09112020: Online Orientation Begins Next Week!
Special thanks to Yun Joo Shin for designing our stunning new header!
In this issue:

Letter From the Principal

Dear Parents:

The building has come alive again this week as the teachers returned. It has been wonderful to have them back. We have been working hard to address the endless details that make this year so different, but also to plan an engaging year of learning for your children. The building is getting ready for the students’ return.
Thank you for attending the Safety Assemblies this week. I have prepared a recap of the safety meetings so that you can review it with your children.
The schedule for next week is as follows:
Tuesday, September 15: Parents will receive their child’s class and homeroom designations. (These are not the same.) They will also receive a Zoom link for the orientation sessions. This information will come by email.
Wednesday, September 16 through Friday, September 18: Orientation from 10:00AM-11:00AM for all students via Zoom. Topics to be covered:

  • Welcome and Opportunity to meet their classmates
  • Overview of the year and the expectations
  • Technology assessment and student survey
  • Introduction to the technology systems at Booker T. (for 6th graders)
  • Elective Assembly for 8th graders
  • Safety Review and First Day Procedures
  • Schedule Review

I will also be holding orientations for sixth grade and new parents. The schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, September 16:     
Topic: Sixth Grade Parent Orientation - Introduction to Booker T.
Time: Sep 16, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 919 9519 2787
Passcode: 142358
One tap mobile  +16465588656
Friday, September 18:
Topic: Sixth Grade Parent Orientation - Surviving Middle School

Time: Sep 18, 2020 08:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 960 2552 6393
Passcode: 193009
One tap mobile
Elana Elster

What Your Child Needs Starting Next Week:

In addition to their completed homework, starting next week your child will need:

A Device - whether a laptop or tablet with a keyboard, your child will need to bring an electronic device on their in-school days. It must be fully charged as there are insufficient classroom outlets to accommodate student charging.

Students who do not have a device, should request one from the DOE. You can do so by completing this form If the you do not get one from the DOE, we will try to lend you one from the school. Your child can pick this up when they come into school on their first in-person day. Students who need a device and who are 100% remote will be notified when we have one ready for pick-up. The school devices do not have built in Wi-Fi

Completed Forms - parents are required to complete the following forms: Safety Supplies (reviewed at this week's safety meetings):
  • An extra mask in addition to the one being worn
  • A face shield to use during snack time and/or for students with allergies
  • A water bottle with a straw (please label the bottle)
  • Extra hand sanitizer
  • A snack that can be eaten in five minutes
School Supplies 
  • 5   Composition books  (preferably 5 different colors) 
  • 1   Composition book with graph paper 
  • 1   8 ½ x 11 size spiral notebook (paper must be 8 ½ x 11) 
  • 10 Double pocket vinyl folders (as many different colors as possible) Vinyl is far more durable than paper folders 
  • Pens and pencils 
  • Calculator: 
    • 6th Graders: Scientific calculator (with √, π functions—TI-34 multi-view calculator preferred) 
    • 7th Graders: Preferred: Graphing calculator (TI 84 Plus)
      Acceptable: Scientific calculator with π, √ functions  
    • 8th Graders: Graphing calculator required for Regents math (TI84Plus)  

You will need these supplies at home: 

  • colored markers 
  • colored pencils 
  • loose-leaf paper 
  • 3x5/4x6 index cards 
  • 10 glue sticks NOT LIQUID 
  • 1 roll of scotch tape 
  • 1 small stapler 
  • white out 
  • 6 inch dual-sided ruler (in/cm) 
  • small scissors (approx. 5 inches) 
  • small pencil sharpener with cover for shavings 
  • graph paper – 1 pack 

2020 Annual Appeal

The 2020 school year will be unlike any other. Our exceptional teachers and administrators will be working their hardest to accomplish the extraordinary for our kids at a time when there is insufficient city funding to meet the new expenses. Our need has never been greater — yet the ability to fundraise through traditional in-person events and gatherings simply isn’t possible for the foreseeable future.

As a result, our goal is to raise more than we ever have through the Annual Appeal: $250,000.00

In the past, we've requested that families donate $1000 per child. However if you are able to give more, this is the year to do so! And if $1000 isn't in your budget, whatever amount you're able to give is welcome and very much appreciated! Every donation gets us closer to our goal. We're hopeful that every family will try to give this year in whatever capacity is possible.

Here's how to customize your giving:

CHOOSE to make your gift anonymously.
SELECT a one time donation or recurring monthly installments. 
DOUBLE YOUR GIFT by looking up whether your employer has a matching gift program right on the donation page!

Donations are 100% tax deductible and of course, completely voluntary.

Please make your donation today to help pay for the unprecedented needs we are anticipating at the start of this very unusual year!


Come to This Year's PTA Meetings!

Wondering how to stay on top of all that's happening this year? Come to our monthly PTA meetings for the latest insights from Dr. Elster, updates on urgent issues, and community news. Plus, each month we'll host speakers on topics that are important to our families. This year we plan to hold all PTA meetings on Zoom.

Our first meeting is on September 22; our guest, Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, cognitive behavioral therapist and MS54 parent, will help allay our back-to-school anxieties and share guidance on keeping our families (and ourselves) sane.
DATE: September 22
TIME: 7:00 PM
After registering, you'll receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

You can find a list of all this year's PTA meeting dates, on the MS54 site here:

Join the PTA Executive Board or SLT!

We're looking for parents/guardians to join us on the Executive Board in the roles of:
  • Co-Treasurer 
  • Co-Assistant Treasurer (Annual Appeal)
  • Co-Corresponding Secretary
  • Co-Fundraising VP
  • 6th Grade Rep

These are all co-positions where incoming members will be paired with veterans who know the ropes. You can learn more about these roles in the MS54 PTA bylaws here (see page 3).

Additionally, we’re looking for helping hands for non-board, non-elected positions that are nonetheless essential:

  • Online Auction Chair
  • School Store Manager
Our School Leadership Team is also seeking parent volunteers to help develop school-based educational policies in collaboration with the administration and teacher SLT members. 

To express interest or nominate someone else, please email: Elections will be held at the October 13, 2020 PTA meeting.

You're Invited! First Wellness Meeting is September 15 @ 8:00 AM

Wellness is more important than ever! Come tell us what you need and how we can support you during this stressful time. We're all ears! And we have a few ideas to run by you, too. Please join us! 
DATE: September 15
TIME: 8:00 AM
Meeting ID: 960 6001 2930   Passcode: 662059

Thank You to Our Generous Food Drive Donors!

Thank you to all who gave so generously to our community food drives this summer! We distributed hundreds of bags of groceries to our neighborhood families in need.

We're thrilled to report that we just received permission to continue with the food drive this fall! And we have an extended time range for deliveries: 7:30 am to 5 pm every weekday. You can continue to send food deliveries to MS54 at the West 108th Street entrance. Your generosity has made our school an anchor of support and love in our neighborhood!

If you are in need of grocery assistance, please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich at 347-563-5156 or

P-EBT Food Benefit Cards

Be on the lookout! Those P-EBT cards have started arriving in mailboxes! Each child will receive $420 in food benefits. Read this terrific Gothamist article to learn more. These cards are distributed by the state, not by Booker T, so if you have questions, please visit the NYS FAQ page or call 1-888-328-6399.

If you are not in need of these additional funds, please consider donating your $420 to the Annual Appeal.

DOE Info & Community Updates

Request a DOE Learning Device
The DOE is lending internet-enabled iPads to support remote learning for students. If your family has been sharing devices, or has unstable internet, a DOE iPad could be a big help. Here’s the link to request a device: 

Census 2020!
Help NYC get the funding and representation to which we are entitled by filling out the Census form today! Go to or call 844-330-2020 to complete your Census today. New York City’s future depends on it!
HOW: Go to There are just 10 questions and it takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Your answers are completely confidential, and there are NO questions about citizenship.
WHEN: The 2020 Census ends this month on September 30thPlease respond today!

Free Online Class for NYC Families from Inside Schools
Inside Schools launched “How to Support Online Learning at Home,” a free online class for NYC families. It was designed by InsideSchools editor in chief Dr. Tom Liam Lynch, a former education technology professor and parent of a soon-to-be middle schooler. You can take the class at your own pace and convenience. If you are extra worried about the reopening of school this year—as many families are—this class will help you get ready. 

Free Math Tutoring Program from Common Denominator
Common Denominator, formerly known as Top Honors, will offer their FREE math tutoring program virtually for the 2020-2021 school year. They are accepting applications for students who will be enrolled in the 5th-8th grades starting fall 2020.

Application process:
  1. Review and submit an application here.
  2. Register for a student interview, during which the student will take a virtual math assessment to see where they need further support.
  3. Parents will attend a separate virtual orientation to be announced at a later time.
C/D participation requires that students have access to the following:
  • A reliable wi-fi connection.
  • Their own laptop, desktop, or tablet.
  • A working microphone on their device.
  • A working camera on their device.
  • A quiet space without distraction during tutoring'

Events Calendar
September 15: Wellness Meeting @ 8:00 am via Zoom

  • Meeting ID: 960 6001 2930. Passcode: 662059
September 15: Parents will receive their child’s class and homeroom designations. 

Wednesday, September 16 through Friday, September 18: Orientation from 10:00AM-11:00AM for all students via Zoom.

Wednesday, September 16: Sixth Grade Parent Orientation - Introduction to Booker T. at 7pm

Friday, September 18: Sixth Grade Parent Orientation - Surviving Middle School at 8am

September 21: First Day of In-Person School

September 22: PTA General Meeting at 7:00pm via Zoom

  • After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Amazon Reminder
When you place an Amazon order, please use this link: or click on the Amazon logo on our website before you begin shopping. That way, MS54 gets a percentage of every dollar you spend (at no cost to you!). Thanks, everyone!!
Booker T Facebook Communication Forum

Join MS54's Facebook group - a closed group of the parents, teachers, and staff where information is shared and issues of interest to the community are discussed.  Once a member of our group, anyone can post and share articles and messages with our school community.  

You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2020 MS54 PTA, All rights reserved.

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