VA Weekly Navigator

Your guide to news, updates, and reminders in the Upper VA

(Week of September 12, 2022)

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A Note from the Dean

As we gear up for our third week of school, it feels more and more like we're "dropping into the groove" of online learning, and of the school year in general. There is still a great deal of work to do as we continue to revisit and refine various aspects of the MVA -- restarting clubs and activities, completing round one of MAP testing, identifying student leadership, digging into SSL and graduation procedures, and much more -- but, we are getting up to speed and making sure we are engaging students in meaningful learning opportunities and support every period, every day. We are excited to see the results of all the hard work and flexibility of our staff, students, and families. This week specifically, we have some important events coming up (see further down for more):

  • Tuesday 9/13 is Back to School Night for ELEMENTARY students and families
  • Wednesday 9/14 is an early release day for all students
  • Thursday 9/15 is Back to School Night for MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL students and families (ask you children about their Zoom link schedules for this event!)
  • Friday 9/16 begins MAP-R testing for all high school students

I want to thank each of you on behalf of the MVA Crew -- we are so glad to be on this journey with you!

-Steve Orders

Dean (6-12)

Honoring September 11

Today marks a somber moment of remembrance: the 21 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We join you in honoring those whose lives were forever touched by the events of that fateful day and all the weeks and years to follow. If you are engaging in conversations with your children about this important historical event, you may find the following resources useful:

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9-11-2022: First responders salute in a driving rain as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon on Sunday, the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo Credit:; The Associated Press)

Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday, September 13 - Lower School Back to School Night 6:30-8:00 PM
  • Wednesday, September 14 - Early Release Day
  • Thursday, September 15 - Upper School Back to School Night 6:30-8:30 PM
  • Thursday, September 15- October 15 - Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Friday, September 16- Thursday, September 29 - MAP Testing (High School)
  • Monday, September 26- No School for all MCPS Students and Teachers
  • Friday, September 30- Early Release Day
  • Friday, September 30- Picture Make-up Day (15 West Gude Drive)
  • Saturday, October 8- MVAPTC Craft Fair from 12:00 to 5:00 PM at Earl B Wood Middle School
  • Back to School Night - Secondary (Middle & High School)

    BTSN is a great opportunity for parents, guardians, and families to meet their children's teachers and learn more about the MVA. This event is VIRTUAL, so please log in with your child's Chromebook. Families must log in using MCPS student logins to access teachers' Zoom links.

    Our online event runs from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 15.

    After a brief introduction and overview, families will follow their children's schedules to visit individual teachers' Zoom classroom spaces to learn about each course and teacher. Teachers are also preparing short clips for parents and families who are unable to attend live on Thursday night; look for more information about accessing those videos by Thursday, 9/15.

    In advisory class this week, all students will receive a blank template/schedule for the evening to enter in their Zoom links. This will be the schedule you'll use to navigate the evening -- please check with your children to make sure they're able to provide you with this important resource!

    Zoom Webinar Link

    Webinar Passcode: 796607

    We look forward to seeing you on Thursday -- and please let your children know they are welcome to attend, as well!

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    Maximizing Student Engagement, Participation, and Attendance

    Research indicates that meaningful personal engagement with their teachers and peers is one of the most important predictors of student learning and achievement.

    As a result of a review of the research, the Montgomery Virtual Academy (MVA) presents the following revisions to its policies and expectations around student engagement, participation, and attendance for the 2022-2023 school year and beyond.

    1. All students are expected to appear on camera for the majority of every class
    2. Students should actively demonstrate engagement throughout each lesson.
    3. Students who demonstrate no engagement for the entire class period may be marked “Absent” for that class period.
    4. The MVA continues to expand opportunities for students to engage meaningfully with teachers, staff, and each other outside of the classroom.

    For more detailed information on these expectations, please see this document. Thank you for your support and encouragement as we work together to connect students with their teachers and each other!

    Picture Day, Part Deux: The Make-up!

    If you missed our picture day last month, don't worry -- Barksdale will be back on September 30 for make-ups. Please see the information below and use this link to sign up for a slot. Photos will be taken at 15 West Gude Dr., Rockville MD 20850. If you have questions, please call us at 240-740-6060.
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    Student Newsletter

    Did you know we have a separate newsletter for students, to help them keep up with all the important events and offerings in various areas of the MVA? Use this link to visit, and make sure your children are getting our updates each week.

