Penndale Middle School

Counselor Connection April/May Issue

Newsletter Index

  1. ANGST movie - Parent Preview Presentation
  2. April/May Dates to Remember
  3. Helping Your Child Through Adolescence
  4. 25 Questions To Ask Your Child
  5. 7th Grade Field Trip - Camp America
  6. Time to Think about Summer
  7. 9th Grade Field Trip - Dorney Park
  8. 9th Grade Naviance Task "Resume Builder"
  9. Digital Glossary by Common Sense Media
  10. Stay Safe Online - NetSmartz
  11. Digital Awareness for Parents - Part 3
  12. eSports - Athletic Scholarships
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ANGST movie - Parent Preview Presentation

Monday, April 1st, 6:30pm

400 Penn Street

Lansdale, PA

The film is reflecting what we see. Anxiety is the precursor to so many mental health challenges. By opening a dialogue and normalizing (not trivializing) anxiety we can help each other and ourselves. In the process, we may positively affect homelessness, addiction, suicide and a host of other issues.

Spread the word. Believe change is possible. These screenings bring kids, parents, and educators together to talk about this universal issue, share personal stories, and provide resources and tools. There is power in solidarity. The more you share, the more we connect. Share this film in your community because watching it alone on your couch does not create the same effect as watching it with others.

Audience Guidelines:
Families, educators, students, employees and members of any community will benefit from this film (appropriate for age 11 years+. Under age 11 viewer discretion advised).

If you would like more information, please open the link below to read the article titled "Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers"

April/May Dates to Remember

April 1"Angst" documentary Parent Preview Night, 6:30 pm

April 4 End of the 3rd Marking Period

April 15 Report Cards Available on HAC

April 17-18-19-22 [No School for Students]

April 24-25 PSSA English Language Arts

April 26 9th G Semi-formal

April 29 7th G Spring Concert, 7 pm

April 29-30 PSSA Mathematics

May 1 PSSA Science

May 2 8th G Spring Concert, 7 pm

May 3 7th G Field Trip to Camp America

May 7 9th G Spring Concert, 7 pm

May 9 Interims Available on HAC

May 16-17 Keystone Exams

May 21 [No School for Students]

May 27 Memorial Day [No School for Students]

May 28 9th G Field Trip to Dorney Park

Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence

During the middle school years, your child will grow more quickly than at any other time since infancy. In the early adolescent years, children often want to “fit in” with their friends, whose opinions become more important.

As a parent, you may feel as though your increasingly independent children need you less, however research shows your role is still very important. Children this age need, as much now as ever, your support, guidance and unconditional love.

As in earlier years, children’s development at this stage follows predictable steps, but there is not an exact timetable. Children will develop as adolescents in their own unique time and in their own way. Below are a few examples of the traits commonly seen in children this age.

For more information, click on the following link: Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence

25 Questions To Ask Your Child - Use Open Ended Questions

  1. What was the best thing that happened at school today?
  2. What was the worst thing that happened at school today?
  3. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
  4. If you could choose, who would you like to sit next to in your classes?
  5. Who would you NOT want to sit next to in class? Why?
  6. Tell me a weird word that you heard today [or something weird that someone said.]
  7. If I spoke with your teachers tonight, what would they tell me about you?
  8. How did you help somebody today?
  9. How did somebody help you today?
  10. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
  11. When were you the happiest today?
  12. When were you bored today?
  13. Who would you like to sit with at lunch that you’ve never sat with before?
  14. Tell me something good that happened today.
  15. What one word did one of your teachers say most frequently today?
  16. What do you think you should do/learn more about at school?
  17. What do you think you should do/learn less at school?
  18. Who in your classes do you think you could be kinder to?
  19. Where do you spend the most time in your day?
  20. Who is the funniest person in any of your classes? Why is he/she so funny?
  21. What was your favorite part of lunch?
  22. If you got to be one of your teachers tomorrow, who would it be and what would you do?
  23. Is there anyone in your class that needs a trip to Disneyland? Why?
  24. What was the most challenging thing/event that happened to you today?
  25. Tell me about one thing you researched on your chrome book today.


Permission slips have been given to all 7th-grade students for the Camp America field trip on May 3rd. They must be returned to Mrs. Lynam in the Guidance Office by April 12th. If you are unable to attend the field trip remember to bring in a note stating if you will be attending school on this day. Please remember that any student involved in any activity leading to an in or out-of-school suspension or PRIDE detention from March 25, 2019, until the field trip will not be allowed to attend the trip. If you have questions please contact Mr. Harvey at

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As parents, one of our many important jobs is to navigate what our kids watch on TV and in the movies. Below is a great article about what parents need to know about the movie "Eighth Grade".

Eighth Grade - Movie Review

Painfully realistic, tenderly acted coming-of-age dramedy about an 8th-grade girl. Read Common Sense Media's Eighth Grade review, age rating, and parents guide.

PSSA Testing - Parents ask "How Can I Help My Child"?

It’s almost that time again –standardized testing is right around the corner. You play an important part in helping students give their best performance on these important tests. As you know, we have been busy preparing and reinforcing the skills necessary for students to demonstrate their learning. Even though these assessments are a snapshot—one single perspective – it is important that our students have every advantage to do their very best. We don’t want to cause test anxiety, rather we want our students to be as prepared as possible. There are many ways in which you can help your child put his/her best foot forward. The following guidelines can help set our students up for success: You know your child better than anyone. Emphasize the importance of the test, but remember to build confidence, not anxiety.

The night before the test:

1. Make sure your child goes to bed on time so he or she is well-rested.

2. Keep your routine as normal as possible.

3. Be positive and confident in the fact that you know your child will do his/her best.

4. Plan ahead to avoid conflicts on the morning of the test. Pack a healthy [quiet to eat] snack and an unopened bottle of water. It has been proven that water aids brain activity.

The morning of the test:

1. Get up a few minutes early to avoid rushing and make sure your child arrives at school on time.

2. Have your child eat a nutritious breakfast. There is a strong correlation between eating breakfast and memory and cognitive functioning.

3. Have your child dress comfortably.

4. Be positive and communicate that this is your child’s chance to show what he/she knows. The most important thing you can do right before the test is to build confidence in doing his/her very best.

After the test:

1. Talk to your child about his/her feelings about the test.

2. Discuss what was easy and what was hard; discuss what your child learned from the test.

3. Explain that performance on a test does not define him or her as a person. It is just one opportunity to demonstrate learning.

Thank you for your continued support and involvement in your child’s education. Together we can make a difference!

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Friday is the last day to turn in permission slips for the 9th grade Dorney Park field trip. No permission slips will be accepted after Friday's deadline. Permission slips will be collected at lunch or can be brought to room 214 during PennTime. If you are unable to attend the field trip remember to bring in a note stating if you will be attending school on this day. Please remember that any student involved in any activity leading to an in-school or out-of-school suspension from March 5, 2019, will not be allowed to attend the trip and may result in only receiving reimbursement of the cost of the park ticket and food voucher. If you have questions please contact Mrs. Jozefowski in room 214.

9th Grade Naviance Task "Resume Builder"

Please make sure that you have this ninth grade Naviance task completed before the end of the year. You will need this updated prior to your Sophomore Orientation meeting with your high school counselor.

To start or add to your resume, go to the "About Me" tab and select the "Resume" link under the "Interesting Things About Me" section. Add as many new entry details for the options available. The task will not be completed until you save a print format of your resume. Once you add your entries, navigate to the "Customize Your Printable Resume" tab and select the option to create a new print format. Name your resume, select the format and reference options, and select the sections you wish to add to this version. Click Save and Close.

[If you have already saved a print format of your resume, you can continue to update this one or create additional versions. Give each version a new name to easily identify them.]

"I know it's winter, but it's time to think about summer..." [by Lee Shulman Bierer]

* a supplement for our ninth-grade students as they build their resume for high school

Summer provides the best opportunity for students to separate themselves from the pack. As the number of students applying to colleges continues its upward trajectory, so, too, does the need for students to make an effort to distinguish themselves from their peers.

So how do you get noticed? Doing something meaningful over the summer is one of the most effective ways to have your application stand out. You don’t need to travel the world or cure cancer, but it is important to make sure that whatever experience you choose is substantive. A new book, first edition, has recently been released that is a treasure trove of 800+ summer opportunities. The Ultimate Summer Program Guide for high school students, by Jennifer Williams Taylor and Joyce Wong, is an 823-page hard-copy book that is a comprehensive index of summer college programs across the country.


This is a great time for some self-reflection and to identify potential academic and professional aspirations.

Academic programs: Summer programs at universities are a great way to demonstrate a more serious interest in an academic area. These programs are not inexpensive and they won’t typically help a student “get in,” but they often provide very rich life experiences and can help a student test the waters and determine their level of interest in a specific major.

Internships/job shadowing: For parents, this may be a time to lean on friends and family members for an internship, or to support your child’s self-reliance by encouraging them to make calls on their own behalf. Contact human resource departments at companies and organizations of interest. These experiences can be as brief as a few days – or if you make a great impression, it might last throughout the summer and into next year.

Starting a business: The summer is a great time to be an entrepreneur. Figure out what you like to do. Do you have a special skill? Put together a plan, design a Web site, print business cards and hit the pavement. You might be surprised at the support you receive as a young, enterprising student. Even better, collaborate with a friend; half the work, half the investment and twice the fun! The skills you learn working with and for other people are terrific life skills that will serve you well in college and beyond.

Find a job: Colleges appreciate that many students need to work. Working demonstrates maturity, responsibility and often is a great source for a letter of recommendation. Some employers even offer tuition assistance programs for employees.

Community service: Opportunities are usually plentiful, and many scholarships are based on volunteer work within your community. Find a nonprofit that speaks to your interests and see what its needs are.

An added benefit of doing something distinctive this summer is that these experiences will often ignite the spark for creative essays.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte.;

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Decode Teen Text Lingo with the Digital Glossary by Common Sense Media

Access the Digital Glossary at The Digital Glossary is organized by alphabetical tabs. Each tab jumps to a section of terms and explanations. If you want to know what “on fleek” means, search by clicking the MNO tab. If you want to know what “bae” means, click the ABC tab.

Fun Family Questions about Teen Text lingo

  1. To make the Digital Glossary an interactive family tool, try asking teens if the definitions are correct. How would they change a definition? Which definitions are missing, old, or most popular?
  2. If teens created their own Digital Glossary, how would it work? Would they create an app? Would they vote up the most popular term? How could new terms be entered?
  3. What would YOUR new text term be? Have everyone in the family invent their own acronym, phrase, or even an emoji. Get creative. As we always say around here, the more conversations, the better.

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

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Stay Safe Online - NetSmartz

Visit NetSmartz by clicking the link:

NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® [NCMEC] that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and off-line. The program is designed for children ages 5 through 17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement. With resources such as videos, games, activity cards, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates.

  • Educate children on how to recognize potential Internet risks
  • Engage children and adults in a two-way conversation about on- and offline risks
  • Empower children to help prevent themselves from being exploited and to report victimization to a trusted adult

Visit Montgomery County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force [ICAC] by clicking this link:

Inside this site, you will find important information that can keep you, your family and your friends safe from the very real dangers of Internet child exploitation. They’ve included safety information for parents and kids, information about the task force members and their work, and links to sites where you can learn more about Internet safety.

