Quote Of The Week by Gabby Powell

"If your dreams don't scare you, they are too small" - Richard Branson

Principal's Message 11/30

Hello OGA families! By now you have had an opportunity to look at your child’s Progress Report 2 on Skyward. If you have had technical difficulties, please email Ms Scheid so she can look into the issue. If you have questions regarding your child’s grades, please reach out to their teacher(s).

Our teachers have continued doing amazing things in the classroom. Check out our Facebook and Twitter page for pictures. I love seeing the excitement in our scholars’ eyes as they use what they are learning to make meaningful projects.

Please note a change in date/time for our next SAC meeting- December 17 @330p in the cafeteria. A link to join via Teams will be posted on the SAC website on the 17th.

Remember, students are off next week. Current face-to-face students will return to campus on November 30. LaunchED students will resume instruction via BBB or Teams on November 30. I hope everyone takes time to be thankful next week. Please remember to use social distancing and wash your hands.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Ms. Despenza.

Principal's Message 11/16

Greeting OGA!

I hope everyone enjoyed Virtual Family Math Night! Students have not stopped talking about all of the fun activities. If you took pictures, remember to send them in to your child’s teacher so we can post them.

I want to thank all the students, staff and families for all the birthday wishes. Celebrating birthdays during this time is very different, so I appreciate the extra time and effort everyone put in to making this year memorable.

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” — John Lennon

Information is posted on Class Dojo and Facebook regarding our Virtual Multicultural Event that will be available on December 10. There are many ways for families to showcase countries and participate. If you are interested, please contact Mrs. Tame (Kristen.Tame@ocps.net).

As positive covid-19 cases continue to rise throughout the county, I wanted to remind everyone to continue to wear their masks, wash their hands and maintain social distance. We are doing our best at school to ensure we follow all OCPS and CDC guidelines. If you have questions, I encourage you to refer to the Covid-19 Health and Safety Procedures Manuel 11.0 available on the OCPS website.

Many of you have asked what options are available in January. OCPS will let all schools and families know what instructional models will be available for second semester. Please stay tuned for that information.

I am asking all interested families to join our amazing OGA PTA! They will be holding a Zoom meeting on Tuesday November 17 at 6:30pm. PTA is seeking new leadership for the PTA board this year. There is a link available on our school website’s PTA page, as well as on Facebook and ClassDojo.

As a reminder, Friday, November 20, is the last day of school before Thanksgiving Break. Schools will be closed from November 23 - November 27. Current Face-to-Face students will return on Monday, November 30. All LaunchED students will resume virtual classes on Monday, November 30.

Remember, for the month of November we are continuing to celebrate being Thankful and “creating an attitude of gratitude.”

Ms. Despenza, Principal

Principal's Message 11/9


We are officially in November! Wow! It is a wonderful feeling not to dismiss students in the rain! Teachers and students are taking advantage of the temperature change (ever so slight) by having lunch and reading books outside. It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. November is National Gratitude Month. “Gratitude is more than simply saying “thank you.” Gratitude’s amazing powers have the ability to shift us from focusing on the negative to appreciating what is positive in our lives.”


OGA will participate in National Gratitude Month by having students work with Ms. Brown to create a Gratitude Wall in the cafeteria. We will make sure to upload pictures by the end of the month. J At home, I encourage you to talk to your children about gratitude. Studies have shown that children who show more gratitude also give more support to others. Having more gratitude will help our scholars in a big way, and will help them grow into caring, empathetic adults. The website above includes activities that your family can participate in to show gratitude toward others.

This being my second year at Orlando Gifted Academy, I am grateful to have the support of my staff and the entire OGA family. I am grateful to work with a committed group of educators and staff that are constantly formulating innovative ways to engage our students. I am grateful that OGA families support our OGA staff, students, and teachers and always do what it takes to make OGA successful!

“Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

Mrs. Despenza

Principal's Message 10/26

Greetings Orlando Gifted Academy Families,

It is really hard to believe that this is the last week of October. Our students are participating in Red Ribbon Week and Ms. Brown (OGA School Counselor), has some interesting theme days selected. Feel free to upload pictures of your child participating in Red Ribbon Week theme: Be happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free. You can upload your pics at https://tinyurl.com/OGARedRibbonWeek

Report cards went home on Wednesday, October 21, with all Face-to-Face students. Report cards were mailed to all LaunchED students also on Wednesday. This is a great time to have meaningful conversations regarding their progress. We understand that our students are learning in unconventional methods, however, it is imperative that students complete their assignments to receive credit. For the LaunchED families, please know the current learning conditions promote many challenges and require additional adult monitoring and support. Many of our teachers are parents and understand and empathize with our families. I also deal with these challenges daily with my son at home J However, we must work together to ensure our students are successful and flourishing.

I want to thank all of our families for working with their child with their multiplication facts. We delivered grade level trophies for the week to the first set of class winners. There will be another challenge this week. I will announce the winning homerooms next week.

Week of 10/19-10/23

2nd Grade-Ms. Newry’s homeroom

3rd Grade-Ms. Fosky’s homeroom

4th Grade-Ms. Mullen’s homeroom

5th Grade-Ms. Handley’s homeroom

6th Grade- Mr. Menna’s 1st period math class

On Thursday, October 30th, F2F students will be able to dress as their favorite book character. A cloth mask must still be worn. Please note, students are unable to wear a costume mask over their cloth face covering. I cannot wait to see all of the creativity as students celebrate the last day of Red Ribbon Week! We will share pictures on our school Facebook and Twitter pages.

As a reminder, there is no school for students on Friday, October 30th.

Have a great week.

Mrs. Despenza

Principal's Message 10/19

Greeting Orlando Gifted Academy Families,

This week started with us welcoming back 32 Face to Face students. It was exciting to see the students interact with their peers and teachers. We are still able to maintain social distance in classrooms and the cafeteria effectively. All students wore their masks and continued to adhere to hallway and classroom transitions. Thank you to everyone for making sure we implement OCPS/OGA Covid-19 protocols and procedures effectively. I want to remind everyone of some helpful tips:

-Avoid touching your mask, face, mouth, nose and eyes as much as possible

-Remember to wash your hands often

-Wear your mask at all times-covering your mouth and nose (except at lunch)

-Please stay home when you are feeling sick!

With the addition of the new students, comes an addition of cars in our car rider loop (school parking lot). I want like to thank all of our families for being flexible the first couple of days. We do need your help with both arrival and dismissal. In order to continue to have an efficient morning drop off car line, it is extremely helpful for students to be ready to exit their vehicles with their backpacks and masks on when parents pull up to the exit area where our staff members are located. In addition, it is equally important that parents follow the traffic flow map to drop off and pick up students.

Magnet Fairs for this school year will be virtual. Our Video Production students and OGA staff put together a very creative video, which interested families will be able to view. We will also share the finished product with our current OGA families on Monday.

On behalf of all OGA staff members, I want to thank the OGA Foundation for providing lunch for all staff members this week. The Foundation provided this lunch to celebrate the teachers and staff for a job well done first quarter. Thank You!

Ms. Tame will be hosting virtual parent meetings this year! The umbrella topic will be creating greater harmony within your family. She will touch on how to build GRIT and connect with your child while providing firm and friendly boundaries. Please be on the lookout for the flyer.

Parents, I want to personally thank all of you for your continued support during these challenging times.

“The same boiling water that softens the potato, hardens the egg. It’s what you’re made of. Not the circumstances.”


~ Mrs. Despenza

Principal's Message 10/5

Greetings OGA Families,

September was an extremely busy yet fantastic month. Students made a lot of progress with navigating their classes, adjusting to instruction using technology, dealing with technology concerns, and remembering to breathe when presented with an issue. Everyone has settled in and embraced the routines in their classes. Our teachers are providing wonderful learning experiences for all of our students and have embraced the “new way of teaching.”

It is hard to believe that it is now October. October is a time of change and anticipation. We welcome the change in seasons, starting of school clubs (stay tuned) and to delving into challenging, yet fun learning activities. We are also welcoming 35 of our LaunchED students who are switching to Face to Face on October 13. It is extremely important that we all continue to wear our masks with fidelity, practice social distancing, wash our hands, use sanitizer and stay home when feeling ill. This is a reminder that any student who exhibits two or more symptoms will have to be picked up and taken home. Our staff will continue to use signage and social distance seating in the cafeteria, during arrival and dismissal, and when in the classrooms.

To keep everyone abreast of the great things we are doing at OGA, we are embarking on a new professional development journey with the district. Teachers are learning about Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). The strategies we are learning will be incorporated into instruction and will eventually permeate throughout the school. This will have a positive impact on our school culture.

October is also Red Ribbon Month. The end of October formally became Red Ribbon Week in 1988 by a proclamation of the United States Congress. It was inspired by the tragic death in 1985 of an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration Agent at the hands of Mexican drug traffickers. Red Ribbon Week activities are organized each October by tens of thousands of schools, government agencies, and social service organizations. The main purpose of Red Ribbon Week is to celebrate and promote positive choices and healthy, drug free lifestyles for young people and adults in the United States. Orlando Gifted Academy will be celebrating Red Ribbon Week this year in late October. Ms. Brown will be forwarding details to all students as to what she has planned. Stay tuned.

Parents, we need your assistance. Math was an instructional focus for OGA last year and it is one of our main focuses this year. Our students need to practice their multiplication facts. We will start biweekly math challenges beginning next week. As you know, math concepts continue to build upon each other as students’ progress to the next year. Math fluency is vital for students’ continued success. Take some time throughout the week to rattle off multiplication problems, addition, and subtraction problems to your child. We like to say “students should respond in a snap.” When you ask the question, snap your finger, and your child should be able to respond. It makes a fun game.

Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in becoming a SAC member. The Orlando Gifted Academy School Advisory Council parent members for the 2020-2021 school year are as follows:

Sarah Courtney, Jenn Mandelion Chrisman, Martha McCormick-Watson, Melonie Sexton, Jeremy Siegel, Reagan Smythe,Jami Valentine Miller, Melissa Vaughan, Jennifer Vose

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. `Mahatma Ghandi

Have a great week!

~Mrs. Despenza

This is The Owl Post, OGA's School Newsletter

This is the newsletter that is created by our Journalism 1 class. Our authors are: Yael Alfonso, Urshitaa Goel, Charleigh Gonzalez, Raleigh Hagood, Cary McCaghren, Terrence Miller, Gabby Powell, Anna Russo, Mackenzie Smoley, Sarah Thompson, and is run by Mrs. Kristen Tame