MS/JH School News

December 14, 2015

Note from the Principal

Dear MS/JH Parents,

My family and I are looking forward to Christmas, as I am sure all of you are. In the craziness of the season, take time to reflect on your Creator and the GIFT through Whom He blessed us, Jesus Christ. Should you need a reminder of both the simplicity & magnificence of this, check out this familiar Charlie Brown (Luke 2) excerpt. It is one of my favorites!

This semester has flown by and I continue to be honored to serve the TPCA families in a way that I pray glorifies God.

Shane Schaffer
MS/JH Principal

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Month at a Glance: December

Dec 14: Band Christmas Program ~ TPCC at 6:15 p.m.
Dec 14: JH/HS Choir Chistmas Musical ~ TPCC at 7:30 p.m.
Dec 18: Quarter 2 ends
Dec 18: K-12 Happy HALL-i-days ~ TPCA at 8:45 a.m.
Dec 21-Jan 1: Christmas Break

Awards Ceremony

Instead of having an honors chapel once each quarter, we have decided to have one awards banquet toward the end of the school year. We will let you know what the awards entail as it becomes more written in stone. Please mark May 24th on your calendar for this special award ceremony.


While I am very confident that most of our students did very well on the 2014-2015 ISTEP assessment, I have had a few emails from concerned parents about their child’s ISTEP results. We do know that some students’ scores were not as expected and some parents have requested a re-score. While having accountability is an important aspect of improving what we do, we MUSTN’T place too much credit on one test. The 2014-2015 ISTEP test has been described as a debacle (see article), disaster (see article) and is a flawed system (great article). I believe the results provided in January will show that our school did very well because I see the great work that our teachers are doing with your children. If you are concerned about your child not doing well on ISTEP or any other test, a more fair assessment of their abilities should be found by looking at several data points (ISTEP, NWEA and various classroom assessments). If all of the data is showing a less than desired growth then I encourage you to contact your child’s teacher(s), look at the data together and see what steps we can put in place to help them thrive.

Quick Survey: After School Care for Junior High Students

We would like to have a unique area for our 7th and 8th grade students to hang out after school from 4 – 6 p.m. Currently, the 7th and 8th graders hang out alongside the K-6 students in the JK Stevens Commons. While this is a safe and supervised place, the students have requested a more age-appropriate area. We need your help to determine the feasibility of such an option. Please answer the following questions via email and send them to Thank you!

1. What is your child's name and grade?

2. Would you use after care for your 7th and 8th grade child if we had it in a different location (JH building or 5th grade classroom)? If yes, would you use after care on a regular basis or on specific days (i.e. M-F)?

3. What time would you use after care? Until 5 p.m., 6 p.m. or other?

4. Due to staff meetings, professional development, etc. we have determined that Tuesday is the only day where a TPCA staff person could supervise JH students. Do you know of anyone who would be interested in supervising on the remaining days? All 5 days? Time served could count as volunteer hours or could be a paid position ($9/hour).

5. Do you have any other thoughts or suggestions to share about this idea?

Grade Level News

5th Grade: Chelsea Reed & Kristen Wilcoxen

In fifth grade, we have been studying the beginning of Christ's ministry. We have been discussing his calling of the disciples and his teaching through parables. We are taking a break from our reading curriculum and have started The Christmas Carol. It will also be finished this month, as the students are eagerly awaiting our field trip to the IRT to see the play. Students will also be completing projects to extend their learning! In math, we are in a unit on the multiplication and division of decimals. We are studying the characteristics of a nation this month in social studies. Students are giving oral presentations over countries of the world. In science, students are learning about space and the planets.

6th Grade: Hannah Tuttle

In Mrs. Tuttle’s class, 6th graders have Language Arts and Social Studies. In Language Arts, the students are finishing up the novel, Outsiders, which has ignited many intriguing conversations and learning experiences. Once the novel is finished, the students will dissect the 6 Traits of Writing to improve their writing skills. In Social Studies, the students just began a new unit on Ancient China which will take us all the way to Christmas Break.

Bible: Steve Zimmer

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas to all! I pray that your time with family will be a blessed time of love and sharing. December should see the 6th grade completing the Pentateuch and then in January we will proceed into the remainder of the Old Testament. We will also be building a timeline for the events of the Old Testament. In 7th grade, we are working on finishing Exodus and moving onto Leviticus and Numbers. The 8th grade will be finishing up Genres of the Bible and then in January begin to focus on World Views, especially ours, as I have found that your students have a lot of great questions about our faith and that of other religions. It is great to be back in the classroom, thank you all so much for your prayers and love.

JH English/Language Arts: Jill Propst

As we approach the Christmas season, the seventh and eighth graders will begin studying the various elements of fictional stories by dissecting different Christmas short stories. This study will culminate in their writing a Christmas story of their own and including the elements that make a great short story.

As January approaches, we will begin analyzing the elements of non-fictional stories by using various stories to do so. And, in both grades, we will delve into the second novel of the year by the end of the month.

As you reflect on this season, I would encourage your family to take the time to read the greatest non-fictional Christmas story of all time and to be reminded of God's amazing love for us in sending His son, Jesus.....the greatest gift! May your families be blessed this Christmas season and in the new year to come!

JH Social Studies: Amelia Echemann

7th Grade:

In December, the 7th Grade social studies class finished different Asian and Australian/Oceania cultures. We also worked on a review project to prepare for the final. In January, we will be diving deeper into Chinese cultures and begin our economics unit.

8th Grade:

In December, the 8th Grade US History class covered British expansion and colony independence. We also worked on a review project to prepare for the final exam. In January, we will learn how the colonists wanted full independence/freedom and will dive into the Revolutionary War.


6th, 7th, 8th grade: Julie Fisher

6th grade - In December we are learning about ratio, rates, percents, and converting units. We did a four station activity that included fraction-decimal-percent- bingo, “What is the part?” memory, a fraction, decimal, and percent equivalent worksheet, and a percent puzzler. In January, we will move on to absolute value, comparing and ordering integers, and the coordinate plane. We will also be adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing positive and negative numbers.

7th grade - We are currently learning about ratios, rates, unit rates, proportions, converting units using dimensional analysis, slope and interpreting slope. We used our Chromebooks to play some games that helped us practice these concepts. In January, we will learn about percents and decimals, comparing and ordering fractions, decimals, and percents, percent proportions and equations, percents of increase and decrease, discount, markup, and simple interest.

8th grade - Students are working hard learning how to solve systems of equations by graphing and using the substitution method. We also studied special situations that involved infinitely many or no solutions. In January, we will learn about relations and functions, representations of functions, linear functions, comparing linear and nonlinear functions, and analyzing and sketching graphs.

7th grade accelerated: Mendy Morrison

The two weeks before Thanksgiving Break, students were learning about perimeter and area of circles as well as composite figures. The pictures I have included are of the students as they were doing an investigation to discover the formula for the area of a circle. I was very impressed with how well they did with all of these concepts. The class average for the test was 89%! The two days before break students began learning about square roots. This week they will discover the Pythagorean Theorem. We will finish Ch. 14 next week and have the Ch. 14 Test on Thursday, Dec. 10. Their binders are also due on Dec. 10. These will be the last two grades for the 2nd quarter. We will then spend the remaining class periods reviewing for the final exam.

To give you a preview for 2nd semester, we will be working with surface area and volume when we return from Christmas beak. I want to make sure students have learned and understand these concepts before the first round of ISTEP+.

8th grade Algebra: Elaine Leonard

The 8th graders have been learning the three different forms of linear equations and how to convert back and forth between them. They have also learned how to graph the line an equation represents, as well as the lines that are parallel and perpendicular to them.

January will take us into solving systems of equations (a single solution for more than one equation) using various methods. After that we will apply the same concepts to linear inequalities, which are equations with greater than or less than signs.

Science: Scott Jackson

6th Grade Earth Science

In late November we started the astronomy unit by learning about the relationship between the earth, moon and sun. In early December we started having a debate where one team is in favor of sending a team of astronauts to Mars, while a second team is against the idea to do so. The third group is made up of legislative judges who have been asking all the questions to the two teams and will end up casting the deciding votes. Both sides have done an incredible job of researching and presenting convincing data, while the judges have engaged both teams with insightful questions. It will be interesting to find out how the final decision plays out.

In January we will continue with astronomy by studying the different components of our solar system. As we learn of the incredible elements that make up the solar system we will remind students of God’s incredible design and handiwork.

7th Grade Life Science

In December we have spent several weeks studying the different phyla of the animal kingdom. During this study, each student selected a mammal, a non-mammal vertebrate, and an invertebrate and wrote a 1,000 word report comparing and contrasting them. We then moved on to the cell and its organelles.

In January we will study the cellular processes of photosynthesis, mitosis, and cellular respiration as well as introduce the patterns of heredity. As the students learn all the different facets that occur daily in their 60 trillion cells, we will remind them of God’s incredible design and handiwork.

8th Grade Introduction to Chemistry

In December we have been learning how certain atoms join together to form molecules through ionic, covalent and metallic bonding. They are also learning how energy is released through these bonds causing different types of chemical reactions. We will conclude the study of chemistry with solutes, solutions and solvents as well as understanding bases and acids. We continue to have labs every Wednesday.

In January we switch from Chemistry to Physics and will begin studying waves and wave patterns. This will then lead us to studying the nature and properties of sound. As the students learn the incredible natural and physical laws that govern matter and its elements, we will remind them of God’s incredible design and handiwork.

Co-Curricular News

5th & 6th: Cindy Schramm

I hope you all have a great Christmas! I’ve enjoyed getting to know your 5th-6th grade students and love seeing how the Lord has gifted them with such talent! Your children have been busy working on Christmas projects, and we have been discussing how important it is to not leave the “Christ” out of Christmas. It has been a joy to see their passion for Christ and listen to them pray before our art class begins. My prayer for you, as parents, is that the Lord would give you strength, courage and His joy in this upcoming year…Happy 2016! At the start of the new semester in January, I am giving my 5th and 6th grade students the option of bringing in a sketchbook. If your children finish their artwork before others, many times I have them do a “free-draw” so they can continue to practice and no time is wasted. When your children transition into upper level middle school, they will be required to have a sketchbook in Mr. Grice’s art classes. As preparation for this, if you would like to send a sketchbook to art with your 5th-6th graders, please feel free. During the second semester, I will allow them to use their sketchbooks if they finish their work early. This is not a requirement, but it is an option if you are interested. One final note: Currently, I am working on collecting newspapers, and empty baby food jars. If you have any extras at home that you are not using, it would be a blessing to me if you could send them in with your children. Thank you so much! I hope you all have a blessed new year!

7th & 8th: Darin Grice

7th graders have been doing a great job creating comic strips. The goal has been to make them look ready to go in the newspaper and they have been impressive! A few have even been funny.

8th grade students have been getting an introduction to 3D printers. We are making personalized board game pieces made with the printer.

Media/Technology: Beth Herr

During November, 5th & 6th grade finished up the Global Read Aloud. Both grades have enjoyed reading Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt and adding responses to the reading on a site called Edmodo. Edmodo is a mini-blog type of format in which students can all see each other's responses as well as responses from our classroom connections in other states. In December, we will focus heavily on typing lessons each week as well as finishing Fish In A Tree and continuing to write responses in Edmodo as time allows. Looking ahead to January, students will be working with locating information in various types of resources and beginning some Digital Citizenship. Also look for NWEA in January.

In Digital Citizenship class for 7th & 8th Grades, we spent November working on Strategic Searching skills. Students typed up notes in a Google doc (to practice typing) for reference at later times when research is needed. Other activities included a search activity with a partner, a short quiz and working with to practice their searching skills. In December, Dr. Ho will teach students how to use Diigo for online bookmarking of websites. Mrs. Herr will focus on deeper search skills relating to understanding search results, evaluating the quality and credibility of search results, and understanding creator's rights as it relates to citing work. Of course, we will also continue to work on touch-typing! Students have adopted habits of typing fast with the wrong fingers, so we are working on "un-learning" those habits and re-learning how to use the correct fingers. The goal is that they can touch-type by memory without looking at the keys. Students will be using Google Classroom heavily to "turn in" assignments, so if they are absent, they need to check what has been put in Google Classroom and complete the assignments. We will begin looking at their digital footprint and how they represent themselves online and in social media in January.

7th grade band at the Christmas Gift & Hobby Show

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MS Choir: Carol Evans

The 5th and 6th grade choirs are ready to present their Christmas program. They have been working on songs and carols of the season. They have also enjoyed learning movements and playing instruments. We will have more participants in Solo & Ensemble contest this year. We will start working on this music after our concert.

JH Choir: Grace Na

Our Christmas musical is coming up! The choir has been very busy preparing for it - not just with singing and choreography, but also by making props and costumes. Some students are also working on the production elements of the musical, including lighting and sound preparation. In addition to putting on a great show for our audience, Ms. Na hopes that the musical will be pleasing to God as we put our hearts into the performance in celebrating baby Jesus. After the musical, some students will be participating in ISSMA solo and ensemble. This will be a great opportunity for the students to work on polishing their musical skills, gain experience in public performance, and receive valuable feedback.

Band: Nathan Perry

The bands and strings classes are making final preparations for the Christmas concert. Each ensemble has learned pieces in a variety of styles, from swing jazz to classical and, of course, some carols. It will be a showcase of all the music we have worked on this semester. Each group has something unique to add. It will also be informative as you hear demonstrations of the new musical concepts we have learned. The band pie fundraiser was a big success. Thank you to those that participated! We hope you enjoyed some pies for Thanksgiving! The band raised about $3400 for new equipment. We have just completed sign-ups for Solo & Ensemble and will begin working on that music after our concert.

Physical Education

Vern Clayton

With the onset of colder temperatures, we will be inside considerably more. As it is basketball season, we will play some basketball related games working on different basketball skills. To mix up some of the monotony, we will also play volleyball or badminton given the opportunity. Because the weather was so nice, we went outside during volleyball season but now that it is cold, we have plenty of time to better our skills at indoor sports. We will also review floor hockey and hand hockey as they are indoor games. I will continue to educate the students about cardiovascular exercise but also introduce more strength building exercises like pushups, planks, and dips to name a few. We will talk about muscle development and how to build and create strong, healthy muscles.

Kyle Johnson

Spanish: Rachel Bush

In Spanish class, we are learning to take surveys of daily activities. In seventh grade, we continue to work our way through chapter two. We have been studying stories about coyotes, crows being hungry and eating. In eighth grade, we will be finishing up studying stories about cockroaches and monsters in the kitchen. Personally, I would rather have the monsters in the kitchen!