Dragon Digest

Volume 2, Issue 5 / October 6, 2017

Principal's Letter

October 6, 2017

Dear DeSana Parents,

It seems like the older I get the faster time goes by! And I don’t know about you, but these first eight weeks of this school year have flown by for me! It seems like just a week or so ago we were greeting all of our young Dragons at our Dragon Camp, Open House, and Walkabout. That is why it is so hard to believe that in just three short days we will be at the mid-semester --- or nine week --- juncture. And with the semester midway point on October 11th that means Parent-Teacher Conference Days are soon to follow. Wednesday, October 18th and Thursday, October 19th are our school system’s two fall conference days, with middle school students attending school on these two days for half a day and being released at 1:30. This is an excellent time for parents and teachers to devote specific time to talk about your young Dragon and how he/she is progressing in his/her academic work thus far. Conferences are a time to celebrate successes and growth as well as examine areas that may need improvement. And for some conferences, or part of the conference, it may be quite appropriate to have your young man/woman join in . . . after all, this conference time is about his/her education and how he/she is doing in school up to this point!

Team teachers began sending out conference notices about available conference times on this Thursday, October 5th. While parent-teacher conferences are not a “have-to”, we do want to honor all parent requests for a conference. Many of you keep up-to-date with your child’s academic progress daily through Parent Portal. Some of you may just feel the need to “touch base” with your child’s teacher(s) through an email or phone call. Any and all of these ways are quite fine to stay connected to DeSana and to keep on top of your child’s academic progress. So if you feel that you are very much “in the know” about how your child is performing this year, then you may not desire a face-to-face conference at this time. However, for those who wish to have a conference we will be happy to schedule one for you.

In order to accommodate as many parents as we can during the conference day afternoons, teachers are scheduling 20-minute time slots. We know that time does go by quickly during these conferences, and that it is hard for parents and teachers to discuss everything. Therefore, we encourage you to prioritize the items you would like to discuss. Our teachers will do the same. Should you leave the conference with unresolved concerns or questions, or you think of something else after you leave, please do not hesitate to let the teacher(s) know so that they may arrange some more time to discuss these with you.

As we hope you know, home-school communication and keeping our parents in the loop are two things we value very highly here at DeSana. Parent-student-teacher conferences --- in whatever format you choose and whenever you desire to have one --- are an important piece of our valued communication with parents to keep them in the know. We do appreciate your support in teaming with us to provide the best education possible for your young Dragon!

With warmest regards,

Terri A. North


DeSana Day of Good Deeds

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If you own a business and want to be an integral part of D3 Day, please consider making a donation to support D3 Day. You will be joining companies like United Way and Children'sHealthcare of Atlanta (who supported us last year and have signed up again this year). Please see the attachment for ways to support and how you will be advertised at DeSana.

Families can also make a donation to D3 Day and support the planting of seeds of altruism in our students. A Family Donation of $50 will get your family name on the D3 Day t-shirts (and will include the t-shirts for the student and any family member volunteering on D3 Day!). Click here the Family donation is also on the Sponsor Form.

Please contact dawn@bourgs.com or jharris@campharris.org if you would like to talk about making a donation. Thank you!



The end of the first nine weeks of school is right around the corner, on Wednesday, October 11th, which means the second nine weeks officially begins on Thursday, October 12th. All students will receive a new class schedule on that morning during Dragon Time as Connections classes will change for most students, as well as Literacy classes changing for most 6th and 7th grade students for the second quarter. While you may have looked ahead in Parent Portal and perused the Connections classes for your child for the second, third and fourth nine weeks, please understand that these Connections classes are not actually finalized until the first day of the new nine weeks. Many changes will be made in order to balance class sizes. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Assistant Principal in charge of scheduling, Sharon Epperson at sepperson@forsyth.k12.ga.us.


With the nine week juncture soon to be upon us, that means that Nine Week Progress Reports are not too far behind, with students bringing home their Progress Report on Tuesday, October 17th. This report will give you and your middle schooler some excellent information about how he/she is doing in all of his/her classes at this half-way mark for the first semester. Please remember: This report will show how your child is progressing in his/her Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Literacy, and 8th grade Spanish class thus far. It is not a final grade. The final grade for the first semester comes at the 18-week juncture. This Nine Week Progress Report will also give you/your young Dragon his/her final grade for the first nine weeks’ Connections classes.

The format for this Nine Week Progress Report will look quite different from the Progress Reports you received at 4 ½ weeks (and different from what you will receive at 13 ½ weeks). This Progress Report will show your child’s formative average, summative average and his/her present course average thus far for each academic course. It will also show your young Dragon’s absences for each course.

