Phoenix Flyer #5, October 14

Good afternoon, Phoenix Families!

I hope you have had a fabulous long weekend.  It’s hard to believe that we have completed the first six weeks of school here at Dorothy Hamm.  Time flies when you are having fun!  There has been a lot going on – and the pace isn’t slowing down.  Take a look:

teacher eating donutExtended Day Doughnut Challenge: Who says staff can’t have fun??? On Friday, October 10, right after school, 14 staff members accepted the Extended Day doughnut challenge…Who can eat a doughnut, hanging by a string from the ceiling, the quickest?  This was a fun team-building event for our Extended Day students as they raced to eat the huge doughnuts  – and totally an issue of stamina for staff. Thanks Mr. Ellis and his staff for sponsoring this event.



Hamm dedication ceremonyDedication: On October 4, DHMS and APS Staff and Families welcomed Carmela Hamm and Bernard Hamm, two of the children of Dorothy Hamm, as well as other distinguished guests, to cut the ribbon for the official dedication and open house for this newest middle school in Arlington Public Schools. It was a privilege to hear Carmela speak about her mother and how humbled she would be by the school being named in her honor. Saundra Green, Stratford Jr. High alumna and community member spoke, as well as Interim Superintendent, Cintia Johnson, School Board Chair, Tannia Talento, and Katie Cristol from the Arlington County Board.

Interim Reports: All communication regarding student achievement and academic progress, including interim reports at mid-quarter and report cards at the end of each quarter, will be provided to parents and guardians electronically, via ParentVue.  The interim report is a snapshot of your youngster’s grades as of October 9. This change comes from an effort to streamline and improve school-to-home communications at the district level. It is recommended that parents and/or guardians log on to ParentVUE to review their student’s most current grades regularly to have the most up-to-date information.

Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences: Please join us on Thursday, October 24th from 4:30p.m.- 7:30p.m. or Friday, October 25th from 7:30a.m.- 11:30a.m. for Fall Conferences. Please contact your child’s TA teacher if you still need to set up your student-led conference time. Your Phoenix student is expected to attend the conference.

The goal of this first conference is for the Parent/Student/TA Teacher team to get to know each other and hear from the student about academic progress and goals.  The TA teacher will provide information from the team about student’s academic progress, and parents are asked to come with two “glows” (strengths of your child) and two “grows” (areas that you would like to see grow) for this year. We look forward to seeing you then! 

Setting Expectations: Transitioning in to a new grade level is not easy!  Asking students to move in to a new school adds a level of stress and complexity to an already challenging time in life. Our students have accepted these changes readily, and they are demonstrating the resilience that we know is important for their success.

The last few weeks staff has been working with eighth grade in particular, and will work with 7th and 6th grades in the next two weeks, to clearly define and clarify the DHMS Phoenix Pride Expectations. We are focused on clear and simple guidelines and supporting students in making good decisions and learning from their mistakes. Students are expected to:

  • Respect Themselves
  • Respect Others
  • Respect Our Shared Environments

Eighth grade students clarified what behavior might look like for those expectations in our classrooms, in our cafeteria and shared spaces, and in the community.  Logical consequences for not following these guidelines were also discussed with students (loss of privilege; clean up/fix up; or space/time to refocus); our goal is to help students correct their behavior to ensure that all students have a safe and positive learning environment.

Torpedoed book coverAuthor Visits: Our talented teaching team has begun to arrange for unique learning opportunities for students.  Deborah Heiligman will be sharing her newest book Torpedoed with groups of students. Watch for more unique and interesting “lifelong learners” to our school!

Parents/Guardians of Eighth Graders: Dorothy Hamm Middle School will be presenting the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program to all 8th grade students on October 21st or 22nd during their Health & Physical Education classes. This program has been used by many schools across the country and in all APS middle schools.

Our goals in participating in this program are:

  • To help students understand that depression is a treatable illness
  • To help students identify signs and symptoms of depression, suicide and self-injury in themselves and their peers
  • To impress upon students that they can help support themselves or a friend by taking the appropriate steps to get help
  • Teach the ACT (Acknowledge, Care, Tell) Model of support

The program will consist of:

  • A video about depression, the signs of suicide and the steps students should take to access support
  • A brief screening for adolescent depression will be completed by students
  • A brief exit ticket will be completed by students
  • A list of coping strategies will be given to each student following the presentation

Students will be seen by a DHMS Student Services professional if their screening indicates that it is possible or likely that a student has depression or is having suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Parents will be contacted by our Student Services Department if their child indicates suicidal thoughts or needs support regarding depression. Please note that this program DOES NOT diagnose students with depression.

For more information and to access resources about topics covered in this program, please go to the DHMS Student Services webpage.  If you have any questions and/or if you would like to opt your student out of this program, please contact Carrie Schaefer, 8th grade school counselor.

With Gratitude:  It’s important to maintain an attitude of gratitude for the multitudes of people who support Dorothy Hamm Middle School in ensuring that this is an amazing place for students to learn.  This time I’d like to thank:

  • The Phoenix Fundraiser Committee Chairs – Taryn Walpole and Susan Kelly – for their amazing artistry and efforts to fundraise for DHMS! Thank you!
  • Mia Elliott (DHMS Equity and Excellence Coordinator), Cecelia Oetgen (DHMS Bilingual Family Resource Assistant), and all staff members for coordinating and implementing Hispanic Heritage Activities.wings painted on wall
  • Coach Tiffanie Hegerty (DHMS School Resource Officer) for coaching our Soccer teams! Coach Julie Westcott (DHMS PE Teacher) for coaching our Tennis team!  Coach Andrew Vasilakos (DHMS Instructional Assistant) for coaching our Ultimate Frisbee teams!
  • Patricia Carlson (DHMS World Geography Teacher) for sponsoring the Mini-MUN Event for WMS and DHMS students! Over 30 students had a great time grappling with the issue of clean water.
  • Stephanie Japec (DHMS Grade 6/8 Science Teacher) for painting the beautiful Phoenix Wings on the wall across from the cafeteria. Stunning art work – Come try them on!


Ellen Smith
Principal, Dorothy Hamm Middle School