The Sierra Monthly

Sierra Middle School - November 2021 Newsletter

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From the Desk of the Principal: Mrs. Norris

Sierra Family,

Happy November! This year is sure moving fast. I would like to just take a moment in this newsletter to address a specific word: “kindness.” This word is something we have been trying our best to show our students, staff, parents, and community. I am reaching out to you, our family, to help us. As we move into December and the end of our first semester of our school year, we need your help. Kindness is something we all have to give; I am asking you to talk to your Sierra age family to help us spread this. We have had too many instances of ugliness, and bad language. Please help us to move back to being kind to each other and a Sierra community we can all be proud of.

Assistant Principal: Mr. Garcia


I want to address the topic of FIGHTING. This offense will lead into suspensions, police citations, and hearing authority. At this time you may be suspended the rest of the semester or placed at an alternative learning site; not Sierra Middle School. This includes verbal altercation leading to a fight. The same discipline applies. Please remember these incidents are on your school record and will go with you to High School.

Please students, it is not worth doing this! We need to get along with each other. We need to focus on our education, sports, and friendships. Let’s be respectful to each other!

Respectfully ,

Mr. Garcia

Assistant Principal: Mrs. McDonald


Please help us convey a message to your students about vaping. Even though it sometimes seems like your teen is not listening, it really helps when parents speak to their children about their views when it comes to making important decisions like vaping.


Mrs. McDonald

How to Talk to Your Teen About Vaping

The answer to the question “Is vaping a safe alternative to smoking?” is a clear no. However, the answer to the question “Should I let my teenager vape?” is more difficult, because it’s not easy to control a teen’s behavior. Here are some tips for addressing issues regarding teens and vaping.

  • Start an open conversation. If you know or suspect your teen is vaping, or simply want to stat the conversation, ask questions without being angry, preachy, or judgmental. Find out if they know others who are vaping, if they’re curious about trying it, or if they have tried it. If yes, ask them why they are vaping. Is it due to peer pressure, or are they are feeling anxious and trying to find ways to stay calm? Continue this open dialogue over time to make sure your teen knows that you care about what they’re doing.
  • ·Give them language to combat peer pressure: Support teens to strategize ways to deflect the pressure to vape. For example, they might say simply, “No, thanks,” or they could “blame” it on you: “My parents would kill me if I vaped!” They can also choose to spend time with friends who don’t vape.
  • ·Educate them on the safety of vaping. Make sure your teen has information about what is in vape and how those chemicals can affect them, as well as the health risks of using nicotine and THC. Share the research on how vaping can lead to cigarette smoking and using other dangerous drugs.
  • ·Make sure they get the help they need. If anxiety or depression is prompting your teen’s vaping, they may need the support of a mental health professional to help them find healthy coping mechanisms. Moreover, if they have become addicted to nicotine or dependent on marijuana, they will need support to quit the vaping habit, along with therapy to address the underlying causes of substance abuse. Many therapists offer telehealth appointments. Your family doctor is one good place to start.

Article courtesy of

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Second Nine-Weeks Schedule

  • December 15 - Picture Re-Takes
  • December 17 - Semester Ends
  • December 20 through 31 - Winter Break

Third Nine-Weeks Schedule

  • January 3 - Classes Resume
  • January 10 - Semester Report Cards Issued
  • January 17 - Martin Luther King Holiday
  • February 4 - Teacher Professional Development Day (No School for Students)
  • February 4 - Mid Nine-Weeks Ends
  • February 8 - Mid Nine-Weeks Report Cards Issued
  • February 10 and 11 - Parent/Teacher Conferences
  • February 21 - President's Holiday
  • March 9 - Third Nine-Weeks Ends

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What do I do if I am having technology issues or problems with my school Chromebook?

Contact the front office at Sierra or your advisory teacher. We will try to help fix any problems that you may be having.

What do I need to do to play sports?

  • Sign up with a coach
  • Get a physical
  • Complete paperwork
  • Complete concussion course
  • Check if you are eligible through your grades with your coach

When can I practice?

