Saturday, May 21, 2016

News from Mrs. Graves

Upcoming Events

High School T-Shirt Day for 8th Graders
8th Grade Yearbook Signing Party
8th Grade Promotion Party, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

8th Grade Schlitterbahn Trip, 8:30-5:30 p.m.

Last Day of School - Dismissal 3:30 p.m.
8th Grade Promotion Ceremony, Butler Field House, 10:00 a.m.
7th Grade Award Ceremony, Pin Oak, 1:00 p.m.
6th Grade Award Ceremony, Pin Oak, 2:10 p.m.

8th Grade Activities
Promotion Party
The dance on Monday evening is for 8th graders only.  The party is a Beach Theme and students may dress in "beachy" attire such as hawaiian shirts, shorts or dresses.  No swim suits.  Students are expected to meet the standard requirements of the dress code, including no skirts or dresses more than 2 inches above the knee, and shoulders must be covered.  

Promotion Ceremony
On Wednesday morning, 8th graders will report to Butler Field House no later than 9:15 a.m.  Parents may not be asked to wait to enter until set up is complete. The ceremony will begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. 

Details about all 8th grade activities were included in the blue packet you received two weeks ago.  Please refer to that packet for more specific information.

6th & 7th Grade Award Ceremonies
This year we will be holding the end of year award ceremonies on the last day of school. We would like to give friends and family an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our students.  If you student is receiving an award, you received a post card last week inviting you to attend the ceremony.  The ceremonies will be held on campus.  You are invited to take your student with you after the ceremony if you are in attendance.

Course Selection & Parent Conferences
This week we will not offer any parent conferences.  Our teachers and administration will be highly focused on ensuring a safe and productive week for our students.  If you need to meet with an administrator or a teacher, please feel free to email, and they will schedule something for the first available date after we close school for the year.

FitnessGram Reports
FitnessGram Reports are presently being sent out to you via email.  It is a new system and we are currently working on printing paper copies of these reports for parents that request one.  Coach Fredericks or your child's PE teacher is your contact for FitnessGram Reports.

Parent Survey
If you haven't done so already, please take time to provide feedback to school administration.  We are interested in continuing to improve, but need to hear from you! 

Getting Ready for the New School Year
A Note Regarding School Supplies
Dear Parents,
It is time to order school supplies for 2016-2017. Click on the link and enter our school zip code (77401) and choose Pin Oak Middle School.  Choose your grade and house, check out, and you are done!  All supplies will be delivered to school and ready for pick up at Charger Camp in August.  
If you have any questions please contact Amanda McGee or Laran Harris

A Note Regarding Uniform Preorders
Preorder by filling out a POMS uniform order form, available in the Main Office.  Orders are due by June 9th

We highly encourage preorder so that you have the colors and sizes you want!  Don’t wait until Charger Camp. If paying by cash or check you may drop off your form with money attached at the front office prior to Wednesday, May 25TH.  The office does not take credit cards. 

Uniform Pickup: Charger Camp, Room A101, in August.  Uniforms will also be for sale/exchange at that time.

A Note Regarding Summer Assignments
Just a reminder, the summer reading list is available on this blog, and available on our website.  Students must read A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, and should read a second book of their choice from the list provided.  There are no summer assignment packets.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

News from Mrs. Graves

Thrilled to know that we will exceed 50,000 page views tonight!

Upcoming Events


Algebra Parent Information Meeting, 5:30
Orchestra Concert, 6:30

Athletic Physicals, 3:30 $15
NJHS EOY Party, 3:30 service hours due
Choir & Orchestra Trip to NY

Band Trip to Orlando

Stage Band Auditions, 3:30 P.M.

MS Debate and UIL Academic Competition (Tentatively Scheduled)

Finals Schedule
Final Exams are administered during the long periods each day. Check cluster blogs for information on testing for each core content class and HS credit courses.

8th grade Activities
HS t-shirt Day
Yearbook Signing Party, 1:00
8th grade Dance, 6:00

Schlitterbahn, 8:30 - 5:30 pm

Promotion Ceremony, 10:00 a.m. Butler Field House

Changes In Response to Budget Cuts
As we prepare for the new school year, and a tighter budget, we are making a few organizational changes that will offset the cuts to our budget.  With cuts of almost $300,000, almost 6% of our annual budget, we were forced to consider cutting programs/teachers or increasing our enrollment. I have committed to keeping the many programs we offer for students. Increasing our enrollment requires that we create more class sections to keep from increasing our class sizes.  We have been able to shift our master schedule so that our fine arts, foreign language and physical education teachers offer classes seven of eight periods, instead of six of eight. This creates more sections, and even offers a few new opportunities. We have been able to preserve the common cluster conference period and the common core content department planning.  

