Ask Chester... FAQs from Chester himself


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Question: Can anyone come to a PTA meeting? Will I automatically get "volunteered" for something?

Answer: Yes and no! Yes, we encourage everyone to come to meetings. Lots of news is presented, including updates on PTA events and the Principal's school updates. You can learn a ton at these things! We promise we will not assign you a job, but you might want one. We really do want to hear voices from all grades, new and old families, everyone!

Question: Do I have to renew my PTA membership every year?

Answer: Yes! Your PTA membership dues are crucial to maintaining quality educational and enrichment programs in your child's school. PTA dues help fund computer lab purchases, cultural events, field trips, classroom materials, staff development, and many other worthwhile projects. Also, PTA members receive a free copy of the Family Directory. To join the PTA or renew your dues, click here.

Question: I heard that Longfellow and McLean HS benefit just for shopping through Amazon. Do we do that?

Answer: We do! Use (or bookmark) the Amazon link on the PTA website,, to get to Amazon. Any and every purchase through our PTA Amazon link counts, including books, clothes, music downloads, Kindle purchases, on-demand movies...everything! We earn 4-10 percent of every item sold and shipped, depending on the item and total number shipped each month. This is FREE money for us!

Question: My son came home from school talking about all the recycling they are doing at lunch. How can I get more involved?

Answer:  Chesterbrook launched an effort to "Go Green" by recycling in the classrooms and cafeteria.  Recycling bins have been distributed to every classroom.   

In the cafeteria, students have started separating plastic and cardboard packaging from other trash, with plans to start upcycling foil lined products (e.g. capri sun, chip bags), donate unopened/unused food (e.g. unopened milk), and collect compost material for the gardens.   

Question: WOW! Fun Fair was awesome! It looks like it takes quite a few people to run it -- how do people get involved in this and other PTA programs, aside from just volunteering to work at events?

Answer: Why, thanks, yes, it is a lot of work, but even more fun! It's the best way to meet and make friends with other parents. The easiest way to get involved is to ask someone who's already involved. You can always contact our PTA board members or the Nominating Committee who are working hard right now to fill some spots for next year. We have a number of "graduating" PTA parents to replace. We can find something for every skill and time commitment. PTA jobs range from large to small, with consistent commitments (like this weekly publication) to seasonal commitments (like Auction and Fun Fair) and everything in between. At the beginning of the school year we'll publish our volunteer needs, but we'd really like to get most of the chairs filled NOW!

Question: I've been waiting to hear from my room parent about the Fun Fair jobs my class has to fill this year -- when do those come out?

Answer: Good news! All Fun Fair volunteer slots will be open to everyone this year. We're using Sign-Up Genius for all volunteer slots, so you can choose whatever job you want whenever it is convenient! Sign-up with a friend, sign-up your spouse, sign-up early and often.

Question: I've heard about the Principal's Coffees but I'm not sure if I am the intended audience. Is everyone invited?

Answer:  Everyone is welcome to attend the bi-monthly Principal's Coffees! Each month the Principal focuses on a topic that affects many families, and he is always willing to discussion any issues that come up. Past topics have included technology in the school, special education, the advanced academic curriculum, Chinese instruction, tours of new and updated spaces, and more! Plus, there's coffee!

Question: I heard some parents at the bus stop talking about Summer Quest -- what is that?

Answer: Summer Quest is Chesterbrook's summer day camp program. We offer half-day camps covering a huge variety of academic and non-academic subjects, with morning and afternoon sessions and after care...all taught by FCPS teachers (and mostly our own CES staff). Sessions for 4 weeks in the summers. More information will be coming out in February. 

Question: I'm trying to get organized. How do I connect my home Google calendar to the school and PTA calendars?

Answer: Great idea! Go to the PTA's website, scroll down to the bottom where the calendar is, and click on the +Google Calendar button at the bottom. Select "Add" next to Chesterbrook PTA. This should add the school calendar, but if not, do the same thing on the CES homepage. Each should show up on your own Google calendar with different colors for each source. Don't have a Google calendar? Go to Google's main page, find "More" in the menu across the stop, and scroll down to "Calendar."

Question: Can I give my child's teacher a gift for the holidays?

Answer: Sure! Teachers love gifts! Some class parents do a class-wide collection for a gift. In other classes small groups of families go in together, some families go it alone, and some just say, "Enjoy your time away from us!" Whatever you do, know that our teachers are grateful...but that it won't change your grades!

Question: My daughter came home from school without her jacket. Where is the Lost and Found?    

Answer: The Lost and Found is in the cafeteria and it is overflowing! Your daughter can check the Lost and Found during lunch (with the Cafeteria Monitor's permission) and take the jacket back to class with her. Or, you can stop by Chesterbrook's cafeteria and check the Lost and Found which is in a rolling closet in the corner. There are sweaters, jackets, books, lunch boxes and more so if your child is missing something, you should check it out! Smaller items such as jewelry, keys, glasses, wallets, phones, etc. are located in the Lost and Found in the school's front office.

Question: I'm guessing that the subject of the throw-away trays at the Chesterbrook cafeteria comes up quite a bit right after the annual Thanksgiving lunches. It seems like a lot of waste and a poor lesson for the kids. Is there anything else we can do?

Answer: Chester inquired about those seemingly environmentally unfriendly trays, and it turns out that the trays are recycled by the county (though perhaps not in the rush of our Thanksgiving luncheon). They are collected in a separate trash can and collected by county employees. There is a poster in the cafeteria ("where in the world does my pink tray go?") above the tray trash can that explains the process to the kids: the trays are recycled to produce energy for 75,000 homes.

The County has also addressed similar parent suggestions for reusable trays with a message that the cost and environmental impact of the washing and storing of such trays is equal to that of the pink tray alternative. 

Question: Do all parents go to the Thanksgiving lunch? What is pumpkin surprise?

Answer: Many, many parents will come to school on Friday for our annual Thanksgiving lunch (and many of them will volunteer to set-up, serve, or cleanup), but not all. Don't forget that if parents can't come, other caregivers or family members (lunch with grandma?) can come instead. Students without "dates" can sit with friends' parents or other friends, or sometimes even a teacher! As for pumpkin surprise, well, Chester isn't quite sure what exactly it is, but he knows he likes it!

Also, while you're there, take a peek through the Lost and Found in the hallway outside the cafeteria--it's starting to pile up again!

Question:What is this Book Fair Wish List my child brought home? Do I have to buy all these books? Can I send in money with my kindergartner?

Answer: Each class has an opportunity to wander through the book fair, and students makes lists of books (and prices) to bring home. Younger students have adult volunteers to help them. Whether you have to buy all of them depends on who you ask--certainly, your child will say "Yes!" You may send in cash or a check to Chesterbrook PTA (no taxes added), or you may come into the Fair yourself, either during the day, during the evening events Tuesday and Wednesday, or during the teacher conference day next Monday (not Tuesday, that's pack up day). Credit cards are accepted onsite.

Question: When do we have Parent-Teacher Conferences?

Answer: As per FCPS policy, there are no set Parent-Teacher Conferences. Your teacher will tell you the protocol for setting up a time to meet with them. Typically, the teacher prefers that you email them about your concern, from there they will either set up a phone call or a time to meet. Please remember that Teachers are in front of students all day, not necessarily their computers. Please allow them 24 to 48 hours to respond to email correspondence. 

Question: Does the PTA have a position on the School Board or State and Federal Elections? Who should I vote for?

Answer: It is a requirement of both National and Virginia PTA bylaws (and the IRS) that PTAs "not participate in or intervene in, directly or indirectly, any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office." While individual members may, as a whole we do not endorse, financially support, or share our contacts with any campaign. We do however encourage all families to learn about the candidates and vote on November 6, because the School Board does have an impact on our all children.

Question: My kid keeps saying she needs money for the Pencil Sale? Weren't pencils included in my School Supply Kit?

Answer: Technically, yes, your daughter should have all the pencils she "needs" in class. The SCA (Student Council Association) holds a Pencil Sale every Tuesday and Friday outside the library to raise funds for several of their activities. They sell fun or decorative pencils, pens, erasers, sharpeners, and other novelty items. Items run from $0.50 to $2. Hope she has fun!

Question: I see Picture Day is coming up, but I'm not sure how it all works -- can you fill me in?

Answer: Yes!  You should have received an order form in your Thursday envelope (if you didn't, check with the front office). All students will have their pictures taken. If you order by Thursday, prices are better, but you are able to order after you see the proofs. If your child is out of school on Thursday, there is a make-up day in November School pictures come out best when kids wear bright colors without "busy" patterns. Note: Class photos will be taken during the Spring Picture Day.

Question: How do I complete the green slip to notify the school of a change in my child's transportation?

Answer: Our online Green Slip process can be accessed throughout the year through the Green Slip link on Blackboard in our Chesterbrook Specialists course.  

Question: How do I get a family directory? and when?

Answer: Work on the PTA directory starts in August of every school year. We partner with AtoZ School Directories ( to produce our directory.  PTA members not only will receive a free copy of the new and improved printed directory, but also access to a secure/password-protected directory app from AtoZ via a smart phone or any web-enabled device – so you can view the directory data where and when you need it! Our goal is to have the printed directory available in October, but we need your help

If you are a returning Chesterbrook family and your family’s information was in last year’s directory, you will receive a “verification” email from on August 15th.  The verification email will contain your user name, password, and instructions on how to access and verify your directory information, as well as access the AtoZ School Directory App.  Please follow the directions outlined in this email to update your family data ASAP.  If you do not receive a verification email, please contact us at as soon as possible and we’ll make sure that it is forwarded to you. 

If your family is new to Chesterbrook this year (or your family’s information did not appear in last year’s directory), please email us at as soon as possible (please include your full name, your children’s full names, and their grades this fall).  We will then email you information on how to access our directory database (including your own login and password information) so that you can enter and verifty your directory information. We will also provide instructions on how to access the AtoZ School Directory App.

This year’s printed directory will be spiral bound with larger print for easy reading and will include a resource guide in the back of the directory listing sponsorships from local businesses that have defrayed the cost to the PTA of this new and improved directory.  Anyone interested in promoting their business in the directory or placing a Kid’s Classified ad can email AtoZ Directories at for more information.

 If you have any questions, please contact the directory team at  Thank you for continued help with the directory!

All PTA members receive a free copy of the Directory, but anyone may purchase an additional copy ($5 members, $8 nonmembers) by clicking here.

Question: Will my child bring home her school supply kit?

Answer: Most teachers keep the supplies in bulk storage and hand out items as needed.

Question: What Happens at Back to School Night?


  • 6:00p-7:30p: Drop in the Library and meet the Specialists including: special education, speech, Chinese, PE, music, art, AART, and our 4th-6th math resource teachers.
  • 6:45p-6:55p: Come to the Cafeteria and hear a brief update about PTA activities and vote on this coming year’s budget.  All are welcome!!
  • 7:00p-7:20p:  Go to your child’s classroom where there will be a brief welcome and updates about the school, some featured guests speakers, and the Welcome Back Video featuring our staff. (No general meeting in the gym this year)
  • 7:25p-7:50p: 1st session (held in your child’s classroom)
  • 7:55p-8:25p: 2nd session for parents who have more than one child at Chesterbrook (held in your child’s classroom)


Keep your questions coming!! Chester is standing by to keep you informed at