Ben Franklin Focus

Back to School Edition 2022-2023

Dear Ben Franklin Families,

Summer isn't over yet, but we wanted to send this newsletter out to welcome you to Benjamin Franklin Middle School and keep you informed about our upcoming school year. We are so thankful to have you here and we look forward to the opportunity to get to know and work with you and your child throughout the upcoming school year. At Ben Franklin we work hard and have fun! We know that with the start of school comes many questions, so we wanted to provide as much information to you as possible. Please know that if you ever have any questions, concerns, or ideas, we welcome you to contact us. We are here for you. Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Jeanie Sienkowski (Principal) and Nick Slater (Assistant Principal)

Upcoming Events


1 - Schedules and Locker Information Available in Skyward Family Access

3 - 6th Grade Locker Jamboree from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. (6th Graders Only)

4 - Building Open from 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. for Students & Parents to Walk Schedules

9 - 6th Grade & New Student Orientation from 8:00-10:15 a.m.

10 - First Day of School

11 - Open House for Parents from 5:00-6:30 p.m.

19 - School Picture Day


5 - No School - Labor Day

23 - 1/2 Day for Students - 11:30 a.m. dismissal

School Information

We want you to stay connected! For up-to-date information throughout the school year, please visit:

Contact Information

Phone: 219-531-3020

Principal: Jeanie Sienkowski

Assistant Principal: Nick Slater

Secretary: Kristy Nondorf

Secretary/Treasurer: Becky Stralnic

Nurse: Anita Ostojic

Counselor Last Name A-K: Rebekah Cowan

Counselor Last Name L-Z: Tammy Hofer

Social Worker: Carolyn Ostafinski

Welcome to Our New Staff Members!

Mrs. Powell-Core+ and Information Technology

Mrs. Winland-ELA Interventionist

Ms. Kaser-Spanish

Mrs. Joiner-Special Education

Ms. Sherwood-7th Grade ELA

Mr. Mioduski-P.E.

Mrs. Ayala- EL Substitute for Mrs. Erlandson

Mrs. Leverich-Special Education Aide

Mrs. Steiner-8th Grade ELA

Ms. Kaser

My name is Abbie Kaser, and I will be teaching 8th grade Spanish 1 and 2! I previously taught high school Spanish at Marian in Mishawaka, but I am excited to jump into the world of middle school! I attended Goshen College, and studied abroad in Peru and Spain while I was there. I enjoy reading, hiking, running, travelling, and cooking. Looking forward to a great school year at Ben Franklin!

Mrs. Powell

Hi! I’m Marci Powell and I live in Valpo with my 3 year old son, Walker. Walker and I love to read, do math and logic puzzles, play games, and make chocolate chip cookies together! I have taught for 16 years, most recently at Northview Elementary. I am really excited to make the leap to middle school to be a positive influence during the fun and challenging times of middle school!

Mrs. Joiner

I have experience as a Special Ed Teacher, a Special Ed Behavior Consultant, and most recently, Federal Law Enforcement experience down in Tampa, Florida. My husband & I were gifted with a young daughter from the Florida foster care system and I missed the classroom & my large extended family in Valpo, so we recently returned to the Hoosier State and I returned to teaching. We have four kids & a kiddo starting 1st grade at Memorial, one starting college at Purdue, two in college in Florida and one temperamental cockapoo happily going nowhere but the couch. I graduated from VHS decades ago. My family & I attend Calvary Church in Valpo and we like to spend time hiking, biking & camping at the Dunes & Turkey Run, as well as swimming, boating & eating too much at Bass Lake with family. I love teaching and I'm excited to be here at BF!

Mrs. Winland

My name is Amanda Winland. I’ve been teaching for 14 years, in both the elementary and middle school settings. I’ve been married for 24 years to my husband Todd. We have three children- Sami (19), John (15), and Megan (11). We love to travel and spend time together as a family. Todd and I have been to all 50 states and the kids have been to 49 of them.

Meet Zoe!

We want to introduce you to Zoe. She is a part of the VCS Therapy Dog Project. She is sponsored by Sarkisian Law and we are super excited she is a part of our BFMS Family. She will be in the office every day and will help provide support for our students. Zoe is a three year old English Cream Golden Retriever and full of love! Her love for students and staff continues to grow everyday!

Lockers & Schedules

Lockers (Student Information tab) and Schedules (Schedule tab) will be posted in Skyward Family Access on Monday, August 1st.

Physical Education Uniforms

P.E. uniforms will be required for the upcoming school year. All students may purchase physical education uniforms from Blythe's Sport Shop. You can purchase online or pick it up at the store (located at 2810 Calumet Avenue) for a cost of $20.00 ($12.00-shorts, $8.00-shirt). Students are welcome to wear uniforms purchased for older siblings. Purchase Online

6th Grade & New Student Orientation

Tuesday, August 9th, is our 6th grade and new student orientation day!

All 6th grade and NEW 7th and 8th grade students are expected to attend school from 8:00-10:15 a.m. on this day. Students will meet their teachers, follow their class schedule, and practice opening their lockers. All 6th grade students will start their morning in their 1st hour class. All new 7th and 8th graders will meet in the auditorium. From there, students will be dismissed to go through their daily class schedules. Don't worry! There will be numerous staff on hand to help students find their classroom locations.

If your child rides a bus, pickup information can be found soon on Skyward Family Access by clicking on the “Busing" tab. This will give the time and location of both pick up and drop off approximate times. Bus riders will be picked up Tuesday morning and dropped off after our 10:15 a.m. dismissal.

Students are asked to bring their schedule and locker information. 7th and 8th grade students who have already attended BFMS should remain at home on this day.

We can't wait to see your kids!

School Day & Calendar

Middle school classes begin at 7:50 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m. on Monday - Friday.

Bus Information

Pick up and drop off information can be found on Skyward Family Access by clicking on the “Busing” tab. Be sure your child is at the bus stop at least 5 minutes ahead of the scheduled pick up time and please understand that the afternoon drop off times are an estimate only and will most assuredly run a little later the first few weeks of school.

Parent Pick Up and Drop Off

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Handbook/Student Expectations

The student handbook is in assignment notebooks which each student will receive on the first day of school. It is important that both students and parents read the handbook since it contains a wealth of information designed to improve communication between home and school. This assignment notebook should help students stay organized and inform parents about assignments and other information. We hope you find it helpful!


If a student must be absent, the parent must call the attendance office before 8:00 a.m. the day of the absence at 219-531-3020. Additional information can be found in the student handbook.

School Lunches

To access information regarding school lunch prices, payment options and menus, please visit the VCS School Nutrition website.

Athletics Information

Below you will find information and starting dates for all fall sports at BF. In order to participate in sports at BF, your child will need to turn a physical packet into the office. Physical packets are available online (click on the button below) or can be picked up in the office.


Cross Country will begin on Wednesday, August 10th. Practices will be Monday-Friday 3-4:15. Cross Country is open to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and is for runners of all abilities. Make sure your child has a physical packet turned into the office so they can participate. If you have any questions you can contact Coach Otto or Coach West.


Tryouts for gymnastics will be held August 11th and 12th from 3:20-5:30 in the VHS fieldhouse gymnastics area. Gymnastics is open to any 6th, 7th, or 8th grade girl. Please make sure your physical packet is on file by August 11th. The season will run through mid-October, with competition at the Optional level. There will be a parent meeting on Monday, August 8th at 6 pm in the VHS fieldhouse. If you have any questions you can contact Coach Cook.


Football practice will begin on Wednesday, August 3rd from 6-8 pm. Football is open to 7th and 8th graders only. We will be practicing in shorts and t-shirts for the first couple of days. The first week of practice will be 8/3 6-8 pm, 8/4 6-8 pm, and 8/5 9-10:30 am. Further practice schedules will be given at practice. If you have any questions, you can email Coach Osburn or Coach Salomon.


7th and 8th grade girls volleyball tryouts will take place on Wednesday, August 10th, Thursday, August 11th, and Friday, August 12th from 3-4:30 pm. All girls must have a physical packet turned into the office in order to try out. It is very important to attend all of the try out dates. If you have any questions, you can email Coach Mersman (8th Grade) or Coach Mendoza (7th Grade).

Leaving During the School Day

Parents must come to the school office and provide a picture ID before picking up their child. Students will not be permitted to meet parents in the parking lot. Only adults whose names appear on the child’s emergency information in Skyward will be permitted to pick up a student from school. Please enter Door 2 off of Campbell Street.

Messages & Deliveries

We are unable to pass along messages or deliver items to students during the school day except in the case of emergencies. Parents may bring forgotten items to Door 2 off of Campbell St. Your child will then be able to retrieve these items from the office during one of their passing periods.

Skyward & Canvas

If you are new to BFMS or you would like more information about the tools available to you through Skyward Family Access (attendance, grades, and school news) or Canvas (classroom resources, teacher information, etc.), then please contact the office at 531-3020.

Parent Advisory Group

We are so fortunate at Ben Franklin to have such a wonderful community of families. Thank you for that! While we do not have an official parent group, such as a PTO or PTA, there are times we are in need of parent input and feedback, including how we can best support your child, how our school can improve, and resources that best meet the needs of our students. Because of this, we have a parent advisory group. We may occasionally meet as needed, or we may just reach out to you through email or a phone call. If you are interested in being a part of this group, please complete the form below.

Benjamin Franklin Parent Advisory Group

Ben Franklin Staff Appreciation Group

If you are interested in contributing to our Ben Franklin Staff Appreciation Group, please reach out to Ben Franklin parent Raynelle Howlett via email at or you can join our BF Staff Appreciation Facebook group for updates and events.

Our first event will be a welcome back chalk the walk on August 9th from 6-7pm. Please bring your own chalk if you are interested in helping. Thank you!

We Can't Wait to See You!

We look forward to working with you and your child this coming school year! We know that we are going to have a wonderful time together. Thanks for all you do and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if there is anything you need!

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