Colt Crusader

A newsletter for the families of CFES students

December 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

It’s hard to believe we are in December already! I guess time flies when you’re having fun.

This time of year is certainly busy for families and is no different at school. Staff have planned several fun activities related to the holidays in addition to their regular curriculum. We just had a fabulous simple machines expo by our third graders, our fifth graders will be hosting their electricity Jamestown on December 18th, and moreover on December 19th we will be hosting our winter concert. I am proud to say community engagement and involvement remains a strength of our school.

We are noticing even more of our students following our Colts Code and going out of their way to show kindness to their fellow classmates and teachers. On daily basis, I see students tieing shoes for each other, helping Mrs. Mercy in the cafe, and our upper grade students being mentors to our younger students. We are so thankful for your kids and the way you raise them to be kind and look out for each other.

We are also thankful for our amazing staff. If you would like to tell the division about a great teacher or staff member who makes a difference in the life of your child, you can email your story to and the staff member/teacher may be put into a drawing for a prize and also receive a letter of gratitude from the division.

If you would like to join us for the next PTA Meeting, please join us on December 13th from 3:00 - 4:00 pm in the library.

Over my time in education, as a result of working, talking with and listening to many people, I have seen and felt the pride we all take in our schools. I have seen the support that faculty, staff, families and community members have for each other and for our students. As plans for our future continue to develop, I want to make sure I have a chance to meet and talk with all of you.

To that end, I invite you to join us for coffee hour in the cafeteria. The agenda is focused on casual conversation, sharing of perspectives, ideas and goals for our community, particularly our students. It is important for our work with children to be meaningful, effective and responsive to continuous feedback. This quarter's coffee hour will highlight Study Habits and Digital Citizenship. Please join us:

Monday, December 17th at 7:00 am/ 5:00 pm in the library

It continues to be an honor and a privilege to be working with each of you. We hope to see you on the 17th. Happy Holidays!

-Ms. Backer

Message from Mrs. Porter, our assistant principal.

Our PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) systems have been in place now for a nine week period. The teachers are approaching behavior in the classroom by building relationships with students and many students begin their day with a morning meeting.

The students have been benefiting tremendously as positive behaviors observed by staff members result in a Golden Colt Ticket. When a class is observed by another teacher or staff member displaying respect, responsibility, and being ready (Our Colts Code) in the hallway, restroom, or cafeteria they have received a Golden Colt Ticket. The students work diligently, especially in the hallway, to receive a ticket.

At the end of each week 3 tickets are randomly drawn and then this class has received their reward chosen by them. Some classes have already had an extra recess break, a PJ day, game board day, popcorn party and many other "Golden Colt" incentives for their class. Ask your child if their class has received a Golden Colt Ticket lately or if they have received an extra incentive for being responsible, respectful, and ready!

-Mrs. Porter

Important Upcoming Dates


12/3 - Santa's Workshop Begins

12/5 - VB Middle Visual Arts Program Night @ 5:30p

12/6 - Corprate Landing Middle Open House @ 6p

12/7 - Santa's Workshop Ends

12/7 - Super W/ Santa 5:30p-8:30p

12/12 - Princess Anne Middle Open House @ 6:30p

12/12 - Piano Night 7p-8p

12/13 - PTA Meeting @ 3:00p

12-18 - 5th Grade Electronic city Expo @1:30p-2:20p

12/19 - Winter Concert

12/24- 1/1 - Winter Break


1/3 - Brickell Academy Information Night @ 5p

1/8 - Landstown Middle Open House @5:30p

1/15 - Chuck E. Cheese Cashola @ 3:00p-9:00p

1/17 - PTA Meeting @ 3:00p

1/21 - Martin Luther King Day (No School)

1/25 - Father Daughter Masquerade Ball @ 6:00p-8:00p

1/28 - Staff Day (No School for Students)

1/31 - Quarter 2 Ends

Dismissal Change Reminders

As our staff works hard to ensure each child makes it home safety every day, but we need your help. As a reminder, if there is to be any change in dismissal procedures for your child, whether it is an early pickup or going home a different way, please have your child give his/her teacher a parent note first thing in the morning (preferred way) indicating the change.

