012921 - February Meetings + Updates
In this issue:

Principal's Letter
Dear Parents,

I know I am feeling a sense of relief that we have the SHSAT behind us, but I know it can’t even compare to what the 8th graders are feeling! It was wonderful to see them on Wednesday at school and to be able to have them test on “home turf.”  It was also great to have the teachers all under one roof and for people to get to see each other.   

This week we also completed our recruitment efforts. We had our third and final Open House on Thursday evening. Together with Ms. Lynch, some of our teachers and 8th graders, we met with all of the 5th graders in the district to talk about Booker T. Ultimately, however, you and your children are our best recruiters. Thank you for helping promote our school. 

The Department of Education’s school experience survey is now open. Please consider giving us feedback: 

On Wednesday, February 3rd, Kaitlyn Hansen, the pediatric nurse practitioner from our Ryan Center at school will be speaking with the seventh and eighth graders about puberty, physical and biological changes adolescents experience, and about their bodies. As part of the program, she and her colleagues will be answering questions which the students can privately post to her. If you do not want your child to participate, please make the necessary arrangements on your end. With the move to remote learning, both the current 7th and 8th graders have missed health class. We hope that this first program will address some of the gaps. 

Today is the last day of the Second Marking Period. I will update you as to when you can see your child’s grades in your NYC Accounts. It will not be before February 5th

Elana Elster 

February Meetings + Events*

Equity Team Meeting
Thursday, February 4 @ 8:00 am
Parents and guardians are invited to join an open-ended, family-focused discussion on equity, diversity, and inclusion inside and outside of Booker

General PTA Meeting w/Special Guest Justine Fonte
Tuesday, February 9 @ 7:00 pm
In addition to all the usual PTA meeting news + updates, we will be joined by Justine Fonte a popular Booker T. speaker, known for her extensive knowledge and outgoing manner in talking all things sexual health. This one-hour session will provide parents with tools to talk with our kids about gender, sexuality, healthy relationships, and more. 

Food Drive: Bake Cookies for Kindness Week
We're looking for families to bake cookies for our food drive families during Kindness Week (Mon, Feb 8 through Thurs, Feb 11).

  • Cookies should be delivered to Security at the West 108 St entrance during Kindness Week between 7:00 am and 3:30 pm.
  • Please pack the cookies for individual families in a plastic container or tin with a note of kindness. Please indicate the ingredients used.

Valentine’s Day, COVID-Style
Thursday, February 11
Let's show our amazing teachers some love!

  • Students are encouraged to wear V-day colors (red, pink, lavender, etc)
  • They are welcome to create and use a V-day themed Zoom background
  • They can make a heart or something equally festive to hold up at the start of their first period class for their teachers
*Please note that there will be no PTA Coffee this month due to the mid-winter break. We'll catch you in March!

High School Admissions Updates

With the SHSAT in the rear view mirror at last, please take some time this weekend to work on your child's list of 12 high schools and any additional application requirements they may have. Your child should upload the list to the HS Admissions Google Classroom by Monday, February 1 for Ms. Mansell to review and provide feedback on.
Action items for NOW:

  1. Make sure you can log into your MySchools account. Share log in info with your child so they can log in as well.
  2. Have your child complete their color code worksheet so you know how many schools to select from each category.
  3. List 12 schools; research and fill in any additional application requirements for each school on your list.
  4. Submit the completed list to the HS Admissions Google Classroom by February 1 so Ms. Mansell can review it and provide guidance/feedback.
  5. Supplementary materials (like Beacon essays, online activities, etc.) are due at different times (gah!) but use FEB 22 as your due date. Don't wait! Start working on them NOW.
  6. Humanities teachers will be working on essay-writing skills starting next week; if your child needs help, have them go to Early Academy!
  7. Reach out to Ms. Mansell ( with any questions or issues.

The PTA is helping eighth grade families by compiling HS open house + virtual tour dates, times, and links into a calendar on the HS Information page of Please contribute any information you hear of. Thank you and we hope this helps!

