West Brook Middle School
Be Kind, Be Respectful, Be West Brook!

School News

At West Brook, we appreciate our involved parents and community members. We also enjoy broadcasting our latest news and information here on our News page, where we will chronicle school activities and student achievements and publish announcements. We’ll also offer helpful resources and information. So check back often; we’ll update it regularly.

Philadelphia Trip Packet

Attention, 8th grade students, your Philadelphia trip packet is now available. You will find all the information you need about the trip in the packet. We encourage you to download it at your earliest convenience. 

Honor Roll

Each marking period, all students have the opportunity to attain recognition for either of two levels of academic achievement: high honors (all A's in all subjects), or honors (all A's and up to two B’s.) Please take a moment to check out our list of students who recently made the honor roll. Congratulations students, and keep up the great work!

West Brook Dance Performs Thriller

Students dance to ThrillerThe West Brook Middle School dance classes recently performed their version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Students collaborated with Mrs. Claudine Ranieri to demonstrate fundamental dance moves in sync as well as original "Thriller" choreography. Mrs. Ranieri reminded her students that character embodiment and attitude are vital when they perform this dance. Inspired by "Thriller’s" zombies, ghosts, and werewolves, students improvised their own movements to enhance the classes’ choreography. Yesha Upadhya reflected "My favorite part of dance is that we got to improvise and the song was really fun to dance to. I learned that you need to listen with your eyes, ears, and brain. The thing that surprised me is that dance is very freeing.”

Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video was released in 1983. This was the first music video to tell a story in the form of a short film. It made such an impression that people still perform this zombie dance thirty-five years after it first exploded onto the music scene. 

Great job, West Brook dance students!

Nutrition Advisory Committee Works with Lunch Service

Members of the West Brooks School Nutrition Advisory Committee sits in a cafeteria with representatives from Pomptonian Food ServicesThe West Brook School Nutrition Advisory Committee met with representatives from Pomptonian Food Services to discuss new ideas for school lunches. The committee included student council members, teachers, parents, and administrators. Throughout the meeting, student voices asked clarifying questions about the food services and products. Students were also able to articulate a wish list for food products they would like to see served in the cafeteria. The continued partnership with Pomptonian Food Services allowed West Brook students to practice communication skills. Student representatives for grades 5-8 represented their school and peers as Pomptonian Food Services reviewed nutritional laws that govern all school lunches. Great job and thanks to all who serve on the Advisory Committee for keeping our lunch options current.

    7th Grade Uses Engineering to Build Catapults

    Click to view moreThe students in Mrs. Otterstedt’s 7th grade classes built catapults! After initial baseline data tests, each group modified the catapult to improve distance, height, or accuracy. By using the engineering standards and 21st century skills, the students learned which redesigns improved the model and which modifications did not meet expectations. Thicker rubber bands did not create the same amount of force as expected. Doubling up on the thinner rubber bands increased the tension, in turn, surpassing previous results. Some students added plastic spoons, a longer launch pad, or additional supports. Ultimately, the students competed against each other to win the farthest catapult, highest launch, and most accurate (best out of 10). Throughout the challenge, students collaborated to solve the problem and analyze the data. The students learned not only from their successes, but also when the results did not go as planned.

    Technology and Research

    Recently, Ms. Burke’s seventh grade students worked in cooperative groups to explore testimonies about child labor in the 1800s. Using their Chromebooks, students analyzed differentiated text, posted their thoughts about child labor on Nearpod, and explored further questions they had about the topic using Google Classroom. Students created a 19th century vocabulary word study board with the terms they read in the testimonies. In their exit reflections, students were able to make connections related to today’s child labor situations in other countries.

    click to view more
    Mix It Up With New Friends

    West Brook Middle School counselors are enjoying running Mix It Up at lunch with each grade throughout the month of October. Mix It Up is an international campaign which encourages students to identify, question, and cross social boundaries by meeting new friends! It's a wonderful, easy way to make connections and establish new relationships that can benefit the students lives inside and outside of school.

    Students eat lunch together in the cafeteria
    County Band News

    On October 16 the Music Educators of Bergen County held auditions for the 2018 Bergen County band. The Bergen County band has consistently displayed a high standard of musical excellence and has been an important annual event for many of the county’s outstanding student musicians. Congratulations to the band directors, Mrs. Ahrendt and Ms. Girvan, for their hard work and dedication to the program. The following students from West Brook and East Brook Middle Schools were accepted to play with the 2018 Bergen County middle school band: Tim Holzmann: 1st chair trumpet, Jason Oh: clarinet, and Angelina Leyva: trombone from West Brook; and Janice Park: 1st chair flute, Jonathan Choi: clarinet, and David Lee: clarinet from East Brook.

    East Brook band members pose together with staffBand members pose together with staff
    Eighth Grade Students Explore Text in Language Arts

    Mr. Burr speaks in front of a projector as the students use their laptopsMr. Burr's language arts students used Peardeck (an interactive presentation platform) in eighth grade language arts classes at West Brook Middle School. The objective was to review text structures. Students had the opportunity to draw different "jotting" strategies they could use to better understand specific text structures found in informational texts. We shared the drawings with each other via the class projector. After identifying text structures in different articles, we displayed a class summary of answers. Students debated the correct answers and used textual evidence to defend their positions. Great job, everyone! Please take a moment to view pictures from this activity.

    Students and Staff Demonstrate Kindness

    An act of kindness is worth its weight in gold! West Brook students and staff kicked off the month of October with acts of kindness. There was encouragement given to students and staff to participate in the Lady Gaga challenge. Principal Dr. Spollen-LaRaia and Assistant Principal Larry Calenda encourage kindness through their daily interactions with students and staff each day.

    Four students pose with the Lady Gaga challenge poster
    7th Grade Investigates Paper Towel Brand Quality

    Student moves wet pennies across a tableThe 7th grade students in Mrs. Otterstedt’s classes took on the challenge to determine the best brand of paper towel. Designing and conducting their own experiments, the students tested the paper towels for absorbency, durability, and value. The brands included: Bounty, Brawny, Viva, Stop & Shop, Just the Basics (CVS), Regal (dollar store), Kirkland (Costco), Green2 (made from sugar cane and bamboo grass), Green Forest (made from recycled paper) and Scott. Many students used pennies to test for durability on the wet paper towel. Some brands held only 25 pennies, and other brands held over 200 pennies. Bounty outperformed most brands for absorbency and durability. It tends to be a little bit more expensive, but the students’ analysis shows that it is worth it. Some of the less expensive brands and eco-friendly brands disappointed the students. Many were not very absorbent and ripped easily. Through this activity, the students utilized their STEM skills to design and redesign experiments, analyze data, and draw conclusions that they will share with their parents.