Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Horizon West Middle School
HWMS Community Member,

The first day of school starts next Tuesday, August 10th. We are so very excited to have all our Hornet students join us back on campus for the 2021-2022 school year.
These next few days we all have a lot to do to get ready for Tuesday. So, we have put together this SPECIAL EDITION of our Community Brief as a resource for all our parents, students and community to get organized and ready for a successful start of the new year. 

Please take care in reading this edition. Many questions and details are given so each and every Hornet will start Tuesday on a positive note.

Remember, we are all in this together, we are here to help and we are #HornetsBackAndBetterThanEver
Thank you all for your understanding and patience as we navigate to the new year.


Michelle Thomas
Proud Principal
Horizon West Middle School
Useful Links
Connect with HWMS
8200 Tattant Drive
Orlando, FL 37486
(407) 554-1570
HWMS teachers already returned on Monday and are preparing all this week!
Pictured: Horizon West's entire teacher team engaged in team building and social/emotional activities as part of getting the new year off to a successful start!
Release of Student Schedules
Skyward is currently down until Thursday, August 5th. Please be patient as all systems in the district are being updated for the new school year!

Parents, also remember if you are having challenges with Skyward your child has access to Skyward as well. They can find Skyward on the dashboard of their Canvas page.

Schedule changes may be made at any time. Please be sure to check Skyward frequently and on Monday to get the most up-to-date copy of your child’s schedule. If you would like to request to drop/add a course, please use the following links below:

All Add/Drop requests are due by Friday, August 13th. 

  • Students can fill out the link ONCE!!!!
  • Your child MUST be logged into their OCPS google account using their student ID number
  • Request are NOT guaranteed but will be based upon availability
  • Please note that certain classes are placed on schedules due to FSA Test Scores, GPA, IEP, 504, ESOL, iReady, ect (Some classes include Learning Strategies, Dev Language Arts, Intensive Reading, Intensive Math, DLAR, ect.)
  • Schedules will NOT be changed based upon teacher preferences and/or sequential order of classes
  • All students will be placed in a PE course or Dance course unless the student has an approved 2021-22 PE waiver on file. You can find the waiver on our website (horizonwestms.ocps.net) under the “Guidance” tab.
Saturday & Sunday: Preparing this weekend for Tuesday morning!
Once you have your schedule and you know your classes, you will want to take some time on over the weekend to prepare for Tuesday:

  • Get your backpack ready with a few school supplies for day one.
  • Have your laptop charged be sure to pack your laptop and charger.
  • You may want to pack a lunch for the first few days as you get ready and adjusted to our lunch room and daily schedule.
  • Get out your first day outfit (make sure it is in dress code).
  • Print a copy of your child’s schedule or have them write it down in a notebook. Be sure include room and building numbers. 
  • Write your bus # on a notebook or save it in your phone.

All students will need to visit our school website (horizonwestms.ocps.net) ON MONDAY to see where their HOMEROOM class is located.

All students will report to HOMEROOM before going to 1st period. Signs will also be posted in each hallway Tuesday morning listing HOMEROOM locations.
Policies and Procedures for School
Please take a few moments and discuss school behavior with your student. You can review some hot topics when it comes to behavior with a copy of our OCPS Student Code of Conduct that can be found at ocps.net.

Below are some of the other polices that are important for our students to be aware of . . .
Cell Phone Policies
At 9:25 when the morning bell rings, all cell phones and electronic devices/support items (earbuds, ear pods, headphones, tablets, gaming systems, smart devices; electronics other than a school issued laptop) should be turned off and placed in a student backpack; out of sight (not in their pockets). These items should be kept put away during transition from class to class and during class times.

Students who are not following the procedures for Cell Phone/Electronic Device Policy may have their cell phone/electronic device/support item taken to a grade level office and parents will be called. If a student continues to not follow the Cell Phone/Electronic Device Policy, a parent will be called to pick up the cell phone/item during regular school hours.

** Cell phones and electronic devices may only be used during lunch in the lunchroom.
This is only one of several reasons why we enforce the cellphone policy at HWMS (Source: USA Today)
Dress Code
Horizon West Middle School follows the OCPS Dress Code as stated in the student Code of Conduct.

