- What are school hours?
- When is the school store open?
- Is there a campus map available?
- How can prospective students learn more about the school?
- Is there a school calendar?
- How does drop off work?
- How does dismissal work?
- What is the FBMS uniform and where can I purchase one?
- What school supplies do students need? Does the PTO provide the opportunity to buy school supply packages?
- What is the school electronics policy? Is WiFi available for student use?
- How can I find out what is going on at FBMS or with the PTO?
- How can I find out about my student's assignments or grades?
- How can I volunteer?
- How can I support FBMS and the FBMS PTO?
- What is Panther Camp? What opportunities are there for incoming 6th graders to meet classmates or learn about their new school?
- What type of backpack do students need? Do they have lockers?
- What does a student's schedule look like?
- What are i-clubs?
- What is the house system? How does my student find out what house he or she is in?
- When do students have lunch? What is “active lunch”?
- Who should a student see regarding questions about classes or schedules?
- What courses do students take? Does FBMS offer advanced courses?
- What electives are offered at FBMS?
- What sports are available at FBMS?
- Is there summer homework at FBMS?
WHAT ARE SCHOOL HOURS?
School hours in 2017-18 are 7:50 am to 3:25 pm
7:00 am: Doors open
7:00-7:45am: 6th graders to the cafeteria; 7th and 8th graders to the gym
7:45 am: Students dismissed from cafeteria/gym to go to class
7:50 am: Tardy bell
3:25 pm: Dismissal bell.
4:00 pm: Any students remaining on campus at 4:00 pm must go to the cafeteria unless they are participating in tutorials or a school-related extracurricular activity
For a detailed bell schedule, click here.
NOTE: Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, HISD has standardized school start times. All middle schools will run from 8:30am to 3:50pm.
WHAT DOES A STUDENT’S SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?
The FBMS bell schedule can be viewed here.
Students start every day with homeroom. After homeroom, FBMS operates on a block schedule, with A days and B days alternating. All students take four core classes (math, language arts, science, and social studies) and four electives. Math and language arts meet every day (both A days AND B days). All other classes meet every other day (A days OR B days). Lunch and A3/B3 share a longer block, so that half of the students attend “first lunch,” then A3 or B3, while the other half attend A3 or B3 and then “second lunch.” Students have 4 minutes between classes. This is not a lot of time for a big campus, but the kids get the hang of it! Teachers are generally forgiving the first week as new students learn their way around.
The bell schedule is slightly modified for early dismissal and Fridays for i-clubs and occasional assemblies or other events. Those schedules follow the A or B day schedule, just with shorter class periods to allow for the early dismissal or i-club time at the end of the day.
NOTE: The above is subject to change depending on district requirements.
PRO-TIP: The computer-generated schedule can be difficult to read. Consider having your student rewrite it into the A-day schedule and the B-day schedule (with room numbers and building if needed) and keeping that handy with his or her ID or binder where it can easily be referred to the first couple of weeks until known by heart. It is also helpful for new students to walk their schedule during Panther Camp to get an idea of where they are going.
What are i-clubs?
I-clubs are classes that meet at the end of the school day (during school hours) on Fridays. They are for fun and not for a grade. Note that i-clubs do not meet every Friday, as that time period is also reserved for other special school activities or assemblies. The i-clubs that are available vary each semester.
Students will be allowed to make their i-club choices after the school year is underway. Students typically select a few preferences. Every effort is made to accommodate one of those preferences, if possible, but first choices are not guaranteed.
PRO-TIP: The list of i-clubs are given in home room after the school year is underway. Until then, Friday i-club periods are usually used for other events like grade-level assemblies, house cup challenges, etc. Students will generally select their i-club preference without assistance of their parents. This is a good thing for them to take responsibility for! Remember, it’s for fun, not for a grade!
What is the house system? How does my student find out what house he or she is in?
Each student at FBMS is placed into one of three “houses”--Griffin, Pegasus, or Phoenix. Students will find out the house to which they have been assigned at incoming Panther Camp. Students stay in the same house during all three years at FBMS. Each house has a mix of students from all academic levels. The houses earn “house points” for various activities, and there is sometimes a “house cup competition” event, often on Fridays. The house that leads the house cup competition receives special privileges like wearing jeans on Wednesday with their house shirt. The house system is just one of the ways that FBMS fosters camaraderie and strives to make middle school fun!
