Phoenix Flyer #26

April 9, 2021

Dear Phoenix Families,

April is Month of the Military Child – as many of you know, I am a proud Army Brat and look back on the many moves that my military family and I made as the most formative experiences for my character and personality.  Similarly, many of our families in the Dorothy Hamm school community move often due to one or both parent’s job requirements.  Students who move often are challenged to adapt to so many new situations; the adjustment can be very difficult.  My thanks to all the DHMS families who serve their country as diplomats and in the military.  We are so glad to have your students here; please let us know how we can best support you.

Change in CDC Guidelines: The CDC has changed the guidelines about distancing (3ft.) with masks and APS is following suit. This allows us to add some students who wish to return to hybrid instruction. If you are interested in changing to Hybrid, please contact the DHMS Main Office and you will be placed on the waitlist.  As space, transportation, and staffing permit, we will add students to classes.

SOL Testing: The Virginia Standards of Learning tests will be given this year in Reading (all grades), Math (all grades), and Science (grade 8 only).

  • All SOL testing will be done in-person at schools in May and June, with safety protocols in place. ​Hybrid students will test on days when they are in school. Full-distance-learning students will be scheduled to test on Mondays, beginning May 10.
  • APS is coordinating transportation for distance-learning students who may need a bus to come to school for SOL testing. ​ We encourage families to provide their own transportation for their child, whenever possible, on the day they are scheduled to take their SOL test(s). 
  • Parents who do not wish for their student to participate in state and/or federally mandated assessments due to COVID-19 concerns, should contact the DHMS Main Office by phone (703-228-2910) to discuss scheduling options or request information on opting out.
  • The Virginia Dept. of Education (VDOE) has provided a remote assessment option for full-time distance learning students in grades 3-8 who, due to the pandemic, are receiving all their instruction remotely and will not go to their school to take the SOL tests.
  • There will be no penalty for students who are not assessed, but parents will need to submit the APS Parent Refusal Form for the appropriate assessment.

Yearbook Sales: Please buy a DHMS Yearbook. The all-student team, coached by Yearbook Teacher Erin Ginnerty, has done an awesome job of documenting this unusual year for our students. Please support our team by Ordering your Yearbook.

Spotlight on staff: This week, National School Assistant Principal Appreciation Week,I want to recognize the awesome DHMS Assistant Principals, Lisa Moore (working with our Sixth Graders) and Laurel Cerrud (working with our Seventh Graders).  These two staff members signed on to the Dorothy Hamm team in the midst of construction chaos, and they haven’t looked back since.  They are both incredibly dedicated to supporting our students and teachers – and I couldn’t ask for better partners in the work!  Please join me in thanking them for all they do.

As well, this week (National Library Week) we honor our Librarian Team of Jenny Shanker and Audrey Tsai.  These two educators are passionate about getting books in the hands of every child.  You will see them regularly on Mondays running the pop-up library down at Rocky Run Park or here at DHMS distributing and collecting books (and smiles).  Thanks Jenny and Audrey – you are so appreciated.

Teacher of the Year: This year APS has decided not to recognize one APS teacher as THE Teacher of the Year.  At Dorothy Hamm Middle School every single staff member has worked tirelessly to design, implement and support learning experiences that are rich, rigorous, and engaging for our students.  It is impossible to identify one who stood out more.  In anticipation of May’s Teacher/Staff Appreciation Celebration, APS is collecting your (or your student’s) personal story about an APS Teacher or support employee who made a difference.  By April 15, please upload any expression of thanks here [link removed].

Parent Chat (in Spanish), Monday, April 12: As we return to school, we continue to be mindful of the many transitions and challenges of this school year. Many of our students are returning to school and getting used to a new protocol and process here. Others are still at home. Either way, we recognize that our students have faced many challenges over this last year and we want to support them. The mental health of our students is important. Monday’s Parent Chat, in Spanish, will feature Heidi Baptista, LCSW who will lead us in a discussion about Depression, Anxiety and Trauma in our children. She will share signs and symptoms and take your questions. Ms. Baptista is a School Social Worker at Washington-Liberty HS and sees patients in a local private practice. Much of her work over the past few years has focused on supporting patients with chronic mental health and trauma concerns. Ms. Baptista is a wonderful resource now and into the future as your children enter high school. Please join us on April 12th at 5pm. This presentation will be replicated in English in early May.

Ellen Smith, Principal, Dorothy Hamm Middle School

Upcoming Events: 

  • Friday, April 9 – last day of Third Quarter
  • Monday, April 12 – No School for Students, Grade Prep Day
  • Monday, April 12 @5:00 PM – Parent Chat (in Spanish)
  • Saturday/Sunday April 24/25 and May 1/2 – DHMS Scavenger Hunt
  • Monday, April 19 – Parent Chat (in English)
  • Monday, April 26 – Parent Chat (in Spanish)
  • Monday, May 3 – pictures for DL students
  • Wednesday, May 5 – In Person Pictures for Tues/Wed
  • Thursday, May 6 – In Person Pictures for Thus/Fri
  • Monday, May 10 – SOL Testing Begins