St. John Berchmans - Junior High

St John Berchmans' junior high is commited to keeping you informed about what is happening academically and beyond with our students. We will add new content weekly, so look around and see what is happening here.

- The junior high team.

Welcome to this years junior high blog. Every week one of the junior high teachers (Ms. Begley, Mr. Osselaer, Ms. Copre) will publish a short update about what is going on in the junior high (grades 6th, 7th, and 8th). This will include information about academics and advisory. There will also be pages with upcoming news and events and a photo gallery of pictures of all these wonderful things. Enjoy!

Week 24: February 14, 2019


Happy St. Valentine’s Day! This is our last week before the February break aka Spring Break, Part 1. Next week is great time for students to get some much-needed rest but also to use the time to catch up on any late work if necessary. Trimester 2 will wrap up two weeks after we return from the break.

The Junior High participated in STEM Lab Day on Tuesday this week. Thank you to Mrs. Rochelle Brophy for leading us in a day of soft robotics! Ask your child for examples of soft robotics and ideas they have for how they can be used in our every day lives. We spent the day learning about, assembling, and designing uses for motors and plastics. Students even created a soft robot model that was able to grab and pick up objects!

Academic Highlights

During Catholic Schools Week, our Junior High Math classes celebrated Sudoku Day. It was great to combine our new interest in logic puzzles and our well-established love of snacks!

The 6th grade Math class wrapped up our most recent topics this week before the break. They applied all they knew about ratios and proportions to decimals, fractions, and percents. There are so many different ways to write the same quantity using numbers, depending on how we want to express the amount. Students practiced converting between each of these three forms. Ask your child how we remembered which way to move the decimal point when we want to convert to a percent versus when we don’t.

At the same time, the 7th grade Math class has also applied recent knowledge of decimals, fractions, and percents in order to solve specific word problems using proportions and number sentences. Did you know we use percent in several areas of life? The 7th graders know all about using percents to calculate discounts, tax, tip, and commission. They are becoming every day accountants!

Moveover, the 8th grade Math class has finished up our unit on 3D figures in Geometry. Students used their knowledge of flat, 2D shapes and applied them to 3D objects, specifically how to measure surface area and volume. It can be tricky managing surface area when there are so many sides to calculate, so the 8th graders have been sharpening their organizational skills when it comes to recording their measurements.

This trimester, students in Junior High created Math tutorials about various concepts and processes. Please check out their creative and informative videos on YouTube:

Our Junior High Religion classes have also been wrapping up our most recent units. A theme that ran through 6th and 7th grade Religion units was God’s covenants with His people. Even when we turn away from His love, God always shows mercy and works with us to create an agreement moving forward. Please keep the 8th graders in your prayers as they prepare for their journey to Confirmation. Whether they are working towards celebrating this sacrament or learning about this milestone for Catholics, students understand that Confirmation is a renewal of promises made during Baptism.


“If you can’t fly, run;

if you can’t run, walk;

if you can’t walk, crawl;

but by all means keep moving.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Junior High Advisory classes spent time this week to celebrate African-American History month. Over the years, students have learned about towering personas, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman. Students have been working in small groups to research perhaps lesser known but equally prominent figures and their impact on our nation’s growth. Ask your child who their group is learning about this week. We are excited to hear all about these historical figures during upcoming presentations!

Weeks 22-23: February 6, 2019


Thank goodness it is finally getting warmer! Catholic Schools Week just concluded on Tuesday February 5th. The Junior High had great experiences with the festivities from spirit dress days to the pep rally and dodge ball game. Please check out the photos on the blog of some highlights of the week. Next Tuesday (Feb. 12) the Junior High will have a STEM Day, remind your student they can dress down. This is the final week for re enrollment to SJB! Make sure to log into RenWeb; District Code SJB-IL > Apply/Enroll > Enrollment/Re-Enrollment > click here to Open Online Enrollment. You will then see enrollment packets for each of your students who are eligible to re-enroll for the 2019-2020 school year. There is a $150 enrollment fee per family.

Academic Highlights

In 6th Grade Science, the students have been observing how thermal energy is transferred. We observed how hand warmers create exothermic chemical reactions and they will be creating their own thermoses tomorrow to see who can build the best capsule to retain a certain temperature. Parents, ask your 6th grader about how molecules change as states of matter move from solid to liquid to gas.

In 7th Grade Social Studies, the students have begun their unit on the Executive Branch. We today we discussed the multiple roles the President performs in the government and who else works with them in the Executive Branch. We also discussed the State of the Union Speech given last night! Looking ahead, we will be talking about how Presidential elections are conducted and students will simulate a campaign. Parents, ask your 7th grader what some of the special privileges the President receives are.

