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05.14.21: school survey, bylaws meeting, talent search, grade meet-ups + more!

IN THIS ISSUE


       

       

Principal's Letter

Dear Parents:

The approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents 12-15 years old is great news. I hope that you will get your children vaccinated. So many people have asked me about what I see happening in September. While I hope that we will be back in full force, I do know that this is one more step in the right direction.

I apologize that some of your children’s in-person time in school is taken up by the mandatory COVID testing.  We do our best to get the students in and out of the testing quickly. Know, however, that this testing has been effective in catching several positive cases among building personnel who do not work directly with the students. Fortunately, we have only had one classroom closure to date.

In the coming week, the eighth graders will be participating in a field day during part of their in-person day. We are trying to find ways for the students to interact more with their peers.  We will also have our first “One School Lunch” for the sixth graders.

This week I had an opportunity to be present at a meeting where six seventh graders addressed the seventh-grade teachers to discuss their experience this year and to share their perspective on the year. I am grateful to Ms. Williams for facilitating this conversation and to the students for their willingness to participate.

If you are interested in registering your child for the NYC Department of Education’s Summer Rising Program, please follow this link:
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dycd/services/SummerRising.page.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to fill out this year’s School Survey. This provides us with vital feedback on various aspects of your child’s educational experience.  The link is: https://surveys.panoramaed.com/nycdoe/login. Families should enter “f” followed by their child’s nine-digit Student Identification (OSIS) Number to access the survey. Note that “f” must be lowercase.


Elana

The PTA is holding a special meeting on Monday, May 24th at 7:00pm to vote on bylaws changes that will add seats for Equity Team and Wellness Committee parent members to the Executive Board of the PTA. These changes were previewed at Tuesday's PTA meeting and are summarized HERE. The specific bylaw edits supporting this change can be found HERE. Questions can be directed to co-presidents@ms54pta.org.  Register HERE to join.
Last Saturday despite the rain, we had a great turn out to plant some flowers around the school. Thanks to MS54 parent, Natasha Shtraizent for organizing and to all the families that helped out!
A big thanks to Dr. Erika Rooney for her Mindful Parenting Session during the May 11th PTA Meeting. In case you missed it, Dr. Erika Rooney of the Child Mind Institute discussed methods of mindful parenting, including: ideas, methods and process; a walking script; mindfulness jar; and mindful eating
Talent Search! We want to hear our 6th and 7th grade students sing as we begin to think about our musical for next year! Students don't have to prepare a song; we will provide something for you to sing. Interested students should sign-up for a day that they are present at school. (We will meet at the flagpole at 1:15pm.) If you are a remote student, please email amcintosh6@schools.nyc.gov and we will arrange a "Zoom Sing"!
Join Us for the MS54 Student Talent Night Show 2021!  
Date: Thursday, June 10th
Time: 6:00pm
Place: Your Living Room!
Cost: Pay-As-You-Wish — Suggested donations per family of $50, $20, or $10 are all appreciated. And of course, we gladly welcome all contributions.
The Wellness Committee, in partnership with Ms. Cohen has launched "TBH" (To Be Honest) — a confidential group for kids held on Mondays from 4 - 5pm over Zoom. Conversations are moderated by Nina Jaroslaw, a social work graduate student, and supervised by Ms. Cohen. Sign up to join. Reach out to Wellness Chair, Alison Gardy, at wellness@ms54pta.org with any questions.
6th Grade "One School Lunch" (OSL) Program is a great way for 6th graders to meet other students in their grade! Sixth graders sign up (with their student email accounts) and will be placed in a group of 8 students. The groups will share a pizza (provided by the school) and participate in some informal activities in the courtyard. The OSL will run from dismissal until about 1:45pm during students’ in-school day in the next few weeks. Remote students will meet over Zoom.
Sixth Grade has been a doozy! If you'd like to help end the year on a high note with a grade-wide Field Day or a simple 6th Grade Yearbook, please email G6 rep Lee Uehara at 6thgraderep@ms54pta.org. Other suggestions + ideas are welcome, too! Let's work together to make some fun!!
Thanks to your amazing generosity, we have run our food drive for 11 months, feeding 40 families in need!  What a difference you have made! Right now, we need more rice, oatmeal, jelly, tomato sauce, mac & cheese, and canned tuna. Please use the MS54 Amazon Wish List or support your local grocer as you shop for our families in need. 
Don't Miss Our Awesome 54 for 54 Gradewide Outings!

6th Grade Bike Ride with Dr. Elster + Ice Cream!
May 16, 2021 @ 4:00pm
Start Point: West 72nd Street + Central Park West, north set of benches at entrance
Dr. Elster will be joining! For more info + RSVP: Email Lee Uehara at 6thgraderep@ms54pta.org. If you don't know how to ride a bike and want to learn, email us that, too.

7th Grade Kite Flying Social
May 22, 2021 @11am
Rain date: Sunday May 23rd
Join other 7th grade families at Ellington in the Park in Riverside Park at 105th Street for the 7th Grade Kite Flying Social! Bring a kite, picnic, swing the rings, and more. Please RSVP by May 20th to Sandra Temko at 7thgraderep@ms54pta.org and mention your homeroom teacher. The teacher with the biggest homeroom attendance wins a bouquet of flowers! (So far Ms. Misthal & Ms. Pakiak's homerooms are tied for the lead.)

If you haven't registered yet, there is still time to JOIN over 100 other MS54 friends working their way toward a goal of 54 something while fundraising for our school.

You can also DONATE to any participant, whether a friend, a child, your favorite teacher or principal!


WHAT'S YOUR CHALLENGE?
REGISTER
DONATE
Equity Team Updates

Yesterday’s Eid al-Fitr holiday (or, the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”) marked the end of the month of Ramadan. To learn more about Eid al-Fitr and other facets of Muslim culture and religion, see this resource from The Pluralism Project at Harvard. Also check out this guide prepared by the NYCDOE — it includes basic information, resources for further reading, and tips for engaging kids to learn more.

Check out this article on how Julia Wang and Kathy Lu, founders of the Immigrant History Initiative, are working to bring more Asian American history into classrooms


The Booker T. Washington community has come together before in times of International Crisis and we would like to encourage the community to come together again to help with the current devastating COVID-19 crisis in India.   

As many of you know, in recent weeks, India’s COVID-19 crisis has become the worst in the world with new cases surging past 400,000 per day.  Home to around 1.4 billion people or 18% of the world’s population, in the past 2 weeks, India accounted for 46% of new COVID-19 cases globally, according to the World Health Organization. In the first week of May, one in every four deaths came from India, with over 23 million total cases, and over 254,000 deaths, which is likely an underestimate.    

The resurgence has overwhelmed the medical system in India with shortages of medical supplies, including a limited supply of oxygen and shortages of other essential supplies.  

If you would like to make a donation to help with this humanitarian crisis, Sewa International is a highly recommended charitable organization which has begun a “Help India Defeat Covid-19” campaign. Through this campaign, the organization is raising funds to purchase and deliver Oxygen Concentrators and other life-saving medical equipment to various communities in India. Sewa International is one of the most highly rated charities by Charity Navigator, an independent nonprofit evaluator which evaluates charitable organizations for Financial Health, Accountability & Transparency, with a 5 star rating. If you would like to make a donation to this organization, you can do so directly on their website. Donations of any size to this charity, or any other charity you choose to support, can make a significant difference for India’s dire situation.  

____________________________________

Equity Team Meetings:

The Equity Team invites all members of the community to join our ongoing conversation about equity and inclusion at the school at an open meeting Wednesday, May 19th, at 7pm. The focus will be thinking ahead to the next school year and developing a vision for addressing the needs and gaps created by the pandemic. Register in advance for this meeting.  

If you can’t make this one, hold the date for our last meeting of the year on Wednesday, June 16 at 7pm. Read more about the goals of the Equity Team and summaries of past meetings.
School Meetings + Events

Sunday Wellness Walks @ 10am — Counts towards 54 for 54 Challenge!
May 16, 23, 30, 2021
Riverside Park Community Garden at 91st Street

Join Wellness Chair Alison Gardy and other parents for a walk through Riverside Park and help meet your 54 for 54 Challenge! Masks required, water suggested, children optional. Questions? Email Alison at
wellness@ms54pta.org.


6th Grade Bike Ride with Dr. Elster + Ice Cream 
May 16, 2021 @ 4:00pm
Start Point: West 72nd Street + Central Park West, north set of benches at entrance
Dr. Elster will be joining! For more info + RSVP: Email Lee Uehara at 6thgraderep@ms54pta.orgIf you don't know how to ride a bike and want to learn, email us that, too.

May Equity Team Meeting

May 19, 2021 @ 7:00pm
The Equity Team invites all members of the community to join our ongoing conversation about equity and inclusion at the school. The focus will be thinking ahead to the next school year and developing a vision for addressing the needs and gaps created by the pandemic.
 Register
in advance for this meeting. Read more about the goals of the Equity Team and summaries of past meetings. Contact equity@ms54pta.org with any questions.

May Wellness Committee Meeting
May 21, 2021 @ 7:30am
Contact
wellness@ms54pta.org for details. Join the meeting HERE.

7th Grade Kite Flying Social
May 22, 2021 @ 11:00am (rain date: May 23, 2021)
Join other 7th grade families at Ellington in the Park in Riverside Park at 105th Street for the 7th Grade Kite Flying Social! Bring a kite, picnic, swing the rings, and more. Please RSVP by May 20th to Sandra Temko at 7thgraderep@ms54pta.org and mention your homeroom teacher. The teacher with the biggest homeroom attendance wins a bouquet of flowers! (So far Ms. Misthal & Ms. Pasiak's homerooms are tied for the lead.) 

Picture Day: Save the Date
May 24 & 25, 2021
Save these dates for picture day with Irvin Simon Photographers. You will receive an online code to view and order your portraits a few weeks after picture day. More info to come.

For more details, please consult the MS54 Calendar!

DOE Info & Community Updates

New items are listed below. To see previously listed but still active notices, please see the DOE Info and Community Updates page on the MS54 website.

City’s Vaccine Command Center 
On Monday, May 10, 2021, the FDA extended the Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to people ages 12 through 15. Starting Thursday, May 13, 2021, the City is coordinating vaccine distribution. You can book appointments at https://vax4nyc.nyc.gov or call 877-VAX4NYC (877-829-4692) or visit any of the available walk-up sites offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. To stay up to date on all COVID-19 vaccine updates, sign-up for the New York City Vaccine Command Center Newsletter.


NYC School Survey 
Every year, families and teachers across New York City share their thoughts on their experiences in and out of the classroom over the past school year. Don’t miss your opportunity to provide your school with valuable feedback! To take the survey, visit the NYCSchoolSurvey.org website and enter the letter “f” (lowercase) followed by your child’s nine-digit Student Identification (OSIS) Number in the access code textbox. Survey results will be shared with schools over the summer to help them plan for the new school year, and released publicly to New York City families and students with the School Quality Report in the fall of 2021.


Building A Healthy Relationship to Food and Our Bodies 
Thursday, May 20, 2021 @ 7pm 
Join Vanessa Kroll Bennett in conversation with Oona Hanson, a parent coach who helps trusted adults raise kids to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies. Oona will provide a framework for understanding eating disorders and offer strategies and guidance for supporting our kids in this often charged and complex area. Register for this free event.


Middle School Arts Audition Boot Camp
Deadline to apply has been extended to May 21, 2021
This is a free, two-week arts program for NYCDOE students entering 8th grade in September 2021. This intensive virtual program is administered in collaboration with leading cultural organizations (Lincoln Center, Weill Institute of Music at Carnegie Hall, Harlem School for the Arts, NY Philharmonic, Studio in a School, and Julliard). The goal is to provide equity and access in preparation to screened NYCDOE arts high schools and arts programs for 300 currently Title I middle school students. Dates are August 2 – August 13, 2021; meeting Monday through Friday, 9am –12pm. Admission is by online application (only) and an online audition submission. All applications must be submitted by May 21, 2021 (the extended deadline).

Ending the Silence for Families
Wednesday, June 2, 2021 @ 5pm
During this 90-minute presentation, parents and other primary caregivers of middle and high school students will gain awareness around mental health conditions through an informative PowerPoint and short videos. The session also educates families about the early warning signs of mental illness, gives them facts and statistics, and helps families learn how to approach their child and to how to work with school staff to recognize the early signs. Families will leave with resources to support them and their children. Register for this free event.
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