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updated 3/2015
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   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.                        
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!

Damascus Branch Library April 20 - May 1, 2015

April 24...........8th grade to meet HHS principal, Ms. Addison, in forum at 2:15 p.m.
April 28...........JV Softball vs. George Wythe - AWAY - 5:00 p.m.
April 28...........JV Baseball vs. George Wythe - AWAY - 5:00 p.m.
April 30...........JV Softball vs. Rural Retreat - AWAY - 5:00 p.m.
April 30...........JV Baseball vs. Rural Retreat - AWAY - 5:00 p.m.
May 1..............JWCCS Luncheon - Golden Corral - 11:30 a.m.
May 1..............JV Softball vs. Haysi - AWAY
May 4-8..........Teacher Appreciation Week
May 5.............Teacher Appreciation Day - "Wear Red for Public Education"
May 5..............Band Solo/Ensemble at HHS - 4:00 p.m.
May 5..............JV Softball vs. Honaker - AWAY - 5:00 p.m.
May 5..............JV Baseball vs. Honaker - AWAY - 6:00 p.m.
May 5..............SOL - Math 6
May 6..............SOL - Math 7/Pre-Algebra
May 6..............School Nurse Day
May 7..............SOL - Math 8/Algebra
        flu1    Mount Rogers Health District Influenza Letter    flu2

Jr. Washington County Community Scholars Program Flyer

Support Our School with: 
We have collected over 1500 Box Tops. 
Thank you for your support of this program. 
Please continue to send your Box Tops
to school. 


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.

student spotlight
GATE amish trip
"DMS GATE Students Travel to Amish Country"
Recently, Damascus Middle School students in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to visit Amish Country.  Throughout this school year, students have prepared for this trip by completing four units about the Amish way of life.  While in Pennsylvania, they visited an Amish dairy farm, an Amish home, and had a presentation on their way of life from an Amish family.  The students also visited the Sight & Sound Theatre, saw two productions of Amish plays, ate lots of Amish food, and played at the Spooky Nook Sports Center, which happens to be the largest indoor sports complex in North America.  This trip provided our GATE students with a valuable extension of their learning, in addition to a wonderful time!  Damascus Middle School's GATE sponsor is Mrs. Rhonda Mossholder.
Students in Mrs. Blackburn’s seventh-grade English classes at Damascus Middle School recently completed research projects about Greek mythology.  After choosing his/her topic and conducting research, each student made a shield, designed a PowerPoint, wrote a paper, or created another form of visual representation to present his/her findings.  Students learned a lot about Greek mythology from their research, including some strange and unusual facts about the relationships between gods, goddesses, and humans!  Although mythology may have started out as “all Greek to” these seventh-graders, after careful research, they each have a new understanding. Poseidon’s trident, Medusa’s slithering hair, and the Minotaur’s labyrinth are just a few of these wonderful projects on display in the library!
Greek"It's (not) All Greek to DMS Seventh Graders"

"DMS FFA Continues to Succeed"
Congratulations to the Damascus Middle School Future Farmers of America (FFA) Small Animal Care Team, composed of the following students: Megan D., Hunter T., Mary-Kate C., and Taylor M.!  On Thursday, March 26, these four competitors had to complete a written test, answer five skill questions, and identify forty different types of small animal breeds and equipment, and they placed first against teams representing E.B. Stanley and Wallace Middle Schools.  Top High Individuals were Taylor M., third high individual and Mary-Kate C., first high individual.  Then, on Friday, April 10, they competed at the area level with only three team members, due to sickness. Even with only Megan, Hunter, and Mary-Kate participating, the team placed first against teams from Carroll County Intermediate, E.B. Stanley Middle School, Floyd County Middle School,
and Wallace Middle School.  In addition to their impressive team finish, Megan placed third high individual, Hunter places second high individual, and Mary-Kate placed first high individual.  Congratulations to the team and to the team's sponsor, Mrs. Mary K. Rhudy.                                 