Apps to Watch Out for in 2019 - Stay on top of the popular titles teens are already using

By Christine Elgersma 1/11/2019 Common Sense Media

It's a new year, and that means new apps on your tweens' and teens' phones. While the old standbys like Snapchat and Instagram are still going strong, there's no shortage of social media, video-sharing, and homework-help apps that are popular but not necessarily household names. Of course, it's nearly impossible to keep up with every hot new app, which makes knowing the risky features -- like an interaction with strangers, anonymity, privacy concerns, and iffy content -- a solid first step. But it's still important to know the specifics of what's on your kid's device and whether or not you'll allow it to stay there.

Check out the titles below so you have a sense of what your kid -- or your kid's friends -- may be using and what you need to know about each app. And since all of these are free, be aware that the developers make money on them through in-app purchases, ads, selling user data, or all of the above!

BIGO LIVE - Live Stream

Kind of like Twitch and YouTube, BIGO LIVE lets teens stream live video of themselves that other users can see and comment on in real time. You can also receive and send "Beans" -- BIGO's term for virtual gifts -- that cost real money. You can level up and improve your ranking by logging in every day and sending gifts. The platform is designed for people who supposedly want to get famous, but it seems to be filled mainly with people competing for gifts.

What parents need to know
BIGO has a lot of mature content, including sexy talk and clothing, and users' comments are often predatory and explicit. Also, its focus on status and spending money, as opposed to creativity and talent, makes it feel shallow.


In this simulation game, you're assigned an identity to play through the entire game, from infancy to death. As you play -- and your character gets older -- you can make text-based choices about how to make money, spend time, and develop relationships with pretend profiles [which aren't connected to real people]. Those choices determine your levels of happiness, health, smarts, and appearance. When you die, you can start all over.

What parents need to know
While kids can't engage in actual risky behavior, BitLife exposes them to mature ideas. As your character gets older, you can choose to "hook up" with the pretend profiles, drink, do drugs, gamble, and commit crimes. [On the other hand, you can make healthy choices such as going to the gym and meditating.] It's also easy for players to become overly fixated on the idealized world of sim games. Because you can start over when your character dies, there's the promise of endless free play, which could be a concern if your teen is really into the game.


Discord is an app and site that allows gamers to connect via text, voice, and video. It's similar to a discussion board like Reddit, but the conversations are hosted on various servers -- which anyone can create -- and each server can have multiple channels. The main purpose of the platform is to be able to chat with your team while playing an online game, but people also use it as straight-up social media, even if they're not playing.

What parents need to know
Easily viewable adult content and the ability to chat privately with strangers make Discordrisky for young teens. Mature areas are supposed to be labeled "NSFW" [not safe for work] and age-gated for under-18-year-olds. But you just need to click through to access. And while there's a privacy setting to control who can send your teen private messages, they can easily go in and change those settings.

HOLLA: Live Random Video Chat

This app is all about connecting with strangers. Once you sign up using a phone number or your Facebook account, you can get matched instantly with a stranger -- and both you and they appear on camera. Or you can swipe Tinder-style until you like someone and they like you [by tapping a heart]. You can also enable location tracking to be paired with someone nearby.

What parents need to know
Video-chatting with strangers can be risky for teens. When it's paired with a location, it's a no-go. Also, while HOLLA supposedly bans iffy content -- like nudity and violence -- user reviews indicate that masturbation, fake identities, and negative comments are common. The app's age-matching is a red flag, too. It was easy for our tester to pose as a 13-year-old and get paired with 16- and 17-year-olds.

IMVU: 3D Avatar Creator & Chat

Using the website or the app, users interact through elaborate 3D avatars. You can dress them up, place them in public or private rooms, and follow other users and chat with them. You can also buy a wide variety of objects using virtual coins -- earned primarily through taking surveys or watching ads or through buying outright with real money. There's no game or goal other than acquiring outfits, rooms, furniture, and other items or chatting with other users.

