Principal's Note - March 17, 2023

By Margaret Barnes
Principal's Note
March 17, 2023

Good afternoon, Holmes Families!

This year, the first day of Ramadan is Wednesday, March 22. Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year, a time for spiritual discipline for Muslims, who believe it was during this month that God revealed the first verses of the Quran to Mohammed. Read more about Ramadan in National Geographic Kids. See the complete 2022-23 School Year Calendar.

Prayer/Reflection Rooms at Holmes MS

As we await more specific guidelines from FCPS around prayer/reflection rooms to be communicated, I wanted to send a reminder about our guidelines at Holmes.  Please see the flyer below for details about prayer/reflection rooms at Holmes.  We are able to maintain the three spaces for the remainder of this year along with the other guidelines that we communicated earlier in the year. 

There is one change: If students would like to use the prayer/reflection room during instructional time, their parents/caregivers must provide a written request for that accommodation.  If you would like to request that accommodation for your student, please send an email to me at @email and specify what time of day you are requesting.  I will respond in writing to your request. 

Celebrating Music at Holmes

The Council for Art Education has designated March as National Youth Art Month, encouraging support for quality school art programs and promoting art material safety. March has also been designated by the National Association for Music Education as Music in Our Schools Month®.

As part of Music in Our Schools Month, every March, music performance ensembles throughout the state of Virginia participate in Large Group State Assessment. Ensembles prepare three pieces of music to perform in front of a panel of three judges. The judges provide feedback and a rating based on state and national standards. Groups are evaluated on a scale of I-V; I = Superior, II = Excellent, III = Good, IV = Fair, V = Poor.  After their stage performance, students then go in front of a fourth judge who gives them a piece of music they have never seen before. The directors are given 7 minutes to teach the music (without the students being able to play it!) before the students are given one opportunity to perform it for another rating. All ratings are averaged together for an overall score.

This event provides the incentive for the development of musical understanding and skills through performances which are aimed at exhibiting each group at its most mature level of performance. Groups do not compete with each other but instead strive for the best possible performance and are graded against a state standard. They are expected to all be correct on every note at the same time, while playing the correct rhythms as an ensemble and using a good tone. Truly authentic assessment!

The Holmes Band and Orchestras participated in their Assessments last weekend, March 10-11. Students have worked very hard over the past months to prepare, and represented Holmes very well! The results are listed below. Congratulations to all performers!

Concert Orchestra: I, Superior Rating

Chamber Orchestra: I, Superior Rating

Concert Band: II, Excellent Rating

Symphonic Band: II Excellent Rating

Best of luck to the Holmes Choirs who will participate in Assessment this weekend. Go Holmes Music Department!

3/15 PTA Meeting Recording

In case you missed Wednesday's PTA meeting when we talked about VGA scores and academic supports, you can access the recording and slideshow from Wednesday's PTA meeting on Schoology > Families Course. A direct link to the recording through Zoom can also be found here.


Tech Tools for Enrichment in Reading & Math:

FCPS students have many choices for extra practice in Reading & Math. To help your student continue to grow in these skills, please encourage use of the tools listed below. All are accessible by students from Schoology > Clever. Students are using these in the classroom and can continue practicing at home. Some ideas for at-home time might be before dinner, as homework if your student doesn't have any, wind-down activity before bed, etc. Consider creating a routine or schedule to build a habit of practice.

  • Lexia PowerUp: Adaptive reading program with areas of focus in word study, grammar, and comprehension. Available 6-8. Every student's recommended time will be different and personalized to their progress. This program can be supplemented with reading books from the library. Learn more about it here
  • Mathspace with Skills Check-In: Adaptive math program called Mathspace: Skills Check-In. Available 6-8. Students can complete a "Check-In" to continue to measure growth in a certain area, complete "Assigned Tasks" from teachers, or complete  automatically generated tasks called "Recommended Practice" based on their current skill level. Learn more about it here.
  • ST Math: Adaptive math program that uses puzzles and play to teach math skills. Available to Math 6, Math 7, Math 7 Honors, Pre-Algebra. Students can work on an "Assignment" given by a teacher, or "My Journey" which will meet them where they are. Learn more about it here.


Family Coffee Recording-- Digital Citizenship: Balance & Boundaries

Thank you to our families who came out and tuned in on Zoom for our March Family Coffee over Digital Citizenship: Balance & Boundaries. If you missed it, the recording, slideshow, and resources are available in Schoology > Holmes Families Course > Family Liaison Center. The recording has translations in Arabic, Dari, and Amharic.


Holmes Middle School Theatre Department Presents:



Based on the Original Screenplay by Dean Pitchford




Friday, March 24 at 7:00pm

Saturday March 25 at 2:00pm & 7:00pm

All Tickets $5


Musical flyer

Here are today's newsletter topics:

Holmes Updates

  • Student Services Information
  • 2022-23 Blue/White Calendar
  • 2022-23 Bell Schedule
  • After School Schedule Next Week
  • Holmes MS PTA
  • From Ms. Oncho, Our Family Liaison
  • Testing Information & Quarter 3 Testing Windows 
  • Important Upcoming Dates
  • How to Stay Connected to Holmes MS

FCPS & Community Updates

  • Community Meeting on the Dangers of Fentanyl

  • Difficult Conversations About Drugs and Suicide Prevention
  • No-Cost Mental Health Teletherapy for Students
  • Proposed Updates to Student Rights and Responsibilities 

  • High School Assessment and Grading Survey
  • March Observances
  • Request Your Free Student Bus Pass Today!
  • Virtual Strategic Planning Community Forums Coming Soon
  • Braddock and Springfield District Town Hall
  • Medicaid Policy Changes
  • 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 weekend!


Margaret Barnes

Proud Principal, Holmes MS




Student Services Information

Student Services Info

2022-23 Blue/White Calendar


New Bell Schedule

From Mr. Kruk, our After School Specialist

After-School Program Weekly News & Notes from 3/13-3/17

Student of the Week

The After-School Program Student of the week: Nolawi Abeje

  • Nolawi has been an integral part of various after-school clubs throughout the year including Soccer League, Fitness Club, EIP, and more.
  • This week staff members noticed Nolawi taking initiative to help others and demonstrating responsible behavior.
  • Congrats Nolawi!

New Spring Clubs

  • Couch to 5k Walking Club
  • Muslim Student Association

After-School Action

  • Students were busy building their robots and rockets during Lego Rocket Builders this week.

Summer VIP Program is back!

  • What?:
    • FCPS and Neighborhood & Community Services come together to provide a 4-week all day summer program.
    • Our VIP Program will combine 6 middle schools this summer; Holmes, Poe, Glasgow, Luther Jackson, Thoreau, and Kilmer Middle School.
    • Program supports students’ social, emotional, physical, and academic growth through a wide-range of academic and recreational opportunities.
    • There is a registration fee associated with the program to be determined soon. Last year’s cost was $50 per student for the 4 weeks.
  • Who?: For any rising 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Holmes student.
  • When?: June 28th – July 27th (tentative timeframe 9am-4pm)
  • Where?: Luther Jackson Middle School
  • How?:
    • Registration is set to open on Monday, March 20th via google link.
    • Registration link and payment form will be sent home to all Holmes families when available.
    • Bus transportation is provided but only from Holmes MS to Luther Jackson MS in the morning, and then from Luther Jackson MS back to Holmes MS in the afternoon.
  • Interested? Please complete this interest form
  • More details to follow in the next few weeks.

After School Schedule 3/20-3/24

Block 1

Block 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!

From Ms. Oncho, Our Family Liaison

Upcoming Family Coffee Events:

Family Coffee Events at Holmes occur monthly. The topics coming up over the next few months can be found below. You can attend in person or over Zoom. You will receive Zoom links via News You Choose and e-Notify. Click here to register for an upcoming Family Coffee. All presentation recordings and resources are saved to Holmes Families on Schoology.


