December 2020


Dear Patriot Families,

As the days get colder, and shorter, it’s starting to feel like December! What a very different fall we’ve had; one filled with all sorts of changes in our homes and here at school. One thing has been constant --- how much we LOVE getting to spend time with our students--- experiencing the joy of learning and growing friendships.

I’ve had the pleasure to observe teaching and learning -- both online and in-person. I’ve recently joined some live-teaching zoom sessions to see our learners in-action. Today, kindergarten students showed off their knowledge of “part, part, whole” on my classroom visits. I was thrilled to join a first grade zoom lesson where students used a number line, hundreds chart, and math journal to show their knowledge of greater than/less than. Afterwards, I visited students in another classroom who were using their arms like giant alligators to practice of greater than/less than. Second graders blew me away this morning with their amazing time-telling skills. One class quizzed me on my skills, too. Our learners are working hard and building skills synchronously, in-person, and asynchronously. It’s a joy to see them working so hard -- at home and at school. It’s also a joy to see our amazing team interacting with learners in so many ways!

This month our team is sharing some fun activities for our favorite Patriots as well. I can hardly wait to see our FIRST EVER After-School Special. Ms. Micks is creating a fantastic experience in place of our all-school sing. Be on the lookout for information coming soon. This is something your child will not want to miss! In fact, take a minute to visit our Facebook page or the bottom of our website to see snippets of other Patriot adventures.

Thank you for all you do to support your child’s learning. We are so proud of each and every Patriot. Please, know that our team is here to support you -- and your family. If there is anything I can do, please contact me directly.


Kim Doucette

WELLNESS CHECK - Notes from the Nurses' Clinic

Mrs. Coulon @

Mrs. Deane-Byrd @

Parents, we'd like to extend a friendly reminder to please be sure you do NOT send your child to school sick. If your child has any of the symptoms below, (s)he needs to stay home:

• Cough • Fever or chills • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Muscle or body aches • Sore throat • New loss of taste or smell

• Diarrhea • Headache • Nausea or vomiting

If your child has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 or lives with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 (s)he must stay home.

If your family has been notified by the health department that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 your child must also stay home.

Please, do not send your child to school if (s)he needs medication for a fever, cough, sore throat, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, or nausea/vomiting. Please call our school clinic if you have any questions before sending your child, and we thank you for your attention to this very important safety reminder.


KINDERGARTEN: Our Kindergarteners continue to learn and grow as we approach the end of 2020. In December, we will continue to work on alphabet skills with a concentration on short vowel sounds. Our students are encouraged to phonetically spell word when writing to describe pictures and are beginning to write to show their understanding of stories that we read. In math, we will work on part/whole relationships with numbers up to 10. Using pasta or pennies and letting students group a set of 10 items in different ways is one way our young learners can practice this skill. In Social Studies we will be studying Holidays Around the World. We hope you and your family have a wonderful winter break.

FUNCTIONAL CLASSES - The ID and Autism classes are working on identifying letters of the alphabet, rote counting, and counting sets. In addition, Mrs. Cobey's class is working on putting the letters of their names in order and using action words. Mrs. Comerford's class is working on writing and using scissors. Mr. Smith's class is working on matching non-identical items.

- The Winter Break is quickly approaching, and our Hugh Mercer first graders are busy. During the month of December, we will be learning about long and short vowel patterns, asking questions about the stories we read, and writing about our own experiences. In Math, we will be working with numbers from 0-110. To help with problem solving, we will be breaking these numbers into groups of 10s and 1s. Towards the end of the month, our students will learn to describe, extend, create, and transfer both growing and repeating patterns. In Social Studies, we will explore diverse customs and traditions. We enjoy working with your students and wish you the best during this holiday season.

SECOND GRADE: Second graders are gearing up for the end of the semester. In Social Studies we are finishing up map skills and getting ready to start our exploration of Native American cultures. In reading, we will be learning about long vowel patterns and r-controlled vowels, reading fiction stories while learning about story elements, and writing opinion pieces. In Math, we will be using clocks to tell the time to the nearest 5 minutes. We look forward to the holidays and hope that you and your family stay safe and healthy.


HMES families and friends (and staff members too!) are invited to participate in the 1-mile Jingle Bell Jog. Pick any day during the month of December to walk/run. Take a picture and upload it to Canvas.

The deadline to complete your walk/run and upload your pictures to Canvas is December 31.

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Ms. Armstead @

Mr. John @

Ms. Jonas @

The Physical Education teachers have come up with some unique lessons for all grades to start working on underhand throwing and catching activities. We will also incorporate some fun wintery theme activities to wrap up the month and celebrate the season.

In kindergarten health we are finishing up our nutrition unit. We have learned the different food groups (protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy) and the role they each play in making sure our bodies get the proper nutrients it needs. Next, we will begin learning about different adults that help keep children healthy and safe (e.g., parents, teachers, doctors ) and their individual roles in society.

In first grade health we are going to wrap up our unit on body systems by learning about the digestive system. We are also going to begin discussing the different food groups and learn how to make healthy food choices.

Second grade health has been learning about the skeletal system, and we will begin diving into food groups and nutrition.




Ms. Micks

I'm so excited to tell you about what our Patriot musicians have been up to lately. The special area team has been focusing on how we use our special srea subjects to communicate. Mr. Krofah, our rock star Lead Custodian at Hugh Mercer, has been teaching our Patriots about the Talking Drums of Ghana. Mr. Krofah is from Ghana and used to play in a drumming ensemble there. The Talking Drums are used to mimic the sounds of words and can be used as a secret language. Mr. Krofah taught our Patriots how to drum their names and in return, he got lots of gifts from our musicians!


Mrs. Mungo @

Mrs. White @

Mrs. Mungo and Mrs. White invite HMES families to participate in these joyful family activities.

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Mrs. Hornung

Virtual instruction is going interactive! In the 3rd quarter, HMES students will begin to see more engaging material from our use of app called Pear Deck. Teachers will train on how to effectively use this powerful learning tool in December and January, so be on the lookout for these fun, educational activities to start popping up on your teacher's Canvas pages. Want to know more about Pear Deck?


Mrs. Teri

This month, our Hugh Mercer Patriots have an exciting opportunity! We will be presenting the Fredericksburg City Schools Word-of-the-Month, communicators, to the School Board. As communicators, we express ourselves confidently, clearly, and creatively. Be sure to check out our Facebook page and T.V. station to watch our young scholars tell what it means to be communicators.

As an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program (PYP) World School, we know good communication is important. Communicators are able to collaborate effectively and listen to the perspectives of others. Students are learning to communicate in a variety of ways. Some of the ways Hugh Mercer Patriots communicate is through speaking, writing, dancing, singing and art.

In our new virtual setting, being a good communicator is more important than ever. Teachers and students need to be able to communicate with each other using technology. Teachers are delivering instruction on Canvas and Zoom, and students are learning to use Canvas, videos and emails to reach out their teachers. Our Patriots are building powerful communication skills that will be valuable to them in the years to come.

There are many ways your young learner can build their communication skills at home. Keeping a journal, chatting with friends on the phone, and zooming with family let them practicing their communication skills. As the holidays approach, talking about the things you are grateful for may be another way to practice communicating.

As we enter the month of December, we hope that you are your family are well. Don’t forget to check out our upcoming Communication video that will be airing soon!

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Mrs. Mann

Bonjours mes Amis!! We have been working hard this past month.

Kindergarten has been learning to count in French. We will begin learning our colors this month.

First grade has been working on learning the French name for school supplies and family names.

2nd grade has been working hard with seasons and weather. We will continue with weather and begin learning the months of the year.

Au revoir et a bientot!

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Mrs. Bourne

We'd like to thank kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Austin, for her recent book donation to our school library.


The Fredericksburg Area Museum partners with Fredericksburg City Public Schools, and as part of this partnership they feature a wonderful display of MERRY TREES decorated by our students this month (Picture right - "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" tree by Mrs. Comerford's class). The exhibit will be ready for viewing on December 5.

Many thanks to our art teacher, Mrs. Heather Wright, for spearheading this effort and the classrooms that participated. Use the button below to read the full article from The Free Lance-Star's Weekender edition.

2020 HOLIDAY PARADE - "Walking Through A Winter Wonderland"

The theme for the FCPS float that was entered in the 2020 Holiday Parade was "Walking Through a Winter Wonderland of 150 Years of FCPS History." Many thanks to the FCPS FACE Committee for their hard work to make this a festive event for all.


December 7 - School Board Meeting @ 7:30 PM

December 7 - 13 is Computer Science Education Week

December 7 - 11 is National Inclusive Schools Week

December 17 - FCPS Town Hall @ 5:30 PM


TITLE 1 - Title 1 is the largest federal aid program for elementary, middle, and high schools. Through Title 1, the federal government designates money to school districts around the country based on the number of students in need in each district. Each district uses its Title 1 money for extra educational services for children, such as:

  • class size reduction
  • additional teachers and paraprofessionals
  • parent resources
  • instructional materials and supplies
  • Tier 2 and Tier 3 support services

The focus of the Title 1 program is to ensure all students meet challenging content and achievement standards. Title 1 also authorizes federal grant programs that provide funds for reading instruction, services to migrant children, services to neglected and delinquent children, comprehensive school reform and dropout prevention.

All FCPS students in grades K-8 are eligible to receive programs funded through the Title 1 grant. Title 1 reading and math support is provided by the following staff members: Ms. Lisa Herbert, Mrs. Jill Kankam, Mrs. Pamela Douglas, and Ms. Patricia Balwanz (reading); Dr. Stefanie Hudson (math, Title 1). Administrative support for Title 1 services is provided by assistant principal, Mrs. Kisha Frye.

504 ACCOMMODATIONS AND SPECIAL EDUCATION - If your child has any type of learning or physical problem, he/she may qualify for accommodations under 504 or special education services. Please call the counseling office (372-1115 x 2023 or x 2039) if you have any questions or would like to refer your child for screening and possible assessment.

No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the Untied States shall, solely by reason of his/her handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: The Rights of Individuals with Handicaps Under Federal Law.

NON-RESIDENT STUDENT ENROLLMENT - In the matter of non-resident student enrollment, the Fredericksburg City Public School Division does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origina, sec, age, or disability in its educational programs or activities. Any questions should be referred to Sue Keffer (Director of Human Resources), 210 Ferdinand Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, or by calling (540) 372-1130.

SEX OFFENDER STATEMENT - The Fredericksburg City Public School Division recognizes the danger sex offenders pose to student safety. Therefore, to protect students while they travel to and from school, attend school and school-related activities, the FCPS Division shall request automatic electronic notification of registered sex offenders in the same or contiguous zip codes as any school within the division. Such request and notification shall be made according to the procedures established by the Virginia Department of State Police (State Police). The Superintendent shall serve as the contact person with the State Police for receipt of the registered sec offender information.