012221 - SHSAT, HS Updates, Booker T Day
In this issue:

Principal's Letter

Dear Parents: 

This week we have met with 8th graders and their parents to talk about the process for applying for high school. While 6th and 7th grade parents do not have to focus on this now, it is worth noting that without test scores and some of the traditional screening processes, some high schools are looking at the final grades from sixth grade in addition to those from 7th grade. While we do not know what the process will be going forward, I would not be surprised if some of these selection criteria remain. Furthermore, many of the schools are saving a large percentage of seats for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. These diversity initiatives have been in the works for a while.   

Next Wednesday, January 27th, the entire faculty will be involved in proctoring the SHSAT Exam. Thus, there will be no live classes. All work will be posted. (Also known as ASYNCHRONOUS instruction.) Please ensure that your children meet the deadlines for completing it.  

Wishing the 8th graders the best of luck on Wednesday. I know they will be relieved to have this behind them. 

Elana Elster 

High School Admissions Updates

Be sure to:

  • Complete the DOE health screening:
  • Arrive by 8:15 am
  • Wear a mask and bring a spare
  • Bring two #2 pencils
  • Bring water but no food (unless you have extended time)
  • Dress warmly as windows will be open!

Last night Ms Mansell shared next steps for non-specialized HS admissions.
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. Humanities teachers will be working on essay-writing skills once the SHSAT is over; if your child needs help, have them go to Early Academy!
  6. 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!

Sign Up to Participate in Booker T. Day

Booker T. Day is Friday, February 26th from 9:15-10:15am. It’s a great opportunity for MS54 students to learn about different careers, experiences, and opportunities. Please take the time to share your expertise or recruit someone you know to do it. It's only a one hour commitment over Zoom. 

To participate, please complete this form or forward it to someone you want to recruit. Dr. Elster is looking to get 50 participants by Feb 8 to make this experience more intimate and enriching for the students. So far 33 presenters have signed up. Please do what you can to get more presenters.

Info for Presenters: Presentations should last 30 to 40 minutes with time for questions at the end. A teacher will "chaperone" each presentation to help facilitate conversation if necessary. Presenters can talk about what they do, what a typical day is like, share some of their career highlights, what they studied to become what they are, what they were like as a middle school student, etc. Visual presentations, including PowerPoint, are welcome. This is the first time we are doing this over Zoom. In previous years, students would visit participants at their workplace. For this reason, we don’t have any recorded presentations we can provide as guidance. See this article for some tips on how to make Zoom presentations more engaging.

Once Dr. Elster has finalized who will be presenting, students will be able to select their first, second, and third choices. 

Wellness Update

OUR FOOD DRIVE ITEMS ARE LOW AND NEED REPLENISHING!  Please support this effort.  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 our community — We feel the love! If you prefer to shop locally, below are some places 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 apple sauce.

If you need food, please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich at
WALK FOR WINTER WELLNESS: Wellness Walks continue every Sunday @ 10 am at the Community Garden at 91st Street. Cast your worries to the wind and get some exercise! Text Alison Gardy at 917-696-2370 to confirm. Last-minute works.

Equity Team Update

The Equity Steering Team has been holding "focus group" discussions around Equity with different groups within our school community this year. We held a discussion with teachers before the winter break, and held a student session last week. All parents and guardians are invited to join a group discussion at the next full Equity Team meeting on Thursday, February 4th, 8-9am. Please mark your calendars and we will supply zoom info in next week's update.

The planning for Black Culture Appreciation Month has commenced. Students are submitting notable figures to potentially be spotlighted in a presentation that will be updated daily. Participating staff are also discussing options for a family-oriented evening. If anyone has any ideas, please do not hesitate to email Ms. Johnson ( 

DOE Info & Community Updates

School Experience Survey
All students in grades 6–12 and parents/guardians and teachers of students in grades 3-K through 12 are invited to participate in the School Experience Survey. Your feedback on remote learning, technology, how DOE is communicating, and health and safety in our schools will help the DOE plan both remote and in-person learning. Visit to take the survey.

NYC Mayoral Candidates Education Policy Panel
Join Advocates for Children on Wednesday, January 27th at 7pm to hear top Democratic mayoral candidates share their platforms and discuss some of the most pressing issues facing NYC's educational landscape. The panel discussion is co-hosted by Columbia Law and NYU Law's Education Law and Policy Societies, and will be moderated by AFC policy director Randi Levine. RSVP to participate.

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.
  • January 25, 5pm to 7pm, featuring Brooklyn and Staten Island audition programs| Interpretation will be provided in: Spanish, Mandarin, Russian
  • 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
 Coping During COVID-19 – Please click here to learn more and register.
  • Will My Child be Okay?; Monday, January 25th, 2021 | 5:00pm – 6:00pm EST
  • Fostering Resilience Within Your Family; Thursday, January 28th, 2021 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm 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

3rd Annual NYC Public School Film Festival
The Festival will open for submissions from NYC Dept. of Education students January 5 through March 16, 2021. Films will be selected for the Festival by a panel of educators and media professionals. Films will be screened virtually on May 6, 2021. Following the May 6th virtual screening, student filmmakers will be invited to virtual discussions with industry professionals. Submitted films must be 5 minutes or less, and in .mp4 or .mov format. Films must use only original or public domain music. No nudity, profanity or violent acts are permitted. Youth filmmakers must play the major creative role on the production of the submitted works — as directors, writers, and/or editors. For full rules and regulation information, please go to:

Find Help at
If you or your family need assistance of any kind, please try this new resource: It was created by Aunt Bertha, a non-profit that connects people and programs — making it easy for people to find social services in their communities. Simply type in your Zip Code, and this site will connect you to a lot of different resources from food, housing, jobs, money, legal, and so much more.

Jazz Power Youth Program
Classes meet virtually once a week outside of school hours on Thursday from 4:30-6:30 pm (starting in March). They are looking for students who are interested in learning more about music, dance, blues, theater etc. The program is geared towards middle schoolers and high schoolers and completely free. There are open classes for more info for parents and students on February 11, and March 11 through zoom. Visit for more info.  

Events Calendar

January 25 @ 7:30 pm
January Class Parent Meeting
Meeting ID: 928 6800 5969     Passcode: 765726

January 27 @ 8:15 am
The SHSAT will be given at Booker T
. Eighth grade students should arrive by 8:15. Because the entire faculty will be involved in proctoring the SHSAT exam, there will be no live classes this day. 

January 29 @ 9:00 am
54 for 54 Planning Meeting
Be a part of the team planning the Spring's most exciting fundraiser and community event: 54 for 54! (It's like the Turkey Trot, but bigger!)
Meeting ID: 951 4642 1746    Passcode: 925694

January 29 
End of 2nd marking period.
Please make sure to check grades in Jupiter to see how your child is doing and avoid any surprises.

February 4 @ 8am 
All parents and guardians are invited to join a group discussion at the next full Equity Team meeting. Zoom link will be provided in next week's update.

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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