You can practice after eligibility is checked and all forms, your physical, and the concussion course are completed.

Where can I obtain my student's PowerSchool information?

You can visit with the office to request this information.

2021-2022 Sierra Middle School Yearbook

Capture Your Memories in This Year’s Sierra Middle School Yearbook.

Customize your 2 free pages

  • Add photos from your computer, Facebook, Instagram, Google Drive & more.
  • Answer fun Memory Questions to help remember the year.
  • The 2 Custom Pages are FREE and are printed ONLY in your book.
  • Want more pages? Each additional 2 pages is just $0.99.

To purchase & customize your yearbook, you must be a parent or student 13 years or older.

  • Go to
  • Enter your school’s passcode: 101368052897701
  • Regular Price: $21.91 (Does not include sales tax). Hardcover copies will be an extra $6.95.

Parent PowerSchool Access

Watch "PowerSchool Parent Tutorial" to see how to gain access to your student's PowerSchool information.
Powerschool Parent Tutorial

School Staff and Student COVID-19 Decision Tree

The following decision tree was created for families, students, and staff to better understand the steps that should be taken if an individual develops symptoms. Testing of close contacts (strongly encouraged) should happen five days into quarantine, or at onset of symptoms. A negative test for an unvaccinated close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual does not end the quarantine period.

2021-2022 School Calendar

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Community Schools Update from Mrs. Salyards

Students - if your family does not have enough food at home, especially for the Thanksgiving or Christmas breaks, please see Kristen in the office. We want to confidentially help you.

Exciting news - our School Based Health Center should be opening before Christmas break! Woohoo!

Students - tutoring is now available to you! See these teachers after school from 3:10 - 4:00 for help with your classes.


Mr. Katz on Monday

Mr. Santos every day

Mrs. Valentin Wednesday and Thursday (also available before school Wednesday, Thursday and Friday)

Mrs. Whitlow on Thursday

Mrs. Patterson on Monday and Wednesday

Mr. Bewley on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday


Mr. Katz on Monday

Mr. Bewley on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday


Mr. Katz on Monday

Mrs. Valentin Wednesday and Thursday (also available before school Wednesday, Thursday and Friday)


Mrs. Wickham on Tuesday and Wednesday

After school clubs continue to grow in number of kids attending and enjoying. A cooking club will start for 8th graders after Thanksgiving. See Mrs. Ford for details. A government club will also start in December. This will be for students interested in local, state or federal government issues and how our three branches of government work. This club will hopefully be taking a trip to Santa Fe during legislature to see our state congress in action. See Kristen in the front office for more information. If you want information about any of the current clubs, please see the sponsor.

