TJM is proud to demonstrate our commitment to teaching students how to be safe and responsible with technology. Several of our educators, spanning multiple disciplines, enrolled in a course focused on various aspects of digital citizenship (online identity, information literacy, and much more) and related insights about how to embed these concepts into our school culture. Not only will our group of teachers apply to become Digital Citizenship Certified Educators, but we are also pursuing certification for our school. What does that mean for TJ families? You can look forward to continued support and information that will equip our young people with the knowledge and skills needed to help them succeed in school and in the workforce. Well done to our team of teachers: Donna Adams, Dezzarae Arce, Bryan Benke, Jillian Blakley, Jennifer Hurley, Alyson Laurencell, and Carolyn Rodea.

Makerspace + Student Learning

Our media center continues the tradition of offering a quiet place for students to read and learn - but our media center also provides several unexpected learning opportunities for our students. Two recent additions to our Makerspace were purchased with book fair profits. First, Smithsonian’s Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects includes project ideas that intuitively link to what our students learn in their traditional coursework. For example, sixth graders learn about our solar system and can now create a model of our solar system using rubber bands and a flashlight (to show how the sun lights up each planet). In addition, we purchased a littleBits STEAM Student Set, a kit that can accommodate up to four students at a time and offers a variety of fun, progressive project options linked to higher-level concepts. For example, Patrick built a littleBits drawing bot, which builds an understanding of motion, stability, and engineering. From 3D puzzles, to our Launchpads, to the Stikbot Studio, encourage your son or daughter to visit the media center during Advisory to explore the activities that will surely recharge their interest in learning.​


If a student forgets to charge their Chromebook or leaves it at home, there are netbook computers in every classroom for student to use. Parents are encouraged to not bring their child's Chromebook to school, and all chargers should stay at home.

Homework and Study Table Procedures

Here is a link to the Homework and Study Table information that was shared by all Advisory teachers at this year's Open House. As a reminder, all grades are posted on Skyward and homework is posted in the following ways:

  • 6th Grade - Skyward
  • 7th Grade - Canvas
  • 8th Grade - Canvas
  • AA - Canvas

All parents are encouraged to create a parent Canvas Observer account. For more information on this, please follow this link on our website.


During the 2016-2017 school year, the Social Services Team for Valparaiso Community Schools is able to provide food for students in need on the weekends!