Principal's Note - Jan 13, 2023

By Margaret Barnes
Principal's Note
January 13, 2023

Good afternoon, Holmes Families!

As a reminder, schools and offices will be closed on Monday, January 16, for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. 

Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. See the complete 2022-23 school year calendar.

We had an exciting week at Holmes this week!  All rising 6th graders (current 5th graders) from our feeder elementary schools visited during the school day for our Electives Extravaganza, and we had Curriculum Night on Thursday evening!  If you missed Curriculum Night, all of the slide decks can be found HERE for your convenience.  Please also feel free to join us at one of our upcoming parent coffees (in-person and online) to learn more about the course selection process for the 2023-24 school year:

  • Tuesday, 1/17, 9-10 am
  • Wednesday, 2/1, 1-2 pm
  • Wednesday, 2/8, 5-6 pm 

2nd Quarter Ending

We have just two short weeks left in 2nd quarter: a 4-day week next week and a 3-day week the following week. Students should be checking in with their teachers to see if there is any work that they need to make up or complete.  

2nd Quarter ending also means that many students will be getting new schedules!  For students who are in semester elective classes, they will have a new elective starting Monday, January 30th.  They may also have PE during a different class period.  More information about those changes coming soon, but students and families should be able to see them in StudentVue and ParentVue.  

We will also have a new round of Math, English, and Science intervention during 3rd quarter. Teachers have identified students who will receive intervention in place of SOAR on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between January 31st and March 16th.  More information will be coming soon to students.  

New Temperature Threshold for Recess

Our students have successfully advocated for me to lower the temperature threshhold for recess, so they were VERY excited this week.  As long as the actual and "feels like" temperature is 35 degrees or higher, there is no rain/snow, and the fields are in good condition, recess will be outside!  Please ensure your students have the appropriate winter gear every day at school (coat, hat, scarf, gloves, etc.).  If you need winter gear for your student, please let us know.  We will be offering a limited indoor recess option for students beginning 3rd quarter. 

FREE Tutoring Service

  • On 1/17 all students will practice using a free tutoring service during SOAR
  • Students have unlimited access to 24/7, on-demand, online tutoring support services through at no cost to families. 
  • Students can connect online any time, any place, and in most K-12 subjects for however long they need.
  • Your child can access through any of their courses on Schoology (see picture below)
  • You can find more information on this website

Family Coffee Recording & Resources: Dealing with Digital Drama

Thank you for joining us in person and virtually for our Family Coffee over Dealing with Digital Drama presented by our Educational Technology Coach, Mel Mollick. In this presentation, we discussed social media balance, handling conflicts that escalate online, modeling difficult conversations with friends, and in-app settings to limit drama. You can access the following resources when you have time. If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback, e-mail Mel Mollick at @email.

  • Recording: Watch it by clicking this link.
  • Slides and Resources: Re-read the information by clicking this link.
  • Tip Sheet & Article: Extra information and guidance in English and Spanish.

Our next Family Coffee will be Friday 2/17/2023 from 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM in the Lecture Hall and Zoom. The topic is Coffee with the Principal- come connect with Ms. Barnes for this town-hall style meeting.

Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) Screener Results 

  • Most Fairfax County Public Schools students complete the SEL screener. This survey offers valuable information about students' SEL skills, relationships, school environment, and well-being.
  • SEL Parent and Guardian letters were mailed via USPS around January 1st containing your child’s results.
  • Please visit this website for a brief overview of what the screener is, how schools use the data, how to understand the scores, as well as tips for discussing the results with your child.

In-Person Open House/Information session on the Global Stem Program at Edison HS - 1/18, 6:00-7:15 pm

Edison High School will host an In-Person Open House/Information session on the Global Stem Program, on Wednesday, January 18th from 6:00-7:15.  The presentation will be from 6-6:45PM with an optional tour of classrooms from 6:45-7:15PM.  More information about Hello High School, Edison’s transition information session will be shared at a later date. 

Talking Points

TalkingPoints is an easy and safe way families can communicate in their home languages with their child’s teachers for free. Teachers and staff will be using this platform to communicate with you about your child’s education and progress.

There are two ways families can use TalkingPoints:

  • School and teacher messages will come directly to the phone number that is registered in our system as a SMS text or through the TalkingPoints Parent App (Download for Apple or Google).
  • You can reply by text or through the app.

 If families prefer to not receive text messages from TalkingPoints, they can reply with "GOODBYE" at any time. To update your contact information on file, please contact Wendy Alfaro:  @email 

Schoology: Holmes Families Reminder

Did you know that if you have a SIS ParentVue account, you ALSO have a Schoology account? It's the same login information on both pages. As families, you have your own course called Holmes Families that we use to post events, updates, and reference materials like SIS guides, family coffee recordings, testing information, etc.  Log in and check it out today! Don't have a SIS account? Contact Wendy Alfaro at @email


Here are today's newsletter topics:

Holmes Updates

  • Student Services Information
  • 2022-23 Blue/White Schedule
  • 2022-23 Bell Schedule
  • After School Schedule Next Week
  • Holmes MS PTA
  • From Ms. Oncho, Our Family Liaison
  • Testing Information & Quarter 2 Testing Windows
  • Important Upcoming Dates
  • How to Stay Connected to Holmes MS

FCPS & Community Updates

  • Strategic Planning Community Forums Scheduled
  • COVID-19 Compensatory Education Plan Meetings for Families of Students with Disabilities
  • Resources for Families of Students with Disabilities
  • Future Planning for Students in Special Education
  • Youth Substance Use Presentations
  • Work for FCPS Food & Nutrition Services
  • Summer Camps & Learning Opportunities
  • Stay Connected with FCPS

Please feel free to reach out and let us know what questions you have.  Thank you, and have a wonderful break!


Margaret Barnes

Proud Principal, Holmes MS




Student Services Information

Alfa Breakdown

2022-23 Blue/White Calendar


New Bell Schedule

From Mr. Kruk, our After School Specialist

After-School Program Weekly News & Notes from 1/9-1/13

News & Notes

Student of the Week

  • The After-School Program Student of the week is William Torres
  • “William has lent his editing expertise to the Podcast Club over the past few weeks. He learned the software so quickly and enjoys making our episodes more dynamic to listen to with accurate cuts, background music, and audio balancing. Thanks for your hard work and thoughtfulness, Will!” – Ms. Mollick
  • Congrats William!

Students in Action

Students were seen rehearsing all week  for the upcoming School Musical; Footloose

Students in Action

After School Schedule 1/17-1/20

Block 1Block 2

Students Leaving After-School before 4:45

    • Any student staying after school must be signed out of the main office by a parent or guardian if leaving prior to 4:45.
    • Walkers may sign themselves out any time after 3:30 when first block ends.


Contact the After-School Specialist, Matt Kruk, @email

Holmes MS PTA

We invite EVERY family at Holmes to participate in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) because we can do more together! Advocate for your child, and for all the children at Holmes.  Connect with other parents, so that we can build a stronger community for ourselves and our children. This year, the Holmes PTA is planning on holding in-person meetings again, so you can meet face-to-face with other parents and with Ms. Barnes.  We're also planning restaurant nights, Bingo Nights, a Fun Run, Teacher Appreciation Week, and so much more!

  • Join the PTA on MemberHub between now and December 7th and get entered into a drawing for a gift certificate to Great American Restaurants!
  • Are you able to volunteer?  Submit this Google form
  • Want to order Spiritwear

Donate to our PTA's upcoming raffles and fundraising 

PTA Flyer

From Ms. Oncho, Our Family Liaison

 Ask a Nurse: How to protect your family from respiratory viruses - YouTube Thank you to Deltavier Robertson who led a fantastic, personal conversation with public health nurse Alisa Brooks about all things respiratory viruses. In addition to being health professionals, both Deltavier and Alisa are mothers and brought an authentic, ‘real life’ commentary to this health issue that is impacting our community. Please share the above video link – it has great information for the community. StayWellNoVa

Fairfax County Launches Opioid Overdose Data Dashboard: In collaboration with the Opioid and Substance Use Task Force, the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) has created a new public-facing dashboard that will inform residents of trends in opioid overdoses and overdose deaths in the Fairfax Health District.

Behavioral Health, Resilience, and Trauma Awareness

Emotions impact everything that happens in our lives. Becoming aware of how emotions impact our learning, decisions, relationships, and general well-being is important to our overall functioning. Click here to watch a video for more information.

Socially, mentally, and spiritually, teenagers face a variety of pressures and stressors each day. Despite these pressures, it is still families who can influence teens the most, and “The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers” equips parents to make the most of that opportunity. Click here to for more information.

5 Things to Know from the 2021-2022 Youth Survey  Mental health issues (such as persistent sadness/hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts), physical activity, amount of sleep and fasting are among the issues that influenced the health and wellbeing of Fairfax County youth in the 2020-2021 school year, according to the annual Fairfax County Youth Survey. In addition to shedding light on students’ behaviors and experiences, the survey also identifies ways that you can actively help teens succeed and avoid or reduce risky behaviors.

Fairfax County Youth Substance Use Trends and Supports Webinar Due to the rise in opioid overdoses in the Fairfax Health District, which is consistent with national and state trends, Fairfax County Public Schools has partnered with Fairfax County Government to provide an educational webinar on youth substance use trends and supports.

Healthy Minds Fairfax has a 1-pager How to know when your child may have a mental health concern and where to get help that you can print to hand out or share via social media as needed.

Testing Information & Quarter 2 Testing Windows

State assessments measure the extent to which students have learned the content and skills reflected in state standards and may also be used to measure growth in learning state standards. The format and timing of state assessments vary by grade level and content area, as noted in the table below. These include:

  • Fall and winter Virginia Growth Assessments (VGA) standardized tests in reading and mathematics. More information is available on the VGA webpage (;
  • Spring Standards of Learning (SOL) standardized tests in reading, mathematics, and science. More information is available on the SOL assessments webpage (;
  • Ongoing local alternative assessments (LAAs) including performance-based assessments (PBAs) completed as part of classroom instruction in science, writing, and social studies; More information is available on the LAA and PBA webpage (

The Grade Level Tests webpage ( provides information by grade level about the general assessment schedule and reporting method for each required assessment type in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). School staff will contact you with the specific dates your student is scheduled to take the standardized VGA and SOL assessments. If you have questions about state assessments, contact your student’s teacher or Christopher Kamar, our test coordinator, at @email   

Qrt 2 Testing Window

Important Upcoming Dates

  • Monday, 1/16 - NO SCHOOL / Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday
  • Tuesday, 1/17, 9-10 am - Academic Advising Parent Coffee
  • Wednesday, 1/18, 6:00-7:15 pm - In Person Open House/Information session on the Global Stem Program
  • Wednesday, 1/25 - 2nd Quarter Ends / 2-Hour Early Release
  • Thursday, 1/26 - NO SCHOOL / Staff Development Day
  • Friday, 1/27 - NO SCHOOL / Teacher Workday
  • Wednesday, 2/1, 1-2 pm - Academic Advising Parent Coffee
  • Tuesday, 2/7, 4-8 pm - Spirit Night at Chipotle on Little River Tnpk
  • Wednesday, 2/8, 1-2 pm - Academic Advising Parent Coffee
  • Friday, 2/17, 5-6 pm - Coffee with the Principal
  • Monday, 2/20 - NO SCHOOL / George Washington's Birthday
  • Thursday, 3/2 - 2-Hour Early Release
  • Friday, 3/3 - NO SCHOOL / School Planning Day

How to Stay Connected to Holmes MS

Please stay in touch with us throughout the year by:

FCPS & Community Updates

Strategic Planning Community Forums Scheduled

Beginning January 30, FCPS will host a series of community forums as part of our Strategic Plan development process. The completed schedule and locations for the sessions are posted on FCPS' Strategic Planning webpage

Planning teams, which include a diverse range of voices from the FCPS community, are continuing to review student achievement, access, and survey data;and crafting a collective vision for the school division. Key communicators will soon receive strategic planning materials to share with their groups and networks. Preparations for divisionwide student focus groups are underway, and there will be opportunities for employees to engage in a survey and “reality check” sessions in the upcoming months. For the latest information, please visit the Strategic Planning web page and check it often.  

COVID-19 Compensatory Education Plan Meetings for Families of Students with Disabilities

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to implementing a plan for COVID-19 compensatory education as part of its obligation to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities. Please join us at an informational meeting for parents/guardians and other stakeholders:

Visit our website to see what language interpretation services will be available at each meeting and to learn more about the COVID-19 Compensatory Education Plan.

Resources for Families of Students with Disabilities

SEPTA, the Fairfax County Special Education Parent Teacher Association, was created to empower and connect families, students, and educators to ensure students with disabilities develop their full potential as individuals and community members. Learn more or become a member on the SEPTA website

The Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities (ACSD) is a state mandated Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). Parents/guardians, students, teachers, administrators, staff, and others interested in special education at FCPS are welcome and encouraged to share their thoughts, ideas, and/or public comment related to the unmet needs of students with disabilities.

FCPS’ Office of Special Education Procedural Support provides guidance to staff, families, and students in areas related to the implementation of and compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended. 

Families of students in special education programs can find more resources in the Special Education Handbook for Parents. (Translations are available from the Parent Resource Center (PRC).) 

The PRC offers free webinars, consultations, a lending library, and resources to help adults support the success of all students, including those with learning challenges, special needs, and disabilities. Their YouTube channel includes videos of workshops and webinars for families and educators to support student success. Sign up for their newsletter to receive information on upcoming webinars and other resources. Please contact the PRC with any questions at @email or call 703-204-2941.

Kathy Murphy, the assistant ombuds for special education, provides information and support to parents/caregivers and students regarding special education and Section 504 services. Staff in the Office of the Ombuds believe that by being transparent and connecting families with available supports and services, children with special needs can equitably access public education.

Contact the ombuds by submitting a question, calling 571-423-4014, or emailing @email

Future Planning for Students in Special Education

CTS EnglishCTS Spanish

Youth Substance Use Presentations

  • FCPS is dedicated to providing parents and community members with the most accurate and up-to-date information on youth substance use, prevention, addiction, interventions and available supports. Please join us and our partners from the Fairfax County Police Department and Community Services Board as we discuss these topics as well as the ongoing opioid crisis. Attendees will walk away with an understanding of:
  • Alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and opioid.
  • List what you can do as a caregiver.
  • How to identify and connect with community resources.

Please see below for more information about presentations in Annandale HS and Edison HS. 

Difficult Conversations_Annandale

Difficult Conversations_Edison

Work for FCPS Food & Nutrition Services


Summer Camps & Learning Opportunities

Tech Adventure Camp and CTE Summer Academy

We are excited to provide the following information about our 2023 CTE summer enrichment camps! The FCPS Career and Technical Education (CTE) office is once again offering two enrichment programs this year - Tech Adventure Camp and CTE Summer Academy.

What is CTE Summer Enrichment

  • Hands-on, exploratory enrichment programs
  • Teaches students engaging and exciting content in Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Helps students make connections to careers and develop new skills

2023 Programs

  • Tech Adventure Camp: Students in Kindergarten - grade 6 explore STEAM, culinary, health, trades, and computer science by rotating through daily classes
  • NEW TO 2023: Tech Adventure Camp is now open to current kindergarten and 1st grade students!!
  • CTE Summer Academy: Students in grades 7 - 11 choose their classes and dive deeper into CTE program areas, skills, and career exploration


  • Cost - $275 per week
  • *Fee waived for a select number of Free and Reduced Meal students
  • Dates - July 10 - 14; July 17 - 21; and July 24 - 28
  • Time - 8:30 am to 2:00 pm
  • *Early drop off begins at 7:30 am
  • Different weekly offerings
  • Transportation from select FPCS schools is provided!

Additional Information can be found on our websites!

Registration for both camps will begin February 1st. Our websites are updated regularly with more information. Feel free to contact Beth Mehr, CTE Summer Programs Educational Specialists, for more information. We look forward to creating, exploring, and learning with your students this summer!

Stay Connected with FCPS

Being connected to your school and division is important every year, and even more so now as we navigate our return to school. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for newsletters through News You Chose

Your school and FCPS have a variety of topics you can choose from, including:

  • School Newsletters- featuring everything you need to know about your child’s school
  • FCPS This Week- a weekly newsletter featuring news and happenings from across the division, published Wednesday mornings
  • School Board Meeting Update- a recap of important news coming out of school board meetings, published the Friday morning after the meeting
  • FCPS Employee News- weekly updates just for staff, published Tuesday mornings