What parents need to know
Virtual sex and user privacy are the main issues for teens in IMVU. The avatars sport highly stereotypical body types with big muscles or breasts and many of the outfits are skimpy. It also appears that users generate a following on other platforms by sharing their IMVU usernames, which invites more contact with people they don't know. Finally, the search term "IMVU sex" results in lots of advice about how to have [virtual avatar] sex and where to find it in IMVU.

Like - Magic Music Video Editor

Similar to the video lip-synching service Tik Tok, Like lets you create short videos that often involve lip-synching. You can also follow other users, climb a leaderboard [based on how many likes you've gotten], send direct messages, and send virtual gems -- that cost real money -- to other users.

What parents need to know
Also like Tik Tok, Like features mature music and dancing and allow strangers to interact. The leaderboard motif encourages kids to post frequently and gather likes -- basically to keep kids on the app longer and increase their circle of friends [which only benefits the company]. So while it can be creative and fun, it's best used with strict privacy settings by teens who are savvy about keeping themselves safe online.


Lipsi is yet another anonymous "feedback" app that lets users tell others what they think of them without revealing their own identities. The twist here is that users can get a Lipsi link to post in their Instagram profiles so the comments appear in their Instagram feeds. It's possible to identify yourself if you wish or to stay in "ghost mode" to hide out for a while.

What parents need to know
Like the short-lived Sarahah, lots of posts are positive, but anonymous feedback services are generally a recipe for bullying and trolling. If your kid uses Lipsi with a public Instagram account, all of their Instagram followers can read the comments written by other people. While Lipsi is supposed to be for users over 17, there's no real barrier to downloading.

Socratic Math & Homework Help

This app lets you take a picture of a homework problem or question and get an answer and explanation in return, similar to Photomath. Because it's more focused and filtered than an open internet search, the results are more targeted and helpful [in other words, it gives you the answers].

What parents need to know
The biggest concern is cheating: If your kid decides to use this app as an easy way out of homework, they'll lose a lot of learning. Secondly, since the answers come from the internet, they aren't always right. Used with good judgment [and monitoring by a parent], a teen could legitimately use Socratic Math to dig into tough concepts, but it's pretty easy to use for cheating.


This is an anonymous messaging app that invites users to follow contacts to get and give anonymous feedback. You can also link your Tellonym account to other social media accounts.

What parents need to know
Though the developers claim comments are moderated and users have to be 17 to use it, neither of those efforts are preventing bullying and online drama. Comments about users being ugly and that they should kill themselves pepper app store reviews, and connecting the app account to a wider pool of social media users only intensifies the risk.


Zepeto is a combination of avatar-maker and social media platform. The main draw is the ability to create your own likeness and have your avatar interact with your friends' avatars so you can create cute posts for social media. In a section of the app called "Zepeto town street," you can text with people you don't know.

What parents need to know
Zepeto's texting format is less risky than the video-chatting of HOLLA, but any interaction with strangers is iffy [especially for younger teens who might be interacting with grown-ups]. User privacy is probably a bigger problem, though. Zepeto doesn't use location-tracking, but it does collect plenty of information on its users. And like some others on this list, there's a focus on image and appearance as well as lots of opportunities to spend money.


eSports: The New Path to an Athletic Scholarship

eSports have been gaining popularity around the world for years, and now they’re breaking into college athletics. If you’re not familiar with the term eSports, it refers to multi-player video games played competitively, typically by professional gamers. With Robert Morris University of Chicago paving the way for the virtual varsity sport, currently, 63 institutions have begun varsity eSports programs.

Welcome Spring!

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2018-19 Penndale School Counseling Staff

[7th-grade A-R] Mr. Nate Harvey

[8th-grade A-R] Mr. Chris Joy

[9th-grade A-R] Mr. Mike Flynn

[7-8-9th S-Z] Ms. Susan Reichwein

SAP Counselor Ms. Jessica Turner

Administrative Assistants

Mrs. Moore to Mr. Harvey and Mr. Flynn 215-853-1714

Mrs. Lynam to Mr. Joy and Mrs. Reichwein 215-853-1713