◼ District ◼ Elementary School ◼ High School
Billie Bulletin October 28th, 2013
Common Core = Confusion?
By Emma Boys
This school year, students at Pleasant Hill and students across the state will
experience a new type of grading: proficiency in achieving Common Core
State Standards. 44 other states besides Oregon have implemented this change as well. The
Common Core standards are considered more challenging and designed to prepare
students for college and the workplace.
Pleasant Hill students are confused as to what this might mean for homework and grading.
“What Mrs. Martin started last year was proficiency-based grading--when you
can retake tests below 70%,” said Biology teacher, Dani Tubman. “That was going
to be required for everyone until July 23. Now teachers can only grade assignments
that are linked to standards. Proficiency-based grading makes sense for
math, but for other subjects like AP Biology students should
have an incentive to finish homework. Also, in college
grades on tests are final. I don’t want students going into college
thinking they can retake their tests. That’s why I do a blend [of
assignments and tests].”
Most teachers haven’t had to change their curriculum to incorporate the new requirements.
“Standards have to be part of the grade, and documented in the grading system.
In assessments, [teachers] have to be specific about the standards that are being
assessed,” said Social Studies teacher Erik Hoberg. “So yes, there is more work.
[but] how I’m doing things hasn’t really changed.” Students most likely won’t see a
major change in their grades or workload. “Teachers have always taught standards,”
As for how teachers feel about the Common Core, some are strong supporters.
“I like it,” said Mr. Hoberg. “...They’re skills that students need, and we [as teachers]
have a responsibility to teach them.” Though not a major change for students in the short
term, the Common Core Standards may make a difference as they
move on to college and careers.
Other teachers have mixed feelings but are incorporating the standards in their teaching
High School Sees Many Changes over the Summer
By Maddie Vanis
Over the summer while students were playing in the sun or working at a job PHHS changed its approach on many things.
Our school parking lots configuration has been improved and repainted to help improve traffic flow. But the improvements don’t stop there! New information signs have been put up all around the school to help visitors and students get to where they need to go.
Also, a new fence around the perimeters of the school helps ensure the safety of Pleasant Hill’s students. All students and Visitors are encouraged to enter campus through the main entrance.
This year PHHS has some new faces! Mrs. Saxon and Ms. Ermini teach MS English and HS Science respectively. Teachers and students can also take advantage of our new water fountains! Billies can now refresh at cold water fountains.”I really like the water fountains. They kind of sucked last year.” says Alex McIntyre (10). The bathrooms are newly painted minty green, It’s much nicer with the new sinks and soap dispensers! Even some of the toilets are new! “It’s a lot nicer with the sinks and paint but it would have been great if they put more effort into having locks than covering the writing on the walls.” states Nina Stearns (10).
Pleasant Hill continues to improve socially and academically. This year PHHS has what is called “Common Core,” as well as a new bell schedule on Monday’s and Tuesday’s. If you forget which class to go to on those days, there are bell schedules posted around the school.
Academic Enhancement: Yay or Nay?
By McKenzie Privat
Classes for an hour and a half? Does that seem fun? To some, the answer is absolutely. More notes and study time! While the rest of us walk slowly through the hallways dreading our next period, everyone at Pleasant Hill high school is experiencing the same thing.
7th through 12th graders go to periods two, four, six and advisory/Academic Enhancement Monday, and periods one, three, five, and seven on Tuesday. Some students feel fine about the new system, and some, not so much.
Analisa Ziolkowski (8) says: “ I like Academic Enhancement. You go to a specific class that your teacher tells you you need to go and get caught up on all your assignments. It’s just the right amount of time to get on top of your studies. The other day I was in Mrs. Taylor’s room getting caught up on an assignment that was due the next day. It’s really nice.“
Nicole Michlanski (7) has something else to say: “I’ve only seen Mrs. Duchateau one time and we haven't gotten to a lot. So far it’s just a study hall. I think to have a class JUST to do work is kind of a waste of time. We could do that at home! They give us too much time anyways.” Ashlee Orre (8) agrees: “I don’t like it. All we did last week was play Life because we had nothing else to do. I like the length of time in the other classes but I just don’t like doing nothing for one and a half hours.”
Now that we’ve heard from some of the middle schoolers, let’s get some views from the upperclassmen. Lincoln Casarez (12) says: “I don’t like it. We do nothing for an hour and a half. I think we should sign up in the morning for the class we’re going to do at the end of the day, that way we can just do attendance when we get there to make sure everyone’s in the right class.”
Alessandra Ziolkowski (10) agrees: “Of course, I’d rather be singing. I think it’s a good thing and nice to catch up on stuff we may be behind in but it really is a long time. Maybe a longer break or another lunch since ours is so darn early in the day.”
Helen Temple (10) says something else: “I think it’s nice because I get all my homework done and it gives me a chance to make up tests.”
Gabrielle Johnson (9) says: “ I think it’s good if you’re having troubles with a certain class so that you can go get help during that time or just do your homework.” There you have it. Some students like the new Academic Enhancement and some feel otherwise. Now that they’ve stated their opinions, what’s yours?
Saxon boosts the English Department
By Tabitha Adams and Sarah Bennett
Mrs.Saxon loves Legolas but she loves Smaug even more. Now Mrs. Saxon is at the high school and she loves being here more than ever. Mrs.Saxon is one of the new teachers at the high school this year, but she’s not new to the school district. She has been teaching 6th grade for the past three years. Before that she taught 8th grade english for a couple of years here at the middle school.
