The Navigator Newsletter

Sycamore Junior High's Parent Communication

August 19-23, 2019

Building Goals

* Provide rigorous learning opportunities

* Respect diversity

* Personalize learning

COMING UP at the JH!

August 20: Open House/Curriculum Preview 6:00-7:30 pm (Parent only event, please)

August 20 and 21: SSC Clinics (after school)

Mark your calendars:

August 27, 28: SSC Auditions

Quick Link to School Supply List

Click HERE for the SJH school supply list.

Open House/Curriculum Preview

We would like to remind you that our Open House event will be taking place Tuesday, August 20, 2019 beginning sharply at 6:00 PM. Please remember that this event is for parents only. You will need a copy of your child’s schedule which will be given to students on Tuesday, August 20 during the day. You can also see your child’s schedule by logging into Blackboard. Please report to your child’s first bell classroom to begin the evening.

Please be aware that parking at our building is limited and traffic will be heavy. Please also be aware of potential delays along Cooper Road due to the sidewalk construction. In order to get a parking spot and get inside the building, you will need to arrive early. The main doors facing Cooper Rd will be the entrance into the building for Open House. Maps of the school will be available at the front desk if needed.

Donations to THE SANDWICH PROJECT will be accepted. This is the 22nd year of the project. Weekly, students make 250 sandwiches in which they are picked up and delivered to St Francis Seraph located on Vine St in Over the Rhine. The sandwiches are then served to the hungry of Cincinnati that evening. It's a great experience for our kids as they demonstrate compassion, humility, and empathy to the less fortunate.

Sycamore Singing Company Clinics and Auditions

Are you someone who likes to sing and dance? Do you want to try something new at SJH? Sycamore Singing Company may be for you!

Sycamore Singing Company or SSC is an extra-curricular show choir here at the junior high. Auditions are coming up soon!

In order to audition, you MUST attend one of two clinics that will be held next week in room 105. These clinics will be Tuesday, August 20 and Wednesday, August 21 and will last until 4:15 PM. You must provide your own transportation home, so plan accordingly!

See Mr. Callahan in Room 105 today for a more detailed handout! Auditions are August 27 and 28.

Academic Supports

B.E.N.C.H: (Being Expected to Complete Necessary Classwork and Homework), Layover and other supports

Note: B.E.N.C.H. will begin for 8th graders on Monday, August 19. It will not begin for 7th graders until September 3 to allow their acclimation to our expectations.

The teachers at Sycamore Junior High work very hard to have all classwork and homework standards-based, age-appropriate and applicable to classroom experiences. Over the years, our staff, through a review of data, believes there is a significant correlation between student completion of classwork and homework and his or her individual learning. As a general rule, students should expect to have homework each night in their core academic classes.

Language Arts 7/8: 15-20 minutes

Language Arts Honors: 45-60 minutes

Math: 10-15 problems

Science: 15 minutes

Social Studies: 3 to 5 nights a week; no more than 30 minutes per night.

In order to assist parents in setting expectations for classwork and homework completion, we have two proactive programs at Sycamore Junior High.

The first program is called B.E.N.C.H. (Being Expected to Complete Necessary Classwork and Homework). The intent of the proactive program is to provide students who were unable to meet the expectation of completing classwork or homework ample time after school to do so for the benefit of his or her own learning. Transportation is provided.

While B.E.N.C.H. is a mandatory program, it is not a “detention” nor is it punitive. Its intent is to provide a quiet time for students to complete their work. Because we are sensitive to the developmental age of students, 7th graders do not begin in the program until September. For all students, a “parachute pass” is offered by every teacher every quarter which allows students to have an “oops” moment. The consequence for late work is subject to teacher policy. We also understand that there are occasionally more significant extenuating circumstances in family life and, in those cases, parents are encouraged to reach out to teachers to make arrangements directly with them. Students with disabilities or special accommodations are expected to complete assignments with their appropriate modifications in place. Students involved in athletic activities are also expected to complete work and are subject to the B.E.N.C.H. process.

We at Sycamore Junior High believe that students have enough grit to be held accountable to this expectation and that they are resilient enough if issued a B.E.N.C.H. to participate in the time to finish the work. Additionally, data on our B.E.N.C.H. program indicates that students involved in completing their work showed significant academic progress in learning and achievement.

The second proactive program we have to support your child in meeting expectations is “Layover”. In some rare occasions, there are students who, despite their time in B.E.N.C.H., still fail to complete the necessary classwork or homework. In this case, in order to encourage work completion, students who have been issued a B.E.N.C.H., participate in that B.E.N.C.H., and yet do not turn in their assignment(s), will be offered another opportunity to finish their work during Layover. Layover will be held during the child’s lunchtime and will offer both language arts, math and science support. Students will continue to be provided support until they complete the necessary work in Language Arts, Math or Science. Students will be notified prior to Layover and sent a reminder to attend.

If you believe in your role as a parent that your child has challenges in completing classwork and homework, please be aware that we have additional, ongoing opportunities for your child to receive support. Our after-school Homework Club runs Monday through Thursday with transportation provided to home. In addition, your child may enroll in our Study Hall and Guided Study Hall which occurs during the school day. If you believe your child would benefit from enrollment in Study Hall or Guided Study Hall, please contact your child’s counselor.

Ben Brenner Last Names A-K

Kristen Suter Last Names L-Z

Class Assemblies

Today students participated in grade-level “Meet the Administrator” assemblies. These assemblies are designed to give students an overview of the procedures and expectations at Sycamore Junior High. During these class meetings, we also spent time reviewing the harassment, intimidation, and bullying policies (HIB) for the district. Students received instruction on the definitions of verbal and written forms of bullying, harassment, and intimidation as well as how to report possible incidents of HIB. Time was also spent reviewing cyber-bullying. We will continue to review and instruct in these areas throughout our school year. If you wish to report potential bullying, harassment, or intimidation, you can do so through our website at

For the full presentation, please download the PDF below.


Sycamore Junior High School families,

Safety at SJH is of the utmost importance to us. As required by the state (HB 178) we will conduct school safety drills throughout the year. We are required to simulate at least 1 full scale evacuation drill, such as an active threat in the building. We will be evacuating the entire building on these dates and practicing the full scale evacuation with police and fire presence. Other drills may be simulations with discussion, or practice lockdowns. We partner with Montgomery Police Department, at times, to bring canine units to the building for specific safety drills as well. We will still conduct monthly fire and/or tornado drills in accordance with the house bill requirements.

It is always our intent to make sure we are as prepared as possible for a crisis to occur and keep our students safe. We appreciate your assistance in talking with your child about the importance of these drills and how critical they are to practice the drills. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the school.

P.T.O. Corner

It was great to see so many people at schedule pick up on August 7 and 8! Thank you to everyone who stopped by to join the PTO.

The Sycamore Junior High PTO is looking forward to a great year. We hope you will be an active participant this year as we connect with Parents, Teachers, Students, Families, and the District to strengthen our community. Any participation big or small is truly welcomed. All information about the PTO can be found by clicking on this link:

Getting involved is as easy as 1,2 ,3.

  1. First - join the PTO on the same webpage listed above.
  2. Second - pay the PTO membership dues via PayPal or check.
  3. Third - volunteer to help in any capacity big or small. Not as many obligations as elementary & middle school, so a little goes a long way.

Our meetings are typically on the second Wednesday of various months at 10:30 am. Meet other parents, get up to date on what’s happening in our school and throughout the district.

From student recognition events to community service projects to staff appreciation efforts, the PTO keeps busy finding ways to enhance your student’s school year.

We would love to see you at our first PTO meeting on September 11 at 10:30 am.

Questions? Please email

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Flight Fest

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Immunizations for 7th graders

Thank you to all 7th grade families who have turned in immunization records. As we work to process those records received, please continue to be patient before you follow up. If there is a problem, you will be contacted via email by Amy Bonham. If you have not turned in your child's proof of immunizations from a doctor's office, please do so ASAP.


The Ohio Department of Health requires all students prior to entering the 7th grade to have (1) dose of MCV4 (meningococcal) and a Tdap (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) booster.

Proof of immunization from the doctor’s office must be given to the school before the start of 7th grade. Immunization documents can be brought to school or mailed to the JH, emailed to the JH Nurse Amy Bonham at or faxed to (513) 792-6192.

Clubs & Activities at SJH

Sycamore Junior High has many opportunities for students to get involved in an extracurricular activities. The Clubs & Activities Guide may be found on the JH website under the "activities" tab, accessed HERE or may be downloaded below.