Another feature for DeSana students and parents on this Nine Week Progress Report (and it will also be included on the Semester Report Card) is an assessment of your student’s work habits in the areas of Assignment Completion, Participation, Responsibility, and Interpersonal Skills. These are all behaviors that have the potential to impact academic achievement in significant ways. Thus, we want to report to you and your young Dragon how he/she is doing in each of these areas. A “2” is the standard for each of these areas, so you will hope to see a “2” for your child in each category, in each class. That means he/she is meeting the standard in these work habits.

Hopefully, the format for this Nine Week Progress Report (and the first semester Report Card) will give you valuable information to better inform you and your student as to exactly where he/she stands in mastering the standards for the first semester. As always, should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your young Dragon’s teacher(s)!


Wednesday, October 18th and Thursday, October 19th are two Early Release days, meaning that our middle schoolers will be released at 1:30 on both days. Throughout the rest of the afternoon on both days our teachers will be engaged in parent/teacher conferences. There will be no after school activities except for Dragon Academy on Wednesday, October 18th from 1:30 – 4:30; thus, no students should be staying after school for any activity or event on these two days, except for Dragon Academy. Of course, buses will run as usual to take our student bus riders home at dismissal at 1:30. Parents, start talking to your young Dragon now, and making plans for where your middle schooler will be and what he/she will be doing during the afternoon on these two early release days.

On Friday, October 20th, students will have the day off as it is a professional learning day for our teachers. All of our staff will be involved in professional learning activities throughout the day. Our front office will be open until 3:30 on this day. Enjoy the extra long weekend!

REACH Scholarship

We are so proud of DeSana’s REACH Scholarship recipient, Areli R! Areli is one of eight 8th graders in the county that received this scholarship. She was chosen for this scholarship through a rigorous application and interview process after being recommended by her teachers. REACH Georgia started February 6, 2012 by Governor Nathan Deal to reward “students for self-accountability, promote parent involvement and provide motivation and support.” REACH Georgia serves 103 school systems in Georgia and has awarded over $15 million dollars in scholarships to students across Georgia. The REACH Scholarship gives students $10,000 for any REACH eligible institution including universities and technical schools. Some universities are schools that match or double match the scholarship meaning they will accept the $10,000 from REACH and give the student their own $10,000 for REACH match or $20,000 for double REACH match. Some of the universities that accept the REACH scholarship and will match it are Kennesaw State University, University of North Georgia, Valdosta State University, Georgia Gwinnett College and many more. A few universities that will double match the scholarship are University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, and many more. Way to go, Areli! We are so proud of you! Your future looks bright as you have so many great options!


Dragon Academy is an opportunity we offer students on a couple of Fridays per month,from 4:15 – 6:15 for completing, taking or re-taking formative and/or summative assessments (i.e. unit tests, projects, essays, quizzes. etc.). Dragon Academy will happen at least two times a month --- on Fridays with teachers and an administrator supervising each session. It is a fantastic opportunity for students to drastically improve both their learning and their grades. Students will be invited by their teachers . . . or they may invite themselves . . . to attend Dragon Academy if they are missing work or need to re-take an assessment to show better mastery of the standards or complete a project. Although students will have about two hours to complete their work, once they complete all that they came to accomplish, students will be able to call their parent to come pick them up. Snacks and drinks will be sold for a very reasonable cost so students may focus on their work, not on their gurgling stomachs! Any necessary school supplies will be provided for students to use to complete their work, as needed.

Please mark your calendars now for these Dragon Academy dates for the rest of the school year:

· October 18 (Early Release Day so it will be 1:30 – 4:30) & 27

· November 10 &17

· December 1 & 15

· January 26

· February 9 & 23

· March 9 (Early Release Day so it will be 1:30 – 4:00), 16 & 30

· April 27

· May 4 & 18


Itslearning is an online learning management system that allows teachers to have an online component alongside their traditional instruction. Not only can teachers post classroom content, but they may also have students participate in online discussions, submit assignments, complete assessments, and create content. In addition to being a vital component for everyday teaching and learning, itslearning will also be utilized during any days missed due to unscheduled school closures (ex. inclement weather). Itslearning is also a communication tool for administrators, teachers, students, and parents.

What can I do as a parent? In all courses, parents can monitor content assigned to their children through itslearning. Parents can log-in with the same credentials they use to get in Parent Portal or by using their child’s log-in information. Here at DeSana we recommend using your child’s log-in information. This will give you a little more access to things when you are trying to assist your child. Be sure to ask your child for their username and password. In both instances, parents can check the Lesson Planner section for the class lesson presented that day, see posted homework or posted ‘no homework’, see class resources used, class activities, and any information about upcoming tests, projects, and quizzes. Using the student log-in will allow parents to find bulletins or reminders in individual courses. Parents can also find links to valuable resources that students may need throughout the year. This can include on-line text books and more. How do I get there? There are 2 easy ways to get there: 1. Go tohttps://forsyth.itslearning.com. Use your child’s username and password to log-in. 2. Visit our DeSana Middle School web site and use the quick link at the top right to access Classlink (itslearning.) Again, use your child’s username and password. If your child does not know their information, they can ask one of their teachers or go see Mr. Crowder, the DeSana Instructional Technology Specialist, in his office located in the Media Center. This information cannot be emailed or given out over the phone. Having this information and checking it regularly are vital for helping your child succeed to the fullest at DeSana.

I still need help! Visiting the DeSana Webpage will be your first step. On the right side under Quick Links is a link to valuable resources. These resources include print and video resources about using and navigating itslearning for both parents and students. Mr. Crowder has made this video you can watch by clicking here on itslearning basics. You may also call or email Mr. Crowder 770-667-2591 Ext. 491590 ncrowder@forsyth.k12.ga.us. He will try to answer your questions or set an individual meeting with you.


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Lady Dragons

As the calendar turns to October, Girls Basketball season gets underway. Any 7th or 8th grade girls wanting to try out for this year’s teams should attend next week’s Open Gym on Wednesday, October 11th from 4:30 – 6:30 after school. Tryouts for both 7th and 8th grade teams will be the following week on Monday, October 16th and Tuesday, October 17th, both after school from 4:30 – 6:30. Any girls wanting to try out need to have a completed physical on file with the school. Click here for the physical form. If you have any questions, please see Coach Berger (7th Grade coach) in Room 1129, or Coach Fogg (8th Grade coach) in Room 1117.

Both teams will have their first games of the season on Thursday, November 9th at Lakeside Middle School with the 7th Grade Girls game starting at 5:00pm and the 8th Grade Girls game starting at 6:30. The first game at DeSana will be against North Forsyth Middle . The 7th Grade Girls play on Tuesday, December 5th at 5:00pm and the 8th Grade Girls play on Thursday, December 7th at 5:00pm.


Boys’ basketball tryouts will be held on the 18th and 19th of October starting at 6:30 in the morning. Final roster will be posted on the boys basketball website following tryouts. Open gym dates are October 10th and 12th from 7:30AM-8:30AM. All players must have a current physical on file to be able participate in open gym or tryouts. Following the final roster, the first practice will be held on October 23rd from 4:30PM-6:30PM.

the arts

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Where has the time gone?? It’s hard to believe that our first concert of the year is coming up next Friday, October 13th! Although the students have been a little spooked that our concert is on a seemingly unlucky day, they have been working so diligently that I’m sure any bad luck will skip us! We’re very excited to share our hard work with family and friends.

As a reminder, we have an after-school dress rehearsal on Wednesday, October 11th in the chorus room. Each choir will come together to rehearse filing on and off the risers, learn their concert order, practice any speaking parts, etc. All though this type of practice is called a dress rehearsal, students do not have to wear their concert uniform.

For the concert on Friday, October 13, students are asked to be in the gym at 6:00 pm dressed in their concert uniform. 6th grade ladies wear their dresses, and 7th and 8th grade ladies AND gentlemen wear all black (since dresses are in the mail!).

We cannot wait to share our music with you! See you Friday the 13th!


Extra, extra! The cast list for Dear Edwina Jr. will be posted by the end of the day TODAY on the bulletin board outside of the chorus room, as well as on the Drama website! Congratulations to all! It’s going to be an exciting adventure recounting the adventure of Edwina and her crew as they vie for a spot at the Kalamazoo Advice-A-Palooza Festival (the biggest advice-giving convention ever!).

The final performances for Dear Edwina Jr. will take place on February 2 & 3 at South Forsyth High School Performing Arts Center, with each show beginning at 7:00 pm.


Attention EVERYONE!!!! Our first band concert of the year will be on October 12th at 7:00 pm in the DeSana Gymnasium. This is going to be a great evening of music from our 7th and 8th grade Concert and Symphonic Bands. We hope you will place October 12th on your calendar and make plans to attend the DeSana Band Fall Concert! The concert is free and open to everyone!!!


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Hurricane Help Change Drive October 16 – October 27

Jr. Beta Club is looking for your spare change to help the Hurricane relief efforts in Houston, TX and Everglades City, FL. The DeSana Dragon family will be helping middle school students and their families in these hard hit areas. During this time, Jr. Beta Club will be collecting your spare change in the Commons Area and/ or the car rider line before school and during Dragon Time. Thanks for your support!


Registration has begun for the 7th grade overnight field trip! We are very excited about the 7th grade field trip to Zoo Atlanta and overnight at the Georgia Aquarium this year. This is a great opportunity for students to make real life connections to their Life Science standards this year, as well as have a great time with their friends. The trip will be March 9-10, 2018. If you would like your student registered for the trip, please fill out the required application and behavior contract, along with a deposit of $45 or full payment to Jessica Strader by October 6. Click here for the application. There is limited availability this year and space is filling up fast. Please contact Mrs. Strader with any questions at:jstrader@forsyth.k12.ga.us


Don’t miss out on the best memory book created by the BEST yearbook staff.

Go to: balfour.com and click: shop your school. Students may also bring cash or check to Mrs. West on the 7th grade hall.

The price is $35 and will go up after March 31, 2018. On-line sales will END March 31st.

8th Grade Yearbook Ads

Want to purchase an 8th grade Yearbook ad for your child? You must purchase a Yearbook first (balfour.com)- cost is $35. Please click here for instructions for submitting ads. 8th grade ads are 1/8 of a page, cost $15, and are due by January 31, 2018.

Altruistic Endeavors

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Altruistic Endeavors is one of the five key facets of our overall program. It is one of our core values, so to speak. We want our young Dragons to not only know what it is like to give back to their wonderful community and others, but to also experience it firsthand. Through many different DeSana service clubs, school wide charitable endeavors, and our first DeSana Day of Good Deeds (or D3 Day for short!) in the spring, we will work to provide our students with a variety of community service opportunities throughout the school year, in our local community, and in different parts of our country and the world.

So why encourage our young Dragons to get involved in community service? Well, first and foremost, it is the right thing to do; to learn to give freely and happily of one's time and talents and heart to help others, expecting nothing in return! But here are a few other reasons to consider encouraging your child to get involved in community service:

· To help someone in need.

· Those who give of themselves and their resources and help others, say they receive a great feeling in return.

· Helping others can expand your world and help you better understand what is happening in your community.

· Meet new people and make new friends.

· To improve our world by caring for the environment.

· Giving back to one's community and others is an "added value" on your college resume.

Please check out opportunities for serving and helping others right here in the Dragon Digest and for students, on morning announcements!

other important infomation

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Red Cross Blood Drive

Desana's HOSA Jr. Club is hosting its first blood drive on November 6 from 9AM until 2PM. We are very excited to be working with the Red Cross to provide an opportunity for our community to give back. In order for our Blood Drive to be a success we need donors!

To make an appointment, please visit www.RedCrossBlood.org and enter sponsor keyword: DeSanaMS; OR call 1-800-Red-Cross.

Please eat iron rich foods, drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids and get a good night's rest before donating blood.


Most appointments will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, please be aware that there are Power Red times. In order to be eligible for a Power Red donation you must meet separate criteria. If you are unsure if you are eligible to donate, please visit the Red Cross website at:


We are very excited about being able to give back to the community in this way and to be working with the Red Cross. We thank you in advance for your time and donation towards this life saving event.

Blood Drive Details:

Site: DeSana Middle School

Address: 625 James Road, Alpharetta, GA, 30004

Room Name: Media Center

Date: Monday, Nov 6, 2017

Time: 09:00 AM - 02:00 PM

Coordinator Name: Jessica Strader

Coordinator Phone Number: 770-667-2591 ext. 492207


Your student’s safety is the number one priority of DeSana’s Administration. As a school, we practice fire drills, severe weather drills, and code yellow lockdown drills in order for your student to know what to do in case an emergency should arise at DeSana Middle School. There are a few aspects of a code red lockdown that we do not practice during a code yellow lockdown drill. We do not practice gathering students in classrooms with the lights off, what to do if you are in the bathroom, what to do if you are in the cafeteria, what to do if you are in the hallway, what do you do if you are outside, etc. Our teachers do a wonderful job with discussing these with the students, but the students are not able see it in action. The Forsyth County School Safety Department has provided a fantastic video for students to watch in order to better prepare them for situations that we do not practice at school. We encourage you to view the video with your student. Click here to watch it.

Parent 411 - Helpful Links for You

Thank you to our business partners

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Forsyth County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or gender in employment decisions or educational programs and activities.