Virtual Concurrent Teen & Parent Recovery Groups - Thursdays, 6-7 pm

Heads up

English Classes

English Classes

Testing Information & Quarter 3 Testing Windows

Qrt 3 Testing

Important Upcoming Dates

  • 3/17-3/18 - Choral Assessment - Sandburg MS
  • Friday, 3/24, 7 pm  Musical - Footloose
  • Saturday, 3/25, 2pm & 7 pm -  Musical - Footloose
  • 4/3/2023 - 4/7/2023 - NO SCHOOL / Spring Break 
  • Thursday, 4/13 - 2-Hour Early Release / End of 3rd Quarter
  • Friday, 4/14 - NO SCHOOL / Orthodox Good Friday /Teacher Workday
  • Friday, 4/21- NO SCHOOL / Eid al Fitr
  • Friday, 5/12 - Holmes PTA Fun Run
  • Monday, 5/29 - NO SCHOOL / Memorial Day
  • Friday, 6/16 - 2-Hour Early Release / Last Day of School

How to Stay Connected to Holmes MS

Please stay in touch with us throughout the year by:

FCPS & Community Updates

Community Meeting on the Dangers of Fentanyl

Monday evening, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid and Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis hosted nearly 400 families, staff, and community members for a conversation on the dangers of fentanyl. During this impactful event, audience members heard testimonials from individuals affected by the opioid epidemic and learned facts from medical experts and law enforcement representatives.  

The conversation will continue on Monday, April 24, with our next community meeting on the critical topic of fentanyl danger and opioid awareness. More information is coming soon. Visit our Opioid Awareness webpage for updates as they become available. 

Visit the Fairfax County Government webpage on opioids for information on how you can take action and how to get help for yourself or loved ones.

Community  Meeting

Difficult Conversations About Drugs and Suicide Prevention

FCPS’ Parent Resource Center (PRC) is dedicated to helping adults support the success of all students. The PRC will present the following webinars:

  • Preparing Families for Difficult Conversations About Alcohol and Drugs: Tuesday, March 21, at 10 a.m.  This webinar will give parents tools to engage in meaningful conversations with their children about alcohol and drugs. Parents will learn basic information about alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and opioids; what can be done as a caregiver; and how to identify and connect with community resources.

Click on the titles above to register.

No-Cost Mental Health Teletherapy for Students

FCPS has partnered with Hazel Health to begin offering virtual mental health services to high school students via live video sessions. Starting Monday, April 10, parents/caregivers who have been struggling to find a therapist for their child or who notice changes in their child’s behavior will be able to connect them virtually with a licensed therapist. 

Teletherapy services for students are short-term, evidence-based, and culturally-responsive. 

Teletherapy is available on any device, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Therapists will be locally-licensed clinicians; 50% of whom identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC); and 40% of whom are bilingual. More than 15 languages are available.

Hazel Health’s licensed therapists can help students who are experiencing:

  • Mood/behavior changes, lack of motivation, grief/loss.
  • Anxiety, worry, fears.
  • Bullying, sexual identity challenges, challenging peer and family relationships.
  • Academic stress.

The first step for parents is to provide information through an opt-in form. Visit FCPS’ Teletherapy webpage for details.

Proposed Updates to Student Rights and Responsibilities

The Department of Special Services will be hosting two virtual meetings for the FCPS community regarding proposed updates to the Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) Regulation. Please join one of the meetings below via Zoom (click the date to register):

Participants will have an opportunity to learn about the suggested updates and ask questions via Zoom Chat. Language interpretation will be available in Spanish. A certified deaf interpreter will be available as well. 

Beginning Monday, March 20, families and staff will also be able to provide feedback on proposed updates to the SR&R via a short survey. Please stay tuned for details. Visit FCPS’ website for more information.   

High School Assessment and Grading Survey

Instructional Services is conducting a survey to gather perceptions and preferences around assessments and grading elements. High school students, their families, and high school-based staff will be surveyed. Students and their families will be asked about their current classes and how they feel about assessment, grading, and grading practices and policies. The survey results will be used along with information from student focus groups, research, best practices, and benchmarking to propose recommendations to the School Board later this spring. Surveys will be sent Monday, March 20, and individuals will have until Friday, March 31, to respond. For more information, contact Michael Gillespie in Instructional Services.

March Observances

National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week - 3/20-3/26

Opioids are the number one cause of unnatural death in Fairfax County. Young adults aged 25-34 are the most common demographic seen in the emergency room for fatal opioid overdoses. Nationwide there were over 100,00 overdose deaths from April 2020- April 2021. Using opioids after a period of abstinence, mixing drugs, IV use, and serious medical problems all contribute to an increased risk of opioid overdose. 90% of substance users began using prior to 21-years-old. Alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine are usually the most common substances used by adolescents. Fairfax County police stations, pharmacies, and medical facilities provide permanent drug disposal drop boxes for residents to safely dispose of their unused/expired medication. DO NOT flush your medications.

