The Stingray Sentinel

News for the Families of Duval Charter School at Southside

Monday, July 24

Summer Break

Dear DCSS Families,

Have your children started counting down the final days of summer? Have you as parents started counting down to the first day of school? We're less than a month away from the 17-18 school year, and what I know will be DCSS's best year yet!

1 week until orientations begin (see specific schedule below)

2 weeks until open house (Friday, August 11, 11a-1p)

3 weeks until the first day of school! (Monday, August 14, 8am)

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Being Prepared for Orientations

Back to school orientations start next week!

  • 8 days until Kindergarten orientation (Tues, 8/1, 5:30p)
  • 9 days until 1st-8th grade new family orientation (Wed, 8/2, 5:30p)
  • 10 days until 1st-3rd grade returning family orientation (Thurs, 8/3, 5:30p)
  • 16 days until 4th-8th returning family orientation (Wed, 8/9, 5:30p)

Please bring:

  • School supplies - This is the best time to drop off supplies so your child does not have to lug them in on the 1st day! While not required to bring to orientation, it is highly encouraged. Be sure to bring the supply list with your child's name on it for tracking purposes. Get school supplies lists here:
  • Calendar - You'll want to have something to jot down important dates.
  • Note-taking & Organization - Bring something to write down notes from the orientation presentation, or to save questions you may want to ask afterwards. You'll also want something to hold handouts and receipts from the evening.
  • Cash or Check - You'll need cash or check if you are: registering for aftercare ($25), purchasing a school planner ($10) (required for 2nd-8th, although may purchase from outside source as well), registering your child for an after school program (costs vary), or purchasing a jeans day pass (see details below).
  • Apps - It is recommended that if you are using your phone to check grades and receive up to date communications, to come with the following apps downloaded: PowerSchool for Parents and EdModo for Parents. Both of these should be available in your app store on your phones. We will share more about how to use these tools to help your child succeed.

You'll receive:

  • Your child's teacher assignment (K-5) or middle school schedule (6-8). Please note that if you are new to our school, we may require further information such as report card or transcript to create a finalized middle school schedule.
  • Your dismissal tag. EVERY family needs a dismissal tag - regular dismissal car riders, aftercare car riders, and walkers. We are getting these laminated at no charge to you.
  • Information during the whole-group presentation on arrival and dismissal, uniform updates, meeting the support staff, and communication platforms such as PowerSchool and EdModo.

Please remember that this is not a meet-the-teacher event or a time to check out your child's classroom. While your child's teacher may be there that evening, they will be working the event, and unable to have extended conversations. Additionally, the classrooms will not be ready for orientation due to cleaning. As an alternative, we offer the Open House the Friday before the first day of school. This is a perfect time to meet the teacher and check out the room!

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NEW: Jeans Day Fridays and Jeans Day Passes

We've heard your children's and your requests for Friday jeans days on a weekly basis!

To keep this simple for families as well as for students and staff, we'll be selling semester and year-long passes! Please keep in mind that jeans days are optional, and students do not have to participate. Students can still wear their regular uniform on Fridays at no cost. This is seen as a fun change from the norm for kids, and is a fundraiser for us! 100% of the money raised goes directly back into the school for such things as incentives for students for positive character or academic achievements.

  • $30 - Year-long pass - BEST VALUE - covers every Friday of the school year, of which there are 33. This means 3 Fridays are free! Year long passes can only be purchased at orientations, open house, or at the office on or before the first Friday of the school year. This pass is ideal for students who will take advantage of every Jeans Day Friday, and for parents who don't want to worry about scrounging around for that dollar every Friday morning!
  • $15 - Semester 1 pass - covers every Friday in the first semester, with 1 free Friday. This pass is ideal for someone who may be planning to move during the 2nd semester, or who wants a more affordable option than the year-long pass. Semester 1 passes can only be purchased at orientations, open house, or at the office on or before the First Friday of the semester.
  • $16 - Semester 2 pass - covers every Friday in the second semester, with 1 free Friday. Semester 2 passes are available for purchase only during the first week back to school in January. This pass is ideal for families that joined DCSS after the first week of school, but before semester 2.
  • Students may also pay the $1 the morning of each Friday they choose to wear jeans. This option is best for students who only choose to wear jeans on occasion, for parents who missed the year-long pass deadline, or for parents who don't wish to commit to the semester-long or year-long passes.

PLEASE NOTE: There are no refunds available if a parent chooses to withdraw a student before the pass has been fully used, or if a child is absent on any given Friday.

Preparing for the First Day of School

It will be here sooner than you think!

Here are some helpful tips to have a successful first day of school for your child and you!

  • Arrive Early - It is always VERY busy on the first day of school. With new parents and students learning the arrival pattern, Kinder parents and students walking in, and heavy traffic all over Jacksonville, leave your house earlier than you think to ensure a stress-free (as much as possible) arrival.
  • Let Your Child Walk In Alone - The only exception here is Kindergarten. For you 1st-8th grade parents, please, please, please, let your child walk into school on their own. They are ready! If you're nervous, I encourage you to attend the Open House the Friday before school so you can walk your child in, get that picture, and rest assured your child will make it to their room. KINDERGARTEN PARENTS: You'll get a pass for this 1st day, but starting day 2, let them walk in on their own. We'll take good care of them.
  • Lay Everything Out the Night Before - Take the guess work out of the morning. Make sure your child has their uniform ready and bag by the door. Don't forget lunch!
  • Attend Orientation and Open House - You and your child will feel much more confident knowing you have everything you need ahead of time.
  • Set the Tone for Success - Have a conversation with your child days leading up to the first day, as well as before bed, and before you leave the house. Keep a calm, stress-free tone, so that they are relaxed and confident for their first day.
  • Don't Pick Up Early - Let your child take in the entire first day of school. Please do not plan to pick your child up before dismissal (K-5 3:00, 6-8 3:15).
  • Have Your Dismissal Tag - Whoever you are authorizing to pick up your child the first day (and always, for that matter) must have a dismissal tag. This is where we see the biggest slow down the first day! If you or the person picking up does not have a tag, we have to pull them to the side, check their id, and run it through our system. This can be a lengthy process. But if you have your tag (pick up at orientation or open house), we can expedite the process.
  • Prepare for a Lengthy Dismissal - Similar to arrival, except dismissal all happens at once! There will be heavier traffic, and unfortunately, it almost always rains the first day/week of school around 3:00. Please be patient with the staff and other parents; we all want dismissal to be as fast and efficient as possible, while making sure everyone is safe. Bring your dismissal tag and your favorite tunes or a book on tape, and it will help to use the time while you wait to see how your child enjoyed her or his first day of school!

Medication for the 17-18 School Year

If your child will be taking any medication, prescription or over the counter, that can be dropped off at orientations, open house, or at the front office Monday-Friday, 7:30a-4p. Please bring the Medical Administration Authorization form filled out by you and a health professional prior to dropping of the mediation. The form can be found in the email attachments of this newsletter email.

Used Uniform Sale a Success!

A BIG thank you to Ms. Snodey (middle school parent), Ms. Okun (K-5 parent), and to Ms. Cece (DCSS Staff), as well as to all of our parent volunteers and parent shoppers who made our 3rd annual Used Uniform Sale a great success! This was our best by far!!!

Miss the sale? We'll have some items for sale the evening of orientations.

Upcoming Events

  • 7/17-7/28: Step up to 3rd Grade Camp at DCSS, 8:30-12:30 (invite only)
  • 7/26: YMCA Last Day of Camp
  • 8/1: Kindergarten Family Orientation 5:30pm
  • 8/2: New Family Orientation 5:30pm
  • 8/3: Returning Family Orientation 1st-3rd 5:30pm
  • 8/9: Returning Family Orientation 4th-8th 5:30pm
  • 8/11: Open House 11a-1p (open drop-in time)
  • 8/14: 1st Day of School!
  • 8/28: SaveAround the City Fundraising Begins
  • 9/4: Labor Day Holiday (no school)
  • 9/8: Family Movie Night on the Field
  • 9/22: Skate Station Family Fun Night
  • 9/26: Donuts with Dad
  • 10/8: Book Fair Week
  • 10/10: Open House 4:30-6:30
  • 10/14: Fall Festival

5th-8th Grade Novel Studies

If your child is entering 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th grade, they will be required to participate in novel studies as part of each unit of study in their English Language Arts class. Students will be required to complete the reading as homework assigned by the teacher. Homework assignments will be given during the first weeks of school. Your child will need their own copy of the book in order to engage in the nightly readings and class activities. Each book can be purchased at a local bookstore or on Amazon for under $10. You may also opt to check out the book at your local library.

