Cougar News

Week of February 13, 2023

Letter from Mr. Nelson


Wow. Talk about a Jinx of epic proportions. The last time we spoke ( I wrote, you read), I was all about the first five-day school week of the new year. That’s right; I guaranteed everybody five days of instruction, engagement, and fun. I even asked you all to prepare for a “fiver” the next week.

Boy, was I wrong.

We are saddened to have lost four days of learning and growing with your students, but like the middle school mind, Texas weather is ever-changing and unpredictable.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled newsletter.

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KAT Day and Early Release Day (February 17th):

It’s back! The most spectacular day of any kid’s life; CAT Day! CAT (Cougar Activity Day) is back here in Smallville for the forest time since the Pandemic. For those who don’t know about CAT Day, here’s a primer:

During CAT Day, we ask teachers to share their passions and joy with students by creating classes they wish they could either teach or take. They love the freedom of creating versus following a curriculum and love that the kids are all there based on interest, not required. Kids get to take classes with new friends and new and beloved teachers, and the whole day sings of socialization.

This CAT Day will be slightly different as we spell it with a “K,” for kindness. We will be gifted the opportunity to do something kind for our community while working collectively. We have partnered with Austin Humane Society, Refugees of Austin, Keep Austin Beautiful, Project Linus, Caritas, Meals on Wheels, Baylor Scott and White, Brush Country Nursing and Rehabilitation, Austin Fire Department Station 51, our elementary feeder campuses, and the Small Middle School Emergent Bilingual educators. We are excited to make blankets for children with trauma, care packages and spa packages for refugees, welcome packages for students new to the U.S/Small, pillowcases for children in need, paper flower gifts for the elderly, origami crane art for our local hospital, paper art installation for our local firefighters, cat toys, seed bombs and much more.

We are grateful to everyone who can contribute to this project. Your donations, ideas, and precious time have been quite a gift. Our students' excitement over spreading kindness throughout Austin is truly beautiful.

Smallville, USA, what a great place to be.

Have a great weekend, and go Chiefs!

Matthew Nelson


(512) 841-6705

AB Calendar has been updated

Remember. Monday February 13 will now be a B day (instead of C) because of the early release at 2:30pm scheduled for this Friday after KAT day.

So, next weeks schedule will be BABAK (Kat Day)

Attendance Procedure Change

To streamline the attendance process and create a better more efficient system we will be implementing some changes. Starting Monday, we will only accept electronic emails to for attendance notes along with the electronic google doc. Paper notes will no longer be accepted. Thank you for your support as we transition to this new system.
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Does your student fall in one or both of the following categories: potential credit loss due to attendance and/or potential credit loss because of course GPA? Twilight is a chance to repair/ matain credit loss!

The goal of CSMS Twilight, its team (Mrs. Kirk and Mr. Tabares) and your teachers on how best to recover lost credits. This is a solid opportunity for your 7th or 8th grade student(s) to advance on time and develop study practices ahead of upcoming 8th grade year or freshman year of high school. More importantly, Twilight is a great alternative to having to give up vacation time by having to report to summer school. This is an Austin ISD sponsored program available at most, if not all campuses in the district and it is NOT a "punishment" as much as it is a tool designed for aiding in the success of our Cougars! Time spent in Twilight won't be that much different than spending time in your scheduled classes- but with Mrs. Kirk and Mr. Tabares instead.

"What do I need to do?"
If you are needing to recover credit for attendance, just show up! If you are needing to recover credit for failing grades, check in with Mrs. Kirk or Mr. Tabares in the Library to determine what tasks need to be accomplished to make up grades.

"What does a single twilight afternoon session look like?"
For attendance: Honestly- just showing up and being present recovers your attendance credits! You can come in, draw, read, read comics, be on your laptop, relax and listen to music... so long as you aren't being disruptive and conducting yourself in a manner typical of an academic environment, attendance makeup recovery is super easy. The number of credits made up will be determined by your teachers, Twilight staff and possibly our attendance specialist, counselor(s), and administrator(s).

For academics: Depending on the agreement for the teacher(s) you're making credit up for, an afternoon can be reading/answering questions, performing daily grade work on BLEND, working on worksheets, working on tests, performing test corrections, finishing previously assigned materials... While this sounds daunting, I assure you that we aim to try and make this as easy as possible for you. We don't want to be in summer school as much as you do!

"Where is Twilight?"
Twilight will be held after school, Monday through Thursday, in the CSMS Library from 3:50-4:50.

"How do I know if I'm doing attendance recovery, academic recovery, or both?"

