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Rock the Halls 2022!

By Emily Bigman

June, 2022


On April 22, the JJMS theater was filled to near capacity with friends and family clapping and cheering enthusiastically.  As the house lights went down, the stage lights went up, and a beat bounced off a drum set.  A sea of middle school faces, smiling with joy, stood on risers surrounding a rock band.  Sixth-grader, Megan Venkatraman screamed, “Hit it, Otis!” and the band, she, and the students started performing a rocking rendition of “Walking on Sunshine.”  The crowd went wild! 

This was the opening moments of the culminating concert of the 2022 Rock the Halls Club.  Led by sixth-grade math and science teacher, Mr. Weiss, and KES third-grade teacher, Mr. Jettleson, along with their band, Halfway to Sanity, the Rock the Halls Club has been running this event for years at JJMS.  The club offers to students many opportunities to have the spotlight shined on them. Some kids can do back-up vocals, play instruments, and even to sing lead vocals. Even kids who join the club late are able to jump right in and at least do background vocals.  

But it isn’t just kids who perform. Even teachers performed that beautiful night! Ms. O’Neil and Mr. Grossman bravely performed John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Mr. Amdur (along with seventh-grader, Ainsely Graham) sang the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and Mr. Fritsch sang Elvis Presley’s “Promised Land” all by himself.  

This awesome performance did not come easy - it was hard work. Everyone who performed had to go to practice, and every practice was a late night for them.  Kids who were singers usually got home with dead voices by 9:20, while kids who played instruments had to stay even later. Yet, even though this was hard work, every second of rehearsing was really fun, hanging backstage, chilling with our new friends, and listening to music!  

Eventually, the night of the performance arrived. As a performer, you hear excitement in the crowd. You see the lights come up. The music that you’ve memorized for so long will have to be performed. Butterflies are jumping around inside you. Dreading it, you step up onto the risers…and the beat starts.  

As nerve-racking as that sounds, it was not actually bad. As you start to relax, you decide to make the most of every song, screaming each out as loud as you can. Sixth-grader, Sydney Hattendorf, sang ‘I Lived’ by OneRepublic, along with fellow sixth-graders, Fidella Swana and Susannah Rogers. She remembers about that night: “Before it, I was nervous. But then I couldn’t see anybody [in the audience] so I wasn’t scared, anymore.”  Even if you start out with stage fright, as the lights go down, you can’t see the audience, and that makes it easier.  

Eventually, you start to realize that the whole experience is a lot about getting to be with your friends and having fun for two and a half hours.  Sixth-grader, Charlotte Ball, who sang ‘What I Like About You’ with sixth-graders, Sofia Berisha and Alex Milich, remembers how important the “friends” part of RTH is: “I would tell [kids who are considering joining RTH next year that] it's the best part of the whole year! It’s so fun, and you meet so many new people, and you get to express yourself through music.” 

No matter whom you ask, everyone loved practicing, performing, and having so much fun!  Rock the Halls has been going on for years, and even though it was paused during the pandemic, it now continues to bring cheer and happiness to all the whole middle school community.  So, next year when you are thinking about whether you should join Rock the Halls, consider what eighth-grader Emme Karpf said: “Do it do it do it!! I was a little hesitant at first with all the late-night practices and people I didn't know, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of my eighth-grade year.”    

Kids Need Backpacks Back!

By Anna S.

February, 2022   


Did you know that before 2020, JJMS students had never carried their backpacks around to their classes before?  Ever since the school was built in 1968, students always had to use their lockers to store their notebooks and papers.  

But with COVID-19, because the lockers were so close to each other and the school was trying to practice social distancing, the school did not allow them to use their lockers and had kids carry their backpacks around to their classes instead. Students liked that! 

However, starting this past January, the school started to force students to use their lockers again and not allow them to carry their backpacks around anymore. Unfortunately, this decision was not only bad for kids, but also bad for the Earth! 

Though no one realized it would become a problem, not using backpacks, it turns out, creates more plastic waste. Since COVID-19, the water fountains have been closed out of fear of spreading the virus.  So instead, they made available water coolers around the school that use plastic cups.  But if students did not want to use the plastic cups, they were allowed to carry reusable water bottles.  It was easy to carry their water bottles because their books were tucked away in their backpacks.

Now, without being able to use their backpacks, students must carry their heavy water bottles along with all of their other books.  Trying to manage all of that is difficult, and students may ditch their water bottles and just start using the plastic cups, instead. There are over 600 kids in the middle school, and if most kids use the cooler multiple times throughout the day, then more than 1,000 plastic cups could be used and thrown out per day.   And because most of the plastic cups do not get recycled, that could lead to a thousand more cups a day going to landfills, which is really bad for the Earth and us.

But plastic cups are not the only thing that might wind up in a landfill.  Taking their backpacks away also will lead to more electronic waste getting thrown out.  Without backpacks, there is a greater chance students can drop the things they have to carry from class to class, and that includes our iPads. 

Most kids have a binder that holds papers but is not quite big enough to fit everything, and so many kids are just carrying their iPads outside of their binders.  It is hard for students to carry a lot of loose items, and sometimes some of them can slip and fall, including iPads.  Furthermore, accidents where two kids bump into each other happen all the time in the hallways, and there have been accidents where people’s iPads have fallen.  Sometimes when the iPads falls, it can get severely damaged.  The school will usually replace it for the student, but much of the broken iPad will have to be thrown out. 

In conclusion, although COVID-19 has been difficult, having backpacks had benefited, not only kids, but also the environment.  Backpacks kept both plastic cups and iPads out of landfills.  This is important because the Earth’s health is precarious, and we need to do every little thing we can to save it.   

On a side note, there is another lesson to be learned here, and that is that without this awful pandemic, we would have never known the environmental benefits of backpacks, teaching us that sometimes unfortunate circumstances can help us see good things that we never did before. 

What in the Worldle?

By Redmond M. 

March, 2022

Everyone has heard of Wordle, the new game that is sweeping the nation. But have you heard of WORLD-LE, (as in the World.) Well, if you’re looking for a game to play while you are waiting for the next Wordle, Worldle is a geography game. In this game, you are presented with the outline of a country or territory and have to guess what it is, just by the outline. Your score is measured in kilometers from the country of the day, and every time you make another guess, it tells you how close you are and what direction you need to be moving in. For all of you Geography enthusiasts – or anyone looking for a challenge – check it out!

Here is the website:


Teachers Were Once Middle School Students, Too!

Collected and Edited By Parker Whitney

June, 2021

It’s hard to be a middle schooler.  There’s homework stress; balancing school, home life, and extra curricular activities; trying to fit in or find your place with your peers; and living up to other people's expectations of you.  Sometimes, we think that adults have no idea what we are going through.  But, when we think about it, they were middle schoolers once, too.   

So, the Purple Press decided to ask teachers to share their middle school photos so that we could see that they really were once just like us. So, take a look and see if one of YOUR teachers submitted a photo.  

Thank you to all of the teachers that contributed.  We hope that by seeing how amazing all of you turned out, it will assure us that we will be fine, too.