Math - Mr. Smith or Mrs. Whitlow

Coding/Robotics - Mr. Busby

Anime - Mr. Bewley or Mr. Garcia

Harry Potter - Mr. Busby

Board Games - Mr. Katz

MESA - Mrs. Patterson or Mr. Busby

Veterans Day Assembly

Guest Speakers - Mr. Garcia and Mrs. Garcia

Thank You Sierra Eagles for the opportunity to get to speak to you about something that is near and dear to our hearts. Mrs. Garcia and I are proud to have served our country and to do our part to keep our country safe. I am Mr. Garcia, I served 8 total years in the New Mexico National Guard. I worked as a Chaparral Missile system electronics maintainer. I was able to complete my education as a teacher with the GI Bill and is a part of why I am here today, now your Assistant Principal. I did not deploy but instead played a vital role as my wife Jennifer Garcia had to deploy twice. My role was to keep everything as normal as possible for our two daughters. My wife, Jennifer served 26 years in the Army. She started out full time in the Army as a Vulcan Electronics Maintainer, an anti-aircraft Gatlin gun that was manually operated at the time. She would then go to the National Guard and become a Generator Mechanic and later an All-Source Intelligence Analyst. She did do short amounts of time off in between which is how she got deployed the first time. She was out of active service and placed in the Inactive Individual Reserve. She received orders to deploy to Africa in 2003, where she was attached to a Joint Special Forces (Navy Seals, Air force, and Army Special Forces). Her second deployment would be to Iraq where she was with a Weapons Intelligence Team attached to Navy EOD. Her job was to investigate explosions and IED attacks on American Troops. Mrs. Garcia has been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things. One thing she has always commented on is how privileged we are to be educated and have the freedom to choose. This is true for women as many countries still do not allow women to get an education or even to read or write. They cannot serve in the military and only serve a role of cook or “housekeeper”, traditionally female roles. Many men do not get an education either as their family may not be able to afford the cost. Men on the other hand have a different situation when it comes to the military. There are several countries where all men must report to the military at the age of 18, and they are not given the choice! Here in the U.S. we have a choice. If you “choose” to serve our country when you are 18, we will be proud of you for your dedication and love of our nation, and our freedoms! Let’s not take for granted the freedoms we have in our great country!

Choir - Mrs. Fuss

Our Veteran’s Program was held on November 11, 2021. Because we have Covid protocols in place, we held three separate assemblies – one for each grade. A little known fact – we believe Sierra Middle School was the first school in the district to have an actual Veteran’s Day program with Veteran’s in attendance. The earliest program that can be found is from 2010. This year, we refrained from inviting veterans and parents out of concern for their health, however, the program was re-formatted, and was quite successful. Many staff members lent their time to make this an educational time for our students. The choirs and orchestra performed, Mrs. Niece’s Advisory Class led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, Mrs. Biggs provided some history and background on Veteran’s Day, Mr. Fuss read “I Am the Flag”, there was a display of the flags of each branch of the service as the choir sang “A Salute to the Armed Forces”, Karen Fuss and Dr. Sara Montgomery, respectively; Mrs. Norris reminded us of assembly expectations and we finished with a wonderful video tribute put together by Mr. Busby and his newsletter/yearbook staff. Thanks to all the students who were so well behaved, and everyone who was involved – we had a great Veteran’s Day Assembly!

Choir - Mr. Fuss

Mr. Fuss read “I Am the Flag.” Following the reading, there was a display of the flags of each branch of the service as the choir sang “A Salute to the Armed Forces”.

Orchestra - Dr. Montgomery

The advanced orchestra performed during the Veteran's Day concert on Nov 11th. They worked very hard to present their piece and had the unique experience of playing it 3 times in one day. Here are some of the comments they wrote the following class, edited for length about the experience of repeating the concerts;

"I'm glad I got to play to honor the Veterans, I was nervous the first time but I got the hang of it and the 3rd time was enjoyable"

"I enjoyed the opportunity to listen to the experiences of our assistant principal and his wife. Even though I heard the speeches 3 times, every time I heard something different."

"The songs were amazing and the flag poem was really good and helped me see what the flag means."

" Overall the students enjoyed playing their piece and hearing the other presentations."

History and Background Information on Veteran’s Day - Mrs. Biggs

Last week we were able to honor family members of staff, students, and Veterans everywhere. Most of our students did not know the origin of Veterans Day so we took this as an opportunity to teach them how the holiday came to be. We also presented information about the flag and the theme songs for each of the military branches. Next year we hope to incorporate more history of each branch along with pictures so the students can make stronger connections to the courage and bravery our military members and their families show by serving our country.

Veterans Day Video - Mr. Busby

We asked the SMS students and staff to submit pictures and information about veterans within their family. This information included their military branch, rank, and how they were related to the student or staff member. We put all of the pictures and information together in a video, which played the song "American Soldier" by Toby Keith as the pictures were displayed. The students were very respectful as the video was shown. We will continue with this video tradition in future years, just as we have done it in the years previously. Our hope is to have more veterans honored in our video next year.