The dress and grooming of Orange County Public Schools’ students shall contribute to the health and safety of the individual, promote a positive educational environment, and not disrupt the educational activities and processes of the school. These standards of dress and grooming apply to all students in the public schools of Orange County, unless a specific exemption is granted by the principal. Any request for an exemption shall be made to the principal.

1. Clothes shall be worn as they are designed. For example, suspenders should be over the shoulders, pants secured at the waist, belts buckled, no underwear as outerwear, no underwear exposed.

2. Clothing must cover the body from one armpit across to the other armpit and down to approximately mid-thigh. Tops must have straps. Undergarments must not be viewable. Rips, holes, or tears in clothing must be below mid-thigh.

3. Shoes shall be worn at all times and should be safe for the school environment. The following shoes are not acceptable for any OCPS student: cleated shoes or shoes with wheels. In addition, the following shoes are not acceptable for OCPS students in grades K-8: thong sandals or backless shoes.

4. Headgear shall not be worn on campus during the school day, unless the headgear is approved by the principal.

5. Specialized courses may require specialized attire, such as sports uniforms, or safety gear and must be approved by the principal before being worn during the school day.

6. See-through, revealing, or mesh garments must not be worn without appropriate coverage underneath that meet the minimum requirements of this dress code.

7. Gang paraphernalia, garments and/or jewelry, tattoos, or other insignias, which display or suggest sexual, vulgar, drug, alcohol, or tobacco-related wording/graphics or may tend to provoke violence or disruption in school shall not be worn.

8. Clothing must not state, imply, or depict hate speech or imagery targeting groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, or any other protected class.

9. Clothing and accessories that endanger students or staff shall not be worn. Students shall wear a face mask/face covering/face shield if required by the Board, OCPS, Principal, or other official with authority to mandate the wearing of this protective gear. This requirement may be waived with approval from the principal only if a student is medically unable to wear a face mask/face covering/face shield.

10. Individual schools may implement school uniforms with community input and approval of the principal’s supervisor.

11. Individual schools are expected to use the state and district dress and grooming guidelines as minimum standards; any adjustments may be made upon approval of the principal’s supervisor.

** The most updated copy of the OCPS Dress Code can be found on the OCPS website.
Students are expected to be respectful of others at all times; this includes fellow students, teachers and any adult on campus.

Please talk about what respectful behavior looks like. If your child is having an issue with another student, please encourage them to speak with their dean or counselor to advocate for their feelings.
During the School Day
At the start and end of each period, you will hear a bell to give you a time warning. When you hear music playing, you should know that now you only have 30 seconds to get into your class.

Students will move in the hallways all following the same direction. This helps with flow of traffic and efficiency getting from class to class. Everyone goes in on the right side of hallway and exits on the left side. Right stairwells are for going up, left are for going down.

If you need any help during the day, please just an adult. We are all here to help you and get you where you are supposed to be.
Lunch Break
Students will get a break lunch! Lunch is approximately 30 minutes long. Students may sit where they would like, but all students must face forward in the cafeteria. We have our lunch lines and also a snack line. However, you must have money on your SchoolPay account to purchase snacks.

Lunch the first few days can be hectic, so you may want to pack a lunch until you feel comfortable making your purchases.

Lunch is also the only time during the day that students may have their cell phones out. We ask that laptops stay put away during this time so we do damage these electronics from spills.

If your child will require free or reduced lunch, be sure to apply at: https://www.myschoolapps.com/Home/PickDistrict
End of School Day
Each day at 3:57 the school day is over, 2:57 on Wednesday. Students will be dismissed and are expected to leave campus immediately. Students should not be wandering the campus or waiting for friends.

Car riders will be given car tags to assist with an efficient dismissal. Bus riders to go to the bus loop right away as buses leave promptly.
Special Days - Spirit Days
During the school year we love to celebrate activities, holidays, awareness events and our school! Every Wednesday is SCHOOL SPIRIT DAY, where you will see many of our Hornets wearing school T-shirts or our school colors: Yellow, Blue and Black.

Fridays we have Fun Friday Spirit Days as well, where we have different themes for students to participate in.

For the month of August 2021, all Fridays are COLLEGE SPIRIT FRIDAYS. We ask that our Hornets wear the colors or a T from their favorite college. This could be a college that family member attends, a future college for our Hornet or just a team with a great football team. You will see many of our teachers on campus wearing the colors and shirts of the colleges they graduated from.
OCPS Mask Policy for the 2021-2022 Year
Parents and students, please remember you are not in this alone! Please feel free to reach out to our Horizon West Team as we are here to help. Below is a listing of some of the folks that may be of assistance to you. Also, stay connected to our school website and our official social media outlets as we post lots of great resources and fun stuff for our families.
Final Thoughts and Motivational Moment!
This year our theme for our Hornets and the 2021-2022 school year is #HornetsBackAndBetterThanEver

After this last year, we are so proud of our Hornets and the Hornets joining our families. Your resiliency is amazing after a year of mask wearing, quarantines, social distancing, pivoting and so many other new words to our vocabulary!

This is why this year we want to focus on Hornet Family and being #HornetsBackAndBetterThan Ever . . .

In closing this special edition, please check out these stories of folks that had a rough path to success but never gave up. And remember Hornets, the only place “success” ever comes before “work” is in the dictionary!

*** Five Quick Lessons in Perseverance for our Hornets ***
1) J.K. Rowling
Five years before publishing one of the most influential books of the 21st century, J.K. Rowling was living on welfare and struggling as a single mother.

Rowling wrote the first book in the Harry Potter series while working during the night as a teacher, but the manuscript was rejected 12 times by publishers!

When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone eventually did get published, Rowling was advised not to quit her day job since her chance of success was slim. And, of course, with over 450 million Harry Potter books sold worldwide, we all know how that really turned out!
2) Steven Spielberg
Now one of the Hollywood’s most respected directors, Steven Spielberg was rejected by his school of choice for film three different times. But he didn’t let that stop him.

Spielberg eventually secured an internship at Universal Studios after enrolling in a different college. During that internship, he was asked to direct a small film, with his work impressing Universal executives so much that they offered him a seven-year contract. He became the youngest director ever hired by the studio and now has an IMDB profile several miles long.
3) Walt Disney
Before launching an empire that includes resorts, theme parks, film and television studios, retail and so much more, Walt Disney launched his first animation company in 1921.

He had relative success but was forced to go bankrupt after acquiring too much debt. It took Disney several other failures to finally become successful, including losing the rights to one of his most popular cartoon characters, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Even Mickey Mouse and Snow White were first dismissed by critics — until Disney proved them wrong!
4) Bill Gates
Ever heard of Traf-O-Data? Bill Gates is most famously known as the founder of Microsoft, but his first foray into business was an idea intended to provide traffic reports for traffic engineers.

The company was mildly successful but failed to gain wide recognition after problems with the prototype. Gates eventually moved on to create Microsoft and become one of the youngest self-made billionaires in history.
5) Michael Jordan
Before becoming one of the best players in the history of basketball, Michael Jordan was a 5’11” aspiring high school sophomore rejected by his varsity team for being too short!

But according to Jordan, failure is just part of eventual success — take it from the man who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, won the Most Valuable Player award five times and starred in "Space Jam."

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career,” Jordan has said. “I have lost almost 300 games. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Florida flag
Ms. Thomas, Principal
Horizon West Middle School
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Horizon West Leadership Team
Michelle Thomas - Principal - michelle.thomas@ocps.net
Nicole Hargrett - Assistant Principal - nicole.hargrett@ocps.net
Kevin Flanagan - Assistant Principal - kevin.flanagan@ocps.net
Brian Evans - Admin Dean 6th Grade and 8th Grade (A-L) - brian.evans@ocps.net
Heather Rodriguez - Admin Dean 7th Grade and 8th Grade (M-Z) - heather.rodiguez@ocps.net
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Reproduction of this material, either written or electronically, including the general layout, graphics, analyses, and content topics without the express approval of Target Performance Systems, Inc., a Florida corporation, and OCPS-Horizon West Middle School is forbidden without written consent. Thank you for your support of the Orange County Public Schools and OCPS-Horizon West Middle School. Please contact Mrs. Heather Rodriguez at heather.rodriguez@ocps.net with any questions.