From the Castle

Special Edition: The Ultimate Guide

Big picture

Greetings from the Castle!


UPDATED AS OF 3/5/2021 (All NEW! Information is moved to the top)

"Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity." -Nat Turner

We wanted to house everything in one location to try and bring clarity to the confusion. The purpose of this Special Edition of From the Castle is to try and do just that.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter: @GoTDKnights, Facebook: Thomas Dale, Instagram: @GoTDKnights, and Snapchat: @GoTDKnights. Our website is updated regularly for more information:

(NEW!) Two Important (and INTENSE) Resources

Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

(NEW!) Attention Families of Juniors

We are excited to announce our third annual Knightchella event for this school year. Knightchella is a job shadow event that introduces our 11th graders to various careers. This will be an opportunity for students to learn more about diverse career fields. To include but not limited to banking, law, medical and painting. Knightchella is going to be from March 12th- May 28th. Please continue to promote the excitement of this event with your students. Continue to follow us on our social media for future updates. Contact Mr. Millner if you have any questions.

The can browse the Launch Pad and sign up by clicking HERE. We already have 6 experiences loaded!

They can also enroll in our Knightcella Canvas Course here:

Big picture

(NEW!) Underclassmen Yearbook Photos

Did you order pictures from Candid Color?

All photos are in, including make-ups!! They are located in the main campus entry way in a bin on the table, organized alphabetically. Office hours are 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday.

Monday, March 8

Just a reminder, March 8 is an Asynchronous Day, so there will be NO live class meetings. This will allow teachers to finalize their preparations for Cohort 4's return on March 9.

In-Person for Cohort 4 and Upcoming LIVE Broadcast

Please ensure that both you and your child are familiar with THE PLAN.

Here are the "Big 5" we have to get right:

  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Wear your mask.
  • Keep your distance.
  • Follow sanitation protocols.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.

In order to keep us all on the same page, I will host another LIVE broadcast on our social media outlets on Wednesday, March 3 at 7am AND 7pm. Tune in and get your questions answered!

NOTE: After a Faculty Meeting on Monday, I will share with our entire school community our plan for supporting Dual Audience Instruction, which is by far the hardest thing teachers have ever been asked to do. (Dual Audience Instruction: teaching to students who are in-person and virtual simultaneously.)

Save the Date for Cap and Gown Pickup!

To keep pick-ups for Senior Cap and Gown safe and organized, we will split up by alphabet on two separate day.

March 29, from 4-7pm, Last Names A-M.

April 1, from 4-7pm, Last Names N-Z.

We will have a drive-thru option for pick-up for students who simply need to pick up their cap and gown. We will also have Herff-Jones representatives for students/families who still need to order or who need to pay the balance on their accounts.

More information will follow, we just wanted you to save the date!

Junior Sign-Up for the March 24 SAT

For families of Juniors ONLY:

Chesterfield County Public Schools will offer the School Day SAT on March 24, 2021 to all ENROLLED 11TH GRADERS at no cost to the students. Each high school will need to distribute the 2021 School Day SAT Registration form to the families of 11th grade students within the next week to gauge participation and transportation needs. Students will need to register to participate, and the registration Deadline is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17, 2021.

Host a Student for Our Virtual Job Shadow Experience

This year's Job Shadow experience will look different this year.

We are excited to announce our Knightchella Job Shadow for this school year! Our 11th graders will have an opportunity to meet and talk with you, our prospective employers about a future career field. This is a great opportunity for students to possibly garner a professional relationship.

By signing up for this wonderful event you are not only showing your commitment to our students but also agreeing to the following:

  • Thirty minute to an hour time slot using this calendly
  • Provide an introduction to your daily duties;
  • Share qualifications or experiences students will need;
  • Answer any professional questions aligned to your job.

The event will be ongoing from March 1st- May 28th. Your assistance with Knightchella will allocate our students to leave Thomas Dale High School with a diploma in one hand and an opportunity in the other. Please do not hesitate to contact Jeff Millner either by email or phone at 804-396-8272.

From the PTSA

1st, we are asking all parents and teachers to renew your PTSA Membership for 2021 $10.

2nd, we have a discount community partner card that we are offering to everyone in the community. This card is $10 and gets you discounts at our local businesses. We wanted to find an item that would help families save money and yet help us raise money for our school. Please consider purchasing a card today to start saving! The card does not expire until 12/31/2021 and can be used at each business multiple times! Included in the card is 19 companies that include Texas Road House, Sonic, Applebee's, Wendy's, DQ, Sweet Frog, Jiffy Lube, Flowers, etc.

3rd is a combo option. You can order/pay for your card online by choosing the $16 "other" membership option in the memberhub store. Includes a discounted PTSA membership $6 and the $10 card.

Finally, please join us at an upcoming PTSA meeting!

Every month on the Second Tue, until June 8, 2021

  • Mar 9, 2021 05:00 PM
  • Apr 13, 2021 05:00 PM
  • May 11, 2021 05:00 PM
  • Jun 8, 2021 05:00 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 775 5762 1428
Passcode: FFh7hr

Please let PTSA know if you have any questions by reaching out to them on the memberhub link.

Thank you,

Anna Whitt

TDHS PTSA President

Information about Returning to In-Person for Cohort 4

On March 9, we will experience another change in our learning status. Students in Cohort 4 will have an opportunity to select whether they would like to be virtual or in-person.

I need any family wishing to change their status from what we have in the system to fill out the form I sent via email on February 10 at 4:45pm. I do not want to include the difference here, because it will confuse folks. If you are unsure of what your child's status is in our system or need the correct form, just let me know. I need you to fill out the form ONLY if you are changing by 4pm on February 17 (Wednesday).

We will not make many changes from our in-person plan from November. Over the next two weeks, we will tighten up any tweaks we need to make. For your reference, and for transparency, you can review our procedures and mitigation protocols in THE PLAN. Yes, we have a running joke when we say "the plan." We say it like you would in the movies.

Additional points to consider:

  • In-Person Learning will be 5 days a week.

  • We intend for students to remain in the same classes with the same teachers and same schedule.

  • Teachers will teach via “Dual Audience” meaning that both in-person and virtual students will be learning during their designated times from their assigned teachers.

  • Tech Center students have the option to learn in-person in their tech center classes while remaining virtual in Thomas Dale classes.

  • Students who stay virtual are still eligible for in-person athletics and activities. Reminder that athletes must have passed 5 classes in the previous semester.

  • Students in Dual Enrollment classes have the option to stay virtual and still earn JTCC credit.

In order to maintain a safe learning environment at Thomas Dale, here "The Big 5" mitigation strategies:

  • If you are sick, stay home! (Daily Health Assessment in English and Spanish)

  • Required use of mask or face covering AND a provided face shield

  • Minimum of 6 feet physical distancing

  • One-way hallways, phased class releases for transitions, and classroom eating arrangements

  • Sanitation protocols

Conversation Starters for You and Your Child(ren)

Amidst all else, we are experiencing a mental health crisis like never before. It is real, I will not ignore it or pretend it is not there. And for those of us experiencing difficult, it is DEFINITELY NOT something to be ashamed of. As adults, we mitigate as best we can. We listen when it is time to listen, and do our best not to always fix. Through empathy, we can attach to the emotions of others. By listening, we can understand our kids' journeys during this time as they navigate the world and make sense of their lives.

It is not easy for any of us.

After having in-depth conversations with some of our faculty, students, and parents, I thought it would be helpful to include some conversation starters around mental health and the selection of courses for next year - because this is a stressful time to think about next year when we are trying to get through one day at a time.

A special thanks to one of my thought partners, Katie Yeisley (and one of our English teachers), for putting together these points as we look to support YOU through this time as well!

Our students are undergoing a lot; this is not new to anyone. One of the biggest impacts is yet to be seen. Our students' confidence with their ability to navigate school and to be a successful student is shaken. They've been expected to thrive immediately and seamlessly in an environment that's demanded more autonomy than has ever been expected. Their hesitation when thinking about next year is a natural defense mechanism. Students will need an opportunity to regroup next year, mentally refortify themselves, and rebuild their academic confidence. This is to say nothing of ability, intelligence, or readiness; it is to address the need for balancing mental health.

Discuss how your child advocates for her/himself: Do they reach out to a teacher if they need help with an assignment? An extension? To explain their other responsibilities in addition to school? To generally provide insight on their life? Ask them what you can do as a supportive adult in their life.

What are your concerns when thinking about what school looks like next year?

On the topic of course selection: What feels doable? It doesn't need to be all or nothing. Can we prioritize the subjects you feel more comfortable with over an entire schedule filled with honors or APs? Is there a subject you're taking this year that you might want to repeat?

What responsibilities and activities other than school are contributing to your stress and/or time management? How should these factor into your course selections for next year?

As always, I am a phone call, text, email, or social media tag away.

Online School Store

Get your swag NOW!!! Our online store for apparel is open through March 1.

Click HERE to shop!


If a Chromebook repair is required, families should take the following steps to request a replacement device (note that all Chromebooks are handled through the Main Campus office):

  • Complete this GOOGLE FORM. If internet access is not available, you may call the Main Campus office (804-768-6245) during any school day from 8 am until 4 pm, and an office assistant can submit the form for you. Please have ready your student's ID number and the 6-digit Chromebook number (found on the barcode sticker on the Chromebook).
  • When it is ready, the school will contact you to pick up the replacement Chromebook.
  • When you go to pick up the replacement Chromebook, please bring the old device and charger (if you are told to bring it).
  • The front office will give you the replacement device to take home.

Updated Schedule to Reflect Change to 5 Days of Live Meetings

Please review the updated BELL SCHEDULE. I have also included the graphic below. There are no changes to the meeting times. The only difference is that now, students will have live class meetings for their classes on Wednesdays. The Seminar Whole Group meeting is still on Wednesday at 11am.
Big picture

Cameras On

After getting feedback from faculty and staff, students, and parents, and finally, the administrative team, I am ready to communicate to our school community how we will handle this expectation. Please review the document HERE. I've created a graphic to go with it as well, which I've included below.
Big picture

Underclassmen Yearbook Pictures

Due to the size of our school and a very small yearbook staff, we cannot manage the collection of upwards of 2000 personal photos. However, if your child was a Thomas Dale 9th or 10th grader last year and sat for a school picture with Candid Color, you can opt to reuse last year's photo. Please fill out the following FORM if you would like to reuse last year's picture instead of sitting for a new one. Please complete this form by February 1 if you would like to select this option.

The yearbook staff is working hard to create a unique yearbook that showcases this school year. Yearbooks can be purchased for $70 through 2/28/21. Please visit and use code 4232 to reserve your copy.

Seniors: Cap and Gown Ordering Info

For any Class of 2021 graduating senior who missed the in-person appointments we did in the fall, you can order cap and gown online. Please see the information in the flyer below.
Big picture

Need to Schedule a Meeting with an Administrator or Counselor??

If you or your child need to schedule a meeting, please access THIS PAGE. You will have links to pick a time to meet with our administrative and counseling staff. A list of administrators, counselors, and student loads are included at the bottom of The Ultimate Guide - just scroll to the bottom.

Writing Your Resume Bullet Session

Enjoy a SHORT VIDEO on writing your resume I designed for our students. This will also be part of a Genius Hour session I will offer on January 20 at 10am.

In the video, there are two resources I share, and I am including them below:

Courageous Conversation About Race

As part of our work to increase the inclusivity of our school culture and make our environment safe for all our students, we have conducted monthly Courageous Conversations About Race with faculty since July. In December, we felt we were ready to bring students to the conversation, and it was AWESOME!

We are now ready to invite parents and community members to our conversations. If you would like to be a part of this important conversation, please click HERE to submit your contact information, and we will invite you to all upcoming Courageous Conversations About Race at Thomas Dale!

Updated Yearbook Information

Order your yearbook for this unprecedented year! Go to and use code 4232.

Prices are:

$70 until 2/28/21

$80 until sold out

Bringing Genius Hour Back

Background on Genius Hour:
  • This is a time for you, your students or community members to share their Genius! If there is anything you love to do and would like to teach beyond the scope of your classroom, this is the time to do it.
  • If you need more background on what Genius Hour is, this video is great!

3 Minute Presentation Catalog:
  • We will create a catalog of 3 minute presentations for students where you teach them something about your genius--that thing you are passionate about!
  • It will be similar to the one for clubs (see example here: Club Promo and Interest Forms)

Live Sessions:
  • If you would like to have a follow-up live session on your topic, we will run a Genius Hour virtual session on January 20th from 11:00am-11:45am.
  • Fill out this Google Form to host: Genius Hour Hosting

How do I create a 3 minute video?

  • First and foremost, consider hosting a session (either you run it or you can help a student host a session). Think about community members that could bring in interesting options for students as well.
  • If you would like to host a session, please fill in the form. Genius Hour Hosting

Kits/Items for participants:

Bullet Lesson: Stress and a Student Support Group Meeting Opportunity

We all feel stress from time to time, some good...some not-so good. Right now, we are ALL feeling it. On Monday, December 14, at 11:00am, we will host our first student support group. This is a time for students to check-in with your wellness and talk about the things going on in your life...a time for support. This is NOT a therapy session. If your child is interested in attending, please let me know by submitting his/her name HERE. I will get students the access information via Canvas Inbox once I know who is interested. 100% voluntary and 100% judgement-free.

For now, HERE is the resource used in this Bullet Lesson video on Stress.

Bullet Lesson: Time Management

Time Management. We are ALL struggling with this right now!

Do-Doing-Done Template

Time Management and Goal Setting Template (and HERE is an example)

Enjoy this Bullet Lesson video on Time Management!!

Suggestion Box

Introducing our electronic Suggestion Box. Have an idea for making Thomas Dale better?

Share if HERE! You can also type the suggestion box address directly into your URL address bar:

Big picture

Send a Teacher (or more!) Some Love and Appreciation

Our teachers are (and have been) working extremely hard to do something that has never been done before. It is oftentimes difficult for them to get their "buckets filled," and one way to do that is when they get a note of appreciation from others.

Take just a few moments, and you can have your child do so too, to send some teacher love and appreciation to the greatest teachers in the Commonwealth of Virginia!

Simply click HERE to get started, and they will receive and electronic copy of your note.

School-Wide Expectations and Student Handbook

Please review our expectations pages for In-Person and Virtual Learning. Students are held accountable to these expectations.

Additionally, I wanted to ensure the STUDENT HANDBOOK was up top on The Ultimate Guide.

Big picture
Big picture


Yep! It is starting back up!

Please fill out THIS FORM for your child to register for Behind-the-Wheel. Instructions and requirements are in the form.

Are you a Canvas Observer and Need to Reset Password?

Parents can reset passwords by going to and clicking on forgot password.

One-Page Glossary for Project Re-Start

Please click HERE to access our One-Pager that helps our families navigate Project Re-Start.


This year, our Learning Management System will be Canvas. All of your child's classes will be in Canvas, which he/she can access from Rapid Identity.

Your child will need to join the Thomas Dale High School Students and Families course in Canvas by clicking HERE.

Once your child has joined, I need you to join as well by following THESE INSTRUCTIONS. You will also need to use these instructions to become an Observer/Parent for each of your child's courses once they are loaded on August 24. The Student and Family course linked above is available for you to join now.

When you and your child are in the Thomas Dale Students and Families Canvas Course, make sure you go through the modules; there is one for students and one for parents. This is an important step to understanding Canvas.

How to be...

Below are videos for you and your child to watch to help prepare for the virtual learning start to the school year.

For the sake of transparency, I wanted you to see what I've shared with teachers as well.


Please take a moment and make sure all ParentVUE information is accurate. You can use THESE DIRECTIONS if you need to make a change.

CCPS School Year Calendar for 2020-2021

Please access the school year calendar HERE.

Counselor and Administrator Information


HERE is the website for Counselor information.


HERE is the website for Administrator information.