In 8th Grade Social Studies, the students just finished their unit on WW1. An event that is often overshadowed by the second world war, the students learned how the United States became a global player and the impact they had on their allies and adversaries. Looking forward, we will be discussing how the post war United States creating a booming economy and later a economic depression. Parents, ask your 8th grader how the St. Valentine's Day Massacre was related to Prohibition.


The past two weeks have been a mix and match of various activities between whole group energizers, faith partner activities, and discussions on diversity. Ask your student what the most meaningful part of Catholic Schools Week was for them and how they helped impact the life of someone for the better for the last two weeks.

Week 21: January 24, 2019

Academic Highlights

The 8th graders have begun reading Night by Elie Wiesel. This is an amazing memoir of Elie's experiences during WWII and his time in the concentration camps. The students are learning to annotate the text by reading with a pencil in hand. This allows them to interact directly with the text: by underlining keys ideas, circling unfamiliar terms, and writing questions and predictions directly in the text. I feel this will help them to better connect to and understand the work. If you see your child reading (which you should) make sure he/she has a pencil in hand.

The 7th graders are completing their adverbs unit (Test tomorrow). They should be able to explain the jobs of an adverb, find one, and use one correctly in a sentence. In reading we are focusing on theme within short stories. They read a story called "Amegio Brothers" and created a short video expressing the story's theme. Theme is often confused with topic. Ask your child to explain the difference to you.

The 6th graders are reading several Greek and Roman myths for their mythology unit. This was initially tied to their social studies unit on ancient Greece. We have discussed why the myths were created and how even today (when no one worships the gods of Mt. Olympus) the stories have value and can still help guide moral choices. Ask your child what lessons the gods teach. They are also completing a unit on adverbs with a test on Friday.


Our advisory week has been a hodgepodge. We started the short week by looking at qualities of leaders and thinking about Martin Luther King Jr. We also have done some preparing for next week's Catholic Schools week activities, and some work to come up with new ideas for advisory.

Week 20: January 17, 2019


Yesterday marked the midpoint of Trimester 2. Progress Reports will be e-mailed to families today. During last week's Advisory, the Junior High spent time envisioning how we would like the second half of the year to be. Please discuss with your child their plan to achieve their goals!

Junior High students have been working hard on their Science Fair projects, and we are excited to learn about their experiments next week! Students should be finishing up their papers and projects by Wednesday, January 23.

Academic Highlights

Last month, students in Junior High created Math tutorials about various concepts and processes. Please check out their creative and informative videos on YouTube:

The 6th graders are learning all about ratios in Math. Did you know you use unit rates every time you compare prices at the grocery store? Ask your child what the unit rate on price tags mean. In addition, the 6th graders have been working with ratios and proportions to ensure that a recipe will keep its same flavor, even when it is doubled, triples, or divided by two. Proportions help us maintain the relationships with two things while enlarging or lessening the amounts overall.

Meanwhile, the 7th grade Math class has been strengthening their knowledge of the connections between decimals, fractions, and percents. There are multiple ways to write the same quantity, and as such, several ways to convert numbers to suit our needs. The 7th graders have been practicing how to do this and why we these processes make sense.

The 8th grade Math class has moved from angles to 2D and 3D figures in Geometry. It can be easy just to memorize formulas - as the 8th graders have - but it is also important to understand where the numbers and variables come from. Ask your child about the “magic tricks” for finding areas of a triangle and a trapezoid. They help explain why there is a “1/2” in their formulas! We have also been thinking outside-the-box in calculating areas of irregular shapes. It can be overwhelming figuring out the area of odd shapes, so it is key to create a Math game plan first and organize our thoughts.

Our Junior High Math classes are also learning about Sudoku puzzles. Ask your child how to solve one of these logic games!

During last week's Mass homily, Fr. Paul talked with us about different kinds of seasons, from meteorological seasons to sports seasons. Our Junior High Religion classes have been preparing to move from the Liturgical season of Christmas to Ordinary Time. What color will be used primarily for this new Liturgical season?


“Self-control is a key factor in achieving success. We can’t control everything in life, but we can definitely control ourselves.” ~ Jan McKingley Hilado

Some things may be out of our control, but we can be in charge of what we think and what we do. Junior High Advisory classes this week have focused on self-control. Students admitted it can be easy to blurt out an answer in class or pick up their iPad to play a game or watch a video instead of doing homework. In addition to discussing how to repair situations created by not exhibiting self-control, we have also been thinking of ways to proactively use self-control in the first place. What are some techniques we can use to help us with our self-control?

Week 19: January 10, 2018

Academic Highlights

This week in Junior High Science, the students have been using time to prepare for their science fair projects. Following with the suggested due dates, the students should have finished their experiment over the holiday break. However, there are still two weeks, and more importantly, two weekends to finish their projects. Please remind your student to use their remaining time wisely and to ask Mr. O for help if they need it.

In addition, 6th grade has begun a unit on Ancient Greece. We most recently talked about the importance of the Greek pantheon and how heroes were inspired to do great deeds.

The 7th grade is about to finish their unit on ecosystems in science class. We talked about the importance of having diversity among populations how different organisms interact with one another.

The 8th grade is closing on their unit over genetics. We most recently talked about the impact of GMOs on health and how genetic engineering has both positive and negative impacts.


This week, the junior high advisory focused on the theme of re-energizing. Coming back from the long break, we discussed strategies to keep up our motivation and how to avoid distractions. Parents, ask you junior high student what things they hope to accomplish for the second half of the school year.

Week 18: December 19, 2018

Academic Highlights

The 6th grade finished reading Hatchet and took an exam over the entire novel. They also have a project that they will need to work on over break. (We ran out of time). The project is a creative project inspired by the book. Each student will create a “survival guide” written from Brian’s viewpoint. The project is due Tuesday, January 8th.

The 7th grade finished their adjectives unit, and for those who studied, it was a successful test. In reading, we are still reading The Rag and Bone Shop. We were unable to complete the novel before break, so the students will finish it while we are off. When we return, we will continue our discussion about character and the students will write an essay analyzing one of the main characters. While on break, talk to your child about the novel and the choices and motivations of Jason and Trent.

The 8th grade completed their adverbs unit and their second short story unit. (We did not run out of time). Over break they are tasked with doing independent reading. We will discuss what they read when they return.

All in all it was a very successful 2018 in reading and language arts. I look forward to the time off and the renewed focus we will all bring to January 2019.

ASPIRE and Advisory

The students took the second ASPIRE interim test this week. We took all 4 tests in one day. It was a great success. We will use the results to help better prepare each class for the full Aspire test in April.

Our advisory this week was spent in “fun” contemplation of the holidays. We thought about extreme choices in a game of “would you rather,” and reinforced our grammar parts of speech in a holiday story mad-libs. Ask your child to share the details or make you choose between eating nothing but Christmas cookies or never eating cookies again.

Week 17: December 13, 2018


We are looking forward to the Christmas Concert tonight! SJB’s students have been practicing and singing, all in preparation for this annual holiday performance. Students should be in the Parish Hall (K-8 in the large meeting side) no later than 5:30 pm and will not be dismissed until the end of the concert. Just in hearing the Junior High students rehearse, we know it will be a terrific Christmas Concert!

Academic Highlights

In Math, the 6th graders have fully delved into Algebra. Using all their knowledge about variables, expressions, and opposite operations, they are learning how to solve equations. We began by discussing how we use a scale to measure and how each side must equal the other in order to balance each other. That is just what the equals sign does! Knowing this, the 6th graders have been practicing how to move parts of an equation from one side of the equals sign to the other. Ask your child what the main goal is in solving equations.

Did you know that we use unit rate when we compare prices at the store? The 7th grade Math class has learned all about the various ways we compare numbers, especially those in different units - ratios, rates, unit rates, and proportions. We can even use proportions to help us indirectly measure the height or length of an object. For example, by knowing only the height of a person, their shadow length, and the shadow length of a tree, we can calculate the height of a very tall tree! Ask your child how we use similar triangles and proportion do accomplish this.

It was all about preparing for the Catholic High School entrance exams in 8th grade Math. They were already well-prepared, though we took time in class to review and answer questions to help them be as confident as possible going into the exam. We continue to send the 8th graders good vibes as they apply to high schools! In the meantime, we’ve moved on to topics in Geometry - angle relationships, transversals, and polygons - to get them ready for freshman year Math.

Junior High Religion classes have been preparing for the season of Advent. Did you know that Advent is the beginning of a new Church liturgical year? We have specifically been discussing the symbolism behind the Advent wreath. Lighting the wreath is one of the yearly traditions of the Church. Ask your child what the colors of each candle and the evergreen of the wreath represent.


With the holiday season upon us, the Junior High Advisory classes have been filled with the spirit of empathy and friendship. Although we look forward to celebrating our family traditions, not everyone is able to spend time with their families over the holidays. Our Junior High has been busy creating cheerful and uplifting cards for patients at Rush University Medical Center, who are unable to go home for the holidays or be with their loved ones. We hope our sincere and hopeful messages will also give them encouragement during the holidays.

Week 16: December 5, 2018


Today, the junior high students participated in the sacrament of Reconciliation at school today. Take a moment to talk with your student about the importance of reflecting on our sins. Next week is the Christmas Concert! It will be on Thursday December 13th at 6:00 PM. Students should arrive at the church basement by 5:30 PM to be ready for the performance. On Tuesday December 11th the Junior High will have their next STEM Day with the ability for students to dress down.

Academic Highlights

In 6th Grade Science, the students have been learning about chemical reactions. They have learned how electrons combine to form certain compounds (such as two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom bonding to form water!) We have also identified how to witness and record a chemical change. Moving forward, the students will be witnessing how chemical reactions happen when making S'mores...YUM! We will also be creating our own hand warmers. Parents, ask your 6th grader to give you an example of a real life substance that is formed when two elements combine.

In 7th Grade Science, the students have been discussing how organisms act within an ecosystem. The students diagrammed their own Food Webs to demonstrate how organisms interact with one another as predator and prey, and have built Ecology Pyramids showing how energy is transferred up through an ecosystem. Most recently, the students participated in a high energy lab where they simulated the carrying capacity of a rabbit population. The students observed how competition among organisms affects an ecosystem and how predation keeps an ecosystem in balance. Parents, ask your 7th grader to describe the three types of symbiotic relationships.

In 8th Grade Science, the students have been learning about themselves through the study of genetics. The students have practiced drawing Punnet Squares to see how dominate and recessive alleles interact and form genotypes within DNA. In addition, the students have discovered how genotypes are directly related to our outward appearance, or phenotype, by participating in our human traits lab. The students were able to identify what traits were dominant and which ones were recessive in their own appearances. In Social Studies the students performed marvelously during our Socratic Seminar. I was impressed by the discussion they led and I would encourage all parents to ask their 8th grader about the experience.


This week, we were only able to meet for advisory twice so we decided to dedicate the time to talking about world religions in comparison to the Christmas Holiday. Students were able to share what they learned about from each religion and create crafts related to each religion's winter holiday tradition. Parents, ask your student about something they learned about another religion's holiday traditions.

Week 14 & 15: November 29, 2018

We want to thank all the parents for attending Parent-Teacher Conferences on the 20th. It was wonderful to talk to all of you about your children. We felt the day was a huge success and we thank you for that. We got a little behind at one time, but you helped us get back on track and finish on-time. So, THANK YOU! Please remember that if you are concerned about anything with your child, reach out to us and we can schedule an additional time to meet.

Academic Highlights

We have begun out 2nd trimester. The 8th graders are working on a short story unit focusing on character traits and motivation. They are thinking not only about what a character did or said, but why the author chose that action and what it means to the story. We are currently reading "Flowers for Algernon." It is a great example of how the structure of text is just as helpful in teaching the reader about a character. Ask your child about it. In language arts they are studying the adverb, which can often confuse the best writers, but the 8th graders are working hard to master the differences between good and well. Do you know?

The 7th grade is finishing an epic battle with verbs today. It has been a long unit and has been filled with repeated lessons and reminders, so I am hopeful that the tests today reflect the students hard work. We think verbs are easy; they are just action words, right? Ask your child to tell you about the three different kinds of verbs and the nine verb tenses we studied. In reading we are beginning our first novel The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier It has been a slow start to the unit (verbs took up some extra time), but it is an excellent novel about murder and conscience. I love teaching this novel and asking the kids to think about the motivation of each character.

The 6th graders are at the critical half-way mark of the novel Hatchet. Brian missed the rescue plane, and now has become a "new" Brian. Ask your child what differences have occurred in Brian and if he has really given up hope. We will have another quiz next week, then the final test and project will be ahead for the students. In language arts the 6th grade is learning all about the mighty adjective. The class is doing an outstanding job so far identifying and using them correctly them in sentences. Ask your child to explain why the following sentence is correct, and cannot be switched. "Ella is the oldest sister in her family, while Isabella is the older sister in hers."


This week the students took the time to reflect back on the goals they made at the start of first trimester and discuss if and how they were successful. We also talked about what new goals the students have for the upcoming trimester. The 8th graders also used some of their advisory time to begin the class's annual SJB Christmas ornament. They are looking good and will be available for sale next weekend at Coco and Cookies with Santa, Saturday, 12/8 from 10am to 12:30.

Week 13: November 15, 2018

Academic Highlights

The 6th graders in Math have added more to their fraction repertoire! Building upon their knowledge of addition and subtraction of fractions and mixed numbers, they are now experts at multiplication and division of these types of numbers. These operations may be connected, although the processes for multiplying and dividing is quite different. Ask your child what a “reciprocal” is and how we use them to help us work with fractions.

The 7th grade Math class wrapped up a unit on solving one- and two-step equations. We discussed how the ultimate goal is to isolate the variable in each number sentence. Ask your child how solving equations is similar to unwrapping a gift. This topic will prove to be integral in several units to be covered next year in eighth grade.

Functions are the name of the game in 8th grade Math. Did you know there are multiple ways to name a line? The 8th graders have been studying different ways to analyze linear equations. Ask your child the difference between slope-intercept form and point-slope form.

In completing the 1st Trimester, Junior High Math students have also been working on creating and editing tutorials that explain all they have learned in Math this period. Be on the look-out for their videos coming soon!

Junior High Religion classes also prepared for Adoration last week. This month, they practiced how to use the rosaries they made earlier in order to help them meditate.


Junior High Advisory this week centered around a unit on Digital Citizenship. Technology can be useful in today’s society, but it is also important to know how to utilize it responsibly. With technology already encompassing a good deal of our lives today, our students stepped back to analyze how and why they use their various devices. How many types of devices do they use each day? How much time do they spend on technology for educational purposes? How much of their time on technology is for leisure? What parts of their day does not require technology? Striking a balance between technology and imagination is key!

“Technology is, of course, a double-edged sword. Fire can cook our for but also burn us.”

~ Jason Silva, filmmaker and public speaker

Week 12: November 7, 2018

Academic Highlights

In 6th Grade Social Studies, the students are about to finish their unit on ancient Asia. We have covered the achievements of both Chinese and Indian societies, the geography of both areas, and how trade along the Silk Road was a vital part to the growth of these civilizations. The students had a particularly fun time learning about the different Chinese Philosophies. Most recently, we talked about the differences between Buddhism and Hinduism. Parents, ask your 6th grader what the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is.

In 7th Grade Social Studies, the students have been learning about the period of Westward Expansion in United States History. We have discussed how the United States has acquired land either by force or negotiation. We discussed the pros and cons of the Louisiana Purchase, how the War of 1812 established the United States as world power, and most recently the students completed a simulation of how pioneers crossed the Oregon Trail. Moving forward, the 7th graders will learn about how the United States impacted Native Americans and the result of the Mexican American War. Parents, ask your 7th grader what the term "Manifest Destiny" means.

In 8th Grade Social Studies, the students have been covering the topics of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The students presented different inventions that came about during the time period and explained how they impacted the American economy. We also completed a simulation where the students got to see the difference between working as a craftsmen and an assembly line worker. Most recently, the students have analyzed the struggle between Labor Unions and the owners of corporations, such as the Haymarket Affair in Chicago. Parents, ask your 8th grader how Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller changed the way business was conducted in the United States.


This week, the junior high students have been working with the idea of trustworthiness in advisory. The students have shared their thoughts on what it mean to be a trusted member of the community. Tomorrow, the junior high will be brainstorming what to do when trust is broken in the hopes of rebuilding it. Parents, ask you student why it is hard to earn trust and easy to lose it.

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

― Ernest Hemingway

Week 11: November 1, 2018

Academic Highlights

The 6th grade class has begun reading their first novel, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. It is a great story of survival in the Canadian wilderness. The students will be focusing on the narrative elements conflict, character, and setting to understand plot and resolution. The students will have homework most nights. It might be reading a chapter or an activity around a chapter we read together, but they should have the book home with them each and every night. Ask your 6th grader about it. In language arts the 6th graders will be working on some in class writing skills.

The 7th graders are reading short stories. We are focusing on identifying point of view and individual charater qualities and emotions. We are working in 7th grade on how to develop a text supported answer. This means that students will need to open the story and find specific details and language from the text to answer the question. Many of the 7th graders rely on simple general answers with vague ideas and pronouns. Ask your 7th grader why these answers are insufficient. They are beginning a long unit on verbs in language arts.

The 8th grades are finishing things this week. They read the final chapter in The Outsiders and will take their final test on the novel Monday and begin their project. Now you can finally ask your child what it means when Johnny tells Pony to, "Stay Gold, Pony." They are also finishing their verbs unit and will begin their adjectives unit in language arts.

Advisory this week

Our Advisory this week focused on the ABC's of a good communicator. The students created a "want ad" for a classmate they would want to work with. Some groups were able to create a speech "selling" their ad. Ask your child what his/her group was looking for in a classmate.

Week 10: October 25, 2018


  • Junior High had our first STEM Lab Day, led by Mr. D’Arco, this past Tuesday, October 23. The focus of the day was Radios. Students learned the difference between AM and FM, tracked airplanes, and built ham radios. Ask your child what they may have heard over the radio during STEM Lab!
  • This Friday, October 26, the Junior High will participate in the Holy Fire Retreat at the UIC Pavilion. Students should dress in regular school uniforms but are allowed to wear gym shoes or comfortable shoes. They should also bring a home lunch marked with their name, grade, and number.

We will leave at 8:15 am and return about 3:30 pm. Students will each receive a student Ventra card to use when we take the Blue Line train. Afterwards, students may keep these Ventra cards for future use with reduced fare.

Academic Highlights

The 6th graders in Math have skipped ahead so we can cover fractions. They used concepts that we learned from the previous chapter, such as converting improper fractions and finding LCM, to help us calculate the addition and subtraction of fractions and mixed numbers with like and unlike denominators. Ask your child what “LCM” means!

The 7th grade Math class began this latest chapter by reviewing fraction and mixed number concepts. In addition to the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), they have also discussed the necessity of regrouping mixed numbers. Ask your child how regrouping is related to pizza and pizza slices! Moreover, the 7th graders have conceptualized how dividing is really just multiplying by the reciprocal.

Delving into graphing and linear equations has been the focus for the 8th Grade Math class. We began by learning the parts of a coordinate plane: axes, quadrants, and number lines. Currently, we are discussing various methods of graphing a linear equation: y = mx + b. One method is to chart coordinates that complete the equation. Another way is to utilize the slope and y-intercept to work backwards. Ask your 8th grader what variables represent slope and y-intercept. We will continue building on these concepts in preparation for entrance exams and freshman year of high school.

October is one of the months of Mary, and in honor of the Mother of Jesus, the Junior High Religion classes have been studying the rosary in depth. Each student has even created their own personalized rosary, which will help us reflect throughout the year in class and during Adoration.


“My advice to you is to be true to yourself and everything else will be fine.”

~ Ellen DeGeneres

The focus this week in Junior High Advisory has been admiration. We began on Monday by discovering our similarities that tie us together and differences that make us unique. Then, we utilized the individual experiences each student has had in homeroom to give sound advice to each other’s questions. We will wrap up this unit by recognizing the admirable qualities of each Junior High student.

Week 9: October 17, 2018


  • Junior High STEM Day has been rescheduled to next Tuesday (October 23rd)
  • Holy Fire Field Trip is next week on Friday October 26th

Academic Highlights

In 6th Grade Science, the students are about to finish their unit on environmental science. Most recently, we talked about Earth's position in relationship to the sun and why we experience different seasons on earth. We played a fun review game on their study guide today called "treasure hunt" and the students seemed to get a kick out of it! Their test will be on Friday. Parents, ask your 6th grader if they can tell you all the steps to the Water Cycle.

In 7th Grade Science, the students have been learning on the parts (organelles) of cells and how they function. We have also been covering how cells are classified as either simple or complex and the differences between plant and animal cells. To finish the unit, we will be discussing the special types of cells within humans and how organs are powered by multiple cells. Parents, ask your 7th grader to explain why cells are considered the building blocks of life.

In 8th Grade Science, the students have finished learning about the theory of evolution and Charles Darwin's contributions to biology. The Students will be moving forward to discuss animal adaptations and eventually create their own animals! Parents, ask your 8th grader what survival of the fittest means to them.


This week in Advisory, the junior high has been working on forming team identities and discussing what attributes make up a successful team. We have discussed the importance of respectfully disagreeing with teammates, how to make compromises, and how to inspire those around you. Parents, ask you junior high team if they think it is better to have a team of people who always agree with one another, or to have a team challenge each others ideas.

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

-Vince Lombardi

Week 8: October 11, 2018


  • Our new lunch program does not allow the teachers to cancel lunches when we attend a field trip. That means, if you order lunches for your child, YOU will need to cancel his/her lunch order for Friday, October 26th when we attend the Holy Fire Retreat.

Academic Highlights

The 8th graders have begun reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. We are focusing on the development of the narrator and how he changes through each conflict. This is a popular book (many of you might remember reading it and loving it), and the students are enjoying it. Ask your child to explain what Ponyboy thinks about the sunsets. The 8th graders are studying verbs in language arts. Ask your student what type of verb is in the following sentence and why: "Mary and her sister became overjoyed during the concert."

The 7th graders completed a mock trial as the characters from a teleplay of The Twilight Zone, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street." They examined who the "monsters" where in this story. Ask your student to tell you the story and answer who the monsters really were. The 7th graders are writing their first essay in language arts. It is a comparison essay comparing two animals. We have been working on the organization and structure of the essay. Each student should have completed his/her research and begun the drafting process. Ask your students to share his/her focus/thesis statement.

The 6th graders are continuing to focus on short story elements: plot, conflict, and character. This week we have been focusing on character qualities and how those qualities impact the resolution and conflict. We will soon be discussing character motivation and that impart of the narrative. In language arts the students are studying verb types. Ask your student to explain the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb.

This week has been a short week filled with Interim Aspire testing and high school information day for the 7th and 8th graders, so our advisory time has been lost to these activities

Week 7: October 4, 2018


  • This Wednesday, October 3 marked our first Mid-Trimester of the year. Progress Reports will be e-mailed today to families of students in grades 3 - 8. Please review your child’s grades so far this year, as well as any comments on successes and suggestions for improvement. Create a plan for your child in moving forward this year and finishing 1st Trimester on a strong note.
  • The Junior High will once again participate in the Holy Fire Retreat at the UIC Pavilion on Friday, October 26. We are excited to connect with the larger Church and realize our role within the faith community. Permission slips were sent home this week. Please read through the details, sign, and return to homeroom with your child.

Academic Highlights

The 6th graders in Math are wrapping up our latest chapter on number theory. They have mastered divisibility, which helps us more easily analyze what factors can divide larger numbers. Knowing divisibility will connect us to prime factors and fractions. Ask your child what the difference is between a factor tree and a factor stair. They each have a preference!

The students in 7th grade Math class has also reviewed prime factors and how they relate to fractions. Ask your child the difference between LCM and GCF. We will continue on with fractions and discuss how they relate to decimals. Fractions will play a large role in 7th grade Math, as we will cover converting between fractions, decimals, and percents. Fractions are also significant in helping us work with ratios and proportions.

In 8th grade Math class, we have built upon variables and expressions to move into solving equations and inequalities. Ask your child what the main goal is in solving these number sentences. Equations and inequalities can get tricky when they involve integers, or positive and negative numbers, but the 8th graders have gotten a handle on them. We will use these current concepts and transition into a key part of 8th grade Math: functions and graphing linear equations. These will take up an important part of our year in Math, as it will help our 8th graders prepare for entrance exams and their freshman year in high school.

A main theme in our 6th and 7th Grade Religion classes is Creation. 6th grade is exploring how to relate our faith to the facts that exist in Science. (You can believe in both!) The 7th graders are delving into how creation helps us know more about God and ourselves. In 8th Grade Religion, we are discussing what is involved in making a moral decision and how it affects human dignity and our conscience.


“It’s a very important thing to learn to talk with those you disagree with."

~ Pete Seeger

The focus in Advisory for Junior High continued with the ideas we explored during Dr. McEvoy’s workshops on kind behavior. This week, we discussed difficult situations and disagreements and how to resolve them. Sometimes, we can diffuse them with thoughtful discussion. Other times, we end up agreeing to disagree or finding a middle ground through compromise. In any case, it is important to listen to each other and maintain respect.

Week 6: September 27, 2018

Academic Highlights

In 6th Grade Social Studies, the students have been learning about the various societies and cultures of ancient Africa and the Middle East. Most notably, the students have been comparing and contrasting the development of Mesopotamia and Egypt and have discussed why societies develop near river systems. In addition, the students have been learning about the differences in religious practices between various societies. Parents, ask your 6th grader about the difference between Polytheistic and Monotheistic religions.

In 7th Grade Social Studies, the students just completed their projects on the battles of the American Revolutionary War. Leading up to the projects, we discussed the reasons why the colonists in New England felt that their liberty was under siege from England. We have also been studying the various diverse groups of people who had an impact on colonial life including African American slaves, Native Americans, and women. Parents, ask your 7th grader what is meant by the phrase: "No taxation without representation."

In 8th Grade Social Studies, the students have been going over the events leading up to the Civil War as well as some of the technological advancements that came about in the mid 19th century. In addition, the students completed a primary source analysis of the Gettysburg Address and discussed how President Lincoln has had a lasting impact on United States history. Parents, ask your 8th grader why they believe the Civil War was the bloodiest war in America's history.


This week in advisory, the students focused on the topic of making a sincere apology. Through role-playing and group discussions, the students came up with ideas on how to best give an apology. The lessons focused on four major components of an apology:

1. Take the blame and make no excuses when apologizing.

2. State what you did and how you believe it must have made the other person feel.

3. Describe what course of action you should have taken and what you will do in the future to correct the mistake.

4. Work towards rebuilding the relationship with other person.

In addition, the student also talked about how to accept an apology and foster the concept of repairing rel

Week 5: September 20,2018

Academic Highlights:

This week in reading, the 8th graders have been reading stories with unreliable narrators. We have discussed how the point of view of the narrator can shape a story. We also discussed why an author would want for his reader to disbelieve the narrator. The stories were a little dark, but the class loved reading and discussing them.

The 7th grade story unit is focusing on identifying conflict within the narrative. We are focusing on the two types of conflict (internal and external) and how the characters resolve those problems. The 7th grade is also working on how to develop an evidence based answer. Ask your 7th grader what the definition of "evidence" is when discussing literature.

Today the 6th graders took their first official reading "test." It covers one story and a short list of vocabulary. I have full confidence that their scores will reflect the effort each student has put into reading and discussing this story. The 6th graders are continuing to master the iPads, but many still need to be reminded of the true purpose of the device (their school work). Sit down with your 6th grader and discuss how they use their iPads and have them show you what they are using them for.

Parents, I have a grammar challenge for each of you.

Which sentence is correct? 1. Andrew invited Tom and me to the movies on Friday. 2. Andrew invited Tom and I to the movies on Friday.

Now ask your child to explain which is correct and why.


This week in advisory we have been discussing "mindsets." The students have were given the equation effort = success. We discussed that this equation is true but often has other factors that influence it like interest, perseverance, and even competition. Ask your child which factors they feel are the most important and which can be the most distracting.

Week Four: September 13, 2018


  • Thank you to all the families in attendance during last week’s Parent Workshop focusing on SJB’s behavior rubric. Junior High students also attended their own workshops last Thursday and Friday and now know of various ways to handle difficult situations respectfully and effectively.
  • We will be celebrating the Fall Fest this Saturday, September 15. Come join us for this annual tradition, as well as Family Mass the following day on Sunday, September 16.

Academic Highlights:

Junior High students in 6th grade Math have just about finished our first chapter on decimals. While some of the material is review from previous years, we discussed new lessons and tips to calculate operations more easily. We have also used different number properties to understand how and why we can manipulate numbers to help us solve problems.

7th grade Math has gotten into the swing of things, having covered decimals and integers in our first chapter. Especially when discussing how to perform operations with integers, the 7th graders realized they are capable of accomplishing much more than they may have thought! Also, ask your 7th grader about the metric conversion table and their sentence to help them remember it. They created quite a few clever mnemonic devices!

The 8th grade Math class has been on a roll in learning about variables and expressions. In addition, we have studied examples of how positive and negative signs affect how numbers interact with each other within the four operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It is not always what you may think! This is a precursor for the work we will be doing with linear equations and graphing in preparation for high school entrance exams.

Junior High Religion classes have begun the year exploring the Bible. After learning how to find a specific verse, we discussed how to break it down to find its core meaning. Ask your child about Matthew 5: 13-16 ~ “You are the salt of the earth.” Each student also created personal “salt cubes” that remind them of how each us “season” our families, friend groups, and Church.


"If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually, you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges." ~ Pat Riley

The Junior High used this week’s Advisory to focus on SMART goals. These are goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Students targeted a personal goal they are challenging themselves to achieve in the next 3-4 weeks. In addition, everyone created a plan to help them reach this goal.

Week Three: September 6, 2018


  • We will be starting the student and parent workshops for our behavior rubric today. The students will be attending workshops today and tomorrow and the parent workshop is tonight at 6:00 PM.
  • The Fall Fest this year will be on Saturday September 15th with family mass following on Sunday September 16th.

Academic Highlights:

In 6th Grade Science, the students have completed their first unit on the Scientific Method and measurements under the international system of units. Most the information served as a review for the 6th grade, but it will serve in the long run in preparation for the Science Fair later in the fall as well as class in general. Parents, ask your 6th grader about the steps to the Scientific Method and why an experiment does not end after one test.

In 7th Grade Science, the students have just finished a unit on the rock cycle by completing a lab. The students learned about the three major rock types (Sedimentary, Igneous, and Metamorphic). In Social Studies, the students have been preparing for their map test next week and locating major areas around the globe. Parents, ask your 7th grader how rock types are formed into new ones.

In 8th Grade Science, the students have been learning about the Geologic Timescale and how the Earth's land masses were formed and changed over time. They just completed a lab creating their own timeline, and have discussed how scientist are able to date events in Earth's history. In Social Studies, the students are hard at work with their "Build Your Own Country Projects." Parents, ask your 8th grader to explain what the Law of Superposition is.


This week, in preparation for the behavior workshops, the Junior High students discussed the topic of empathy. We worked together to create a definition of the word using examples in the real world and brainstormed some ideas as to how we can incorporate the idea of empathy in our day to day actions. Parents, discuss with your student as to what ways sympathy and empathy are different from one another.

“Empathy is simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of you’re not alone.” - Brene Brown

Week One and Two: August 30, 2018

We have made it through the beginning of the year. I want to thank all of our parents for coming to the iPad meeting last night. It was a great success, and the students are excited to have their iPads. Have a conversation about how things are working and what their responsibility are.

Academic Highlights:

The 6th grade reading class is slowly getting underway. The students have all received a Storytown textbook and will be reading a series of short stories for the first few months of school. Most lessons will have a vocabulary component where the students focus on understanding the words in context. In language arts we are working on nouns and understanding how to use our iPads as digital notebooks for notes and homework.

The 7th grade spent the first week of reading and language arts looking at a set of four interwoven stories about the first day of school. Then they created an extension story about one of the characters in the text. They were outstanding. It was a wonderful start to the school year. Remind your child that that kind of work and effort is what will make an excellent scholar.

It is wonderful to have the 8th graders again. To watch their growth into leaders of the school is always a joy. While they will often try to distract me to talk about current events, weekend plans, or even watching old iMovies, we have started a short story unit in reading with a focus on conflict and character. This year much of what we read will relate to these ideas and how an author chooses to write his/her story.

All and all we are off to a great start in reading and langauge arts. Hopefully you'll see your students reading every night. I could be a news article, a novel, or a story, but reading makes all the difference.


Last week we spent our advisory time as a whole junior high building community and learned about each other. We came up with slogan's for what makes the junior high great as well as completing some team building activities.

This week we worked with our grade level teams and focused of respect. The students talked about what respect is, how we build respect, and why respect is important. Today in class we came up with same ananlogies about respect and here are a few that stuck out.

Respect is like a street because if you go the wrong way, you'll get hurt. Respect is like an onion because there are many layers. Ask your child what he/she came up with.