April 2014

Principal's Message

Last month a group of our students, along with thousands of other students across the state, participated in a pilot test of the upcoming PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, this test (really a group of tests) will replace the NJASK. With the PARCC, comes a lot of changes, and the most obvious one is that the test is administered 100% online. From what I observed in the pilot classrooms, our students- the digital natives that they are- were comfortable with this format and found it to be more interesting than the traditional pencil/bubble-sheet responses of the NJASK. In preparation for next year's PARCC assessment we will continue to develop assessments that require students to reason, cite evidence and think critically both in paper and online formats. In addition, we will continue to focus on students' keyboarding skills and comfort using computer-based tools to construct mathematical formulas and sentences. I believe the move from NJASK to PARCC is a positive shift and that our students, teachers, and technology team will be prepared for it. As parents, you too have an important role in this transition to an assessment with the stated purpose of measuring the college and career readiness of our students. I have linked below a few resources from the PARCC site:


Sample Test Items

FAQ's for Parents

As I stated above, this is the last year of LA and Math portions of the NJASK. Testing begins in less than two weeks- starting with our 7th and 8th grade students. It is essential that our students do their best on these tests as their scores are used to determine placement in our Instructional Intervention program. In 9th grade, this may also include mandatory LA and Math labs during lunch.

As I tell students every year it is important that they try their best because that is an attitude of success, purpose and academic integrity. We believe our students are prepared to do well on the NJASK and we want our scores to reflect this. Again, your role to support this as parents is very important and we ask that during the week of testing students get to school on time, get plenty of rest starting the Saturday prior to testing week, and that they eat a good breakfast (see below for information on morning snacks).

We thank you for your assistance in ensuring a successful week of testing.

Grades 7 and 8:

Monday, April 28th through Thursday, May 1st (make-ups the week after)

Parent Guide

Grade 6:

Monday, May 5th through Thursday, May 8th (make-ups the week after)

Parent Guide (same as above)

Doug Layman





18: Schools Closed

24: Jazz Night @ SMS

28: NJASK 7/8 begins


5: NJASK 6 begins

9: Staff Appreciation Breakfast

12: 7th Grade Trip to Philadelphia

16: 8th Grade Dance

NJASK Breakfast

On testing days the cafeteria will be open for breakfast snacks. The cost is $1.25 for an individually wrapped bag of apple slices, string cheese, nutragrain bar and milk or juice. Students must eat in the cafeteria and the cafeteria will close at approximately 8:05.

Jazz Night @ SMS

Cancelled your trip to New Orleans? Well we will bring New Orleans to you. Come listen to the cool sounds of the SMS Jazz Band.

Thursday, April 24th @ 7:00 PM in the SMS cafeteria.

Admission is free.

NJHS Food Drive

The SMS National Junior Honor Society is hosting a food drive to benefit the Community FoodBank of NJ. This drive is the second activity the NJHS has run this year to benefit the FoodBank. In March, the NJHS organized the 11th annual Student-Faculty Basketball Game, raising over $1700 for the FoodBank. On May 2, the NJHS students will see first hand the inner workings of the food bank, while volunteering their time in the FoodBank warehouse. Non-perishable items will be accepted in donation boxes in front of the main office and the in media center. The most needed items include shelf stable milk, canned vegetables and fruit, peanut butter, boxed meals, canned meat, and canned meals. Please, no baby food, soda, glass, cellophane or bottled water.

Sussex County Mental Health Board Event

8th Grade Altitude Update

Russian Olympiada

On Monday, March 31st, 14 8th grade students of Russian participated in the annual Olympiada of Spoken Russian at Drew University. HIgh schools from all over the state of New Jersey attend the competition which requires students to speak about themselves, answer questions about Russian culture, recite a poem and read a text to Russian speaking judges. The students receive scores based on preparedness, pronunciation, intonation and fluency. Tied for third place were Sylvia Sochacki and Sara Vincelette who both received a score of 95.3 out of 100 points. Erin Walsh and Jared Chiariello both took second place scoring 96 points out of 100. Eileen Huhn was the overall winner with a score of 98.3! Mrs. Jouravlev would like to congratulate all of her students for their hard work.

Community Service Club Update

First, the members would like to thank the SMS students, families and staff for their donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients Drive. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, SMS contributed $518 to help patients and their families battling blood cancers.

The club reached out to our larger community by sending cards to patients in a local Veterans hospital. They created cards and wrote notes of thanks to our heroes to let them know they are not forgotten.

Members also volunteered their time for Saturday programs sponsored by the Sparta Parks and Recreation Department. They worked at Cabin Fever Day, leading the children in songs, games, crafts and gymnastics. Make a Mess Day was also a fun time for preschoolers who finger painted with pudding and paints, made crafts from marshmallows and cereal and had a great, messy time! Our volunteers were kept very busy setting up, assisting and cleaning up afterwards.

In addition, our club was happy to help our club member, Carolyn Roque and her family with a service activity for Project Sunshine. Members assembled and packaged craft kits to bring a bit of “sunshine” into the lives of pediatric patients facing long-term hospital stays.

SMS Caring Award

Quinlan Van Es was selected to be Sparta Middle School’s recipient of the Sussex County School Counselors Association’s Middle School Caring Award. This is an award given each year to one eighth grade student, who demonstrates the values of helping and caring in human relationships, and to recognize generosity and selflessness among young people. Quinlan was honored at a ceremony on March 20, 2014.

P/E Department Food Allergy Walk-a-Thon

Food Allergy Awareness Week May 11-17
Fundraiser for F.A.R.E. (Food Allergy, Research, and Education)
A Non-Profit Organization for Research, Advocacy, and Education
School Wide Walk-a- thon will be held all day on Friday, May 16th

Girls on the Run 5K

Come out and support our Girls on the Run and Girls on Track programs. You can come cheer on our runners or participate as a runner.

Saturday, May 17th

8:00 AM

Lake Mohawk Country Club

Register to run

More Information

Media Center News

We are celebrating National Library Week the 14th - 17th with many activities throughout the week, including our annual homeroom competition! To promote our students possession of public library cards, the homeroom with the most students possessing THEIR OWN library card will win ice cream from the cafeteria! This is a great opportunity to have your middle school children visit the public library and sign up! What a great time to chat about the books you liked to take out of the library when you were in middle school with your children.

Poetry workshops will take place after school on Tuesdays during the month of April, beginning on the 8th. Room TBA- Media Center is used for Homework Club.

From the Center for Prevention and Counseling

Our Town. Our Health. Our Future. We have seen some really positive signs locally and nationally that the message is getting through to adults, children and teens: underage drinking is dangerous, has long-term and widespread consequences, and should not be thought of as a rite of passage. However, it is imperative that we continue to educate because there are still county youth drinking and putting themselves at greater risk of delinquent behaviors, increased sexual behavior, accidents, violence, negative effects on brain development, and alcohol dependency later in life.

Underage drinking is everyone’s problem and reducing underage drinking is everyone’s responsibility. Throughout April, which is Alcohol Awareness Month, we employ a number of strategies to educate adults and youth about underage drinking trends, risks and effective prevention techniques.

Click on the following hyperlinks to access our newest prevention newsletters: Coalition newsletter for parents and community members and Power in Youth newsletter, both of which focus on underage drinking. Please share the Power in Youth newsletter with teens in grades 8-12 and share the Coalition/Parent newsletter with your friends, neighbors, co-workers and those who care about youth!

“This is me! It’s great to be alcohol-free!” was the theme of our recent Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest for Sussex County students in grades 4-12. Eleven entries were selected to form a positive social norms campaign throughout the month. Eight poster entries will be featured in the Schools section of New Jersey Herald and three essay writers have recorded their entry, which will be aired on WSUS 102.3 FM. You can also find the recordings on our website. Eight honorable mentions also on your website. Be sure to share them with the children and teens in your life!

Please join us in recognizing local youth who have made a commitment to stay alcohol-free during our upcoming Town Hall Meetings! County high school students who have chosen not to use alcohol will help facilitate each of the interactive meetings regarding underage drinking. Students from schools within the three host communities who participated in our PSA contest will be honored during the meetings as well.

Meetings will be held:

April 24th from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Hopatcong Municipal Building, 111 River Styx Road, Hopatcong, 07843

April 29th from 7:00 – 8:00 pm at the Newton Municipal Building, 39 Trinity Street, Newton 07860

April 30th from 7:00 – 8:30 pm at Glen Meadow School in Vernon, 7 Sammis Rd, Vernon Township, NJ 07462

We have underage drinking materials (free brochures and books and videos you may borrow) in our Resource Center. Feel free to visit us at 61 Spring Street, 3rd floor, right in the center of Newton


8th Grade Variety Show

8th Grade Foods

Backstage at the Spring Musical

The Cast of the Little Mermaid

6th Grade Math

Art in the Lobby

Robotic vs. Human: A Race to Solve the Rubik's Cube