BCMS Community News

September 2021

Big picture

Hello Ballenger Creek Middle School Families,

Letter from Mr. Schill

Dear Ballenger Creek Middle Families,

I hope that you and all of your loved ones are well. I want to first let you know how good it is to have your children back at school! Certainly not without its bumps during the first few weeks, this year BCMS feels in many ways much more normal than it did in the previous sixteen months. My hope--as I’m sure is yours--is to safely get back to complete normalcy as soon as possible!

Since two of our three children are still attending FCPS schools, my wife and I are right there with you negotiating the challenges that parents and students are facing this school year. Living in the midst of this unique time in history (at least unique to four or five generations of us) is messy and at times frustrating--contact tracing and quarantining are unfortunately part of our regular routine right now. It makes for an unpredictable and potentially stressful experience for students, parents, and school staff.

Should your student need to quarantine due to being a close contact or from testing positive for COVID-19, they can access their assignments on Schoology. While you are always welcome to communicate directly with individual teachers, in a quarantine situation, your student’s school counselor is ready to act as a liaison on you and your child’s behalf to make communication with teachers more efficient for you. Please feel free to reach out to him or her as you have the need:

6th grade: Johnny.Webber@fcps.org

7th grade: Rebecca.Reese@fcps.org

8th grade: David.Ledyard@fcps.org

In addition to some district-wide tutoring options the system is working on, during a quarantine period we have BCMS staff available to work live with your students (sometimes during the school day, sometimes in the afternoon after school hours) if they have questions or difficulty with specific assignments. Again, your student’s school counselor is a great resource to get this set up for your child. I’m also available to assist any way I can.

We know that this year is less than ideal. Please know that we are here to partner with you to make your child’s year as worthwhile and meaningful as possible.


Jay Schill

Principal, BCMS

Important Dates

  • September 16 Schools Closed (Yom Kippur)
  • September 17th Midterm grade cut off
  • September 23rd Midterm (2 hour early dismissal)
  • September 24th Fair Day (3.5 Hour early dismissal)
  • October 4th, 5th, 6th MCAP Testing (Grades 6, 7 and 8)
  • October 7th MISA Testing (Grade 6 only)
  • October 12th and 13th Parent-Teacher Conferences (4 Hours late opening)
  • October 14th Parent-Teacher Conferences (3.5 Hours early dismissal)
  • October 15th Schools Closed for Students
  • October 21st School Pictures
  • October 26th Schools Closed for Students

National Hispanic American Heritage Month

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. Please join us in celebrating National Hispanic American Heritage Month!

Former U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, said, “Diversity really means becoming complete as human beings - all of us. We learn from each other. If you're missing on that stage, we learn less. We all need to be on that stage.”

Notes for All

Chromebooks - If your student(s) still need a chromebook, please contact Ms. Debra Purdy @ debra.purdy@fcps.org

Attendance - Attendance is always critically important every single day. If your child is unable to attend for any other reason, please email a note to our attendance secretary, Ms. Nancy Suray at bcms.attendance@fcps.org. Please include your child's first and last name, grade, date of absence, and reason for absence. If Ms. Suray has any questions she will reach out for clarification.

One Call - Beginning on September 14th, the person designated as your child’s guardians, will receive One Call Now messages if your child has been marked absent for the first 2 or more periods of the school day. This call is automated and it is possible that if a child enters school later in the day or doesn’t check-in with their first and second period teachers, the call could occur in error. Since this service is new, it is also possible that our staff could make errors as we fully integrate this into our practice. As always please feel free to call our front office if you feel you have received a phone call in error. If you wish to opt out of this or any of the One Call Now calls you receive, feel free to listen to the message through to the end for directions to opt out. Please know by opting out of this service, you will decrease the school’s engagement efforts to provide important student and school information with you.

From the Health Room - Please continue to monitor your child for any signs of illness, prior to sending them to school. Please keep your child home if they show any of the following signs of illness: cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, fever of 100.4 or higher, chills, or shaking chills, muscle aches, sore throat, headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion, or runny nose.

  • Please note that if your child attends school and shows any sign of illness while at school, parents will be required to promptly pick up your child from school

  • Daily medication should be administered at home (to the extent possible), including medicine needed for chronic health issues.

  • If your child requires emergency medications, please call the school Health Room at 240-236-5717 to arrange for an appointment to drop medications off to health room staff. You must have an appointment to drop off medication.

Academic Support Opportunities - As the school year gets to fast start, we will begin to offer a number of academic support activities at school and even on the weekends. Administration will be sending out more information about these supports in the near future.

Note from Cafeteria - Reminder that breakfast and lunch is free for all students this year. If you students would like to buy a snack, they need to wait until every student has been served lunch before getting in line.

Term 1 Interims

The school year is underway and the term 1 interim date is September 23rd. All student work must be submitted by September 17th. Unsubmitted work will show up as a 50% in Schoology. Parents, please be sure to help monitor your child’s grades on Schoology. Encourage your child to complete work on time and ask for help when needed. If you have a question about a grade in a specific class, don't hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher or grade-level counselor.

Big picture

School Counseling Department

We are so excited to welcome back our Bulldogs and get to know all of our new students! The counseling department will be providing student support in three key areas: social/emotional, college/career, and academic.

Below are the counseling roles for the 2021-2022 school year:

Mr. Webber - johnny.webber@fcps.org or 240-236-5713

  • 6th Grade Students

Ms. Reese - rebecca.reese@fcps.org or 240-236-5712

  • 7th Grade Students

Mr. Ledyard - david.ledyard@fcps.org or 240-236-5711

  • 8th Grade Students

Ms. Gee - lotoya.gee@fcps.org or 240-236-5710

  • Counseling Office Registrar

Ms. Gotthelf - laura.gotthelf@fcps.org or 240-236-5756

  • Behavior Support Specialist

Big picture

Grade Level Reports

Sixth Grade

Our 6th grade team is excited to welcome all our 6th graders to BCMS. We have had a very successful beginning to the school year and students are settling into their daily routines, making new friends, and enjoying being back in school.

Please remind your child to check their grades on Schoology, read any comments left by their teachers, and bring a fully charged Chromebook to school everyday. We are looking forward to an awesome year.

The 6th Grade Team

Seventh Grade

Our team is excited to welcome students back to BCMS! We have been working hard to get to know students and how we can best help them learn this year.

Please remind your student to bring a charged Chromebook to school every day! Please also check for updates and grades from teachers on Schoology.

We are looking forward to a great year!

Eighth Grade

We are so excited to welcome all of our 8th graders back into the building! The students are settling into their daily routines, reestablishing connections with their friends, as well as making new friends.

Please remind your students to bring a charged Chromebook everyday! Also please remind them to check their grades, updates, and any messages on Schoology!

We are looking forward to a great year!

Big picture

Science Department

6th Grade: In 6th grade science students are currently learning about symbiotic relationships. The Outdoor School field trip is coming up. Be on the lookout for permission slips that will be going home with your student.

7th Grade: In 7th Grade Science, we explore Human Impact this term which includes a broad range of topics. Earlier this term we examined human impact on ecosystems, specifically Yellowstone National Park's wolves and trophic cascade from it. Currently we are examining plastics: uses, disposal, and solutions to minimize negative impacts of it. We are practicing skills of analyzing data and interpreting graphs related to our content. We will explore invasive non-native species next.

8th Grade: In 8th grade science, we are exploring how cladograms can be used to show anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms. Using this information, students will be able to construct explanations.

Special Education Department

The Special Education Department is excited to be back. We love seeing our students and building relationships with them and their families.

Meet our department:

  • 6th grade- Ms. Fream and Ms. Evans

  • 7th grade- Mrs. Grimm and Ms. Hunley

  • 8th grade- Mr. Steiner

  • Speech and language therapist- Ms. Bhakta

  • Program Assistant- Ms. Burdette

  • School psychologist- Mrs. Kaufhold

Pyramid Program staff:

  • 6th Mrs. Premick

  • 7th Ms. Rogers

  • 8th Mr. Buppert


  • Ms. Griffler

  • Ms. Kennedy

Behavior Specialist:

Ms Mahalchick, Jacqueline


  • Ms. Shafer

  • Mrs. Sultana

  • Mrs. Gallahan

  • Mr. Chambers

  • Mrs. Cook

  • Mr. Milwood

  • Mr. Ndjakou

  • Mr. Kelly

Fine & Practical Arts

The Fine and Practical Arts Department is very excited to be back in person. There is only so much you can do virtually with little resources available to our students at home. To every 7th and 8th grader who returned to your favorite electives after a year of virtual learning, you rock! Thank you to our 6th grade students for willingly trying an elective without much knowledge, this shows a real sense of maturity!

There are a couple of dates we want to mark on your calendars:

  • October 21, 2021- Picture Day! Package forms and information will be distributed at the beginning of October.

  • November 11, 2021 at 6:30 pm Veteran’s Day concert featuring the music department at BCMS; All are welcomed to attend our first indoor concert back. Masks must be worn in the building at all times.

  • November 30, 2021 Picture Make-up/ Retake, and Virtual Students Picture Day. All students who missed the first picture day, have paid for a package and want a retake, or one of our students attending the FCPS Virtual School will have the ability to come to the building to get their picture taken. Time slots will be available.

For more information about FPA classes, please contact your student’s teacher. For yearbook/school pictures information, please contact the yearbook advisor Windy Schmidt at windy.schmidt@fcps.org

Social Studies Department

6th Grade: Students began the year learning about the five themes of geography as well as landforms and timelines. We are currently looking at ancient Mesopotamia. Students will be learning about the early civilizations, cuneiform, city states and their organization, Hammurabi’s Code, and various other important groups during this time period. After this, students will travel to ancient Egypt and begin examining their society and culture.

7th Grade: We have started the school year looking at the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. Students examined a variety of reasons for this collapse such as bad leadership, constant barbarian invasion, and inflation. Students were asked to write a persuasive paragraph arguing which of those factors contributed the most to the decline of the Roman Empire.

Currently, students are learning about the continuation of the Roman Empire through its territory in Eastern Europe. In addition to learning about the cultural and economic importance of its capital city, Constantinople, students learned about one of the great leaders of this “Byzantine” empire, Emperor Justinian, along with his wife, Theodora. Recently, students learned about some of Justinian’s lasting contributions to history, with his rebuilding of the Hagia Sophia as well as the creation of the Justinian Code.

Within the next few weeks, students will learn about the first major split in the Christian Church with the Great Schism of 1054 as well as learn about the downfall of the Byzantine Empire due to the conquest of the neighboring Ottoman Empire. Afterwards, students will be their second unit, which looks at the Arabian Peninsula during the medieval time period.

8th Grade: Welcome to 8th grade history! We are so excited to have you. We started off the year revisiting the 13 colonies and 3 colonial regions. We expanded our discussion to include different cultural and economic aspects of each.

Currently, we are discussing the causes of the American Revolution and we will be discussing the Declaration of Independence in the next couple of weeks. Next week, students will be analyzing documents and writing a document-based question (DBQ) essay on the Boston massacre.

ELA Department

6th Grade: We have been working hard on strategies to help us become successful readers and writers. We started the term with fictional short stories, “Young Ladies Don’t Slay Dragons” by Joyce Hovelsrud and “The Ravine” by Graham Salisbury. 6th graders are reviewing plot structure and studying how character interactions and setting connect to the theme of a story. We have studied the difference between a writing summary and a writing analysis and are working on writing our first writing analysis, learning how to include evidence, and elaborate our thinking. The second half of the first term, we will be moving into informational text.

Students are reminded to bring a charged Chromebook and their charger with them to class each day.

7th Grade: We started the year with a short story called “7th Grade” where we get to see what things are like for a character on his first day of school. We used this story to discuss and analyze theme and how the author develops the theme throughout the story. Students are currently working on a theme analysis paper on this topic and have also been revising their work using the Thinking Core standards-based coding process. This is an excellent way for students to make sure their writing completely answers the prompt and provides good details and text evidence. We will be using this strategy throughout the year.

Next, we will be continuing our discussion of narrative writing and characterization by reading the text “Papa’s Parrot.”

8th Grade:

We started off the year learning about the differences in formal and informal writing and writing for an intended audience by creating mock emails to send to teachers requesting help.

Students have read several texts including Gary Paulsen’s Dirk the Protector, W.W. Jacobs’s The Monkey’s Paw, and Edgar Allan Poe’s Tell Tale Heart. We have worked on analyzing the interactions between characters within the text, cause and effect relationships, and the impact of point of view on a character’s reactions. Students then applied their findings and identified the theme statement of the text. Our classes then completed a brief literary analysis that focused on character interactions and theme development.

Currently, students are working on composing a source-based narrative project. During this time, they will apply what they have learned from their text to compose either a continuation of the text, or rewrite a section of the text from the perspective of another character.

Students are reminded to bring a charged Chromebook and their charger with them to class each day.

Math Department

The Math Department is excited to be able to offer a new learning tool for our students this year called ALEKS. Your child might have mentioned needing to take a pretest on the new program in their math classes. ALEKS is designed to identify standards that students need extra help with or where they can be enriched. Unlike other programs used in the past ALEKS designs a learning path specific to each students needs and adapts the learning path as the student works through material. Students can access this material at any time so this is perfect for students who want to brush up on some skills at home!

In order to get to ALEKS your student will need to complete the following steps:

1. Log into their FCPS account

2. Click on FCPS Bookmarks

3. Click on Clever Portal

4. Click on McGraw Hill

Any questions about the math curriculum or ALEKS please reach out to the math specialist, Laura Boyer (Laura.Boyer@fcps.org) or the math department chair, Ashley Dickson (Ashley.Dickson@fcps.org).

EL Corner

Hello BCMS Families,

My name is Mariah Beaucage. I’m the English Learner (EL) teacher. I am excited to be working with your child and helping them learn English. I know that learning a new language can be challenging, so I want you and your child to know I am always happy to help.

I have sent home information about Talking Points and sent an initial message introducing myself. I will use this app to contact you via text message. It is also another way for you to contact me with questions or concerns. I have also sent home paper copies of the beginning of year paperwork (yellow) and accommodations (pink). Please sign these and return to school. If you have any questions about these forms, please contact me.

***Please note: During the school day, the phone will go directly to voicemail. Please leave a phone number for me to call you back.***

Hola familias de BCMS,

Mi nombre es Mariah Beaucage. Soy el maestro de aprendizaje de inglés (EL). Estoy emocionado de trabajar con su hijo y ayudarlo a aprender inglés. Sé que aprender un nuevo idioma puede ser un desafío, así que quiero que usted y su hijo sepan que siempre estaré feliz de ayudar.

Envié información a casa sobre los puntos de conversación y envié un mensaje inicial presentándome. Usaré esta aplicación para contactarlo por mensaje de texto. También es otra forma de comunicarse conmigo si tiene preguntas o inquietudes. También he enviado a casa copias impresas de la documentación de inicio de año (amarillo) y adaptaciones (rosa). Por favor firme y devuélvelo a la escuela. Si tiene alguna pregunta sobre estos formularios, no dude en ponerse en contacto conmigo.

*** Tenga en cuenta: durante el día escolar, el teléfono irá directamente al correo de voz. Por favor, deje un número de teléfono para que le devuelva la llamada. ***

BCMS Enrichment Opportunities

BCMS Enrichment Opportunities

We will be offering multiple in person enrichment opportunities for our students this year. These activities will take place after school hours.

Media Center News & Tech Tips

Mrs. Jenn Lungociu - Hi everyone! I am Jenn Lungociu, the Media Specialist.I am excited to be back in the building this year and to reopen the Media Center. I look forward to working with all of the BCMS students to find books, work on projects, and learn a few skills from some of our mini lessons.

Media Center News

When will the Media Center open? The Media Center will be opening for book checkout on Monday, September 27. Students should tune in to the Morning announcements for more information on when they can come down and how to request a visit to select titles. These details and additional information will be shared frequently on our Schoology Media Page. The code for this group will be shared in each grade level Guidance course.

Technology Tip for Students

Did you know that it is important to shut down and restart your

Big picture

Consider becoming a member of the BCMS PTSA



Voted in on May 12, 2021


President – Jennifer Pond

Vice President – Elaine Enoch

Secretary – Stacey Gadbois

Treasurer – Mark Kruhm


Hospitality Co-Chairs – Stacey Gadbois and Melissa Knoepfle

Fundraising – Stacey Gadbois and Susan Asher

Membership – Elaine Enoch

County Council Representative - Jen Pond

Reflections - Billie Jackson

Spirit Wear - Elaine Enoch


Please contact Stacey Gadbois at slgadbois@gmail.com

Thank You!


If you’d like to attend meetings in the future, please email presidentbcmsptsa@gmail.com. A Meeting link with instructions will be sent to you. You must be a PTSA member to attend, so please join/re-new your membership.


KONA ICE - 9/22

Chipotle Night - 10/20 from 5-9pm

Join Now! Click


Follow us on Facebook

Thank You!

Community Liaison Corner

Friends and families:

Our school is only as good as its volunteers, so if you want to be a part of something bigger than you and helpful to the school, think about joining the PTSA, Membership is $10 for the year. If you are interested please contact ballengercreekms.ptsa@gmail.com.

If you wish to come in and volunteer your time to the school with things like field trips etc. all volunteers must fill out a volunteer form

To simplify volunteering in schools, FCPS has created a standardized Volunteer Regulation of

important information for all county schools. Yearly, anyone wanting to volunteer must review this regulation and sign a confidentiality form. For your convenience, this regulation is on our BCMS website. Please view this regulation prior to volunteering & sign the confidentiality form when you arrive to volunteer the first time. Additionally, we will register all volunteers as such in our Raptor security system, enabling us to maintain accurate volunteer hours. To save you time when you arrive to volunteer the first time, we have created a means to pre-enroll you as a volunteer in this system. If you will be volunteering (think ahead to field trips, science outdoor school, help with cooking etc.)please complete open the link below to complete the form and drop it by the school to the attention of Ms. Rogers. As always, thank you for volunteering. Your help is always appreciated.


Do you need food? Feeding Frederick is here to help visit www.FeedingFrederick.com to locate the closest site. Click “Find Free Food” and search the map site by address.

Looking for some fun? Join the Boys and Girls Club today. They plan to be back in school (using protocols for safety) Oct. 26, 2021. Price is $40 a month. It is an afterschool program of fun and fellowship. Programs include. Homework help, mentorship, field trips, sports, games etc. Ages 11-14 from 3-6pm. Scholarships are being offered. 240-831-4330 or programs@bgcfc.org

Kathleen Rogers

Community Liaison Ballenger Creek Middle School

Call: 240-236-5773

Big picture