Letter to Damascus ES Community

Damascus Elementary School Community:

This has been a traumatic week for our nation, and I have spent several days reflecting on what to say.  Today, I write to you to both reflect on these national tragedies and reaffirm our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students and community. The death of George Floyd, is the latest to bring  to the surface the racial inequities that have and continue to impact our society. We tend to believe that young children are unaffected by race. We hear often that children don’t see color and that racism is something that they learn when they are much older. These are falsehoods that continue to propel racism and its ugly outcomes. Research has shown that children can understand race and can develop racial bias as early as six-months old

Moving forward, Damascus Elementary School is committed to be involved in implicit bias training, Restorative Justice training, cultural competency work, and the design of systems that ensure that all of our students have access to rigorous learning opportunities. This work is not enough and we continue to focus on relationships with all of our students, making sure that, regardless of the color of their skin or how they identify racially or in any other way, they feel safe coming to school. Our beliefs directly align with the message that Dr. Smith sent to the entire MCPS community this weekend. All means ALL.

As a father of three young children, principal to young children, and a person that grew up in a multi-racial family, I share that having these conversations at this age are critical to our students’ understanding of race and its impact on our society. Yes, they can be uncomfortable, but we can collectively broaden the understanding of our children in the hope that the violence we see being perpetuated against human beings can be ended. 

Please find a few resources attached to support your conversations with young children at home.

If your child needs additional comfort or support from the school this week, please do not hesitate to reach out to Mrs. Howard, Mrs. Burton, your child’s teacher, or me. We are all here to help our children and their families process their feelings and questions at this critical time.

Spencer Delisle


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Welcome Back DES Dragons!

Greetings fellow Dragons!

Welcome to a new year of school and a new year of PTA. If this is your first year at Damascus Elementary School (DES), I would like to extend a very warm welcome to each of you. If you are a “seasoned” DES Dragon family, I know that you are as excited as we are to be starting the school year up again. As I embark on my first year as your PTA President, I am looking forward to continuing the working partnership the DES-PTA has established over the years with our amazing teachers, invaluable staff, and unbeatable community. Together we will provide an excellent, fun, and supportive learning experience for our children.

The DES-PTA is an integral part of the DES Dragon family. From hosting fun events during the school year, such as the Fall Fun Fest, Science Fair, and Movie Night, to providing support for our teachers and staff through Parents Helping Teachers group, Staff Appreciation events, coordinating room parents, and support for field trips – just to name a few. This can only be possible through your support.

We have two major fundraisers during the year, along with monthly Spirit Nights at local restaurants and Dragon Donations. October 14-18th is the DES-PTA hosted Scholastic Book Fair, our first major fundraiser. We raised more than $7,000 last year, which helped purchase new books for classrooms and our media center, chairs for our SCB students waiting for buses, and helped support class field trips. Our second, and largest, annual fundraiser is the Dragon Read-a-Thon in the spring. Last year, the Dragon Read-a-Thon raised more than $9,000. The proceeds helped support fun events the DES-PTA provides for students and families throughout the year, like cultural arts assemblies, the Dragon Dance, Movie Night and more.

All of this takes the hard work and dedication of our community members. Each one of us brings different skills, talents, and resources that are invaluable to making DES ROAR! For some it is volunteering in our classrooms. For others, it is heading up or joining a committee. And for others, it’s contributing to our fundraisers or Dragon Donations. We all want the very best education and experience for our children, and that is why your involvement and support is critical. Even one hour of time is worth so much. Please get involved, meet your neighbors, and help support DES. You will not regret it!

See you at the first PTA meeting on Tuesday, October 1st, 7PM in the DES Media Center!

Warm regards,

Kristen Grady
DES-PTA President 2019-21

Mark your Calendars!

  • Spirit Night – Jimmie Cone, September 16
  • PTA Meeting – DES Media Center, October 1
  • Event and Fundraiser – Fall Fun Fest at Char-Lene Farm, October 8
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Dragon News – May 2019

In this issue:

PTA President’s Message

As we reach the end of the school year, I want to thank everyone for their hard work and support. In April, we focused on the Read-A-Thon, and it was a truly successful event. Our readers read a total of 162,652 minutes beating our total from last year. Way to go! We have also raised more than $6,500. Thank you for your generosity. Our students reached their school goals to earn a free seating lunch, an outdoor lunch, a recess dance party with DJ, and our meet a reptile assembly from Reptile Wonders. Thank you so much to Laurie, Kristen, Diane, Anna, Caitlyn, and everyone who helped make our Read-A-Thon a huge success. Thank you also to Leanne for her work in arranging our Reptile Wonders event. Thank you to all of our staff who participated as readers at Passport to Reading Night and to Ms. Amy and the staff of the Damascus library who participated in our Passport to Reading night and provided our craft opportunities at the public library. Thank you to our SSL helpers who made the evening run smoothly: Katherine, Gracie, Lucas, Billy, Jeremy, Tyler, Samantha, Hadyn, and Justin. I wanted to say a special thank you to Laurie who created our Read-A-Thon program and has organized it for many years as she moves onto Baker MS. It is an amazing program!

In April, we also hosted an ice cream party to celebrate our readers from the Reading Incentive Calendars. Thank you to Kerry, Trish, Jill, Victoria, and Ashley for their work on our Reading Incentive Program all year!

Congratulations to all of our Dashing Dragons on their training this Spring. We will be running our 5K on Saturday, May 11. Go Dragons! Thank you to Anna, Jen, Christine, Melissa and our guest runners for making this program possible.

Parents Helping Teachers just finished their last meeting of the year. Thank you to Dawn, Donna, Kristen, Theresa, Wendy, and all of our helpers throughout the year. It is so helpful to all of our teachers that you are able to give them the gift of time!

Information is now available to register for kindergarten next year on the school website at https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/damascuses/news/index.aspx?id=627428 Kindergarten Orientation will be held on Monday, May 20. That means May 20 will be a no school day for current kindergarteners so teachers can meet next year’s group. We are looking for adult helpers for that day – see our volunteer opportunities page to sign up.

Be on the lookout for the following PTA events:

  • May 6-10: Teacher Appreciation Week
  • May 7: Spirit Night at Maggi’s (our PTA meeting this evening is cancelled)
  • May 10: Muffins with Mom, 8:45 a.m. in the All Purpose Room. Come enjoy light refreshments with your child before school (view the flier).
  • May 20: Kindergarten Orientation
  • May 23: Greenhouse Open house, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
  • May 29: Walking Field Trip to Jimmie Cone for Read-A-Thon top readers and fundraisers during recesses
  • May 30: Teddy Bear Picnic for incoming Kindergarteners, 6-7 p.m.
  • June 5: Field Day
  • June 7: Donuts with Dad, 8:45 a.m. in the All Purpose Room
  • June 10: Fifth Grade Promotion
  • June 12: Fifth Grade Celebration
  • June 14: Last Day of School/Early Release

This is our last newsletter of the year, and I wanted to thank you for allowing me to serve as President these past two years. Congratulations to our incoming PTA officers and board members for next year!

  • President – Kristen Kloster-Grady
  • Vice President – Christine Derby
  • Secretary – Beth Walter
  • Treasurer – Dawn Schwab
  • Board – Melody Brown, Jennifer Clevenger, Anna Egan, Wendy King, Nora Hernandez, Diane Loomis, Melissa North, and Kerry Potcner.

As always, thank you for all that you do to make our school amazing!

~ Christine Derby, DES PTA President

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Restaurant Spirit Night

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the Restaurant Spirit Nights this school year! Our last spirit night of the year will be on Tuesday, May 7 at Maggi’s Pizza and Deli from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Make sure to mention DES! Ledos was our April spirit night; thank you for coming out. DES raised a little over $100! Again, thanks so much for coming out and supporting DES. Have a spectacular summer!

~ Ashley LeFave, Chair

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Staff Appreciation

Last month, the Staff Appreciation Committee made our wonderful staff members seed packets to celebrate Spring. We also gave Mrs. DeMarzio and Mrs. Paris flowers to celebrate Administrative Professionals Day and thank them for all that they do!

For the month of May, we have a lot of things planned for Staff Appreciation week. Monday, we are delivering an assortment of pastries in the staff lounge, Tuesday is ice cream day in the lounge, Wednesday is a gift card raffle, Thursday cake pops will be delivered to their mailboxes and Friday is a catered Chipotle lunch.

Lastly in June, we have a special end of the year gift that is still in the works. We can’t believe how fast this year has flown by and can’t thank our wonderful staff enough for all of their hard work!

~ Jennifer Clevenger, Chair

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Damascus Cluster Board of Education Meeting

The Board of Education is coming to meet with families in the Damascus Cluster and you are invited to attend.

Woodfield Elementary School
24200 Woodfield Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20882
Thursday, May 9, 2019, 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.

We will be discussing school facilities, the curriculum, safety and security in our schools, and questions that you may have for the Board of Education.

If you have a specific question you may submit it ahead of time to Damascuscluster@mccpta.org to be reviewed by the moderator.

This is a great opportunity to hear the Board of Education talk about the needs of our schools.

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Festival of the Greens featuring our DES Greenhouse

When and Where?

  • May 23, 2019, 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.
  • Damascus Elementary School blacktop
  • Admission: one non perishable food item (to be donated to Damascus Help)


  • Greenhouse tours: You will be able to take a tour of our greenhouse and see the plants that we have grown
  • Tasting: You will be able to try out some of the plants and herbs we have grown in our very own greenhouse this spring
  • Booths: There will be informational booths hosted by people from our community who are farmers, students and vendors
  • Animals: Petting Zoo will be available at no charge

We want to help show how important it is to eat and grow local foods, as well as help the less fortunate around us. There are so many ways to get involved in the community to make a difference. Even the little things can have an impact.

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PTA Communications

This year the DES-PTA has been focused on transitioning to a more digital presence and we want you to be part of that transition!

E-MAIL: We’ve changed things up a bit this year and the DES-PTA email announcements, reminders, and volunteering opportunities (for adults AND older MoCo student’s looking for SSL hours!) are now going through Mailchimp – if you haven’t signed up yet please do so at:


SOCIAL: DES-PTA is on FACEBOOK! If you haven’t checked out our FB page yet, go to https://www.facebook.com/damascusPTA/ and “LIKE” us! Our Facebook page will keep you up to date with DES-PTA events, meetings and fundraisers. And if you are interested in the different areas the DES-PTA is involved in take a look at the ‘Services’ section on the left hand menu of our Facebook home page!

DES ONLINE SPIRITWEAR SHOP: Don’t forget DES-Spirit Wear is now available all year around! Order online at:


The DES Spirit Wear Store on Zazzle allows you to choose your favorite DES design and then pick the T-Shirt, sweatshirt, or tank-top style you want. Each style comes in a variety of colors for you to choose from too! Just click on the design you like and you’ll see all of the options on the right hand side.

Purchasing DES Spirit Wear through Zazzle helps the DES-PTA support the DES school community with field trips, educational programs, books, supplies, staff appreciation and more. See the PTA website or Facebook page for more information about the DES-PTA programs.

We are looking for a creative soul to help us design new items for the DES-PTA Zazzle shop. Please email KKlosterGrady@gmail.com if your interested in helping.

~ Kristen Kloster-Grady, Vice-President

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Clothing Donations Needed

Sometimes accidents happen. The health room is currently looking for donations of clean clothing that can be used to change in case of an accident at school. Clothing can be any elementary school size for either boys or girls. Soft sweat pants are especially helpful. Donations can be sent directly to Ms. Floyd in the health room. Thank you for your generosity.

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Volunteer Training Requirement

Please remember that if you are planning to help at school this year (this includes field trips), you will need to bring a photo ID to come into the building. However, Montgomery County has a volunteer requirement that they feel will help to keep our children safe. The online training on Child Abuse and Neglect is designed to help volunteers be aware of signs of potential abuse and neglect and how to handle situations where you might suspect abuse and neglect. This training is required for adults who would like to volunteer within the school building or attend field trips. The same training is required for any Montgomery County school including Baker MS and Damascus HS. Montgomery County has decided that the training will be good for three years. So if you took it last year, you do not need to retake it this year.

The training is available online at: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/childabuseandneglect/

It takes roughly 25 minutes to complete. At the end you will be provided with a confirmation number and the system will send you an email showing that you have completed the training. You will need to show this email to the office when you come to volunteer. If you have any questions or concerns, including the need for computer access, please contact Christine at derbyjc@bellatlantic.net.

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