Henley Hurricane Helpers: Backpack Drive

Dear Henley Families,

In last week’s Henley Happenings, I shared that a group of sixth grade students had organized a relief drive to support those impacted by Hurricane Florence. A Henley parent, Jay Roberts, contacted me that day to say that his sister lives in New Bern and that she can connect us with a middle school to support directly.

Our students decided to partner with Mr. Roberts and have now created the Hurricane Helpers Backpack Drive to focus their efforts on students in Craven County. Students have lost their homes and their schools have become shelters. Our goal is to send 250 backpacks filled with items that will help them when they return to school.

The students are proposing that families fill a backpack with either school supplies or clothing:

  • School supplies include everything a student would need at the start of the school year.
  • Clothing could be specifically for a middle school student-shoes, shorts, socks, shirts, etc.
  • Other toiletry supplies could be included-a comb, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.

We hope that you will consider helping the students of Craven County. Our drive will run from tomorrow, 24 September to Wednesday, 3 October. Mr. Roberts will load up his trailer full of backpacks and head to North Carolina on Thursday, 4 October.

Backpacks can be dropped off at Henley. It would be a HUGE help if families could put a sticker or label on the backpack indicating its contents and any helpful descriptor (e.g. 7th grade boy, or school supplies for girl, etc.).

We are so pleased to be able to help and hope that you can support our drive. Anything in this case will help. If you’d rather, we’ll accept gift cards or monetary donations. We’ll use the cards and money to fill backpacks before October 3. If you can donate a gently used backpack, trust that it will get filled!

Thank you for your support and let me know if you have any questions.


Beth Costa, Jay Roberts, and the Henley Hurricane Helpers

Henley Happenings: August 21, 2018

Dear Henley Families,

Tomorrow is the first day of the 2018-19 school year! We have been waiting for this day and hope that your child(ren) feels ready to begin this journey with us.

I have a lot of information, but I will repost this on the Principal’s Blog (linked on the Henley home page) for your reference:

  • Here is the schedule for the first three days. As previously shared, we will have extended Advisories designed to build relationships with your student(s), to ease them back into school, and to share important routines and structures for the new year.
  • If you have not had a chance to view morning drop off and afternoon pick up videos, here is another opportunity to orient yourself to our procedures:
  • Albemarle County has generously supported our parking lot and roadway procedures during the first several days of school. You will see additional police officers on Rt 250 and in our parking lot. We hope the videos have been helpful and thank you in advance for your cooperation and patience.
  • In an effort to raise money for the World Peace Games, Megan Williams, teacher and coach will be auctioning off two reserved parking spaces in the front of the school. Be on the lookout for more information about her raffle.
  • For the first ten days of school, Transportation asks that we don’t write “guest” bus passes for students to ride a different bus so that they can get their accurate bus ridership numbers established. Thank you for your understanding.

Thank you for all of your support as we start the school year. Let me know if you have any questions.



Beth Costa, principal

Henley Happenings: August 16, 2018

Dear Henley Families,

As we get closer to Wednesday’s start, I just wanted to connect with you regarding a couple of informational items:

  • For 6th grade families, please remember to bring in your child’s TDaP form prior to the first day of school. Your child must have his/her immunization to start the first day.
  • We are working on the schedule for the first three days of school. Similar to the elementary school’s morning meeting structure, we build in time as an Advisory period where we connect with students, have fun, and build community. During the first three days, we alter the bell schedule to have more time in Advisory to get to know each other, develop our school-wide social contract, and handle important transition experiences (e.g. lockers, lunch procedures, changing classes, etc.). We will publish the bell schedule early next week so that your child knows what to expect the first three days.
  • We will begin a normal bell schedule on Monday, 27 August.
  • The second segment of our video series-Afternoon Pick-Up- can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szOkMJ8bg34&feature=youtu.be
  • We will have additional staff on hand for dismissal. In my experience, buses are delayed for the first several days of school, and we dismiss car riders and walkers on time, so traffic in the parking lot isn’t compounded by bus departure. Once we have a normal dismissal for all students, we will need to prepare for additional car stoppage time.
  • A reminder that counselors are working as quickly as possible to complete schedules. Thank you in advance for your patience.

Looking forward to seeing many of you on Monday! As always, call or email with feedback and/or questions.



Beth Costa, principal

Happy New Year!

Just a couple of days ago, the “rollover” occurred, signaling the start of the 2018-19 school year. The rollover moves students from one grade to the next in our database. We celebrated students “moving up” in June; this is the electronic moving up event.

Welcome to the new year and, if you are a sixth grader, welcome to Henley! Despite having empty halls and classrooms, we have been very busy with summer activities. Our teachers have been actively participating in professional development, our custodial staff has been preparing our spaces, construction crews have been creating our new learning labs, and our counseling/admin staff has been hiring new teachers and finalizing students’ schedules. We have accomplished a lot and we have a lot left to accomplish.

I hope you all have been having a great summer and I look forward to seeing you on Monday, August 20 from 3:00-5:00 for our Open House event. It is an opportunity for all students to walk their schedule prior to the first day of school and to meet your teachers. Please save the date!

Beth Costa, principal

National School Walkout: Student Demonstration Safety Plan

Dear Henley Families,

I hope you and your child(ren) have had a great week! We have been extremely busy at Henley preparing for EXPO, getting ready for band performances, and learning, learning, learning.

I have struggled with the best way to share the information and safety plan for the upcoming National School Walkout Student Demonstration scheduled for March 14 at 10:00 am. I finally settled on writing a narrative in the hopes of conveying all of the information needed to understand Albemarle County’s position and Henley’s response and objectives to support the physical and emotional safety of ALL students.

To begin, since the announcement of the national demonstrations, we have had numerous conversations with members of our central office staff, as a Henley administration and staff, and with Henley students across all grades. My goals in meeting with and talking with these groups were as follows:

  • To understand the purpose of the demonstrations
  • To hear how ACPS would determine guidelines for the demonstrations
  • To align our Henley Middle School plan for student safety with ACPS
  • To understand the perspectives of various student groups either participating or not participating.
  • To evaluate and adjust our plan as new information became available.

I have now met with staff and students and I feel we are in a good place to share our plan with the school community.

On Wednesday, March 14 at 10:00 am, students have a right to participate in The National School Walkout demonstration. The school’s role is one of support. No staff member from Henley will encourage or discourage a student from participating. Student organizers have proposed to meet in grade level groups to hold their demonstration. The 6th grade will meet on the lower soccer field near the track, the 7th grade will meet on the upper soccer field, and the 8th grade will meet on the black top. Student leaders have written purpose statements that outline why they are walking out. They wrote these in the hopes that their peers who choose to participate will be respectful while attending. It will be up to the adults supervising to ensure that peace and respect exists. For example, this is not a time to run around, laugh, and disrupt the demonstration.

It will be up to the students to lead the demonstration. The school will not announce or signal at any point. Teachers who have students will remain in their classroom with students who are not participating. Teachers who are not teaching, counselors, and administrators will go outside with students as supervisors. Staff will not participate. After 17 minutes students will return to class. If students need additional support, we will have staff available.

We have been talking a lot in our Advisories, not specifically about the demonstrations, but about how to respectfully disagree. We want students to learn that sharing differing opinions, experiences, and worldviews is an exceptionally important part of living and coexisting in a peaceful society. Our students’ worlds are growing and it is important that we help them develop the important life skills that foster and promote civility. Our discussions in Advisory were designed to reinforce these lessons at a time when we might be challenged by events in our lives and in our world.

There will be many students who will question whether they should participate. This is where we could use your help. Please have a conversation with your child about his/her intent. We want students to have individual choice without the fear of other students saying or doing anything to influence a decision. At this age, students are particularly mindful and sensitive to the words and actions of their friends and peers, so a conversation in advance can be so important.

Our school goal is for all students to feel safe at school. We work towards this goal everyday and Wednesday will be the same. Thank you so much for your partnership in your child’s education. As always, please email me directly with any questions (bcosta@k12albemarle.org).


Beth Costa, principal

Henley Happenings

Dear Henley Families,

I have had a chance to talk with parents and students very informally over the past few days. Wednesday’s tragic events weigh heavily on our minds and hearts. I wanted to share with all of you that I take our school’s responsibility to keep every child safe very seriously. I assure you it is our first priority.

We will spend time over the next several days and weeks reviewing our Crisis Management Plan. We will work with ACPD and our School Resource Officer to improve our security measures. We have been interviewing for a School Security Assistant who will maintain a strong presence in our school and help visitors entering our building. This person will stay in place until our security addition is complete.

While we do secure the building and maintain a watchful eye, we recognize that another effective strategy is our relationships with students and our creation of a culture where students report things that do not seem right. To that end, we are increasing our efforts to share this message and strategy with students.

We will continue to use the advisory period as a platform to know all students and to make them feel safe and welcome in our environment. Our teachers have dedicated a significant amount of time to establish a positive climate in their classes and we believe that we can use the power of our relationships to keep each other safe. Please help us reinforce that message at home. Henley is a safe school and we continue to work every day to keep it a safe place.

A couple of other items for you:

  • Monday’s advisory reminds students that if they See Something, Say Something. If you would like to see the lesson, I have provided the link HERE.
  • On Thursday, we will conduct a lockdown drill. Wednesday’s advisory lesson will be around reviewing procedures with students and helping them prepare.
  • Tomorrow’s Snow Make-Up Day is a Blue 1234. Tuesday is also a Blue 1234. Our snow days have almost all been Blue days, so we are trying to catch up!
  • We hope you will join us for Thursday’s forum: Conversations in our Community: Social Media in a Teenager’s World. The social media conversation begins at 6:30, but if you are interested, ACPS is hosting a Learning Technology Expo in the Western Albemarle High School media center (2nd floor) beginning at 6:00 pm. Come see what students and teachers from all over the county are doing with technology.
  • We had a great weekend of student activities-basketball, Destination Imagination, and District Jazz Band. Follow @henleyhornets on Twitter for celebrations, learning opportunities, and other important information.

Thank you for your partnership and for trusting us with your child(ren). We value your input and look forward to hearing from you if you have any feedback or ideas to make Henley an even better learning place for all kids.



Beth Costa, principal



Henley Happenings: January 17

Dear Henley Families,

This is not the email sharing a weather update or school closure, although I can say that our hallways were “abuzz” about the predicted snow!

I wanted to share a couple of things as we move into the week and the end of the 1st semester:

  • The first semester, or second nine weeks, ends Friday. Teachers have a workday on Monday, 1/22, to finalize grades and plan for the second semester. We are waiting to see what tomorrow’s weather brings before we publish due dates for grades, so please be on the lookout for those.
  • Our Advisory lessons on social media and technology have started. One thing I would like to bring to your attention is a new app/tool called Sarahah. Sarahah is a social networking service for providing anonymous feedback. I bring it to your attention because some of our students have reported that unkind posts have been shared anonymously. While the intended use is to post nice or helpful feedback, the anonymous nature of the tool allows for cyberbullying to occur easily. Here is the Common Sense I am sure many use it as intended, but please reinforce with your child(ren) that their negative posts can be harmful and have a negative lasting impact. Used the wrong way, Sarahah could bring out the worst in our children as they struggle to navigate their way through the digital world.
  • To that end, Henley Middle School is teaming with Western Albemarle to host a Social Media Forum. While we have not set a date, we are looking at an early February evening. We want to share information with you, bring in experts and professionals who can help with best practices, and strategies for helping and supporting your child. Please join us. I will have the date to you as soon as it is set.
  • Beginning second semester we will make our Morning Announcements accessible via our website. If you or your child ever wants to check the announcements, they will be available on our homepage
  • Lose something? Our Henley Lost and Found is growing. Please have your child look for lost articles of clothing, water bottles, and lunch boxes if they have misplaced something. We will donate clothes to charity and dispose of lunch boxes at the end of January, so have them look before then.
  • EXPO Night for our 8th grade students and families is January 25th from 5:00-6:30. The change resulted from the team’s desire to make EXPO Night more authentic. 6th and 7th grade EXPO will occur on its original date-March 28th.
  • A HUGE thank you to all of our families who donated food or money to host a holiday luncheon for our teachers. We really appreciate all you do for us!
  • We did not have enough interest in our Modernization Bus Tour of other middle and high schools; however, I will be sure to share more information as we continue with our planning for next year and beyond.
  • Should we have some weather this evening and tomorrow, please be safe! As always, if you have concerns or feedback, please contact me directly.



Beth Costa, principal

Henley Happenings 2018

Dear Henley Families,
Happy New Year! I trust you all had a fabulous break. The students came back on Wednesday full of energy and ready to start the new calendar year. It was great to be back with them!
A couple of informational items as we get started again:

  • This month’s ADVISORY theme is “My Digital World.” We will explore the role of technology and social media in our lives and discuss issues such as digital citizenship and cyber bullying. In my overall assessment, we don’t have a lot of technology/social media issues during school, but often an issue that arises overnight will spill into the school day. We want students to have some time to think about technology in their lives and how they use it.
  • We will add some resources to our PARENTS page on the Henley website. We are adapting lessons from Common Sense and hoping to use what students bring to the conversation as entry points for deeper learning.
  • My new year’s resolution is to spend more time updating the principal’s blog. I think it will be helpful in communicating more of what happens at Henley, in addition to helping families understand our school goals and priorities. A link to my blog is also on the PARENTS page. It says principal’s blog, but I imagine having my admin team, staff, and students contribute.
  • The end of the semester is January 19. We will send an email when grades have been stored. Please encourage your child to finish strong and ask for help if he/she needs it.
  • Are you interested in taking a “Day Tour” of some of the schools that have had modernization and security updates? On January 22 from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. we will travel to Walton and Jouett Middle Schools and WAHS to take a look at their new classrooms and spaces. Please join us! I have reserved a bus or you can always drive and meet us. Interested? Please RSVP HERE
  • And lastly, everyone’s favorite topic…the Henley parking lot. In an ongoing effort to make pick up and drop off safer, we are implementing another safety measure for pick up at the end of the day. First, just a couple of review points:
    • As you know, we have asked for drivers to heed to the NO PARKING signs that have been posted to avoid blockage and congestion.
    •  We ask that you do not block other cars in any lot.
    • Maintain an appropriate speed and be mindful of students crossing and walking.
    • Communicate an area with your child for pick up to maintain his/her safety
    • Spill over parking should occur in the Brownsville lot.
  • Starting Monday, we will block off the upper exit of the Brownsville parking lot. From 4:05-4:20 all cars must exit from the bottom of the lot by the pine trees/baseball field. Mr. Crutchfield at BES will communicate with his families so that they are aware of the change. Our purpose in doing this is to create fewer lines of cars trying to exit both lots. If you have been one of these cars, you know that significant delays can occur when three or more lines of cars are attempting to exit at once. We think this will help with time. As always, we will monitor and adjust. Thank you for your cooperation as we implement this change.

OK, I think that’s it! Please feel free to email with any suggestions or feedback. I enjoy hearing from you.

Happy New Year!

I woke up with the most amazing feeling! All of a sudden four months of Henley events, community celebrations, students successes, and our collective challenges synthesized into a new year. I look back at what we have accomplished as a school community and I believe we are the right track to provide high quality learning experiences for each and every child who walks through our doors each day.

With the advent of a new year, we can recommit to our goals for the school year and add resolutions for the coming of 2018. I feel a renewed energy to connect with students, for them to know that I care for their social, emotional, and academic well being. I want them to feel safe and connected to adults in our building. I want them to feel visible. If they do, we are on the right track and students are thriving.

The Winter Formal is Almost Here!

The Winter Formal is Friday! Students are very excited for this event. Our SCA has decorated the cafeteria; it looks festive and amazing.

A couple of things to help students and parents prepare:
• The dance is from 6:30-8:30 pm. Tickets are $5 and are sold at the door. All students must have a permission form including a family/guardian contact number.
• Student attire runs the range from casual to semi-formal. Boys will be dressed in a collared shirt and/or tie. Girls wear dresses, skirts, or dress slacks. Students can wear the clothes they wore to school.
• Pick up promptly at 8:30 is appreciated.
• If students need to be picked up early, parents must come inside the school to pick them up; however, parents are not permitted to be in the dance area. A teacher or chaperone can help you locate your child.
• All school rules are in effect.
• Refreshments can be purchased (pizza, fruit, snacks, candy, water, and soda will be available)

I hope all students have a great experience!