Reframing Our Thinking:
Changing our state of consciousness is part of the human experience (kids spinning in circles to induce dizziness, meditation, runner’s high, and more) but using substances has more negative than positive side effects. Alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine use prevention strategies are also opioid overdose
prevention strategies since opioid users likely used one of these three substances first. Every opioid overdose does not lead to death, but it increases the chances of an eventual overdose fatality. Although most opioid users began with alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine, these three drugs are not “gateway drugs”. The term “gateway drug” implies all alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine users will eventually use other drugs, but that is not the case for most, so the time to act is now. Treat your medication as a loaded gun; lock it up and properly dispose of any medications you are no longer using.

Sources & Resources:
Fairfax CSB Opioid Info
REVIVE Training for Opioid Overdoses
Medication Disposal
Teen Substance Use
FCPS Substance Abuse Prevention Program
Everything You Need to Know About Opioids
For general questions about the FCPS Substance Abuse Prevention Program, please contact the Office of Student Safety & Wellness at: (571) 423-4270.
For further Information & support:
Tiffany Jones, M.Ed, LPC, CSAC
Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist
[email protected]

Equity in Education Month

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)—in conjunction with the Virginia School Boards Association—observes March as Equity in Education Month, a division-wide opportunity to deepen our commitment to creating a climate and curriculum where all students receive the resources they need to reach their fullest potential.  

Disability Awareness Month

In March people throughout the United States will celebrate Women’s History Month and Disability Awareness Month. Both histories are foundational parts of American history. Students deserve meaningful, sustained opportunities to learn about the experiences and contributions of this history year-round, and the celebration of Women’s History Month and Disability Awareness month are opportunities to honor these diverse and important stories. 

National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.

Request Your Free Student Bus Pass Today!

Free Bus Pass

Virtual Strategic Planning Community Forums Coming Soon

FCPS is hosting a virtual community forum to discuss the first draft of proposed goals for the new Strategic Plan. Forums are scheduled for:

  • Monday, April 10, at noon.
  • Tuesday, April 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (in Spanish).
  • Monday, April 17, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. 

FCPS Strategic Planning Survey Closes March 20

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to share your perspectives on the current draft of FCPS’ new Strategic Plan. Your input is important to this work and will help ensure a thriving future for each and every FCPS student.

Parents and caregivers of current FCPS students, please check your email for a message from FCPS dated Tuesday, March 14. For community members who do not currently have a student enrolled in FCPS, please use this link to participate. 

All responses are anonymous. Visit our Strategic Planning webpage for more details.

Braddock and Springfield District Town Hall

Join Springfield District Representative Laura Jane Cohen, Braddock District Representative Megan McLaughlin, FCPS Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid, and Student Representative to the School Board Michele Togbe for a town hall. All Braddock and Springfield District parents/guardians, staff, students, and community members are welcome. We hope to see you there!

When: Tuesday, March 21, 2023, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Where: Lake Braddock Secondary School (Little Theater), 9200 Burke Lake Road, Burke, VA

*If American Sign Language or language interpretation is needed, please submit your request by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 10, 2023.

Town Hall

Medicaid Policy Changes

A change in federal Medicaid policy could impact the health care coverage of millions of students. In order to avoid gaps in coverage, families need to know:

  • Families, especially those who have moved residences during the pandemic, should contact their state Medicaid offices to ensure their contact information is up to date.
  • Families should watch their mail for letters about Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, status. 
  • Recipients must submit any renewal forms they receive to maintain coverage, which states could mail at any point between March 2023 and February 2024.
  • Families who no longer qualify for Medicaid after the review may qualify for coverage through their state’s health insurance exchange.

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!

Institute for the Arts Camps (IFTA)

IFTA is a two- or four-week summer enrichment program for students currently in grades 6-11. Students select from nearly 90 classes in art, dance, health and physical education 9, music, self-directed economics and personal finance, and theater. Visit the IFTA website for more information and registration. 

E-IFTA is a weekly arts camp for students in grades 2-5 who love to sing, dance, act, perform, make, and create. Students take part in four classes every day related to dance, music, theater, and visual art. They work with FCPS fine arts teachers who create classes that are fun and engaging. Visit the E-IFTA website for more information and registration. 

Art Academy

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