Delegate Hodges Visits Middlesex Elementary School

March 21, 2017 by

Delegate Keith Hodges spent the better part of Monday, March 20th in classrooms at Middlesex Elementary School. He visited classrooms at every grade level, interacting with students about their learning and responding to questions the students had about the delegate’s position, the laws he’s helped to shepherd, and the way the three branches of government relate to one another.

One group of second graders took a very active role in teaching Del. Hodges the specifics of coding and programming with a unique lesson involving tiny robots called “Ozbots.” He then sat down with the students and put pen to paper and created his own Ozbot track.

Special thanks to Delegate Hodges, not only for his advocacy and support, but for his personal investment and interest in our schools!

St. Patty’s Day Wishes from the School Board

March 17, 2017 by

Members of the MCPS school board handed out green carnations at MES this morning. Carnation sales were a fund-raiser for the MES PTO. Students pre-ordered flowers to be delivered Friday.

Board members Jim Goforth, Elliott Reed and Richard Shores visited classrooms at every grade level.


Happy faces all around this morning!

2017-18 Draft Calendar

March 14, 2017 by

The school board considered a draft 2017-18 school calendar during last night’s school board meeting. The draft was initially developed in consultation with the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee and further considered by the division leadership, instructional team and Administrative Council.

Using a survey, feedback was gathered from the school community with 122 participants responding. That feedback has informed the development of the current draft.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 8.11.24 AM

The board will consider adoption of a final calendar during its regularly scheduled April 3rd meeting and welcomes your comments and suggestions!

MCPS TSA Shines at Regional Level

March 10, 2017 by

On Saturday, March 4th, students from Middlesex High School & St. Clare Walker Middle School participated in the Tidewater TSA Regional Fair held at Benjamin Syms Middle School in Hampton, Virginia. Middle & high school students from around the region competed in more than 30 events based on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) principles & concepts.

Finishing in the top three in their competitions were:



Kenneth Beam – 1st Place, Dragster
Chloe Sabourin – 1st Place, Flight
Sierra Funk – 1st Place, Photo Tech
Sierra Funk – 1st Place, STEM Careers
Sierra Funk & Autumn Ortman – 2nd place, Digital Video Production
Danielle Jones – 2nd place, Dragster
Brooke Daniel – 2nd Place, Essays on Tech
Sierra Funk – 2nd Place, Flight
Sydney Funk – 2nd Place, Music Production
Danielle Jones – 3rd Place, Architectural CAD



Kendall Lucas – 1st place, CAD Foundations
Ella Hodges – 1st place, Dragster
Nicholas Daddario – 1st place, Flight
Kendall Lucas & Thomas Wilson – 1st place, Structural Engineering
Erik Graulich – 2nd place, Flight
Victoria Dunham – Quigley – 2nd place, Prepared Speech
Nicholas Daddario – 2nd place, Dragster
Carter Beam – 2nd place, CAD Foundations
Victoria Dunham – Quigley – 3rd place, CAD Foundations
Carter Beam – 3rd place, Dragster

It is now time to prepare for the Technosphere state competition for Virginia. Technosphere will be held in Hampton Virginia on May 5-7.  Students who placed in the top three in their events at the regional fair will compete against other regional finalists from around the state. TSA members will also get the opportunity to compete in new events that were not available at the regional fair.

The students are hopeful to place at the state competition to be invited to the national event later this year in Orlando, Florida.  Michael Pierce, TSA advisor for MHS, and Matthew Short, TSA advisor for SCW, are proud of the many accomplishments by the students and is encouraged for the future of the Middlesex TSA chapters.

CONGRATULATIONS to all members of the MHS & SCW TSA!!

Congratulation MCPS Odyssey of the Mind!

March 6, 2017 by

MCPS Odyssey of the Mind Teams competed and triumphed in Louisa on Saturday, March 4. Two middle school teams both earned first place distinctions and advance to the state championship held in Northern VA in April! The MES team, with many first year OMers, had a solid showing and came in second place.

The team challenges were:

  • Middlesex Elementary completed the Division 1 problem, “It’s Time Omer” (coached by Stephanie Shelton) 2nd place
  • SCW had the Division 2 problem “It’s time Omer” (Coached by Kathy Ruark) 1st place
  • SCW had division 2 problem “A Superhero Cliffhanger” (Coached by Claire Evans) 1st place

Outstanding work, OM Teams!


MCPS Odyssey of the Mind Teams in Louisa March 4, 2017

The state tournament will be held Saturday, April 1, 2017 at John Champe High School located at 41535 Sacred Mountain St., Aldie, VA 20105.

The Power of Sports

February 14, 2017 by

I believe in the power of sports. I have experienced it first hand.

The value of athletics in schools is significant.  It has a profound impact on individuals, the school, and on the community as a whole.

The importance of sports and athletic opportunities in schools encompasses more than just the benefits of physical activity. Not only does playing sports empower youth, promote higher self-esteem and increase mental alertness, it also motivates students and encourages them to earn better grades, especially in schools where obtaining certain grades is a prerequisite for staying on the team. Other benefits include maintaining an appropriate weight, preventing chronic diseases and learning the skills to continue a healthy lifestyle after graduation.  Learning good sportsmanship pro­vides guidelines that can be generalized to classroom and lifelong achievement.  Partici­pation in challenging sports contests teaches children to tackle classroom challenges and how to function in our competitive society.  Being part of an organized sports program provides an outlet for tension, frustration and stress release, encourages motor skill development and allows for social bonding.  Not only that, participation in extracurricular activities including membership on a sports team is appealing to college recruiters and helps create that highly-sought-after “well-rounded” individual.

The world of sports mirrors how one can play the game of school and life.  Good athletes stay in the game and play their best even when they are losing. They understand that sometimes they will win and sometimes they will lose. Children must learn that winning and losing are both temporary conditions and that they must continue and cannot just give up or quit. Athletes know how to discipline themselves. They practice with grueling regularity striving to achieve their maximum potential and master the necessary skills for their sport. Education, life accomplishments, creative contributions in the arts, sciences, business, and government involve similar perseverance and self-discipline.  Learning how to become a productive team player is also an important life skill especially for children who prefer to be the center of attention.  Offering less athletic program choices rather than more is clearly moving in the wrong direction.

Because of the many benefits of sports, it is imperative we continue to make athletic opportunities in school available to all students. As a parent or a stakeholder in our children’s overall educational experience, it is necessary for us to become involved and express our support for keeping athletic programs thriving and flourishing for years to come!

Homework, Homework, Give Me A Break!

January 10, 2017 by

Boy, and I thought the Presidential Election generated a ton of opinions.

In a given school year, many students spend hours upon hours each night working on assignments. Add to that work, sports and extracurricular activities, and it’s no wonder we have a lot of stressed out students…and parents. It’s a major job in itself trying to create the perfect balance of school, family time, after-school activities, enrichment activities and downtime for our children. Throw-in a couple hours of nightly homework, and you might as well forget about it!

Ask parents how they feel about homework and the response can be immediate and intense. Many parents will sound off passionately, saying there is too much, not enough or the wrong kind.

Some parents feel that their children are stressed out and exhausted by the volume of homework they receive, and parents have become drill sergeants in their own home to get it all done. Spending six to seven hours a day in school is enough. Students are tired after that and need to unwind and engage in nonacademic activities — many of which are just as valuable in creating a well-rounded person as academics can be. Indeed, it is possible for a student’s workload to reach a level that stops being helpful and starts being counterproductive for a students’ personal and academic well-being. If a child is struggling, homework may not be the key to improvement. Students can improve skills during intervention time at the end or beginning of each day that supports the lessons of that day and ensures conceptual understanding before new learning is added.

Other parents say their children aren’t getting enough or any homework at all, and they’ve had to create their own academic activities to keep their children challenged. Some feel that making homework less and less and less is contributing to us being less and less and less competitive worldwide. Also, if children aren’t occupied with homework, they’ll spend more time playing video games and perusing social media neither of which has much educational value and can lead to other issues.

Another group of parents complain that their children’s homework is more busy work than helpful work aimed towards improving academic performance. They are against homework for the sake of homework. They feel unnecessary homework does nothing but waste time for the student who has yet to complete it, for the parent who has to assist with it, as well as for the teacher who has to grade it, giving everyone ‘busy work.’

And then there are those who say the amount of homework is just right. The concept of homework is so ingrained in our culture that people can’t and won’t think about what it might be like if we just stopped making our kids do it!

So what’s a highly functioning 21st century educational system to do?

Hold that thought…just a sec…oh, wait…my kids need me…gotta go…duty calls, but first just one more question…what’s the Pythagorean Theorem again?


Power Hour!

December 12, 2016 by


Did you know that computing is the #1 source of wages in the U.S.? There are more than 500,000 computing jobs open nationwide, but last year only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce. Computer science is foundational for every industry today. Yet most schools don’t teach it. Teachers at Middlesex Elementary School are trying to change that.

On Friday, December 9th,MES students joined in on the largest learning event in history: The Hour of Code, during Computer Science Education Week (December 5-11). More than 100 million students worldwide have already tried an Hour of Code. The hour of code encourages schools to teach the foundational 21st century skills of computer programming to students of all ages. 

Among the classes that participated in the Hour of Code were Ms. Spain’s fourth grade class, Ms. Wright’s fourth grade class and Ms. Reiley’s fifth grade class with Ms. Segall (Media Specialist).  Even Principal Sanders joined in the fun!  Katie Brockel, Coordinator of Gifted Education, facilitated the event and helped teachers learn how to incorporate computer programming in their classrooms.reiley-5th-grade-5

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students,” remarked Superintendent Pete Gretz. “Ms. Brockel’s work with our teachers to integrate hands-on computer science experiences is an invaluable part of our mission. We are incredibly blessed to have her in Middlesex.”

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook  when asked about programming education stated “In fifteen years we will be teaching programming like  we teach reading and writing, and  wondering why we didn’t do it sooner.”

You can learn more about the Hour of Code by going to 


All the World’s a Stage

December 8, 2016 by

selfieMost modern teenagers would recoil at the thought of performing live in front of a audience.

Bright lights, everyone staring at you, no redo, raw emotion…ah, the joy of the theatre!

Next Monday, December 12th at 6pm in the MHS auditorium, students from the MHS Drama Department are poised to amaze and delight us with a dramatic performance of “Selfie” by Bradley Hayward.

Selfie is a “dramedy,” which combines elements of drama and comedy, as it portrays real struggles of high-schoolers everywhere. A teen-age boy, labeled as a delinquent by his peers, goes to extreme trouble trying to prove to people around him they are right. The stage lights shine on a scene, where he is in the hospital recovering from a fight. He feels as if he’s done the right thing but he’s lucky to make it out with his life. A harrowing, heartfelt, genuine story unfolds.

It is exciting to see the MHS Drama Department flourishing under the watchful eye of Mrs. Adrienne Barker. In many schools across the nation, extracurricular activities including drama and art are being phased out due to budget cuts or in some cases perceived lack of interest.

One must not forget that a healthy dose of theatre may be just what the doctor ordered for both the performers as well as the audience. The performance of theatre is a universal cultural phenomenon that exists in every society around the world. It teaches us how to express ourselves more effectively. It develops our ability to communicate our thoughts and feelings to others, improving our relationships and improving the world around us. Theatre teaches us about ourselves. It helps us understand how the human mind works. It helps us to see how the environments in which we live affect who we are and who we will become.

Performance permeates every aspect of our everyday lives. Power relationships are constructed through performances. Understanding how performances unfold around us can help us to recognize and take control of the power dynamics that affect us.

Theatre helps us to develop our creativity. As our education system increasingly puts an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math, we cannot forget the importance of the arts!

Selfie is in its final days of rehearsal, and the students in the drama department are eager to share it with the community. There is no admission charge to attend the December 12th performance, but patrons are encouraged to donate to the MHS Drama Department. There will be refreshments available for purchase in the main lobby, complete with programs and ushers to lead patrons to their seats, another effort toward making this experience an authentic one.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts ~ As You Like It, William Shakespeare

Don’t Be Afraid to Embrace the Change

November 14, 2016 by

We live in a constantly changing world. The pace of change is more rapid than it has ever been. New products and processes are continually available and the rate at which we are exposed to new information is continually increasing. This can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes we are able to shelter our children from so much change, but often not. If it is overwhelming to us, how does it feel to our children? And that is just “normal” everyday change. What about the big unexpected changes?

Less than one week ago, we elected a new president which resulted in many of us contemplating the changes ahead.  Whether it is the start of a new presidency, a new school year or simply a new day, the mere thought of some sort of change, especially a major one, can bring on a flood of emotions:  fear, apprehension and anxiety?  How about changing those into excitement, eagerness and enthusiasm?

According to a growing body of research, children best learn how to cope with change and the ups & downs of life by developing resilience. Along with compassion, resilience is one of the most important qualities parents can teach their children.

And how do children learn resilience? Apparently by watching us adults. Children copy the coping, stress-management and thinking styles of the adults around them. They can sense if adults are anxious or worried and will tend to mimic that.

 “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~Socrates

There are some major benefits to change. Think about how much you grow and learn every time something changes. You discover new insights about different aspects of your life. You learn lessons even from changes that did not lead you to where you wanted to be.

Without change, there would be no improvements.  Changes trigger progress.  Things move forward and develop because of them. One never knows what each change may bring. When you turn from your usual path there will be plenty of different opportunities waiting for you. Changes can bring new choices for happiness and fulfillment.

Remember the movie Groundhog Day? The main character is forced to live the same day over and over. He leads a completely dull, extremely predictable, and uninteresting life. That is how your life would be without changes.

So think of each change as turning a page.  It is about closing one chapter and opening another one.  Changes can bring new beginnings and excitement to your life.

Sometimes, change is exactly what we need…

And remember—if there were no change, there would be no butterflies!

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