Hispanic Heritage Month Presentations

On Thursday, October 14, Ms. Valentin's students had a Hispanic Heritage Celebration and demonstrated what they had learned through their research by giving presentations to fellow students as well as SMS staff members. They also had two guests from Guatemala and Mexico explain how to cook traditional food from their countries.

Hispanic Heritage Month Facts

  • National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15.

  • It is celebrated from September 15 as it is the Independence Day of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

  • Similarly, September 16 is Mexico's Independence Day, and Chile's is the 18th.

  • It began in 1968, when the United States Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week.

  • In 1980 President Reagan, heeding President Ford's call, obtained congressional approval in 1988 to extend it to one month.

  • Its purpose is to recognize the contributions of the Latino and Hispanic communities to American society.

  • Likewise, it is about celebrating the growing presence of the Latino and Hispanic population in the country today.

Featured Article: November Facts

  1. November is the eleventh and penultimate month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars.

  2. It is the fourth and last of four months to have a length of 30 days and the fifth and last of five months to have a length of fewer than 31 days.

  3. November is a month of late spring in the Southern Hemisphere and late autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, November in the Southern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent of May in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa.

  4. Every November, it’s time to begin preparation for the winter months, whether that means pulling out your winter coat, adding another blanket to your bed, or searching for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe.

  5. November was the ninth month of the calendar of Romulus c. 750 BC. November retained its name – from the Latin novem meaning “nine” – when January and February were added to the Roman calendar.

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NO DOUBT - 6th Grade

  • Antonette Aguilar - Antonette's great attitude towards study reflects in her work. Her focus on meeting the demands of the different classes does not deter her from establishing healthy social relationships among her peers. She is outgoing and is an excellent example of students who live by the PBIS expectations. Her hobbies include playing softball, basketball, and football. Her words of advice to her peers are "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light"

  • Nathaniel “Nate” Vasquez - Nate does an excellent job at establishing a well balanced life. He knows how to manage his studies and his time outside of school. His influence and personality are noteworthy to his peers. Nate's sense of priority puts him ahead in his classwork and activities. He is always ready to take on responsibility and is a born leader. Nate's hobby is football. His words of advice to his peers are to "Be yourself."

NO FEAR - 6th Grade

  • D.D. - No Fear is happy to present D.D. as our Student of the Month. D.D. is a hard worker and very conscientious. She is responsible and comes to class prepared and ready to get to work. She never gives up when she is trying to figure something out. She is not afraid to ask questions when she does not understand something, and she is always willing to help others in the classroom. Her attitude in class and in the hallway is respectful to both students and teachers. A smile is often on her face, and she is cheerful and happy as she works through her day. Our teachers are most impressed by D.D. and her ability to stay strong and do what is right. We are proud to have D.D. on No Fear! D.D.'s hobbies include learning, games, playing with dogs, drawing, and helping people. Her words of advice to her peers are to "Try your best."
  • Andrew Wilkins - No Fear is also happy to present Andrew Wilkins as October Student of the Month. Andrew shows excellent character by being respectful, responsible, and caring. He often finds ways to help the teacher and others. He is very polite and friendly, as he greets teachers and students with a friendly smile and a “hello” daily. Andrew goes above and beyond to ensure his work is turned in and completed correctly and turned in on time. Without being asked, Andrew always makes certain everything is cleaned up and supplies are put away. Andrew stays focused on the task assigned and works diligently to complete the work. Andrew is kind to other students, very cooperative during collaborative learning, and is a positive role model to others! Keep up the magnificent work, Andrew! Andrew's hobbies include art and playing with dogs. His words of advice to his peers are that "Failing is okay, it helps you learn more."

STORM - 7th Grade

  • Jaylee Glaze - Jaylee is a self-motivated and responsible student. She strives to do her best on everything and will help her classmates any time she can. Jaylee likes to draw, watch anime, and call her friends in her free time. When she grows up she wants to be a YouTuber, a therapist, or an artist. Her advice to other students is "If you always give it your all, you will always succeed".