Please email Mrs. Kirk/Mr. Tabares or stop by the library after school to determine what kind of Twilight/credit recovery you will need to participate in. The number of after school sessions, and the type of Twilight you will participate in will be different from student-to-student based on their academic area of need and/or attendance.

How will I know when I am done?
The goal end-date will be a time collaborated on between Mrs. Kirk/Mr. Tabares and your academic teacher based on either your grade(s) or attendance. It can be as short as a week, or it can be through the end of the year if you've missed multiple school days and are in danger of not passing one or more classes.

What happens if I don't accomplish/complete Twilight?

Each case is different from student to student, but unrecovered credits may result in summer school or repeating your current grade year.

When my end date and/or assignments required to fulfill credit is accomplished, what do I do next?

With Twilight- nothing! You've recovered your credit! All you have to do now is continue attending classes at school and maintain a passing GPA in all your courses.

We hope this convers all the necessary information you, and your family may need about Twilight and look forward to working with you to get promoted to the next grade level. Again, please feel free to reach out to Mrs. Kirk and/or Mr. Tabares with any questions or concerns you might have as it relates to the Twilight program.

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Parents of Small:

Each year your child(ren) attend an AISD School, they must be pre-registered for the next school year. Online registration is an integral part of our campus’ success (funding and appropriate staffing as well as updated contact information).

Please be sure to log in to your Parent Portal and confirm your child’s information via the Online Registration tile.

Thank you for being a part of the Cougar Community and helping us win together!

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Counseling Corner

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On February 17th, 2023 Small Middle School students will participate in our school’s first Kindness Day. Through a survey given by Small Counselors, students shared their interests in showing kindness to our community by helping animals, the environment, children and families in need, and in many other ways.

On Kindness Day, Small MS will partner with over 20 non-profit organizations to provide students with the chance to learn about these organizations, and then

do an activity or project that will support them. As we prepare to make this an awesome

experience for our students, we are asking for help from our amazing Small Middle School

family. If you are able, here are the ways you can support Kindness Day:

  • Donate funds thru Venmo - You can donate to Cynthia Diaz, the Lead Counselor for Small MS, here - please make a note for Kindness Day so she can keep track well. @ Cynthia-Diaz-67

  • Purchase items from our Amazon Kindness Day Wishlist for use in Kindness Day projects.

  • Donate clean fabric/old clothes, paper towel and toilet rolls - for cat toys.

  • Donate magazines for making recycled gratitude gifts.

  • Donate NEW travel-size toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes,etc.) This is a great way to put hotel or sample toiletries to good use!

Thank you for your help!

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23-24 Choice Sheets

Please visit our Small Counseling Website for all details on due dates, courses, and more. Choice sheets are due the week of 1/23.

Unknown Incoming 5th Grade Info

Is your student zoned to Small next year, but they don't currently go to one of our feeder schools? If so we are looking for you! You are one of our "Unknown Cougars". We know you are out there, but we don't have a way to communicate with you. We have put together a list of things you should know...

Choice Sheets: It is time to turn in your choice sheet for next year. Please go to our Counseling Choice Sheet Page. There you can learn more about what we offer, print a choice sheet and fill it out. Please turn it in asap to our front office. If you have any questions about the choice sheet, contact our counselors,,

Transition Events: We are offering some summer transition events to make sure your student is very comfortable coming to Small next year. Save the date...

  • Cougar Camp: (Kids only) July 31st & August 1, 2023 This is a 2 day, 1/2 day camp
  • Scavenger Hunt: (Parents and Kids) August 3rd, 2023 11 - 1 PM
  • Parent Camp: (zoom) August 3rd, 6 to 7:30 pm

Communication Tools: You can get lots of information in the following places.

  • This newsletter ;) - If you want to get it in your in box every week, Click here
  • Our Website - Keep an eye on the Calendar and take a look at our FAQ for incoming families. It needs a little updating, but there is a lot of good info there.
  • Parents of Small Facebook - Join here, Ask questions and get answers from other families from Small.

STAAR Tests are coming

Please make sure your student has a charger for testing season. If you need one you can order them off of Amazon see the link below.


Every chromebook comes with 1 charger. If your student loses that charge, you must purchase a new one. We do not have extra chargers in the office to loan or give out.

Click here to purchase or see what charger you need for the school chromebooks.

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Order a yearbook online!

Our yearbook is a full color celebration of everything that makes Small special; it's a great fun way to preserve all your student's fond memories of Small. The price is now $40. Get your yearbook today!

Click here for the easy link:

If you have any yearbook questions, please email Mr. Shoptaw at

Thank you to our Gold Sponsors

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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! With your help we were able to support almost 80 families. They were able to purchase dinner for their families and gifts for their children. We appreciate you!