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02.05.21 - Kindness Week + Valentine's Day!




Principal's Letter

Dear Parents,

Let me start with Returning to the Building – I have no insider information, but I have been told to “get ready” because it’s in the works. You’ll hear more about our plans for the reentry in the coming weeks. We are not planning major changes, but do plan to make some minor adjustments.  
It has been an interesting week – full of meetings with various constituencies. Monday — the faculty, Tuesday — the PTA Executive Board, Wednesday — the leadership of various committees, Thursday— the Equity Committee, and Friday — the School Leadership Team — and those were just the ones before or after school! The issues of planning for the coming year, inclusivity, equity, differentiation, school culture are recurrent ones. Many of the same people were on my screen at more than one of these. While I am grateful to their commitment, I encourage those of you who can, to consider coming to a school meeting in the next few weeks. In this era when we can attend while at home, work, or on the go, look at the calendar or events and join us. We need your voice and perspective.  
What I also learned this week is if we want to get 100% attendance on any given day — invite the student to an assembly with the words “sex education” in it and everyone will show up! Kaitlyn Hansen, the pediatric nurse practitioner from the Ryan Center at Booker T.  gave an informative session which captured the attention of the 7th and 8th graders.  I knew it was especially successful based on the students’ willingness to ask questions (by chatting directly to Kaitlyn). We could have gone on for at least another period with questions. I am going to speak with Kaitlyn about some follow-up sessions. In the meantime, she gave the students a list of resources where they can get additional information. I sent that list to both the students and parents through Jupiter. Puberty and sex education is not an easy conversation for most parents to have with their children, so please use this valuable resource. Think about it this way — if it is not you or someone like Kaitlyn, your child’s sex educator will be a 13-year-old! I hope you will join us on Tuesday evening at the PTA meeting to hear Justine Fonte, a health educator. She will also be speaking with all the students in March.
Report cards are being processed. I hope to have them uploaded early next week. I will let you know when they are up in your NYC Student Account. 
I plan to bake cookies next week for our families in need. I hope you will encourage your children to bake a batch too. 

Elana Elster
Visit The Little Library @ MS54
The Little Library @ MS54 is open! With the support of Dr. Elster and our teachers, we now have a "Little Library" bookshelf set up in the school lobby. Students and their families can pick up books to bring home or drop off some of their own favorites to share!  The Little Library is open M - F from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm
MS54's School Store shipping service is temporarily suspended until further notice. Orders placed online will only be available for at-school pick up (M - F from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm). Please use the 108th Street entrance by the Security Guard desk and  bring a hard or digital copy of your order at pick up. Questions? Contact us at
Kindness Week Cookie Drive
February 8 - 11, 2021
Will you bake a batch of cookies for our food drive families?
  • Cookies can be delivered to Security at the West 108th Street entrance Monday - Thursday (February 8-11) between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm.
  • Please pack the cookies for individual families in a plastic container or tin with a note of kindness and indicate the ingredients used.

Valentine’s Day, COVID-Style
February 11, 2021
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.

Black Legends Slide Show
Students and teachers have collaborated on a slide show of notable Black figures and iconic happenings. The slideshow is on ( e-mail account required for access) with new content every day that school's in session this month!

Contribute to Our Black Culture Then + Now Showcase!

Help our students gather content from then (the past) and now to showcase how far we have come as a community, locally and nationally. Here are some ways you can participate!
  • Submit photos of participation in BLM Protests to Randee Johnson.
  • Contribute a video of your child sharing a speech (or part of one), a moving piece of literature (or part of one), or even a quote addressing what diversity, equity, and/or unity means to them. These video/audio clips can then be shared with our community. Please limit the submission to a maximum of 30 seconds.
And be sure to check out some of our other BCAM spaces!
School Meetings + Events

Weekend Winter Wellness Walk
February 7, 2021 @ 10:00 am
Riverside Park Community Garden at 91st Street

Join Wellness Chair Alison Gardy and other parents for a community stroll through Riverside Park. Masks required, water suggested, children optional. Questions? E-mail Alison at

General PTA Meeting w/Special Guest Justine Fonte
February 9, 2021 @ 7:00 pm
Register for the Zoom meeting

Intersectional health expert Justine Fonte will present an updated approach to talking with our kids about gender, sexuality, healthy relationships, and more.
Agenda, February Budget Report, January Minutes, DOE Interim Report

Lunar New Year Celebration Family Night
February 10, 2021 @ 5:30 pm

Register for the Zoom meeting
Celebrate Lunar New Year with the MS54 Asian American Association (AAA)!  AAA students will share the story behind Lunar New Year, discuss how different cultures celebrate, demonstrate how to make paper lanterns, share festive recipes, and lead a fun Kahoot! To make your own paper lanterns bring: scissors, tape or glue, a ruler, a pencil, and three pieces of paper. Questions? Email Ms. Kaon or Ms. Zipkin.

Wellness Meeting
February 26, 2021 @ 7:30 am
Join the Zoom meeting

Everyone is invited to join the monthly Wellness Meeting. Help us plan Wellness Day and share wellness ideas for our community. January Wellness Minutes

Booker T. Day
February 26, 2021 @ 9:15 -10:15 am
Professionals from a wide variety of career paths will share with students how they got to where they are and what they love about their work.

For more details, please consult the MS54 Calendar!
*Please note that there will be no PTA Coffee this month due to the Mid-Winter Break.

Weekend Winter Wellness Walk
February 7, 2021 @ 10:00 am
Riverside Park at 91st Street;

Food Drive: Bake Cookies for Kindness Week
February 8 - 11, 2021

General PTA Meeting w/Special Guest Justine Fonte
February 9, 2021 @ 7:00 pm
Register for the Zoom meeting

Family Lunar New Year Celebration
February 10, 2021 @ 5:30pm
Register for the Zoom meeting

CEC3 Business Meeting
February 10, 2021 @ 6:30pm
Register for the Zoom meeting

Valentine’s Day, COVID-Style
February 11, 2021

February Break - NO SCHOOL
February 12-19, 2021

Weekend Winter Wellness Walk
February 14, 2021 @ 10:00 am
Riverside Park at 91st Street;

Weekend Winter Wellness Walk
February 21, 2021 @ 10:00 am
Riverside Park at 91st Street;

Final Day to Submit Non-Specialized High School Lists
February 23, 2021

CEC3 Calendar Meeting
February 24, 2021 @ 6:30pm

Register for the Zoom meeting

Wellness Meeting
February 26, 2021 @ 7:30am
Join the Zoom meeting

DOE Info & Community Updates

Black History Month at NYPL
The New York Public Library celebrates Black History Month throughout February with live online events and programs, blog posts, recommended reading, and a wide array of digital resources available to anyone with a library card.

Young Writers Awards Competition
The New York Society Library is holding its 19th Annual Young Writers Awards Competition and Booker T students are eligible to participate. Find entry guidelines and information at

Riley's Way Call for Kindness
Teens who want to change the world can
Answer the Call for Kindness and win up to $3,000 to fund their project idea. Applications close on April 7, 2021.

Hudson Guild SHSAT
This is a free tutoring program in partnership with Tutorverse for students in the 7th grade that are looking to take the SHSAT test in the 8th grade or need additional academic support. Families can apply by clicking the link here. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Middle School Program Director, Ashley Bermudez at or call/text 646-883-4015. If SHSAT isn't for you we also have free afterschool and a Learning Lab Program.

Tutoring Buddies
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). Sign up to receive free tutoring help.

UFT Workshop on HS admissions
February 11, 5-6 pm. Presenters from the DOE’s Office of Enrollment and Michael Kraft, a member of the Panel for Education Policy, will explain changes made this year to the admissions process, give tips on researching schools, and offer other information to support your high school admissions journey.
Register for this event.

DOE HS Admissions Webinars
Presentations will cover: updates to the admissions process for fall 2021, how to use the new features in MySchools, how High School and SHSAT offers are made, LaGuardia High School auditions, and Q&A.
Sign up to attend.

Child Mind Institute Caregiver Support Workshops
The Child Mind Institute's upcoming free three-workshop series is 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. For additional resources, please visit the Child Mind Institute.

Promoting Positive Behaviors for Your Child – Please register to learn more.

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