February 18, 2020

Twitter Highlights: Week 23

You don't need to have a twitter account to see the highlights from the past week. We are working to create a positive learning environment that is equitable, inclusive and focused on the whole child. No need to have a twitter account to view!

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Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) Testing starts March 11th

As is required by law, every student who is eligible to take the IAR assessment will receive a test ticket. A school’s participation rate on state assessments impacts its rate of proficiency and its annual School Report Card designation. Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to calculate proficiency by dividing the number of students who met or exceeded standards on the IAR by either the number of students who tested or 95% of the number of students who should have tested, whichever is greater. Schools with less than 95% participation in state assessments are ineligible to receive the Exemplary designation. For more information about how a school's participation rate impacts rate of proficiency on a school's report card, see this from ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education)

Brooks currently has an underperforming designation on our School Report Card, which in part is impacted by our participation rate. We had 85% of our students participate in IAR testing in Spring 2019, which is below the required rate of participation of at least 95%. The average participation rate for the state of Illinois is 98%.

The information provided by the IAR is utilized by our school and district to reflect on the impact of our instructional units, as well as provide us with information about how to enrich learning for students. It's important feedback for us about student learning.

Thank you for partnering with us to encourage your student to put forth their best effort during IAR testing. Once students complete the test, they can read silently. The school library will be closed during the administration of the test, so please remind your student to select their book ahead of time and bring it to class during the IAR testing window to read.

Please reach out to Angelica Kamysz (akamysz@op97.org), Antione Bland (abland@op97.org) or April Capuder (acapuder@op97.org), if you have any questions.


For the 10th consecutive year, District 97 earned first place at the West 40 Speech and

Drama Festival, which was held at Elmwood Park High School on Saturday, February 15th .

We tied with another district at the competition, and we are very proud of our amazing


This talented team was made up of the following students and coaches from Brooks and

Julian Middle Schools:


Simone Arvetis

Noah Campbell

Alex Harks

Audrey Molitar

Alana Slade


Frank DeLano

Adam Dominowski

Caroline McGinnis

Nandan Nadkarni

Alara Randle

Tessa Troyer

Brooks Coaches: Pam Gaffney, Carin McKinney, and Sarah Perros


Mary Andolina

Leila Ashrafi

Tressa Barrigar

Ella Biag

Kate Boveri

Rafael Butt

William Cote

Lincoln Dean

Elisabeth Drobot

Anika Gupta

Zachary Polan

Deshon Press

Carolyn Rainey

Sasha Sieck

Izel Smyth

Liam Schweitzer

Julian Assistant (Student) Coach: Lauren Rainey

Julian Coaches: John Beck, John Colucci, Katherine Lofton , and Bessie Santos

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Join us for the return of the Mindful Middle-Schoolers talks

Join us for any of the free Mindful Middle-School talks outlined below held either at Julian or Brooks Middle School. DePaul University, in partnership with the Oak Park Township Community Mental Health Board and D97, plan to offer a series of community talks to the Brooks/Julian middle school communities during the 2019-2020 school year as part of The Mindful Middle Schoolers Program. All are welcome (parents, school staff, students, community members).

Mindful Middle-Schoolers - Community Talks 2020

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D97 Mid-year Progress Update - Board Meeting 2/18

During the District 97 board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18, Dr. Kelley will provide the board of education and the community with a mid-year progress update on our FY20 Collective Action Plan. This will include a written report, as well as a showcase of four key initiatives tied to our goals for the 2019-20 school year. Presentations will be given on:

  • Inclusive Practices: Universal Design for Learning (UDL)/Co-Teaching
  • Positive Learning Environment: Tier 1/Community-Building
  • Equity: National Board Certified Teachers (Strengthening Teaching Practices)
  • Focus on Whole Child: IB Program (Strengthening Middle School Instruction

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Administration Building, 260 Madison St. We hope you will attend to hear about the progress we have made toward our goals, and learn about some of the initiatives that are supporting our work.

Parent Information Session - Single Subject/Whole Grade Acceleration

For families who are seeking single subject or whole grade acceleration for the 2020-21 school year, the district will be hosting a Parent Information Session on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Lincoln Elementary School, 1111 S. Grove St. The session will include a presentation that outlines the process and requirements. Click here to view the event flyer >

Information about the District 97 Accelerated Placement Program, including definitions and timelines, can be found at http://www.op97.org/acceleration.

Parent Workshop: "Developing Your Child's IEP"

The District 97 Student Services Department will host a parent workshop, "Developing Your Child's IEP," on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Holmes School, 508 N. Kenilworth Ave. Staff will provide a step-by-step guide to understanding the IEP process. Childcare will be available. Event flyer >

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Parent Resource Site

The District 97 MTSS Team has created a D97 Parent Resource Site to further support instruction happening in the classroom. The site has been created to provide an overview of MTSS and support all students in the areas of reading, math and writing. Our team has selected resources that offer a free version to our families. If you have additional free websites or resources you would like to share, please reach out to MTSS Director Faith Cole at fcole@op97.org. Thank you for your partnership!