Mrs.Saxon teaches an English class for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.She also teaches 7th grade academy classes and publications. We asked her why she is a teacher. She said “I like working with young people, they keep me young, and they appreciate my jokes”. Her favorite subject to teach would be eighth grade economics.
She is married and has four kids that are grown up. Her children's names are Jessica, Desserae, Mary, and George. she goes camping with her kids occasionally, taking Legolas with them. she likes to scare other campers. When she was in high school, her favorite subject was history. “ I loved the teacher, Mr.Hebert” she said.
Science and Soccer Get a Lift
By Briannon Barrett
“You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” Ms. Stacey Ermini finds this quote a favorite and fit for her role as PHHS’s newest teacher. Ms. Ermini is a new addition to the staff here at Pleasant Hill High school. She teaches PE, Ecology, coaches soccer and will be teaching Health next semester. She had a fabulous High School career and wants to help others have the same through her teaching and coaching.
Ms. Ermini grew up in Springfield, Oregon. She attended Willamette High School, and student-taught there after college. She played soccer in high school, college and played semi-professionally for Portland. She was inspired to play when she met the 1999 US women’s national soccer team. Ms. Ermini still plays soccer and Basketball. She is also the assistant girl’s soccer coach. Ms. Ermini loves Reese’s peanut butter cups, Pluto, pizza, her dog Lucy, the ducks, and shopping at the Nike! Her favorite band is The Dave Matthew’s Band and her favorite song by them is “Lie in our graves.” She really loves the book “The Gifts” by Jimmy V. “Dumb and Dumber” is one movie that Ms. Ermini enjoys along with a “League of their Own” and “Fried green tomatoes”. She cries along with the best of us when animals die in films. She also says that “Ryan Gosling is HOT!” Ms. Ermini might seem like a tough drill sergeant, in class, but in reality she has a lot in common with the students and the community. She has the enthusiasm to bring out our best!
Erickson has taught it all
By Clay Burns Ambrose
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not teaching or grading papers?
I like to ride my bike, walk along the Willamette, golf, swim, attend sporting
events and take care of my “grand-puppy”, Baxter.
Was teaching science your original
plan when you started college? Or did your plans change throughout? If so,
what was the original plan?
No, I was planning attend Montana State and become a Geologist, but I got
involved in gymnastics, and instead attended Eastern Montana College. I made
the gymnastics team, competed for EMC and changed my major to teaching. I was
always interested in the sciences, so I became a science teacher.
Is there a certain class(senior, junior, sophomore, freshman) that you prefer to teach?
No, during my career, I’ve taught grade 5 through high school. Each age
level has its own challenges and rewards.
I have enjoyed teaching high school students. I get to see students grow up and
change into young adults who start to think about their future beyond high school.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in your classroom/in the science fair?
Too many to name, but one time an 8th grade class at O’Hara Catholic School
gave me a tarantula for Christmas and I named him Tyrone.
Did you play any high school sports?
I was in football, basketball and track.
Do you have any hobbies?
I like to go into the metal shop and work on projects and I enjoy working in
my yard on various projects.
What interested you to teach science? Have you always been fin if it?
I lived in the country and spent a lot of time hiking around collecting things
and watching critters large and small. I had all of the Little Golden science books
and read them cover to cover and used the books to identify things I collected.
What’s your favorite Singer/band?
All. I like a lot of different types of music....from the songs of my youth, to
some of the modern groups. There are so many new groups, it’s hard to keep up with
all of the new music, but then I don’t really listen to the radio enough to keep track.
How long have you been a teacher at Pleasant Hill High School?
I think it’s been 22 years, Mr Meinzen and I were hired at the same time.
Have you ever taught anything besides science and metals?
I’ve taught Health, Computers, Geography, PE, JH Wood Shop, Math...I think
that covers it.
What are some things that students do not know about you but would find in
When I was in college, I did some rock climbing. I also started sky diving,
but ran out of money and eventually decided it wasn’t something I wanted to do
By Sierra Johnson
Why do leaves change color during autumn and not any other season?
The "green" leaves you see are actually colored with at least four pigments:
green chlorophyll, yellow xanthophyll, and red antho-cyanin. These molecules are not
stable below a certain temperature. When the temperature first gets close to freezing,
the green chlorophyll chloroplasts die, and that color disappears, leaving only the yel-
low and a bit of red still to color the leaf.
The yellow xanthophyll is more able to tolerate cold than chlorophyll, but still, it too
will die, if it gets cold enough, leaving only the hardy red anthocyanins. A "hard frost"
will bring out the red leaves as the only pigment left. After the really cold weath-
er sets in, all you have are brown, on any leaves still hanging on the tree. Most have
fallen off, because it takes less energy for the tree to make new leaves in the spring
than preserve those already on the tree.
Ms. Tubman can show you how to do an experiment in class that will separate these
pigments into individual bands of color on a paper strip.
Why are the dead, or skeletons, portrayed as scary in our culture, while in other cul-
tures, they are celebrated? e.g. Dia de Los Muertos
The sight of a skeleton reminds us all that we too, one day, will die, be buried,
and leave only the hard skeleton behind.
When the Spanish got to Mexico, they found a culture that used death as a way
to consecrate their temples, at one point killing 26,000 of their neighbors just for
one pyramid alone. The new religion of the Spaniards adapted, bringing in some of
the customs of the new converts, and associating familiar figures from the Nahuatl
religion to become identifi ed with saints already in the new religion. The Celts had
their New Year on October 31st, and the barrier between the living and the dead
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