Students in Mrs. Renee Sanders’ first core English class at Damascus Middle School recently won Achieve3000’s Read to Succeed Contest for their successful participation in TeenBiz activities during the contest period!  Throughout the year, students use TeenBiz, an online program to help develop reading comprehension, fluency, writing proficiency, and vocabulary development.  In order to win the contest, students had to not only complete the most lessons, but also score at 85% or higher on the activities.  In recognition of this accomplishment, Achieve3000 is sending Mrs. Sanders a gift card for $30 to treat her students to a celebration!  These students will not only be rewarded for their hard work with a treat but also with “remarkable reading gains!”  

Sanders 1st core
"Sixth-Grade Students win National Contest"

"Outdoor Club visits Bass Pro Shop"

The following members of the Damascus Middle School Outdoor Club, sponsored by Coach Michael Ratlifff and teacher Mr. Shannon Markham, traveled to Bass Pro Shop on Wednesday, April 1: Cole B., Brandy B., Randall B., Greg F. Josh F., Chase J., Chandler L., Kenzie P., Brandon P., Dylan R., Josh R., Joseph S., DJ T., Eric T., Noah T., Rylee T.,  and Cade W.  After a store tour where they practiced turkey calls and learned about the fish in the indoor aquarium, the students were excited to do some fishing in the outdoor pond!  Having spent some time in both club meetings and Physical Education classes learning about fly fishing with Coach Ratliff, several students used fly rods provided by a grant from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  Although every student enjoyed his/her time fishing, only Kenzie P. and Dylan R. had “fisherman’s luck.”  The Outdoor Club would like to express appreciation to Ms. Debbie Osborne and the Bass Pro Shop staff for such an educational and enjoyable field trip! 

Ms. Sandy Dutemple, chair of the Virginia Schools to Watch program, visited Damascus Middle School on Thursday, April 9 to present the students, faculty, and staff with a certificate re-designating Damascus Middle School as a "School to Watch." After presenting the award, Ms. Dutemple addressed the students, thanking them for “being nice, as nice gets a person a long way,” and focused on the importance of this trait in future success in life.  Dr. Brian Ratliff, superintendent of Washington County Schools, and Mr. Tom Musick, our School Board representative, also spoke about the students’ role in achieving this honor.  Mrs. Dixie Hunter, principal, and our Schools to Watch Committee, composed of Mrs. Cindy Brewer, chairperson, Mrs. Catherine Baker, Mrs. Wendy Cole, Mrs. Jane Martin, and Ms. Katherine Wright planned some special things to reward the students, including extended recess time and a cupcake and Kool-Aid after lunch.  The students also received a Yoo-hoo at the end of the day Friday to show them that “Yoo-hoo, we’re proud of you!” Damascus Middle School would like to thank the Damascus Food City for providing cupcakes, balloons, and Yoo-hoos to help us celebrate!

"DMS Celebrates re-designation as a
School to Watch"

"Celebrating Youth Art Month"

Damascus Middle School art teacher Ms. Jennifer Smith and her art students celebrated Youth Art Month with a variety of activities. Sixth-grade students created mini-masterpieces for teachers to wear with their identification badges. Seventh-graders made a photo collage focusing on the theme “Words Hurt: We are all Human,” which was on display in the main office throughout the month. Eighth-graders completed a face study activity, in which they took a photograph of a teacher, halved it, and drew the other half. These exceptionally-done portraits were displayed on the bulletin board in the school’s main hallway. Artist quotes have also been on the school announcements each day. In addition to these projects featured at DMS, select art students’ work has been on display at the Washington County School Board Office. These students are as follows: Laken B., Ashley C., Liyah F., Ethan G., Ben H., and Gracie S. Congratulations to eighth-grade student Ashley C., whose colorful watercolor painting of an eye was chosen as the middle school winner of the Washington County School Board Association Art Contest. Her art will represent Washington County in the Virginia School Boards Association Art Contest and be judged at the state level!

Members of the Damascus Middle School Student Council Association (SCA) traveled to Abingdon Manor on March 24.  Many of the residents there do not have visitors very often, so the students’ visit was truly a treat!  The SCA members made each resident a card and spent time talking with each person about his/her life and interests.  One resident provided as much entertainment for the students as they did for her, telling jokes, dancing, and singing.  One student reflected, “The residents were really sweet and seemed happy to see us.” SCA sponsors Mrs. Amy Caywood and Mrs. Lisa Blackburn scheduled this trip as a form of community outreach, and the SCA members certainly benefited as much as the residents!

SCA trip
"SCA Students Visit Abingdon Manor"

"Learning About Career Choices"

Throughout the month of March, students at Damascus Middle School had opportunities to learn about the career choices that are available to them.  On Thursday, March 12, Mrs. Jackie Morris, our Career Coach and Career Investigations Teacher, organized a College and Career Night for students and their families to eat delicious barbeque (prepared by In the Country and funded by the VHCC Foundation) and hear about options for their future.  During the meeting, Mr. B.K. Walker, guidance counselor, and Mr. Bo Catron, VHCC Career Coach, from Holston High School talked with the students about course offerings in high school, and Mr. Brian Johnson shared the many career paths that may be explored at the Washington County Career and Technical School.  During the following week, eighth-grade students traveled to the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center to gain more knowledge about careers.  Finally, on Friday, March 27, students heard about a variety of professions from parents and community members on Career Day, coordinated by Mrs. Morris.  Hopefully, each DMS student will use this wealth of information to make good choices about the career he/she will pursue in the future!

Damascus Middle School recognized Digital Learning Day on Friday, March 13 with a variety of uses of technology in the building. Many students began their day by casting their vote for their favorite item on the breakfast menu using Poll Everywhere, an online survey, and the winner is…the chicken biscuit!  From podcasts, to interactive activities using the SMARTBOARD, to Google Earth, teachers presented lessons using technology.  From planning a trip in Career Investigations, to creating a brochure in AgriScience, to printing 3-dimensional items in Technology, to designing a PowerPoint presentation in Chorus, to making a cartoon using PowToons in Science, to filming a Claymation video in Art, students learned material using technology throughout the day.  Although Digital Learning Day is one day set aside to focus on the uses of technology in education, we strive to utilize technology in some way every day throughout the school year!      

"Students Participating in Digital Learning Day"
"Recognizing Students Who Learn From Others"

Most successful people do not achieve their success without the assistance and/or encouragement of others.  In fact, the willingness to learn from others is a character trait that contributes to lifelong achievement.  Damascus Middle School recently recognized the following students for their choice to learn from others in their lives:  Jesse F., Alex G., Alexis H., Samantha J., Savannah M., Skyler M., Hunter N., Maggie O., Dylan R., Thomas R., Johnny R., and Jacob W.  These students consider certain people in their lives as mentors.  One student says, “My dad [is my mentor] because he is always nice” and another student looks up to Ms. Doss because from Ms. Doss she has learned “to accept other things.”  Congratulations to each of these students!

Since research shows that students perform better academically if they eat a healthy breakfast, the Damascus Middle School cafeteria staff encouraged students to “make the grade with school breakfast” during National School Breakfast Week, March 2-6.  With two new options on the breakfast line plus an opportunity to win prizes throughout the week, eating breakfast was very tempting!  Students who ate breakfast earned an “A” beside their names on the bulletin board and were put into a drawing for a six grand prizes at the end of the week.  In addition, the cafeteria ladies gave out treats like sherbet and whole-grain cookies for other activities students participated in throughout the week.  Winners of the big prizes were Elizabeth H. and Christopher R., who won Cavs sunglasses, and David A., Sierra G., Coltin P., and Daniel V., who each won a $5 gift card to McDonald’s! 

" School Cafeteria Celebrates
National School Breakfast Week!"


"Sixth-Grade Chorus Exploratory Class Sings about “Hard Times!”

Students in Mrs. Sue Spirup’s fourth Chorus Exploratory class sang about “Hard Times” in their culminating performance on Tuesday, March 3!  Mrs. Spirup continues to follow the social studies curriculum with songs from or about the time period which the students are studying with Mr. Joe Preston, and the students have recently completed a unit of study about the Great Depression.  The “Worried Man Blues” was a fitting tribute to this difficult time period!  However, not all of the songs were focused on the difficulties of the 1930’s, as composers like Irving Berlin and George Gershwin used their songs to uplift the population and build a spirit of optimism.  Songs like “Blue Skies” and “Strike up the Band,” as well as the traditional blues song “Sun Gonna Shine” brought hope.  Students Austin B., Candace C., Emily C., Janie F., Cortlyn K., Jordan L., Timber N., Kenzie P., and Keegan W. gave their audience hope that the “sun [was] gonna shine” again after our two-week snow break with their peppy performance!