You may also email the office before 2:00 PM with the dismissal change at the following address:,,,

Please do not simply email your child's teacher or use Class Dojo for communicating dismissal changes. Teachers are busy teaching and cannot guarantee that he/she will see the electronic communication. Also, if your child is involved in an after school activity and cannot attend on a particular day, a note is needed indicating that your child will not be staying for the activity. Otherwise, we must assume your child should be staying after school.

Congratulations to our Citizens of the Month for December!

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Pre-K & Kindergarten

Mrs. Witherow

Aiden Williams

Ms. Kane

Brynn Carpenter (AM)

Yvette Romero (PM)

Mrs. Sinnen

Gwennan McCandelss (AM)

Azalea Rowe (PM)

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1st - 5th Grade

1st Grade

Riley Wermann (Cooley)

Lola Bueno (Kernodle)

Isaac Palm (Torres)

Parker Griffin (Shutter)

Jaliya Smith (Stewart)

2nd Grade

Angie Madsen (Bullard)

Keagan Armstrong (Burok)

Gabriella Torres (Otero)

Brooke Bartlett ( Love)

Fallon Von Fecht (Minehan)

Landon Reber (Zipprich)

3rd Grade

Elly Baggerly (Crouch)

Kadence Buchanan (Kesner)

Omar Arellano (Pascual)

Adrianna Uribe (Rodriguez)

Caralyn Kennedy (Willett)

4th Grade

Brayden McDaniel (Cucuzza)

Isabel Ramos (Dorbin)

Carter Cochran (Zaleski)

Jillian Buckner (Nicolosi)

Kassidy Chambers (McNeely)

5th Grade

Samara Johnson (Bagnall)

Maddox King (Cochran)

Kellen Schmidt (Kemper)

Sydney Grace Hudspeth (Pagan)

Catherine Tran (Zajac)

Counselor Corner

Welcome to December! Our monthly focus for this month will be RESPONSIBILITY. Students will learn about being knowledgeable, possessing and exhibiting knowledge and skills to succeed as a learner, worker and citizen. They will also explore the importance of being balanced, making healthy choices to achieve well-being and create a well-rounded educational experience. Here are some tips for encouraging Responsibility at home.

Teach time management-use a calendar or daily time table to track activities, responsibilities and free time. Establishing a habit of reading for 20 minutes each day whether or not they have homework.

Give children real responsibilities at home-all school aged children are capable of some responsibilities, whether it be putting dirty clothes in the laundry, putting clean clothes away, or even sorting which clothes go into which loads. Allow them to assist with meal planning by identifying healthy choices for each food group or positively reinforce when they care for pets consistently.

Share how responsibilities at home and school translate to similar responsibilities in the work force. For example, getting up on time, completing assignments and treating peers with respect.

Create a workspace with limited distraction in your home where they can practice focus and concentration on important tasks such as homework or studying. Model for them how you use this or a similar space to complete important tasks like budgeting or planning.

Discuss how choices have consequences and when responsibilities are neglected, consequences are often negative. If plants don’t get watered, they may wilt. If food gets left on the floor, it may bring ants.

Parents of 5th graders, please note that some very important dates coming up over the next week regarding Middle School options. Middle School Options forms listing the various opportunities available to our students were sent home Thanksgiving week. Students will also be choosing their electives for next year soon. Information on courses available can be found at Also, if you haven't already, please fill out the attached form and return to Mrs Yoshida by January 11th.

Reading Corner

As holiday time arrives, we will begin to dig deeper into reading and writing. Each grade level will complete a week long performance writing task which will include drawing information from various media sources and using that information to create a narrative writing.

Many holiday books and articles will be read and used to continue our work on re-tellings and summaries! Students will work on asking and answering questions about what they read and locating the evidence for their answers. This is the perfect time of year to read at home and discuss the characters, settings, and events too. Happy Holidays!

Math Corner

Math is all around us in December! If your child is in kindergarten, practice counting the ornaments on the Christmas tree. They are counting to 20 in kindergarten and counting by ones, fives, and tens to 120 in 1st grade. If your child is in 2nd grade, try measuring the length of menorah candles to the nearest inch. If you have a 3rd grader at home, try calculating how many days Ramadan lasts if it is about 4 weeks in duration. Students in 4th grade are exploring equivalent fractions, so try designing a kente cloth with equivalent fractions for Kwanzaa! Challenge your 5th grader to help bake some of those tasty holiday desserts while adding and subtracting the fractions in the recipe! As you can see, there are endless possibilities for math in the month of December!

Tech Talk


As you are probably aware, your child’s activity online, under their school account, is monitored with Securly. Please discuss with your child the importance of staying on task and being where they are supposed to be when online, and at school. Teachers now have the ability to check on students in real time and see what they are doing when assigned work, as well as view their entire online history remotely.

The Internet is full of great information and productive activities, but it can be a challenge for us all to not be distracted and lose focus. Please help us to emphasize the importance of good digital citizenship at school and at home. At Christopher Farms, we want our Colts to be successful and use our tools in a responsible manner. Thank you for your help!

Hour Of Code

The Hour of Code is a global movement that reaches millions of students across the world through a one-hour introduction to computer science and programming. At Christopher Farms, we will be participating in the Hour of Code, and you can help! If you would like to help your child find activities so he/she can participate, there is a huge list of activities that you can choose from here-

Your child may be asking for time on an Hour of Code activity so that they can enter a drawing here at school (more information will be shared with students on Monday, Dec. 3rd). They also may ask if they can use your name to verify that they completed the Hour of Code. If they have completed the Hour of Code, say, “Yes!”

The Hour of Code will begin during the week of Dec. 3rd - Dec. 7th, but we will be extending it just a bit to make sure every child has the chance to code, and have fun doing it. We will continue to code until Dec. 17th, but of course you can let your child code all year long!

Library News

The library staff would like to say thank you and happy holidays to to all of our awesome student assistants and library parent volunteers! We appreciate all you do!

Gifted Gab

Gifted Resource

At Christopher Farms Elementary School, the resource-cluster model is an arrangement in which a group (cluster) of identified gifted students is assigned to a classroom with a cluster teacher who collaborates with the gifted resource teacher to provide differentiated curriculum and instruction. Students are assigned to cluster classrooms according to specific program guidelines. Since we have a Spanish-Immersion program, there is a gifted-cluster for the Spanish program as well. The cluster teacher is responsible for delivering gifted services in collaboration with the gifted resource teacher. The gifted resource teacher, Mrs. Vickery, gives continuous training and support to the cluster teacher in the development of curriculum and the implementation of differentiated instruction in the classroom. The program provides opportunities for gifted students to work independently, with intellectual peers, and with chronological peers.

First Grade Referral Process for Gifted Services

*The results of the first-grade screening will be posted on Parent Portal on December 15th.

Virginia Beach City Public School system screens ALL first grade students to ensure that every student is given consideration for gifted program services. The testing specialists administered the screening instrument to the students in their classrooms at Christopher Farms Elementary School on November 2nd. Students who score 90% or above on the screening instrument will be referred for additional testing. Parents and/or teachers may request forms for children who do not score 90% but wish to be considered for placement. The results of the initial first grade screening will be uploaded to parent portal on December 15th. Additional testing for those students will be completed for students who have an application filled out online by a parent or guardian. If further testing for your child is recommended or requested, you will receive a referral page. We ask that you complete the form online and provide specific examples of things that you see in your child as it relates to various topics. Parent information is very important and the more details you can provide us about your child, the clearer picture we will have of him/her. The Parent Information Form includes the following areas:

  • Intense Learner: uses advanced vocabulary; reads excessively; reads on an advanced level; knows a lot about certain topics; determined to complete assignments and projects successfully
  • Analytical Learner: completes puzzles with many pieces; enjoys working with building sets; finds patterns at home or outside; good at mental math and problem solving; learns new skills quickly
  • Creative Producer: expresses familiar ideas in unusual ways; excels at drawing or painting; enjoys writing stories or poems, sees humor in situations others may find humorless; asks questions with why or how; creates original projects such as birthday cards
  • Highly Motivated in Areas of Interest: works well independently but also cooperatively as a team member; does more than required on assignments; assumes leadership positions, completes school assignments without a lot of help or reminders, is able to entertain him/herself at home without a TV.

