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.



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