On Monday, March 2, Damascus Middle School began our celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday with a reading of his book There’s a Wocket in my Pocket by news crew member Jenna Greene on the DMS morning news show.  Students in Mrs. Blackburn’s seventh-grade English classes continued the celebration, as each student worked to complete his/her children’s book.  When the books were finished, the students traveled to Rhea Valley Elementary, where they had the opportunity to read the books to kindergarten students.  Knowing that their books would be read helped the seventh-graders write with their reader in mind.  The students were very careful in their choice of vocabulary, the number of words on each page, the illustrations, and the subject matter in order to best entertain the kindergarten readers.  It was with this same careful consideration of his reader that Dr. Seuss wrote his many wonderful children’s books, for which he is remembered each year on his birthday!


"7th Grade Students Celebrate Reading and Writing in Honor of Dr. Seuss!"

"Students Awarded in 4-H Presentation Contest"

Damascus Middle School 4-H members held their annual Presentation and Public Speaking Program, during which 25 students from the sixth-eighth grades completed oral presentations or illustrated talks.  This particular 4-H program is targeted to build self-esteem, communication skills, and leadership, while giving members a chance to explore their interests and hobbies.  Ranging in topics from fishing to papercrafts to nuclear energy, the presentations definitely captured the attention of the audience members!  The following students were blue-ribbon winners in the sixth grade: David A., Sam A., Donivan A., Brady B., Stacy D., Kay Leigh H., Samantha J., Katie L., Jordan L., Cameron R., and Bethany S.  Seventh-grade blue ribbons winners were as follows: Carolyn B., Carson B., Ryland H., Justin H., Layton H., Ashley J., Levi P., Hailey R., Kealey R., and Dominick R.  Eighth-graders receiving blue ribbons were Claudia F., Jenna G., Noah T., and Drew W.  These students may represent Damascus Middle School at the Washington County 4-H Activity Day on April 11 at Abingdon High School.  

After studying the Stock Market Crash of 1929, students in Mr. Joe Preston’s social studies classes at Damascus Middle School played the stock market themselves!  To play, students were given $100,000 to invest in ten stocks which they felt would rise in price over the next six weeks.  The students who got the most return for their investment during this time were declared the winners of the game. Fourth place went to Brady B., who invested in Apple because “so many people buy the iPhone and other Apple products;” third place went to Becca B., who chose Amazon because “so many people shop there;”  and second place went to Thomas R., who put his money into Sony because “they make great game consoles.”  The top prize went to Austin A., an avid hunter who invested most of his money in Cabela’s!  Austin won a silver dollar and plans to save it.  Interestingly, only a small percentage of Damascus Middle School sixth-graders would buy stocks if they were really given $100,000, as they seem to have learned from the Crash of 1929.  One student said it well, “When the stock market crashes, you can lose all your money!”

"Sixth Graders Play the Stock Market Game"

"Student Demonstrates Her "Horse Sense" in the Hippology Contest"
On Saturday, February 28, Damascus Middle School sixth-grader Kay Leigh H. competed in the Southwest District 4-H Hippology Contest at the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center in Abingdon and came away with two first-place trophies!  Hippology is the study of Horses, and this is something Kay Leigh has done with a passion since she was very young.  The contest consisted of a written exam, identification of items shown in pictures, identification of feedstuffs or feed tags, judging, ID stations, and team problem solving. Kay Leigh not only received the highest overall individual score in the junior division, but she was also a member of the top junior team in the competition.  One would expect that preparation for this contest would have required intensive study; however, Kay Leigh says that she didn’t really cram before the competition.  Considering the fact that she has spent much of her life studying horses, her knowledge of them is just plain “horse sense!”  Kay Leigh is looking forward to participating in the 4-H Breyer Model Horse Show in March.

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, 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