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updated 2/2015
DMS header STW
   Driving Directions:
Take Exit #19 off of Interstate 81.
From the north, turn left at the end of the ramp onto Rt. 11
From the south, turn right at end of ramp onto Rt. 11.
Keep straight at the traffic light and stay on Rt. 58 (Jeb Stuart Hwy.)
Travel approximately 8 miles making a right turn onto Rt. 757 (Government Rd.)
                                  Damascus Middle School will be on the right.                        
Snow 22615
School Safety

All visitors to DMS are required to use the front
entrance to the
building and must report to the
office upon entering. A video/buzzer
entrance system is used, and all visitors
must identify themselves and the reason for
their visit.
                                                news              calendar                     
              at the exciting events ahead!
Calendar will be updated as soon as possible
Feb. 23-27...FFA Week
Feb. 27........SCHOOLS CLOSED - (Teacher Workday - weather permitting)

flu1    Mount Rogers Health District Influenza Letter       flu2

Healthy Habits and Tips         

Jr. Washington County Community Scholars Student Volunteer Form

Jr. Washington County Community Scholars Program Flyer

Support Our School with: 
We have collected over 1000 Box Tops. 
Thank you for your support of this program. 
Please continue to send your Box Tops
to school, as we will make another submission
in the Spring. 


Just look for pink Box Tops on products, clip them,
tape or glue them to the collection sheet and send
to school.
For more information on the BTFE program, including a list of participating products and
our school’s progress,  click on the Box Tops
logo above.           


Click on the logo above to register your Food
City Value Card for Damascus Middle School. 

Or, at the checkout counter, just give the DMS number                           40890.

bbBasketball Schedule

Damascus Middle School’s December/January Students of the Month were recognized for their ability to handle stress in a positive way. Most students deal with stress on a daily basis from a variety of sources, and learning to cope with that stress is very important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  The following students at Damascus Middle School have been noted to handle stress well: David A., Emily B., Holly E., Beth G., Amber H., Parker N., Marissa S., Dylan T., Baylee T., Braxton V., Cade W., and Anna Blake W.  Some of the ways these students cope with stress include utilizing relaxation techniques like closing their eyes, counting to ten, and taking deep breaths; getting plenty of sleep; trusting in God; and focusing on the right ways to handle pressures.  Regardless of the method each one of them uses to deal with the stresses of life, these students are good examples for all of us to follow in order to live a healthier life!

"December/January Students of the Month"

"DAR Essay Eighth Grade Winner"

Each year, the Black’s Fort Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution sponsors an essay contest for students in grades 5-8 as a way to encourage students to expand their knowledge of American history.  This year’s topic was in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Ellis Island as an immigration station, and Damascus Middle School student Marissa S. was named the eighth-grade winner for this year’s contest!  Marissa wrote from the viewpoint of a young girl arriving at Ellis Island from Scotland with her mother, excited to meet up with her father who had come to the United States earlier.  Marissa says that she incorporated previous knowledge from study she had done in GATE about Ellis Island, in addition to research she did using websites that contained primary documents written by real immigrants to the United States at Ellis Island.  Her writing captured the thoughts and emotions of this young girl in a powerful way!  Marissa will be honored at an award ceremony held by the Black’s Fort Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in March.

Damascus Middle School Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter competed against E.B. Stanley Middle School on January 29, 2015 in the Federation FFA Quiz Bowl.  The quiz bowl consist of a 50-question written test concerning all information about the FFA and then an oral round of questions.  To prepare for the quiz bowl, students had to learn the history of the FFA, the people behind the FFA, past and present officers, and functions of an FFA Meeting.  Practicing twice weekly, the Damascus Middle School chapter prepared well!  This hard work certainly paid off, as they won against E.B. Stanley Middle School's team in the oral rounds with a score of 70-20.  The team is composed of Mary-Kate C., Megan D., Chasity O., and Hunter T., and sponsored by Mrs. Mary K. Rhudy. 

"Damascus Middle School FFA Chapter Wins Quiz Bowl"

"Damascus Middle School Seeks to Prevent Bullying"

January is Bullying Prevention Month, a period of time set aside for schools to focus on making students aware of the negative impacts of bullying and the ways we as administrators, teachers, and fellow students can prevent bullying in our own schools.  Damascus Middle School dedicated the week of January 26-30 to bullying prevention efforts, beginning with class meetings on Monday.  Students discussed “random acts of kindness” and how these acts bring about an environment of mutual respect within our school.  They were encouraged to perform acts of kindness throughout this week and weeks to come. 
Tuesday, we “ate our way to kindness” with orange foods in the cafeteria.
Wednesday, we “united in orange,” by wearing orange.
Thursday, we “made a new friend at lunch” by sitting at tables with others born the same month. 
A kindness chain, made from orange links detailing the acts of kindness exhibited throughout the week, will be displayed in the cafeteria as a continued reminder of the importance of kindness in preventing bullying in our school.

Mrs. Donna Musick, an educator at Damascus Middle School, has been recognized as a 2015 regional finalist in Virginia’s Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year program.  Virginia AITC is part of a nationwide effort to help teachers and students understand and appreciate agriculture, which is Virginia’s and the nation’s largest industry. Virginia AITC provides training and materials to 2,000 educators each year, and its website, at  AgInTheClass.org, provides teachers with Standards of Learning-aligned lessons, literacy activities and more, at no cost.  The Teacher of the Year program recognizes a Virginia educator for efforts in incorporating agriculture into his or her core curriculum. Teachers who felt they had a unique or innovative way of introducing agriculture into their classrooms were encouraged to apply. “We recognize Donna Musick for all she is doing in the classroom, school, and community to promote agriculture.  Our regional finalists are at the top of their class in infusing agriculture and Virginia education standards,” said Tammy Maxey, AITC senior education program coordinator.  As a regional finalist, Mrs. Musick will receive a stipend to offset the cost of attending the National Agriculture in the Classroom conference in Louisville, KY in June.

"Mrs. Donna Musick is named Virginia AITC Teacher of the Year Regional Finalist"

"Spanish I Students Learn Vocabulary in a Creative Way"

After learning the Spanish vocabulary for articles of clothing and names of colors, Ms. Dalia Obregon’s Spanish I students went beyond a simple vocabulary test to demonstrate their knowledge!  The students prepared posters showing different articles of clothing in varying colors and labeled these with sentences in Spanish.  They used a wide variety of artistic media, including hand-drawn illustrations, printed cartoon pictures, and clipped photos from magazines.  Not only did this project allow the students to take a hands-on approach to learning vocabulary, but it also allowed them to express their creativity.  Several students noted that making the posters required them to review the terms numerous times, thus helping them commit the new Spanish words to memory.  Developing a wide Spanish vocabulary is essential to eventually being able to speak the language fluently, a goal of learning the Spanish language.   
Damascus Middle School 4-H members held the annual “Share the Fun” talent program during their regular December club meeting.  42 members from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades performed, and talent acts included dance, drama, instrumental, variety, and vocal.  The “Share the Fun” program builds self-esteem, communication skills, and creativity, while giving members a chance to show off their special talents.  Participants were awarded points in the following areas: chosen material, talent, audience response, creativity, showmanship, costumes, and props. 
The sixth-grade blue ribbon winners were Cortlyn K. in Dance, KayLeigh H. and Bethany S. in Drama, Lukas C. in Instrumental, and Stacy D. in Vocal.
The seventh-grade blue ribbon winners were Carson B. and Liyah F. in Drama, Chase T. in Instrumental, Hailey R. and Jonathan S. in Variety, and Ryland H. and Kealey R. in Vocal.
The eighth-grade blue ribbon winners were Jenna G. in Combination, Devon C. in Dance, Drew W. in Instrumental, Gage F. and Jake S. in Variety, and Amber H., Amanda O., and Kaitlyn W. in Vocal.


These blue ribbon winners are eligible to represent Damascus Middle School at the county competition in March!

"4-H Share the Fun Blue Ribbon Winners"

"School to Watch Redesignation"STW logo
Mrs. Dixie Hunter, principal, recently received notice that Damascus Middle School has been re-designated as a School to Watch!  Originally recognized for this honor three years ago by the National Forum for Middle-Grades Reform, the school continues to demonstrate high performance in the areas of academic excellence, awareness of and responsiveness to the needs of adolescents, equality of education for every student, and organizational structure.  The visiting team was impressed by the fact that DMS teachers know their students well, parents feel welcomed and informed, and students feel safe at school.  The DMS Schools to Watch committee, comprised of Mrs. Cindy Brewer, chairperson, Mrs. Catherine Baker, Mrs. Wendy Cole, Mrs. Jane Martin, and Ms. Katherine Wright, did a wonderful job completing the application and preparing for the visit!  Congratulations to the students, parents, faculty, and staff of Damascus Middle School!
Members of the Damascus Middle School band and chorus entertained their audience with the annual Christmas concert on Thursday, December 11 at Holston High School.  The concert began with the sixth-grade band, directed by Mr. Bob Ballengee and Mr. Uley Daniels, playing “Jingle Bells” and a medley of familiar Christmas songs.  Members of the seventh and eighth-grade chorus, under the direction of Mrs. Sue Spirup’s student teacher Mr. Nick Dennis, began their portion of the concert with an inspirational “Ave Maria” and concluded with a toe-tapping “Swingin’ Holiday!”  The seventh and eighth-grade band, also directed by Mr. Uley Daniels and Mr. Bob Ballengee, concluded the concert with their performance of several traditional Christmas songs.  The band and chorus definitely filled those in attendance with the Christmas spirit!

"Band and Chorus Christmas Concert"

"Students Perform in The Nutcracker"
On Friday, December 12, students in Damascus Middle School’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program traveled to the Paramount Center in Bristol to see The Nutcracker, a Highlands Ballet Original Production.  This trip was particularly exciting for the students, as two of Damascus Middle School’s own eighth-graders performed in the ballet.  Anna Blake W. has been dancing for many years and played the roles of Marzipan, Snow, and Waltz of the Flowers.  Jake S. is an aspiring actor and demonstrated his swordplay techniques during the performance.  Although many of the students in the audience were familiar with Tchaikovsky’s songs from The Nutcracker, most had never seen the ballet.  Perhaps experiencing this performance will inspire some of the students to make seeing The Nutcracker part of their holiday traditions in the future!

Damascus Middle School participated in the sixth annual “Great Bedtime Story Pajama Drive,” sponsored by Scholastic, from November 24- December 12.  For each pair of pajamas donated, Scholastic donates a book.  Since its beginning in 2001, the “Great Bedtime Story Pajama Drive” has donated over 1 million pajamas and books to children in foster care, group homes, orphanages, and shelters.  DMS students were challenged to donate 75 pairs of pajamas during this time, with a promise of getting to see their teachers wear their pajamas to school if they met this challenge!  Even though they came short of the goal of 75 pairs of pajamas, DMS students did donate 50 pairs.  The pajamas collected will go to a local organization, Faith in Action, so 50 children in our own community will receive pajamas and a free book, perfect for a bedtime story!   This was a special project during a special time of year, when giving to others is especially important.  Mrs. Donna Musick, sponsor of this project, was proud of the spirit of giving shown by DMS students! 