After the testing has been completed, the Eligibility Committee for Gifted Education will review test data, teacher forms, parent forms, achievement data, and other information to make decisions regarding identification for gifted program services. Parents will be notified by mail of the final decisions before the end of the school year.

If you have any questions about the referral process, please contact Debra Vickery at

Magnet & Academy Programs or Gifted Identification Only

Do you have a child currently in fifth grade? If so, you may be interested in the middle school options that are available for our students. There are gifted-cluster classes in all middle schools. Old Donation School (ODS) and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program @ Plaza Middle School are two additional choices that are available. Students take a rigorous course of study, perform community service, and may earn high school credits in either of these programs.
Old Donation School (ODS) is a full-time gifted program for identified intellectually gifted students. .Transportation for all of these programs is provided by the school system and they each have a variety of extra curricula activities to add to the richness of the program.

Applications for any of these programs are available online and are due no later than 3:00 p.m. on February 1, 2019. If you are interested in applying for any or all of these special programs, please fill out the application online. As in the past, parents are asked to complete a recommendation form. It is very important that specific examples are cited for any characteristic marked “almost always”. The selection committee reads all comments and considers them as they work through the process of recommending students for various programs. If you would like your child tested for gifted services in the home school gifted-cluster program, fill out the online application and check the ODS box just as a technicality.

Important Dates and Deadlines

Application Deadlines

February 1, 2019 - ODS Grades 2 – 7 and HOLD Students

If you are interested in gifted identification only, apply online and check the ODS box as a technicality because the first deadline has passed.

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Old Donation Gifted Programs

Check out the flyer below for more information on applying for the gifted visual and dance programs at Old Dominion University.
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PTA News

Ho! Ho! Ho! Colt families. ‘Tis the season for holiday shopping and fun here on the farm. Your PTA elves have been busy at work. Planning a month of fun to celebrate the season.

Beginning with our annual Santa workshop. Students received envelopes and order forms in their Tuesday folders this week. Don’t forget to send it back with your child, they can shop with their class all week long. Need More information on our Santa workshop? Email Michelle Cannuli at

Finishing off a festive week of holiday fun, gather your family and join us to have supper with Santa on Friday, December 7th from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. $15.00 per family. This will include a visit with Santa, spaghetti dinner, crafts and MORE shopping at Santa's workshop. Contact Holly Virella at

Let’s not forget your last minute holiday shopping at 5 Below in Landstown Commons, December 18-21st all day!! Bring the attached 5 Below slip or check your students Tuesday folder for a copy. You must Present this slip at checkout to earn 10% back towards our CFES fifth grade students graduation/celebration. Questions? Contact

Yearbook Cover Challenge

We are looking for a CFES artist to design the cover of our yearbook!!

Please see the attached flyer and turn in your entries by January 6, 2019 to Ms. Kane (room 9) or the front office!

Shutterfly Partners with CFES!

Lifetouch pictures are now owned by Shutterfly and they have partnered up to help support CFES! Every time you make an order on Shutterfly and you use the link below, CFES will receive a 8%. This money will go back to support the students at Christopher Farms Elementary School. Our first goal is $500.00.

Text "Yes" for VBCPS Alert Now Text Messaging

As many of you know, VBCPS uses its Alert Now system to send school news, including weather announcements, school closings, etc. This year, VBCPS is using a new provider. Families will not need to enroll in the system; their contact information is directly carried over based on their child’s registration. However, for text messaging, families will need to confirm they would like to keep receiving text messages from the division.

You may have received a message on July 2 from the division’s provider, School Messenger, asking you to confirm you want to keep receiving Alert Now texts. If you did not, families can always opt-in to the texts at any time by texting a “Y” or “Yes” to the division’s short code number, 67587.

As a reminder, there are no additional fees for this service – it would be subject to all applicable messaging charges depending on your service provider. Standard message and data rates may apply.


  1. Check our website weekly:
  2. Follow us on Twitter:
  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: