January 21, 2020

Twitter Highlights: Week 19

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!

Student Led Conferences

Thursday, Jan. 30th, 12:45-8pm

325 South Kenilworth Avenue

Oak Park, IL

To schedule a conference, you should have received an email last week from your child's teacher, Mr. Bland or Ms. Kamysz.

If you're unsure which of your child's teachers to contact to setup a conference for your student, please reach out to either Ms. Kamysz (akamysz@op97.org), if your student is in 6th grade or on Team 7.1 or 7.2, or Mr. Bland (abland@op97.org) if your student is on Team 7.3 or in 8th grade.

We are going to try a slightly different format from the previous Fall Conferences. Our goal is to effectively share your student’s progress while involving students in reflection and accountability related to their work. Your student should plan to attend with you. Your student may want to bring their Chromebook, if the samples of their work they'd like to share are electronic.

For Winter conferences you have the option to select a 30 minute conference or drop in during office hours.

30 minute conference format Option: You will be selecting a 30 minute conference time slot (sent to you last week). For the first 15 minutes of your conference time slot, your student will lead you through watching the screencast about IB criterion, which is used to assess some of their work in their subject areas and share their portfolio of samples of their work with you, which will highlight areas they are proud of and goals they may have set for themselves for the remainder of the school year.

  • 6th GRADER Families: For the second 15 minutes of your 30 minute conference time slot, you will meet with ONE of your student’s teachers. This is the only teacher that will have a conference time with you. This teacher will be able to discuss all your student’s successes and opportunities for growth with you.

  • 7th or 8th GRADER Families: For the second 15 minutes of your 30 minute conference time slot and you will meet with the team of teachers as we did in the fall. We will be scheduling 5 families per time block and teachers will rotate to each family.

OFFICE HOURS OPTION: In addition, we have scheduled the following blocks of time for office hours on all teams: 12:45-1:30 P.M and 5:45-6:30 P.M. You do not need to reserve a specific conference time since office hours are drop-in, but we would like for you to indicate which of the two times you plan on dropping in. Those links are below. Similar to if you signed up for a conference, please allow 15 minutes prior to entering office hours for your student to lead you through watching screencast about IB criterion, which is used to assess some of their work in their subject areas and share their portfolio of samples of their work with you, which will highlight areas they are proud of and goals they may have set for themselves for the remainder of the school year.

Team 6.1 (Office Hours)

Team 6.2 (Office Hours)

Team 6.3 (Office Hours)

Team 7.1 (Office Hours)

Team 7.2 (Office Hours)

Team 7.3 (Office Hours)

Team 8.1 (Office Hours)

Team 8.2 (Office Hours)

Team 8.3 (Office Hours)

ELECTIVE TEACHER Conferences: Elective teachers and other special services staff will be in their classrooms/offices and are available for drop-in conferences during the office hours as well as throughout the day. They will be eating dinner provided by the PTO from 4:45pm to 5:30pm. The core teachers will be eating dinner provided by the PTO from 4:00pm to 4:45pm.

January 30th and 31st - Noon Dismissal

Noon dismissal for all middle school students on both January 30th and January 31st.

Student Participation - Illinois 5Essentials Survey

Dear Parent or Guardian,

We are writing to inform you about a student survey that will be administered at your child’s school called the Illinois 5Essentials Survey during the first week in February. This is the eighth year the Illinois State Board of Education will implement this survey across the state. This survey is based on 20 years of research at the University of Chicago. It asks students about their experiences in school, giving school leaders critical student input to help develop school improvement plans. Student completion of the survey is also one of the 8 areas considered in determining a school's summative designation that is shared by the State's on the School's Report Card.

Student participants will be required to log-in using their state student ID and birth date in order to complete the survey. Students’ identities will be completely confidential. Teachers or administrators will never see individual responses to survey questions and will only receive aggregated information, such as the total percentage of students who agree homework assignments help them learn the course material.

Please be aware that under the Protection of Pupil Rights Act. 20 U.S.C. Section 1232(c) (1) (A), you have the right to review a copy of the questions asked of your student(s). Survey questions can be found on the Illinois 5Essentials website (https://www.5-essentials.org/illinois).

If you do not want your child to participate, please print and fill out THIS FORM and ask your child to return to their Individuals and Societies teacher.

Parent/Guardians participation in Illinois 5Essentials Survey

District 97 is administering the Illinois 5Essentials Survey again this year to certified staff and parents/guardians from all 10 of our schools, as well as students in grades four through eight.

The parent/guardian survey is available now. Please click here to learn how parents/guardians can participate in this important endeavor and click here to access the parent/guardian version of the survey.

Please note that school-level reports will only be generated if at least 20 percent of our parents/guardians complete the survey, which can be accessed until Feb. 14, 2020. Our current response rate for parents/guardians is at 10%.

8th Grade Graduation Photos & Cap & Gown Information

Cap and Grown Information

Graduation Photos

  • Graduation Photo orders will be placed directly with Van Gogh Photography. (847) 382-2282.
  • Order package information will be sent home with students approximately two weeks after the photo is taken.
  • Students will receive a Proof of the photo(s) taken with the order package.
  • Graduation photo retake day will be Thursday, February 27.
  • Graduation Photo Flyer
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Marijuana Legalization Talking Points (shared by OPRFHS)

This January as marijuana legalization takes effect in Illinois it increases student access to marijuana and decreases student perceptions that marijuana use is harmful. Yet scientific research confirms that regular use of marijuana in your teens and early 20s can physically alter their brain and cause permanent harm. These negative effects of marijuana use may not resolve by adulthood, even when marijuana use is ceased.

Parents can prevent underage marijuana use by talking with your teen about the health and safety risks of marijuana. Use our 4 talking points to have an effective conversation with your teen about marijuana legalization.

Congratulations BRAVO Students

BRAVO returned to the Junior Theater Festival for the 12th time. In the past, BRAVO has been awarded JTF’s prestigious Freddie G Outstanding Production Award for the past 10 years, and 2018 BRAVO and its director were celebrated as the world’s best middle school musical theater program. 2020 JTF BRAVO was named Outstanding Performance for Frozen Jr and brought 6500 people to their feet during the Moana showcase.

Forty-six actors and two crew members traveled from Oak Park to Atlanta, where they performed a tight 15 minutes from Frozen JR for adjudication by a panel of musical theater experts. BRAVO is also showcased Moana JR, which Disney will release to school and community theater groups immediately following JTF. It’s a serious commitment for those involved; they’ve dedicated over 100 hours of rehearsal time to prepare, while balancing the two shows with other hobbies, family time and school work.

“We approach JTF as a celebration versus a competition,” says Artistic Director Tina Reynolds. “The BRAVO bar is always very high, and our students are viewed as ambassadors of the festival, therefore we strive for excellence while leading with respect and professionalism.”

“This is BRAVO's 10th year showcasing at JTF,” continues Reynolds, “and we are honored to have been chosen to showcase Moana JR. We have had to imagine and create our four-number showcase from scratch, all while honoring island and Polynesian culture to be respectful while bringing this Disney blockbuster story to life.”

Local elementary school children and their families got a sneak peak of the two performances at a December Junior BRAVO workshop, which attracted 125 participants and raised approximately $10,000 to help pay for the JTF trip.

Save the Date: District 97 Summer Launch 2020

District 97 is excited to announce the dates for the upcoming 2020 Summer Launch Program. Summer Launch will be held June 15 through July 10, 2020 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon). The program for Grades K-4 will be held at Holmes Elementary School, and Grades 5-7 will be held at Brooks Middle School.

Summer Launch is a summer program designed for students in kindergarten to seventh grade who are identified as needing intervention support in reading and/or mathematics during the school year and fall below the 11th percentile in reading and/or math.

Our Summer Launch Program will include Reading/Writing Workshop and Math support, in which students will be able to build upon the reading and writing strategies they have learned during the regular school year, as well as participate in math activities.

The Summer Launch program is designed to support students:

  • In continuing to build their skills towards becoming strong, confident readers and writers.
  • By allowing them personalized instruction in reading, writing and math.
  • By supporting them in sharing their voices and helping to feel valued.
  • By supporting them in building meaningful connections with their teacher and peers.
Participation in the Summer Launch program is by invitation only; letters will be sent to eligible families via email in late January.

Summer Launch Flyer


We made our goal and celebrated with our first Student vs Staff basketball game Wednesday, 12/16. It was a blast! Thank you for all who participated, attended and cheered on the players.

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.

Around the District with Dr. Kelley

The word discipline in connection with schools has such a negative connotation. The long history of shame, punishment and racism has interfered with the very purpose of schools – to help young people learn and grow. District 97 is reclaiming and redefining discipline to better align with our mission and vision of what it means to be educators of students. We are making systemic shifts away from punishment to a mindset of preemption and restoration. Read and learn more - Around the District with Dr. Kelley - http://bit.ly/34JiR84

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.

Using the Canvas Calendar as an Observer

If you are looking for one place to see when your student has assignments due, check out the Canvas Calendar. The assignments will be linked on the Canvas Calendar on the day they are due.

Click the link below for detailed directions on how to use the Canvas calendar.


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.


  • January 30 - Student-Led Conferences 12:40pm to 8pm & student noon dismissal
  • January 31 - 8th grade graduation pictures/Student noon dismissal
  • February 14 - 8th Grade Washington DC trip
  • February 17 - No student Attendance - President's Day
  • February 28 - Trimester 2 ends


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!

Staff Appreciation Dinner January 30

The PTO will be hosting an appreciation dinner for the teachers and staff of Brooks on Jan 30th as a thank you for their hard work and dedication to our community. The PTO is providing a catered dinner. We are in need of drinks, dessert, and help with set-up, hosting and clean-up on the 30th and ask members of the Brooks community to please donate their time or one of the items listed below.

Items should be brought to Brooks Jan 29th or Jan 30th and can be dropped off in the school office with Tasha Guerino.

Please mark any item (dessert plate, cooler) you wish to have returned to you with your name so we can make sure it gets back to its rightful owner.

**Please remember that desserts should be nut free!


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).

Social Justice Club

Dear Brooks Families,

District 97 believes that students play a valuable role in shaping the climate and culture of their schools. With the support of the community, we have expanded opportunities for student voice in an effort to create a more positive and welcoming learning environment for all.

In November 2019, Brooks launched a school-led Social Justice Club, which is organized around social justice standards and a student voice curriculum. The goals of the club are to continue to improve school culture, and to promote and develop leadership skills in our students.

Our Social Justice Club staff leader is our climate and culture coach, Gina Harris. She will hold open meetings for students each month that have the following areas of focus:

  • Establishing the foundation of the club (developing roles and expectations, establishing a sense of community)

  • Analyzing the school community (assets and challenges)

  • Conducting research and developing ideas for solutions

  • Implementing solutions and reflecting

Our next meeting will be held in January 2020. Details will be shared with students and families when we return from winter break. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the club, please contact Nichelle Stigger at nstigger@op97.org.

Thank you for your partnership on behalf of our students!

April Capuder


Invitation to Necessary Space

Adapted from Micky ScottBey Jones

Together we will create “necessary” space

Because there is no such thing as a “safe space”

We exist in the real world

We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.

In this space

We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,

We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,

We call each other to more truth and love

We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.

We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.

We will not be perfect.

This space will not be perfect.

It will always be what we wish it to be


It will be our necessary space together


We will work on it side by side

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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.

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.

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