Nelson Middle School News

October 2015

From the Principal's Desk

What a wonderful first quarter of the school year we have had. Our volleyball team has been playing fantastically; our FFA team cleaned house at the State Fair; and our football team has begun its first full season of play. Our players, coaches, and sponsors are to be commended for their efforts thus far this year.

Our annual 9/11 ceremony was a success, again to be attributed to the efforts of several students and faculty sponsors. We would like to thank Mr. Kershner and the NMS Chorus, Mrs. Powell and the NMS Band, Miss Kitts and her FCS students, as well as Mr. Onderdonk and his Technology students for putting on such a wonderful event for some very important members of our community. Eighth grader, Jadakiss Johnson delivered a wonderful keynote address for the event, and we are very proud of him as well.

Two weeks ago, 7th and 8th graders at NMS each received a Dell Chromebook to assist them in their studies. With these devices in the hands of every 7th and 8th grader, the world is truly at their fingertips. I am excited to see students and teachers explore how to best use these devices to enhance and expand learning. We are already seeing some wonderful things along the lines of individualized instruction just in the short time that the students have had their Chromebooks.

October will be a busy month for us. Please refer to the dates and events in the “Upcoming Events” section of the newsletter below.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at or by calling 434-263-4801.


Roger Dunnick, Ed.D.

Principal, Nelson County Middle School

“Only Your Best is Good Enough”

Chromebooks in the classroom


During the week of October 5-9 Nelson Middle School will be observing Mental Illness

Awareness Week. It is my goal during this week to educate our students on this important, yet widely stigmatized, topic.

To help stamp out the stigmas of mental illness, students will have the opportunity to learn about myths, facts and prevalence, the specific language that is being used, and where and how to get help. Informational handouts will also be available to have and bring home. Presenting the students with this information may perhaps help students who may feel isolated or misunderstood to find the help they’ve been longing for.

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like more information on what will be discussed, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to help in any way I can. I can be reached at, 434-263-4801, or by email at

News from the Art Studio

The trip to Costa Rica is shaping up. We have many families interested with 10 or so students so far who want to go on this Eco Systems Spring break trip! Ms. Dort and I are very excited about this adventure. Anyone else interested in going, please see me before October 15th.

Students are creating great artwork, some of which is on exhibit at the Blue Ridge Medical Center. You can see other pieces here at school in the hallway near the Library. Be sure and view the 3-D case near the office. The confetti bowls there now will soon be replaced with ceramics and paper origami cubes. I try to change the art work monthly.

Have a creative day,

Mrs. Davis

Upcoming Events

This month:

  • 10/5 Volleyball v. LCA @4:30
  • 10/7 Football v. Buford @5:00 (Date and time are tentative.)
  • 10/5-10/9 Breast Cancer Awareness Week
  • 10/8 Pink Out Day and Volleyball v. Amherst
  • 10/9 Early Dismissal/End of 1st 9-weeks
  • 10/10 FFA Bluegrass Benefit Concert and Silent Auction begins at 4 pm
  • 10/12 Regular school day (make up day for 9/11)
  • 10/16 1st Quarter report cards go home
  • 10/19 Volleyball v. Buckingham @4:30
  • 10/22 Book Fair preview for students
  • 10/23 School Picture Makeups
  • 10/26-11/3 Scholastic Book Fair
  • 10/28-29 Honk, Jr performances @7pm in the MS/HS auditorium
  • 10/29 Football v. AltaVista @5:00

Next month:

  • 11/11 Interim Reports go home
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Student Submissions

A Special Gift for the Students

This year our school received a very cool gift for the students. Every 7th and 8th grade student got their own Chromebooks which are really cool. The students get to have fun on their computers but use them for learning, too. The students can change their background on their computer to be whatever they want as long as it's nothing inappropriate. The Chromebooks have their own cover to represent our school colors.

The students will be able to take their Chromebooks home but not before they have written permission from their parents. Stay tuned for more information on how this will happen.

Finally, students have begun using a website called Canvas which will give them all the information they will need for completing assignments, modules, quizzes and tests as well.

Contributed by 7th grader C. P.

Algebra: Getting Back To Your Square Roots

Currently in Algebra, we are studying and reviewing for our benchmark coming up soon. Also, we are planning to go on a field trip to Washington D.C. with T.A.G. students. We will visit the Botanical Gardens and the Library of Congress. If students have a B- or better in all subjects and on the project, they will get to go. Our project is about plants. Most of us have already completed the project yet it still has to be graded by the T.A.G. coordinator.

In other news, many of the Algebra students have decided to be in the Stock Market Game like we did last year. We are still deciding on our teams though for it. We also are learning literal equations and inequalities, for example, 2x - 4(32+5x)=44.

Contributed by 7th graders J. Z. and I. M.

History News

In Mr. Parsley’s History class, students are getting creative with Reconstruction. We have created an Animoto project, and we made a newspaper. We learned about the important people during that time period and what they did to contribute to Reconstruction. We are beginning to talk about people migrating west, and why they did. Canvas has become a big part of our everyday learning system. Over the past nine weeks, a major part of our learning has stemmed from the events of the Civil War.

In the newspaper articles, we showed what states Reconstruction occurred in, an interview of what life was like in that time, and the Amendments. The Animoto presentation consisted of the Jim Crow laws, and the amendments. In the projects we do, we put all the facts that these events included and what the effect was of it. We work in groups at our tables to help us work on our projects. The projects we do help you remember the facts and other events that happened, so when we take our test we already know most of it. We have also worked on a map of the United States showing where the Missouri River is, where the Rocky Mountains start and end, and the states that make up the Great Plains.

Contributed by 7th graders J. H. and G. L.

Language Arts News

In Language Arts we are studying figurative language. It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of time to remember. We have been working on similes and metaphors lately. We have learned figurative language, setting, theme, and plot. In Language Arts, you learn a lot of different things, but it’s easy to remember. Language Arts is a fun subject to learn.

In Mrs. Bibb’s class we are learning about plot diagrams and reading stories in our Language Arts book. We take tests every Friday on the story that we read that week. Now, we are working on a Myth project with our group. Each group has a different myth. We are making a Google presentation and will present it in front of the class. We tell about the history of the myth and where it came from.

Contributed by 7th graders D. C. and J. H.

Perfect Pre-Algebra

When we started pre-algebra we were learning about square roots. We had to learn square roots up to the square root of four-hundred. When we learned about the square roots we had to take a test on them. After square roots we started learning about the real number system. The real number system has to deal with irrationals, rationals, integers, whole numbers, and natural numbers. Irrational numbers are numbers that don’t form a repeating pattern or don’t terminate. Rational numbers are numbers that form a repeating pattern or terminate. Integers are any numbers that end before the decimal so they are positive and negative. Whole numbers are numbers that are positive including zero. Natural numbers are any positive numbers except for zero.

After we learned about the real number system we learned about negative exponents. Negative exponents can be fractions and decimals. We learned about scientific notation after negative exponents. When you are trying to go into scientific notation first you have to put a decimal at the first number that isn’t zero. Then you drop the extra zero’s. After that you write x10 and you an exponent depending on how many spaces the decimal moves.

We learned about absolute value next. Absolute value is a number's distance from zero. Absolute value you is always positive. Next we learned about adding integers. When you add integers with the same sign you add and keep the same sign. When you Subtract integers you “add the opposite” and “keep, change,change”. Then we learned about different sequences. We learned about Arithmetic Sequences and Geometric Sequences. That is all that we have learned so far this year so that’s the end.

Contributed by 7th graders M. D. and T. W.

Spotlight Science!

I have science with Miss Dort. Miss Dort is a 7th and 8th grade science teacher. In science, I have learned about matter, elements, and a few more things. Matter is three parts: solids, liquids, and gases. We have been working with the periodic table. Miss Dort has taught us how to find Atomic Mass. We have been working with protons, neutrons, and electrons. When you are finding those three things, the number of protons that you have are the number of electrons as well. When you are finding neutrons, you have to use the equation “Atomic Mass= protons+neutrons”. We just took our test on the periodic table. If you are interested in learning about science, head on down to Miss Dort’s room!

Contributed by 7th grader T. W.

Scientific Science

In science class, we are doing labs that have to do with the states of matter and working with our online textbooks. We learned that plasma exists more in outer space than on earth. Most plasma is found in things like fluorescent light bulbs. We learned that solids have tightly packed particles, liquids have loosened particles, and gases have free moving particles. Did you know that when a solid becomes a gas without becoming a liquid, the process is called sublimation? An example of this is dry ice. When dry ice deforms (it doesn’t technically melt), it becomes a gas. Guess that’s why it’s called DRY ice.

Contributed by 7th graders A. M., J. W., and X. L.

The Science Around Us

In Mrs. McCray's Physical Science class, we will be focusing on chemistry and physics this year. We have completed so many different experiments already. They are very fun. One of the experiments that we did in class was a polymer experiment with water gel crystals. We are also having fun learning about the four phases of matter. Plasma is the most uncommon phase of matter on earth.

Contributed by 7th graders X. L.

Robotics in Technology

This year in technology, our school is working on Robotics. We get to learn how to build and program our own robots. Our teacher is Mr. Onderdonk. He is really fun, but when he needs to be, he is strict. The technology room has plenty of room and plenty of computers.This year in the tech lab, we are having a Lego Club where we build really cool things out of Legos like robots, cars, planes,and a rocket ship.

Contributed by 7th grader C. P.

Technical Science

In technology, we do Robotics, Coding, and 3D design. Kerbal Education is a place where you make a rocket to fly out into orbit. This class requires student to make a daily powerpoint presentation slide to be presented to the class. As our school motto says, “Only your best is good enough.” If you don’t have Technology, I hope you have fun with what you you are doing.

Contributed by 7th grader X. L.

Addicting Ag Science

When we first went to Ag Science, we had to go into the classroom.

The first week, we learned about plants like wheat, oats, tobacco, and rye. The second week, we took a test on plants and started learning about pigs, cows, and goats. After we took a test on animals, we started learning about the shop. Before we were allowed to go out into the shop, we had to take 10 tests about shop safety, measuring, planer safety, and the tools in the shop. We had to get a 100% on all of the tests except measuring, center measuring, and shop safety before we could go out into the shop. We had to get an 80% on the measuring, center measuring, and shop safety test to go into the shop.

In the shop, we worked on a Virginia napkin holder. We had to draw Virginia's outline on two pieces of wood that were glued together. Next we had to glue two other pieces of wood together and draw virginia's outline on that. Then we had to cut them out using the bandsaw. After that we had to measure our extra board to 2 and a 4th and drill in screws to hold the Virginias onto the board. Then, we had to put wood putty on it and let that dry for a day. Finally, we had to put a polystyrene coating on it and let it dry for another day. We have finished the project. Now, we’re waiting on supplies for our next project which will be a bird house.

Contributed by 7th graders M. D. and T. W.

PE and Health

P.E. stands for physical education. Our P.E. teacher is Mrs. Helbert. We do a lot of physical activities, like dodgeball, kickball, mat ball, and baseball. This class keeps you in shape. We have to do fitness tests like the mile, pacer test, pull up, sit and reach, curl up tests, the flexed arm hang, and push-ups. The mile tests your aerobic endurance. The flexed arm hang tests your upper body strength. Curl ups test your abdominal strength. Push-ups test your upper body strength and endurance. The sit and reach tests your flexibility. According to your age, you must get a certain amount of minutes, seconds, or just numbers. This class mainly just focuses on fitness and staying in shape. This class is by far the best class of the day.

Health is about physical, social, and mental health. It rotates between classes. The rotation is Ms. Donigan’s classes, then Mrs. Helbert’s classes, and finally Mr. Chambers’ classes. We learn about bad drugs, eating right, and about health. If you have Health one week, then the next two weeks you have P.E. When we learn about physical fitness, we learn to eat right and be active. Eating right is having a balanced meal. There are different types of food. You have grains, dairy, meat, fruits, and vegetables. You also learn about being social.

When we practice for upcoming health tests, we sometimes play games like shoot the ball in the box. The objective of the game is to get the answer right. You can go up close and make the safe shot, which is worth one point, or you can go for the risky shots that are worth two and three points. The box that you shoot the ball into is on a chair. The ball can also bounce on the floor and go in the box.

You always have to drink water when playing a sport or just playing outside. If you do not, you will become dehydrated. Dehydration is the excessive loss of water from the body. When playing any sport, you should always be in shape for the job or part you play. That is when you do conditioning. Conditioning is when you train to get into shape. You do not want to exercise too hard, though, or you will be overtraining. Overtraining is when you train too much. It is always good to take one day off from training a week.

Contributed by 7th graders N. S. and J. W.

Working in Woodshop

In the Woodshop classroom, you learn about agriculture. You learn about animals, plants, and the history of the FFA. This class teaches you about things you need to learn in life. Once you finish up agriculture, you will take ten tests and once you finish and pass them, you will go into the shop.

In woodshop, we’re building Virginia napkin holders and then we are supposed to make birdhouses. We were going to build shelves, but almost everyone has a shelf or two in their house from previous siblings, so we changed it up a bit. The tools we'll be using for the napkin holder are the bandsaw, drill press, hammer, drill, and sander. The bandsaw is easy to use, but be careful! It is a saw after all. Also, do not play around with the sander. Pay attention to your work, because if not, you could be injured, or worse. You will scrape yourself, and that scuffed up skin doesn’t look great, and you could also get cut, but you shouldn’t freak out about it. Woodshop is still really fun. Just don’t play around. And yes, Ms. Goff is really nice.

Contributed by 7th graders A. M., J. W., and X. L.

What’s going on in Crops Judging!

I chose to be in FFA and do Crops Judging my 7th grade year. We have been learning about all kinds of seeds and plants! We have learned how to judge corn, corn silage, soybeans for seed, wheat, barley, alfalfa, red clover, pasture sod, mixed hay, orchard grass, tall fescue, alfalfa silage, and soybeans for market. Crops Judging kids competed at the State Fair September 29th. Learning all the seeds and plants can be quite confusing, but in the end it is all worth it. I’m not sure exactly how many seeds we have covered, but it’s a lot! We have covered quite a lot of plants, too. Each day that we stay after, we work on judging and seed/plant ID. We had just a short time to learn everything, but we had great teachers that helped us to learn.

Contributed by 7th grader T. W.

Home Ec Excitement

In Home Economics (Home Ec.) with our teacher, Ms. Kitts, we just finished our cooking segment of the class and are now starting the sewing segment. No serious injuries or damages have happened at this time; only a few needles have been broken. Some types of lines and shapes we have sewn are straight lines, curved lines, circles, and zigzags. Time is winding down, so time is of the essence.

Contributed by 7th graders J. Z. and I. M.


In art we are studying about origami. It’s fun to do but can get very hard. We are doing an origami cube right now in class. You have to cut out six 8x8 boxes and fold them how the teacher says. We have already learned how to make clay pots, origami, and how to use pastel crayons.

We have learned about the many elements of art and how to use them properly. We have created many different projects using different materials. For a couple weeks we focused on Mexican Art and the different designs they used. We had to choose one animal and draw it and decorate it with designs they would use in Mexico. We also got to make clay pieces and paint them. The purpose of these projects were to help us focus on using elements of design and principles of designs. Everyday when we come to art, we have a warm up that most likely gets us thinking about what we will be doing that day. In art we have learned about making things precise and taking our time.

Contributed by 7th graders D. C. and G. L.

About us

Nelson Middle School is located one mile south of Lovingston in the center of Nelson County, Virginia. The only middle school in the county, NMS is home to approximately 450 students, 40 teachers, and 15 support staff.