January Meeting Recap

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend are January 17th PTO meeting.  We look forward to seeing the “night owls” on Thursday, February 21st at 6pm for the last evening meeting of the school year.  Please help us spread the word to families who would appreciate the evening option!

Below is a recap of the meeting. Full minutes here.

The OFC

At January’s meeting, we shared some exciting news about the O’Hara Foxes Club.  The OFC now has a chair (thank you, Meghann O’Mara Jones) , and has already added a new Spanish after school option that kicks off in February (sorry, all spots full!). If you are interested in leading an after school program, please email Meghann.

The PTO Board would like to thank long-time Chess Club Chair Alice Paviglianiti for dedicating countless hours over the years to inspire and encourage a love of chess in O’Hara students. After many years of championing the Chess Club, Alice is ready to pass the program on to someone else. The chair helps organize the afterschool program. Position responsibilities include overseeing attendance, dismissal, parent communication, and helping set the schedule for future chess sessions.  In the past, chess club has offered three sessions throughout the school year.  Each session is 6 weeks, and meets from 3:30-5:00 pm in the school library.  We would like this to keep this schedule, however we maybe open to other options based on volunteer response.  You do NOT need any chess knowledge to fill this roll.  However, school clearances are required.  Chess master, Bob Willson, will continue as the club’s instructional teacher. Please contact Meghann if you are interested or have any questions about this opportunity. Thank you!

Teacher Stipends and Spending Survey Result

The PTO provided a status of Teacher Stipend funds. $6,000 was approved this year to support our teachers through stipends, and to date we have dispersed almost $1,000. Purchases include lamps for the SMALL Lab, Boogie Board tablets for reading support, a classroom rug for the art department, and a math book for the gifted program.  Teachers have a deadline of April  30 to submit requests for funds.  The PTO also surveyed teachers to determine what they are spending out of pocket and what their most needed items are. You can view the teacher spending survey results here.  The PTO Board is considering ways we can use the results to better guide our support and find ways to keep our teachers stocked with their most needed items.

New Events Coming Soon

Several new events are coming soon – stay tuned for volunteer opportunities and more details:

February 22 – Family Movie Night at O’Hara – more details coming soon for an evening at O’Hara with family and friends!

February 26 – Read Across America Celebration during the Scholastic Book Fair: Many families may remember the Dr. Seuss event at Barnes & Noble led by O’Hara librarian Mrs. Fornari. The Read Across America Celebration will bring that event to O’Hara during the Scholastic Book Fair. Dr. Seuss themed activities will include a tattoo artist, mystery readers, crafts, and other literacy activities. The free event will be held from 6-8 p.m., during which time you can also shop the Scholastic Book Fair!   

May 11 – Garden Sale Pick Up: Plants will be available for sale from a local nursery.  Families will be able to advance order plants for pick up on the Saturday before Mother’s Day.  The PTO intends to use the funds raised for the Courtyard Improvement project.  Plans for developing the courtyard may include raised garden beds and outdoor classroom space, but the District needs to address a drainage issue before the project can move forward. Weather has delayed further attempts until the Spring. 

 

PALS Report

At the next meeting of PALS (Parent Advocates for Learning Support), Kerr School Resource Officer Scott Bailey will join part of the meeting to discuss the training FCASD SROs complete to prepare them to work with all students, specifically those with challenges that may cause a barrier in communication. He will also share information about trainings he offers to parents and children with special needs on how to identify and engage with emergency responders  The meeting is scheduled for January 30th at  9:15am at the Eat ‘n Park at Waterworks. Visit palsinfo.org for details. 

New RAPTOR System

Mrs. Batis provided a brief overview of the changes to volunteer clearances now that the District has adopted the RAPTOR system.  Existing clearances are loaded in the RAPTOR system, but the system checks to see if any offenses or issues have occurred since obtaining clearances that might be a cause for concern. The first time entering the building with the new system takes the longest, so plan to add a few extra minutes on your next visit.

OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Program

Mrs. Batis also provided an update on the OLWEUS bullying prevention program. O’Hara received a Safe Schools grant from Highmark, and our new teachers have now received Olweus training, and teachers will continue to receive training throughout the year.

New Student Advisory Committee

Mrs. Batis announced that a New Student Advisory Committee will begin rolling out soon.  The program is inline with the PTO’s efforts to getting our students more involved, with the ultimate goal of launching a Student Council next year.  The Student Advisory Committee will have two representatives from each homeroom, who will selected randomly from interested kids.  The committee will meet with the principals two times a month during the lunch period to provide input on a variety of topics.

Thank you!!

Mrs. Batis and the PTO Board thanks everyone for their support of the Make a Wish fundraiser and for the generous collection of funds for our staff for the holidays. Your generosity always amazes!

January PTO Meeting Agenda

The O’Hara PTO invites you to join us for our monthly meeting this Thursday, January 17th at 9:15am in the O’Hara Auditorium. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.  This month’s agenda is as follows:

  • PTO Board Report
    • Treasurer’s Report (Kristina Adams)
    • Teacher Stipend Status (Sarah Shaffer)
      • Teacher Survey – most wanted items
    • Vice President’s Report
      • Read Across America Celebration – February 26
      • O’Hara Foxes Club Registrations (Math Pentathlon, Spanish Globetrotters, Lab Ratz)
  • Committee Updates and Volunteer Opportunities
    • Family Movie Night – February 22
    • Garden Sale – April kick off (May 11 Pick Up)
    • Scholastic Book Fair – February 25 to March 1
  • PALS Report (Stacy London)
  • Principal’s Update (Mrs. Batis and Mr. Edwards)
    • Changes to Volunteer Clearances – RAPTOR
    • OLWEUS Update
    • New Student Advisory Committee Roll out
  • District Update (Dr. Constantine)
    • New Pre-K Program

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Drop and Go Movie Night to Benefit Make-A-Wish

O’Hara Elementary and the O’Hara PTO are excited to announce a surprise addition to our December calendar:  A Drop and Go Movie Night to Benefit Make-A-Wish! Caregivers can enjoy a night out to themselves while their FCASD students  in grades K-5 have a pizza dinner and watch the holiday favorite – the Polar Express. Kids are encouraged to wear their PJs (no slippers) for this magic-filled evening at O’Hara.  Event proceeds will be donated to the FCASD fundraiser for Make-A-Wish.

  • When:  Friday, December 14, 6:00 – 8:30pm  (2.5 hours of child care)
  • Where: O’Hara Elementary
  • What:  Pizza dinner followed by a showing of Polar Express (G). Popcorn too!
  • Who:  FCASD Students in Grades K – 5
  • Cost:  $25/family (up to 3 siblings). Includes dinner & popcorn.
  • Advance Registration Required:  Register by 12/12!

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Nominate a Caregiver for Free Admission

Do you know a caregiver who could use a break? Nominate him or her for a complimentary family registration to the PTO’s Drop and Go Movie Night to Benefit Make-A-Wish!  One lucky winner will be selected at random and the $25 fee will be waived! Enter your nomination here by 12/10.

(Note: nominees must have students in grades K-5 enrolled in FCASD, but anyone can make a nomination!).

Volunteer to Chaperone

Volunteers are needed to help set up and chaperone the event. Volunteers must have clearances with a Volunteer Badge on file at O’Hara.  (All spots filled; email sarah@oharapto.org if interested in helping out and attending with your children)

Dollar Days for Make-A-Wish: December 10 – 14

O’Hara will also support the Make-A-Wish fundraiser through a week of “Dollar Days.”  Students are encouraged to bring a $1 donation and dress to show their support for Make-A-Wish. Here’s the schedule for the week of December 10th:

  • Monday, December 10:  School Spirit Day
  • Tuesday, December 11: Crazy Sock Day 
  • Wednesday, December 12:  Hat Day
  • Thursday, December 13:  Wacky Hair Day 
  • Friday, December 14:  Festive Sweater/Shirt Day

Dates To Note-December 2018

Hello O’Hara Families! Be sure to mark your calendars for these December events and dates of note:

  • Saturday, December 1, 2018 (9am-10pm), Barnes and Noble fundraiser at the Waterworks location.  A portion of all purchases will be donated to the O’Hara Elementary PTO, including Starbucks purchases (just make sure to tell your customer service representative that you are there to support O’Hara!). The PTO will also be manning a complimentary gift wrap table from 11am-5pm at this event, staffed by volunteers (you can sign up to participate here), who will also be collecting donations.  Can’t make it to this event? Online purchases made between 12/1 and 12/5 will also benefit the PTO. Just use the Code 12454575 when you check out.
  • Wednesday, December 5, 2018, Author and professional storyteller Christine Petrell Kallevig visit. Kallevig specializes in a technique that blends storytelling and origami, known as “Storigami.” During her visit, she will read several short origami stories and fold giant-sized paper, using the paper to demonstrate the actions of the characters. 
  • Thursday, December 6, 2018 (7pm), Districtwide Festival of Strings Orchestra Concert, FCASD High School Auditorium. Students in grades 4-12 will be performing in a strings orchestra concert. Admission is free for students and seniors, $5 for all others. 
  • December 10-14, 2018, Dollar Days for Make-A-Wish. O’Hara Elementary will support the Make-A-Wish fundraiser through a week of “Dollar Days.”  Students are encouraged to bring a $1 donation and dress to show their support for Make-A-Wish. Here’s the schedule for the week of December 10th:
    • Monday, December 10:  School Spirit Day
    • Tuesday, December 11: Crazy Sock Day 
    • Wednesday, December 12:  Hat Day
    • Thursday, December 13:  Wacky Hair Day 
    • Friday, December 14:  Festive Sweater/Shirt Day
  • Friday, December 14, 2018 (6-8:30pm), O’Hara PTO’s A Night Out to Benefit Make-A-Wish, O’Hara Cafeteria. Caregivers can enjoy a night out to themselves while their FCASD students  in grades K-5 have a pizza dinner and watch the holiday favorite – the Polar Express. Kids are encouraged to wear their PJs (no slippers) for this magic-filled evening at O’Hara.  Event proceeds will be donated to the FCASD fundraiser for Make-A-Wish. Cost:  $25/child ($15 for each additional sibling). Advance Registration Required by 12/12 here. If you want to volunteer, your child can attend for the discounted price of $5. Sign up here. 
  • Thursday, December 20, 2018 (6pm), O’Hara PTO meeting, O’Hara Auditorium. Please RSVP here if you plan on attending this month’s PTO meeting. If RSVPs are low, we may cancel due to the proximity to winter break. 
  • Friday, December 21, 2018, PTO-sponsored school wide assembly featuring the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. 
  • Friday, December 21, 2018 (2:45pm), O’Hara Elementary Winter Class parties. Classrooms will be celebrating the upcoming break with winter-themed activities led by parent volunteers. If you are interested in participating in the winter party, please contact your homeroom representative
  • Monday, December 24, 2018-Tuesday, January 1, 2019, Winter Break. The PTO wishes your family a restful and festive winter break!

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Atia DiGioia Presented Shawn Neville Character Award

IMG_4893O’Hara Elementary 5th grader, Atia DiGioia, was recently presented the PTO’s Shawn Neville Character Award. Atia is the sixth recipient of the award, which honors students who encompass the spirit and character of former O’Hara teacher Shawn Neville.  

Mr. Neville taught 4th grade at O’Hara for nine years and was much loved by students and teachers. When Mr. Neville passed away unexpectedly in September of 2013, the O’Hara PTO collected donations and helped to establish the Shawn Neville Character Award. Each year, the 4th grade teaching team meets to select a student who encompasses the spirit and character of Mr. Neville.

There are three criteria for selection:

  • Respectful – The student is polite and courteous of peers, teachers and adults.
  • Compassion – The student is a good friend, showing loyalty and kindness toward others.
  • Accountability – The student is responsible for his/her actions with respect to school work, individual responsibilities and behavior.

The 4th Grade Team felt Atia DiGioia exhibits each of these qualities/characteristics throughout each and every school day. Teachers say she is respectful, driven, full of integrity and compassionate. 5th Grade Teacher Tracey Planz, who was a close friend of Mr. Neville’s,  presented this year’s award at the 5th Grade Music Program.

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Past recipients include Cooper Danforth (2017-2018), CJ Smith (2016-2017), Jack Stevens (2015-2014), Clay Sauereisen (2014-2013), and Kent Baldauf (2012-2013). Recipients receive $100 and an award certificate commemorating their achievement.  

Please join the PTO in congratulating Atia. We look forward to honoring Mr. Neville’s spirit and the characteristics he championed through the Shawn Neville Character Award for many years to come.

 

November Meeting Recap

The O’Hara PTO welcomed about 40 people to our second morning meeting of the year on November 15th. For those who were unable to attend, a recap is below. The full meeting minutes are located here.

Ms. Frick and her 3rd grade class were also kind enough to give tours of the SMALLLab (Student Multimedia Accelerated Learning Lab) both before and after the meeting. Participants observed students playing a memory matching game with fossils and spinner game using math facts.

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Upcoming Barnes and Noble Fundraiser

O’Hara PTO will be holding its first Barnes and Noble fundraiser at the Waterworks location on 12/1.  A portion of all purchases will be donated to the PTO, including Starbucks purchases (just make sure to tell your customer service representative that you are there to support O’Hara!). The PTO will also be manning a complimentary gift wrap table from 11am-5pm at this event, staffed by volunteers (you can sign up to participate here), who will also be collecting donations.  Can’t make it to this event? Online purchases made between 12/1 and 12/5 will also benefit the PTO. Just use the Code 12454575 when you check out.

Volunteers are Needed for the Library

O’Hara’s new library is now ready for volunteers!  There are two different volunteer opportunities available at this time: 1) shelving books and 2) preparing instructional materials and bulletin boards. Ms. Fornari may also offer an opportunity for volunteers during instructional periods in the future.

Principal’s Update

Mrs. Batis discussed O’Hara Elementary’s student growth and achievement by highlighting our most recent PSSA results.  Our PSSA ELA average show a 3.79 point increase since 2016.  Our PSSA Math average increased 8 points since 2016, and approximately 10 points for both the 4th and 5th grades. 4th grade PSSA in science went up 1.5 points since 2016.

Mrs. Batis also discussed instructional response plans–emphasizing that teachers/administration regularly review several data inputs for each child, including PSSA data, STAR assessments, teacher observations, and teacher feedback. When specific needs are identified, a rigorous and collaborative RTII process is initiated that includes familial involvement. If families have any concerns regarding their child’s school performance–either high or low performance–they are always welcome to reach out for a meeting. Also, parents are always welcome to look through their child’s quarterly STAR assessment results. Just email the teacher for a copy of the parent report.

District Update

FCASD’s new School Safety and Security Coordinator, Officer Joe Kozarian, introduced himself at the meeting. Officer Kozarian lives in the South Hills and is the father of five grown children. He has been with school districts for almost 17 years and is very passionate about school safety.  He notes that the Fox Chapel School District is far ahead of many other districts in terms of school safety. 

Officer Kozarian informed us that there is now a School Resource Officer in each school in the district. He sees these officers as serving several roles: 1) being a law enforcement officer to protect kids and staff against threats, 2) being a guest speaker, who can talk to kids about bus safety, being home alone, bullying, calling 911, internet safety, etc, and 3) being a mentor for kids that need them. These officers are not involved in routine discipline of kids.  Officer Kozarian noted that each officer wears a “dress-down” police uniform (khaki pants and a polo shirt) and wears a belt with a sidearm, handcuffs, flashlight, and an extra magazine. Each school resource officer is a certified police officer, who also undergoes an additional 40-hour training to work in schools.  If you have questions or concerns for Officer Joe Kozarian, his email is joseph_kozarian@fcasd.edu.

Finally, Officer Dennis Lynch introduced himself as O’Hara’s School Resource Officer. For the past four years, he has been a school police officer at the Freeport School District. Before that, he worked for the Penn Hills Police Department. He began volunteering in the Penn Hills School District the day after the Columbine shooting and has been involved in school safety initiatives since then.  He introduced himself to the kids at the beginning of the school year and is now affectionately known as Officer “Fist Bump.”

He described his typical day, noting that he’s regularly walking throughout the building and grounds, checking security cameras, and closely monitoring times when kids are outside, such as pickup, dropoff, and recess. He also spends a fair amount of time building a positive rapport with the kids, especially at lunchtime when he appreciates leftover cookie donations :).  Want to get in touch with Officer Fist Bump? His email is dennis_lynch@fcasd.edu.

Thank you to all those who attended this month’s meeting! Our next meeting is scheduled for December 20th at 6pm. Because we know December evenings can be busy during the holiday season, we are asking that you please RSVP by 12/10 if you plan to attend. If expected attendance is low, we may reschedule or cancel. 

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