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Seneca Ridge Middle School Annual Report 2009-2010. At Seneca Ridge we build relationships and empower students to become responsible citizens who value learning as a lifelong process. . Seneca Ridge Middle School. Seneca Ridge is proud to be one of the most diverse middle schools in

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seneca ridge middle school annual report 2009 2010

Seneca Ridge Middle SchoolAnnual Report2009-2010

At Seneca Ridge we build relationships and empower students

to become responsible citizens who value learning as a

lifelong process.

seneca ridge middle school
Seneca Ridge Middle School

Seneca Ridge is proud to

be one of the most

diverse middle schools in

Loudoun County. This

year, we educated 931

students from various

economic, cultural, and

religious backgrounds.

seneca ridge middle school3
Seneca Ridge Middle School

At Seneca Ridge we build relationships and empower students

to become responsible citizens who value learning as a

lifelong process.

Seneca staff is committed to going the extra mile for our students.

  • In order to realize our vision and fulfill our commitment, our staff
  • works after hours to provide extra help.
  • provides individualized instruction.
  • maintains regular communication with parents.
  • treats students with respect.
  • sponsors after school activities and clubs for students.
  • creates an environment of success and fairness.
  • looks for new solutions and strategies to increase student success and
  • development.
rethinking school
Rethinking School


Grading for mastery is a term used to

describe the new grading policies at Seneca

Ridge. Simply put, students are graded based

on their mastery of the curriculum. Extra

credit, behavior, work habits, homework and

class practice do not count toward a

student’s final grade. Students’ performance

on assessments of their knowledge are

included in the final grade. Teachers are

responsible for communicating students’

work habits and classroom behavior. The

purpose of this policy is to ensure that

student grades reflect their mastery of

content and therefore cannot be inflated or

deflated by teacher or students attitudes,

perceptions or other items not related to

academic performance.


Homework is assigned to students to provide

practice for a skill learned during the day.

Therefore it is not graded or used toward the

calculation of a student’s final grade. This

year teachers indeed assigned homework,

reviewed the work with students, assessed

their progress, and provided feedback to

students and their families. So,

students were given the opportunity to

practice, review their work and track their

progress. However, a student’s grade does

not suffer if he or she is not successful with

each night’s practice. Teachers use students’

Students performance on homework

To decide if additional instruction is

necessary. Homework becomes a tool for

teachers and students instead of a potential

trap. The final grade reflects students’

knowledge at the time of assessment.

rethinking school5
Rethinking School

Second Chance

While homework is not a part of the final

grade at Seneca, teachers and families

understand its importance. In order to remind

students of the importance of homework,

Seneca began the Second Chance program this

year. The program was a non-punitive, after

school session where students are given a

second chance to complete they failed to turn in

earlier that day. Students worked during

resource classes and lunch to complete missing

assignments. All homework assigned is

important and completion of work is



This year students were given an opportunity to

retake exams if their teachers felt it was

appropriate. Retakes are solely a teacher’s

decision based on a particular student’s

performance in class. Teachers use student class

work, homework, warm ups and quizzes to

determine the level of student learning.

Sometimes a student’s daily performance is not

demonstrated in his or her performance on an

exam. In this case, a student may be given

another opportunity to showcase their

knowledge. Likewise, if a teacher reviews

an assessment and determines that a child

simply needs more instruction on a certain topic,

the teacher may also decide to offer the student

a retake. Seneca teachers use this method to

be sure the students are learning to their full


rethinking school6
Rethinking School


Beginning this year, teachers were required to

categorize their assessments by formative and

summative assessments. Formative assessments

are daily assessments that teachers use to

measure student progress throughout a unit.

Most likely they are class practice, quizzes,

homework or warm-ups. These assessments do

not count toward a student’s final grade.

Summative assessments are broader assessments

that test students’ comprehensive knowledge of

concepts. They are normally portfolios, projects,

presentations or tests. Only these assessments

count toward a student’s final grade because

they test a student’s complete knowledge after

instruction, practice and reteaching.

Using this system, all work turned into a teacher

is evidence of that student’s comprehension. If a

teacher sees that a student’s performance does not

match their classroom performance, teachers are

obligated to allow students to re-take the


Teacher Collaboration

Teachers have always worked together at Seneca

Ridge. In the past, teachers have worked

together in inter-disciplinary teams to ensure the

academic and social success of students. Last

year, the teachers formed Collaborative Planning

Teams (CPTs). Teachers work in teams grouped by

grade level and content area. This year, the CPTs

worked to plan common lessons and

assessments. This type of collaboration helps

teachers determine the best methods of

instruction and assessment.

teacher accomplishments
Teacher Accomplishments
  • Andrea Weiskopf(Latin), presented a workshop, Teaching Cambridge Latin Course Unit Two: What Happens When Two Cultures Collide, for fellow Latin teachers in the County for staff development. She was also the assistant coach for the Virginia National Certamen Novice team which placed 2nd in at the National Junior Classical League’s annual convention. She also assisted the Virginia State Intermediate Certamen team coach.
  • Donna Russel, (6th grade Language Arts), and Katherine Dalland (6th grade Language Arts), completed master’s degrees in New Professionalism from George Mason University.
  • Liz Diamond (8th grade counselor), was selected to present at a national convention in Delaware about the New Beginnings Program in the Dominion Cluster.
  • Jill Kimball, Jay Raines, Jennifer Efigenio, Bill Gulgert and Cynthia Lewis received training in SIOP strategies.
  • Sheryl Dufour, (8th grade math), won a fellowship from Northup Grumman to participate in an experimental education expedition organized by Earthwatch institute. She will be traveling to the edge of the Arctic Circle in Manitoba, Canada to study climate change this summer.
student accomplishments
Student Accomplishments
  • Catherine Messerly (8th grade), received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her work in the Seneca Ridge community.
  • Ally Sarkis (8th grade) was selected through competitive state auditions to be in the Virginia Honors Choir.
  • Zach Stultz, Shennie Yao, Sindy Hou and Kaitlyn Senchak were this year’s recipients of the Malone Foundation Awards in art, science, math and music.
  • Meena Nayagam was this year’s recipient of the Seneca Ridge award.
  • Matt Szelc earned the Ruritan Award for outstanding students in Loudoun County.
  • Allyson Foster won a gold medal in tennis skills at the Special Olympics.
  • Devon Tinius has volunteered at many Girl Scout functions through Loudoun Volunteer. She has worked at Girl Scout summer camps, hosted a dance for Girl Scouts, worked at "Barktoberfest," and she also helped at a Thanksgiving dinner at a local senior citizen home. We are very proud of her generosity and selflessness to our community!
student projects
Student Projects

Thanks to a grant from Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation, Mr. Peck’s 6th grade science classes were able to plant 200 willow rods on the banks of the Seneca Branch of Sugarland Run on school property. The project addressed the erosion of the stream banks and loss of soil, caused in part by the soil impermeability that is a consequence of development. Students planted the willow rods, watered them during two dry spells, and inspected the growth over the spring time. Planting the rods was an action that students supported as a way of improving the environment. They also look forward to the opportunity, when they are seniors about to graduate from high school, to return to the willow tree they planted, and to stand under the canopy of the willow tree along with relatives invited to the graduation.

Bryce Hartzel next to his healthy willow rod.

student projects10
Student Projects

The seventh grade Spartan team invited Kate Campbell Stevenson to share her presentation on "Women in History" as a way to prepare for the history SOL . Ms. Stevenson is a local actress/singer who uses live educational theater to entertain, educate and motivate students. She tailors her presentation to focus on women that teachers suggest best suits the needs of their group, and includes character building lessons to complete her stories.

student projects11
Student Projects

In the 7th grade Life Science, there are two

moments when the students really feel like they

are completing high school work.

The Genetics project asks the students to

“create” a life form using predetermined

characteristics from a set of genome from made-up

life forms. They choose which genes are dominant

and recessive, and also which traits are visible

in the offspring. The students then have to “create”

or build their creatures. Aside from the artistic

brilliance of some of our students, the creatures

End up looking very different despite the fact that

They are all working from the same data. This helps

them understand why we have so many varieties of

People and species on the planet.

The second challenging opportunity is in the

Frog Dissection lesson. Frogs and humans have

many of the same anatomical structures. The

students learn about the methods, procedures and

the locations involved in proper dissection, and

identify the locations of the major organs within the

body cavity of a frog. After the initial shock and

smell (which isn‘t as bad anymore), the students

dive in and do amazing work. Some future surgeons

and coroners do emerge at this time.

student projects12
Student Projects

Mrs. Moussaoui ‘s eighth

grade students participated

in "Shakespearience" this year.