"Pajama Drive"

"Sixth Grade Chorus Jazz it Up"

Under the direction of Mrs. Sue Spirup’s student teacher Mr. Nick Dennis, the sixth-grade Chorus Exploratory class took their audience back to the time of the Great Depression.  Mr. Dennis introduced the program by telling sixth-graders that even though they have been learning about the difficulties experienced during the Great Depression in their history class, the music of the time period included both the Blues and Swing or Jazz.  The Blues could be expected, as people lamented their lot in life; however, the Swing or Jazz music brought out the positive things in life, even during tough times.  The program began with a jazz piece, “I Got Rhythm,” and the performers certainly showed rhythm as they danced!  Although the audience enjoyed the Blues numbers, the crowd favorite was definitely “Hit Me with a Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce.”  Showing their rhythm were the following students:  Emily B., Blaize C., Dale C., Nathaniel D., Ryan J., Katie L., Bethany S., and Joshua W.

Recently, two Damascus Middle School students competed at the Big Dog Gymnastics Meet in Ripley, West Virginia.  Eighth-grader Jenna G. won first place on Vault, first place on Balance Beam, and first place All-Around in her age division at the silver level.  Seventh-grader Ashley J. won first place on Vault, second place on Bars, and third place All-Around in her age division at the Gold level.  Both girls have competed in gymnastics for many years and have dedicated hours to practice.  Congratulations to both gymnasts, whose practice certainly paid off at this meet!  Jenna and Ashley compete for Mountain Empire Gymnastics in Abingdon and are coached by Ms. Debbie Neilson.

"Gymnastic Winners"

"DMS Teacher of the Year"
Sixth-grade science teacher Mrs. Donna Musick has been selected as Damascus Middle School’s Teacher of the Year!  Mrs. Musick has been a teacher for 19 years and is well-known for her enthusiasm for both the subject matter of science and her students.  She believes that teaching is “about inspiring children to learn,” and the way that she does this is through “the enjoyment that [she finds] in that teachable learning moment, [which] involves laughter, shared moments, appreciation for each other, and sometimes tears.”  She works long hours to plan lessons that will interest every student, and when things don’t work, she revises and tries something different.  In fact, part of her philosophy is that “mistakes can make the best teachable moments.”  Because of her belief that a mistake is not the end but the beginning of a new discovery, her students feel safe in her classroom, safe to explore different topics, ask tough questions, and learn new things about themselves and their world!  Mrs. Musick believes her accomplishments are her students, and her students know that she believes in them and will enable them to achieve great things!

Each year, Damascus Middle School art teacher Ms. Jennifer Smith challenges students to enter artwork to be considered for the cover of the school’s Christmas card.  This year, the winning artist is eighth-grader Marissa S.  Marissa is in the band, plays softball, and enjoys reading.  She is also a member of the DMS Student Council Association.  Her artwork is a pencil sketch of a cozy cottage, smoke from a fire coming from the chimney, in the process of being adorned for Christmas.  A tree waits in the back of an old truck, and a snowman smiles in the front yard.  Over the scene is a single star.  The detail in her art seems to show a place that Marissa knows well; however, she says she created a place she would like to visit for Christmas.  Her ideal place would be “without the snow!”  The Damascus Middle School Christmas card, printed by Burke Print Shop, will bring holiday cheer to all who receive it!

"Delivering Holiday Cheer"

                                          district chorus
"Students Selected For
All-County/All-District Chorus

Damascus Middle School has some talented singers!  Nineteen 7th and 8th Grade Chorus students were selected for the 2015 All-County Chorus.  Those students are Deanna A., Connor B., Carson B., Jacob B., Kai B., Allie C., Hanna D., Kiana F., Jenna G., Ryland H., Lillith H., Laura H., Lucas L., Sabrina L., Troy M., Bridon P., Chasity R., Rachel S., and Clara V.  These students will get to attend the event on January 22, 2015 at Abingdon High School.  They will rehearse all day with a guest conductor, and the event will culminate with a concert for the public that evening.

In addition, DMS had nine students selected for the 2015 All-District Chorus.  They competed with over 500 students from about 17 counties in the region, many of them ninth-graders, so it is quite an honor to be selected.  The students are Connor B., Carson B., Jacob B., Hanna D., Kiana F., Sierra G., Ryland H., Laura H., and Troy M.  These students will get to attend the two-day event on March 6-7 at the Holiday Inn in Bristol.  It too will end with a concert on March 7th at 3:00 PM at the Holiday Inn.  Congratulations to all of these students for all of their hard work, and for representing Damascus Middle School so well!

The character trait recognized for the month of November at Damascus Middle School is assertiveness.  Assertiveness is the ability to communicate with others in a way that is direct and honest, without being rude.  Assertive people are able to stand up for themselves without disregarding the rights and feelings of others.  The following students have been recognized for possessing the trait of assertiveness:  Ben H., Ashley J., Katie L., Taylor M., Dasani R., Madison R., Adam R., Seth S., Mason S., Alexis T., Logan W., and Laura W.  These students stand up for themselves and are leaders at Damascus Middle School!
"November Students of Character"

"DMS FFA Students Win First Place"
The newly-formed Damascus Middle School branch of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) recently took first place at the Plant Science Career Development Event held at Holston High School.  Composed of club members Tristan A., Donivan A., Allie C., Mary-Kate C., Taylor M., Chasity O., Morgan P., Johnny R., Hunter T., and Blake T., the group competed against E.B. Stanley and Wallace Middle Schools' FFA teams. Each student completed a 30-question written test, identified horticulture equipment and common garden, indoor, and land- scape plants, and solved four horticulture problems.  The DMS team captured four of the top five spots in the written test with Hunter T. in 5th place, Taylor M. in 4th place, Mary-Kate C. in 2nd place, and Chasity O. in 1st place!  The team’s afternoon practices with sponsor Mrs. Mary K. Rhudy definitely paid off!   
On Friday, December 5, Mrs. Amy Caywood’s seventh-grade science students at Damascus Middle School were treated to a visit from the Skull Lady, Ms. Jude Colt, and her collection of skulls and vertebrae.  A research scientist by profession, the Skull Lady began her collection in high school and has developed it over the years with gifts from friends who knew of her hobby, as well as items she gathered through her own travels.  Focusing on the theme “form follows function,” the Skull Lady encouraged the students to identify skulls of carnivores and herbivores by looking at the teeth.  The students were able to investigate skulls from a dog, a lion, a crocodile, a horse, and a hummingbird, among others, as well as see the vertebrae of various birds and a whale!  The Skull Lady’s enthusiasm for her collection was contagious; the students now possess some wonderful prior knowledge as they begin their study of the skeletal system!

"Skull Lady Visits 7th Grade Science Classes"
"DMS Students Selected for All-County Band"

On Monday, December 1, students from across the county auditioned for the All-County Band at Patrick Henry High School.  Auditions consist of playing snare, mallets, and timpani for percussion and scales and sight-reading for all other instruments.  This is the first opportunity for most middle-school band students to perform for judging and requires poise under pressure.  The following Damascus Middle School students were selected for the All-County Middle School Band: Maggie B., Laura H., Elizabeth H., Madison R., Marissa S., Noah T., and Isabelle T. 
The clinic for All-County Band will be 
January 9-10 at Abingdon High School, with the concert performance on the evening of Saturday, January 10.   Congratulations to these students!
On Friday, November 21, sixth-grade students from Damascus Middle School left the school, but they did not leave learning behind.  The girls spent the day at the Higher Education Center in Abingdon involved in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Conference, where they learned about robotics, engineering, and DNA extraction, among other topics.  This opportunity to learn about STEM subjects in a “girls only” environment is an effort to encourage girls to pursue higher education in these fields, where they have traditionally been under-represented.  The boys traveled to the Marion State Fish Hatchery, where they had the opportunity to feed the different species of trout raised there.  They learned that trout prefer cold water and observed the system that the Hatchery uses for separating the fish by species and size.  The next time the boys go fishing, they will know more about what they are catching.  Regardless of where they spent their day, all of the sixth-graders came back to school with more knowledge of the field of science!  

"Expanding Science Knowledge"
"SCA Provides a Delicious Breakfast"
The Student Council at Damascus Middle School, under the leadership of club sponsors Mrs. Lisa Blackburn and Mrs. Amy Caywood, recognized American Education Week by providing breakfast for faculty and staff members on Wednesday, November 19.  This was a great way to start the day!  In addition to the delicious breakfast, the teachers received a special thank you card with a handwritten message from one of the club members.  Club members also created a “throwback” bulletin board with senior pictures of faculty and staff members, a special tribute to those days when faculty and staff were not much older than the students are now!  The work of the SCA during the week helped to remind us of how blessed we are to work in the field of education!

Damascus Middle School 4-H members recently competed in the Dramatic Reading contest, in which they performed a short reading from their choice of literature.  They were awarded points in each of the following areas: introduction of the piece, tone and emphasis, speed and rhythm, facial expression, and body language.  The purpose of the dramatic reading competition is to build better oral language skills when communicating to a group. 
Red-ribbon winners: Quaheim B., Kendel H., Katie L., and Keegan W. 
Blue-ribbon winners: Deanna A., Brady B., Carson B., Morgan C., Abigail C., Lucas C., Bailey D., Liyah F., Claudia F., Jenna G., Ryland H., KayLeigh H., Cody H., Laura H., Jordan K., Lucas L., Jessica L., Chandler L., Gibson M., Taylor M., Parker N., Maggie O., Hailey R., Kealey R., Koleby R., Cameron R., Seth S., Bethany S., Alexis T., Braxton V., Drew W., and Morgan W.
The blue-ribbon winners may represent Damascus Middle School at the county-wide competition in March! 

"Students Compete in Dramatic Reading"

"Spanish Students Recognize
Dia de los Muertos "
In honor of Dia de los Muertos, Ms. Dalia Obregon’s seventh-grade Spanish Exploratory students at Damascus Middle School made altars in memory of special people or pets in their lives. Creating these altars is a tradition in Mexico and is a way of showing care and devotion to those who have passed away.  Levi P. and Dominick R. both honored their grandfathers; Jessica L., somewhat of a comedian herself, remembered Robin Williams; and Chase J., Maddie M., Maggie O., and Brandon P. each showed devotion to pets that are no longer with them.  Just as these altars are put on display in homes in Mexico, the altars created by Ms. Obregon’s students are being displayed in the library.
Gracie S., an eighth-grade student at Damascus Middle School, recently showed her horse “Tiny” Todd (I am Fearless) at the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) Novice Championships, and received the title of Reserve Champion!  This was a huge horse show and the first large show in which Gracie has competed.  She describes her experience there by noting that she was in the arena for more than 40 minutes showing “Tiny” Todd (I am Fearless) and was so proud when she was announced a winner!  Shortly after doing so well at this show, Gracie was invited to show Rio, a horse she had never shown before, at AQHA Congress, touted as the “world’s largest single-breed horse show.”  After the long drive to Ohio, Gracie practiced with Rio for only 15 minutes before showing him for 2 hours!  It was worth the trip, as Gracie and Rio placed eleventh out of 83 horses, an amazing accomplishment!

"DMS 8th-Grader Shows in
AQHA Novice Championship"

st jude
"DMS Students Support
St. Jude's Children Research Hospital"
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital impacts the lives of thousands of families annually and has made a profound impact on the Damascus Middle School community through the treatment the hospital staff provided for one of our own students.  Diagnosed with cancer four years ago, this student is a living example of the miracle St. Jude’s works to bring about in every child who goes there for treatment, free ofy participating in a motorcycle ride to St. Jude and an charge.  He seeks to bring about awareness, recentlinterview with WCYB about St. Jude’s impact on his life! Another way to bring about awareness is through the St. Jude Math-a-Thon, which was recently sponsored at DMS by sixth-grade teacher Mrs. Donna Musick.  Fifteen students, Haley B., Brady B., Carson B., Becca B., Stacy D., KayLeigh H., Samantha J., Austin L., Chandler L., Hailey R., Dominick R., Seth S., Rachel S., Bethany S., and Clara V., participated in the Math-a-Thon and raised $875.46 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  The top fundraisers in each grade level were as follows:  Stacy D., sixth grade, with $101.00; Carson B., seventh grade, with $196.00; and Clara V., eighth grade with $76!

On Tuesday, November 11, students, faculty, and staff at Damascus Middle School honored veterans of the armed forces with a special program organized by our social studies teachers.  The program included a welcome by SCA president Anna-Blake W., the Pledge of Allegiance led by Drew W., “The Star Spangled Banner” performed by our eighth-grade band, and a Moment of Silence for the Fallen with “Taps” played by Mr. Bob Ballengee. 
The guest speaker was Lt. Col. James Blevins, a decorated veteran who stressed the importance of always showing patriotism for our country, never being afraid to stand up for what one believes in, and continuing to be appreciative of the service of veterans.
  He noted that the sacrifice and hardship of veterans produces a legacy which inspires others to volunteer in the armed forces.  A touching slideshow tribute featuring photographs of veterans who are related to members of the Damascus Middle School community concluded the program. 
The Damascus Middle School cafeteria provided the veterans in attendance with a delicious lunch.
  To take this time to reflect upon and honor those who have sacrificed for our freedom is indeed the purpose of Veterans Day.

"Damascus Middle School Honors Veterans"

"Students Who Believe in Themselves"

Damascus Middle School Students of Character for the month of October were selected based on their demonstration of the character trait of self-confidence and/or self-respect.  Students who are confident in themselves see themselves in a positive way and believe that they can accomplish the goals they set for themselves.  They respect themselves, and others view them as leaders.  The following students demonstrate self-confidence and/or self-respect at Damascus Middle School each day:  Carson B., Laken B., Caleb C., Candace C., Kay Leigh H., Cortlyn K., Ally M., Kealey R., Chase T., Dylan T., Rylee T., and Isabelle T.  We are proud that they are respected leaders within our school!
Damascus Middle School teacher Mrs. Robin Holmes is providing an opportunity for eighth-grade students to visit the Damascus branch of the Washington County Public Library monthly as a service learning project for her Master’s Program. 
Busin’ for Books began on Wednesday, October 22, and eight students traveled to the library to get library cards, learn their way around the library, and check out the selection of books and DVDs!
  After making their choices, Ethan G., Montana G., Cody H., Sabrina L., Diedra N., Sarah O., Elizabeth S., and D.J. T. settled in the community room to enter their guesses in a Teen Read Week contest, in hopes of winning a nice prize! 
Librarian Linda Brown also spent some time talking with the students about library procedures and encouraged the students to consider the library as a place to volunteer for their Washington County Community Scholar hours.
  The Damascus branch of the Washington County Public Library is certainly a welcoming and cozy place the students will look forward to visiting monthly!

"Eighth Graders Busin' for Books"

On Monday, November 3, the second group of sixth-graders to take Chorus Exploratory concluded their class with a performance.  Chorus teacher Ms. Sue Spirup, and her student teacher Mr. Dennis, continued the musical trip through time with selections that followed the scope and sequence of the sixth-grade social studies curriculum.  Included in the performance were two cowboy songs sung in tribute to the West; a Native American song voiced by a chief pleading with his descendants to seek education to combat their difficulties; and two songs by the great twentieth-century composers Irving Berlin and George Gershwin.  The crowd favorite was “You Are My Sunshine,” which concluded with everyone singing along!  The peppy performers who brought some sunshine to a dreary November day were as follows:  Tristan A., Becca B., Bailey D., Tyler D., Joshua H., Coltin P., Cameron R., Logan S., and Alex W.

"6th grade Chorus Brightens the Day"

"Red Ribbon Week"
Each year, communities across the nation recognize a week in October as Red Ribbon Week, in an effort to encourage students to lead healthy lives, free from the harmful effects of drugs.  During the week of October 27-31, Damascus Middle School students showed their commitment to being drug-free as they celebrated Red Ribbon Week with a variety of fun activities. 
Monday, we “socked it to drugs” with crazy socks. Tuesday, our “hats [were] on to being drug-free;”
Wednesday, we “gave drugs the boot” with boots; Thursday, we made an effort to “shade out drugs” with our sunglasses! 
Friday was a day for everyone to wear red, and prizes were given out during lunch to students who were wearing their red bracelets. 
Thank you to our SCA, who sponsors Red Ribbon Week each year, and reminds us to make a decision against drugs.

On Tuesday, October 21, Damascus Middle School students joined millions of other students across the nation as they “read for the record!”  Each year, Jumpstart sponsors this event to bring attention to literacy, through encouraging adults and children nation-wide to share in a reading experience. 
Jumpstart selects a different boo
k each year; this year’s selection was Rosemary Wells’ Bunny Cakes, a humorous story about brother and sister Max and Ruby working together to help their grandmother celebrate her birthday. 
The students were encouraged to read stories like this one to their younger siblings, supporting literacy within families.  In addition, the books used at DMS were donated to Rhea Valley Elementary School classrooms as a service project.
Jumpstart’s goal this year was
to break last year’s record for the largest number of people reading at the same time--2,462,860, a goal that Damascus Middle School teachers and students hope we helped to achieve!

"Reading for the Record"

"GATE Students Make Homemade Jam"
On Wednesday, October 15, Damascus Middle School Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) students made homemade blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry jams!  With more than forty pairs of hands at work, sponsor Mrs. Rhonda Mossholder had to have a system for task assignments. Students stemmed strawberries, mashed the berries, added the sugar (“lots of sugar,” according to one student), boiled the Sure-Jell, and then mixed it all into a smoothie consistency.  After a sampling, the students put the jam into jars and allowed it to jell for twenty-four hours. Students could not agree on which was the best kind of jam; however, they did agree that all three flavors were delicious!  Making homemade jam gave these students the opportunity to experience one aspect of life in the Amish community, the focus of their GATE activities during the 2014-2015 school year.  Since the Amish are well-known for their jellies, jams, and preserves, the students discovered the work that must go into each batch the Amish make.  At the end of the year, students will have the chance to travel to Amish Country and hopefully sample some Amish-made jam to compare!

Just as the typical sixth-grader gets nervous about giving a class presentation, Delegate Israel O’Quinn used to experience anxiety when he spoke in front of others!  He shared some of his strategies for coping with anxiety with Damascus Middle School sixth-graders during their Life Skills lesson on Friday, October 31. 
Leader Ms. Kelly Thomas began the lesson by discussing some possible ways to cope with anxiety, like taking deep breaths, doing relaxation exercises, and thinking positive thoughts.  She also conducted a quick student survey to discover that the majority of sixth-graders view a class presentation as more stressful than homework, regular tests, or SOLs, because of the risk of public embarrassment involved. 
Students were definitely ready to hear some advice from Delegate O’Quinn, someone who frequently speaks in front of large groups of people.
He told them that preparing well in advance is the biggest help to him in overcoming his anxiety; a tip that will hopefully encourage students to prepare well before their presentations in order to win out over their nerves!

"Delegate  Israel O'Quinn Visits DMS"

"Spanish Students Explore Picasso's Art"

Students in Ms. Dalia Obregon’s seventh-grade Spanish Exploratory class recently colored a beautiful mural based on a compilation of some of the best artwork done by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.  The students learned that Picasso was one of the creators of the Cubism movement who also painted more realist paintings at different times of his life, known as his "Blue Period", "Rose Period", and "Classical Period." And from 1927 onward, Picasso focused on a movement known as "Surrealism."  After studying the artist, the students focused on his art.  The students demonstrated real teamwork on this project, as they each took a section of the larger picture and colored away!  Morgan C., Alexis G., Elizabeth H., Ashley J., Jordan K., Evan S., Baylee T., and Dawson V., all thought it was a fun and cool project to do!

In celebration of National School Lunch Week, October 13-17, students at Damascus Middle School had the opportunity to “take their parents to lunch” on Wednesday, October 15.  Twenty-five parents came to enjoy lunch with their child[ren] and selected from a menu of chicken chunks, hamburger, or pizza. Superintendent Dr. Brian Ratliff also joined us during lunch.  National School Lunch Week is a week set aside each year to promote the benefits of, and increase participation in, the school lunch program.    It is also a time for us to honor our school nutrition workers, Darlene French, Daisy Hawthorne, Joyce Tester, Roberta Walls, and Eula Widener, who play a vital role in our students’ academic achievement and overall wellness through providing a delicious and nutritious lunch each day!
Students "Take Their Parents to Lunch"

Pep Rally
Homecoming Pep Rally

The week of October 6-10 was a celebration of Homecoming spirit at Damascus Middle School!  Tying in with Holston High School’s theme of “There’s No Place Like Homecoming,” students celebrated with dress-up days throughout the week.  The seventh- and eighth-grades tied for highest percentage of students dressing up, winning extra recess time!  Competition was fierce for door decorations with a pizza party up for grabs, and seventh-graders will be eating pizza!  Students who showed the most school spirit throughout the week were crowned grade-level Homecoming Spirit Kings and Queens, as follows:  Jordan L. and Seth S., sixth-grade; Laura W., Carson B., and Parker N., seventh-grade; and Amanda O., Kaitlyn W., and Ethan G., eighth-grade.  After a spirited pep rally which included an introduction of the cheerleaders and football and volleyball teams, a flash mob performed by teachers, and a dance routine and cheers led by the cheerleaders, students danced the rest of the afternoon away!  “There’s no place like”…Damascus Middle School for showing school spirit! 

Damascus Middle School’s seventh-grade Agriscience exploratory class explored the inside of the Dairy Industry on Thursday, October 9 by following a recipe to make ice cream.  To make this delicious treat, the students mixed together 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of milk in a small bag. In a larger bag, 4 cups of ice and a handful of ice cream salt were added. The two bags were put together, and the students shook the milk mixture until the mixture began to become slushy. Dominick R. noted that the process of making ice cream was “easy, except for when you had to shake it up, because your hands got cold!”  The students enjoyed the labors of their hard work—delicious vanilla ice cream!
Agriscience Class Makes Ice Cream

6th Grade Visits Highland Dairy Farm

On Friday, October 3, Damascus Middle School sixth-graders traveled to Highland Dairy Farm in Glade Spring as part of the Holston River Soil and Water Conservation District’s Farm Field Days.  The students rotated through stations, including one of the students’ favorite spots down by the creek, where they learned about the importance of watersheds and “looked for little critters,” according to Grayson S.  Other favorite activities on the farm were a trip through the barn where the calves were housed and the jeopardy game that quizzed the students on their conservation knowledge!   In spite of a little rain, something farmers have to contend with regularly, the students enjoyed being outside on the farm, while learning about conservation of our area’s natural resources!
On Wednesday, October 1, Detective Jamie Blevins with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office visited Damascus Middle School to present an Internet Safety Program to students.  Since most middle school students do spend a lot of time using the Internet, whether they are watching YouTube videos, communicating with friends, or doing homework, it is very important for them to be aware of the dangers that exist online. Detective Blevins shared the heart-wrenching story of Amanda Todd, whose suicide as a result of both being victimized and bullied online brought to light the negative impact the Internet can have on people’s lives. He stressed the importance of using ethical online behavior, protecting themselves while online, and guarding their own privacy by not posting personal things online.  This was a timely message for our students, as October is both Information Literacy Month and Bullying Prevention Month.

Internet Safety Presentation

Students of Character
Damascus Middle School Students of Character for the months of August and September were selected because they “dare to be different!” Congratulations to the following individuals:  Kendel H., Alyssa M., Lukas C., Bailey D., Deanna A., Lilly H., DaShaun R., Kai B., Jenna G., Sierra G., Gracie S., and Devon C.  Ranging in talent from art and music, to writing, entertaining, and public speaking, these students have exhibited abilities, interests, values, and defining characteristics that make them unique and who they are!  We celebrate their willingness to be different!

Students in Mrs. Donna Musick’s sixth-grade science classes learned that sometimes hypotheses are not what they are “cracked up to be.”  Mrs. Musick began class on Friday, September 26 with instructions for students to use their prior knowledge to describe an egg.  Even though the students were able to do so, they found that their descriptions were much more precise when they were allowed to carefully observe the egg.  After cracking the egg, the students made more observations and learned the parts of an egg.  As a concluding activity, Mrs. Musick asked the students to develop a hypothesis to explain what would happen if she dropped the egg accidentally, and most students predicted that the egg would crack open when it hit the floor, making a huge mess.  However, when Mrs. Musick dropped the egg, their hypothesis was wrong!  The students learned that careful observation (which in this case would have allowed the students to realize that the egg had been boiled), is a very vital part of the scientific method!

Sixth-grade scientists learn 
the importance of observation!

Sixth-Grade chorus presents program!

On Monday, September 22, students in Ms. Sue Spirup’s sixth-grade Chorus Exploratory class entertained us with songs from the past.  During the six-week class, Ms. Spirup followed the scope and sequence of the social studies curriculum, and the students learned songs from pre-Civil War times through the Civil War and Westward Expansion.  The program opened with Francis Scott Key’s “The Star Spangled Banner” and included light-hearted songs like “Goober Peas,” as well as more serious war-time songs like “The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Students who performed were as follows:  Sam A., Hayley B., Bryce C., Stacy D., Kaiden F., William F., Kay Leigh H., Austin L., Kayla M., Aspen P., and Christian W.  Through this unit, students were able to expand not only their musical awareness but also their social studies knowledge.  
Author Joe Tennis thrilled students in Ms. Katherine Wright’s eighth-grade English class this past week as he paid a visit to their class to share his research of haunted tales with them!  The students are currently conducting a research project on folklore from our region.  Several of them have listened intently as scary tales have been passed down to them by oral tradition about places in our area, including the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Barter Theatre, Emory & Henry College, the Martha Washington Inn, and the Tavern.  After reading or hearing some of the different versions of these haunted tales that exist and researching the historical background of the settings of these tales (advice given to them by Tennis), the students will combine these in their final research papers, just as Tennis does in his books!  The results should be both informative and entertaining!

Students Research Local Folklore

Team Intense Visits
  Damascus Middle School!

On Wednesday, September 17, Damascus Middle School students, faculty, and staff were challenged to meet obstacles with strength and courage by Team Intense!  With music blasting and muscles bulging, Team Intense members Josh Whisneant and Kenneth Etta shared their physical and mental strength while talking about the importance of making good choices in life.  After bending an iron bar, Etta encouraged students to “be a buddy, not a bully.”  When he requested the strongest boy and girl in the audience, students selected eighth-grader Mason L. and seventh-grader Ivy H. to each attempt to tear a phone book in half. When they were unable to accomplish this, Etta pointed out that even the strongest can’t do much without help.  With his help, both Mason and Ivy accomplished this feat almost effortlessly!  After dousing his audience with soda from cans that he ripped apart with his bare hands, Whisneant surprised them when he stated that they were not born winners.  However, he empowered them when he went on to say that they were each born choosers, with the strength to choose what they wanted to do in life.  The hope of Team Intense is that their audience was not only impressed by the amazing feats of strength we witnessed but that we were also inspired to make good choices in our own lives!
Damascus Middle School was well-represented at the 2014 Washington County Fair!  Students Ashley J., 7th grade, and Madison R., 8th grade, performed at the School Day at the Fair Talent Showcase on Friday, September 12.  Both girls shared talents they have been developing through many years of practice; Ashley presented an energetic gymnastics routine, and Madison an exciting clogging routine!  In addition to enjoying the talents presented at the Talent Showcase, students in attendance at School Day at the Fair could participate in fun and educational activities, led by teachers in the county.  Students who completed these activities were entered in a Duck Race to win prizes, and the two middle school winners both are Damascus Middle School students, Catilyn C. and Eric T.!  In keeping with the fair’s theme this year, which was, “Have You Herd about the Fun at the Washington County Fair?” art teacher Ms. Jennifer Smith coordinated the decoration of our school’s cow with school colors. The Washington County Fair Parade was on Saturday, September 13, and two students, Nathan M. and Anna Blake W., represented Damascus Middle School in this event.  The Washington County Fair provides a wonderful opportunity for students to share their time and talents with our community!

