Colt Crusader

A newsletter for the families of CFES students

October Edition

2828 Pleasant Acres Drive

Virginia Beach, VA 23453


Follow us on Twitter @cfescolts

Principal: Robyn Backer , @Robyn Backer

Asst. Principal: Patti Porter, @sunsetzzz15

Message From Ms. Backer, Our Principal

Now that we are in full swing, many are wondering about grading. Virginia Beach City Public Schools has a Standards Based Grading Policy for grades K-5. This grading system is very different from the A, B, C, D, E or F system many of you grew up with. Because it is so different, it can be hard to understand and for some, it is hard to accept.

To explain the reasoning, we believe children need to be given the opportunities to truly master a concept through a balanced assessment system. This includes some traditional tests and quizzes, but also includes performance tasks which incorporate skills such as collaboration, communication, citizenship, critical thinking, and creativity. We refer to these skills as 'soft skills' or the 5 Cs. According to research, colleges and universities, as well as the modern work place, admissions offices and employers are looking for adults that can solve problems, search for answers, communicate effectively, and work in groups.

Multiple choice tests and fill in the blank assessments are recall based, and rarely does the information stick. How many of us remember all of the facts we had to memorize to pass a test on the American Revolution or the Chemistry elements? If you do, that means meaningful experiences were provided along with the learning. Many will argue that memorization is key, especially when it comes to math facts and vocabulary. There is definitely some truth to that, but after awhile, once the basic facts are mastered, there needs to be a facet of computational fluency in which students can solve problems and use logic to get the next level. With vocabulary, students need to use context clues and connections to comprehend texts and become efficient writers. In essence, we are going deeper than the surface of memorization.

It is the goal of Virginia Beach City Public Schools to enable students to grow academically, personally, and socially. A straight up letter grade truly cannot measure the skills of this depth. When skills and concepts are truly mastered, they stick. Real life, authentic experiences with opportunities to try and fail multiple times are factors in solidifying the learning.

Below is the grading scale and the definitions of each standard as stated in our school division guidelines. Please review these and if you have questions, please ask your child's teachers or feel free to contact me. This article is a nutshell version of all of the intricacies of Standards Based Grading. Frankly, it was much easier to average numbers and assign a letter grade, but in reality, that method did not really provide a fair assessment of a student's true abilities and their preparation for the real world.


  • AP Advanced Proficient
  • P Proficient
  • DP Developing Proficiency
  • N Novice
  • NE Not Evaluated at this time

The AP - N codes should not be equated to an A-E grading scale.

-Ms. Backer

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Message from Ms. Porter, Our Assistant Principal

Our 4th grade students will take the Integrated Performance Task (IPT) on Wednesday, October 9th. The IPT presents an engaging, real-world scenario that measures students’ critical-thinking, problem-solving, and writing skills. Teachers will familiarize students with an IPT rubric before the test is given. The information gained from this writing assignment will provide data to assist teacher’s with instruction in the area of writing.

Upcoming Events

  • October 7th - Girls on the Run after school club - 2:45
  • October 8th - SCA meeting after school club - 2:45
  • October 9th-
  • 4th Grade IPT Testing
  • 5th Grade Amusement Park Expo - 1:30
  • Girls on the Run after school club - 2:45
  • October 10th - 5th Grade Gifted Screening
  • October 11th -
  • Spirit Day - Wear your CFES shirts!
  • PTA Fall Festival - 6:00
  • October 14th -
  • Virtual Learning Day - No school for students
  • Skinny Dip Cashola Night
  • October 15th - Girls on the Run after school club - 2:45
  • October 16th - Girls on the Run after school club - 2:45
  • October 17th -
  • 5th Grade Airplane Competition @Creeds ES
  • School Planning Council/PTA Meeting 3:00-Library. All parents welcome to attend
  • October 21st - Girls on the Run after school club - 2:45
  • October 23rd -
  • Unity Day - Wear Orange
  • Girls on the Run after school club - 2:45
  • October 25th
  • 1st Grade Field Trip to Hunt Club
  • Annual 5th Grade Egg Drop
  • October 28th - Girls on the Run after school club - 2:45
  • October 29th- Coldstone Sales Begin
  • October 30th - Girls on the Run after school club - 2:45

** Important After School Information **

Due to new safety procedures, any time you are picking your child up after 3:00 from any after school activity, the club sponsor will bring the students to the foyer when the program is over.

We ask that parents remain in the loop/parking lot until the sponsor opens the door for you to sign your child out. Thank you for your understanding our efforts to keep your children safe.

What is an CFES Expo?

Here at the farm, we try to excite learning in real-world and relevant ways. We build on student strength’s and look for opportunities to share our acquired knowledge. When mapping out a unit, teachers look for ways for students to think like “an expert” in the discipline. Several times throughout the year you may be invited to attend an event where students show what they know. This is not a big presentation but rather a chance to experience small snippets of learning that took place within the unit. Parents are asked to pop in to all of the participating rooms, including their child’s room, and interact with the children. This allows them a chance to communicate some of the projects, experiments, STEM challenges, etc. that went on during the school day. Our expos are an open door to the classroom and you may stay for the entire time (usually about 45 minutes) or just a short window, depending on your schedule. These occur during the school day and if parents are not able to attend, it is fine. We have you covered! Students are often invited from different grade levels to interact with the “experts” as well as a variety of adults in the building and community. If you miss the sharing session, we will tweet pictures and you can get an idea of the learning that took place. We are thankful to have such a wonderful community to share our learning with and we want parents to know how welcome you are and see your child in action.

October Counseling Corner

Happy Fall ya’ll! Our farm family is settling in so well. Staff and Students are embracing our Colt’s Code and already showing they can be Ready, Respectful and Responsible. In fact, the students shown below will be celebrated this Friday during lunch with the opportunity to eat their lunch on stage with our Administrators because they demonstrated exceptional RESPONSIBILITY during the month of September.

In October we will be focusing on RESPECT. Because it is National Bully Prevention Month, classroom guidance lessons will not only define bullying but also teach how to prevent, report and stand up to prevent it.

We are excited to share with you that our school community will be celebrating Unity Day and ask that everyone wear ORANGE on Wednesday, October 23rd this year. Unity Day is an annual event occurring during National Bullying Prevention Month in October that promotes joining together to create healthier communities through kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. It was started by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in 2011 and is now celebrated around the world.

We hope you’ll take this opportunity to talk to your children about bullying prevention and all the positive things we can do to make healthier communities. For more information on the history of Unity Day and its impact, check out

Bowman's Bytes

Christopher Farm Families!

As you know, technology is an enormous part of your student's educational experience and becoming comfortable using various forms of technology is increasingly important to their success as a student and as a member of society. We are placing a large focus on Digital Citizenship at Christopher Farms. This is the idea of being responsible for our actions online, just as we would offline. Please continue these conversations about being a good digital citizen at home. Discuss the importance of privacy and not sharing personal information online. Talk about the effects of cyber bullying and the appropriate measures to take if your child thinks they may be experiencing cyber bullying. Being a good digital citizen also means using technology appropriately in the classroom. Express to your child the importance of only accessing the content they have been instructed to or been given permission to access. Your child's browsing history is accessible at any time. More information will be coming out about that in the near future.

Robotics club will be starting soon. This year robotics will be open to 5th graders only. The robotics team will be smaller this year as I am learning the program for the first time. Criteria for the robotics club can be found in this application. Applications can also be picked up in the office. In addition, a coding program will be available to 4th and 5th graders that will occur during school hours. This program will help lay the foundation for future members of the robotics team next year. It will also give students who are interested in coding but are not able to join the robotics team an opportunity to learn similar skills.

Literacy News

We are off to a strong start in language arts! Students are already in the second unit where they are visiting the story elements of narrative text. Our younger readers are meeting new characters and making connections with those characters’ feelings. Our older readers are examining characters, setting, plot and drawing conclusions about how each have impacted the story.

All of our colts are writing personal narratives and will soon begin to revise and edit their drafts. In a couple of weeks, we will peak our curiosity about reading nonfiction text and think about how that looks different than reading fiction text. Be sure to ask you child what they are reading at school!

Patti Csenar- Reading Specialist

A note from our Math Specialist - Mrs. Rockwell

Happy October! We kicked off the school year in math by exploring numbers and relationships within the base-ten system. Our students are developing number sense through hands-on opportunities, such as counting objects in kindergarten to discovering characteristics of prime and composite numbers in 5th grade. Geometry will become a focus in kindergarten, first and fifth grade classrooms this month as students classify and describe shapes by their attributes. In second, third, and fourth grade classrooms, students will use and apply strategies for problem solving with addition and subtraction.

Look for opportunities to support math instruction at home by finding various shapes around the house (This picture frame is shaped like a rectangle, It has 4 sides and 4 vertices) or creating your own addition or subtraction word problems (If we had 7 apples and used 4 for an apple pie, how many apples do we have left?). As always, thank you for your continued support!

Jenny Rockwell - Math Specialist

Information from Mrs. Vickery

5th Grade Gifted Screening Update - An Assessment Specialist for gifted education will be at Christopher Farms on Thursday, October 10th to work with all 5th grade students. A good night’s sleep and a nutritious breakfast are the best preparation. Your cooperation in having your child present on this date is appreciated.

Gifted Testing Deadlines and Information Nights 2019-2020

If you are interested in having your child tested for gifted, please visit the district website at and follow the links to the appropriate gifted testing. The application for all programs (except MYP) can be found at Please watch the video on how to fill out the application. You will use your child’s user name (lunch number) and password (the one assigned by the teacher to log onto chrome books) to log onto the application.

