Back Pocket

May 2019


May 8 - PTSA Meeting 7:00pm (media center)

May 10 - Mid-Term – 2 Hour Early Dismissal for Students

May 17 – 8th grade Math Trip to National Math Museum

May 27 – Memorial Day School Closed

May 31 – 8th Grade Dance (7:00pm – 9:00pm)

Principal's Message

At WKMS, our motto is "Be Your Best!" While short, these words are powerful, carry a lot of weight, and guide our thoughts and actions. What does it mean to "Be Your Best"? At WKMS it means to have a positive attitude and give your best effort in everything that you do. It means to accept challenges. It means to always do the right thing. It means being accountable and learning from your mistakes. Lastly, it means to contribute positively to the broader school community. The last several weeks have provided us with many examples of our students, staff, and community living this motto!

The WKMS Destination Imagination (DI) team, “Whoah”, recently competed in the State competition. “Whoah” took first place in the Heads Up! Improvisational Challenge and they also earned the Destination Imagination Renaissance Award for performance excellence. Congratulations to Skylar Robisch, Nicole Simmons and Duncan Ways for this very significant achievement! Winning the state championship qualifies the team to compete in the Destination Imagination Global Finals, May 22-25, in Kansas City, Missouri. The team is trying to raise funds to participate. Registration is $5,500 per team. The students are hoping to raise $10,000 for the registration and travel expenses, lodging and meals. Please support their efforts by joining them at the Mt. Airy Chipotle Restaurant on Monday, May 6th, from 5pm to 9pm when 33% of all proceeds will go to help the team. Then, on Thursday, May 16, come visit Manhattan Pizza in Urbana where the proceeds will also go to the team. The Manhattan Pizza fundraiser starts at 4pm. Anyone wishing to support the students may search GoFundMe for the Windsor Knolls Destination Imagination Globals page. Thanks for your help in getting “Whoah” to Kansas City later this month.

The WKMS Band and Orchestra students recently participated in the FCPS adjudication process at Catoctin High School. Each ensemble is scored by four professional judges comprised of local educators, college professors, or supervisors. Each judge rates the categories of tone quality, intonation, tempo/rhythm, technique/articulation, musicality/expression, balance, and other factors (including appearance and professionalism of ensemble and director, appropriate music selection). Overall ratings are an average of the four judges scores. Both our Band and Orchestra scored quite well in each of these areas earning an overall rating of “1”. A “1” is the highest possible rating an ensemble can earn. Congratulations to Mr. Skopek and all of the band and orchestra members for their achievement. We wish them continued success as they perform at the State Adjudication next week!

Lastly, the WKMS PBIS Committee recently hosted the annual Talent Show. With 18 acts, the talent was deep and very impressive. Each student who performed should be commended for not only their artistic and athletic talent and skill; but also, for their creativity, courage, and poise. A special congratulations goes to Madelyn Beckman, Chris Brookes, Sophie Ward, Will Brooks, and Mia Mendoza for receiving individual accolades for their performances. And, a special thanks to Lauren Hackett and Ellie Strohmeyer for being such wonderful hosts and MC’s.

I want to thank every student, teacher, and parent who is helping us be our best at WKMS!

- Brian Vasquenza

Counselor's Corner

This past week, WKMS students participated in Screen Free week during their lunchtime. With that in mind, please take a few minutes to read the following article, “Why We All Really Need Scree-Free Week This Year” by Claire McCarthy, MD and Faculty Editor for Harvard Health Publishing.

Screen-Free Week this week: from April 30th to May 6th, families are encouraged to turn off the screens and enjoy the non-digital world. As a pediatrician, I believe that we need to do this more than we ever have before.

It used to be that “screens” were only televisions (with video games possibly attached to them) and computers, which were used more for work than anything else. But now, screens are ubiquitous and intertwined with all aspects of daily life.

There’s no denying that smartphones, tablets, and laptops have the capacity to make our lives easier and better. Information about anything is readily available, shopping is streamlined, we have the ability to be in real-time contact with anyone around the world, education and medical treatment can reach to places where both are scarce… the innovations are incredible.

But there is also no denying that our screen culture has some serious downsides. Smartphones and other screens interfere with parental interactions with children, which can impact a child’s development — and impact relationships (if you haven’t watched Will Ferrell’s video for the Device-Free Dinner movement, you should — it will make you laugh and cringe at the same time). They interfere with everyone’s sleep, especially teens. They get us into accidents while driving or walking. They distract us from the world around us, in general. There is growing concern that some people are actually becoming addicted to their screens.

That’s why it’s increasingly important that every once in a while we take a break from our screens: to help us understand those downsides — and to show ourselves that we can take a break.

So for one week, as a family, try to…

  • Leave the cell phones in a basket or something as you come in the door. Really. Maybe set up a charging space and have all the phones live there when you are home.
  • During the day, use your cell phone only for necessary calls and texts, and only use the Internet if absolutely needed (like to get directions)
  • Avoid using screens for entertainment. Play games, go for a walk, or to a museum. Make stuff. Read books (it’s also Children’s Book Week).
  • Spend screen-free time with friends. Remember what it was like when people weren’t always checking their phones.

    See, that’s the thing: we are quickly forgetting what it was like when we weren’t always checking our phones, and that’s bad. It’s one thing to make a conscious decision to use a device; it’s entirely another when the devices take over our lives. Stopping for a week can help us gain perspective, and hopefully allow us to make better, more thoughtful decisions about when and how we use electronic devices.

    The websites for Screen Free Week, Device-Free Dinner, and Children’s Book Week have all sorts of tips and resources; check them out. The American Academy of Pediatrics also has resources to help you calculate just how much time your kids are spending on media — and create a family media plan that works best for your children and family.


We are flying through springtime here in math. Students have completed PARCC and will be ending up the year with their final Benchmark assessments. We appreciate your continued support in these important assessments that share how well students are doing across each grade level and across our district. It is important for students to demonstrate their best effort and we want to make sure they feel prepared.

Mastering Math - Remember to practice math. Students should be able to demonstrate all of the following as an Independent Learner in middle school:

  • Take good notes during class. Sounds simple but if you cannot read them back later & understand what you wrote they won’t help you
  • Do all your homework & classwork as assigned
  • Check your homework & classwork (be an active classroom participate, mark the correct solution for each problem)
  • Rework any missed work problems at home to understand why you made the mistake the first time and so you do not make the mistake again!
  • Review assessments at the end of each unit and again at the end of the term to not lose that knowledge and help transfer the information to long term memory

Ready for Summer?! Don’t lose your math ability over the summer. We will be sending out information for students to have math practice for review over the summer. There will be several different options available for parents to choose from this summer.

Math Talk - Parents – please talk to your children about math. You are a great teacher to your children if you just converse with them about the real world implications of math. Unsure where to begin? Here is a list of ideas to talk about that include real world math: food shopping, creating a budget, paying bills, cell phone plans, cable/satellite T.V. packages, cooking meals, babysitting, cutting grass, doing laundry, maintaining a checking account, car maintenance, travel plans, earning an allowance, following baseball or soccer games, buying back to school clothes, summer temperatures (is it hotter this summer because of all the snow we had). The simple step of talking about what is happening and how it is happening makes understanding math in the real world that much simpler for your student.

Algebra I & Geometry students will take their End of Course Algebra I or Geometry PARCC Math test on Monday, May 20, Tuesday, May 21, and Wednesday, May 22. Please be on time to school these three days, bring your graphing calculator, charged Chromebook & headphones, eat a good breakfast, and make sure you get a good night sleep each evening.

English/Language Arts

Greetings from the English Language Arts Department where fourth quarter is well underway and students are diligently working their way through the remaining ELA standards for this school year. The third and final FCPS Benchmark, the Research Simulation Task, was recently completed in Language Arts classes. Students in Mrs. Kennedy's System44 and Read180 intervention classes are continuing their work in small group, independent reading, and software rotations. All intervention students will take the Performance Series and the Reading and/or Phonics Inventory one final time before the end of the school year. Please reach out to your student's ELA teacher, intervention teacher, or to the WKMS Literacy Specialist, Ginny Hines, with any questions or concerns.

Advanced Academics

All Highly Able placement letters have been sent. If you received a letter and need further clarification on your students placement please feel free to contact Mrs. Saylor at

Yearbooks will be distributed in early June. Extra yearbooks were not ordered but there may be extras available on a first come first serve basis after the pre-ordered books are distributed. Student should be listening to the morning announcements to see where and when they can purchase them.

Parents looking for academic activities for their student for the summer can check out the Frederick Community College website for “Kids on Campus” programs. Also, the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented youth has some opportunities for high achieving students.

Media Center

Our learning community is always excited to promote literacy and share recommended books for summer reading. FCPL will be visiting WKMS to discuss the options that we suggest on Tuesday, May 28th at lunch with students. Let’s work together to encourage our scholars to keep reading to develop their literacy skills, build their vocabulary, prepare for next school year! Please remember to have your students stop by and visit the Media Center during their lunchtime. They are always welcome! As we move into June, I will be sharing a summer reading list and some important strategies, so our students avoid the “summer slide.”


Please join the PTSA at our next General Meeting on Wednesday, May 8 at 7pm in the cafeteria. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing & sneakers, because immediately following the meeting, at 7:30, PTSA will be hosting a free Zumba/P90x class!! Come on out and get a jump start on swimsuit season!

Mark your calendar for our next Chipotle Night, Tuesday, May 28. You get a night off from worrying about dinner, and WKMS PTSA gets 33% of the proceeds. It's a win-win!

The following board positions need to be filled for the 2019-2020 school year: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Please contact Rachel Johnson at for more information. There will be no PTSA next year if these positions are not filled, so please consider volunteering.

Car Riders

If you drive your children to school in the morning, you undoubtedly know you’re not alone. In an effort to help move everyone move through the drop-off line more efficiently, we are asking that you please drop your student(s) off along the sidewalk area. Please do not feel like you have to wait in line until you are immediately in front of the building to drop them off. Our primary goal is to keep this process safe but we would also like to move the line along a little more quickly and efficiently.