Banks Trail Middle School

Teamwork, Responsibility, Ambition, Integrity, Leadership

December 2017

The Force Of Learning Is Strong At BTMS


12/21 Half Day - Dismissal at 11:35

12/21 - 1/02 Winter Break

1/03 Teacher Work Day

1/04 Students Return

A Message from the Principal

Timberwolf Families,

Hello, and I hope that all is well with you and your families. As I walk the halls and visit classrooms, I am reminded about how lucky I am to be serving as principal at Banks Trail Middle School. Our students are doing an outstanding job, both in and out of the classroom. On a regular basis, we have students representing Banks Trail at a very high level. Next week our band and chorus and will provided us with some awesome music (I've been hearing them practice). Our winter sports teams are enjoying the success that is earned through hard work. We have set all time service learning records this fall as well. In November nearly $1500 was raised for Hoops for Hearts, Student Council collected over 3000 pounds of food for the Fort Mill Care Center and finally BTMS raised nearly $1500 in the Penny War Challenge for our Angel Tree.

Academically, we saw 55 students become Junior Beta Club members. While visiting classrooms, I am seeing students who want to work hard and gain a better understanding of material and not just settle for an easy grade. Hearing our students talk about how proud they are of the work they did to accomplish of tough task is extremely rewarding. Last week thirty-six students competed in the annual BTMS Spelling Bee in preparation for the District Spelling Bee in January. Our Science Olympiad, Academic Challenge, and Math Counts teams are also getting ready for their competitions coming in the new year. This short snapshot reminds me that we have amazing students and teachers. Thank you for teaching, supporting, and helping to instill these traits in your children.

As we prepare for the holiday season, I hope that each family is able to enjoy time with each other. If you celebrate Christmas, have a Merry Christmas. If you are Jewish, Happy Hanukkah, if you celebrate Kwanzaa I hope it is joyous, or if you prefer, Happy Holidays. Most importantly I hope that each of you has the opportunity to spend quality time with your family. Hug your kids and let them know they are loved and important to you. I look forward to seeing everyone in 2018.

All the Best,

Michael Pratt


Be sure you order yours while they are still $35! They can be ordered online at Remember, we do NOT order extra copies!

Padawans Of The Pack/Terrific Padawans

Each month students are chosen to be “Padawan's of the Pack” (formerly known as Leaders of the Pack) for reasons such as displaying outstanding leadership, citizenship, school service, good behavior, and performance in their classrooms and throughout the school. “Terrific Padawans” (formerly known as Terrific Timberwolves) are then selected among those chosen as Padawans of the Pack because they exemplify the characteristics found in the T.R.A.I.L. - Teamwork, Responsibility, Ambition, Integrity, Leadership

For the month of November we would like to congratulate the following Terrific Padawans:

  • Team 6-3: Taylor B.
  • Team 6-2: James R.

  • Team 7-3: Connor S.

  • Team 7-2: Nathan T.

  • 8th Grade: Shyann H.

  • 8th Grade: Kerrington J.

  • Related Arts: Evan D.

  • Related Arts: Colbi C.

The November Padawans of the Pack are:

6th Grade - Silas B.

7th Grade - Gabe K.

8th Grade - Bennett I.

Related Arts - Vivek C.

Teamwork, Responsibility, Ambition, Integrity, Leadership: "The Trail" As Leaders of the Pack and Terrific Timberwolves, these students live "The Trail" everyday!

Jedi Of The Month (Formerly known as Teacher of the Month)

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Ms. Shelby Lay - 7th Grade Math Teacher

Ms. Lay is new to our BTMS Family. Ms. Lay is one of the first to arrive each day and always has a smile on her face. When you talk to her, you know that she knows her students and cares for them. One of the first things we noticed about her is her ability to see the academic and social/emotional needs of her students. Whether it be checking a student’s file for past grades/testing or reaching out to families about student performance, she is continuously doing whatever she can to improve student performance. BTMS is a better place because we have Ms. Lay.

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Mr. Leonardo Francisco - 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher

Mr. Francisco is in his third year at BTMS as an 8th grade social studies teacher. He works hard to ensure that his young Padawans are working to the highest of their ability and use their critical thinking skills to learn the social studies curriculum. While working with his Padawans he tries to develop creative projects that push his Padawans to the next level. Not only is Mr. Fancisco a great social studies teacher, but also a gifted artist. Last year he shared his art ability with students in an art club that would creat pieces of work using unique items like Skittles. We have heard that BTMS will be gaining a step under the guidance of Mr. Francisco for the third quarter. We appreciate having him as part of the awesome BTMS Team!


Holiday Market

Inviting all BTMS families and community members to the 4th Annual Holiday Market being held on December 15th, 2017 (Friday) at 9:00am-4:00pm in the BTMS Gym. There will be more than 30 local vendors selling a wide variety of Holiday gifts. Every student will be allowed to shop at the Holiday Market during their math class that day. We encourage family and friends to come out and support local business!


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Holiday Literacy Ideas

The holidays are a busy and exciting time of year, but they are also full of great reading and writing opportunities. Click each activity in the link below to find some fun family literacy ideas for the holiday season. While many of them are suggestions for families with young children, your middle school child will enjoy participating too! Remember, no one is ever too old to enjoy a good story, so take time to read aloud some holiday classics as a family. Also, share some of your own childhood holiday memories. These will be moments your children will remember and treasure for a lifetime!


Hoops for Heart rocked! Banks Trail hosted their second annual Hoops for Heart 3 on 3 basketball tournament on Tuesday, November 21st. This is a fundraiser event for the American Heart Association held by the physical education department every year. Congratulations to our tournament winners! Thanks to everyone that made a donation to attend this event. Banks Trial raised nearly $1,500!


