Mustang Weekly, December 8, 2023

principal's message

Hello Mustangs,

As we approach the much-anticipated winter break, we wanted to express our sincere gratitude to our students, parents, teachers, and staff for the incredible effort and dedication you’ve shown throughout the first portion of the school year. It’s been a journey filled with accomplishments, growth, and a strong sense of community spirit. Additionally, thank you for your trust and communication as we navigate our first year together.  with us whenever there is a question, concern, feedback, or a quick check-in. We have one more week of school for the calendar year and it will be filled with phenomenal instruction, a Winter Mathematics VGA, and lots of fun with our NJHS Spirit Week. As always, we are here for you and please let us know if there are any questions, feedback, or concerns. I hope you have a great weekend!

Justin Simmons | Principal | South County Middle School

Save the Date


December 12 - Winter VGA, Math (Flipped Schedule)

December 14 - Winterfest

December 18-January 1 - Winter Break

Winter VGA Testing

In September, students at South County Middle School participated in the Fall Virginia Growth Assessments.  The Winter Growth Assessments will be administered on the following dates:

Math VGA on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 (This is for students enrolled in Math 7, Math 7 Honors and PreAlgebra.  If your student is enrolled in Algebra or Geometry, they will be taking their Benchmark Assessment at this time.)

Please do your best to ensure that your student is in school on the above dates.  If for some reason your student is scheduled to take the assessments on days different than the ones listed above, that will be communicated via student’s email no later than Monday, December 4th. 

Holiday Assistance

South County Middle School has acquired numerous gift cards and will be offering holiday assistance to our SCMS families over winter break. Please complete this form indicating if your family is in need of holiday assistance by Tuesday December 12th. Gift cards will be sent home with students on Thursday December 14th and Friday December 15th.


Food Drive

The students in NJHS are still participating in a Food Drive. All food collected will be donated to LCAC. Boxes are placed throughout the building, and all donations will be taken on Tuesday, December 12th. The items being collected are: Cereal, Snacks, Little Drinks for Children, Spam, Vienna Sausages, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, and Rice.

Spirit Week

December 11 – Jersey Day

December 12 – Ugly Sweater Day

December 13 – Workout Wednesday

December 14 – Festive Hat & Socks Day

December 15 – Pajama Day

Young Scholars Field Trip

Seventh grade Young Scholars enrolled in either Math 7 Honors or Algebra 1 Honors have been invited to attend an optional field trip to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology on Jan. 4. This half-day field trip is an opportunity for students who may choose to apply to Thomas Jefferson during their eighth grade year to see the school and visit several labs. Eligible students received field trip forms from their math teacher on Dec. 5 or 6. Signed permission forms need to be returned to the main office by Tuesday, Dec. 12. To read more about the Young Scholars model, click here. If you have any questions, or you are willing to be a chaperone, please email Dana Gorman, Advanced Academics Resource Teacher, at

SCMS Project Green

Bins are located outside Door #3 & Door #8.



The SCMS PTSO is hosting their first annual Winterfest!! Join us for Cupcake decorating, crafts, games and snacks. Student entrepreneurs will have items for sale. Tickets include Cupcake decorating, one drink and one raffle ticket.

It’s never too early to buy tickets!

Purchase them here!


Military-Connected Youth Process Action Team (MCY PAT) Family Member Application

The charge of the Fairfax County Public Schools Military-Connected Youth Process Action Team is to identify the unique academic, behavioral, and social/emotional needs of military-connected youth and families and ensure faculty and staff are informed and prepared to meet the identified needs; partnering with stakeholders as appropriate.

The MCY PAT would like to include military-connected family members on our team. We encourage you to apply to be a part of our team by completing the application by Friday, December 15, 2023. 

The MCY PAT meets virtually once a month.

Questions? Contact: Meredith Ayala, Family Partnerships Specialist at We look forward to partnering with you to support our military families! 

Snow Days This Winter

For the current school year, FCPS will be returning to its previous procedure for snow days — there will be no virtual learning days when school is closed due to bad weather. 

During snow days, students may still access, complete any supplemental learning opportunities recommended by their teachers, and view educational programming (available virtually and on public access television channels):

Elementary school instruction: Red Apple 21.

Middle school instruction: Channel 25.  

High school instruction: Channel 99.

Eleven snow days are built into the existing FCPS calendar. Eliminating virtual learning days will allow us to maximize students’ in-person learning and provide equitable access to instruction and student services.


🙋‍♂️ Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow!

We often notice more empty seats in our classrooms as winter break approaches. This year, let's work together to nurture a rock-solid attendance habit. Every hour of every school day is a unique opportunity for students to learn, connect, and grow. 

A big thank you to:

🌟 Students who show up every day and the parents/caregivers supporting them.

👩‍🏫 Teachers who create a welcoming environment for learning.

👨‍💼 Administrators providing a safe and engaging place to grow.

👏 Bus drivers, support staff, and volunteers lending a helping hand to all our learners.

If you or your child need support, please reach out to our school social worker or family liaison. If your child is not feeling well, please refer to the When Should I Keep My Child Home? webpage for guidance. 

There will be no school from Monday, December 18, to Monday, January 1, 2024, for winter break. Classes will resume on Tuesday, January 2. 

Visit FCPS’ website for more attendance resources


📝 Keep Learning Over Winter Break with

Does your child need help getting up to speed in high school math, science, or English? offers diagnostic quizzes to help students test their knowledge and find areas where they may need help. Quizzes can be taken anytime, and students can connect immediately to a tutor. 

Test prep is also available for students preparing for the PSAT, SAT, or ACT. 

FCPS students have unlimited access, 24/7, to online tutoring support services through at no cost to families. Students can connect online any time, any place, and in most K-12 subjects for however long they need. 


🍲 Food Insecurity Resources for Families

Food insecurity impacts more than 60,000 Fairfax County residents. There are many resources available to support those who need food assistance. Find out how to receive or offer support on the Fairfax County website, or view their Human Services Resource Guide for assistance with food, clothing, housing, and other services.

Read FCPS This Week to learn more about these topics. If you are not already receiving the weekly newsletter, please sign up today.  


Mental Health, Coping & Addiction

One in four Americans suffer from a mental illness. Almost 3 in 5 people with mental health challenges will not receive treatment or medication. In 2019, an estimated 19% of adults in the United States (47.6 million) dealt with a mental health challenge, but only 43% received any kind of mental health care (Johns Hopkins). People often turn to alternative methods to cope with issues that are uncomfortable topics to speak about. These reasons include turning to drugs, alcohol, food, etc. Coping mechanisms are habits formed over time that serve to help a person manage difficult situations or high stress levels. These mind-altering substances are sometimes used as coping mechanisms for stress, difficult emotions, physical ailments, focusing, and other issues. Drugs and alcohol can provide a temporary moment away from the reality of everyday life. Substances can enhance the feelings of pleasure, decrease feelings of anxiety and restraint. Substance use can be an unhealthy coping mechanism. Not all coping mechanisms are destructive or fail to provide appropriate or adequate adjustment to the environment or situation; however, addiction is both.

Before using drugs as a coping strategy here are some recommendations for a healthier mindset. The main goal is to identify the “void” or issue and work towards healing. In the meantime, experts recommend diet and exercise as great places to start. Schedule a visit to your Primary Care Physician and a Professional Counselor if needed. Quality sleep is also a major factor in the stabilization of a healthy mind. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and good examples. Keep in mind that finding balance in life is an ongoing process. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

For general questions about the FCPS Substance Abuse Prevention Program, please contact the Office of Student Safety & Wellness at: (571) 423-4270.


Substance Use Disorder info

FCPS Social Work

For further information & support:

Catric W. Marshall, MS., LPC., CCC

Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist



In case you missed it in FCPS This Week, the school division shared updates on the following topics:

  • Snow Days
  • Winter Break Reminder
  • Food Insecurity Resources for Families

Read FCPS This Week to learn more about these topics. If you are not already receiving the weekly newsletter, please sign up today.