Clubs and activities do not begin until several weeks after school resumes. Dates and times of initial meetings will be announced several days ahead of time in daily announcements so students have the opportunity to attend the first meeting. Daily Announcements can be accessed from the SJH webpage.

Reunification Plan

Dear Sycamore Families,

Sycamore Community Schools takes the safety and security of our staff and students very seriously. As part of an Ohio Revised Code requirement, the District is required to inform students and parents/guardians before the first day of school each year of our emergency parental notification protocols.

In the event of an emergency where an evacuation of the school building is necessary, students will be transported to safety at Sycamore Community Schools’ reunification site:

Blue Ash Recreation Center 4433 Cooper Rd. Blue Ash, OH 45242

Please watch this short video for important information on our reunification plan.

In the event of an evacuation, families should report to this location to pick up their student(s). A Reunification Information Document will be used in an event of an emergency where a reunification process is required. This document will be made available at the Blue Ash Rec Center to assist us in releasing your child to you.

In any emergency, we will disseminate information through our mass notification system, which includes phone calls, emails, mobile app alerts, as well as the district website and social media. Additionally, we will continue to provide updates through the above avenues as needed.

We are asking parents to verify their emergency contact information is up to date in Final Forms in order to be contacted in case of emergency. If you make any changes to your contact information in Final Forms, please confirm that the changes have been received by your child’s school by calling the front office.

New: Mental Health Services at the JH

Sycamore Community Schools is proud to provide families access to private mental health services for students in the 2019-2020 school year at Sycamore Junior High School.

After an extensive interview process with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (CCHMC), the district is excited to announce the addition of the Kelsie McKinney as an on-site licensed therapist. Kelsie will be joining the staff at Sycamore Junior High School to confidentially serve students with mental health challenges.

“Social and emotional wellness is a priority for all of our students. Providing access to care for students in our schools increases the likelihood of treatment for those who need it, and ultimately, greater outcomes for the kids we care so much about,” said Lisa Zelvy, Pupil Supports Supervisor.

Meet Kelsie McKinney:

McKinney joins the junior high with six years of experience in social work and family therapy. Since 2016, she has served as an inpatient psychiatric social worker at CCHMCl. She has also spent the past four years serving as a multi-dimensional family therapist for Child Focus, focusing on reducing delinquency and substance use issues in adolescents involved with the juvenile court system. Prior to joining CCHMC, McKinney provided school-based counseling for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Covington. She received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Cincinnati, and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Ohio University.

Our Partnership:

Sycamore Community Schools began collaborating in Spring of 2017 with Children’s Hospital and Mindpeace, a non-profit organization that helps align the partners, infrastructure and processes for children’s mental health solutions between schools and local agencies. The district is proud to announce that all seven schools will be staffed with school-based therapists for the 2019-2020 school year.

Sycamore’s partnership with Cincinnati Children’s will give students an additional option for access to mental health services beyond the services offered by our highly-trained school counselors and school psychologists. The school counseling program is an integral component of all aspects of our schools, as it helps students be emotionally healthy and ready to learn, and as mental health needs increase, so does the need for more acute care.

How families can access care:

The partnership with Cincinnati Children’s and their services does not require any financial support from the district. Students and families needing services can cover therapy visits through private insurance, Medicaid, or private pay options. Assistance may be available for families experiencing financial difficulty.

Parents, teachers and school counselors can make student referrals for service. Students can also self refer for services. Ultimately, the decision to move forward with therapeutic services is up to the family.

Medication Management Services:

Beginning in September, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital will begin offering medication management services to families engaged in school-based therapy. These services include the evaluation, prescription, and management of medication for clients. Medication management services are delivered by an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).

The APRN will be at our District Office at 5959 Hagewa Drive two half-days per month. If parents are interested in engaging with medication management services, parents can schedule appointments directly through their building therapist. To receive these services, students must be active clients of the school-based therapist.

To discuss services available or with questions regarding services, Lisa Zelvy, Pupil Services Supervisor, can be reached at (513) 686-1700 or If you are interested in Kelsie’s services, you can contact her directly at Sycamore Junior High School (513) 686-1760 or

The Aves Hangar

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Helpful Information for Parents

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The following Know! Tip discusses the sex trafficking of children. There is no graphic content or description below, but it could still be difficult for some readers. If you suspect human trafficking might be occurring near you or need help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, TTY 711, text 233-733, or chat with the hotline at .

Teen Sex Trafficking—KNOW! To Educate Them to Protect Them