The seventh grade Family and Consumer Sciences classes worked so hard using their creativity and sewing skills to produce these beautiful pillows. Each student designed a template to be used that represented something they were passionate about or enjoyed. The students then created these lovely pillows using several hand stitching sewing skills they learned in class. These pillows will be treasures that they will keep for the future.


It Was The Soldier

On Friday, November 10, 2017 Banks Trail Middle School honored the brave men and women of the military with the school’s annual Veteran’s Day assembly. The program began with Nation Ford’s ROTC presenting the colors and the school rising to their feet to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Principal Marc Pyrc spoke to the students, faculty, and honored quests about growing up in military bases across the United States and about the character of his hero, his father, Senior Master Sargent Mark Pyrc. Senior Master Sargent Pyrc served in the United States Air Force. He has since retired but continues to be the man of valor that lead him to his time of service. After the opening remarks by Principal Marc Pyrc, the Banks Trail Honor Chorus performed several patriotic numbers, which charged the crowd with even stronger feelings of pride for the men and women who were being honored. After the performance by the chorus, students from the 6th, 7th and 8th grade read poems composed as part of the preparation by the teachers and students for the event. Once the students finished their poems, guest speaker, United States Army Veteran Charles Gross spoke. Mr. Gross spoke about his service as a counter intelligence agent and how all soldiers do not see what they do every day as heroic or brave, but as what he or she were asked to do. He went on to speak about the character of the men and women who serve and how we should not only thank a service person on this special day but any time we get the opportunity. Mr. Gross closed his speech with a request to all who were in attendance. He asked that any time the Flag of the United States is presented, to rise, remove your hat, and place your hand over your heart. He said that is the greatest way to say, “Thank you” to the men and women who make America the great country it is. Mr. Gross received a standing ovation for his thoughts and time by the crowd. The assembly came to a close with Principal Mike Pratt thanking the Veterans in attendance and having the special guest lead the way out.

2017 BTMS Spelling Bee Participants

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We are extremely proud of our Banks Trail Spelling Bee participants. Nine students (top three from each grade level) will move on to the District Spelling Bee in January. Our BTMS Champion is Liam N and our school runner up is Kaylen P. Congratulations to all of our participants.

Grades or Grit - A special Addition from Mr. Beels

As the close of the first semester quickly approaches, I find myself reflecting on my middle school years. I recall wondering in the 11th hour if I had done all I could do to achieve the best possible grades. Often times the answer was "No!" Fear of disappointing my parents would set in and I would be in a scramble to improve my grades.

Some students may be experiencing a similar sense of pressure, due to a concern for making grades established as acceptable by their parent as the semester is just about to end. I think about my failure to achieve in certain subjects, not due to a lack of ability, but a lack of effort. Middle school distractions (social media, peer pressure) certainly contribute to the lack of effort or interest, however, the values instilled by parents, friends and community will often prevail.

At Banks Trail we challenge our students to advance academically and socially. We have experienced successes in part due to the relationships we have with our amazing students, fantastic teachers and our world-class parents. We are often asked by middle school parents, "How may I help support my child during these difficult years?" We suggest you continue to be your child's advocate and biggest supporter. When experiencing tough times, help your child, as my parents did, by encouraging them to persevere with resilience and grit.

Angela Lee Duckworth recently published her research related to this in her New York Times Best Selling Book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. As a result of her research, she concluded that people who showed the trait she identified as “Grit” far surpass their peers in achievement regardless of other factors such as academic achievement or socioeconomic status. If you would like to know more about Duckworth’s Grit you can watch her TED Talk.

As a teacher my classroom approached each day with the adage “If I am of high ability I am expected to make high grades, if I do not feel I am of high ability I am expect to proceed with high effort.” As my students bought into my system of grit, my students realized learning is more than just getting the grade. Much like I would encourage you to do, we celebrated the "C” like it was an “A” when students performed to the best of their ability and showed true grit. In reverse, when gifted students did not work to the best of their ability and squeaked by and made the low “B” we had conversations as if they made a “D” and put in steps to help them to see what could have been done to improve. In reflection of my time in school, I realize now I grew the most in the courses that were the most challenging, not the ones that came easily to me. Often times we focus so much on getting the grades we forget that we often learn the most in challenging and rigorous situations.

I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful school and community. Thank you all for the passion you have instilled in our children. May you have an enjoyable Winter break and a happy and healthy 2018!


The high school registration process for 8th graders will begin soon. Two important things that will be coming home in early January are:
  • Your assigned high school registration meeting date and time – sent home with report cards

  • Course Request Signup sheets to be completed for elective classes

Also Nation Ford, and Fort Mill High Schools will both be hosting a curriculum night for rising 9th graders and their parents. Please plan to attend these on the following dates:

  • Nation Ford – January 16th

  • Fort Mill – February 6th

Upcoming Events

12/14 Boys BB v Gold Hill Middle

Girls BB @ Gold Hill Middle

12/15 School Holiday Market

12/18 Winter Band Concert

Boys BB @ Fort Mill Middle

12/19 Winter Chorus Concert

Girls BB @ Fort Mill Middle

12/21 Half Day - Dismissal at 11:35

12/21 - 1/02 Winter Break

1/03 Teacher Work Day

1/04 Students Return

Boys BB @ Gold Hill Middle

Girls BB v Gold Hill Middle

1/08 Boys BB @ Springfield Middle

Girls BB v Springfield Middle

1/11 District Spelling Bee

Boys BB v Indian Land Middle

Girls BB @ Indian Land Middle

Together, Building A Tradition of Excellence

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