5th to 6th Transition

Introduction:

We look forward to meeting and working with the new sixth grade class at Sutherland Middle School! During the next three years we will work together to help you stretch your thinking, develop your study skills, and grow into outstanding students…ready to meet the challenges of high school. We want this to be a shared journey toward academic, social and physical excellence that prepares you to be life-long learners.

Who We Are:

The transition from elementary school to middle school is an important one. While students and parents are sometimes worried about this transition, we find that with the right support, encouragement and attention, students (and parents/caregivers) thrive at Sutherland. As some of you may already know, the middle school years are some of the most exciting, challenging and (above all else) interesting for our children. These years are some of the most important in terms of growth and development. As with any type of development, there can sometimes be growing pains. But by having supportive parents/caregivers, our children will finish these years stronger academically, socially and emotionally. As a school, we look forward to working together as a team in helping our children get the most out of their middle school years.

  • Ms. Laura Saulle: Office Associate
  • Ms. Lisa Wright: 8th Grade School Counselor
  • Ms. Heather Lindsay: 7th Grade School Counselor
  • Mr. Cabell Guy: 6th Grade School Counselor
  • Ms. Lauren Servis: School Psychologist

STUDENT EXPECTATIONS:

  • We expect students to report to class on time with appropriate materials and to contribute to a positive learning atmosphere.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to contact a classmate or arrange with his/her teachers to make up missed assignments due to absences.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to dress out consistently for PE classes.
  • Each student is responsible for using the school’s computer technology and internet access in an ethical, responsible and legal manner for school-related tasks only.
  • Students are expected to remove trays and trash from their cafeteria tables.
  • Each student is responsible for the care of his or her locker and all assigned textbooks.
  • Each student is responsible for school property and maintaining school equipment, computers and supplies.
  • Respect people.

INFORMATION ABOUT SUTHERLAND CLASSES: Please note, this information is true in a non-virtual learning environment. Due to COVID closure, schedule and structural changes will be made to the Sutherland daily structure to better ensure student success.

  • 6th grade core classes are all 80 minutes long.
  • Core classes meet every single day, no matter the color of the day.
  • Science and History are half year classes. The classes alternate by semester.
  • Sixth grade students will have three core classes and an elective block.
  • PE and Health meets every other day during the elective block.
  • All 6th grade students will take three 12-week exploratory classes as one of their exploratory options. We call this the "exploratory wheel". We do this to make sure all 6th grade students are exposed to each exploratory domain and can help make more informed decisions as they move into 7th grade. Students will also take a year-long exploratory of their choosing.
  • Sutherland’s school day starts at 9:00 AM. We do offer a morning study hall for students that runs from 8:15 - 8:45 in the Cafeteria daily.
  • Students have 25 minutes for lunch. Students can bring lunch, buy a full lunch or buy part of a lunch – drinks, salad, fries or desserts.
  • The school day ends at 4:00 – later than students are used to leaving school. It is important that students try to organize after-school activities and homework so that they do not feel stretched for time!

BLACK AND TEAL DAYS:
Sutherland’s color system might seem a bit confusing at the beginning, but after the first week of school, students will get it straight. Students will know which class to go to because there will be either a “B” (BLACK) or “T” (TEAL) written next to their classes on their schedule. Students will be taking Language Arts, Math EVERYDAY for one block. Health/PE alternate with the students' exploratories; Science and History alternate with each other as well. We also have the color of the day posted on the school’s website and either a black or teal flag flying in front of the school.

GRADING SCALE:
A: 100 – 90
B: 90 – 80
C: 80 – 70
D: 70 – 60

THE BUS:

The majority of students coming to Sutherland ride the bus to and from school each day. Pick-up and drop-off points should be sent to you by the ACPS Transportation Department. Busses begin to arrive at Sutherland by 8:50 AM. Students are not allowed off the bus unless they have a Breakfast Pass (available in the first-day-of-school packets). Busses release the students at 9:00 AM once the school day begins. In the afternoons, dismissal follows the schedule below:

  • 3:57 PM: Afternoon announcements
  • 4:00 PM: Bus riders dismissed
  • 4:07 PM: Busses leave Sutherland Middle School
  • 4:10 PM: Walkers and riders are released

Please note that students who are not riding the bus are dismissed last. This is done so we can allow our busses easy and safe access out of the parking lot. Please do not pull in to the front of the school until after the busses have cleared the area.

LUNCH:
All 6th grade students eat lunch together. There are many different healthy food options available to them from the hot meal option of the day to a la carte items like individual salads, snack items and beverages. Students have the option of bringing their lunch to school. We have microwaves located in the cafeteria for student use. We use assigned seating at lunch for the first week of school. After the first week, students may eat at whichever table they choose. Student lunch numbers carry over from Baker-Butler, Hollymead and Stony Point, so there is no need to learn a new account number. Students will use the same 5-digit pin when ordering lunch.


SUTHERLAND ACTIVITIES:
Students may choose to participate in some of the activities at Sutherland. In addition to Electives and ICA activities, you might think about these…
 

ACADEMIC GROUPS AND CONTESTS – We have students who participate in Destination Imagination, National History Day, the Youth Leadership Initiative, the Stock Market Game and Math Counts competitions held locally each year. There are also opportunities to enter writing and art contests. Parents can check the “Daily Announcements” portion of our website for information on how to participate in these as well as other academic field trips.

ICA DAYS - Once every six weeks, Fridays are a little different at Sutherland. Classes are shortened by a few minutes. From 3 - 4 PM, we have an ICA period. ICA stands for Intramural Sports, Clubs and Activities and is a time reserved for you to choose to participate in an activity, game, sport or club.

DANCES – We will have several scheduled dances during the school year – almost one per month – that are open to all Sutherland students. Dances are held after school in the cafeteria from 4:00 to 6:00 PM. Students must be picked up by a parent or adult when the dance ends.

STUDENT COUNCIL ASSOCIATION – All Sutherland students are eligible to join the Student Council Association (SCA). The purpose of this organization is to assist in the orderly operation of the school, to help improve the school and to develop leadership and responsibility in our students. The SCA sponsors many activities for students and faculty members including dances, Spirit Week, a talent show, and community service projects.

The SCA has officers elected by the students. These officers include President, Vice-President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. Sixth graders may run for any office except for President. SCA representatives will attend all SCA meetings and provide information from the meetings in their homerooms. We urge our students to participate in SCA activities.

CLUBS – Sutherland provides opportunities to participate in clubs such as Video Club, Diversity Club, Art Club, Drama Club, Chess Club, Guitar Club, Jazz Band and Robotics Club. Other clubs may be offered based on student interest.


WHAT ARE YOUR KIDS WORRIED ABOUT?
Every year we find that kids worry about the same things. What we want to tell you is: DON’T WORRY! We’ve already taken care of most of the things you worry about….

1. LOCKERS – Yes, it may take a while to learn to open them quickly, but the 6th grade teachers provide extra time during the first week of school to learn and remember combinations.

2. GETTING TO THE RIGHT CLASSES – Moving from class to class throughout the day is a big switch! Students can “walk through your schedule” at the August orientation before the first day of school. Also, during the first couple of weeks of school, teachers will help students get used to the building, lockers and classmates. They will walk your children through their schedules, too. After a few days, students will have no problem getting where they need to go within three minutes.

3. DRESSING OUT IN P.E. – We no longer have gym uniforms for students, so we recommend all students bring a change of clothes on PE days so they won’t get their regular clothes sweaty. Dressing out becomes second nature in no time. Students will be assigned a gym locker with a combination lock to keep all of their belongings safe. Your child’s PE teacher will answer your questions early in the school year. PE teachers can also help answer questions about sports opportunities in the area. It is recommended that 6th grade parents remind their students to empty their gym lockers once a week and bring all gym clothes home.

4. DISCIPLINE REFERRALS – Discipline referrals are given for not following rules that apply to all students in the building. Teacher will explain the classroom expectations at the beginning of the year and how “timeouts” and discipline referrals work.

5. BIG KIDS – Some people worry about traveling in the halls with 8th graders. The 6th grade classrooms are grouped together in a separate wing so you only have to travel in the rest of the school during PE/exploratory classes. Students in the 6th grade will have little contact with 7th and 8th graders during the school day. When they do, you’ll find Sutherland students to be considerate and helpful.


WE ARE HERE TO HELP:
Making the switch to middle school is EXCITING, but a little SCARY at the same time…IT’S A BIG SWITCH! There are a lot of people to help you if you have questions or concerns:

  • YOUR TEACHERS can answer many of your questions about how things work at Sutherland or who to go to for help. Any teacher can help you if you are having problems.
  • YOUR 6TH GRADE SCHOOL COUNSELORS, All three counselors are here to help you get adjusted to middle school. We can help you with problems or concerns you may have. You may make an appointment to see your counselor through the Counseling Office.
  • YOUR PRINCIPAL AND ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL, Ms. Wood and Mr. Stow, can talk to you about concerns you have. They also like to hear about good ideas you might have for Sutherland.
  • RESOURCE TEACHERS are available for students with learning disabilities or emotional difficulties. They have small class sizes to help students succeed in school. Albemarle County may also provide - as appropriate - support from specialists, such as a School Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, and/or a Physical Therapist.
  • FAMILIES may call the Main Office to let us know you are going to be absent and get homework assignments if you are out of school for two consecutive days. Requests for homework must be in by 9:30 AM in order to allow teachers to gather work. Parents may call a counselor if they would like to set up a meeting with their child’s teachers. We also will have scheduled conference days during the school year.

TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL START:

  • Bring your child to the middle school during the summer to help them get comfortable with the building. Older siblings or friends can guide them through the building, pointing out classrooms, the Library, gym and the Gathering Area.
  • Encourage your child to participate in clubs/activities.
  • Buy a combination lock for your child and have them learn how to use it before the school year begins. Practice using the lock over the summer to familiarize how to use the lock and combination.
  • Create a consistent supervised study time for your child. Establish a study area that can be monitored.
  • Encourage your child to ask for extra help when needed.
  • Check in periodically about your child’s progress.
  • Allow your child to gain a sense of independence and responsibility.
  • Encourage your child to practice good hygiene.
  • Have your child “pack” up for school before going to bed. It will make things easier in the morning.
  • Stay in communication with your child’s teachers through phone, email and your child’s agenda.
  • Finally, DON’T forget that your child is young and there will be bumps in the road. Mistakes will be made‐‐ but it’s all a part of the learning process.