Python Press

Pikesville Middle School January, 2020

From The Principal's Desk:

Happy New Year and welcome to 2020! As we begin the second half of the school year, we want to continue our partnership with you as we embark on an academic school year that promises to transform the educational experience. As the principal, it is my mission to promote a safe, equitable and learner-centered environment that will inspire and propel our school family to places of continual growth and excellence. We have purposefully evolved the culture in our school to be a school where children feel safe and are eager to learn. The most powerful method for our school to move to new heights is through the home-school partnership.

The vision of Pikesville Middle School is for students to develop excellence in academics, character, and habits of mind by participating in student-centered learning experiences that promote 21st century skills. To be successful, students will need to think creatively, critically, and intuitively, solve real world problems, communicate effectively (verbal & written forms), work in teams, use technology to accelerate learning outcomes, and develop healthy, ethical life-style habits. Therefore, the following Python Pride motto is one that students must observe daily. The Python Pride motto states that students are Prepared, Respectful, Inclusive, Diverse, and Engaged! I encourage you to remind your child daily that embracing the Python Pride motto will ensure they are a successful student at Pikesville Middle School. Let’s make 2020 the best year we have ever had at Pikesville Middle School!

Important Dates:

1-20 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday - Schools and Offices Closed

1-24 - Second Marking Period Ends; School closes at 11:30 for Students. Staff on Duty

1-29 - PTA Meeting, 6:00 p.m. in the Library

6th Grade News Flash by Mrs. Hammel

Happy New Year to you and your family! Moving into the New Year we will focus on our studies with 2020 vision (haha). This month students will wrap up the first half of their 6th grade journey and the quarter will end on Friday, January 24th, which is a half day for students. Students who have done well academically and behaviorally this quarter will receive a pass to participate in a BINGO incentive later this month. More details will be forthcoming. Please continue to aid our 6th graders in charging and bringing their devices to and from school so they can be successful in completing their assignments.

7th Grade Scoop by Mr. Sullivan

Welcome back and Happy New Year from our 7th grade team. We hope everyone had an enjoyable break. This time of year provides a great opportunity for students to refresh and reset their goals for the remainder of the school year.

We would like to reiterate expectations for our students moving forward. The cold months of January and February are upon us, and we ask that students remember to take their hats, hoods, and jackets off upon entering the building. Once the school day begins, students’ cell phones and air pods (headphones) should be off and away except for lunch. Our virtue for this month is empathy; please encourage your children to be understanding of one another, while we continue to keep a positive school climate.

The last day for the second quarter is January, 24th. If possible, take time to review class grades with your child. Please ensure students are in contact with their teachers for missing, makeup, and redo assignments. Additionally, please continue to contact teachers if there are any questions or concerns that need to be addressed prior to the end of the quarter. Thanks again for your continued support and remember TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK.

8th Grade Updates from Ms. Luechtefeld

Hello 8th grade families,

Second quarter is ending soon! Please check with your student about their grades so that they are not surprised when the quarter comes to a close. The second quarter incentive will be taking into account grades!

Now that it is cold and will be for the foreseeable future, please double check the dress code and school policies. Students may not wear hats/masks, hoods, or any outerwear (jackets and coats) during the school day. These must be placed in their lockers at the beginning of the school day and picked up before they get on the bus. Hoodies are allowed, but the hoods may not be up. If your student does not know their locker combination, they need to see their home room teacher or the guidance office to get it.

Please also review the cellphone policy with your student. It is the Pikesville MS Cellphone Policy that cellphones MAY NOT BE SEEN during instruction. This has been the expectation since the beginning of the year and students are aware of it. They need to be safely locked in lockers or put into their bags. The only time cellphones can be used during the school day is during lunch.

The end of the year is swiftly approaching! Everything your student does for this second half of the year will be taken into account for participation in field trips, the dance, and Farewell. Please review your own expectations as well as the school’s expectations with your student so that they can have a fun and exciting end to middle school! We will be meeting with our 8th graders soon to outline our expectations for the end of the year and they will be reviewing a contract for participation based on school conduct. 😊

Second quarter has been great, and we are looking forward to the rest of the school year! As always, if you have a questions or concerns, please contact Mr. Laraia, Ms. Norris or Ms. Luechtefeld.



Definition: The ability to understand and share the feelings of others. The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another person.

Mantra: I see others and have the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. I understand what someone else is feeling because I have experienced it myself or I can put myself in their shoes.


AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a comprehensive instructional system which provides strategies, resources, and college readiness support for all students.

How is higher-level thinking being spread schoolwide?

Higher-level thinking happens when learners analyze and synthesize materials or ideas, clarify their own thinking, examine others’ thinking, and work through complex challenges. Inquiry and thinking processes are a necessary part of college readiness. One way our teachers have been promoting these skills is by exploring ways to use Costa’s levels of questioning. Teachers are constructing and assessing leveled questions, which include gathering, processing, and applying information, as a way to model critical thinking in the various content areas. Students need to be familiar with Costa’s (and/or Bloom’s) Levels of Thinking to assist them in formulating higher levels of questions. By asking higher levels of questions, students deepen their knowledge and create connections to the material being presented. Effective questioning techniques in the classroom reinforce higher-order thinking skills and promote AVID’s college readiness strategies schoolwide.



Happy New Year Science students and families!! The science departments are kicking off the new year with new unit and cool, engaging lessons. In 6th grade, students are continuing their Chemistry unit, where they will be learning elements from the periodic table of elements and the properties of them. Seventh grade students are nearing the end the Form Follows Function unit, where they have dissected chicken wings to observe various body tissues and made cool cell models that are a direct representation of a cell, or are analogous to a real-world place (school, library, circus. etc.). In 8th grade, students are continuing their studies on rocks and fossils. They have even had an opportunity to observe real rocks and fossils in their classes.

Our 7th grade Engineering students are currently studying design and modeling. This month, they will use the design process to create a puzzle cube. They will fabricate and test their puzzle cube. Students will also 3D model their puzzle cube and learn to assemble the parts using Autodesk Inventor. Students will analyze data to determine if their design solution met the criteria and constraints.

Lastly, our 6th grade Engineering students are beginning the Magic of Electrons Unit. They are currently learning about the connection between atomic structure and electricity. Students will learn about electric circuits and be able to build and test simple and complex circuits.

As we near the end of second quarter, please remind students to schedule and attend coach classes as necessary to ensure understanding of the various contents. Also, remember to bring devices fully charged and any other materials necessary to succeed daily.

Thanks for all your parental support in 2019 and we look forward to very successful 2020.


Reading MAP testing will take place beginning January 27th. Please ensure your students bring their charged devices to school each day. Students in all language arts classes recently are currently beginning their Performance Based Assessments (PBAs) and will soon begin new units of study. In language arts this quarter, students in most grades will be reading historical fiction or narrative non-fiction representing some of the most compelling moments in world and national history: various refugee crises and immigration, the Space Race, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression, various refugee crises, and the Civil Rights Movement. Be sure to engage your child in conversation about what they are learning in language arts! GT 8th graders will be traveling back to the Elizabethan Era and reading a Shakespearean comedy.

Students in all reading classes are reading novels this year as well as focusing on specific reading skills. Theater students have learned about the evolution of musical theater, chosen a song from a musical, and planned a lipsyncing performance to represent the emotion and meaning of the song! In College and Career Readiness, students will be learning about resumes, cover letters, and business letter etiquette.

We are proud of all our students for their focus, effort, and growth shown during the first half of the school year.


The Battle of Second Quarter is coming to a close!

January brings the close of Unit 2 in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Social Studies. Each unit, students investigate through 1 document-based question. Their research takes them through multiple primary and secondary sources in order to write a 5-paragraph essay that can be informative or argumentative. Students will be taking their 20-25 selected response exams the week of January 20th.

Ancient World 6 – Mesopotamia and Egypt. Was Hammurabi’s Code just? How did the Nile River Shape Egypt? Students will use maps, images, vocabulary, and a variety of readings/videos to learn about these Ancient River Valley Civilizations.

Medieval World 7 – Medieval Europe. Feudalism, the Manor system, life on towns, and the role of guilds. Students have investigate and simulated life on a Medieval Manor. HUZZAH!

American History 8 – American government was founded on compromise. Students will work together to read through 300 year old passages from the “Founding Fathers”. Students learn about the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the first presidents.

GT students will be continuing research for their topic in this year’s National History Day Project. The theme: Breaking Barriers in History. Visit for more information


Second Quarter is coming to a close, please make sure you are checking BCPSOne regularly to see how your student is performing in their mathematics class. Math 6 is working on Ratios, Rates, and Proportions; Math 6 GT is working on Logic, Unions, and Intersections(basic geometry); Pre-Algebra 7 is working on Expressions, Equations, and Inequalities; Math 8 is working on Solving Equations/Inequalities; Algebra 1 is working on Data Analysis, and Systems of Equations/Inequalities; Geometry is working on Congruent Triangles. Remember the textbook is online in BCPSOne – Digit Content.


Bonjour et Buenos Dias! We are having fun with French and Spanish this month. All classes are moving through Unit 2 and 3, and we have been talking about food in Beginner A classes. In Beginner B, students are finishing talking about communities and are moving into talking about food choices. All intermediate students are finishing up “Endangered Animals” and will be moving into the next unit.

Attention French students in 7th and 8th grade! Look for invitations coming home soon for French Junior National Honor Society. Invited students must have two consecutive quarters with a grade of A in French for both quarters, they must also have a 3.5 GPA overall.

All students have been using websites, videos and readings to practice using the language, therefore is very important to make sure your child has his or her device charged and in class. BCPSone tests and quizzes feature is being used for daily drills, so having a device keeps them up to date. For additional practice and enrichment at home, your student can use to review vocabulary, we also like to track progress and for extra practice.

The limits of my language are the limits of my world.
‒Ludwig Wittgenstein


On January 24, 2020 the second quarter will end, and the Health and Physical Education classes will be changing. Ms. Britt’s and Mr. Hanzelka’ s health classes will be transitioning back to the PE setting from Health class. Mr. Desort’s and Ms. Speer’s PE classes will transition to Health class for the third quarter. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the related arts department chair, Ms. Britt (


From the School Counsleing Department

what Happens When We Listen to Our Teens?

Parents are surprised to learn that if you avoid lecturing, by listening very closely and encouraging teenagers to talk about what is happening, they often come to their own reasonable conclusions.

Parents are in a tough position. After years of life experiences, they already know the deal and can think of several possible solutions. But for teenagers, the experience is new and difficult, so watching them struggle through it can be tedious and excruciating. But, trust me, if you give them enough time to process the problem, they too can get to a solution.

Want to Improve Parent and Teenager Communication? Try Validation

Think of it in terms of the teenage mind. Teenagers go to school all day with teachers who give them assignments and set rules. Then they come home where they have responsibilities and are subject to parental authority. Give your teenagers the gift of time and patience. Let them develop the trust that you will act as a sounding board so they can think about their own solutions to their own problems.

Be there and listen. It’s invaluable.

Miguel Brown

Miguel Brown has been working with teenagers for more than 10 years. You can find Miguel at Miami Teen Counseling or on Facebook and Twitter.


I hope everyone had a nice holiday. So far we have had a relatively quiet year, I have not seen any students with symptoms the flu. If your child or anyone in your family has not had a flu shot yet, it’s not too late. Please get vaccinated!

Your school nurse, Ms. Cleland RN