To make this work, we are increasing our class length to 90 minutes on Blue and Green days.  We will shorten Advocacy and Team time.  In addition, to meet the requirements of a recent House Bill, we are extending the length of each school day by 5 minutes.  We will be able to offer you a daily class schedule in the coming days, as we are finalizing the schedule with the district transportation department.  

Course Selection Sheets
If you haven't taken a look at your child's course selection sheet, please do so as soon as possible.  We are asking students to return them no later than Tuesday, May 17th.

Annual Parent Survey
I invite you to share feedback with us about your experience at POMS.  We are continuously working to get better and need to hear from you about what works and what we need to improve.  The annual survey will be open for one week.  Please take time to complete this survey on or before Sunday, May 22nd.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

News from Mrs. Graves

Upcoming Events

STAAR Math, grades 6th & 7th, 8th Retest
Extended TEAM Time

STAAR Reading, grades 6th & 7th, 8th Retest
Extended TEAM Time
SDMC Meeting, 3:45 p.m.

STAAR, Science, grade 8th
Extended TEAM Time

STAAR, Social Studies, grade 8th
Extended TEAM Time
Faculty vs Student Doubleheader (Dodgeball & Basketball), 2:00 p.m.
New Cheer Squad Welcome, 2:30
Intramural Basketball, 4:15
PTO Meeting, 6:30 p.m.

Returning Band Member Auditions, During Class
Library Books Due

Choir Rehearsal for NY Trip, 9:30-Noon

Athletic Physicals
On May 18th, our Athletic Department is hosting a physician to complete athletic physicals good for one calendar year.  The cost is only $10, and a portion of that comes back to our athletic department.  Physicals will begin at 3:30 after school, and will continue until all students are seen.

Course Selection for 2016-17
On Wednesday afternoon, students currently in grades 6th and 7th will receive the course selection sheet for next school year. Students will be asked to complete the schedule request with a parent signature no later than Tuesday, May 5/17.

Yellowstone Trip 2016
Each year we work with Bellaire HS to make available to our students a field experience at Yellowstone National Park. Later this week, students currently in grade 7 will receive a packet of information.  This trip will only be available to 8th grade students for the 2016-17 school year, and students who did not attend in 2015 will have priority. Selection will not be first come, first served.  We will evaluate all applications and consider the student's ability to maintain high academic standing while missing the week of school. The trip is expected to be scheduled for October 10-16, 2016.

Faculty vs Student Doubleheader
On Thursday afternoon, after testing concludes, our faculty will suit up to take on our students in a dodgeball game and a basketball game. The student body will be invited to purchase a wristband to attend for $3.  Wristbands will be on sale Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before school and during lunch.

Uniform Preorder
Preorder uniforms by June 9th and pick up in August at Charger Camp.  You mau drop off cash or check with your order form in the front office or in the school store prior to Wednesday, May 25th. If paying by credit card, you must do that in person, at the school store before they close for the school year.  The school store is closed this week, but re-opens Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 5/16-5/18.

Barnes and Noble Book Fair
I got my summer reading, did you?

The book fair continues online until 5/13!  You can still purchase books from the summer reading list and benefit POMS PTO using

Be sure to enter Bookfair ID 11838471 for POMS to receive a donation from your purchase!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

News from Mrs. Graves

Upcoming Events

Advanced Theatre Auditions
Intramural Basketball, 4:15-6:00 p.m.
Dance Company Manager Applications Due

AP Spanish Language Exam
Advanced Theatre Auditions
Intramural Basketball, 4:15-6:00 p.m.
Choir Pop Show, 6:00 p.m.

Algebra EOC
Choir Rehearsal for New York Students, 4:00
ArtFest (Visual Arts and Dance Performances), 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Intramural Basketball, 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Spring Band Concert, 6:30 p.m.

College Shirt Day
Girls' Lacrosse League Tournament

Jr Dance Clinic
Barnes & Noble Book Fair
Girls' Lacrosse League Tournament

Coming Up Next Week
STAAR Testing, 5/9 - 5/12

Teacher of the Year "Fan Favorite"
Each year the District asks the greater community to vote on the "Fan Favorite" for Teacher of the Year.  POMS Teacher of the Year, Ms. Kerri Coffman Fujiwara (7C) is definitely our favorite!  You can help her become "Fan Favorite"  by voting every day until May 6th at

Summer Assignments
This year we are taking a different route to keep your children thinking and engaged over the summer.  Instead of the work packets that have were distributed last summer, we are focusing our efforts (and your child's efforts) on reading.  All POMS students will read two books this summer.  We are providing on All-School book and then allowing students to choose the second book from a list of recommended titles.

When we return in August, students will participate in a full-school book club to discuss A Long Walk to Water, and should expect an assignment related to the second book they read from the list. The summer book list is included at the bottom of this blog post.

Barnes & Noble and Chick-Fil-A 
Events to Support POMS PTO!
Just in time for the release of Rick Riordan's new book series and to purchase books for the summer: the "Spring into Summer Reading" event at Barnes & Noble @ Buffalo Speedway/Holcombe, benefitting POMS PTO! On Saturday, May 7th, the Show Choir and Pegasus Dance Co. & Crew will perform at 11am and 11:45am, respectively. Stop by the cafe for a special "Charger Frappe!" 

In-store Dates: May 2nd – 8th
Online Dates: May 2nd - 13th
Bookfair ID: 11838471

Hungry for lunch?  Chick-fil-A, also at Buffalo Speedway & Holcombe, will be hosting a spirit event from 11am-3pm on that same Saturday (5/7).  

Both businesses will donate 10%-20% of proceeds back to POMS PTO depending on the total sales - be sure to mention Pin Oak MS in store and use the book fair ID online.

Many Thanks
We appreciate that so many of you took the time to send gently used uniforms for our families who flooded.  We have plenty on hand now for anyone who might need some.  Also, a big thank you to the volunteers who helped us sort and distribute the uniforms.

A big thanks to the volunteers who made new student orientation such a big success!

And let's not forget to thank the volunteers who helped to organize Pin Oak Idol! It was an evening I won't soon forget!

POMS Summer Reading 2016


A Long Walk to Water  by: Linda Sue Park   The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way. 


Code Orange  by: Caroline B. Cooney   While conducting research for a school paper on smallpox, Mitty finds an envelope containing 100-year-old smallpox scabs and fears that he has infected himself and all of New York.

Mind Games  by: Jeanne Marie Grunwell   Six middle-school science club members design and carry out an experiment to prove whether or not ESP exists. Told in alternating chapters by each of the six students, this story entertains and informs.

The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker  by: Cynthia DeFelice  While working with the kindly Dr. Beecher, 12-year-old Lucas learns much about the practice of medicine circa 1849, including some macabre and superstitious practices thought to cure tuberculosis.

Fourteenth Goldfish  by: Jennifer Holm    It’s a little strange for 11-year-old Ellie when her mother brings home a boy who looks to be about 13 but dresses like Ellie’s grandfather. But it’s a shocker when Ellie realizes that the kid is her grandfather, a scientist who has suddenly succeeded in reversing the aging process. Now sleeping in their den and newly enrolled in Ellie’s middle school, Grandpa connives with her to sneak into his old lab and swipe what he needs to continue his research. Meanwhile, Ellie comes to admire the grandfather she has barely known, listens to his stories of famous scientists, and discovers her own passion for science. Written in a clean, crisp style, with lively dialogue and wit, this highly accessible novel will find a ready audience. The idea of an adult in a young teen’s body may not be new, but Ellie’s first-person narrative makes good use of the situation’s comic potential, particularly in the fractious, role-reversed relationship between Mom and Grandpa. Along with the comedy, the story has a reflective side, too, as Ellie thinks through issues such as death and immortality and confronts Grandpa with the social consequences of his research. A great choice for book groups and class discussions as well as individual reading.

Chicken Boy  by: Frances O’Roark Dowell    When 12-year-old Tobin raises chickens for extra credit in science class, he finds the discipline needed to complete the project and gains insights that help him deal with the problems in his life.

Breathing Room  by: Marsha Hayles  Tuberculosis still scourged the nation in 1940, and sanatoriums such as the fictional Loon Lake facility in Hayles’ first novel were established to quarantine patients and treat the illness. Shortly after Evelyn arrives there, she tries to put on a brave face, holding back tears. “My head hurt

Peak  by: Roland Smith     A fourteen-year-old boy attempts to be the youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Echo  by: Pam Munoz Ryan    When Otto meets three ethereal sisters, he has no idea that the harmonica they enchant will one day save a life. Decades later, the very same harmonica makes its way to America, and in three sections, Ryan tells the stories of kids whose lives are changed by its music: Friedrich Schmidt, in 1933 Germany, whose father is a Jewish sympathizer; Mike Finnegan, an orphan in Philadelphia in 1935; and Ivy Lopez, living with her parents in California in 1942 while they take care of the farm of a Japanese family who has been sent to an internment camp. The magical harmonica not only helps each of the three discover their inborn musical talents but also gives them the courage to face down adversity and injustice. Though the fairy tale–like prologue and conclusion seem a bit tacked on, Ryan nonetheless builds a heartening constellation of stories around the harmonica, and the ultimate message—that small things can have a powerful destiny—is resoundingly hopeful. Harmonica tabs are included for readers who want to try their hands at the instrument.

One Crazy Summer  by: Rita Williams-Garcia    Eleven-year-old Delphine has only a few fragmented memories of her mother, Cecile, a poet who wrote verses on walls and cereal boxes, played smoky jazz records, and abandoned the family in Brooklyn after giving birth to her third daughter. In the summer of 1968, Delphine’s father decides that seeing Cecile is “something whose time had come,” and Delphine boards a plane with her sisters to Cecile’s home in Oakland. What they find there is far from their California dreams of Disneyland and movie stars. “No one told y’all to come out here,” Cecile says. “No one wants you out here making a mess, stopping my work.” Like the rest of her life, Cecile’s work is a mystery conducted behind the doors of the kitchen that she forbids her daughters to enter. For meals, Cecile sends the girls to a Chinese restaurant or to the local, Black Panther–run community center, where Cecile is known as Sister Inzilla and where the girls begin to attend youth programs. Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion. Set during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant novel shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives; but just as memorable is the finely drawn, universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent’s love.

Inside out and Back Again  by: Thanhha Lai    After her father has been missing in action for nine years during the Vietnam War, 10-year-old Hà flees with her mother and three older brothers. Traveling first by boat, the family reaches a tent city in Guam, moves on to Florida, and is finally connected with sponsors in Alabama, where Hà finds refuge but also cruel rejection, especially from mean classmates. Based on Lai’s personal experience, this first novel captures a child-refugee’s struggle with rare honesty. Written in accessible, short free-verse poems, Hà’s immediate narrative describes her mistakes—both humorous and heartbreaking—with grammar, customs, and dress (she wears a flannel nightgown to school, for example); and readers will be moved by Hà’s sorrow as they recognize the anguish of being the outcast who spends lunchtime hiding in the bathroom. Eventually, Hà does get back at the sneering kids who bully her at school, and she finds help adjusting to her new life from a kind teacher who lost a son in Vietnam. The elemental details of Hà’s struggle dramatize a foreigner’s experience of alienation. And even as she begins to shape a new life, there is no easy comfort: her father is still gone.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World  by: Malala Yousafzi    The young reader’s edition of Malala Yousafzai’s 2013 memoir for adults loses none of its power in its transition to a new audience. At times earnest and somber, at others irreverent and playful, the 17-year-old details her experiences as an advocate for education in Pakistan—especially for women—both before and after she became a target of the Taliban. Although her efforts to attend school, and the subsequent attack she endured, make for a powerful story, Yousafzai writes just as vividly about her daily life as a child in Pakistan. As young readers draw parallels between their own lives and the everyday experiences of Yousafzai and her friends, they’ll gain invaluable perspective on a country so often stigmatized by the media. Yousafzai’s fresh, straightforward voice creates an easily read narrative that will introduce a slew of younger readers to both her story and her mission.

Stella by Starlight  by: Sharon M. Draper    It’s 1932 in segregated Bumblebee, North Carolina, and times are tough for the tiny town. The residents of Stella’s African American neighborhood scrape together what they can to get by, and that spirit of cooperation only grows stronger when Stella and her brother, Jojo, spot a Klan rally close by. Tensions are high, and nearly everyone is frightened, but Stella’s community bands together to lift each other’s spirits and applaud one another’s courage, especially when Stella’s father and a few other men register to vote, undaunted by the cruel and threatening remarks of some white townspeople. Brave Stella, meanwhile, dreams of becoming a journalist and writes down her feelings about the Klan. Inspired by her own grandmother’s childhood, Draper weaves folksy tall tales, traditional storytelling, and hymns throughout Stella’s story, which is punctuated by her ever-more-confident journal entries. This uplifting and nostalgic tale of community and family movingly captures both 10-year-old Stella’s relatable experiences as well as the weighty social issues of the period.

An Elephant in the Garden  by: Michael Morpurgo    Alternating narratives tell the story of a family’s remarkable survival of the Allied bombing of Dresden in 1945. Lizzie’s mother works at the Dresden Zoo, which plans to destroy its largest animals lest they escape during a bombing. Mutti rescues Marlene, an orphan elephant she raised from infancy. Marlene takes to her new family, particularly to Lizzie’s little brother, Karli, and when the bombers arrive, Marlene accompanies them on their trek across Germany, away from the invading Russians and toward the advancing American army. Along the way, they meet a wounded Canadian soldier, who himself becomes an integral part of this makeshift family. Morpurgo frames the story with a contemporary perspective. Lizzie, now an elderly woman in a nursing home, tells her tale to the young son of a nurse who reminds her of her own young brother. The occasional interruptions to the story build suspense and add a layer of resonance to Morpurgo’s poignant and thoughtful exploration of the terrible impact of war on both sides of the fighting.

Touching Spirit Bear  by: Ben Mikaelsen     Cole Matthews, a juvenile delinquent from Minnesota, agrees to enter an Inuit circle justice program to avoid going to jail. The program's main element is a one-year banishment on a remote Alaskan island. Garvey, Cole's probation officer, indicates his trust in Cole by giving him one of his most treasured possessions: a traditional Klinglit blanket called an at.oow. Even with Garvey's trust, however, Cole isn't about to change his angry ways-he plans to escape from the island as soon as possible. Like his father, who beats him, Cole loves to have people fear him and claims to be afraid of nothing, even death. Garvey tells him that he will be afraid if death stares him in the face. With this bit of foreshadowing, Cole meets a huge, white spirit bear who thrashes him within an inch of his life. Luckily, Cole survives and starts the long road back to health.

Breaking Stalin's Nose  by: Eugene Yelchin    Growing up under Stalin, Sasha Zaichik, 10, lives with his widower dad and 48 others in a crowded apartment with one kitchen and one toilet. Sasha’s dream is to be like his father, serving the great leader and working in the State Security secret police. Then his dad is arrested: did a neighbor betray him? At school, Sasha is recruited to report on anticommunist activity. The present-tense narrative is true to the young kid’s naive viewpoint, but the story is for older readers, especially as the shocking revelations reach the climax of what torture can make you confess. Picture-book illustrator Yelchin was raised in post-Stalinist Russia in the 1960s and left the country when he was 27. In his first novel, he uses the child’s innocent viewpoint to dramatize the heartbreaking secrets and lies, and graphite illustrations show the terrifying arrests of enemies of the people, even children, like Sasha’s classmate. In an afterword, Yelchin discusses the history and the brutal regime that affected millions.

Escape Under the Forever Sky  by: Eve Yohalem    Teens itching to read about life on another continent will relish Yohalem’s exciting debut novel set in Africa. Lucy Hoffman’s mom is the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, so Lucy lives and attends high school in the capital city of Addis Ababa. Unfortunately, Lucy’s overprotective mother won’t let her out of the house, which means no game drives or hanging out with her friends at the local ice-cream parlor. Frustrated and resentful, Lucy and a friend sneak out of the house and head into the city. The plot quickens when Lucy is kidnapped and held for ransom. Isolated and without shoes, Lucy plans an escape using her knowledge of the African wilderness. Loosely based on a true story, Yohalem’s tale weaves together the beauty of the African wildlife with the harsh realities of a poor and unstable region. Scenes depicting Lucy’s resourcefulness are riveting, and the author’s descriptions of Ethiopian culture will pique young readers’ curiosity about life abroad.