Principal's Note - Sept 16, 2018

By Margaret Barnes
Principal's Note
September 17, 2018

Good evening, Holmes Families!  

Last Thursday, along with other educators and students in our region, I had the amazing opportunity to represent Fairfax County Public Schools at a congressional briefing in Washington, DC on Educational Equity - Digital Access and Teaching Innovations.  The briefing was hosted by Project Tomorrow with the goal of presenting their research findings from the annual Speak Up survey.  It was exciting to hear about the successes and challenges that schools around the country are having as they continue to integrate technology in a meaningful way in order to prepare students for future careers.  

Security Walkthrough

Our administrative team had a successful walkthrough with the FCPS Safety & Security Team last week.  It was helpful to have their specialized expertise and perspective as we think about how to best plan and prepare for emergencies for our specific building layout and location.  We are grateful to have them as a resource.  

We will continue with one more unannounced fire drill and lockdown drill with students this week.  After that, we will have monthly fire drills and will have 2 more lockdown drills during the year.  

Schedule Changes

Now that we have completed the first few weeks of the school year and have a good sense of our actual enrollment, our counselors will be working to "level" some classes that may be a bit imbalanced in size from section to section.  As just one example, we will be condensing our 2 sections of Beginning Band into 1 section.  As a result, your student may need to have his/her schedule changed.  Our counselors work very hard to keep the students' teachers the same, but it is not always possible.  We know that this is not ideal, but it is important that we take these steps for safety reasons (in the case of PE classes) and to improve the quality of instruction by managing and balancing class size throughout the building.  In order to maintain as much consistency for students as staff as we can, we are only making changes where we believe it is absolutely essential.  

If your child has a schedule change and you have a question or concern, please reach out to his/her counselor.  

ER Rotations begin on Friday, 9/21!

Tomorrow will be the last extended (90-minute) ER-8 period for students.  Students will work together on a lesson about the IB Learner Profile and FCPS Portrait of a Graduate trait of being Communicators.  Part of the lesson will also inform students about our implementation of a food waste management & recycling program in the cafeteria starting tomorrow.  

After tomorrow, students will visit their ER-8 classes about every 2 weeks throughout the year.  Students will begin their regular ER (Enrichment & Remediation) rotations on Friday, 9/21.  Every White Day, students will return back to 2 periods for Sustained Silent Reading, reteaching, and intervention.  For example, here's what the next 4 weeks will look like: 



On-time arrival to class

Now that students have had a few weeks to get comfortable with their schedules and with lockers, we will be reinforcing our expectation for all students to arrive to each class on time.  In addition to announcements to students with reminders, we will work with students who are frequently late to help them better organize and plan their time.  In addition, students will have the following progressive consequences if they have 3 or more unexcused tardies in one week:

  • 1st time: Verbal Warning
  • 2nd time: Phone call to parents/guardians
  • 3rd time: Lunch detention
  • 4th+ time: Afterschool detention

If you have any questions or concerns around tardiness throughout the year, please contact your student's Assistant Principal:

September 17th is Constitution Day!!

Students will participate in activities around the U.S. Constitution through Social Studies classes tomorrow and throughout the week!

After School Program

Our After School Program begins this week with parent pickup only.  Please note that - due to the 3-hour early release on Wednesday, 9/19, there will be no after school program that day.  Late buses will begin the week of September 24th.  Each week, I will post a schedule in this newsletter to let parents know what activities will be offered that week.  (NOTE: Individual teachers provide the days that they stay after for extra help in the course syllabus.)  For more information about what activities are offered, visit the website HERE.  

We are always open to new ideas!  Students with suggestions for after school activities should see Mr. Cabezas, our After School Program Specialist, to share their ideas.  We also welcome parents' ideas and parent volunteers to support after school activities.  

In today's newsletter, scroll down for information about:

  • This Week's Schedule
  • This Week's After School Program Schedule
  • Lunch Bunch with Mrs. Barnes
  • Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week
  • Holmes MS PTA Information
  • My School Bucks
  • Online Free & Reduced Meals Application
  • World Languages Credit Exam
  • Teen Volunteer Information Nights
  • Office of the Family and Student Ombudsman
  • George Mason Regional Library Book Sale
  • Medicaid Expansion and Availability of State Health Insurance for Children
  • Important Dates
  • How to Stay in Touch


Margaret Barnes

Proud Principal, Holmes MS


This Week's Schedule of Classes: 9/17-9/21


This week:

Mon., 9/17= White Day w/ ER-8

Tues., 9/18 = Blue Day

Wed., 9/19 = White Day - 3-Hour Early Release Day (Student dismissal at 11:15 am)

Thurs., 9/20 = Blue Day 

Fri., 9/21 = White Day  w/ ER1 & 2

 *NOTE: Students can always find the blue-white calendar in their agendas or on the website HERE.  

This Week's After School Program Schedule

For any specific questions related to this schedule, please contact our After School Program Special, Mr. German Cabezas.  


Lunch Bunch with Mrs. Barnes - 1st one this Friday, 9/21!


To continue with the tradition started last year, I'll be hosting monthly Lunch Bunches with students in order to hear more student voices and to learn about their school experiences.  

Each month, I will have openings for 9 students from each lunch (so 36 students total) to join me in the Principal's Conference Room.  I'm excited to get this started earlier this year!  Lunch Bunches will be held one Friday each month.  

Students who are interested should be logged into their FCPS Google account, and should submit their interest through this Google Form, which will also be posted to their grade-level Google classrooms.  There will also be sign-up forms in the cafeteria and hanging up in different hallways.  Students who are interested should submit their forms by 2 PM on the Thursday before the Lunch Bunch.  

Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week


Been wondering what exactly we mean by the term "Digital Citizenship"?  Click HERE to find out more!!

    Join the PTA!

    Be sure to join the Holmes MS PTA for this school year.  Your membership will go towards mini-grants to support teachers and after school opportunities for students, teacher appreciation, and the 8th grade celebration, just to name a few things.

    Order Holmes Spiritwear until September 20th HERE!  

    SAVE THE DATE for the PTA's first Dine-Out Spirit Night of the Year on September 25th at the Chipotle in Springfield Plaza!  See details below.

    We hope to see you at the next meeting on Wednesday, October 3rd at 6:30 in the library!  



    Parents may access the EZ Lunch App to add money to student lunch accounts, see menu options, check ingredients and allergen information, and much more. The official FCPS mobile app is available on the iTunes Store and Google Play at no cost. The app links to to add money to student lunch accounts. Lunch menus may be viewed HERE.  (Note: Fees for certain electives may also be paid through this app.)

    Reminder: Parents/guardians must apply each year to determine eligibility for free or reduced lunch. Paperwork can be provided by the school, and must be sent directly to FCPS' Food & Nutrition Services office.


    Online Free and Reduced-Price Application Information

    Free and reduced-price meal applications may be completed online or by submitting a handwritten, paper application for the 2018-2019 school year.  Electronic meal applications are quick, easy, and available in the following languages:  English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, French, and Vietnamese. 

    Both the online application and paper application now include a designated section with the consent to share information for other programs. This update allows parents/guardians to complete the free and reduced-price meal application and the consent to share information in the same document.

    Paper applications must be the original red print forms, which are available at school offices, school cafeterias, and other FCPS buildings.  Copied application forms cannot be accepted.

    For more information visit the Free and Reduced-Price Meals webpage.

    8th Grade Band Night at Annandale High School

    Rising Atoms Band Night

    World Languages Credit Exam

    Students in Fairfax County Public Schools who are already proficient in a language other than English have the opportunity to take a credit exam to count towards high school credit.  

    The 2018 Credit Exam for World Languages will be administered November 6th, 7th and 8th. Twenty-nine languages will be included:  American Sign Language, Amharic, Arabic, Bengali/Bangla, Chinese/Mandarin, Farsi/Persian, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Nepali, Pashto, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Sanskrit/Samskritam, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog/Pilipino, Tamil, Telugu, Tigrinia, Turkish, Twi, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

    Registration opens Monday, September 10, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. and closes on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 4:00 p.m.  Students who are interested in taking an exam should let their counselor know, and the counselor will register him/her.  Late registrations will not be accepted.

    Credit exam information can be accessed HERE

    Teen Volunteer Information Nights

    This fall, Volunteer Fairfax and Fairfax County Public Library are co-hosting three teen volunteer info nights at library branches across Fairfax County. 

    This opportunity gives students a head start on their volunteer opportunities either for clubs or class requirements.  It also allows them to engage in different non-profit organizations and gain a wide range of skills.

    The information night closest to the Holmes MS community is at the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library, 7584 Leesburg Pike.  The Fair will be held in the library meeting room Monday, October 15th, and will be open to teens and their parents from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.  Teens are being asked to pre-register for the Fair but will be able to register at the door as well.  The fair will end at 8:30 pm and the library will close at 9:00 pm. 

    Teen volunteer nights

    Office of the Family and Student Ombudsman

    The Family and Student Ombudsman is a new position within FCPS and will provide an independent, confidential resource for students, families, and community members, offering informal help to resolve concerns, problems, complaints, and other student-related issues.

    The Family and Student Ombudsman will listen, review, and provide resources for information and referral; serve as a neutral advocate for fairness, equity, inclusion, and consistency; and foster positive working relationships.

    If you would like assistance from the Office of the Ombudsman, please dial 571-423-4014 or send an email at to reach the office.

    Mission and Vision

    The Office of the Family and Student Ombudsman is committed to supporting the mission of Fairfax County Public Schools in which all students are inspired and empowered to meet high academic standards, lead healthy, ethical lives, and be responsible and innovative global citizens.

    The Office of the Family and Student Ombudsman works to serve families and students by providing information about resources and how to access them, understanding concerns and providing support to resolve them.  The Office of the Family and Student Ombudsman follows the four principles of the International Ombudsman Association:

    • Confidentiality
    • Independence
    • Impartiality
    • Informality

    George Mason Regional Library Book Sale

    George Mason Region Library Book Fair

    Medicaid Expansion and Availability of State Health Insurance for Children

    The Virginia Department of Education recently sent communication to all schools in Virginia relating to information on the availability of the state’s health insurance for children (FAMIS) and new insurance coverage for adults that will soon be available as a result of Medicaid expansion. This memo may be reviewed at August 8, 2018 Superintendents Letter to Principals.

    Additionally, the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) distributed two flyers to all public schools in Virginia. One flyer provides key information about the availability of this new initiative and the second provides information on FAMIS. These flyers are available in English and Spanish and may be viewed below.

    Medicalmedical 2adults englishadults spanish

    Important Dates

    • Monday, 9/17 - First day for Homework Rooms & Hawk Club in After School Program (parent pickup only)
    • Wednesday, 9/19 - 3-Hour Early Release Day (Student dismissal at 11:15 am) - No Homework Room or Hawk Club
    • Thursday, 9/20 - Last day to order Holmes MS SpiritWear
    • Friday, 9/21 - September Lunch Bunch with Mrs. Barnes (forms due by Thurs. at 2 pm)
    • Friday, 9/21 - 8th Grade Band Night (Annandale High School)
    • Monday, 9/24 - First day for late buses, academic help with teachers, and after school clubs
    • Tuesday, 9/25, 5-9 pm - PTA Fundraiser: Chipotle Dine-out night (Springfield Plaza)
    • Monday, 10/1 & Tues., 10/2 - School Pictures (through PE classes)
    • Wednesday, 10/3, 6:30 pm - PTA Meeting 
    • Thursday, 10/25, 7 pm - Fall Preview Concert
    • Friday, 11/2 - Last day of 1st quarter
    • Monday, 11/5 & Tuesday, 11/6 - STUDENT HOLIDAYS / TEACHER WORKDAYS

    How to Stay In-Touch

    Please stay in touch with us throughout the year by: