Arbor Intermediate School

February 2023 Issue

School Leadership Team

School Leadership Team

Heather O’Donnell, Principal

Janell Smolk, Assistant Principal

Amy McLaughlin, Counselor

Jessica Jerez, Counselor

Monica Pratt, Counselor

Karen Hoeg, Secretary

Corinne Fender, School Nurse

Marcela Ridley, Attendance Clerk

Kenneth Dzurilla, Custodian

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A Message from the Principal

Dear Arbor Families,

It has been a busy month here at Arbor School. Students and staff have been celebrating Black History Month with a variety of activities. In their classes, students participated in cross-curricular lessons that incorporated African American contributions to history, literature, music, science, art, and social justice. Students had the chance to collaborate with one another, explore new topics, and revisit topics that they have discussed throughout the year. Students also participated in the “Soup-er Bowl” Food Drive, bringing in items to donate to Replenish of Middlesex County.

We are looking forward to an exciting month ahead, as we begin March with Read Across America Week and discuss the contribution of various women for Women’s History Month. We are also are looking forward to the Scholastic Book Fair and Breakfast with your Child Week. Look out for more information about these events!


Heather O’Donnell

Arbor Welcomes a New Counselor

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself! My name is Amy McLaughlin and I am the new School Counselor. I am so excited to be part of the Arbor Intermediate School family; already it is so apparent how close-knit and welcoming the Arbor community is, I feel very lucky to be part of it!

What I love most about the grade 4 & 5 level is the genuine curiosity students have in their learning and the world around them. It is very rewarding to be able to have the opportunity to provide support that can have a lifetime positive impact on a child.

I’ve been a School Psychologist for 20 years working with Preschool- grade 8 students. I am a proud graduate of West Virginia University (that’s me in front of my favorite building!) and Brooklyn College. I grew up in NYC and am a huge NY Mets fan. I love to read and exercise, most recently completing a 5k. In my free time, I love to spend time with my family.

I look forward to offering support to the Arbor students, staff, families, and community! Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.

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What is Social and Emotional Learning? (SEL)

SEL is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible caring decisions.

A great family activity to work on SEL skills at home is to ask the question: What makes you happy?

As a family, create a list of things that make you feel happy. If you start to feel sad, frustrated, or angry, look at this list to help you see the happy things!

Nurse's Corner

February is Heart Health Month!!!

Make Your Heart Happy!

Your heart is a muscle. It works hard, pumping blood every day in your body.

Help your heart get stronger by doing aerobic (say: air-OH-bik) exercise.

Aerobic means "with air." When you do aerobic exercise, you breathe faster so you take in more air. Your heart beats harder too. This gives your heart a workout. It will get even better at its main job — taking oxygen from the air you breath Lots of exercises can get your heart pumping. Try these: walking, riding your bike, jumping rope

It feels good to have a strong, flexible body that can do all the things you enjoy — like running, jumping, and playing with your friends. Exercising can also put you in a better mood. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel happier. It's just another reason why exercise is a good idea!

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Recess Aids are the Best!

Every day, students enjoy recess which provides cognitive, social and emotional and physical benefits. During this time, students play on the playground, hula hoop, play basketball, play soccer or even dance! Our recess is possible because of the dedication of our recess aids. These staff members help monitor the students and often join in the fun.

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5th Grade Feature Article Showcase

On January 27th, 5th grade students participated in a feature article showcase. Prior to the showcase, students were taught how to write a feature article. This writing process required students to select a topic and write and revise their articles. The showcase was a teaching moment for the 5th grade students as they shared their knowledge and artifacts with staff members and 4th grade students.

At the showcase, some topics included Gaming, How to play soccer, How to bake, How to get good grades, Fashion, Aaron Judge, Aaron Rodgers, Sharks, Skateboarding, Taking care of siblings.

A fun time was had by all. 5th graders enjoyed sharing their expertise while polishing up their public speaking abilities. A special thanks to all the 5th grade teachers who helped make this event a success!

Celebrating Black History Month

Throughout the month of February, students participated in various activities highlighting notable African Americans throughout history. School bulletin boards encouraged students to embrace character traits of these influential individuals.

Students in Mr. Bennington's and Ms. Riddick's classes collaborated to create a Periodic Table of Black History bulletin board. The bulletin board is interactive as students can scan a QR code to learn more about the notable and influential individuals.

Arbor Clubs

Arbor students have an opportunity to participate in various clubs. Some of the clubs offered are as follows:

Dungeons and Dragons Club: Students play a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game where they create characters. Using these characters, they work together to fight monsters, solve puzzles, and build friendships.

Community Service: This club allows students to work together to make a difference not only at Arbor but our Piscataway community. Students learn about sharing kindness to others and lending a hand to those in need, as well as take action to make a positive change.

Lego Club: In Lego Club, students work together in teams to complete projects using Lego kits that require them to use spatial skills, follow instructions, develop persistence and patience, all while having fun.

Technology Club: Students use computer code to create video games, as well have the opportunity to modify other people’s games using Scratch.

Harry Potter Club: Students have an opportunity to explore the fantasy world of Harry Potter. Students take on the role of wizards, play Quidditch, and enjoy a final feast.

Read Across America- Spirt Week

Between February 27th and March 3rd, Arbor students will celebrate Read Across America. On March 2nd, there will be a school-wide "Read In." During this event, all students will sit in the hallway and read silently for 20 minutes a book of their choosing. Staff also sit with the students and read their own books.

Continue to encourage your child to read at home! The staff at Arbor enjoys hearing about the reading adventures of our students.

Arbor Magnets

If you are interested in purchasing an Arbor Magnet, please see the attached flyer.

Upcoming Events

  • 2/27/23-3/3/23- Spirit Week- Read Across America
  • 3/7/23- PTO Meeting (6:30)
  • 3/8/23- Dine to Donate
  • 3/13/23-3/31/23- Book Fair and Breakfast your Child Week
  • 3/14/23- Family Night Bingo (6:30-8:00)