  • Daedric Fernandez-Parrish - Daedric is a kind and respectful student. He works hard in all classes and enjoys helping his peers. In his free time, Daedric likes to code and play games. When he grows up, he would like to be a video game maker/programmer. His advice to other students is to "Stay in school, and don't do drugs"

TALONS - 7th Grade

  • Mariana Osuna – Mariana shows outstanding academic qualities. She gets along well with her peers. She shows discipline throughout her classes. She is a trustworthy student that is always willing to go above and beyond expectations. Mariana shows respect to peers, teachers and other staff members. Her hobbies include reading, painting, and playing violin. Mariana's words of advice to her peers are to "Work hard, believe in yourself, and accomplish your goals."

  • Caleb Ehler – Caleb is outgoing in afterschool activities. He keeps up with academics as well as performing with his basketball team. Caleb gets along well with his peers and is always helpful. He shows respect to peers, teachers and other staff members. Caleb's main hobby is playing basketball. His words of advice to his peers are to "Do all of your work."

RAPTORS - 8th Grade

  • Rachel Sanchez - Rachel always turns in her assignments on time. She helps other students when they need help, and comes to class happy and ready to work. She has many friends and tries to include everyone. Rachel is motivated to learn, and is always willing to explore new tasks. Her hobbies include reading and writing. Rachel's words of advice to her peers are to "Be yourself."
  • Conner Nolan - Conner is always helpful. He is very diligent, and is always on time. He turns in his assignments, and does great work. He is polite, kind, and respectful. Conner is motivated to learn, and is a happy student. His hobbies include computer coding and making movies. Conner's words of advice to his peers are "Don't give up. Keep trying. Don't listen to negative opinions."

SHOCKWAVE - 8th Grade

  • Jelina Dones - Jelina is a diligent student. She is polite, respectful and one of the hardest-working students in our team. Jelina does not know how to give up on learning a new skill or task. She is determined that she will learn and conquer each new task given to her. Jelina never complains that things are too hard or too much work - she just focuses on the task at hand. Jelina’s hobbies are studying the arts such as music. Her words of advice are "Keep going, don't let anything hold you back."

  • Lucius Vasquez - Lucius is a respectful, polite and hard-working student. Lucius completes his class assignments on time and shows a strong effort to learn in his classes. Lucius is generous with his time and frequently helps explain ideas or tasks to other students. Lucius is well liked by his friends and classmates. His hobby includes studying physics , chemistry and quantum physics. Lucius’s words of advice are "You can't achieve anything without self discipline."

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7th and 8th grade students - Get your physical!

21-22 Athletic Participation And Physical Exam Forms

All participants need to obtain a proper physical. Please click the button above or come by Sierra Middle School for the required paperwork.

Concussion Course For Students

Please click the link above to complete the required NFHS Concussion Course. (Required by all athletes each year).

7th Grade Girls Basketball

Message from Mr. Garcia - The 7th grade girls’ basketball team began tryouts on October 20th and 21st. This gave us just enough time to prepare for our first game on October 26th. We played against Mt. View. Considering this was a first for many of us, girls and coach included, unfortunately we lost. From then on, the Lady Eagles would go on to put their heart and soul into every game. We may not have a winning record, but this didn’t stop our Lady Eagles from going above and beyond. They improved so much from the very first game on October 26th. We lost some teammates along the way, but that didn’t discourage the girls from doing their best and trying their hardest. We are proud to be Lady Eagles and to have represented Sierra Middle School for 7th Grade Basketball.
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Tips From Nurse Palomino

Help Stop the Spread by:

  • Handwashing: Please remember to wash hands with soap and water and or hand sanitizer for 20 seconds. For example, sing "Happy Birthday" while washing hands.
  • Make sure your mask fits snug and covers your nose and mouth.
  • Social distancing: Stay 6 feet apart.
  • Stay home when you are feeling sick.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing.
Know How to Wear Your Face Mask Correctly
Wash Your Hands to Stay Healthy During COVID-19

Book Recommendations

Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Book 1) by Andrew Lane

It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock's true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.

Rebel Fire (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Book 2) by Andrew Lane

Fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes knows that Amyus Crowe, his mysterious American tutor, has some dark secrets. But he didn't expect to find John Wilkes Booth, the notorious assassin, apparently alive and well in England—and Crowe somehow mixed up in it. When no one will tell you the truth, sometimes you have to risk all to discover it for yourself. And so begins an adventure that will take Sherlock across the Atlantic, to the center of a deadly web—where a friend is in peril and a defeated army threatens to rise again.

Andrew Lane's exciting second case for the teenage Sherlock leads the young detective to America, straight into the heart of a shocking conspiracy.

Black Ice (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins, Book 3) by Andrew Lane

When Sherlock and Amyus Crowe, his American tutor, visit Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, in London, what they find shocks both of them to the core: a locked room, a dead body, and Mycroft holding a knife. The police are convinced Mycroft is a vicious murderer, but Sherlock is just as convinced he is innocent.

Threatened with the gallows, Mycroft needs Sherlock to save him. The search for the truth necessitates an incredible journey, from a railway station for the dead in London all the way to the frozen city of Moscow - where Sherlock is entangled in a world of secrets and danger.

In Andrew Lane's Black Ice, the unstoppable teenage sleuth undertakes his third fantastic adventure, as one deadly puzzle leads only to another.

Sherlock Holmes: Think you know him? Think again.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a cloak of invisibility, befriended a giant or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years. But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him...if Harry can survive the encounter.

Department Message: SMS Mathematics Department

Ms. Whitlow - My students are wrapping up multiplication and division of fractions. They have really done well. We are moving on to expressions and equations after Thanksgiving break. 😊

Mr. Santos - We are doing “Time to Shine” in my classroom. Students are given a chance to become the teacher. The student that is the teacher creates their own questions that their classmates will then answer the questions. After two to three questions, another student will be given the chance to become the teacher.

Ms. Diaz - Last month Mrs. Diaz's class worked on creating a timeline using integers. Students had to choose 5 events before they were born and 5 events after. Their birth year was zero and they had to calculate how far each event was from that. They represented these events with negative and positive numbers. Students included pictures and descriptions.

Some of the events chosen included:

  • The invention of Zero in ~2500BC
  • Amelia Earhart's flight in 1937
  • The sinking of the Titanic in 1912
  • The invention of escalators in 1892
  • The invention of coding in 1964

Students had a lot of fun presenting their family and world events!

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Ms. Hanes - Our 7th grade students have been learning about Ratios, Rates and Proportions (equivalent ratios). They are learning how ratios and rates are connected to everyday life. The classes did an assignment in which different item brands were displayed around the room. Partners went to each of the different items around the room and determined which brand was the better buy based on their unit rate calculations. Students liked the engaging activity as they were able to move about the classroom and work with their partners.

Mrs. Patterson - Mrs. Patterson's Pre-Algebra classes are learning about linear graphs with a variety of activities. Just ask us about our "Xs"(and "Ys", too)! We have been calculating slope and will soon learn about y-intercepts.

Mrs. Patterson's Algebra 1 class are exploring the world of functions. Domains and ranges are not just found in computers and appliances. Gimkit and Scavenger Hunts are some of our favorite activities.

Mr. Smith - Our 8th grade Pre-Algebra classes are finishing up the unit on solving equations. We completed a "Faceing" Math assignment dealing with variables on both sides. Since Veteran’s Day was earlier in the month, the pictures were in honor of our military. The attached file is some examples of some very talented students' work.

Our Algebra students did the "faceing" math earlier, and some of their examples are included in the attached file also. Again, there were more excellent examples and I couldn’t show all of the brilliant pictures. Currently they are working on Functions. I would like to give Ms. Diaz a shout out for the funny video clip introducing the class to functions with the Nuggetizer. They can’t look at a chicken nugget the same after watching it.

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Inspirational Quote

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Video of Inspiration

Inspirational Video - You can be a hero too