They read and performed

Richard II with a teaching

artist from The Shakespeare

Theater. Later, they traveled to

downtown DC to watch a

matinee performance of the

play with other students who

had also participated in the


student projects13
Student Projects

As a collaboration between 8th grade

English and science, students developed

a creative story about molecules going

through phase changes. Within the

story, they demonstrated knowledge of

how molecules move when they are

solid, liquids or gas. Students also

imagined what happens to the energy of

the molecules and they ways they move

as they go from one state of matter to

another. This project required that they

effectively develop a character with a

personality and utilized correct grammar

and punctuation for dialogue between

characters. Their projects were either

typed stories or detailed cartoons.

seneca s teams
Seneca’s Teams
  • The Seneca Ridge Step Team won first place in the Stomp competition held at Dominion High School this year.
  • Seneca sent its team to the first annual Middle School Academic Competition at Smart’s Mill Middle School and made it to the second round of competition.

Olivia Sorto • Danny Hoerauf •

• Anastasia Chobany •

Crystal Gong • Shenni Yao • Meena Nayagam •

Matthew Zhou • Abby Rose

  • 8th Grade Band received all Superior Ratings at the District Band Festival.
  • 7th Grade Band received an Excellent rating and the District Band Festival. No other 7th Grade Band in the county competed at this level.
  • Once again, Seneca’s chorus was personally invited to sing the National Anthem at the Verizon Center at an official NBA game.
  • Dip-Set, Seneca’s proud step team performed at several venues and competed in four local competitions and won $400 in cash prizes. Most impressive was their first prize win at the Dominion Stomp Fest in May 2010 they place 2nd at other competitions

Alayah Wood • EstefanyPeredo • Elizabeth Paz •

Jennifer Paz • Ivana Robinson • Evelyn Reyes •

Hannah Lewis • Mona Zitoun • Kaitlyn Kocher •

Shawna Brown • Haley Halcrow • Evie Graves •


seneca s teams15
Seneca’s Teams

Congratulations to all of the Seneca Ridge Odyssey of the Mind teams. We had four teams competing in five

problems at the regional tournament held on February 27, 2009 at Park View High School. The Nature Trail‘R

team (Nicole Lidyard, Rachel Tao, Renata Wilson, Sarah Yang, and Thor Keller) had to build and drive a

human powered vehicle that among other things had to clean up the environment. The team placed fourth

in their division. The Return to Flight team (Steven Stallings, Sagar Govani, Bill Tang, Nelson Chen, and Kelvin

Bryant) had to make and operate a series of aircraft that completed variety of flight plans. The team placed

fourth in their division. The Discovered Treasures team (Aly Kamis, Audrey Newman, Jillian Kazmierczak,

Ginny Ledwell, Lauren Musa, Katherine Armstrong and Emily Saldanha) had to create and present an

original performance portraying the discovery of two archaeological treasures. The team placed second in

their division. Jake Browning, Matthew Gibbs, Taaj Davis, Meera Chauhan, Morgan Chugg, Meghan Kelly,

and Megan DiDomenico competed in two problems: Column Structure and Food Court. The Column

Structure team placed second in their division. The Food Court team placed first in its division and

competed at the Virginia Odyssey of the Mind State Finals held in Newport News, Virginia.

seneca s clubs
Seneca’s Clubs
  • Knitting – Toula Mitrakas
  • German Club – Karen Plummer
  • Soccer – Bill Gulgert
  • Basketball – Liz Diamond and Beth Carter
  • TAP – Chris Souther
  • Dance – Lauren McChesney
  • Bollywood Club – Amanda Patel
  • Rocket Club – Ron Stocking
  • Ranger Steve – Jerome Peck
  • Chess Club – Larry DeSimone
  • Tennis Club – Andrea Moussaoui & Lynne Austin
  • Math Counts – Sheryl Dufour
giving parents tools
Giving Parents Tools

Study Skills Sessions

Seneca Ridge realized that students coming

into middle school needed additional training

and support with developing important study

skills. A team of teachers using researched

Based data and strategies, developed a study

Skills seminar for the in-coming sixth graders

and their parents. All parents and students

were invited to attend a two hour session

where teachers, counselors and

administration shared the research,

strategies and then modeled those study

strategies for parents and students. Although

students were still grappling with the

importance and value of those skills, parents

were overwhelmingly pleased and relieved to

have tools and strategies, they could use at

home to help their child be successful.

Several sessions were offered to

accommodate family schedules.

Me Time

Me Time is a program run through Loudoun

Diversity, a local, non-profit, community

advocacy group. The program offers

tutoring and mentoring to students who have

been identified by the school. Community

volunteers and members of the Loudoun

Diversity work with students on Saturday to

work with students. The structure of the

program is to improve academic skills and

abilities through the use of direct instruction

and teacher input. The major focus of the

Seneca program was math. Bill Gulgert

(assistant principal), worked with Loudoun

Diversity throughout the second semester.

Eight students consistently took advantage of

the Saturday program and they met 7 times.

communicating with the community
Communicating with the Community
  • This year Seneca switched the newsletter format from paper copies to an all on-line format.
  • Mr. McDermott began hosting “Principal Coffees”. Parents were invited in once a month to meet with the principal and discuss items based on parent feedback. Questions and discussion was encouraged.
  • Cynthia Lewis and Lauren McChesney continued to work with the parents of ELL students and the Parents as Educational Partners (PEP), program. The program met 4 times this year with topics that included college preparedness, pre-teen development, study skills and Seneca Ridge policies.
school events
School Events
  • This year’s music production, High School Musical Junior was a huge success featuring two awesome casts.
  • The Seneca staff worked extra hard this year to prepare students for the SOL’s and to get them excited about doing their best. Deans and counselors organized Seneca’s first “Prep” Rally in May as one part of these efforts. The rally featured Seneca’s step team, a group of student actors, and a dance performed by volunteer members of the staff. The 8th graders had a special treat, Dominion High School’s drum line!
  • The SGA led by Howard Goldberg (7th grade history), organized the yearly switch day. Students got permission to switch places with the adults in the building and worked hard at being an education professional for the day!
  • The annual back to school community picnic featured games and activities for the whole family.
school events20
School Events
  • Seneca’s guidance counselors, Liz Diamond, Lauren McChesney, and Amanda Patel worked with Dominion High School staff as well as parent liaisons, Duke Butkovich and Taryn Simms to welcome new families to the Dominion cluster. The New Beginnings Dinner featured food, prizes, a free yard sale, and information for these families.
  • The Seneca staff worked extra hard this year to prepare students for the SOL’s and to get them excited about doing their best. Deans and counselors organized Seneca’s first “Prep” Rally in May. The rally featured Seneca’s step team, student actors, and a dance performed by staff members. The 8th graders had a special treat, Dominion High School’s drum line!
  • Liz Diamond (8th grade counselor), Freddie Martin (8th grade Language Arts), Madelyn Hetherington (8th grade Language Arts), and Diane Scott (ELL), organized the first Black History Poetry Café during Black History Month. 12 students were selected by their Language Arts teachers to memorize and perform a dramatic reading of their poem for the friends and family who were invited to hear them. The readers were accompanied by 8th grade drummers on African drums.
  • The annual back to school community picnic featured games and activities for the whole family.
  • Once again, the Seneca Ridge PTO organized and sponsored a fun-filled night for our 8th graders. The annual beach blast was a successful and celebratory evening for our 8th graders.


school beautification
School Beautification

The Seneca Ridge staff took special efforts to make our school decorations as meaningful as they are beautiful. Mrs. Liz Diamond added a wonderful bolt character to our front lobby and worked with Ms. Denise McKenna to add a complete mural to the House A lobby. Mr. Crews, our resident artist and cafeteria worker kept students entertained with his daily artwork on the cafeteria blackboard. His gorgeous drawings reminded kids about healthy nutrition as well as reviewing the middle school curriculum. Kids looked forward to the new drawing each day.

school drives
School Drives
  • Tanya Larriva sponsored the 2010 Pennies for Patients campaign and was recognized by the county for her efforts. Seneca students raised $1222.70 for cancer patients.
  • Kathy Dunkin organized the Women’s Heart Health Awareness at Seneca for the American Heart Association. Seneca staff and students wore red for the day and raised $103 for the cause.