Community Newsletter

January Ballenger Creek Newsletter

Letter from Mr. Schill, Principal of Ballenger Creek Middle School

Dear Ballenger Creek Middle Families,

I hope that you and all of your loved ones are well. As I write this and reflect, the last nine school days--five before winter break and the last four since the break--have been stressful for many students, parents, community members, and BCMS staff. Social media threats, worries about being infected by COVID-19, and loved ones actually becoming ill from COVID-19--these events have been a lot for all of us.

While the last two school weeks have been intense at times, I can tell you that the most prominent emotion I’ve experienced through all of this is gratitude--for our BCMS staff, for your children, and for you, our parents and community. Despite fears for their own personal safety, our teachers and support staff have shown up every day for your children. They have been great supports for your students and for one another through some particularly trying moments. Your children, the reason we chose this vocation, have continued to adapt, learn, challenge us, and put smiles on our faces at some point every day. You, our parents, in addition to helping us ensure that your students’ needs have been met, have been tremendously encouraging and helpful to our BCMS staff. I am so grateful that we have such a supportive community.

While these recent days have been far from ideal, I know that what we’re negotiating right now is temporary--things will get better. Thank you for partnering with us--and thank you for entrusting us each day with what you hold most dear in this world--your children.

Take care, everyone--and please reach out if you think that there is anything that we can do for you and your students.


Jay Schill

Principal, BCMS

Important January Dates

Important Dates:

1/11/22 last day for students to submit assignments for term 2

1/14/22 Teacher work day- no school for students

1/17/22 Schools and Offices Closed

1/18/22 Term 3 starts

1/27/22 Report cards issued

6th 7th and 8th Grade

We hope everyone had a restful break and could spend this time with friends and family! As we transition back into “school mode,” the 6th, 7th and 8th grade team wants to remind students and family members about a couple of things.

  • Students need to be prepared for learning every day by bringing a fully charged Chromebook/laptop to school every day and they should have their charger.

  • Check grades and comments: the End of Term 2 is Tuesday, January 11. This means students must submit any missing or revised work by this date at 11:59pm.

  • If a student needs help completing their assignments, they need to contact their teacher directly through Schoology. The teacher will sign them up for ELT when available.

  • Please make sure students are bringing/wearing their masks and bringing a water bottle to school. Bringing a water bottle to school will help us cut down on our environmental waste because students are required to use a cup at the water fountains due to FCPS guidelines. This would also decrease the number of trips students are making to the water fountains and help them stay in class.

Counseling Department


Use your grade level counseling page on Schoology and select "Student Support Request Form." Your grade level counselor will speak with you as soon as they are available .

Mr. Webber:

Ms. Reese:

Mr. Ledyard:

Cell Phones and Ear Pods (Off and Away)

In an effort to work together to ensure appropriate use of cell phones for students, we encourage parents/guardians to review safe cell phone usage frequently, maintain open communication, and utilize appropriate parental controls.

Also, students are reminded of the school’s rules for having a cell phone at school, which is linked in case you wish to periodically review them with your child. Regulation 400-18 Electronic Devices – Student Use. At BCMS, cell phones need to be off and away from 7:30 - 3:00.

Science Department

6th grade - Students are creating a device to minimize thermal energy transfer. Then they will test their device to see if they can prevent an ice cube from melting underneath a heat lamp! The competition is heating up! The Water Unit will be wrapped up with the water cycle.

7th grade - Students are finishing the Chemistry and Matter Unit. Students are utilizing the engineering and design process and applying it to an incubator.

8th grade - Students are finishing up their unit on mutations and how they may have beneficial, harmful, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism. By the end of January, students will begin the Interactions of the Solar System Unit.


It's time to submit those baby photos of your student to feature in the then and now section of our yearbook. Please submit all photos to Mrs. Schmidt in a PNG or JPEG format at by February 3rd.
FCPS Transportation Bus Delays

Due to the numerous openings in transportation, FCPS is trying its best to have all route fulfilled. However, at times, there are delays in pick ups and drop offs. Please continue to monitor for any delays or transportation concerns.

Math Department

January and February is when we start to plan for classes students to take next year. If you would like to schedule a meeting with the math specialist, Laura Boyer, to discuss recommended classes for next year please reach out to her via email (

Please remind students to continue to work on their ALEKS assignments weekly. These are personalized lessons for each student to address each student's specific needs.

To access ALEKS:

*Click FCPSBOOKS when signed into the students google account

*Click CLEVER Portal

*Click to login to Active Directory (Four different color squares)

*Click on the red MCGRAW HILL icon

This will take you directly to ALEKS and they can select “Continue My Path”

TutorMe Support Available

All students have access to the TutorMe site for tutoring support. Students have access to live tutors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They will access this site through their FCPS Bookmarks and Clever portal.

Feeder Concert

The Tuscarora Feeder Concert has been postponed until March 10th at THS. Please stay safe!

ELA Department

  • 6th grade ELA will be wrapping up our unit on informational text and as we move into Term 3 will be reading and writing about fictional text. We will dig deeper into the theme of the fictional text, figurative language, imagery, and author’s word choice. In addition, we will break down the plot of the story and how the events unfold. We will also analyze two different texts and their approach to similar themes. Students will continue to include text evidence in their writing analysis of the different texts we read.

  • 7th Grade ELA will be starting cycle 5 of the curriculum which asks “What makes people who they are?” In this cycle, we will be exploring poetry and fiction and returning to the idea of how authors develop the theme through figurative language, plot, and character development.

  • Grade 8: Students in 8th grade are finishing up Cycle 4 which used informational and historical texts to address the question “What can people do to create change?” Students are reminded that all work for ELA is due by January 11 at 11:59pm. After that time, assignments will lock and are no longer able to accept submissions. Looking ahead to Term 3 and Cycle 5, students will be working with literary texts and poems. Through analysis of poetry, word choice, point of view, and other thematic elements, students will work to answer the Cycle 5 question, “How are people changed by love?” Students will have some options to choose the texts and activities they work with during this Cycle.

Student Government Association


The BCMS SGA would like to thank everyone who participated in the December Chipotle Fundraiser. Thanks to you, we raised $362 to benefit students right here at BCMS!

Special Education Department

Divya Bhakta ( speech therapist) My name is Divya Bhakta, and I am a speech-language pathologist here at Ballenger Creek Middle School. I have a Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Long Island University. I grew up in New York. This is my second year at BCMS. Prior to joining the wonderful team here, I worked in schools and rehab facilities in the Baltimore area. Middle schoolers are my favorite! I try to be a champion for my students -- like the wise Rita Pierson once said, "Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be." In my free time, I can be found rock/ice climbing outside, hiking, reading, and spending time with family.

Athena Fream ( 6th grade case manager) Hello! My name is Athena and this is my first year teaching! I graduated from University of Maryland last spring with a degree in special education. I am currently a 6th grade special education case manager at Ballenger Creek Middle. I assist mainly in our science and history classes which are my two favorite subjects. I am a member of HOPE, our monthly mentor program for girls. I have enjoyed my first year so far and I have so much love for the students I work with. Even when things are stressful, I am lucky to have a supportive staff to help me navigate.


CASS - or call 240 236-6598

Walk in mental health clinic

ARC of Frederick

(301) 663-0909

Social Studies Department

6th Grade

Sixth grade is now studying the fascinating world of Ancient India. Students will learn about the importance of the Indus River and its crucial role in the development of the civilizations in this region of the world. Afterwards, students will learn more about the various cultural and societal aspects of the Indus River societies.

7th Grade

This term, in 7th grade, students began Unit 5, which looks at medieval Mesoamerica. Students have already begun to learn about the geography and learning about one of the first major civilizations, the Maya. In the coming weeks, they will learn about the Aztec and Inca civilizations as well.

Later on, students will learn more about the eventual fall of the three groups due to European conquest by the country of Spain.

The 7th grade history team would also like to welcome back Mrs. Montgomery, who is returning from her maternity leave. We wish Eric Witt, her long-term substitute, the best and thank him for all his help.

8th Grade

8th grade will be diving into Unit 4, which focuses on the growth of the United States by looking at the westward migration that took place in the 19th Century. In addition, themes of industrialization and immigration will also be examined in how they helped influence policy and migration.

8th Grade Families

Important information for families of 8th graders below:

Tuscarora High School

The incoming 9th grade Registration Night is January 13th, at 6:30 PM.

You can hear from THS staff, explore our club and activities fair, and meet THS counselors, teachers, and administrators!

We can’t wait to meet our new Titans on January 13th!

Snow date is January 20th at 6:30 PM

(this event may be virtual - Mr. Ledyard will share updates)

9th Grade Registration

THS counselors came to BCMS to speak to our 8th grade students during their Science classes on Wednesday, January 5th. This presentation will be posted to the 8th grade Schoology page. The window for 8th graders to register for THS opens Monday, January 10th and closes Sunday night, January 23rd. A letter from the high school will be mailed home to families (sometime the week of January 10th) sharing course recommendations. High school registration forms will be completed and submitted on Schoology. Please contact Mr. Ledyard with any questions.

Students will be registering for next school year by the end of January. Please take this time to sit down with your student and plan out their elective choices.

ELL Corner

English Learners will be taking the WIDA ACCESS test for English language proficiency in February.

The WIDA ACCESS test is online and has 4 parts:

  1. Listening

  2. Reading

  3. Writing

  4. Speaking (recorded on a computer)

The test will be taken over multiple test sessions beginning on February 1st. EL students will begin practice tests in January with Mrs. Beaucage in small groups during ELT. During practice test sessions, we will work specifically on how to record speaking responses to computer given prompts.

Below are some tips to help your child prepare.

Tips to Prepare for the WIDA ACCESS test:

  1. Ask questions during the practice test

  2. Sleep well the night before the test

  3. Be present and on time to school

  4. Check technology before beginning the test

  5. Bring your own wired headphones (if that makes you more comfortable).

Please contact Mrs. Beaucage with any questions or concerns.

Mariah Beaucage

English Learner (EL) Teacher


Arrival & Dismissal Procedures Reminder

Arrival: If you are dropping your child off, please drop them off at the curb of the car rider line. Do not drop off in the staff parking lot or in front of the school.

Dismissal: All students must be picked up at the car rider line. Students should not be picked up in the staff parking lot. Please do not park your vehicle on Ballenger Creek Pike also since this is a traffic and student safety concern. Safety of our families is very important to us and we are asking for your full cooperation to make this work and run smooth.

Crestwood Middle School and Maryland Food Bank Drive Thru

This year, we continue our partnership with the Maryland Food Bank in order to host a monthly food drive here at CMS. We are fortunate to receive 2000 lbs of food the second Wednesday of each month. This month we will receive pork loin, ground turkey, peanut butter and many other items.

These groceries are FREE and for ALL of our families.

If you would like to get a bag of food, please stop by on

Wednesday, January 12 from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM.

Here is how the food bank drive thru will run:

  • Plan to drive into the bus parking loop to the right of the school.
  • When you pull around to the volunteers, please open your trunk so we can put the groceries into your car.
  • We are only able to provide, one allotment of food per vehicle.

We will continue to hand out food until our supply runs out.

If you have questions, please contact Ms. Watson ( or Ms. Myers (

Enrichment Activities

  • Registration is now open for the 41st Annual Frederick County Secondary Science and Engineering Fair. This is an International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) regional event, which will be virtual again this year. Registration closes March 13 at 11:59 p.m. The event is open to all (middle and high) students who live or go to school in Frederick County. FCPS hosts two divisions, one for middle school and one for high school students.

    The fair will be held April 2; high school students will participate in virtual interviews from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. All awards will be announced the following week. FCPS winners will advance to national and international competitions. All registered projects must be submitted by March 27.

    For more information on this year’s FCPS Secondary Science and Engineering Fair, please contact Secondary Science Curriculum Specialist Colleen Beall at (301) 644-5259, e-mail or visit the event website:

  • The FCPS Earth and Space Science Lab will have a full day of activities on Friday, January 14, 2022 starting at 10AM. For the complete schedule and to purchase tickets, visit:

  • Smart Start Kits - available at the Frederick County Public Library -
    Educational enrichment kits for pre-k through 5th grade offer a hands-on approach for at-home enrichment in early literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) and social/emotional wellbeing. These kits are made to spark excitement and learning through play, giving children and caretakers all the necessary tools for an afternoon of activities.

  • Virtual Teen Library Council (Ages 13-18)
    Thursday, December 2 (6-7 pm)
    Calling all Frederick County Teens! Join us for our monthly Virtual Teen Library Council (TLC) meeting on Discord. Help us plan the future of our Discord server and enjoy a different guest speaker each month. Plus earn service learning hours for attending! December's meeting will be a winter party! Enjoy trivia, win prizes, and more!

This program will take place on FCPL’s Teen Discord server – a virtual hangout space just for teens! Follow this link: to join the server immediately. After following the link, you will be asked to sign in to your Discord account. If you do not already have an account, you will be prompted to create a free account before joining our server.

If you have any questions about enrichment programming, please contact:
Advanced Academics Specialist
Ballenger Creek Middle School

Community Resources

FCPS Meals to Go

Please use this link with up-to-date information :

Frederick Community Action Agency, George L. Shields Foodbank

Phone: 301-600-1506
14 E. All Saints St. Frederick, MD 21701

Food Bank: Mon thru Friday 2:00 - 4:00 pm Call for Appointment
Soup Kitchen: daily 5:30 - 6:30 pm.

Carry-out only. Can deliver food to family if a family member has Covid-19.

Frederick Rescue Mission

Phone: 301-695-6633
419 South St. Frederick, MD 21701

LUNCH to-go: Mon thru Sat 12:00-1:30 ; Sunday 1:00-2:30

Food Pantry: Bring Photo ID Tue and Wed 1:30 - 3:30 pm and Thu 2:00 - 6:00 pm.

Food Pantry Closed Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Mental Health Association of Frederick County

Phone: 301-663-0011
226 South Jefferson St. Frederick, MD

Crisis walk in Mental health services.

Local Resource Guide-

Student Homelessness Initiative Program (SHIP)Phone: 240-415-8971
Email: info@shipfrederick.comProvides hygiene, clothing, shoes, youth activities and experiences, and emergency shelter for Homeless Students in Frederick County. Please email

Frederick Community Action Agency

Phone: 301-600-1506 or 301-600-3955

Frederick County Department of Social Services

Phone: 301-600-4555

Homeless Prevention Program - if eleigible could help pay rent to prevent eviction

Call 301-909-6362

Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs

Phone: 301-631-2670
Phone: 240-446-9649 with eviction assistance not due to Covid-19, Security Deposits, Energy Assistance Program, Emergency Family Shelter

Crisis Services

Dial 211