School Store Shopping

Shop for all your favorite classic MS54 gear including zippies, hoodies, plaid flannel PJ bottoms, and masks! 

School store shipping service is temporarily suspended till further notice.  All orders placed online will be available for pick up at school.

Customers who receive a confirmation email with order status as "Ready" can pick up their orders Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. Use the 108th St entrance by the Security Guard desk. Please bring a hard or digital copy of your order at pick up.  

Check us out at

Questions? contact us at  



Equity Team Update

Parents and guardians, please join us for an Equity Team meeting on Thursday, Feb. 4th, from 8-8:45am for an open-ended, family-focused discussion on equity, diversity, and inclusion inside and outside of Booker T. Some questions to prompt discussion include: 

  • Are you comfortable talking about issues of racism, racial/ethnic identity, and/or discrimination with your kids? If so, what are some of the main topics that come up? If not, what are the aspects that feel uncomfortable?

  • Do you perceive the school’s values of equity, diversity, and inclusion as aligned with or in tension with the school’s values of academic rigor, merit, and selectivity? 

  • How can our school’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion be strengthened in all aspects of Booker T’s school culture?

Our goal is to create a space for parents and guardians to share their experiences, ideas, and concerns with each other. All members of the Booker T community are welcome to join. Register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

For those who may have missed the January 22 workshop, “Talking to Kids about Asian American Identity and Racism” presented by the Immigrant History Initiative, you can access the full recording on their website here. The workshop included a brief history of Asian Americans in the U.S., followed by practical strategies for talking to kids about race and identity. The organizers also provided the additional resources and references below which we thought may be of general interest to our community:

Wellness Committee

PLEASE HELP FEED OUR FAMILIES IN NEED: Most items on our MS54 PTA Food Drive Wish List are under $10 and currently needed. Choose "Anne McIntosh Pejovich" as the recipient. Please support the 25 families in our community who are incredibly grateful for this assistance. Below are other places where you can order from, including your local grocery store!

  • West Side Market (they donated hundreds of shopping bags)
  • Whole Foods
  • Walmart
  • Fresh Direct
  • Sam's Club
  • Amazon Wish List

SUGGESTED NON-PERISHABLE PANTRY ITEMS: pasta, beans (dried and canned), rice, cous-cous, tomato sauce, peanut butter, jelly, tuna, sardines, canned salmon, soup, oil, cereal, oatmeal, crackers, canned fruit, vienna sausages, baked beans, mac & cheese, shelf stable milk, cookies, and applesauce. At this time, we are particularly low on pasta sauce, canned tuna, canned chicken, peanut butter, and jelly.

If you need food, please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich at

  Here is the summary of our conversation. We missed you!
WALK FOR WINTER WELLNESS: Wellness Walks continue every Sunday @ 10 am at the Community Garden at 91st Street. Looking forward to seeing you! Text Alison Gardy at 917-696-2370 to confirm. Last-minute works.

KINDNESS CHALLENGE HEADS-UP! From Wellness Committee Teacher Co-Chair Deirdre McEvoy: Teachers will be joining a Kindness Challenge starting the week of February 8. There will be mini-lessons and check-ins related to developing positive mindsets, strengthening peer relationships, teaching about empathy, and prompting cyber-kindness. Please see for more information.

DOE Info & Community Updates

Free SHSAT Parent Workshop for Rising 8th Graders
Wednesday, February 3, 6:30PM - 7:30PM . Join Bee Tutored's Academic Director, Fareed Sajan, for a 1.5 hour workshop covering the "Ins and Outs" of the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). This workshop will include an overview of the SHSAT exam, how scoring works, benchmark scores, a prep timeline, free resources, a Q&A portion and more. The goal of this workshop is to equip parents with all the information needed to prepare for this competitive exam that best suits the needs of their child. Sign-up Link

Tutoring Buddies
Since the coronavirus pandemic has caused schools to close, many students have lost certain resources that school once provided, including tutoring. Tutoring buddies is a program that pairs high school students (tutors) with elementary/middle school students who need help with school (tutees). Once the pairs are made, the students decide when they would like to meet and what subjects they would like help with (the pairs are made based off available times and subjects of interest). To receive free tutoring or SHSAT prep/help, please fill out this form as soon as possible:

Virtual DOE High School Admissions Events
Applying to high school? The DOE is hosting two kinds of virtual events to share information about high school admissions in New York City. Click here to register for any event(s) you’d like to attend—dates and times are listed below and at the link.

Virtual Arts High School Fairs. Interested in applying to audition programs? At these online events you can learn about audition requirements for each discipline, the audition process for this year, and how to use MySchools and the Virtual Audition Submission Tool (VAST). Additionally, this is a chance to meet representatives from NYC’s audition schools, including LaGuardia High School. At the end of the event, school and DOE staff will respond to your questions. Please note that schools from different boroughs will showcase their programs on different days.
  • February 2, 4pm to 6pm, featuring Queens audition programs | Interpretation will be provided in: Spanish, Mandarin, Bangla
  • February 4, 6pm to 8pm, featuring Manhattan and Bronx audition programs | Interpretation will be provided in: Spanish, Mandarin, Bangla 

The day before the event, you’ll receive a confirmation email with the link to the virtual event(s) you registered for—when the event starts, click this link to join.

Child Mind Institute Caregiver Support Workshops
The Child Mind Institute’s upcoming three workshop series are designed to provide families with proactive strategies they can use to support their child’s mental health and learning needs while virtually learning from home. These workshops are available at no cost to all NYC DOE parents and caregivers For additional resources, please visit:
Promoting Positive Behaviors for Your Child – Please click here to learn more and register.

  • Structuring a Home Learning Environment; Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
  • Managing Kids' Screen Time; Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:00am EST
  • Motivating Your Child for Remote Learning – Part 1; Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
  • Motivating Your Child for Remote Learning – Part 2; Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:00am EST
  • Improving Your Relationship With Your Child; Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
  • Parent Calming Techniques; Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:00am EST
 Supporting Learning at Home – Please click here to learn more and register. 
  • Building and Supporting Executive Functioning Skills; Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST
  • Building a Foundation for Reading at Home; Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm EST

Events Calendar

February 4 @ 8am 
Equity Team Meeting:
Parents and guardians are invited to join an open-ended, family-focused discussion on equity, diversity, and inclusion inside and outside of Booker. 

February 5 @ 7:20am
SLT Meeting:
Any member of the MS54 community who wishes to observe the meeting may email in advance for the Zoom link.

February 9 @ 7pm
General PTA Meeting w/Special Guest Justine Fonte: 
In addition to all the usual PTA meeting news + updates, intersectional health expert Justine Fonte will present an updated approach to talking with our kids about gender, sexuality, healthy relationships, and more.

February 10 @ 6:30pm
CEC3 Business Meeting


February 24 @ 6:30pm
CEC3 Calendar Meeting

You can always find the most up to date information on meetings and events at

Amazon Smile

Did you know that Amazon will donate a small percentage of every eligible purchase to the charity of your choice? You can activate Amazon Smile by going to and selecting MS54 as the charity recipient. Do this once and you're set forever! 

Parent Resources

While we endeavor to keep you well informed through this newsletter, inevitably topics and conversations come up throughout the week. Here are additional ways to stay in the loop:

The website is where you'll find calendars, directories, meeting minutes, forms, and information on topics including equity and wellness.

The MS54 PTA Facebook group is a private group of parents, teachers, and staff where information is shared and issues are discussed. Members can post and share articles and messages with our school community. 

The btwms54pta Instagram is where to get visual inspiration and motivation from images, recipes, quotes and more.

The Well at 54 is our Facebook group devoted to sharing timely wellness tips, articles and solutions.
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