The first novels will be:

  • 5th: Wonder, Raquel J. Palacio
  • 6th: The Giver, Lows Lowry
  • 7th: A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park
  • 8th: Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
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After School Options - New Partner: En Pointe Performing Arts Academy

We're excited to bring in some of our community partners to offer services right on our campus.

Please welcome our newest group, En Pointe Performing Arts Academy. They will offer their studio classes from a professional instructor, right in our school! They'll offer a ballet/jazz combo class for K-2 students, and Musical Theatre Dance class for 3-5 students. They will be at all orientations to assist with sign up, and will even be at Open House to help fit for shoes! There will be a recital for all dancers part of their studio in May.

You can check out their website here:

And find registration information in the attachments of the original email that you received with this newsletter link.

We'll be inviting back:

  • Happy Feet Soccer Program
  • Play Ball Sports Program
  • Pro-Martial Arts Program
  • Art Club Program

In addition, we'll have in-house clubs such as the garden club, drama club, Girls on the Run (registration 8/21 for 3rd-5th grade girls), and science/stem club for 3-5. For 6-8, students will have a chance to work with teachers as sponsors for student-interest clubs and sports! We will continue to have such after school enrichment as band, chorus, and cheerleading, and will be adding theatre, dance, and science/steam! More information about in-house clubs will be discussed with students and communicated with parents within the first month of school.


Who will my child have as a teacher next year? What will be my middle schooler's schedule?

  • All teacher assignments and middle school schedules will be available to parents at your orientation. Please see above for orientation dates.

How do I sign my child up for aftercare or any of the after school programs?

  • During orientation and open house, you will have a chance to sign up for any of our after school programs offered by outside vendors. You will also be able to register for our in-house before and after care services.

Where can I find the 17-18 school supplies lists?

  • The school supplies lists are uploaded to our website. You are highly encouraged to drop off supplies during the orientations so as to limit the materials your child has to bring the first day of school.

Will I need to purchase a planner for my student?

  • Planners are required for 2nd-8th grade students. For Kindergarten and 1st grade students, planners are optional. We will be selling school-logo K-8 planners the nights of orientation, but you can also purchase your own.

What is the purpose of the Open House on the Friday before school?

  • The open house (11a-1p) is a great time to walk through the classrooms and meet the teacher. This is an optional and open time that is highly recommended for younger students, and families new to DCSS. This is also recommended for 6th grade students who will be switching classes for the first time - students and parents can walk through the schedule to make sure all are comfortable with the flow.

Do I need to purchase a PE Uniform?

  • K-5: No, students will not wear PE uniforms. You may purchase a shirt if you wish, and your child may wear it on Fridays, but this it not required. K-5 students must wear their regular uniform on PE days.
  • 6-8: Optional - if you child chooses to dress out for PE, they are only permitted to wear the PE shirt and shorts. Your child may also wear their regular uniform for PE. Students who choose to dress out for PE do so in the stalls of the restrooms prior to class beginning.

What is required for the daily uniform?

  • Shirts: All uniform shirts must be purchased from RC Uniform Wear. K-5: Red DCCS Polo Shirt; 6-8: Blue or White DCSS Polo Shirt. All shirts must be tucked in while on school property.
  • Bottoms: All uniform bottoms must follow the options at RC Uniform Wear.
  • Shoes: shoes must be closed-toe, closed-heel shoes (no exceptions); light up shoes are okay; shoes with wheels are not permitted; shoes will heels higher than 1/4" are not permitted (tennis shoes or other basic athletic shoes are encouraged).
  • Belt: If the pants/shorts/skirt has loops, a belt must be worn. It can be in any style or coloring. Parents of younger students: If your child needs assistance in unbuckling or buckling their belt, please choose a more simplified belt or talk to your child's teacher about forgoing the belt until your child can handle it independently.
  • Socks/Tights: Students can wear any socks or tights as long as they are solid color.
  • Jeans (for Fri Jeans Days with $) - If you're choosing to participate in the jeans day (not required, see above for more information), jeans must not have any holes, tears, rips, or frays of any kind, even if the fraying does not show skin. Jeans must cover at least the same surface area of the regular uniform.
  • Jackets/Sweaters - When jacket season arrives, students must wear a DCSS logo jacket from RC Uniform Wear. No other jackets, sweatshirts, sweaters, etc. will be permitted while in the building.
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Great Things are Happening at DCSS!

Did you know...

  • Did you know we're having our first school-wide musical this year? Ms. Leon and Ms. Stork (our fabulous music teachers) are putting on School House Rock Live, Jr! Much like the School House Rock cartoons from yesteryear, the musical consists of several vignettes, allowing us to involve as many students as possible for our musical debut in Spring.

  • Did you know we're having K-5 arts showcases each month? Each month, one grade level in K-5 will have an evening arts showcase. Student artwork from their art class will hang gallery-style, and students will perform what they've been working on in music class.

  • Did you know we're offering more electives to our middle school students? Middle schoolers can choose 2 electives from the choices of theatre, dance, band, chorus, musical theatre, peer counseling, creative writing, critical thinking, beginning Spanish, Spanish 1 (high school credit), technology, 2-D Studio Art, 3-D Studio Art, and STEM Science Lab! We will continue to offer remedial labs and classes for students struggling in math and reading, as well as having EVERY middle school student in PE/Health daily.

  • Did you know we'll have LiveSchool for 4th-8th students in order to award positive points and track demerits? Students will have log ins where they can cash in their points for pre-determined awards. Teachers can even print a "paycheck" for students to see their points! This goes along with our positive and proactive approaches to behavior, as well as our focus on character education and social-emotional learning. You can learn more about it here:

  • Did you know we'll have Class Dojo for K-3rd students in order to award positive points for behavior? Teachers and staff can catch students being "good" and award students points that can be used for various awards, including our popular Positive Behavior Parties at the end of each quarter. You can learn more about it here:

  • Did you know we're having additional motivators and incentives for middle schoolers? For those students going the extra mile academically and with their character, we'll have additional incentives! I don't want to give away too much of the fun before the students hear it it too. We'll be sharing more details during middle school assemblies and through parent communications.

  • Did you know we're going to have mindful moments on the announcements and in the cafeteria each day? These quick 60-second quiet breaks will set the tone for the day on the announcements, and help in calming behavior in the cafeteria. We could all use a mindful moment throughout our day to reflect, reset, and breathe.
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Prevent Summer Slide!

Did you know your students can still access Reading Plus and Think Through Math (now called Imagine Math) throughout the summer? If you're looking to hold off the "summer slide", then make sure your rising 4th-8th grade students are logging into these effective software programs throughout the summer!

Have a K-3rd student? I highly recommend ABC Mouse Learning Academy! I use this with my own child, and it is great to keep reading and math skills fresh through throughout the summer months.

Or, kick it old school by simply making sure your child is reading, reading, reading over the summer! This could be them reading independently, or you reading to them! Every little bit helps.

Looking for more? Many stores have workbooks you can purchase to keep skills sharp - Target, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Amazon - most stores have these simple workbooks to help keep skills fresh.

Community and Charity Outreach: Gently Used Shoes

We are working to for a HUGE goals of getting 25,000 gently used shoes donated for those in need around the world. Do you have shoes you rarely wear? How about shoes that are gently-used that your child grew out of? Help clear out your clutter, keep shoes out of landfills, and contribute to a good cause - you can even receive a volunteer hour the first time you donate!




Receive a volunteer hour for donating!

(First time only)

If possible please bring shoes in plastic bags.

Did you know you can be a world changer by sending in your gently used shoes you no longer wear?

Check your closets/bring shoes to DCSS

Be a world changer!

Soles 4 Souls is a non- profit organization which has distributed 30 million shoes across 127 countries including the United States.

Your shoes help children and adults in our community as well as in other countries including during natural disasters.

Have questions?

Contact Heather Johnston 904-613-5958