Middle Matters

Week of August 29th, 2022

In This Issue

Highlights from this week's Middle Matters:

  • Important Upcoming Dates
  • SY22-23 School Calendar
  • Stay Home When Sick
  • Process for Reporting Positive COVID-19 Cases to D97 Schools
  • How to Report Student Absences
  • NWEA MAP Testing Week of 8/29
  • Office Phones and Dropping off Items at Brooks
  • Technology Exchange
  • School Day (Bell Schedule and A/B/C rotation)
  • Allergy Safe School Information - No Nuts
  • School Lunch Options
  • Cell Phone/Mobile Devices Away for the Day
  • Backpacks and Lockers
  • Tardies to Class
  • Water Bottle Reminders
  • Clubs and Sports Information
  • BRAVO Information
  • Student Announcements

Highlights from GBMS PTO and District

  • PTO News
  • District News

Repeated Topics in Middle Matters for your Reference
  • School Registration Information
  • School Physical and Immunization Information
  • Tech Support

Community Partner News

If you have questions about the upcoming school year, please don’t hesitate to contact me at acapuder@op97.org. You can also contact my Executive Coordinator, Ms. Angel Banks, at abanks1@op97.org or (708) 524-7636.

Our administrative team is also available to help answer your questions.

Angelica Love Curriculum & Instruction AP (6th grade, 7th grade) alove@op97.org

Antoine Bland Curriculum & Instruction AP (8th grade, multineeds) abland@op97.org

Stacie Klein Culture & Climate AP sklein@op97.org


  • Monday, August 29 is an A Day; Tuesday - B day; Wednesday - C Day, Thursday - A Day and Friday - B Day

  • No School: Monday, September 5th, 2022

  • In-Person Curriculum Night: Thursday, September 8th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm

  • No School: Monday, September 26th, 2022

  • No School: Wednesday, October 5th, 2022

  • No School: Monday, October 10th, 2022

  • Conferences: Thursday, October 27th from 12:45pm to 8pm

  • School Pictures: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

  • No School: Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

  • End of Trimester 1: Tuesday, November 22nd

  • Trimester 1 Report Card Emailed Home: Friday, December 9th

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Please contact the Brooks Health Office and speak with Nurse Tracy Biggerstaff if you have questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 and any listed symptoms.

(708) 524- 3058 or tbiggerstaff@op97.org

Process for Reporting Positive COVID-19 Cases to D97 Schools

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they must complete the following steps:

1) In order to notify the school nurse and receive a return-to-school date, families/staff must complete the confidential COVID-19 Positive Case Notification Form as soon as possible following the positive test. Information provided will also be shared with the Oak Park Department of Public Health.

2) Families must continue to report student absences via the school attendance line, and staff must enter their absences in Frontline.

To see the rules for isolation and quarantine, click here. Additional resources are linked below.

STUDENT ATTENDANCE - How to Report Student Absences

Attendance will be taken every day for each class period by each of your child's teacher and it will be denoted in PowerSchool, including ADVISORY. Student's are expected to attend each of their classes at their scheduled time and day. If your student will be absent from school, please call the attendance number 708-665-3074 or email brooksattendance@op97.org

NWEA MAP Testing

Our Students will be participating in Math and Reading MAP testing this week to help us support each student's learning in math and reading. Below is a copy of the adjusted bell schedule to accommodate MAP testing. Students will be taking Math MAP on Monday and Tuesday and Reading MAP on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday students will follow the typical C Day schedule.
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Office Phones and Dropping off Items at Brooks

Office Phones

Please note that our office staff sets the phone to go to voicemail from 8:30am to 9:15am daily. Please leave a message of your student's absence or you can email brooksattendance@op97.org. Our office staff will listen to voicemails to call back or direct calls as needed after 9:15am daily. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Dropping off Items at Brooks for your Student

You may drop off forgotten items for your student in the main office. Please note that we will not call into your student's classroom, as it is a disruption to the learning for other students and the teacher in the classroom. Your student should plan to stop by the main office on their way to lunch or between passing periods, if they think you may have dropped off the forgotten item for them to retrieve. We appreciate your understanding.

6th Grade iPad/Chromebook exchange

If your student wasn't able to attend our OPEN House or the alternate dates, we worked last week to swap out your child's district device with an updated Chromebook. However, we know there are still student who haven't completed this exchange.

Please have your student ask their SOAR teacher to contact our technology department to make arrangements for them to go to the Media Center to make their technology exchange.


We will be following a block schedule again this school year. Students will attend 4 of their 8 classes Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday following an A/B Schedule and on Wednesdays following C Schedule where students will attend all of their classes. On the weeks where there is a day with no school, students classes will be A and B days only.

Keep D97 Schools Allergy Safe - No Nuts Allowed

Please visit https://bit.ly/3j0KGTB to access information about the district’s food allergy management program, as well as tips and options for identifying food that is safe for snacks and field trips.

Nuts and nut products are not allowed in any District 97 schools during the 2021-22 school year. This includes products that are labeled “processed in a facility that shares equipment with nut products.” The shift to include lunch was necessary as many students may be eating their lunch in spaces other than the lunchroom due to COVID-19 protocols.

We appreciate your help in adhering to this preventative measure.

School Lunch Options

Hot lunch will be available to students who wish to participate and have a funded or an approved lunch account, starting the first day of school. If you have questions regarding your student's lunch balance, you may contact the Lunch Manager, Shetrice Baker at Sbaker2@op97.org. To make payments on student lunch accounts please visit, https://www.mymealtime.com/signin.aspx

Breakfast and hot lunch menus and other information


Cell Phone/Mobile Devices Away for the Day

Cell phones/Mobile Devices are not to be used during school hours. This includes calling parents/guardians due to illness, requesting items to be dropped off, etc.

  • Students can ask a teacher to use the classroom phone or the phone in the main office, if needed.

Cell phones are to be turned off/on silent upon entering the school building, stored in the student’s locker, and not used until the dismissal bell rings.

More Information can be found here. This will also be shared with students during the first week of school.


Backpacks are permitted to be carried in the hallways and brought into classrooms. Once lockers are issued, which will be this week for 7th and 8th graders, students must minimally store their cell phone/mobile device, cold weather coats and garments as well as any lunch boxes/bags in their lockers each day. Each grade level will have designated times for students to visit their lockers to support the development of executive functioning skills connected to planning and organization.


If your child need to purchase a lock because they don't have their lock from last year, please do so online HERE.

Tardies to Class

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 SOAR teacher to develop a strategy to ensure the student will get to all their classes on time. At 25 tardies within a trimester, the student will be assigned a time during their social time to meet with an administrator to reflect on root causes of tardies and develop a plan, additionally, 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.

Water Bottle Reminder

We ask that if possible to please send your student to school with a filled water bottle. There are no drinking fountains open, but we have water bottle filling stations in the school for our students to refill their water bottles when needed.



Students in grades six through eight are welcome to join the cross country team. The Cross Country coaches for 2022 are Tom Rocco (trocco@op97.org), Lary Grimaldi (lgrimaldi@op97.org) and Kim Beader (kbeader@op97.org). Cross Country is a no-cut sport at the middle schools. Students who have all the necessary paperwork completed (sports physical-the Interscholastic Sports “yes” box needs to be checked, sports permission slip and concussion form) and turned in will be accepted onto the team through Friday, August 26th, or once the 75 available spots have been filled. All students must have a copy of an updated physical to hand to the coach (we will not have access to nurse's files) before practicing for the 2022-2023 cross country season. Please see the linked information from the coaches which outlines what is needed each practice and the calendar of practices for the month of August. Wednesday, August 17th at 9:00am is the Meet and Greet. The First practice was Thursday, August 18th, 2022.

Students will not be permitted to start with the team prior to all necessary paperwork being turned into the coaches.


If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the coaches, Sam Fishman-Strait, sfishman-strait@op97.org (Junior Varsity) and Dr. Kina Brown, kbrown@op97.org (Varsity).

For more information regarding the clubs (see 2nd tab on spreadsheet):

Brooks 2022 - 2023 Extra-Curricular Activities, which is being updated weekly.

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Open to all 6th, 7th and 8th graders

Open to ALL Brooks 6th-8th Graders



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Raise Your Voice Musical Revue - Auditions

7th/8th Grade Fall Musical - Raise Your Voice Musical Revue!

8th Grade Auditions - Tuesday, August 30

7th Grade Auditions - Wednesday, August 31


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BRAVO Friday Pizza Lunch

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Student Announcements

Students can find announcements in each Student's Lunch (Green) or Lunch (Yellow) course in Canvas as well as on a button along the left side of our Brooks homepage.

PTO Weekly Communication

PTO Starship Lunches are here!

What is Starship lunch? Take a break from packing or buying lunch every Tuesday! The Brooks PTO is once again pleased to offer a fun lunch option for students on Tuesdays from Starship Restaurant.

Everyone can participate! Because we are serious about inclusion and Brooks being a school where all kids feel that they belong, we determined that our fundraisers shouldn’t be a source of exclusion for any students. In the past, the cost of Starship lunches excluded some students from participating. To address this, we have implemented a Pay What You Can model.

Details can be found here:


Sign up at https://forms.gle/MaYCqRX2MTLWxFqNA

Make payment at your chosen amount https://sites.google.com/view/brooks-pto-starship/home

The PTO can't exist without YOU!

Do you want to have the inside scoop on what is going on at Brooks and D97? Do you want to make our school better than it ever as we transition back to a more ‘normal’ school day? NOW is the time to get involved!! We are looking to fill positions for the 2021-2022 school year and have some critical roles open! Sign up here and email gwendolynbrookspto@gmail.com with any questions! We look forward to hearing from you!

Connect with the Brook’s PTO

Connect with PTO

Follow us on FaceBook at @gwendolynbrookspto, or email us at gwendolynbrookspto@gmail.com.

Order your Brooks Spirit Wear

Support the PTO, a local black-owned business, and get awesome Brooks Spirit wear all at the same time! Brooks Spirit wear can be ordered at any time visiting the Brooks section of the Shabby Fly website. Order will be shipped to your home!

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2022 - 2023 District News and Information

D97 Back-to-School Information

As a reminder, we have created a central location for important back-to-school updates and documents: https://www.op97.org/back-to-school.

The district’s COVID-19 Health Safety Plan is linked below and can also be found, along with other COVID-19 resources and information, by going to https://www.op97.org/updatecenter.

Combined Student and Family Handbook for 2022-23

This year, the district worked to merge the Effective Student Behavior Handbook and Family Handbook into one comprehensive resource, the Student and Family Handbook, in order to streamline information for families and staff. The new handbook contains important information regarding school policies, procedures, student rights and responsibilities, and important notifications required by state and federal law.

The purpose of this handbook is to outline the expectations for building an educational community where everyone feels safe, included and able to learn. Having shared expectations, procedures and policies helps us respect all members of the school community in which we learn and work every day. Please take the time to read through the handbook and review it with your child.

Meal Information for the 2022-23 School Year

The breakfast and lunch menus for our elementary and middle schools are available at http://www.op97.org/business-office/food-service. During the 2022-23 school year, students may:

  • Bring a nut-free lunch from home.

  • Order school lunch.

PLEASE NOTE: During the 2022-23 school year, all students will be required to pay for their breakfast and lunch meals unless they are directly approved by the State of Illinois or approved after completing the 2022-23 Free and Reduced Meal Application.

Food Allergies/Nut-Safe Schools

Nuts and nut products are not allowed in any District 97 schools during the 2022-23 school year. This includes products that are labeled “processed in a facility that shares equipment with nut products.” Our schools have been nut-safe for the past two years—helping to create safer, more inclusive environments for all of our students.

Please visit https://bit.ly/3AyGPpI to access information about the district’s food allergy management program, as well as tips and options for identifying food that is safe for snacks and field trips. We appreciate your support of this important initiative!

School Fees

The district is currently accepting fee payments for the 2022-23 school year. Full payment is due by September 30, 2022. You can access the fee information by visiting https://www.op97.org/business-office/fees.

Text Messages from District 97

District 97 uses the notification system BrightArrow to communicate with families via email and phone calls. We have started using periodic text messages to send reminders directly to parents' cell phones. In order to receive text messages, parents must opt in by texting YES to 87569. Once you have subscribed, you will receive a text confirmation.

Texts may appear from District 97 from 87569 or a phone number with a 424 area code (you may wish to save them to your contacts).

Wellness Check-in Program

Please reach out to your school's school psychologist or social worker if you have social-emotional concerns about your child. If your child is experiencing an immediate mental health crisis, please call the Thrive 24hr Crisis Hotline at 708-383-7500. You may also refer to this local resource guide created by the Community Mental Health Board of the Oak Park Township.

Repeated Topics For Reference

School Registration for Returning Students

Returning Students

Registration for all returning District 97 students was due June 30. If you have not yet submitted your online registration, please do so immediately. Students who register late are not guaranteed to be approved by the first day of classes. Please note that only students who have completed registration and been approved by the district will be allowed to start school on Aug. 25. Emails either approving your student or requesting additional information come from InfoSnap@is.op97.org and are sent to the email listed for "Parent/Guardian 1" in our system. Please check your spam and junk folders for these emails.

New and Kindergarten Students

Parents who have a new or kindergarten student must start their registration by making an appointment at the district office. Appointments can be made by clicking here. Note: In order to make an appointment you will need to log in with your registration account, or create an account on the login page.

More Information: Registration FAQ's | Registration Required Document Lists | Registration Login Page | Registration Help Line | Request for Records | New/Kindergarten Student Appointment

School Physicals and Immunizations

Incoming 6th-grade students and/or any new students who have transferred into District 97, MUST have a wellness physical and dental exam dated no less than one year prior to August 25th, 2021. Your child's physical must have been performed after August 25th, 2020 . Your child may not be admitted to school without these documents. Please submit the documents by mail or in person no later than August 25, 2021 to the following:

Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School

Attn: Health Office, Nurse Nancy Radogno

325 S. Kenilworth Ave

Oak Park, IL 60302

SPORTS PHYSICALS – The State of Illinois Office of Education requires that any student who wishes to participate in interscholastic sports MUST have an Athletic Physical Examination, dated no less than one year prior to the first day of the current school year, anytime after August 25, 2020. It is MANDATORY that your child have this physical before they will be eligible to try out or participate in any interscholastic activity.

To access student health forms please visit http://www.op97.org/hr/health-requirements

**For any family having difficulty securing an appointment to get the physical completed, please email our School Nurse, Nancy Radogno, nradogno@op97.org.

Technology Support

Technical support will be available from school and district technology staff by accessing the Help Desk through email, helpdesk@op97.org. When an email is submitted, a Help Desk ticket is created and assigned to technology staff, who will be working throughout the day to address technology concerns. Our technology team can support District 97 devices and student online programs.

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The Help Corner will features a frequently-asked question related to services and opportunities available for District 97 students and families. We will keep a complete list of these FAQs on our district website.

District 97 has created Community Resources Page. We also encourage families to stay connected through Facebook and Twitter. Additional updates can be found at:

Village of Oak Park

Oak Park Township

Oak Park Public Library

Park District of Oak Park

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200

District 97 also has a broad network of partner organizations that provide an array of supports and services for Oak Park residents. The Community Mental Health Board and Oak Park and River Forest Townships have also put together a COVID-19 Social Services Resource Guide, which is available at https://tinyurl.com/oprfguide.

Community Resources

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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SUPPORT4U is a mental health resource for our students to anonymously text licensed mental health clinicians any time of the day for assistance or guidance. Students can text for any issue; typical reasons might include social issues, anxiety, depression, substance use, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, bullying, abuse, or any other mental health-related topic. The clinician’s goal is to steer the student to available resources in the school and community. To use, students just need to go to Support4U.live on their phone, click on the Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School logo and hit send. Help is just a text away.

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Thrive Services and Programs


Thrive is offering phone-based counseling, 24/7 crisis intervention services, medication management and, a free Thrive Check-In phone support line (Ext. 8) to address our community’s needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Call us at (708)383-7500. Our Front Desk team is also ready to assist you Monday-Friday, 9am to 2pm, with requests for referrals or new services and to reschedule or cancel an appointment.

Mental Health Resource, "Call4Calm"

Thrive is also a proud partner of the Illinois Call4Calm Text Line Service. Text “TALK” TO 552020 (or “HABLAR) for Spanish. The Illinois Call4Calm Text Line is not a crisis hotline, but is a source of support for anyone experiencing stress and in need of a listening ear.

And we know the COVID-19 pandemic can wear on every resource—from food and shelter to our emotional bandwidth and mental health. Fortunately, the Illinois Department of Human Services has launched a support line called Call4Calm that is reachable via text. Individuals who want to speak with a mental health professional can text the word “TALK” or “HABLAR” (for Spanish speakers) to 552-020. Within 24 hours, that individual will receive a call from a mental health professional employed by a local community health center.

People can also text other terms, like “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” to the same number to receive information on how to navigate and access supports and services. Call4Calm is free, and individuals who use it can remain anonymous. We encourage you to share this resource with your students, families, and staff.