8th Grade Cap & Gown Information, Graduation photo Retake Day

Cap and Grown Information

Graduation Photos Retake Day

  • Graduation photo retake day will be Thursday, February 27.
  • If you have not yet taken your graduation photos there is no charge for retakes.
  • If you have already taken graduation photos and would like them re-done, there is a $10.00 retake fee.


Kids can continue to earn Brooks Bucks for following the posted Brooks Student Expectations. These bucks can be redeemed at the School Store along with HERO points.

Message from the Main Office


  • Attendance Line : 708-665-3074 or send an email
  • Please note from 8:45am to 9:15am the Brooks answering service will be activated as our office staff is attending to in-house student and parent needs.
  • REVTRAK Link - Payment system for Field trips, School Fees, Replacement Fees, Gym Uniforms, etc. The link can also be found on the Brooks Website under Payments in the blue menu bar.
  • Bell Schedule - For those asking what time the periods take place.

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. We also want to hear from parents and students who would like recognize a Brooks teacher that has made an impact around diversity and inclusion. Every Sunday, selected comments will be featured in Middle Matters and 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.

Gwendolyn Brooks Class of 2020 Graduation

We'd like to share that the 8th grade graduation date for the Gwendolyn Brooks Class of 2020 will take place on Saturday, June 6, at 2:00pm. The ceremony will be held at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Please be sure to mark your calendars. We will have more information regarding graduation activities in February.

Purchase your Yearbook Today!

Purchase your yearbook today.

If you do not already have an account from a previous years purchase, you will be asked to set up an account in order to make a purchase.

Brooks Purchase Code: 1014096931934358

How to set up an account.


  • February 28 - Trimester 2 ends
  • March 11- 13 & 18 - 20 - IAR Testing
  • March 23 - 27 - Spring Break


Want to Donate to the PTO?

You can donate $10 or more to help pay for things like teacher grants, need-based scholarships and other enrichment activities. Please consider a matching gift donation from your employer.

Email the PTO BoardEmail gwendolynbrookspto@gmail.com if you are interested or have questions!

Does your 8th grader want to have an 8th grade dance? We need you!

The 8th grade dance is a great way to celebrate finishing middle school. However, it can’t happen without support from the Brooks community! The PTO is currently looking for one more 8th Grade VP. This role helps plan 8th grade dance and a winter staff appreciation dinner. There are two 8th grade VP’s, so you are working with a partner!

Clubs and Sports Information


  • Math Team 3:30pm - 4:30pm in room B409. For more information contact Esther Smith at esmith3@op97.org . Open to 6 - 8 grade students.
  • Orff Ensemble (Xylophone and Drumming Music Group) Monday's, 8:00-8:50 am, Rm D104. Open to all students grades 6-8. For more information contact Mr. Carrillo (fcarrillo@op97.org)
  • Rainbow Tribe 3:30pm - 4:30pm in the Library! Come join students who want to be a part of creating a safe and inclusive space for our Brooks LGBTQ community. All students (those who identify and allies) are invited to join! Reach out to Ms. Berman (aberman@op97.org) or Mrs. Olsen (jolsen@op97.org) with any questions!
  • Spoken Word Club: Mondays in B205 (3:30 - 5:00 pm) with Mr. Lee and resident poet Christian Robinson. Contact Mr. Lee with questions. mlee@op97.org
  • Ultimate Frisbee: Currently on Winter hiatus. This recreational Frisbee Club will meet again in the Spring on Mondays and Wednesdays to play from 3:30p to 4:30p. For more information contact Coach Gillespie at mgillespie@op97.org or Coach Guerino at tguerino@op97.org - Please note practices are dependent on weather.


  • Yearbook Club meets the 1st & 3rd Tuesday each month. Room B202 Beginning in October and ends in April. Everyone is welcome to join GBMS Yearbook Club. We are looking for students to assist us in recording the student activities & events of the 2019-2020 school year!For more information please contact Meaghan Pabellon at mpabellon@op97.org or Marsha Turner Reid at mturnerreid@op97.org
  • EcoEalges - meets weekly on TUESDAYS at 3:30 in Room C202

    Students who are passionate about helping the environment, gardening, saving endangered species or who just want to do interesting things outdoors should check out the ECO EAGLES, the Brooks ecology club. We have made award-winning films, gone on cool field trips, implemented fun fundraisers and raised awareness about many different issues. We are open to whatever you are interested in, so join us! For more information contact lstamp@op97.org

  • Chess Club meets in room C108 from 3:30pm to 5:00pm. For more information contact Coach Hausfeld at mhausfeld@op97.org


  • Art Club from 3:30-4:30 October- March in D301. Free and open to all students.

    Mrs. Murray (kmurray@op97.org) will offer a variety of materials and techniques. Come when you can and be ready to explore your own ideas, work at your own pace, and make new friends in a creative environment just for artists! Art club is FREE!