Damascus Middle School Students
Participate in the Washington County Fair

Damascus Middle School Library
Hosts Scholastic Book Fair!

During the week of September 8-11, the Damascus Middle School Library was filled with new books, bright posters, and fun school supplies for sale to benefit the library program.  On Friday, September 5, grandparents attending our Grandparents’ breakfast were given a Sneak Peek at the Book Fair, and then throughout the following week, students were given opportunities to browse the Scholastic Book Fair and make wish lists, shop, and win free books.  Open House was held on Thursday evening, and every student who attended Open House had a chance to win one of five free books! The five lucky recipients were as follows: Austin L., sixth-grader; Connor B. and Carson B., seventh-graders; and Amber H. and Elizabeth S., eighth-graders!  These students chose one of their favorite books from the fair, with selections ranging from a book about Minecraft to a biography of Austin Mahone.  The Damascus Middle School Library program will definitely benefit from each student, parent, and grandparent who supported our Book Fair!

In honor of National Grandparents Day on Sunday, September 7, the Damascus Middle School Cafeteria gave students the opportunity to treat their grandparents to breakfast at “Grits ‘n Gravy with Gramps ‘n Gran” on Friday, September 5!  Breakfast included grits and gravy, of course, as well as biscuits, chicken, sausage, French toast sticks, fruit, yogurt, and cereal.  Thirty-five grandparents joined their grandchildren for good food and a special time of celebrating the important role many grandparents play in the development of their grandchildren!  This event was made possible by our wonderful cafeteria staff, consisting of Cafeteria Manager Darlene French, Daisy Hawthorne, Joyce Tester, Roberta Walls, and Eula Widener.  Breakfast with “Gramps ‘n Gran” was certainly a grand way for students to begin their day!

grits          Damascus Middle School Cafeteria
                Hosts a "Grand" Breakfast!
     (8th grader Ethan P. enjoys breakfast with his Papaw T!)

Garden Project created by
8th-grade Agriscience students

Students in Mrs. Mary Rhudy’s eighth-grade Agriscience class recently created a raised-bed garden near the outdoor classroom.  The students learned that, although most vegetable gardening is done during the spring and summer, some vegetables are hardy late-season growers!  With this knowledge in mind, the students prepared the soil in their new raised beds and planted cabbages and radishes.  Watering the plants every other day has been an enjoyable task so far, thanks to the nice weather we have had this fall, and the students are looking forward to sampling their crops when they are ready.  This project is just one way these students will learn valuable hands-on skills related to Agriscience.
Señor Austin Holmes, son of Glade Spring Middle School principal, Mr. Kelly Holmes, and Damascus Middle School teacher, Mrs. Robin Holmes, recently visited Spanish I students at both schools to share lessons he learned from his study abroad in Peru.  In addition to his complete immersion in the Spanish language, he gained knowledge of the culture, climate, and people that supplemented the knowledge acquired through his Spanish classes at Virginia Military Institute.  Holmes shared the amazing parts of his trip, like the magnificent examples of architecture, the beauty of the landscape, and the ingenuity of the people.  He also shared the parts of his trip that made him more appreciative of the amenities we enjoy in the United States, like flushing toilet paper, heating and cooling systems, and trash collection.  To conclude his presentation, Holmes encouraged the students to learn Spanish as a means to communicate and develop peaceful relationships with people from other cultures in order to work together to better our world!  Holmes’s presentation provided a wonderful example of the point of learning other languages; a lesson Ms. Obregon hopes her Spanish I students take to heart!

Spanish I Students Discover Purpose for Learning Spanish

Damascus Middle School News Crew
Gets the Day Started

The 2014-2015 Damascus Middle School News Crew began work this week!  Composed of anchors Caleb C., Gracie S., Jake S., and Drew W.; cameraman Ethan G.; technician Hanna D.; and weatherwoman Jenna G., the crew is responsible for everything required to run a news show.  After leading the school in observing the Moment of Silence and saying the Pledge of Allegiance, the crew puts together a lively show of important morning announcements, including the lunch menu, birthdays, the word of the day, school events, and the daily weather forecast.  The process of becoming a member of the News Crew began while these eighth-graders were still in seventh grade and consisted of their submission of an application, which included three references from teachers.  Principal Dixie Hunter then looked at the students’ grades, attendance, and discipline records to select the seven members of the Damascus Middle School News Crew.  We look forward to beginning each day with them!  

Two seventh-grade students at Damascus Middle School were selected as winners in the 2014 Sherwood Anderson Short Story Contest!   Sponsored by the Smyth-Bland Regional Library each year to honor the birth of Sherwood Anderson, a writer who lived near Troutdale, Virginia, the contest encourages short story writing about rural or small-town America. 
First-place winner Carson B. wrote about a boy from New York who, against his will, visits family in Damascus, Virginia one summer.
  After watching the Hiker Parade during Trail Days and enjoying other activities in his grandparents’ small town, he decides he wants to visit every summer! 
Second-place winner Hali R. wrote what she describes as, “a sad story” about the death of the main character’s mother and how the young lady copes during difficult times.
  Sixth-grade teacher Mrs. Renee Sanders helped her students enter their stories in the Sherwood Anderson Short Story Contest at the end of the school year.  Both students were thrilled to learn their stories were winners, and each was excited to receive a monetary prize for his/her work!

Two Damascus Middle School Students
Win Writing Contest!

Mission Statement
Our mission, in partnership with our community, is to develop lifelong learners and responsible citizens who will become positive contributors to our society. Our goal is for each student to reach success through the development of his/her fullest potential.

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