The Sierra Monthly

Sierra Middle School - February 2021 Newsletter

Big picture

From the Desk of the Principal: Dr. L. King

I am humbled to work with such an incredible school community that is always willing to put the needs of our students first. The resilience of our students continues to amaze me, and I am grateful for the staff and families who ensure students are able to make the most of the learning opportunities presented to them.

We started off Hybrid Learning with great success. Our Eagles were quick to learn the COVID Safety procedures and how to show Eagle PRIDE (Preparation – Responsibility – Integrity - Diligence and Excellence) in the classroom environment and throughout the school. It was truly one of the greatest feelings to see our students walk through the doors of the building, filling us all with a new energy.

We are now in our final week of February which means spring is just around the corner. The longer days and warmer temperatures will be very refreshing! Very soon, more and more coats will be shed as students begin enjoying the warmer days. Students make sure your coats and jackets are labeled with your name. Should you lose it, we will know who it belongs to.

Reminder: Masks are required throughout the school day for students. The only exceptions are during lunch when students are eating and facing forward in the classroom at least 6 feet apart, and scheduled class “mask breaks” outside standing at least 6 feet.

NOTE: Gators and mask with air valves are NOT acceptable at school (students will be given a disposable mask to wear for the day if their mask is not in regulation).

Parents, thank you for raising such amazing children that desire to be excellent in all they do. If you have any questions regarding your child’s academic progress, please call the office or message your child’s teacher via Canvas. Thank you for your continued support during these trying times and for being a part of the great things that are happening at our school! Thank you for your continued support of our school community.


Dr. L. King D.Ed.

Principal SMS

Mrs. Busby - Assistant Principal

Hello everyone!

I am so excited that we have been able to see so many of you back at school. I know that things look a little bit different and the hallways are a little quieter than they would be in a typical school year. For those of you that are still working at home, you are each a very important part of our school community. This year has been incredibly challenging for everyone in many different ways, but we will continue to move forward and show everyone what Sierra staff and students have to offer! Also, I hope that you all enjoyed the February snow and are looking forward to Spring Break! Hang in there, Eagles! ♥

Mrs. Busby - Assistant Principal

Mrs. Gutierrez - Assistant Principal

Hello Sierra!!

I am happy to see students and staff back in the building and look forward to assisting you with whatever you need to be successful in the classroom and in all the activities that you participate in. If you have any questions about athletics, your classes, academics, or anything at all, know that you are always welcome to contact me! We can finish this year strong no matter what obstacles have come our way if we all work together.

Yours in Education,

Breezy Gutierrez, Assistant Principal

Big picture

Third Quarter Schedule

  • March 4 - Math Night 5:45 PM - 7:00 PM
  • March 9 - School Board Meeting 6:00 PM
  • March 16 - Nine Weeks Ends
  • March 22 through 26 - Spring Break (No School)
  • March 29 - Report Cards Issued

Math Night

Big picture

During Math Night, we will have nine breakout rooms going with interactive math activities that parents, students, and staff can enjoy!

Math night will include-

  • Escape Rooms
  • Financial Football
  • Math Trivia
  • Dividing Fractions Quiz Show
  • Interactive Graphing
  • Interactive Multiplying and Dividing Fractions Maze Chase Game
  • GimKit (Like Kahoot) With Math Problems For All Grade Levels
  • Art With Code
  • Over the Bridge- A Hands-On Activity in Problem Solving

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I get access to my PowerSchool so that I can check my grades and attendance?

Your advisory teachers have your PowerSchool login information and should have sent it to your Canvas inbox. If you did not receive it, you can contact your advisory teacher, your team lead teacher, or Mrs. Busby to have it sent to you.

What do I do if I am having technology issues or problems with my school Chromebook?

Contact the front office at Sierra. We will try to help fix any problems that you may be having.

Why didn't I get my report card?

This year's report cards have been mailed to your home address. If you did not receive your report card, it is possible that the school does not have the correct address. Please let the office know if this is the case because it is very important that we have your correct contact information.

What do I need to do to return to school in person? What if I have questions about coming back to school?

Contact Mrs. Busby at 575-627-2853 to get assigned to a group or ask any questions that you may have.

Where can I find information about coming back to school? What is the uniform policy? Which bus do I ride? What supplies do I need?

Visit for answers to these questions or contact the Sierra office.

When do sports start?

Check the sports schedule in the sports section below.

What do I need to do to play sports?

  • Sign up with a coach or online form
  • Get a physical
  • Complete paperwork
  • Complete concussion course
  • Check if you are eligible through your grades with your coach or Assistant Principal Gutierrez.

When can I practice?

You can practice after eligibility is checked and all forms, your physical, and the concussion course are completed.


7th and 8th grade students-Get your physical!

  • Sierra Students interested in participating in athletics need a physical in order to participate.
  • If you have a physical from last school year and you have not had COVID-19, that can be used.
Big picture
20-21 Athletic Participation And Physical Exam Forms

New participants and any athletes who have had COVID-19 will need to obtain a proper physical. Please click the button above or come by Sierra Middle School for the required paperwork.

Concussion Course For Students

Please click the link above to complete the required NFHS Concussion Course. (Required by all athletes each year).

SMS Athletics Page / Sports Sign-Ups

Please click the link above to access the athletics page on the SMS website. By accessing this page, you will find the links to the registration forms for Cheer, Girls' and Boys' Basketball, Soccer, and Track.

Tutoring Opportunity

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Trio Talent Search is excited to begin implementing a new 24/7 online tutoring and homework help program for students, called offers:

  • 24/7 assistance in 200+ subjects, including AP courses, in English and Spanish
  • Students can access across multiple devices
  • 1 to 1 online engagement with over 3,000 subject matter experts
  • Essay and writing support
  • Plus, so much more!

For students to have access to this free service, they must be Talent Search participants, which requires an application and parent permission form. Talent Search is a federally funded college prep program that services first-generation and economically disadvantaged students. If you would like your student to receive this service, please complete the attached application and permission form and return to your school office or email it directly to your school's program specialist.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call or email your program specialist.

Sincerely, The ENMUR Trio Talent Search Team

Return to Normalcy

Watch "Return to Normalcy" to see how the RISD is taking precautions to keep students safe as schools reopen.
Safe Practices for Reopening Schools, 2021

Parent PowerSchool Access

Watch "PowerSchool Parent Tutorial" to see how to gain access to your student's PowerSchool information.
Powerschool Parent Tutorial

School Staff and Student COVID-19 Decision Trees

  • The first decision tree was created for families, students, and staff to better understand the steps that should be taken if an individual develops symptoms. Testing of close contacts (strongly encouraged) should happen 7–10 days into quarantine, or at onset of symptoms. A negative test for a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual does not end the quarantine period.
  • The second decision tree was created for families, students, and staff to better understand the steps that should be taken if quarantine/self-isolation is necessary.
Big picture

Shockwave Valentine's Bag Giveaway

The Shockwave teaching team held a Valentine’s event for their students on February 11, 2021. The cold weather did not stop Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Patterson, Mr. Dunnahoo and Mr. Vigil from giving Valentine candy and a personal valentine to all of the Shockwave students who chose to drive by Sierra and say hello. The Shockwave team had the Candy Slide in perfect working order so that social distancing was not a problem. Mrs. Ward, with the help of Mr. Dunnahoo, put together awesome goody bags that contained candy, cookies and other special treats. The Shockwave teachers are excited to see all of the Shockwave students and are planning other events for the future.
Big picture

Reading Night

Our Reading Night was a SUCCESSFUL event. We had a handful of parents and students who attended. In addition, we had an SMS administrator, a district coordinator, two RISD board members, four district directors, and several SMS teachers present as well. We did drawings, and 15 students won prizes. The prizes were a book and a bag with school supplies.

Featured Article: February Facts

  1. February fluctuates between having 28 and 29 days per year. The 29th day only occurs every 4 years during leap years.
  2. The length of February was finalized when Julius Caesar remade the Roman calendar and assigned the month 28 days and 29 days. In 713 B.C., February was officially added to the Roman calendar.
  3. If you were born in February, your birthstone is an amethyst and your flower is a primrose.
  4. The western zodiac signs in February are Aquarius which is until February 19th, and Pisces, which starts February 20th.
  5. Over time, the length of February kept changing. At one point, it had as little as 23 days.
Big picture

NO DOUBT - 6th Grade

  • J'lynn Brewton - J'lynn is a hard working individual. She is always present in her classes, and is eager to give her full effort in everything that she puts her mind to.
  • Angel Garcia - Angel is a very respectful individual with an excellent sense of humor. No matter what class he is in, you can expect him to be working hard.

NO FEAR - 6th Grade

  • Hunter Berry - Hunter is an energetic young man who is willing to help anyone. His technology skills are advanced; and when technology issues arise, Hunter is the go-to-guy for the teachers on team No Fear. Hunter helps without judgement and his extra effort and positive attitude help make the classroom a better place to learn.
  • Llazlin Hernandez - Llazlin is an outstanding student who is motivated, hardworking, reliable, trustworthy, and intelligent. Although she is a top student she never brags nor boasts, and can be counted on to attend class regularly, stay on camera, participate in discussion, and complete all assignments to perfection. Her dedication to her academics is admirable and her efforts make her an easy choice for team No Fear’s student of the month.

STORM - 7th Grade

  • Julisa Duran - When she is not playing with her siblings, she is playing sports like basketball. Her dream job is to be a photographer. Julisa’s advice to her fellow classmates: push yourself because no one's going to do it for you.
  • Michael Flores Jr. - Michael enjoys skateboarding in his spare time. His dream job is to become an Aerospace Engineer. His advice to his fellow classmates is to work hard and persevere and to overcome the obstacles.

TALONS - 7th Grade

  • Kyle Williams - Kyle is a kind and polite individual. He is conscientious about his academics and actively participates in his classes. Kyle has accomplished AB Honor Roll status in the first 9wks, illustrating that he works hard and is determined to do well no matter the learning situation. Keep Up the Excellent Work!
  • Mia Azpeitia - Mia is a kind and generous individual who is willing to help her classmates. She has persevered and has accomplished "A" Honor Roll for both the first and second quarters. Her determination in keeping a 4.0 GPA shows excellence in her education. We, Talon Teachers, are so proud of Mia! She has shown that she can persevere through all obstacles when it comes to her education.

RAPTORS - 8th Grade

  • Xai Carrasco - Xai is a natural born leader who is willing to go above and beyond to get the job done. He has a great sense of humor.

  • Neela Lovato - Neela is kind at heart and has been respectful throughout our whole virtual learning process. She continues to excel.

SHOCKWAVE - 8th Grade

  • Anders McDaid - Anders is hilarious! He is witty, kind, and caring. He is a member of the SMS Band, and loves video games. He works hard and cares about his friends.
  • Alice Samuels - Alice is a kind, funny, and responsible young lady. She is a member of the SMS Band. She is hard working and helps others.

Big picture


Students who are in APEX are doing fairly well and many of our students are completing their assignments on schedule. I want to remind all of the students to keep an eye on their progress and stay on schedule with the assignments. In addition, please remember to check the announcements in APEX about due dates, tutoring schedules, school information, and completing Naviance assignments. If there are any questions, APEX students and parents can contact Mrs. Gutierrez, Ms. Lester, or Mrs. Kendy Sanchez for assistance.

To receive updates about school and other important information and activities, it is important to login to your Advisory Zoom from 8:00 - 8:30 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week. APEX students will not have grades posted in PowerSchool with the exception of mid nine weeks, nine weeks and semester. If you want to know what your grade is, you will use the Grade to Date on your Dashboard to be aware of what your progress is.


The biggest news for Canvas/Hybrid is that we have been able to return to in person learning! Every week the schedule will be:

Cohort A Group-- Mondays and Tuesdays

Wednesdays-- Virtual Only Make-Up Work

Cohort B Group-- Thursdays and Fridays

Your group is assigned by the school. If you don't know which group you are in, contact Mrs. Busby at 575-627-2853. We are still using Canvas for all of our classes!

Big picture

Tips From Nurse Palomino

Help Stop the Spread by:

  • Handwashing: Please remember to wash hands with soap and water and or hand sanitizer for 20 seconds. For example, sing "Happy Birthday" while washing hands.
  • Make sure your mask fits snug and covers your nose and mouth.
  • Social distancing: Stay 6 feet apart.
  • Stay home when you are feeling sick.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing.
Know How to Wear Your Face Mask Correctly
Wash Your Hands to Stay Healthy During COVID-19

Book Recommendations

The Wolf Wilder

“'Fairy tale and history merge seamlessly' (Publishers Weekly, starred review) in this enchanting and lyrical novel about love and resilience from the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, Katherine Rundell.

Feo’s life is extraordinary. Her mother trains domesticated wolves to be able to fend for themselves in the snowy wilderness of Russia, and Feo is following in her footsteps to become a wolf wilder. She loves taking care of the wolves, especially the three who stay at the house because they refuse to leave Feo, even though they’ve already been wilded. But not everyone is enamored with the wolves, or with the fact that Feo and her mother are turning them wild. And when her mother is taken captive, Feo must travel through the cold, harsh woods to save her—and learn from her wolves how to survive."

See You In The Cosmos

"A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s, Walk Two Moons, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time."

Department Message - Science

The Sierra Science Department prides itself on focusing on our students. Currently, we are within our second year of using the STEMScopes curriculum. The specific focus of the curriculum is to ensure that we will meet all standards set about by the New Mexico Next Generation Science Standards. The built-in toolset allowed for a smoother transition, as we started on a remote learning classroom and now transition into a hybrid learning system. Speaking of the transition, we are all excited to have everyone back in the building. It is good to see the students are just as excited as us to return and get right into it.
Big picture
As we get set for the ending of the third nine-weeks, we can see that the same characteristics that define a good scientist coincides with students during this time. Our students have shown patience and understanding as they have made many shifts to accommodate for a safer learning environment. They have persevered, by showing up to class day after day and making sure their work is completed. Last, but not least, they have shown the ability to adapt as conditions are constantly changing. Looking towards the future, we can see this school year will give us the benefit of any grand experiment. The benefit of gaining experience and insight that we can apply later in life.

There are a few key notes we wish to outline in this letter. With our first week of the new hybrid schedule under our belt, most students and teachers are getting used to the new daily rhythm. Some classes are prepping and planning to continue utilizing STEMScopes in a way that will allow students access to the best learning opportunities as possible. There has even been some initial work for some grade levels in planning on procedures and activities that will allow students to safely perform in-class experiments. We hope the students will be looking forward to these activities as much as we are. There are some adjustments that need to be made when it comes to student collaboration, and safely keeping social distancing guidelines while working on these activities. However, rest assured we will take the necessary precautions to ensure our scientists will be able to work safely to gain hands-on experience that defines science.

Another event we are all looking forward to is our “Science Night” that we will be hosting for our school. We are still in the early phases of planning; however, we do have a general time frame for the event. Currently, we are looking to host this event sometime in April. As we hammer out a few more of the details, we will be sure to let everyone know. For those who have not had a chance to attend a previous school night activity, our science night will help further develop many of the concepts a student has learned in the classroom. It is also another chance to further solidify what exactly defines STEM and how important the STEM concept is for our future.
As this letter ends, we wish to thank everyone for all the work they have put in for this year. We have met many challenges, but we never backed down. Thank you to those parents and guardians who supported us through this unique year, thank you to the custodians who have worked hard to make sure the students are in a safe environment to learn, thank you to the administration who has helped guide us as we moved through the year. To all those support staff, we thank you as your contributions have provided a stable environment for everyone. We look forward to what the rest of year holds, and we will all stay Eagle Strong. Go Sierra!
Big picture

Inspirational Quote

Big picture


Big picture

Video of Inspiration

The first video is a great example of the message to never give up, even when success might seem impossible. The second video asks us to reflect on the fact that no matter our situation, the way we approach our situations determines our mindset.

Powerful Inspirational true story...Never give up!
The Present | A Short Film by Jacob Frey