INTELLECTUAL GIFTED-Any student, grades 1-12, can apply for gifted services. There are two programs. One is within Christopher Farms Elementary. The other is at Old Donation School.

Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 Parent Information Night for Old Donation School for students currently in 5th grade-Open House at 5:00 and presentation at 5:30 pm at ODS, 4633 Honeygrove Road

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020 Parent Information Night for Old Donation School for students currently in grades 1-4-Open House at 5:00 and presentation at 5:30 at ODS, 4633 Honeygrove Road

Friday, Jan. 10, 2020 at 4 pm. Applications for intellectual gifted, currently grades 2-5, (both programs at Christopher Farms and ODS) are due. Late applications will not be accepted.

Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 at 4 pm. Applications for intellectual gifted, currently grade 1, (both programs at Christopher Farms and ODS) are due. Late applications will not be accepted.

MIDDLE YEARS PROGRAM at Plaza Middle School (for students currently in 5th grade)

November 20 and 21, 2019 Parent Information Night for MYP Program at 6:30 at Plaza Middle School, 3080 S. Lynnhaven Road

You can access your child’s ParentVUE account to view your child’s gifted screening scores. Your child’s gifted screening score will be available on ParentVUE by Nov. 1, 2019 and you may access it at that time. Any student who scores 90% or higher will be recommended to apply for gifted testing. Parents must fill out the application online prior to the deadline (January 10th grades 2-5) and submit it prior to 4:00 pm. If a score is below 90%, parents may still apply for additional testing. The website to apply for gifted identification and for ODS is: .

News from the library!

Congratulations to the twenty-one 4th graders who will be working in the library this year as Student Library Assistants.

They are:

Leilani D. Chloe G.

Nora M. Jack V.

Joshua E. Anahlia P.

Peyton M. Lia M.

Isabella T. Angelina D.

Haylee G. Elena C.

Helen L. Dominic B.

Blake P. Janiyah T.

Ethan P. Axl C.

Kylie C. Olivia M.

Sophia F.

I’m looking forward to working with this outstanding student leaders.

Anne Young

National School Lunch Week

National School Lunch Week (NSLW) has been celebrated for more than 50 years! It is a weeklong celebration filled with events and activities designed to promote the benefits of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Go to to find information on the history of NSLW, school lunch facts, infographics, activity sheets and more.

To celebrate the healthy lunch choices in Virginia Beach City Public Schools, our schools will promote National School Lunch Week: October 14-18, 2019. This year’s theme “School Lunch: What’s on your playlist?” is tailor-made to spotlight the wide variety of flavors, dishes, delivery options and tastes of today’s school lunch. A “playlist” connotes a wide range of tastes and is completely individualized, just as school lunch is increasingly “playing to” the customized, made-to-order tastes of students.

The NSLP was signed into law in 1946 (Richard B. Russell Act), and is the largest of the federal child nutrition programs. This program provides nutritionally balanced, healthy meals to students. More than 30 million students are served healthy lunches every school day. The program requires school meals to meet federal nutrition standards by:

  • Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;
  • Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
  • Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
  • Limiting calories based on the age of children being served; and
  • Reducing amounts of saturated fat, Trans fats and sodium.

Student and parent participation is essential for the success of any school lunch program. Therefore, it is our desire that your children will choose to eat school lunches – not just during this special week of observance, but every day. Understanding the cost breakdown and savings of a school lunch versus a packed lunch may illustrate the value of utilizing school lunch programs.

Join us in celebrating NSLW by having lunch with your child! Adult menu items are priced a la carte. If you can come, please return the reservation below by Friday, October 4, 2019.

Save the Date!

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Partner in Education Spotlight

We have many partners in education that work alongside CFES to help support our mission and vision. Every month, we will be highlighting one partner.

The Kemp Team with Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group is a family team with over 30 years’ experience in the real estate/mortgage industry. They have partnered up with Christopher Farms Elementary School with the Partners in Education program in hopes to give back to the community that their own children were raised in. The Kemp Team is here to, not only help the teachers/employees/parents of CFES with any mortgage questions or needs, but to help support the school community by volunteering for class projects, supporting school events and anything else that may arise. They’re ready to lend a helping hand so reach out to them today and let them know how they can help.

PTA Information

Memberships are still on sale for $8 per student & Family member. PTA members will receive numerous discounts and freebies this year at our events.

We are accepting Reflections submissions until November 1. This year’s theme is “Look Within”. Your child can deliver their entry to the main office and attention it to Holly Virella.

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  1. Check our website weekly:
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  3. Download the VBSCHOOLS app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store
  4. Make sure the school has your updated phone number and email address in order to receive Alert Now communications
  5. Follow your child's progress on Parent Portal: