May 2013 Archives

Digitial Photography is a very popular elective for our 8th graders. They learn so much about taking pictures, but also on using the effects in PhotoShop to adjust and improve their photography. Two of the projects that they have worked on include, Washington from a Different Angle (see previous post) and A Day in the LIfe of SBMSAs you can tell from the pictures below, our students have an exceptional eye for photography.

veit.jpgAlyssa V.        Thumbnail image for nguyen.jpg           Alex N.                                     

Fortier.jpgConnor F.

Thumbnail image for Johnson.jpg                                Colton J. 

donnell.jpgEmily D.                 Dylan O. Thumbnail image for OBrien.jpg                                                                                                       

Hornyak.jpgChris H.               Abilgail R. Thumbnail image for AbigailR.jpg                                                                                 

cary.jpgBecky C.

Digitial Photography is a very popular elective for our 8th graders. They learn so much about taking pictures, but also on using the effects in PhotoShop to adjust and improve their photography. Two of the projects that they have worked on include, Washington from a Different Angle and A Day in the LIfe of SBMS (see next post)As you can tell from the pictures below, our students have an exceptional eye for photography.

Steven A. Washington.jpgSteven A.

Rebecca Paldino Vietnam.jpg                                                               Rebecca P.

Rachel Berger.jpgRachel B. 


Nahshon T.                     MaryKate B.MaryKate Bailey.jpgThumbnail image for Nahshon Taylor.jpg


Abigail R.jpgAbigail R.                Colin S.Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Colin Smith.jpg

Joe Jurik Elenor Roosevelt.jpgJoe J.                      Jamie L.Jamie Lennon.jpg

Encore Choices for 2013-2014

Dear Stone Bridge Parents,

We are beginning to plan student schedules for the 2013-2014 school year. This year has really flown by! Today, we met with students to explain the "Encore" choices that they have in each grade level.

Encore courses are also known as "specials." Encore courses include exploratory classes (prescribed) and electives (student choice). Exploratory classes offer students a range of opportunities or experiences that they may want to pursue in the future. Elective classes give students the opportunity to choose based on interest and desire to advance their understanding and skills in a particular content area. Each grade level has different choices. For example, in 5th grade there are more exploratory classes with fewer elective choices. In 8th grade, there are more elective choices rather than exploratory classes for our students.

We ask that you talk with your son/daughter about today's meeting and the handout that your child has brought home (see links above) so that you can discuss his/her preferences for next year. If, after talking with you, those choices have been changed, please have your son/daughter return the form to Mrs. Carrea. Please know that these choices can be adjusted before the end of this school year, so if you have any questions or concerns, please contact Toni Carrea, School Counselor (7th8th grade) at 609-25-7292 ext. 5731 / or Jessica Bryant, School Counselor (5th/6th grade) at 609-259-7292 ext. 5421 /

We will do our best to make sure every student gets their primary choices. At times, however, this may be impossible to do based on the student's schedule.

Again, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

As always, we appreciate your support.

My best,

Mark Guterl



Opportunity for Future 7th Graders!

May 13, 2013

 Imagine exploring 13.7B years of history - from the Big Bang to modernity. Big history tells the complete story - with a goal of revealing common themes and patterns that help students better understand people, civilizations and our place in the universe.  

 Dear Parents of Future 7th Graders,

Next year, the Stone Bridge Middle School is excited to offer an extraordinary opportunity for 7th graders with a strong interest and demonstrated ability in science, reading, writing and social studies. The school will be 1 of 10 middle schools in the world piloting a course known as the Big History Project (BHP).

Funded by the Gates Foundation, the BHP explores 13.7 billion years of history from the Big Bang to present day.  The Project will examine history and science both chronologically and thematically. Students will explore the conditions and events that lead to change - geographically, environmentally, politically, and socially.

The course will require high-level thinking, high-level reading, an abundance of work, and a passion for the subject.  For that reason, we have established criteria for placement into the class, and we are asking students to formally apply. 

All interested students should submit a letter to me by June 20th answering the question, "Why do I want to be a part of the Big History Project?" In addition, we will review the following performance indicators:

  • Final average in language arts
  • Final average in social studies
  • Final average in science

The attached rubric outlines (BHPrubric.pdf) how these performance indicators will be measured. Additionally, the letter will be assessed based on the NJ Holistic Scoring Rubric (NJ Holistic Scoring Rubric.pdf).

For this pilot, we are limited to one section of students. We will send notification through the mail no later than July 31, 2013. Please note that this class will take the place of our current social studies course, which covers the truly interesting time period in American history from Reconstruction through World War II. Students selected for the Big History Project will still meet all state standards and will be appropriately prepared for 8th grade and beyond.

Mr. Scaturo, who will be teaching the course, will be meeting with all 6th graders to share this opportunity and explain the Big History Project the week of May 13thAdditionally, on the Tuesday evening, May 21st at 6:00 p.m. in our library/media center to help further your understanding of the Big History Project. You are not required to attend this presentation, if you are interested in having your son/daughter apply.

 If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.  You can also learn more about the Big History Project by visiting the following site:

 I look forward to exploring Big History with our 7th graders!

 My best,

 Mark Guterl



The power of middle school debate

GUEST COLUMN your turn 

Middle school is a challenging time. It is a time of intense, yet often confusing feelings. Children are eager to grow up, but no one is letting them. They yearn to be cared for, yet scream that they can do it by themselves. Parents are often at a loss, not knowing how to let go and still protect. Every day is a challenge!

There are daily decisions to be made about clothes, academics, food, homework, clubs, sports and friends. Making the right choice can seem impossible. The wrong decision can make for unpleasant days. Educators and parents spend much time trying to teach students the difference between right and wrong, to stand up for what is right, and to make the right choices. How can this get accomplished?

Debate empowers children and gives them a safe place to practice and extend that power. Students of debate learn many skills before and during the debates.

Debate students tackle each topic and own it. They find facts to defend and knock down both sides of an argument. They look for evidence to support their points. They read articles and keep looking to find just one more fact to support their point. They work with their team to organize their plan of attack and how to defend their side. Debate students are diligent.

Getting up to speak in front of others is terrifying for many people. Debate students not only get up in front of others, they passionately argue for or against a point. They allow their opponents to question a statement, answer it and continue on with their thoughts. In a formal debate, they do not know what side they are arguing for until 20 minutes before they actually debate. Debate students are brave.

NATO should withdraw from Afghanistan. The United States should not send humans into space. The European Union should drop the Euro. The United States should establish a living wage for all. The Electoral College should not be abolished. Many adults know little about these topics. The Internet is filled with misinformation and opinions. The information presented on television is sometimes biased. Debate students read and read and read to understand each topic. They talk and talk and talk to understand each topic. Debate students are smart.

Every argument has two sides and creates clash. People often feel strongly for one side and have a difficult time seeing the other side. To win an argument, one has to understand it, analyze it and evaluate it. None of this can be done without listening to the other side. Often in a debate something is said that can be turned around and used against the person. Debate students are good listeners.

Extracurricular activities are an integral part of the middle school. Sports, band and theater draw hundreds of students each year. Those students who like to question, discuss and discover the world will find a home in debate.

Researching topics for each tournament requires a large commitment of time. Preparing for each debate is equivalent to writing a full-fledged research paper. Competitive debate students prepare for 25 topics each school year. Debate students are highly motivated.

In kindergarten, everyone is encouraged to share and get along. As students get older, individual achievement is respected. Debate students work to improve on both individual and team performance skills.

Teammates lead, support and depend on each other. Congratulating the winners or consoling the losers is expected at every debate. Debate students are team players.

The world is connected with the touch of a button or screen. People are friends with citizens of many countries and cultures.

Debate students learn to look at problems from a global perspective. They search for information across borders to define their points. They use the experiences of people and nations to support their assertions. They understand the impact events have on the world. Debate students are globally connected.

People have been debating since the start of time. Without discussions that challenge the status quo, change does not happen. Without the facts to support the ideas of change, ideas are not taken seriously. Without the skills to listen, compromise cannot be met. Without debate, ideas are not shared and nothing changes. Debate students are important.

Debate is important in middle school because it gives students the tools to argue effectively. Debate creates students who are diligent, brave, smart and good listeners. They are highly motivated team players, who are globally connected, and on a course to change the world. I have watched these simple skills change lives. I am lucky to teach and coach middle school debate. I am proud to be part of debate at Stone Bridge Middle School.

Dee Burek is a teacher at Stone Bridge Middle School in Allentown and coaches the school's debate team with Judi Hoffman. Your Turn guest columns about issues of local interest may be submitted via email to Submissions may be edited for length, grammar and content.

May A/B Calendar

May AB.jpg

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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