  • Service Club meets at 8am in room B209. We organize & promote the school's service projects such as food drives, coat drives, the holiday food and gift basket program, and more! If you have any questions, please reach out to Ms. Susan Walsh (swalsh@op97.org) or Ms. Blanca Martinez (bmartinez@op97.org).
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OPEF VEX Robotics

This year we are offering two cool programs for D97 middle school kids to enjoy. We look forward to another exciting VEX Robotics season at both Julian and Brooks.

  • The In-House Club is designed for students with little or no experience with robotics and for students who cannot commit to the long season of our Competitive League.

  • The Robotics Competitive League is an intensive program for the dedicated technology student, especially those who want to take their experience with VEX Robotics and programming to the next level.

To sign up or learn more information about our programs, visit our OPEF VEX Robotics page at https://www.opef.org/programs/vex-robotics/

Brooks in-house contact - Brian Shinners, bshinners@op97.org

Girls on the RISE -

Girls on the Rise is a program offered in partnership with Brooks and the Oak Park Township. Girls on the Rise provides prevention and empowerment to minority girls. We strive to instill confidence in girls to utilize problem-solving skills through communication and respect. Our program plans to build social, communication and leadership skills, healthy relationships with peers and adults, raise self-esteem and self-awareness and create a sisterhood of strong young ladies.

The 8th Grade Girls group will begin meeting on January 15th, 2020.

For more information contact Dominique Hickman at dhickman@oakparktownship.org


YEMBA is a hands on, community based forum for connecting, serving, educating, strengthening and empowering our youth physically, mentally and spiritually. For female and male youth grades 6th through 8th. Join your friends, classmates and peers in our mentoring empowerment program. A fun, safe, exciting experience and learn skills that will last a lifetime.

Wednesdays - 3:30pm 6:30pm

Includes: Homework help, mentoring, recreation workshops, snacks, guest speakers and much more...

For more information contact:


(773) 842-5022

email: www.yemba@yemba-inc.org

Website: www.yemba-inc.org

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Community Programs

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.

8th Grade Families - Scholarship Opportunity

The Evans Scholars program is seeking students who may be a good fit for their incredible program. The Evans Scholars programs is seek students from families where the family income is under $100,000 and who have a good work ethic, strong grades (3.0+) and good recommendations. Those students who go through the program successfully can apply as HS seniors to be Evans Scholars. Because of the commitment students who plan to play a fall sport or activity that starts in August are not good fits for the program.

Applications are accepted beginning March 1. They are looking for 8th graders (boys or girls) who are looking to caddy during the summer at either Riverside Golf Course or Oak Park Country Club. The commitment is from Memorial Day thru Labor Day and there is no set schedule, students show up to caddie as needed and as students progress through the years of the caddy program they gain more status and income.

The Evans Scholars program recipients (1 in 4 are awarded the scholarship) are awarded full tuition and room and board (they live together in the Evans Scholar house) for 4 years of college and other scholarship opportunities are available so it is a great program for the right students who start with the program now and stay engaged through High School. It is a very robust program; University of Illinois Champaign Urbana currently has 130 Evans Scholars, Marquette University has 70, and Northwestern University has 50. Fenwick graduated a handful of Evans Scholars last spring and we want to make sure we keep OPRFHS students engaged in the program as well.

If you are interested in being connected with an Evans Scholar Board member in order to learn more about the program and the application process please email Antoine Bland (abland@op97.org) by February 28, 2020.

Strengthening Families Program

The Strengthening Families Program is a free, evidence-based prevention program for families with children ages 7 to 17. The 11-week program will teach effective parenting skills, healthy communication, stress management skills, conflict resolution and more. The program will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday from Feb. 25, 2020, through May 12, 2020, at the River Forest Community Center. Click here to view the program flyer.

Oak Park Code Fest

  • The D97 Librarians are partnering with the Oak Park Public Library and Oak Park Education Foundation to bring you Code Fest 2020.

  • This hands-on night will show families what types of coding and programming activities are available.

  • It will be a fun night of coding stations where families and students can drop in and try these fun activities.


Parent Leadership Training Hosted by the Collaboration for Early Childhood

The Collaboration for Early Childhood is hosting a parent leadership training series starting Saturday, Feb. 1. The trainings represent an effort to give parents, grandparents, and caregivers the skills and tools to help them be their child's first and most important caregiver. All events will include child care, food and transportation (upon request). To register or ask questions, please contact Jennifer Little at 708-613-6122 or email jlittle@collab4kids.org. Click here to view the event flyer >
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Attendance of Children at OPRF Sporting Events

Oak Park and River Forest High School recently implemented a new rule when attending athletic events. Effective immediately, children ages 11 and younger will not be allowed to attend athletic events at OPRF unless they are accompanied by an adult age 18 or older. Please click here for the full message from the high school.