Principal's Corner

September 28, 2021

Greetings Panthers,

As we approach the end of September, let us take a minute to look back at our first weeks of the school year.  It has been both exciting and inspiring to have our students and staff members back in the building.  There has always been a special energy that our students bring to the classrooms and hallways of Rachel Carson Middle.  Keeping in mind this year’s theme of Restart, Refresh, Renew, we believe that this energy is key to our restart of the in-person learning experience.

Along with the excitement of our restart comes a commitment to taking the important steps that will enable us to achieve our school vision of being an inclusive and respectful community of lifelong learners.  For the past few weeks, myself and our staff have been speaking with students about the importance of three important practices.  At Rachel Carson, we expect for student to be:

  • Ready:  On time and prepared with the necessary materials
  • Responsible:  Ready to make a positive contribution to the learning environment
  • Respectful:  Mindful of our words and actions towards peers and staff members

I encourage you to have conversations at home about these three Rs.  These practices are the pillars for all experiences that we have at RCMS.  We find that when these practices are demonstrated, all members of our community perform at high levels.  Thank you for your support in this area.

I also want to share a few other reminders:

  • Parents have asked questions about the need for their child to carry a cell phone to school.  We recognize that many students to have cell phones.  At RCMS, we are an “away for the day” school.  This means that students are expected to power down their phone and leave them in their book bag for the school day.  This practice helps us to avoid the negative distractions that are sometimes caused by cell phone use.  Students can access the technology they may need for classes via their FCPS laptop.  If a student needs to contact home, they may use phones in the main office. 
  • Our Student Services Department hosted a virtual parent coffee on September 23.  This presentation featured a host of information about the different resources available to support the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students.  We also discussed the topic of social media and digital citizenship – very timely for many students and families.  Please visit this link to view the presentation and recording of the coffee:  https://carsonms.fcps.edu/announcements/rcms-parent-coffee-slide-deck-and-recording-september-23
  • Our After-School program has commenced.  We encourage all students to get involved in a club or activity.  Sign-ups for most activities take place during lunches.  After school activities occur on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  There are late buses on these days.  Please visit the After School program website for more information:  https://carsonms.fcps.edu/index.php/activities/after-school-program

We are very grateful for our supportive community.  Please reach out to staff members as questions arise.  We look forward to the upcoming school experiences and the chances to learn more about our students.

 

Sincerely,

Gordon Stokes

Principal

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July 27, 2021

Greetings students and families,

The entire Rachel Carson staff extends our best wishes to you and hope that you are having an enjoyable summer.  We welcome you to the 2021-2022 school year.  Every new school year brings a sense of excitement and opportunity.  In light of everything that all of us have experienced over the past year and a half, this year’s excitement and opportunities are even brighter as we look forward to the full return of all students to the RCMS campus for in-person instruction.  There are a host of impactful learning experiences that we are thrilled to deliver to students as they enter the classrooms and hallways.  Moreover, we cannot wait to start the process of building positive relationships that are developed day by day through purposeful conversations and shared moments.

Every year, our staff selects a theme for the school year.  This theme offers a common idea that all students, staff, and families can reflect upon as we progress through the coming months.  This year’s theme is “Restart, Refresh, Renew”.  We believe that all students and staff can identify with ideas that this theme provides and we encourage everyone to make one connection to the theme.  What is one aspect of school that you are looking forward to restarting?  As a student, what is one approach to school that you would refresh or renew in order to have the best results possible?  Keep this theme in mind as we approach the start of school.  We will explore this theme throughout the year in a variety of ways during our classes.

For 7th graders, this theme has unique meaning now that you are transitioning to middle school and starting in a new learning environment.  We cannot wait to see what new ideas you bring with you.  For our 8th graders, your middle school experience thus far has certainly been different than anticipated.  We welcome your energy and spirit as the entire 8th grade class enters the building.  Please use this moment to “restart” your middle school experience.  Meanwhile, your presence, leadership, and positive example that you set are all pieces that are vital to our ongoing success as a school.

We are also excited to restart an RCMS tradition:  the reading of our OneBook.  The OneBook is one novel read in common by all students and staff.  As a community, we engage in conversations about the key themes in the novel, then make connections between those themes and our lives during the school year.  This year’s OneBook is titled Restart, written by Gordon Korman.  This story tells the tale of a young man who discovers a lot about himself and who he wants to be after a life changing event.  We will devote time during our Panther Time block to reading this book together. 

To kick off the school year, there are several events that students and parents are invited to attend as a way of getting oriented to the school and what we will be providing.  Please mark your calendars and be on the lookout for more details about each of these events.

  • Virtual Parent Orientation:  Thursday, August 5th (6PM) or Friday, August 6th (9AM).  Our administrative team will present key information about our return to school plans and share details on what students and families can expect to experience during the first days of school.  Both presentations are identical and will be conducted via Zoom.  Next week, we will send the Zoom link.  In addition, we will send an electronic form where you can submit questions in advance of the meeting to be answered by our administrative team.
  • New Student Orientation:  Thursday, August 19th (8-10:30AM).  All 7th and 8th grade students are invited to RCMS for this student-only event.  During the orientation, students will meet each of their teachers and walk through their schedule during short visits to each of their classes.  Bus transportation is provided for this event.
  • RCMS Open House:  Thursday, August 19th (1-5:30 PM).  All students and parents are invited to visit the school to take a self-guided tour of the building.  This is another great chance for students to visit their classrooms, access their locker, and get further acquainted with the building and resources that we have to offer.  
  • The First Day of School is Monday, August 23rd.  

As we approach the start of the new school year, we invite you to take a look at the information that we will share and post.  First, if you have not already done so, please sign-up for the RCMS News You Choose messages.  On a weekly basis, we share details about upcoming events and critical pieces of information.  Sign-up for News You Choose using this link. Second, the RCMS website is a great source of information about all aspects of our school.  Please visit the site regularly at https://carsonms.fcps.edu/ .  Third, the RCMS Twitter account provides a glimpse into the life of our school.  If you are on Twitter, follow us at @RachelCarsonMS.

We are so fortunate to have you as a member of our school community.  From day one, we know that all of our students will have a positive impact and help us work towards our school vision of creating an inclusive and respectful community of lifelong learners.  As you become acquainted with your teachers, school counselor, administrator, and other staff members, please let us know how we can best assist you or answer the questions that you have.  We look forward to seeing you soon.  Please enjoy the upcoming weeks of summer.  Go Panthers!

Sincerely,

Gordon Stokes

Principal, Rachel Carson Middle School