    Annual Notice for Directory Information and Student Privacy

    Each school year, families are asked to communicate updates about contact information, health, directory withholdings, emergency contacts and more. These updates are now processed in ParentVUE using Online Registration to access MCPS Form 281-13 “Annual Notice for Directory Information and Student Privacy.”

    Using this form, parents/guardians may also indicate that the student does not want to be recorded during virtual classroom sessions for future viewing by students in the same class. Completing this form does not exclude a child from having a camera on during non-recorded instruction. Parents/guardians who choose to complete this form should do so by September 12, 2022. Please use the following guide to support you in this process:

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    MVA Library Media Center Announcements

    To kick off the school year, our media specialist, Tracy Jeffcott, and Lower School media assistant, Ellen Rahr will be visiting lower school classrooms to introduce students to our new MVA Library Media Center Website. Visits to our middle and high school students will be coming soon!

    Click here to view the site! The Media Center Website is also linked at the top of the Montgomery Virtual Academy website.

    Virtual Academy Calendar for Setpember 2022

    See below for the calendar for this upcoming week. Please note that Monday, September 5 is a holiday; schools and offices are closed. Also, MAP-R takes place this week for grades 6 and 7. More testing information is coming via email and through classes. For the full May calendar, click the link below:

    Virtual Academy Daily Calendar

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    Zoom Links and Contacting Teachers

    Use this link or click the logo to the left to access a full list of Virtual Academy teachers with their Zoom links and Outlook email addresses. If you have general questions, or you need a live human to assist you, please call us at 240-740-6060 during school hours.
    MCPS School Calendar

    The MCPS website features "Calendar Central," where you can find information on holidays, early release days, and other special events throughout the school year.

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    SSL Updates & Opportunities

    Check out these important September 2022 SSL updates to learn more about SSL opportunities, forms, and information about staying up to date on their SSL records and activity. And, read on below for some special opportunities available countywide and specifically for Virtual Academy students!

    SSL Updates:

    The Student Global Ambassador Program is offering 4 SSL hours for students ages 12+ to help with our Fall Clean-up on Saturday, September 24, 2022. Please distribute the following flyer (attached). Do share the following message with students: Middle and high school students: Kick-off Back to School with the SGAP Leaders' FALL CLEAN-UP! Bags, gloves and grabbers provided. Meet us at one of the following parks from 9-12 on Saturday, September 24, 2022. We will provide light refreshments. Grab a friend and come! Earn 4SSL hours. Age 12+ ONLY 50 VOLUNTEERS PER PARK

    @ Parklawn Park

    @ East Norbeck Park @ Winding Creek Park

    Latino Student Fund Tutoring

    Four Seasons World Dance Auditions

    Arise & Flourish:

    Students will need to visit the Montgomery County Volunteer Center ( and in the red box “Find a Volunteer Opportunity”, type in Arise and Flourish. Students will find the volunteer opportunity for the cycle of addiction video review project. This SSL opportunity has been approved by the MCPS SSL department. Please let the students know NOT to use their MCPS email address as we will not be able to respond to them.

    Once students respond for the volunteer opportunity on the site, we will send the student/parent permission slip and detailed volunteer information. Please make sure the students do NOT use their MCPS email address as we will not be able to respond to them. Students will watch two video presentations provided by our organization. One video is our speakers who are people in recovery who share their personal experience. The second video is the presentation on the cycle of addiction which has information on how addiction happens.

    Students have the ability to earn the following for the quality completion of this project:

    1) Earn 1 SSL hour for watching one speaker video and the video for the cycle of addiction and completing one paper or artwork or;

    2) Earn up to 4 SSL hours for watching up to 4 speaker videos along with the one video for the cycle of addiction and completing 4 papers or 4 artworks.

    Students can watch anywhere from 1 - 4 speaker videos and the video for the cycle of addiction and completing one paper or artwork for EACH speaker video watched.

    SSL in Action

    Check Out Our VA SSL Website

    You can now access many important resources for Student Service Learning (SSL) at our new website: ​​

    Here you'll find...

    • Contact information for our SSL Coordinator (Dr. Simarjeet Sandhu) and our counseling team
    • An introductory video about SLL hours and how to complete them
    • The official submission form for reporting hours
    • Timely updates on service opportunities within and outside of the Virtual Academy
    • and more!

    How to Check SSL Hours in ParentVUE

    • Navigate to
    • Select "I am a parent" or "I am a student."
    • Enter your User Name and Password, then click "Login."
    • Click "Course History" from the left-hand navigation.
    • The Course History page shows the student's graduation progress, test requirements, and SLL hours earned. (Students need 75 hours for graduation.)
    • Toggle on "Detail" to see full Service Learning details.
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    SSL Opportunity: Project Linus

    Attention families and students: More SSL opportunities are available through Project Linus, an organization that provides handmade blankets to children experiencing trauma in Montgomery County and surrounding areas.

    Project Linus is a national organization with chapters across the country ( Their Montgomery County Maryland chapter works with partner organizations like Holy Cross Hospital, Children's Hospital, A Wider Circle, and the Montgomery County Department of Social Services, to distribute blankets to children who are in the hospital, homeless, in foster care, in shelters, and in other situations where just a small comfort can make a major difference. All these blankets are made by volunteers.

    Middle and high school students can earn SSL hours with Project Linus in 3 ways:

    1. Attending one of their monthly meetings and helping to make blankets. They meet on the 4th Monday or every month (except December, where it’s the third Monday) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Richard Montgomery High School. They provide all the necessary supplies, and their adult volunteers supervise the blanket-making activities. No special skills or experience required. Meeting dates are listed on this flyer.

    2. Students can also earn SSL hours remotely by making blankets at home. When they drop off the blankets, they also need to send a picture of them with the blanket(s) they made. We ask that students making blankets at home first attend one of their meetings, or contact the organization at, to make sure they are following the proper instructions. Project Linus does not provide supplies for blankets made at home.

    3. Finally, they are always looking for volunteers to help with blanket pickup and delivery and other activities.

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    Need to Reach a Counselor?

    Virtual Academy students in grades 6-12 who need to speak with a counselor
    can reach out to the counselor listed below (alphabetical by last name). Please note that during these first few weeks of the year, all counselors are inundated with schedule requests and questions -- thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to serve the needs of our 1,800 students and families! (Click the image of the list below for a web browser version, for easier viewing.)

    Please use this link to access important information about connecting with school counselors.

    Apply Online Now for Free and Reduced-Price Meals Benefits

    Families of students who may qualify for free or reduced-price meals can now apply for assistance for school meals. Eligibility is based on family size and gross income. Students in Maryland who qualify for reduced-price meals will receive free breakfast and lunch meals.
    Apply here. Learn more about the program.

    MVA Parent Teacher Council Updates

    The MVAPTC is the MVA parent-teacher organization with non-profit status and insurance.

    NEW: MVAPTC Craft Fair is seeking vendors & volunteers - October 8th at Earl B Wood located at 14615 Bauer Dr, Rockville, MD 20853 from 12-5 PM. Space discount available to MVAPTC Members (Families, Staff & Students). SSL hours are available to student volunteers. Please contact Andrea Levy at or Tim Stefanoski at to register.

    NEW: Montgomery Connect is offering MVA families & staff 100 computers for those who need them. They are requesting that the priority be for individuals that do not have a computer and are unable to purchase them for themselves (parents/caregivers/children/staff who need it for educational/work purposes). Registration opens at Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 2 PM. Computer pick up is on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 4:00 – 5:00 PM at McGee Library at 900 Wayne Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910. This link/program is only available for MVA families & staff.


    Thursday, October 6th at 6:30 PM. Meetings will be held on the second Thursday of each month. The zoom link is:, the Meeting ID is: 830 0426 4203 and the Passcode: mvaptc

    NEW: The PTC wants your input! Please use this survey to share your ideas for possible meeting topics for the Parent Teacher Council over the year. Thank you!

    Meeting slides, meeting minutes and other documents are available for review on the MVAPTC website located at We are working on getting this years meeting slides and minutes translated into Spanish.

    Upcoming Events:

    Sunday, October 2nd from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, we will meet on the patio of Ben and Jerry’s, located 199-F East Montgomery Avenue Rockville, MD 20850. Sweet treats are available for purchase and the store is providing 20% of the purchases back to the MVAPTC, if mentioned during of your purchase.

    MVAPTC Craft Fair - October 8th from 12:00 to 5:00 PM at Earl B Wood Middle School.

    Spirit Wear:

    Shirts are available for purchase at the MVA office. Shirts are self-service and after you select your shirts for purchase, please pay at Shirts will also be available at the socials for purchase. Children and adult sizes available in a variety of styles and colors.


    Dues/Membership for the 2022-2023 school year are $5 for staff membership, $10 for individual/ two person membership and $15 for family/household membership. MVAPTC also has a pay what you can/want option with a $2 fee to cover square costs. Donations are also greatly appreciated. Dues/membership are not required to attend meetings and participate in events/activities, but greatly appreciated to help pay for the yearly insurance, organization expenses, teacher appreciation, social events and school needs/wants.


    Volunteers are needed to host socials, fundraise, teacher appreciation, translation, assist with the facebook page and website, run and participate in committees and much more. Please contact Jessica at to volunteer.

    Teacher Appreciation:

    Teacher Wish Lists are located in the facebook discussion group. Lets support our teachers by helping them fill their wishlists. Facebook Discussion Group: MVAPTC Discussion Group - Montgomery Virtual Academy Families & Staff(MD)

    Helpful Links:


    Facebook page: Montgomery Virtual Academy Parent Teacher Council

    Facebook Discussion Group: MVAPTC Discussion Group - Montgomery Virtual Academy Families & Staff(MD)

    Facebook Special Needs Discussion Group: MVAPTC - Children with SN - Montgomery VIrtual Academy (MD)

    Shirts, Dues & Donations:

    Please contact Jessica, MVAPTC President, at to volunteer, or with any questions or concerns.

    Alert MCPS

    Alert MCPS provides emergency information about school closures or emergencies via text or email messages to devices you register. Sign up here.

    Attendance Questions and Absence Notes

    If you have any questions about your child's attendance, or if you need to report an excused absence, please contact our Attendance Secretary, Ms. Hikeyya Falden:

    Advisory ("Homeroom") Reminders

    Every student in the VA is scheduled for Advisory (indicated as "Homeroom" on their schedules).

    Advisory meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Students are able to:

    • connect with peers from their home school
    • receive Virtual Academy updates and information
    • participate in fun and interesting advisory lessons

    It is important for students to log in each Advisory day for learning and attendance. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, asynchronous activities are provided for students; completion of these activities counts for Advisory attendance on these days.

    Contact your advisory teacher for information and to answer questions.

    Activating and Utilizing ParentVUE

    Activate Your ParentVue Account

    This important tool will provide near real-time access to information on assignments and scores, attendance, class schedules, transcripts, graduation status, and more. You may access ParentVUE online, but for the best mobile experience, we encourage you to download the ParentVUE App from the Google Play Store or Apple Store, as this app will replace the current myMCPS mobile application.

    Contact Your Child's Administrator or Counselor for your activation letter

    ParentVue Directions

    Log in to ParentVue

    Free English as Second Language Classes for Parents

    In collaboration with MCPS, the Literacy Council of Montgomery County (LCMC) is offering free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for MCPS parents. The classes will be held virtually and there will be options for all levels of English speakers. They are available to any MCPS parent for whom English is not their first language.

    Please see this flyer for details:

    Parents can complete this Interest form to receive a placement test.

    Technology Support

    If you are having technology issues, please submit an e-ticket by emailing your question or issue to or submit a ticket via the Community Tech Support portal. This account is monitored daily and you will receive email notifications throughout the process.

    For helpful support guides and screencasts in English and Spanish, please visit

    A support guide for the Community Tech Support portal is available here:

    Helpful SSL Tip

    When you submit your SSL forms, it’s really important that you complete all sections properly, so the form does not get returned to you. Check out this video from our SSL committee that demonstrates how to complete the SSL form in its entirety.

    Thank you, Ms. Marks, for the helpful video!

    Free Computers for MoCo Residents in Need

    The Montgomery County government has received grant funding to provide a computer to residents who do not have one. All you need is a valid Montgomery County library card and a photo ID to register. Click here for more information:

    VA Weekly Navigator Archive

    You can now easily review previous publications of this year's Weekly Navigators online: