In This Issue - Palos School District #118, IL



In This Issue - Palos School District #118, IL
December, 2014
From the Desk of Principal Wrzesinski
It is amazing looking over the calendar and noting that we are in the month of December,
the weather is changing around us, and the school calendar continues to fill with events
during and after the school day. The Palos South Lady Basketball and Boys Volleyball
are in the midst of tournaments as their season is winding down. I wish each team the
best of luck throughout the tournaments and am proud of their sportsmanship shown
during the year. Additionally, we have three winter concerts coming up at Palos South
featuring each of our Palos 118 bands and choirs. I encourage any families and friends to
stop by for a great night of entertainment as the students have been working hard over the
past few months in preparation for each of their performances. Specific dates for these
concerts can be found later in the newsletter. Our Palos South band and choir students
will perform for the student population on Friday, December 12th. It promises to be a
great send off toward winter break and the New Year.
The students recently completed their second round of benchmarking during the first
week of December. The data our staff receive from that testing is reviewed to ensure
instructional adjustments are in place to support our students. Similar to last year, the
start of a new year brings about an additional set of parent-teacher conferences in late
January. Teachers will contact parents early in January for any necessary conferences. At
any time, feel free to contact your child’s teacher should you have any academic concerns
or questions.
The PFA has been working hard this year putting together different fundraisers during the
year to help financially support assemblies and guests into our building. The Mother/Son
Bash and Santa’s Secret shop were both great hits as the level of involvement and
participation exceeded my expectations. Additionally Palos South welcomed Mr. Mike
Byster, a mathematician with extraordinary abilities, who presented to our Seventh Grade
students. He was able to discuss how to manipulate mental mathematics and search for
logical reasoning through the identification of patterns. The students were amazed as the
human calculator performed as expected. On December 11th, Caudill nominee and New
York Times best-selling author of the Testing Trilogy, Joelle Charbonneau, will visit all
our students and share her writing secrets. This is sure to be an eventful day for our
Ms. Phelan and I would like to thank each of the families of Palos 118 students for
bringing us such wonderful students who come ready and eager to learn. We are thankful
for the great children you have raised and it is with your help that we are able to be as
successful as we are. I hope you enjoy the upcoming holiday break with your family and
friends, and look for continued successes when we return in 2015.
Mr. Wrzesinski
Ms. Phelan
Assistant Principal
In This Issue
Reminders/Mark Your
-Nurses, Notes
-Speech Notes/Box
Tops/Graduation News
-Psychologist/Social Worker
-Media Center News
-Team 6A
-Team 6B
-Team 7A
-Team 7B
-Team 8A
-Team 8B/Spanish
-Performing Arts Ensemble
-Applied Tech
-Sports Teams
Palos South
Middle School
13100 S. 82nd Ave.
Palos Park, IL
Mr. Stu Wrzesinski
Ms. Kim Phelan
Assistant Principal
Mrs. Kruse
Mrs. Allen
Important Reminders
Don’t forget to check your child’s grades! Last Friday, December 5th was considered the midpoint of the 2nd
quarter. This is just a reminder that the Skyward online grade book is a terrific way to foster conversations
between you and your child. If you have trouble accessing the system, contact the main office at
708-448-5971 for assistance.
With the cold weather season upon us, this is a reminder that the district has a “late start of school” option that
maybe utilized if needed, in lieu of canceling school for the entire day. The late start would delay all school
and bus operations by one hour. Palos South would begin at 9:15 am. All zero hour classes and activities
would be cancelled. Parents would be notified of the late start by phone and email through the district’s urgent
parent notification system.
Information about Graduation and Diplomas will be coming home in late January.
Mark Your Calendar
December 10
5th/6th Grade Winter Concert-7 pm @ South
January 20
Board of Education Meeting-7 pm @ Central
December 11th
Author Joelle Charbonneau visits
7th/8th Grade Winter Concert-7 pm @ South
January 21
Cap & Gown Measurements-8th Grade
January 22
Drama to Stagg HS
December 12th
South Band/PAE Concert assembly-9 am
Band and PAE Ensemble Pictures
January 23
Report Card Distribution
December 15
Performing Arts Ensemble-7 pm @ South
January 23-24
Drama Production @ Stagg
December 16
Board of Education Mtg-7 pm @ Central
6B to Field Museum
January 26
11:15 Dismissal
Parent-Teacher Conferences 12:15-2:45
December 17
8B to Holocaust Museum
January 28
8th Grade Graduation Pictures
December 18
8A to Holocaust Museum
6A to Field Museum
January 31
PFA Daddy/Daughter Dance
December 22 - January 5
Winter Break
January 6
Classes Resume
January 7
PFA Meeting-9:30 am @ East
January 8
Winter Sport Team Photos
January 16
End of 2nd Quarter
School Improvement Day-11:15 Dismissal
January 19
Martin Luther King Day – No School
February 4
PFA Meeting–7 pm @ South
February 6
PFA Theme Lunch
February 7
South Solo Contests
February 9-13
Palos South Book Fair
February 9
One District One Book Event
6:30-8:00 p.m. @ South
February 16
Presidents Day – No School
Nurses Notes
From: Jane Scott
The first full week of December is recognized as National Handwashing Awareness Week.
campaign has been in place since 1999 to increase awareness of the importance of how the simple task of
washing our hands can prevent the spread of illness. It is good information to keep reinforcing at home.
1. Germs are everywhere! In schools, viruses and bacteria are found in many areas including
cafeteria tables, doorknobs, keyboards and desks. Some viruses and bacteria can live from 20
minutes up to 2 hours or more on these surfaces.
2. Knowing when to wash your hands is just as important as knowing how to wash your hands. We
should wash our hands:
 before eating ,preparing or serving food,
 after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper,
 after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing,
 after handling money,
 before and after taking care of someone who is sick,
 after touching pets or other animals,
 when your hands are dirty, and
 after playing outside.
3. When washing your hands,
 wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap.
 Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces-hands, wrists,
between your fingers and around/under your fingernails, for 10-20 seconds.
For children, singing the “Happy Birthday” song is a guide for the right amount of
 Rinse hands under running water and dry hands with a clean paper towel or air
 Use the same paper towel to turn off the faucet when done.
Keep hands away from our eyes, nose and mouth.
If soap and water are not available, alcohol based hand sanitizers are a good alternative. When using a hand
sanitizer, apply product to the palm of one hand. Rub hands together making sure to cover all surfaces.
Continue rubbing until hands are dry.
Washing our hands frequently can significantly reduce our chances of getting sick. Let’s all do our part to
keep ourselves and others healthy!
You can learn more about National Handwashing Awareness Week at
From Sheila Stull
When Speech/Language Pathologists evaluate
students, they try to look at all aspects of
Communication involves not only using good
listening and speaking skills in the classroom but
also using these fundamental skills to interact
socially with both peers and adults. Now you might
be asking, what this has to do with speech and
Pragmatically speaking, “Everything!” would be
my answer. This area of language, known as
pragmatic language, encompasses how people use
their language skills to interact socially. Students
can be quite intelligent and still have poor
pragmatics, which in turn, can negatively impact
their school performance, both inside and outside of
the classroom. Pragmatics generally involves two
areas- language functions (can a student use
language to request, inform, persuade, justify,
entertain, etc.) and secondly, using language in
Students who have difficulty
expressing themselves in social situations often lack
the knowledge of social and conversational rules.
When students do not know how to initiate a
friendly conversation, talk too long without letting
others take a turn, rudely interrupt, switch topics
abruptly, invade another’s personal space, or are
unable to read body language, they may have
difficulty with pragmatic language and this can
impact their entire school day. You may even know
some adults that lack these skills and they may not
be your favorite people to talk with.
For our self-conscious adolescents just waiting at
the bus stop can be uncomfortable if they don’t
know what to say to the other children. They talk to
other students (or not) at lunch, passing in the
hallways, while doing group projects, and numerous
other occasions throughout the day. In addition to
knowing how to talk with their peers, they must
also know how to change their speech when they
talk to teachers. It can be the difference between
students saying, “I don’t get it.” or “What?” (which
may seem a little rude or vague), instead of asking
“Could you please explain the stock market a little
more?” Some students are just quiet by nature and
there is nothing wrong with being a little shy.
There are others however, that want to join in but
just aren’t sure of what to say. There are also some
that are left out of groups, because of poor
pragmatic language skills. At Palos South, the
Social Worker and the Speech/Language
Pathologist facilitate social/language groups
together that target using language in socially
appropriate ways. Groups are generally informal
where students can learn and practice these essential
social-communication skills.
Box Tops
You can help earn extra cash
For Palos South Middle School
1. BUY your favorite Box Tops products
2. CUT out the Box Top from each
3. SEND your Box Tops to school with
your child
Palos South gets cash for every Box Top
collected. All those Box Tops really add up.
Start clipping today!
Graduation News
Cap and gown measurements: 8th grade Students
will be measured for caps and gowns on
Wednesday, January 21st during lunch. There is a
$30 fee for cap/gown. This fee must be paid on
January 21st. (Detailed forms will come home in
the beginning of January)
Psychologist/Social Worker News
From: Mrs. Djikas and Ms. Yerkes
Although the information in this article is geared toward our older students, we thought the information in it was relevant
and important for our parents of those students.
What was he thinking? How could she? If you find yourself wondering what your teen was thinking, the answer may be
“not much.” Kids often make snap judgments based on impulse, especially when situations come up quickly, leaving
teens with little time to sort through the pros and cons.
Some of those hasty decisions may involve cheating in school; skipping class; using alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs;
going somewhere or being with someone that you do not approve of; or driving too fast. But the consequences can
include losing your trust, letting down friends, getting into trouble, hurting education and job prospects, causing illness
or injury, or leading to other reckless behavior.
Explaining Bad Decisions
As for how he could do it, here are some common efforts to justify missteps:
Because I wanted to. Enough said-this only works if you are alone on an island with no rules and only yourself
to consider.
Everybody does it. People often try to duck responsibility by showing that their actions-drinking alcohol, staying
out too late, or sharing test questions- are in line with the values of likings of their social group.
What else could I do? This excuse is a sign of failure to see all the available choices, such as leaving the party or
not riding with a certain person.
But I said I would. Once people decide on something they tend to stick with it-keeping a date, hosting a party,
brining alcohol. No one likes to admit they’re wrong, appear timid, or disappoint others.
We should make decisions based on our
values, not just because we come across
tempting choices.1
Building a Foundation
To avoid decisions that are rushed and based on little more than a desire for fun and peer approval, teens need a solid
basis for making wise choices.
Setting Standards
The first step a teen can take toward good decisions is to know herself. This calls for a set of rules about what she is
willing or not willing to do. If her rules apply to a situation, then the decision will be automatic. Parents can show the
way to good conduct through example and by promoting values-explaining them and showing how they fit specific
choices. Starting early ensures that standards have deep roots, but it is never too late to lay out a guide for conduct.
Developing Confidence
When teens-or adults- are unsure of themselves, they are more likely to give in to social pressure. When a teen feels
good about himself, it improves the odds that he will make good decisions. Parents can build teens’ self-confidence by
teaching them to think for themselves. Ask your teen for his opinion, even about small issues. Urge him to make
decisions. Praise him for positive choices, and let him know you appreciate him and his achievements. Expose him to
activities, people, places, and ideas-doing so will broaden his outlook and help to limit the influence of peers. The likely
result is a teen who doesn’t worry about what others say, thinks things through and chooses wisely.
Asking Questions
Even when a teen has personal rules, some choices may not be clear-cut. She may be torn by wanting to keep a promise
or help a friend, or she may be tempted to make an exception because her actions seem like they won’t be so bad. A few
handy questions can cut through the fog of doubt.
What’s the Downside?
Rewards such as fun, excitement, popularity, and asserting one’s freedom are easy to see, but getting teens to focus on
risks can be tough. Teens tend to think bad things can’t happen to them. When teens do see risks, they may feel that the
chances of getting caught or harmed are small. Because teens are “now-oriented,” far-off consequences may carry little
weight. So highlight 1) bad things that can happen right away and 2) things that teens dread such as looking foolish,
smelling bad, losing friends, missing out on social events, and not being able to drive.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mark your calendars for the annual Palos South Book Fair run by Andersons Book Stores.
The Book Fair will run in the South Media Center February 9 – 13. We need parent volunteers!
If you can help out, please call the media center at 708 761-3907.
Proceeds from the book fair go to adding books to our collection.
Need a hot read for these cool nights? Mrs. Shem recommends:
In the late 1100s, thirteen-year-old Will, the
future Lord of Shackley, is exiled to
Sherwood Forest, where he meets Robin
Hood and the Merry Men and bands with
them to try retake Shackley Castle.
Twelve-year-old genius and outsider
Willow Chance must figure out how to
connect with other people and find a
surrogate family for herself after her
parents are killed in a car accident.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class
citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother
and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life
becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she
suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic
struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty
and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets
about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Contest News
The December contest is “Match the Teacher.” Take a look at the window in front of the media center. Can you
identify your teachers from their baby pictures? Test your skill by picking up an entry at the circulation desk.
See Ms. Hickey or Mrs. Shem for more details.
*****Congratulations to the winners of the October Great Pumpkin Contest:
Joey Gregory, Natalie Krammer, Amani Khatib, and Karim Khalaf!
Visiting Author
Thank you PFA for sponsoring our December author, Joelle Charbonneau! Ms. Charbonneau is
the New York Times best-selling author of the Testing Trilogy, and she will visit all students at
Palos South on the morning of December 11th.
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say?
But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next
generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first
pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.
Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a
University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her
departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies – trust no one.
But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas,
who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the
Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.
***We encourage students to utilize the media center before and after school as needed. We open at 7:45
a.m. and are open after school Monday through Thursday, with homework help available. Take
advantage of our beautiful facility and use the activity buses! No pass is needed.
More information at
Grade 6
Team 6A Members:
Deb Buyan, Brittney Kmiecik, Jeremy Mancilla, Ann Marie
Ruprecht, Deb Satler, Lori Swan and Kelly Zdralevich
In social studies class, the mysteries of Ancient
Egypt are being unraveled as team 6A continues our
train ride through the ancient civilizations. On
December 18, we will stop at Chicago’s Field
Museum and visit the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit.
Students will experience a walk through a mastaba, a
tomb of an ancient pharaoh, and explore the
everyday life of the ancient Egyptians.
Awesome A’s will also get to experience
mummification first hand as they mummify their
own “fruity pharaohs.”
Mrs. Zdralevich’s classes have been hard at work
this quarter. Math students have just finished a mini
unit working with converting fractions, decimals and
percents. Now, they are beginning their unit on
ratios, rates, and proportions. Pre-Algebra students
have just finished working with rational numbers,
and are now entering the world of expressions &
equations. In addition to daily homework, students
are encouraged to also use our new online math
program, Students were given a username
and password at the beginning of the school year,
and can access the program wherever internet is
available. And lastly, I am very excited to announce
that we will have a student teacher, Mrs. Naji,
joining us in January from Governor State
University. Mrs. Naji is eager to start her adventure
here at Palos South! I have no doubt she will be
impressed by the effort our students put in, and the
great behavior that they display.
In science classes students are finishing the
Populations and Communities unit and will soon
begin working on unraveling the mystery of owl
pellets as they dissect the pellets and assemble the
skeletons of an owl’s prey. Students will also
uncover the weavings of a food web as they become
forest plants and creatures and create a food web in
the classroom. The water cycle, carbon dioxideoxygen cycle, and the nitrogen cycle will also be
investigated. Don’t forget to check your child’s
folder to see his/her work for the unit.
Language Arts students are exploring the theme of
survival in literature circle groups. We also will be
researching topics that are related to our novels and
creating web pages.
All students are reading a
nonfiction book as well. Please encourage your child
to continue reading his/her outside nonfiction reading
book. Pizza book projects are due on January 8, and
the project is rather extensive. Make sure enough
time is allowed to do a thorough job. In addition,
students will be busy reading documents about
Hammurabi’s Code. Each student will be writing an
essay to support whether or not Hammurabi’s Code
is just. Don’t forget a book for your child’s stocking
for the holidays. Nice work, Awesome “A”s!!
Team 6B Members: Julie Easter, Kelly Korhonen, Dawn Murray, Ashley Partin, Meshell
Robson, Amy Rohan and Ivy Zimmerman
Second Quarter Happenings for Team 6B
Reading and English Class: Mrs. Easter’s and Mrs.
Partin’s students continue to read a lot of great books.
They have become experts at analyzing the plot of a
fiction story. The students now have a clear
understanding of the elements of plot and theme. We
will be moving into reading more non-fiction and
information texts. Ask your child to tell you about the
main ideas of the non-fiction book he/she is reading
for this quarter’s book project.
In English, the 6B students practiced their analytical
thinking skills when looking at primary source
documents about Hammurabi’s Code. The kids
discussed the justness of the code of laws and wrote a
five paragraph essay supporting their claim. Thesis
statements, evidence, and arguments were used in
their writing. They will continue to hone these skills
by writing more analytical essays related to Ancient
Egypt and China.
Grade 6 continued
The students also reviewed figurative language in
poetry and literature. They are learning to analyze
text for the author’s use of simile, metaphor,
personification, and hyperbole. There are great
practice problems on on “Figures of Speech”
that provide extra practice with these concepts.
Mrs. Robson’s reading students continue to make
individual progress using the iReading program that
adjusts to each child’s level. Keep it up!
Social Studies Class: We have continued our journey
through the Fertile Crescent as the Babylonians and
Assyrians battle the Medes and Chaldeans to save
their valuable land from being overthrown. The
students have learned about great kings of
Mesopotamia like Hammurabi and his code, as well
as Nebuchadnezzar and his royal palace. Students
were fascinated by the Phoenician civilization and
their development of the alphabet that we use
today! The students will travel west to the marvelous
and magnificent Egyptian empire. They will study
the significance of the great Nile River, and learn
about Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs. Students will
be intrigued by the religion of the Egyptians with
their many gods and goddesses and their process of
mummifying the deceased. During our unit on
ancient Egypt, the students will take a field trip to the
Field Museum to observe the exhibit on ancient
Egypt and many others. The students will complete
an assignment while at the ancient Egypt exhibit,
which will consist of finding tomb treasures and the
steps of the mummification process. They will also
be able to experience different aspects of ancient
Egyptian culture, such as lying on an Egyptian bed,
feeling papyrus, and trying to move a replica of a
pyramid stone. Throughout the entire unit, students
will get a real hands-on feel for the mummification
process as they will experience mummify their own
Egyptian pharaoh out of apples, oranges, baking soda
and salt.
Math Class: Both the math and Pre-Al classes have
been working very hard this quarter. The 6B math
classes just finished up the Fraction and Decimal
Unit. They are working with converting Fractions,
Decimals and Percents. The concepts of Ratios, Rates
and Proportions are in the next unit. The 6B Pre-
Algebra classes just finished up a unit working with
Rational Numbers. They just started the unit on
equations and will be working on equations and
inequalities for the remainder of the quarter. Students
in both classes will continue to learn how these math
concepts relate to the real world. The students will
benefit greatly if some of the concepts learned in
class carry into conversations at home. Students
should not be using a calculator to complete
assignments. If your child is still struggling with the
computation of basic facts, please continue to have
them keep practicing. Also, IXL will continue to be
assigned throughout the school year. They will be
weekly assignments that will reinforce concepts
learned in class. Many students have come a long
way since August, and I look forward to their
continued progress! Thank you for all that you do!
Science Class: In Mrs. Murray’s science class, our
students have been busy learning all about biotic and
abiotic organisms and how they interact in their
environments. They have explored different aspects
of this unit such as animals and their habitats,
populations, communities and ecosystems. Do you
know the difference between biotic and abiotic
factors that are present in our environment? Just ask
any of our 6th grade future ecologists! It’s alive….
Or is it?
Next, we will unravel the mystery of owl pellets as
we dissect the pellets, assemble the skeletons of an
owl’s prey, and identify all the bones of the prey.
Learning about food webs will be fun when students
have the opportunity to act as forest plants and
creatures and create a food web in the classroom!
Investigating the water cycle, carbon dioxide-oxygen
cycle, and the nitrogen cycle will be another exciting
adventure for our students. Keep up the great work
All of the 6B teachers are really proud of the progress
our sixth graders have made in the first half of the
school year. The second half of the school year will
continue to present more challenges and exciting
activities. Students, remember to get involved at
school and seek out your teachers if you need extra
Grade 7
Team 7A Members: Mary Banner, Roy Bullard, Marty Duggan, Lisa Hanley, Bridget
Keaty, and Natalie Skobel
Our 7th grade students were fortunate to receive a
visit from Mr. Mike Byster, mathematician
extraordinaire on November 4th. Mr. Byster has
been labeled as the quickest mathematician in the
world. He amazed us with his ability to quickly solve
our pre-made math problems mentally.
For example, he was able to square three
and four digit numbers in his head within a
matter of seconds. Also, he could divide a three digit
number by a two digit number accurately to 10
decimal places. Both the students and parents were
astonished with his speed and precision. Later in the
presentation, Mr. Byster showed the students how to
figure out the last three digits on a driver’s license
and how to add four digit numbers mentally. Mr.
Byster also spent time talking to the students about
the importance of finding patterns in all realms of
school and life. Patterning helps the students
logically organize information, resulting in greater
retention of the material. The students thoroughly
enjoyed the time that they spent with the “human
The Algebra-H and Algebra classes have been busy
solving inequalities and a unit involving proportions,
ratios, rates & proportional relationships. The PreAlgebra classes have been challenged with
simplifying expressions and solving equations. The
students have learned about complex problems for
both topics.
7A Science students are currently participating in the
earthworm dissection. Students are investigating the
internal and external anatomy of these
worms. Most students are amazed that
the earthworm has so many organs, and
that some are even similar to human organs. As we
study the internal organs of the earthworm, we will
review the systems of the body and discuss which
organs belong to each system. During this unit,
students also will make a brief presentation on
frequently asked questions related to earthworms,
such as “Do earthworms have a heart?” and “How
can you tell which side is the head?” It may not be
the best dinner table conversation, but ask your child
if they remember some of those earthworm questions
and answers.
We also recently completed our Phylum Film
projects, where groups of students created a
Videolicious or iMovie presentation about one of the
eight phyla of invertebrate animals. The
students did a great job on the
presentations. I uploaded a few of their
movies to my website for you to view.
In January, we will begin our study of cells, both
their basic structure and various functions. As
always, please continue to check the 7A calendar for
upcoming quizzes, tests, projects and daily
In reading class, we just finished reading S.E.
Hinton’s masterpiece, The Outsiders. Students were
very engaged with the text and film versions, and had
many strong opinions on both that led to great
discussions. Students also came up with many of
their own questions for discussion throughout the
book. Ask your child about their constitutions to our
lengthy discussions.
For our next reading unit, we will be picking apart
our First Amendment rights with the novel Nothing
but the Truth. We will hold discussions and debates
throughout the course of reading the story in order to
help build arguments. Argumentative writing will be
a large component of the unit.
In English class, vocabulary is still one of our main
focuses. Vocabulary words are issued every Friday,
and homework is due every Tuesday. Tests are given
every Friday, so that students have one week to
master their words and stems. Remember that all
units are on Quizlet to help with studying!
Grade 7 continued
7A continued
In Social Studies classes, we are concluding our unit
on the U.S. Constitution by challenging our students
with a Mini-Q “How Did the Constitution Guard
Against Tyranny?” A Mini-Q is a scaled down
version of the DBQs (document based questions)
used in many high school Social Studies classes. Our
students used higher level thinking skills to read and
analyze documents related to the topic, and showed
understanding by writing a short essay finding
evidence in the documents to support their position.
Next, we are moving on to the Illinois Constitution,
where we will look for similarities and differences
between our state and the U.S. Constitution, discuss
the history of our state & study the geography of the
Our Springfield trip is Monday, May 26. Parents
are welcome to chaperone. Look for more
information regarding the details towards the end of
Team 7A would like to take this time to wish
everyone a very happy, healthy and safe holiday
Team 7B Members: Donna Albomonte, Amy Andrekus, Randy Buvala, Chris Helmin,
Cathy Kruszynski, Kristen McNulty, and Maureen Murphy
7B The Explorers
Language Arts
In Mrs. Helmin and Mrs. Andrekus’s reading classes,
we just finished up the greatest novel, The Outsiders.
Ask your child about the Socratic Seminar they took
part in and what they added to the discussion. We
will also be tackling the First Amendment with the
novel Nothing but the Truth, and debating with one
another our opinions on the outcome of the story.
Argumentative writing will be a major component in
this unit.
The students will also be participating in a Mock
Trial. They are in charge of prosecuting a defendant,
defending their client, keeping order in the courtroom
and swearing in witnesses,
deciding the defendant’s fate, or
determining the sentence for the
defendant. We may have future
lawyers or judges in our class.
In Mrs Helmin and Mrs. Andrekus’s English classes,
vocabulary packets are still a major focus! Reminder:
The packets are given out on Fridays, are due on
Tuesdays and our tests are on Fridays. Remember
Quizlet is your best friend!!!! As for grammar, we
finished up our verbs unit and are identifying
sentence types and components.
Please continue to check skyward for updated grades.
Also, the calendar is a great place to see when
upcoming assignments and tests are appearing!
Our 7th grade students were fortunate to receive a
visit from Mr. Mike Byster, mathematician
extraordinaire on November 4th. Mr. Byster has
been labeled as the quickest mathematician in the
world. He amazed us with his ability to quickly solve
our pre-made math problems mentally. For example,
he was able to square three and four digit numbers in
his head within a matter of seconds. Also, he could
divide a three digit number by a two digit number
accurately to 10 decimal places. Both the students
and parents were astonished with his speed and
precision. Later in the presentation, Mr. Byster
showed the students how to figure out the last three
digits on a driver’s license and how to add four digit
numbers mentally. Mr. Byster also spent time talking
to the students about the importance of finding
patterns in all realms of school and life. Patterning
helps the students logically organize information,
resulting in greater retention of the material. The
students thoroughly enjoyed the time that they spent
Grade 7 continued
7B continued
The honors class has been busy solving inequalities
involving compound and absolute value problems.
Next on the agenda for the Algebra-H students will
be statistics. The Pre-Algebra classes will be
challenged with solving complex expressions and
equations for their next unit. The students will be
exploring expressions and equations with fractions,
decimals, and negative numbers along with real-life
word problems.
Social Studies
As we anxiously anticipate the celebration that the
holiday season brings so too do we celebrate the
successful completion of the United States
Constitution test! Our results were fantastic in that
all students passed the test. We are so proud of the
effort and dedication the students put forth in this
academic endeavor.
Congratulations on your
successes! All of the Constitution work will make
our trip to Springfield this year even more exciting.
Mark your calendar the 7th grade Springfield Trip
is planned for May 26, 2015. We would love to
have lots of parents be able to join us. You will be
receiving information about this adventure around
mid-January. Our next units focus on building the
country to be the wonderful place we live today.
Our parade of life so far has included the study of the
Invertebrate. To coincide with the invertebrates’
chapter in Science, the seventh grade students
dissected the earthworm. The dissection focused on
outer worm structure, identifying internal organs, and
following the nerve cord to the brain. While some of
the students squirmed, most of them really enjoyed
examining their specimens. Thank you District 118
for funding such educationally enriching experiences.
Students are currently making movies to demonstrate
their knowledge of the invertebrates. Watch for the
movies on the 7B work web page. Our next units
focus on cells and heredity.
Grade 8
Team 8A Members:
Caylee Bruce, Barb Duffy, Tim Kahle, Ray Kouba, Patti
Lindeman, Katie McDonough, Peggy Montroy and Lindsay Wulf
Language Arts: As the winter break approaches,
students are reading a variety of short stories
focusing on characterization and theme. A few of
the stories are “The Cask of Amontillado”
by Edgar Allen Poe, “A Retrieved
Reformation” by O’Henry, “The Most
Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell, and
“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant. A
small project or quiz will follow the reading
of each story. Characters and theme will be
compared and contrasted from these diverse, high
interest stories. In vocabulary, we continue our
word part study and Word-A-Day words with daily
discussion, writing, and quizzes each lesson.
Continuing our focus on WWII themed
reading, students have chosen and read a fiction or
non-fiction book of their choice from the media
center. The completion of reading this book will be
their goal upon return to school in January. A
project and class presentation will follow in 2015.
In English class, students write on various topics
related to the short stories we are reading. Also, a
verb unit is underway. We are studying topics like
action/being/linking verbs, subject-verb agreement,
irregular verbs, and direct/indirect objects, to name
a few. A verb test will conclude the study before we
leave for Winter Break.
Math: In math class, the students have been
working very hard. Students in algebra are quickly
becoming experts at solving
multi-step equations. We will
equations as we explore
other chapters during the
remainder of the school year. Currently we are
using these skills with the Pythagorean Theorem
and our Geometry unit dealing with translations,
rotations, reflections, and dilations. Advanced
algebra H. students have just completed working
with system of equations. The 1st semester final for
the Advanced Algebra H. students will be held on
December 15th. After break, the Advanced Algebra
H. students will be working on factoring equations
and using the quadratic equation. Advanced
Algebra students are also working very hard.
They are currently working on finishing our
slope chapter. After break we will begin a
short geometry unit before we begin
exploring our chapter on systems of
equations. Keep asking those great questions and
seeking out help when it is needed. Enjoy your
holiday break! We have a lot of fun topics for the
second half of the year.
Science: The 8A students have been leaning about
physical and chemical properties and changes. In
the lab, students practiced identifying
these properties and changes by making a
silly putty substance. This was a fun and
educational way to observe these
The students have also
visited the different states…of matter
that is. Students have studied the
three main states of solids, liquids,
and gasses, but also learned about two additional
plasma and Bose-Einstein.
continued their work with physical and chemical
properties/changes and states of matter by growing
crystals. Be sure to ask you student about his/her
crystal star and have them explain the process. In
addition, students have been able to see how each
state may be transformed from one to the other
through a variety of class activities, labs, and
computer animations. In addition, the 8A students
got a look into the chemistry of Thanksgiving
cooking. Hopefully, they were able to share their
knowledge to ensure a delicious Thanksgiving
Social Studies: With the holidays promptly
approaching, I want to take a step back and think
Grade 8 continued
8A continued
about what we did this year. The students learned
about World War 1, witnessed the Roaring 20’s,
watched the Stock Market Crash, felt the pain of the
Depression, and got a firsthand look at World War
2 and the Holocaust. World War 2 is an event that
defined the world and the rebirth of the United
States of America. Students dove into this material
with open arms and open ears. They learned about
the leaders, battles, heroism, and the sacrifices that
men and women made to win the war. Now we
find ourselves in the middle of the Holocaust. This
is the darkest period in history where 6 million Jews
and 5 million others were eliminated by Germany in
Extermination Camps during World War 2. This is
a part of history that I am passionate about. The
Holocaust must not be forgotten and it needs to be
taught. Students are immersed with the history of
the Holocaust, the events of the Holocaust, and are
reading true life accounts from survivors of the
Holocaust. Students are getting a great perspective
of what these people went through. I am happy to
say that class is filled with great discussions and
students have really opened their minds to this
material. On December 18th students will be
engrossed in the history of the Holocaust when we
visit the Illinois Holocaust museum in Skokie.
Team 8A would like to take this time to remind
parents and students about Remind 101, a text
messaging reminder program that Mr. Kouba, Mrs.
Duffy, Mrs. Bruce, and Mrs. Wulf are using for
Connections and academic classes. If you haven’t
already done so and are interested in signing up,
please see the handout your son or daughter brought
home for information on how to subscribe. We wish
everyone a very happy, healthy and safe 2014
Holiday Season!!
Team 8B Members:
Scott Adams, Bob Beran, Eileen Fitzgerald, Karen Kaminski,
Robin Kmiec, Carolyn Schaver, and Judy Schramm
Second quarter is a busy, productive time for 8B
Builders. Students participate in many outstanding
curricular activities beyond the classroom, such as
attending the play The Diary of Anne Frank and
participating in the Community Fire Prevention
Essay Contest. We are also looking forward to our
upcoming field trip to the Holocaust Museum as an
informative and enriching activity.
Reading and English
In reading, we just finished reading the play The
Diary of Anne Frank. This inspiring story takes us
through the heart-wrenching experience in which
Anne and her family struggle to endure life hidden
in an attic, in the hopes of surviving the Holocaust.
Most students can relate to Anne because when she
goes into hiding she is 14 years old. As a result,
class discussions are often quite moving.
In addition to reading Anne Frank in class, students
are reading an independent reading novel outside of
class, The Wave by Todd Strasser. This story is
based on an incident that took place in a high school
history class in Palo Alto, California, in 1969. As
students in Ben Ross’s history class study World
War II, the students can’t seem to understand how
the German people could have followed Hitler and
the Nazis. So Mr. Ross creates an experimental
movement called The Wave to teach his lesson.
In English, we are strengthening our writing and
grammar skills. The students have had many
opportunities to write on a variety of topics. We
have also recently completed units on verbs and
sentences in the grammar book.
In Algebra, the students are working on geometry
transformations, and reflections. We will be going
over Pythagorean Theorem and functions before
winter break. The Honor’s Algebra class has been
working on factoring
Grade 8 cont.
8B continued
polynomials. They will take the Honor’s Geometry
placement test for District 230 on Monday,
December 15 in class. By third quarter, they will be
moving on to rational expressions, then radicals.
Each class will be doing a group project called “the
house that math built” when we come back from
winter break. The groups will work as contractors
and process bids for different areas of a house.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a great winter
Social Studies
Currently, we are studying World War II in the
European, Pacific, and North African theaters of
action. This has included the events leading up to
the war, dictators in power, U.S. involvement, and
the impact the war had on U.S. citizens. Students
will be creating advertisement posters to support
“The Home Front” and the need for self-sacrifice
undertaken by patriotic Americans of this time
period. We will finish this unit by studying both
the Japanese American internment camps and the
Nazi death camps of the Holocaust. The unit will
culminate with a field trip to the Illinois Holocaust
Museum December 17, 2014.
In Science, students have learned about buoyancy
and how objects more dense than water can be
made to float by increasing the volume. Changes of
state were discussed, as well as latent heat being
absorbed in an endothermic reaction or given off in
an exothermic reaction for the change of state to
occur. Next, students will learn about properties of
metals and nonmetals and physical and chemical
properties and changes.
Noticias de Espanõl
From: Mrs. Murphy & Ms. Skobel
The eighth grade class has been very busy
experiencing a variety of activities in Spanish. They
recently completed a unit about their family
members and are now able to describe them in
Spanish! Each student gave a one minute speech
about their favorite relative. They have also
engaged in listening, writing, speaking and on line
activities. These on line activities are available via using web codes noted in the book.
The next unit will involve stem-changing verbs and
many other skills needed for high school. The
December project will involve students creating a
house, labelling it in Spanish, along with a
conversation about the house in the target language.
All 8th grade Spanish students will be taking the
Spanish high school placement test during 2nd and
3rd period on December 16, 2014.
Coming soon: Students will be reading their first
novel entirely in Spanish, Pobre Ana, and will be
discussing the story in the target language.
The seventh grade students are engaged in a unit
about their favorite foods . They will complete
listening, writing and speaking activities, including
discussing their food likes and dislikes. Students
have also learned the subject pronouns and how to
conjugate AR, ER, and IR verbs. Now, they are
able to use many regular verbs in simple
The seventh grade students will be finishing their
semester of Spanish on January 16, 2015.
Coming soon: Students will design their own
menu, and use it to participate in a partner
conversation involving ordering food in a
The sixth grade students have been learning about
all the countries that speak Spanish. They have
engaged in listening activities and have participated
in some simple speaking activities. Students are
now able to respond to and ask questions like; What
is your name?, How are you today? They are
learning the numbers 1-100!
The sixth grade students will finish their quarter of
Spanish on January 16, 2015.
Coming soon: Lots of new vocabulary and phrases
in Spanish.
From: Katie McDonough
It’s almost here!!! Welcome to drama club at Palos South Middle School. Ms. McDonough is directing
and coordinating the different cast and crews. Mr. Hansen is giving us musical direction as well as coordinating
sound and lighting. And Mr. Buvala is the art and stage director. The musical, Willy Wonka, which we have been
practicing since September for begins in January. The performances will be on January 23 rd and 24th. They are
being held at Stagg High School and we expect to sell out both performances. And as in years past, we will also be
presenting condensed versions of the musical for Palos South and Palos East and Palos West during the school
days. Tickets will go on sale to the public at Palos South the week of the musical and they cost $5.00. Lighting
and Sound Crew begins in January, so anyone looking to join should attend the informational meeting and get an
informational packet from room 204.
Also, in this newsletter is information about purchasing an ad in this year’s playbill. You can buy an ad for
your friend, for your family member or for an entire group of people. Saying things like “To our favorite orphan!
You’re the best. Love, Your Family” always goes over very well with our cast and crew. Thank you for
supporting this wonderful fundraiser! Please have ads turned into Ms. McDonough by December 19th.
Thanks to all of the adults who have helped out this year especially Mr. Hansen and Mr. Buvala. Wait until you see
what they have done! If any adults have some extra time, we are always in need of help doing a variety of things.
Anyone who needs information about anything concerning the musical or drama club should contact Ms.
McDonough at Palos South. Good luck to the over 100 students in the cast and stage crew and we hope that our
audiences enjoy this year’s production of Willy Wonka!
From: Mrs. Amanda Schuller
All of our general music classes have been working on the keyboard unit. This is a
wonderful hands-on experience for our students. Our sixth grade classes will then study the
wonderful composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and will enjoy listening to music from the famous
Phantom of the Opera. They will then dive into studying the Star Spangled Banner. We will look at
where it originated, sing it, and watch a video telling us all about the
Our seventh grade classes have just finished studying rhythm. They learned
to put rhythms to their name, words, and watched the video, “Stomp Out Loud,” which
based on rhythm. After the keyboard unit, they will begin working on a song poem
project. They will have to choose a song and explain what the message is by listening
carefully to the music and lyrics.
From Mr. William J. Hansen
We have been working very hard preparing for our Annual Winter Concerts to be held on December 10 th & 11th and
for our School Concert to be held on December 12th. The 6th grade Cadet Band will feature the students performing
Do You Hear What I Hear, Nuttin’ for Christmas, and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. The 7th grade
Concert Band will perform Russian Carol Variations, Angels in the Bleak Midwinter, and The 3-minute
Nutcracker. The 7th grade percussionists will also perform their rendition of Frosty the Snowman.
The Wind Ensemble will perform Sounds of the Season and A Trumpeter’s Winter Holiday,
featuring Leah Murawska. The Blue Jazz Ensemble will play Fat Burger and Peanut Butter
Jam, a piece written by me especially for them. The Red Jazz Ensemble will perform
Winter Wonderland and Jingle Bell Rock. As a Finale, all of the band students will
participate in an audience sing-a-long with Here Comes Christmas; a fitting way to start the
Our Cardinal Percussion Ensemble is preparing my new composition, The Battle, for its spring
performance with early Wednesday morning and lunchtime rehearsals. This is the percussion
ensembles most ambitious project ever, with three movements and over 30 different instruments! We will be adding
our own tricks and licks into the mix as soon as I write the end of the piece! It should be a spectacular percussion
event. Be looking for details of performance dates in 2015.
Some important Band dates to remember include:
 PSMS Drama Production of Willy Wonka January 23-24, 2015
 District 118 Solo/Ensemble Contest February 7, 2015
 St. Laurence Band Contest March 14, 2015 (All bands)
 South Fine Arts Festival April 16, 2015
 SWIC Honor Band April 21 & 22, 2015 (selected students)
 Finale Concert II May 7, 2015 (7th & 8th Grades)
 Finale Concert I May 12, 2015 (5th & 6th Grade)
 Finale School Concert May 8, 2015 (all bands during school)
 Band Awards Banquet May 11, 2015
 Graduation June 1, 2015 (7th grade band)
If you wish to be on the Band Constant Contacts list, please send me a note at [email protected] and I will
sign you up! Also check out all of the information on my band web page.
Happy Holidays!
William J. Hansen
Director of Bands
Performing Arts Ensemble
From Mr. William J. Hansen
The Performing Arts Ensemble is working hard preparing for our Winter Concert on Monday, December 15, 2014
at 7:00 pm in the Palos South gym. Our winter program is coming together and will feature an eclectic blend of
musical performances in solo, small group and large ensemble arrangements.
Some important PAE dates to remember include:
 PSMS Drama Production of Willy Wonka January 23-24, 2015
 District 118 Solo/Ensemble Contest February 7, 2015
 South Fine Arts Festival April 16, 2015
 Spring School Concert May 8, 2014 (all bands during school)
 Spring Concert May 13, 2015
If you wish to be on the PAE Constant Contacts list, please send me a note at [email protected] and I will
sign you up! Also check out all of the information on my PAE web page.
Happy Holidays!
William J. Hansen
Director of Bands
Applied Tech
From: Mr. Jeremy Mancilla
The Applied Technology class is continuing to
progress at Palos South. The Applied Technology
program at Palos South is designed to provide
authentic math and science experiences that will
expand concepts learned in these and other
Students will use a variety of
technologies, specialized equipment and computer
simulation to apply science, technology,
mathematics, and engineering.
Students in 6th and 7th grade are finishing up their
2nd quarter, while the 8th grade students are
enrolled in their 1st semester of Applied
Technology. At each of the grade levels students
are exploring a variety of computer modules used
to enhance the math and science curriculum.
Students are engaged in research, graphical
challenges, and applying mathematics to everyday
situation on a daily basis. Students are exploring
how math, science, and technology are used in the
world of work and everyday life.
One of the favorite modules is Flight Technology.
In the Flight Technology Module, students learn
the principles of flight. Students use a computer
flight simulator to experience piloting an aircraft.
Each student evaluates the other and prepares a
written critique of his or her partner’s flight.
Students are introduced to navigation and plot a
course using angular measurement and
mathematical computation.
Students also design and build a wing to observe
and understand Bernoulli’s principle by using a
wing tester to determine lift. 7th grade student
Jack S. describes Flight Technology as “a real fun
module where you get to use a flight simulator
and fly a plane.” He also mentioned that he
learned how to read a number of different gauges
on the airplane while learning how to control the
speed and altitude of the airplane.
A second module that students enjoy is Forensic
Science. In Forensic Science, students determine
the prime suspect in a fictitious vandalism of a
local high school. Students analyze evidence,
which includes fingerprints, hair samples,
handwriting, and ink. Students also extract DNA
from a sample. Students compare the evidence
with samples taken from suspects. Finally, they
must put all the evidence together and identify a
prime suspect. 7th grade student Emelina E. said it
was ”fun because you get to learn and practice
what the FBI does every day to solve crimes.”
She said one of the more interesting facts she
learned what that identical twins do not share the
same fingerprints!
Parents and students can learn more about the
Applied Technology curriculum by visiting Mr.
Mancilla’s webpage.
Let’s have a great 2015!!!
PE Department
From: Mr. Bullard, Mr. Kahle, Mrs. Kmiec, Mrs. Schaver and Mrs. Zimmerman
The Physical Education Department has been hard at work this quarter. Our
units include weekly trips to the fitness center. Our state of the art fitness center
includes the finest fitness equipment in the industry. Life Fitness ellipticals,
recumbent bikes, upright bikes and rowers provide our students with a
professional workout. Through the use of this equipment we hope to instill in
our students a lifelong habit of working out and an appreciation for individual
health and fitness. These workouts are designed to help students improve their
cardiovascular fitness through aerobic activity. We would like to see each of
our students maintain a constant heart rate between 145-185 beats per minute. This ensures that each student
will get maximum benefits from their workout. The goal is to see noticeable improvement on our students’
Presidential Physical Fitness test scores this spring.
We have a lot of exciting activities planned for the first half of the winter semester.
Basketball, the sport that almost all of our kids love to play will be
one of our units this quarter. Our P.E. students will be dribbling,
passing, shooting, and scoring during the month of December. A
series of drills designed to introduce and improve various
basketball skills will be utilized at each grade level. As a culminating activity each
class will play a round robin tournament to determine the class champion.
Tchoukball is a fast paced, energetic and exciting new game that is an excellent cardiovascular activity. This
game involves quick passing, excellent hand eye coordination, throwing and catching, agility, speed and
strategy. This game is just plain FUN. The goal of the game is to move a ball down the court toward one of two
trampoline goals through the use of passes. Either goal can be utilized by the teams at any time. This is where
the strategy of the game comes into play. Throwing the ball off the goal without the opposing team catching the
rebound results in a point scored for your team. It is vital to success in this game to have an understanding of the
effect that angles play when throwing the ball off the trampoline goal. This is Mr. Bullard and Mr. Kahle’s
favorite activity and they occasionally participate in the game. If you ever get the chance to play this game we
highly recommend that you give it a try!
PE Department
Our students are currently participating in a Lacrosse/ Team Handball.
Lacrosse is a sport that requires excellent hand-eye coordination,
dexterity, agility and balance. Our PE students always approach this
unit with high energy and enthusiasm. The equipment which we utilize
allows for a very realistic Lacrosse experience. Team handball is a fast
paced game which combines basketball, soccer, and football skills. This
unit will provide our students with an excellent cardio-vascular workout as well as improve hand eye coordination.
After the holiday break our students will participate in a two week rhythmic
movement and dance unit, discovering that rhythmic movement and dance can be a lifelong fitness activity as
well. The students will have fun learning about creative movement and
rhythm. Our 6th and 7th graders will learn several social and cultural line
dances and mixers including the Majestic Slide, the Boot Scootin Boogie,
Cotton-Eyed Joe, and the Wild Wild West. Our 8th graders will be handjiving through the 50’s, twisting through the 60’s, and disco dancing to
the Hustle and the Bus Stop through the
Mrs. Kmiec choreographed a tribute
dance to one of Michael Jackson’s most
popular songs, “Thriller”. This dance will be taught to all three grade levels
and has proven to be a smash with our students. The dance unit continues to
evolve into one of our most popular activities.
We would like to recognize our October and November PE students of the month:
6th Grade:
Alaina Wolan
Josie Sundermeier
Joe Gregory
Nate Jabaay
8th Grade
Taylor Fuggett
Ashley Borg
Lexi Voss
Nikki Lepkowski
Marcus Bodnar
Dan McGuire
7th Grade
Maeli Sanchez
Koralia Kuruklis
Brayden Rosello
Griffen Drebing
Happy Holidays!
Sincerely the Palos South Physical Education Department,
Roy Bullard
Carolyn Schaver
Robin Kmiec
Tim Kahle
Ivy Zimmerman
Sports Teams
Coached by Mr. Duggan & Ms. Keaty
Boys Volleyball 2014
The boys’ volleyball team has had a great season. They finished the regular season with a record of 6 wins
and 5 losses, putting them in 6th place in the SWIC Conference. The boys impressed all season long with
their growth as players as well as their consistent sportsmanship. Middle Hitter Darren Hall was voted to the
SWIC All-Conference team. The boys are currently in the SWIC playoffs and are hoping to continue their
successful season!
Jared Capuano
Saul Gamboa
Josh Georgio
Jack Guinn
Darren Hall
Mikey Kaufmann
Mike Kazenecki
Mike Kotas
Matt Nunez
Joe O'Gorman
Eddie Oh
Eli Rynkiewicz
Brian Ward