December 7, 2018 | Vol 12, Iss 16, No 412


As we watch 2018 wind down, we still have to hold some wonderful events. This week was no exception. The Holiday Market happened this week. Aside from the band final, the Band and Chorus have been busy performing day and night for students, parents and staff - I could be wrong, but there were at least 3 performances. There has been a lot of reviewing going on in all of our classes and the One Act Play was presented today. There was a Winter Learning preparation meeting, an ugly sweater day in Upper, and a field trip today in Middle. It has been a very busy week.

So much is going on just here at school, I can't begin to guess what your home lives are like, especially since this week is Hanukkah, and we are coming up to Christmas. I hope that you are taking a little bit of time to experience all of the wonderful-ness of the season. I am reminded of a moment with my granddaughter several years ago, she was just 3. We were leaving my sister's house after dark. K noticed all of the pretty lights on the house that she couldn't see in the daytime. As I carried her, she gently put her hands on either side of my face and turned my head to see. Breathlessly and sweetly she whispered, "My was in there?" I whispered back, "Yes." And we both stood there in awe and wonder for just a moment. If it all hadn't been new to her, I would not have even noticed. Moments are what memories are made of ... don't miss one.

Fine Artist of the Week

They picked the songs. They learned their music. They got dressed up in their finest outfits. They showed up on time and prepared to rock. AND THEY ROCKED! Way to go MSA Band members - every single one of you has earned the title "BAND STUDENT OF THE WEEK" this week! You should be proud of yourselves - and we, your directors, are so proud of you.


Feature Teacher

Meet Matt Orred! Matt teaches Math in Communication Arts, this is his first year as a teacher, but he has been around in a Dad capacity since 2012. He likes the community, the students and the flexibility to teach them effectively. His philosophy is to work together to achieve success and growth. He says, "I believe in creating a place where students can learn their way, by engaging them and encouraging them, then finding solutions together."

Outside of school he is married to Susan, they have a son and twin daughters, as well as three grandchildren. He loves spicy food, especially Thai food. In his spare time he plays video games, listens to music, enjoys movies, art, and photography. Currently he is reading, "Britt-Marie Was Here" by Fredrick Backman. And here is an interesting little tidbit: He actively performs in THREE working rock bands!

Thank you for what you do Matt.


College Acceptances

Congratulations to Lauren Gomez! She has been accepted to the following schools:

  • Georgia College
  • Georgia Southern University
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Old Dominion University

Way to Go!


Winter Holidays Around the World

In Kaylee's third grade reading class, we are reading our last book of the semester, "Horrible Harry and the Holidaze." The students in the book are learning about and celebrating five different winter holidays, so we are doing the same! Last week, we learned about and celebrated Three Kings Day and Kwanzaa. We celebrated Three Kings Day by putting our shoes out for the three wise men to leave us gifts, making crowns to wear, and decorating and eating our own crown cakes, one of which contained a baby to bring good luck to the person who finds it. We also celebrated Kwanzaa by making a Kwanzaa candle, eating popcorn, and playing Pass the Corn. This week, we read about Hanukkah and Korean New Year. We celebrated Hanukkah by eating latkes, listening to Hanukkah songs, playing dreidel, and eating the gelt (chocolate coins). We celebrated Korean New Year by making kites, eating rice cakes, and doing a New Year's resolution Mad Lib. Next week, we will read the last chapter of "Horrible Harry and the Holidaze," which is about Christmas. We will celebrate by decorating Christmas sugar cookies, doing a reindeer craft, and playing pin the ornament on the tree. We are enjoying learning about different holidays, and discussing the book and the vocabulary that goes along with each holiday. Pictured are L) Owen Burke and R) Neil Mukana during the Kwanzaa celebration enjoying some popcorn while they color a kinara (candle holder).


Sign Up for the Exam Bus

If your student is in PreUpper, CommArts, or Upper and will need to ride the Exam Bus during exam week, here is your chance to sign up


If you already ride the bus in the afternoon, you can take the Exam Bus at no cost - you are already paying for it. Please make sure you review the stops, it is the same route as the Late Bus.


If you don't ride the afternoon bus, but would like to take advantage of the Exam Bus, still check the route, and then make sure you sign up to ride the Exam Bus. The cost is $20 per ride.


Will We Escape?

Guest Journalist - Temima Izenberg, PU7

This semester, the 7th grade class went to an escape room.  There were 4 different ones that we did: CDC, FBI, Jewelry Heist, and a Magician Room. I think that this was truly a wonderful experience because it was a really good team building time and it showed you that you have to work together. If you don't then you will never get out of the room. Unfortunately, my team didn't escape, but the magician's team did. I think that everyone enjoyed this experience as much as I did.  We have had a great semester in our Language Arts class with Mrs. Courtney. Pictured is Edward Gorgoll with his masked classmates.


PreUpper/CommArts/Upper Exams Soon

The students in 7th-12th grades have been hard at work reviewing for their upcoming exams. One exam each day, here is the schedule:

  • Tuesday, December 11 -- Period 1
  • Wednesday, December 12 -- Period 2
  • Thursday, December 13 -- Period 3
  • Friday, December 14 -- Period 4
  • Monday, December 17 -- Period 5
  • Tuesday, December 18 -- Period 6


Remember - YOU got this!


Soon to be Published Authors

Middle School writing classes are writing books with Amy! We are writing two whole grade level books; one authored by 5th graders and one authored by 6th graders. The 5th graders are writing a book called "How to Help the World," with positive tips about things that will bring us together rather than divide us. Sixth graders are authoring a book called "Tips for Going to Middle School," where they write helpful advice for upcoming Middle School students. We are in the pre-writing and rough drafting stages of our writing, with a publishing date scheduled for early February. We are so excited to be published authors! Pictured standing: Katie McCullers, Ward Sutlive, Steele Ross. Pictured sitting: Maggie Erlacher and Claire McAllister.


Winter Holiday

Make sure you have the Winter Holiday on your calendar:


Early Dismissal - Wednesday, December 19

12:15pm Carpool

12:30pm Buses Depart


School Closed - December 20 - January 4

The school will be closed and we hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.


Looking for Story Plot Lines

What would you do if you were wrongly accused and convicted of a crime, and you were sentenced to a cruel and unusual punishment? How would you try to prove you were innocent?

This is what my students are discovering about Stanley Yelnats in the novel "Holes" by Louis Sachar. The students are exploring how the various plot lines in "Holes" are connected. They matched and collected symbols and key ideas that appear throughout the story and in multiple story strands. My students answered questions about the plot of the story "Holes", make decisions using their understanding of the cause-and-effect relationships, and exercise problem-solving skills in an online activity. Lastly, the students made connections between Louis Sachar's life and his work, specifically his book "Holes". The interviews with Louis Sachar also provide students with insight into the writing process.

--Taniah Jones, CommArts Instructor and Asst. Principal


Attention Parents - DEADLINE EXTENDED

The deadline to contribute to this year's Teacher and Staff Holiday Gift collection has been extended. All contributions must now be delivered by Friday, December 14th, so the checks can be prepared in time for the Faculty Holiday Luncheon which is scheduled for Tuesday, December 18th. Each year, MSA parents have generously thanked our teachers and staff  with a group cash gift.  No amount is too big or too small!!  Remember, you get the added advantage of not having to go buy gifts for staff, teachers and your child's principal at those pesky crowded stores!!


You can mail a check for your entire donation payable to MSA PVA to the school or feel free to personally deposit your envelope in the decorative holiday basket located in the Administration Building. You can also make an online payment through the MSA PVA Store. Just go to Scroll down to Teacher & Staff Gift Contribution. Enter the amount you would like to contribute along with your name and email address. Then click "Submit."


Together, we can make this a very special holiday season for the INCREDIBLE teachers and staff of Mill Springs Academy.


If you should have any questions or concerns then please do not hesitate to contact Debbie Drew. Thank You.  


New Responsive Design to ParentsWeb

You may have noticed that there has been a refreshing update to ParentsWeb (soon-to-be FACTS Family Online). This update provides a free, accessible, and easy-to-use mobile experience for you. Now you can access ParentsWeb features and functions directly from the device of your choice, whether that is a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or even a cellphone (without having to purchase the Home app).


It is accessed in the same way you always have from the MSA website - click QUICKLINKS and select the RenWeb/FACTS logo. Once you get there make sure to bookmark it or save it as a favorite. You can log in the way you always have. Just call us if you have any questions!


Book Club Projects

This week in MG's Language Arts classes students began presentations of their book club projects. Over the course of the semester, students formed small groups and chose an appropriate book to read outside of class. Students read and discussed their books independently over the past few weeks but as they approached the end of the reading process, they began formulating a creative project and presentation related to their book. These projects allowed the students an opportunity to work collaboratively and creatively on a long-term project and to develop their time-management skills throughout the reading process. Some of the projects that students put together included animated video shorts, cakes decorated with scenes from their books, tri-fold posters, and collaboratively-written alternative endings for their books.  "It was fun to have the freedom to make something creative for a Language Arts class," said 8th grader Jacob Riggins.  Once the presentations were complete, students had the opportunity to be appropriately critical and anonymously evaluate their group's success. Next semester, students will engage in this process again but will have the chance to change groups if they so choose. All in all, it was a fun week of collaboration and creativity in the PreUpper School!  Pictured: Andrew Smith, Michael Mendoza, Jack Craven, and Ryan Lanzo with their custom-made cake depicting a scene from Saving Private Ryan.


Save the Date!

The Mill Springs Academy

Parent Volunteer Association Presents

Mustang Mardi Gras

Live and Silent Auction

February 9, 2019


Naylor Hall, Roswell GA


The PVA is actively planning for this fun event! We hope you all will join us as we raise money for the next MSA Capital Campaign that will include a new Fine Arts Building.

Please consider Sponsoring the event or donating an item for the Live or Silent Auction. Follow the links below for more information.


 Questions? Contact us at


It's a Debate!

This week in Brad's U.S. History class students participated in class debates.  Debate topics ranged from Causes of the Civil War, Homework, Electoral College, Daylight Savings, Minimum Wage, and Video Games Causing Violence.  Students began the debate process by researching their topics and coming up with reasons to support their side based on the research.  Using debates in the classroom can help students grasp essential critical thinking and presentation skills. Among the skills classroom debates can foster are abstract thinking, citizenship and etiquette, clarity, organization, persuasion, public speaking, research, and teamwork and cooperation. Pic 1: Mia Nemesh and Drew Horton debate on whether Daylight Savings should still exist. Fun Fact: Studies show that there is an increase in profits for BBQ and golfing because of Daylight Savings! Pic 2: Taylor Mallady and Ryan Rafuse debate on the Electoral College and if the system should be abolished!


We are Winners!

Congratulations to all the Middle School basketball team! We beat Cottage 46-27. Every student on the team played and were so important to the team. Give Will Harvin a big high-five because he played in his first game and drew a foul and made a foul shot! Thanks to all the cheerleaders/spirit team for coming out and making our game fantastic! Come out and see us play after the break!

--Courtney Smith, Coach and PreUpper Instructor


Mythical Writing

Our PreUpper Creative Writing class has finished writing their variations of myths and have officially posted them to our blog. If you would like to read them, feel free to click on THIS LINK to view "The Power of Myth" submissions.

--Michael Griffeth, PreUpper Instructor


Are YOU Stuck?

If so, GREAT! Wait, what? Great? Yes that is great! If you are not STUCK, then let me help you get STUCK. I have lots of stickers (pictured above) in the closet that are just waiting to be STUCK to the window of your car, truck, mini van, bus, whatever you drive. If you don't have a sticker STUCK to the window of your car, come on by and I will be glad to give you one for every car you have. I'd love to see your car in front of me on the road one day! Come get STUCK!

--Cheri Harwood, Director of Communications


Community Cares & Concerns

The Allen Family
The Buckley Family
 The Holt Family
The Izenberg Family
The Smith Family

If there is ever a care or concern you would like to share with the community, please just email me at any time, I will be glad to include either names or situations. For privacy, I will only list names and claim ignorance if anyone asks me for details. Cheri 

 "Promises may get friends but 'tis performance that keeps them."

 --Benjamin Franklin



Friday, December 7

  • 5:00pm, Girls Varsity Basketball @Brandon Hall
  • 6:30pm, Boys Varsity Basketball @Brandon Hall


Monday, December 10

  • ACT Testing Window through 12/18
  • Exam Review Day PU/CA/U
  • 12:00pm, Chick-fil-A Day
  • 12:15pm, Band Party
  • 3:30pm, Boys Middle Basketball @Swift School
  • Hanukkah ends at Sundown


Tuesday, December 11

  • 1st Period Exam PU/CA/U


Wednesday, December 12

  • 2nd Period Exam PU/CA/U
  • 8:30am, Rising 9th Grade Parent Breakfast, Upper Great Room


Thursday, December 13

  • 3rd Period Exam PU/CA/U
  • 8:30am, Rising CommArts 7th Grade Parent Breakfast, Upper Great Room
  • Last Day Fall PM Program


Friday, December 14

  • 4th Period Exam PU/CA/U


Saturday, December 15

  • 3:00pm, Alumni Holiday Party, Middle Great Room


Monday, December 17

  • 5th Period Exam PU/CA/U
  • Chick-fil-A Day L/M Only


Tuesday, December 18

  • 6th Period Exam
  • 11:30am, Faculty Holiday Luncheon


Wednesday, December 19

  • EARLY DISMISSAL - 12:15pm Carpool, 12:30pm Bus Departs


December 20 - January 4

Winter Holiday - School Closed



13660 New Providence Road • Alpharetta, GA 30004 • (770) 360-1336

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