Summer, 2020:

Hello future 7th and 8th graders:
Happy summer! As I’ve done a couple of times already, I wish you a happy, productive and safe summer;  most of you worked very hard in very difficult circumstances this spring, and you deserve some fun in the sun.  (I assume the sun will make an appearance at some point…)
It’s occurred to me, many times, that many of us will not be traveling as much as we normally do in the summer, and a lot of camps and events have been canceled because of the ongoing pandemic. That means some of us will have more free time than we normally do during this part of the year. You have received reading lists from your LA/Lit teachers, and summer math from Mrs. Brumback, and Summer Bingo from our Student Support Team. If, after all of this, you still have too much free time, and you would like to do some science reading, and I hope you would like this, I have the following suggestions:
  1. Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam; it’s an autobiography of poor boys in a mining town in 1950’s Appalachia who design their own rocket. (The author went on to become a NASA Mission Control engineer.)
  2. Physics: Why Matter Matters by  Simon Basher and Dan Green; it’s more interesting than it sounds, and a quick read. (Maybe a little too quick, actually….)
  3. The Martian by Andy Weir; it’s fiction, but a very good example of “hard” science fiction, and one of my favorite books. (It’s better than the movie, which I also like.)
  4. The Story of Science by Joy Hakim; this is a three-book series that covers the entire history of science from Democritus in ancient Greece to quantum gravity theorists in the 2010’s. It’s my very favorite science book of all time, but expensive and massive. It’s lively, full of graphics, and wonderfully clear.
  5. Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger; this is a very accessible story of the first manned mission to orbit the moon. It’s very entertaining, inspiring, and an easy read. (But not too easy.)
  6. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky; I bought this book for the classroom, and someone stole it; that’s how good it is. 
  7. Black Pioneers of Science and Invention by Louis Haber; This is an easy read, but an illuminating one. 
  8. Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson; This book is right up my alley; terrifying and very interesting. It’s written for adults, but it’s not actually that hard to read. 
  9. Analyzing Climate Change by Phillip Steele; this book describes the consequences of climate change, but it also discusses what we can do about it. 
  10. Evolution: The Human Story by Alice Roberts; As some of you know, I think the theory of evolution is one of the best ideas anyone’s ever had. This book discusses what we know about human evolution in a fairly simple, engaging way. 
These reading selections are not required, but I encourage you to check them out. Science is the best subject of all, of course, and reading is one of my favorite alone-time activities, and when you can combine the two, well, that’s pretty much heaven on Earth, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?? 
Enjoy your summer, and see you soon, 

Week of June 8, 2020

Good morning St. Johnnies:

  • The last day of academics in the middle school was last Friday. Report cards will go home on Tuesday.
  • On Tuesday, students need to drop by the flag pole and pick up the contents of their lockers and their report cards, and drop off books belonging to the school. Here’s the schedule:

9:00-9:30: Tice

9:30-10:00 Rzegocki

10:30-11:00 Sullivan

11:00-11:30 Brumback

  • The Student Support Team has created bingo activities for you, one for this week, and one for the summer:


  • There is an all-school mass (online again) at 9:30 on Thursday.
  • The 8th graders graduated yesterday. They finished strong, especially given the really difficult trimester we’ve had, and all of us are proud of them. I will miss you, 8th graders, and wish you all the best as you enter high school in the fall.

Have a nice week,