When do students have lunch? What is “active lunch”?
Lunch is divided into “first lunch” or “second lunch,” in a longer block alternating with A3/B3. (In other words, some students will go to lunch first, then third period. Other students will go to third period, then second lunch.) Lunch times are listed on the bell schedule. Signs will be posted at the beginning of school that will allow students to determine which lunch period they have based on their A3/B3 teacher(s).
At FBMS, students may eat lunch in the cafeteria or outside. The PTO has purchased several picnic tables that add to the outdoor eating space. In addition, students have use of the fields and basketball court if they want to exercise or play. Many students learn better when they are able to get more physical activity during the day. That is why FBMS offers this “active lunch” option. Students may also go to the library (for safety reasons, the number of students allowed in the library must be limited.) To minimize back and forth, students may be required to go outside by a certain time or else stay where they are.
Who should a student see regarding questions about classes or schedules?
Vanguard students should see the Vanguard dean. All other students should see their grade-level dean. Contact information for the deans is on the “Faculty and Staff” page of the FBMS website.
To make changes in a student’s schedule, the student should fill out a drop/add form. Drop/add forms go home the first week of school. Keep in mind that core classes cannot be changed.
PRO-TIP: There are always schedule changes at the beginning of school. Just make sure your child knows when drop/add forms are due. This will be announced to them. Be patient, and contact the appropriate dean if you have any questions.
What courses do students take? Does FBMS offer advanced courses?
Each year all students take four core courses and four elective courses. The four core courses are language arts, math, science, and social studies. Social studies consists of World Cultures for 6th grade, Texas History for 7th grade, and U.S. History for 8th grade. Language arts and math are “double” courses in that students have those classes every day (A days and B days). Students have science and social studies (as well as electives) every other day. See here for an explanation of block scheduling.
FBMS offers four academic levels of courses: (1) Vanguard (advanced, requires GT qualification by HISD), (2) Pre-AP (advanced), (3) Academic (on-level), and (4) Special Education.
Beginning in 7th and 8th grade, students have the option of taking advanced classes for high school credit. Classes currently offered for high school credit include Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, Principles of Information Technology, Concepts of Engineering, and Spanish. Some classes require pre-qualification or prerequisites.
What electives are offered at FBMS?
FBMS offers a wide variety of electives. Offerings may vary, but generally FBMS has offered over the past few years Beginner Art, Intermediate Art, Advanced Art, Athletics, Beginner Band, Intermediate Band, Advanced Band, Beginner Choir, Advanced Choir, Dance, Engineering, History Fair, Beginner Karate, Intermediate Karate, Advanced Karate, LCDC, Physical Education, Principles of Technology, Public Speaking, Science Fair, Spanish I, Spanish II, Technical Applications, Beginner Theater, Intermediate Theater, Advanced Theater, and Yearbook. Students make their elective choices and receive the classes that best work with their preferences, schedules, and class availability. Please note that your child may not get their top choices every time, as some classes are more popular than others and administrators have to balance demands with class sizes, as well as the schedules of over 1000 students. In addition, some electives have prerequisites or are available only to certain grade levels. Sixth graders may be required to take certain electives, such as P.E.
How does drop off work?
New parents will discover that most middle schoolers do not wish to be walked into school. Parking is limited, but the traffic line moves fairly quickly. Students should be dropped off by driving through the parking lot. Enter the parking lot on Piney Woods Drive and exit onto Chantilly Lane. The parking lot is one-way only, so cars may NOT enter on Chantilly Lane. There will be two lines of cars dropping off. There is usually a police officer directing traffic at the intersection near the parking lot entrance, and a staff member directing traffic inside the parking lot. Please be careful and watch for students. Safety is the first priority!
Please do NOT park on Piney Woods Drive or Chantilly, as it creates a bottleneck due to the streets being narrow. It also leads to confusion on what line of cars is moving and which ones are parked. Utilizing the pick up/drop off line is safer and more efficient for everyone.
PRO-TIP: Drop off and pickup the first day of school is crazy at just about every school. And FBMS is located in close proximity to two elementary schools, which makes it even busier. It calms down very quickly and becomes very orderly. Just allow a bit of extra time that first week!
How does dismissal work?
Middle school students are dismissed when the bell rings. They are not escorted out of school. You may pick up in the parking lot after school. Students are also free to walk home once they are dismissed. For safety reasons, however, if students leave the school premises they may not be allowed to walk back in.
By 4pm, students who remain at school must go to the library. Students who attend the after school program in the library must be signed out when they are picked up.
Many middle school students also stay after school for various extracurricular activities or for tutorials. In general, they are released when those activities are over and may come outside to be picked up in the parking lot by waiting parents. You need to communicate with your child about when they should be picked up.
What is the FBMS uniform and where can I purchase one?
Standard uniform: Khaki pants, shorts, or skirts with polo-type shirt that is color-coded by grade (6th - red, 7th - gray, 8th - black).
FBMS T-shirts: Students may also wear any FBMS-sponsored t-shirt (no matter the color) on any day with khaki bottoms. Examples are t-shirts sold by the PTO, t-shirts from extracurricular activities (such as sports, band, or theater), and house t-shirts.
Jackets/hoodies: Outerwear may be worn as long as it is solid red, black, or gray and does not have a logo or artwork measuring more than 2 inches in diameter. Any grade may wear any color. The PTO also sells FBMS hoodies that may be worn at any time.
House Shirts: Students may wear their house shirt with jeans on Wednesdays if their house is in control of the house cup. House shirts may be worn with khaki bottoms on any day. (Don’t know what the house system is? Click here.)
Jeans and free dress: Jeans may be worn on Fridays. Jeans or free dress privileges may also be given as a reward to a group of students or on special days as determined by the administration. Any color jeans are fine, but they must be neat and without rips, holes, or tears.
Uniforms for particular electives: Some elective classes will also have uniform requirements, such as PE, band, karate, and LCDC. Information on what is required and how to purchase those uniforms will come home with the other information from those classes.
ID badge: Students are required to wear their school ID badge at all times. If they forget their ID badge, a temporary one may be purchased for $1. If they lose their ID badge, a replacement may be purchased for $5. Students should go to their grade-level dean’s office to obtain temporary or replacement permanent ID badges.
The full dress code may be found here.
FBMS polo-type shirts, t-shirts, hoodies, and other gear may be purchased at the school store.
PRO-TIP: You can pre-order gear during the summer on the PTO website, and it will be available for pickup at Panther Camp. Also, consider buying some hoodies early because some of the classrooms can be cool!
When is the school store open?
The school store, the “Black Market,” is located in the cafeteria and is open every Wednesday during lunch. It is also open during Panther camp.
Current prices for the most popular items are:
Hoodies: $25 (plus $10 for optional personalization)
Polo-type shirts: $20
Panther t-shirt: $15
House t-shirt: $10
Car decal: $5
Note that personalization of hoodies takes a few weeks from the time the order is placed.
Before school starts, school store purchases can be made online on the PTO website. Online purchases are not available year-round, however. Online purchases that are not picked up at Panther Camp or other such events can be picked up at the school store on Wednesdays during lunch.
What school supplies do students need? Does the PTO provide the opportunity to buy school supply packages?
Unfortunately, the PTO does not provide the opportunity buy school supply packages. Unlike elementary school, each middle school student has a different schedule with different classes and different teachers. This makes a uniform school supply list very difficult to compile.
There is a standard school supply list on the FBMS website. In addition, once school starts your child will bring home a syllabus for each class, and the syllabus will have individual supply requirements for that class.
PRO-TIP: Don’t stress too much over school supplies until school has started! Make sure your child has the basic school supplies for the first day of school. Beyond that, wait a few days to find out what you need. Also, our hardworking teachers always appreciate a few extra supplies for the class!
What sports are available at FBMS?
FBMS currently offers the following sports:
- Fall sports - boys and girls cross country, boys football, girls volleyball
- Winter sports - boys and girls basketball, boys and girls swimming
- Spring sports - boys baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls soccer, girls softball, and boys and girls track
The State of Texas does not allow sixth graders to play UIL sports. However, sixth graders can play the non-UIL sports which are baseball, softball, and lacrosse.
All of these sports are housed on-campus, because FBMS has its own gym, pool, track, and fields.
Tryouts or signups for sports will be announced in advance of the season (tell your child to listen to announcements if he or she is interested). A completed athletics packet, including a sports physical, will be required.
PRO-TIP: Many pediatricians will complete the sports physical at no charge if your child has had a well visit recently.
What type of backpack do students need? Do they have lockers?
Each student is assigned a locker. Students need a lock for it. Use a combination lock, as keys can be lost.
Students taking PE may also use a PE locker. Some karate students may also use a locker in the karate dojo. Lockers for these activities depend on availability. Often they are used to only during the class period, to secure items and clothing while taking part in class. Any locker needs to have a combination lock.
Backpacks must be clear or mesh (any color) unless they are kept in lockers.
PRO-TIP: FBMS is a large campus, and most student have mesh backpacks in order to be able to carry a few things if needed without going back to their locker between every period.
What is the school electronics policy? Is WiFi available for student use?
Cell phones are not allowed during school hours. Many students bring cell phones to school, but they must be turned off and put away. The school electronics policy is given to all students at the beginning of the school year.
The school has computers and iPad carts for student use for educational purposes. Wifi is available on those computers and iPads, subject to HISD restrictions.
Is there a campus map available?
Yes! FBMS is a big campus with six buildings on 30 acres. It can seem overwhelming, but students quickly get the hang of it. A map can be found here. The six buildings are:
- Main Academic Building - Traditionally houses 7th and 8th grade students and their core classes, plus the office, library, and some elective classes.
- Sixth Grade Academy - Houses sixth graders and their core classes.
- Student Activity Annex - Houses the student community center and the karate dojo.
- Cafeteria Building - Houses the cafeteria and also the school store, the “Black Market,” which is open on Wednesdays during lunch.
- Athletics Center - The Athletics Center features a full-size gym with bleachers and a new gym floor installed in 2016, two large locker rooms, a newly renovated weight room, and a heated indoor swimming pool.
- Fine Arts Building - The Fine Arts Building houses a dance studio, band hall, fitness room, and a performance theater with seating for 840 audience members, a full bank of stage lights, two mobile spotlights, sound system, dressing rooms, and a box office.
In addition to these six buildings, FBMS also has a large outdoor space that includes a baseball/softball field, outdoor basketball court with six goals, full-size track, a field for football, soccer, and lacrosse, and a NatureWorks outdoor garden space. The outdoor space is not only utilized during class and after school sports, but students also may take “active lunch” and enjoy these amenities after they have finished eating lunch.
How can I find out what is going on at FBMS or with the PTO?
Middle school is a time of growth and independence, and one of the biggest changes is that students are expected to take on a bigger role in communicating information from the classroom and the school. Encourage them to do this, it is a worthwhile skill to learn before high school and college! They should be learning to take responsibility for their own academic expectations, including homework assignments, test dates, etc. In addition, much of the information about what is going on at school (including information about upcoming tryouts or signups for certain athletics, fine arts, or other extracurricular programs) is given on the announcements.
PRO-TIP: Talk with your child before he or she starts middle school. Let your child know that in middle school, it is the student’s responsibility to know what is going on in class and at school and pass that information on to parents, not the other way around.
We know, though, that they are still kids. So both the school and the PTO have other methods of communication, too.
The PTO has a website (www.fbmspto.org), a newsletter (sign up), and a Facebook page. In addition, each grade has a PTO representative to serve as a liaison between the class, the school, and the PTO. The class representative typically communicates through the Remind app, email, and/or through a Facebook group set up for the class. In order to make sure you receive class-specific emails, be sure you sign up for the PTO newsletter AND indicate the class of your child(ren). To find your class representative, click here.
In addition, Mr. Castagnoli sends out periodic e-blasts and/or robo-calls through the HISD system. If you are not receiving either of these, call the front office and ask to be added. The e-blasts often include school calendars, and there is a calendar on the PTO website as well. You will find that middle school has a great deal more going on than elementary school. Dates will occasionally change, but the PTO will make every effort to update the website calendar promptly if that occurs.
Finally, there are large signs throughout the school that announce big events. Some of those will be near the parking lot drop off area, so parents can keep an eye out for them too.
PRO-TIP: There is so much more going on in middle school than in elementary school. Encourage your child to take responsibility for communication. Then, sign up for as many of the above methods of communication as you can, so you can back your child’s communication up!
How can I find out about my student's assignments or grades?
Many FBMS teachers communicate through Remind. (Remind is a communication app available online. Parents and students can access the app online or via smartphones, and messages can be obtained via the app, text, and/or email depending on the user's preference.) Teachers may also use class websites, the HUB (HISD’s online portal), and email. But keep in mind that in middle school teachers primarily communicate with the students, not their parents. Coach your students that assignments, test dates, etc. are their responsibility now! If a parent needs to contact a teacher, they may do so via email or by leaving a message with the front office. FBMS policy is that a teacher must respond within 24-48 hours (they often respond sooner!). If they do not, please alert the appropriate dean.
PRO-TIP: A syllabus will come home for each class the first week of school. It’s a lot of information, but a good place to look to see class expectations and communication tools. Also, early in the fall semester there will be an open house. At open house parents walk their student’s schedule and spend a few minutes in each class. Attending open house is another excellent way to discover the what/where/when/how of each class.
You can review your student’s grades through the HISD website, parent-student connect. There is also an app, GradePro, that works very well.
PRO-TIP: Have your student begin to check his or her grades regularly. The app is a fantastic and easy way to keep up with low grades, missing assignments, etc. Parents should review the grades regularly too, of course.
PRO-TIP: If your student misses something or needs help, encourage him or her to ask the teacher first, instead of contacting the teacher yourself. Teachers are more than willing to communicate with parents about their student’s academic progress, but a child who learns to take charge of his or her own academic progress is learning to be successful later in school! That can even include contacting a classmate about a homework assignment.
Is there a school calendar?
Students receive a monthly school calendar. Most months Mr. Castagnoli also sends out the monthly calendar with his e-blasts. Call the front office if you are not receiving these. In addition, the PTO website has a calendar that includes dates for PTO events and many school-related events. Check out the many ways to keep informed at FBMS.
PRO-TIP: The PTO Facebook page and class groups are a great way to find out about last-minute calendar changes. With so much going on, those do occur.
How can I volunteer?
We love our volunteers! There are numerous ways to help out with the PTO--from home or at school, regularly or occasionally, a little or a lot. Keep an eye out for volunteer signups on the PTO website and Facebook page and groups. And come to the general meetings--it’s a great way to learn what is going on and how to help out.
In order to volunteer at the school, remember that you have to be VIPS-cleared by HISD. VIPS stands for Volunteers in Public Schools. To learn more about that process, click here. Volunteers must renew their VIPS-clearance every year.
PRO-TIP: Some parents coming from elementary school may be used to spending regular time in the classroom, attending class parties, and eating lunch with their child in the cafeteria. Unfortunately, most middle school students no longer think it is cool for their parents to join them in the cafeteria for lunch! However, volunteering during lunch at the school store is an excellent substitute for those parents who want to be around and see how things work!
How can I support FBMS and the FBMS PTO?
There are many ways, big and small, to support FBMS and the PTO.
The PTO has two major fundraisers: Foam and Frisbee in the fall and a gala/auction in the spring.
The fall fundraiser is generally a fun, active, fundraising event that has replaced product sales as a way to raise money. Students solicit donations for the school and the fundraiser culminates with an outdoor event--last year's involved the entire student body collectively making over 10,000 frisbee tosses, jogging or walking 250 miles, and then ending by running through TONS of foam bubbles!! We have even attempted a world record!!! The active fall fundraiser debuted in 2016 and was a great success. We had over $21,000 in donations in the first year and, in keeping with one of the major themes at FBMS (that middle school should be fun), the kids had a great time!! We usually need co-chairs for the event and a good number of volunteers to help out on the day of the event. If you are interested in helping out, email email@example.com.
Early in the spring semester, the PTO has a traditional gala and auction. We always need help on the auction committee, donations for the auction, and of course people to buy tickets and attend! If you are interested in helping in any way, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The school and PTO also have some smaller events.
During Homecoming week in the fall, the PTO hosts a “Tailgate” before the 7th grade football game. This is primarily an opportunity for different school organizations to have booths to raise money. Contact email@example.com if you are interested in helping with the Tailgate.
During the fall semester, there is usually a fundraiser to benefit the FBMS Library. And in conjunction with “Love Your Library” month, there is usually an online fundraiser to benefit the FBMS library during the month of February. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about either of these endeavors.
In the spring, the school has an annual 5K Color Run through campus after school that is open to current students, prospective students, staff and teachers, and family and community members. Volunteers are always needed to help staff the run, give out waters, throw color on the runners, etc. Contact email@example.com if you are interested in helping with the FBMS Color Run.
In addition to these events, there are smaller ways to support the PTO during the year, including signing up for Amazon Smile, the Kroger rewards program, Target REDcard, collecting boxtops, Kona Ice after school, etc. There is also a monthly FBMS “Supper Club” where a local restaurant gives a portion of its sales proceeds back to the FBMS PTO. For more information on all of these programs, click here.
Finally, you will find that with all the activities that FBMS has to offer, there will be various other fundraisers during the year held by various groups. For example, in the past the band department has held a haunted house, various athletic groups have sold refreshments at games, and the theater department has charged admission to theatrical events. Some groups may sell t-shirts or other items. Chances are, your child will get involved in something at FBMS, and you will have a chance to support that endeavor!
What is the Panther Camp? What opportunities are there for incoming 6th graders to meet classmates or learn about their new school?
The first official event for incoming 6th graders is the HISD “signing day,” held at the school shortly after magnet acceptances are issued by HISD during the spring semester of students’ 5th grade year. This is an opportunity to get together, fill out course selection sheets, buy (or pre-order) school shirts and gear, and learn a little more about your new school! We usually have a big turnout for this event. FBMS may also hold a pre-orientation for students and parents later in the spring semester of the 5th grade year. All students and families (magnet and non-magnet) are invited to these events.
During the summer, FBMS has several socials for incoming 6th graders. These are just fun gatherings designed to let kids get to know their new classmates.
The week before school starts, Panther Camp will be held. 6th grade Panther Camp is two days. The first day is for parents and students, and the second day is for students only. 7th and 8th grade Panther Camp is one day (students only). Students receive their class schedule, ID badges, house assignments (for new students), and locker assignments. There will also be an opportunity to purchase uniforms and other items at the school store.
PRO-TIP: New students should walk their schedule during Panther Camp to get an idea of where they will be going. It is also the time to decorate lockers, if your student is interested in doing that.
Is there summer homework at FBMS?
Summer homework is required for Vanguard students at FBMS. Other students may receive summer homework. Current FBMS students will be informed about summer homework before school lets out for the year. All summer homework will be posted during the summer on the FBMS website. Unless otherwise instructed, summer homework should be turned into the teacher for the class in which it was assigned.
After 6th grade, some students will become eligible to take advanced courses if they wish. Most of those advanced courses will also have summer homework. Every effort is made to determine those students who are eligible as early in the summer as possible. Occasionally, this information is delayed due to a delay from the state sending out testing scores. Make sure you know which classes your child will be taking so he or she completes the correct homework. If you have questions about this, contact the appropriate dean.
How can prospective students learn more about the school?
There are many ways to learn about FMBS!! School tours are given every Thursday at 1pm during most of the fall and in the spring after magnet acceptances are issued by HISD. Periodically, school tours are available in the evenings to better accommodate those who cannot make afternoon tours. We welcome both parents and students to take a tour.
In addition, FBMS holds an “Afternoon Adventure Camp” each fall and spring for interested 4th and 5th graders. This camp is held after school and allows prospective students to get a brief taste of some of FBMS’s elective and academic offerings.
PRO-TIP: If you want to know what our school is like, just ask one of our current students! They are usually more than happy to share. Also, there is also always a lot going on at the school--come watch a sporting event, enjoy a fine arts performance, participate in the color run, or attend our spring gala/auction. We would love to see you there!