April 20, 2020

Remote Learning Middle Matters

Dear Brooks Families,

As you may have heard, the governor announced today we will not be returning to in person learning this school year. While many of us anticipated this decision and are committed to doing our part to keep everyone safe, it can still be disappointing for all of us as a community. Please know we have been planning for this possibility and will make the appropriate adjustments. As our plans develop, we will keep you posted on how we will accommodate for this unprecedented end of the school year including picking up personal belongings, transitioning to new schools as well as 8th grade graduation. In the meantime, remote learning will continue, and we will continue work to meet the needs of your family. Every week of remote learning has been better than the week before because we have all been working together and extending grace and kindness to one another.

Please feel free to reach out if your needs change or if there are supports you would find helpful. We thank you for your patience and continued support as we do our best to reinvent the educational experience for your student.


April Capuder

Principal, Brooks Middle School

D97 Remote Learning Family Guidance

Parent/Guardian Communication Remote Learning: MS Grading Practices

Student Communication Remote Learning: MS Grading Practices

Brooks Middle School Remote Learning Website

Health/Physical Education Mini 6 Begins Monday, April 20th

This past week we've sent notices home to families whose students will be moving from Physical Education to Health for the final mini of the school year. Please be sure to have your students check Canvas for a message from their Health teacher Ms. Rhoades. If you have any questions, Ms. Rhoades can be reached at jrhoades@op97.org.

Students who have just completed Health will return to gym and should check in with their gym teacher through Canvas as well.

Daily Student Sign-in for Remote Learning Days

Daily Student Sign-in for Students

Students should complete this form 1 time each day of Remote Learning to be checked into all of their classes. Thank you for making sure this is completed daily!

Attendance Line:

Please call 708-665-3074 or send an email if your student will not be participating in remote learning on a given day.

No School Friday April 24th - Remote Learning Planning Day for Teachers

Virtual Clubs and Sports Meetings

We are in the process of organizing our Clubs and Spring Sports Teams opportunities to meet virtually. Here is the google document that contains the information about each club and sport meeting date and time along with virtual meeting link.

Parents & Guardians - Help with Canvas and PowerSchool

Here are two videos that can help you support your student during remote learning.

Canvas Video walks you through how to create a Canvas Observer/Parent Account and learn some key features of Canvas to help you navigate this tool. Please contact Ms. Minerva Colbert, MColbert@op97.org with any questions on how to setup your parent/guardian Canvas Observer account.

PowerSchool Video that helps you navigate the tool and learn about the remote learning grade marks that will be notated this trimester. For parents that use the PowerSchool App, here is a link with more information about the app. Please email Ms. Vashti Carter, VCarter@op97.org with any questions on how to setup your parent/guardian PowerSchool account.

Need extra help in your classes?

Join the google meet by clicking the links found here, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 9 am, to get your questions answered by one of our morning library supervisors.

Students: Want to "see" your friends & have some social time?

Lunch Social Time Sign-up Week of April 20th through 23rd (no school Friday, April 24th)

Sign up here

Brooks Culture and Climate/Social Emotional Learning

Last week students shared their Big Dreams that will be shared and published in our GBMS Yearbook. Thank you to all of our students who shared their Dreams!

In the past two months, what our day to day looks like has completely changed. After several weeks we are all facing a new normal for the time being. Providing ourselves with some structure and predictability can help us to cope with the sudden change of routines.

Read this article about Establishing A Routine for Distance Learning from Newsela. Question to Keep in Mind as you read: How can establishing a routine be beneficial for myself and the others around me?

Establishing a routine requires planning. Brainstorm a daily schedule to try to follow while you are not in school. Use Padlet to upload a photo of your daily routine to share with your classmates.

Does your routine include opportunities for self care such as: exercise, meditation, healthy eating, breaks from school work, time to connect with friends and family or time without technology?

Have some time and want to get really creative? Draw and upload a comic strip of you completing your routine to the Padlet.

Additional Resources that can be accessed online

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District 97 Food Services Link

Please check here for additional information regarding free & reduced meals along with families looking to receive additional support

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.


Use or save this Remote Learning Quick Link to access daily and useful information at the click of a button!

D97 Special Education Parent Support Meeting

The District 97 Student Services Department is hosting a virtual Special Education Parent Support Meeting on Monday, April 20, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The purpose of the meeting is to allow parents to come together to discuss what is working for them during remote learning and what they may need in terms of support from each other. Parents and district staff have been listening and sharing ideas together.

Please see the details below to join us.

D97 Remote Learning Family Survey

With the transition to remote learning due to COVID-19, District 97 has been working to develop and improve strategies to help students and families. As we continue to strive for continuous learning and we move forward with further plans, we would REALLY like to hear from you. Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey on remote learning in District 97.

Your feedback and suggestions will be helpful in allowing us to better serve you and inform our future plans for all students.

This survey will be open through Thursday, April 23, and we will carefully consider all feedback received through this date. Thank you for your continued partnership and extraordinary efforts to support your children throughout remote learning.

7th Grade Springfield/Washington DC Trips

Due to the situation surrounding COVID-19, we are postponing the 7th grade trip to Springfield, Illinois to October 2, 2020. Your students will take the trip during the fall of their 8th-grade year. The trip planned for Washington D. C. for 2021 during your student's 8th-grade year is unchanged.

How payment credits or refunds will be handled by WorldStrides:

  • Credits for the payments made to WorldStrides will carry over and be applied to the new October 2nd, 2020 Springfield trip date
  • For those of you who purchased the full refund program option, you can request a full refund directly from WorldStrides, less the $19 you paid for this option. Then if you'd like your student to take the trip in October, you can re-register in the fall.

Please reach out to Janorise Robinson at brooksspringfieldtrip@gmail.com directly if you have any questions. She will be able to assist you.

Virtual Coffee with Capuder: Save the Dates

If you can, please grab a cup of coffee and join the virtual meetings. The links are found below. Click on the link directly from your computer's browser window or if connecting through the Zoom app, please use the Meeting ID and Password.

This is an informal opportunity for parents to be able to connect with me directly. There isn't a set agenda. This is a time to meet other families and ask each other questions, and offer support as well as community. Please join as well if you'd like to ask questions and/or share feedback about Remote Learning!

April 24: 8:30am to 9:30am (Zoom Meeting link) ID: 821 330 881 Password: 672114
May 1: 8:30am to 9:30am (Zoom Meeting link) ID: 821 330 881 Password: 672114

  • Incoming 6th grade Brooks and Julian families will be joining our May 1st Coffee, which will also be co-hosted by April Capuder and Todd Fitzgerald, principals of D97 Middle Schools

Thank you to our families and staff who joined our Coffee with Capuder conversation!

Q & A from 4/17/20

Q & A from 4/3/20

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Students share their BIG DREAMS to be included in our GBMS Yearbook. See Information Below.

Students can fill out the form and your Big Dreams will be published in the yearbook.

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We had a lot of requests for more time to purchase the Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School yearbook, so we're responding by extending the deadline to midnight on April 18, 2020.

As a reminder, your yearbook is $30.00.

Click here to purchase your yearbook today.

Social Worker Support

Please know that our social workers continue to be available during this time. If your student would like support, please have them reach out to their grade level social worker via the following email addresses:

6th Grade: Jen Olsen at jolsen@op97.org

7th Grade: Abby Berman at aberman@op97.org

8th Grade: Hannah Boudreau at hboudreau@op97.org

Video Created by D97 Social Workers and Psychologists

District 97 social worker Abby Berman and school psychologist Rike Neubert put together a video with tips and self-care ideas to help students and families cope during our school closure. Click here to view the video

Brooks Media Center: Virtual Book Club

One Virtual School, One Virtual Book Club

A great opportunity for students and staff to come together! Parents, please share the opportunity with your kids to encourage them to participate in a One Virtual School, One Virtual Book Club Opportunity. HERE is a link with all the details. It's totally optional, but is an opportunity for our community of staff and students to come together.

If students are looking for ways to stay connected to reading beyond what classroom teachers are sharing, check out the GBMS Library Wakelet page! Here is the direct link: https://wke.lt/w/s/BzMWaD

The page is linked on the GBMS Library Home Page and on the Student Announcements Page in Canvas.

CAN Do Challenge

If you are able to, our community needs your help! Brooks has annually participated in the CAN DO Community challenge, which is a hunger relief campaign sponsored by Beyond Hunger. Beyond Hunger is an essential service and they are open, even with the shelter-in-place guidelines. This year, Brooks is participating in a virtual version of the CAN DO Community Challenge, to do what we can, especially given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is designed to heighten awareness about local food insecurity and encourages schools, organizations, and individuals to become more involved with Beyond Hunger. Click here to make a donation!

Message from Beyond Hunger: Beyond Hunger is an essential service, and we are open, even with shelter-in-place guidelines. We know many families will be impacted as a result of COVID-19, and some will visit us for the first time. Please know that we are here to help through this crisis. We have implemented a drive thru model at the pantry where clients can remain in their cars and the groceries are loaded into their trunks. Walk-up clients are served one at a time respecting six feet spacing. All staff and volunteers will be required to wear masks and gloves when on-site. More information is available at www.gobeyondhunger.org/need-help, and please feel free to share any of our social media posts @gobeyondhunger.

District 97 Spring Scavenger Hunt

Join District 97 students and staff in a Spring Scavenger Hunt! Click here to view complete details >

To participate, just put something in your front-facing window each week to go with that week's theme. It should be large enough to see from the road and can be handmade or anything around the house! Kids can spot them from the road and can still practice social distancing. Let's show our community we are #D97Strong! (Tag the district's social media accounts using @oakpark97 and #MyD97.)

IT'S SUNDAY! WHO INSPIRES YOU? Recognizing Staff who Make a Difference

In an effort to celebrate our community, we would like to invite parents and students to give a shout out to member(s) of the Brooks Community who have inspired them.The staff member will receive a certificate detailing how they have made a difference to you. You can also tag your comments under #BeBrooks97 on Twitter. Please join us in celebrating the Brooks Community by completing this form.

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  • April 20-23: Remote Learning Days
  • April 21: Board of Education Meeting (Virtual, 7 p.m.)
  • April 24: Virtual Coffee with Capuder 8:30am to 9:30am
  • April 24: Remote Learning Planning Day (No Student Instruction)
  • April 27-30: Remote Learning Days
  • May 1 and Beyond: TBD

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Each week, the Help Corner will feature 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.

Supporting Students and Families
During Our School Closure

District 97 has created an online hub (www.op97.org/coronavirus) for updates about COVID-19 and our school closure, as well as resources (financial, mental health, nutrition, housing, etc.) that support the well-being of our students and families. 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

Thank you to the incredible team of District 97 social workers and nurses who collaborated on our community resource list! Click here to view >

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.

Each week, the Help Corner will feature 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.

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.

Mental Health Resource, "Call4Calm"

It's now been four full weeks that students have been learning from home. 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.

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Oak Park Public Library

The Teen Services department is in the process of rebranding the department and have created a logo creation contest where teens ages 13-17 can win $100, $75, and $25. You can find out more about it here.

We have also created Leading Edge Teen Advisory Board (LETAB). If you are looking to gain stronger leadership skills, self advocacy skills, and have a community voice, or looking to volunteer. This is for you. To apply click here.

Finally, here is the link to additional resources including 20 suggestions to utilize your time during this difficult time.