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02.26.21 - And we're back!




Principal's Letter

Dear Parents,

Thank you so much for your help to ensure that Booker T. Day took place this year — even if just remotely. I appreciate everyone who presented, who volunteered their friends and co-workers, and to Kyle Wilson, Sandra Temko, and Marni Aarlev for help with the logistics.  Ask your child about the session they attended. We had such interesting and diverse presenters! 

Our doors are open! It was very exciting to welcome the students back into the building and to see the quiet building come alive. I look forward to next week as well when more students will return. As you know, the biggest obstacle to five-day-a-week learning at Booker T. is staffing. We do not have enough staff (or space) to cover classrooms of nine students. That is still the case. It is also why some of your children have a very light day on the day that their teachers are in school, but they are at home.  

Elana Elster

It's with heavy hearts that we share that Dr. Elster's mother passed away this week. Dr. Elster often spoke fondly of the influence of both her parents in her life, including in her January 15 letter to parents about "Teachable Moments" and in her profile on the MS54 site. Students and families are welcome to send condolence cards to her via parent coordinator Anne Pejovich either through the mail or by dropping them off during in-person days.

Dr. Elster will be out through next week observing Shiva. For assistance in her absence, please reach out to Laura Lynch (, Patricia Huggins (, Erica Williams (, Anne Pejovich (, or Deanne Orcher (
Our latest interviewee is Emery Dickerson, School Safety Agent! From working in a famous theater book store (while Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote In the Heights there) to keeping Booker T. students safe for 10 years, Emery Dickerson has had quite a diverse career. And wait till you see him solve a Rubik’s Cube! Read more.
Wellness Day is March 16!  Parents and community members with wellness expertise are invited to speak to our students. Speakers will talk to students over Zoom for two sessions starting at 9:15 am. If you're interested in speaking, please register here. Reach out to Alison Gardy with any questions at
While the main Booker T. Library remains closed, students are welcome to take books home from classroom libraries as well as the new Little Library in the lobby. Every student who wants a book should have one (or more!)
The Food Drive is once again accepting donations. Please consider using our Amazon list to send food directly to the school for distribution, or send some items in with your student when they return to the building. We are especially in need of canned proteins, chicken stock, oils, jelly, tomato sauce, canned vegetables, pancake mix and maple syrup.

Family Night
On Wednesday, MS54 continued their Black Culture Appreciation Month celebration with a Family Night event that included:
  • A timeline of notable Black figures presented through student artwork from Ms. Kricorian's class.
  • A showcase of how far we have come from the civil rights movement to the Black Lives Matter movement through a collection of photos from Booker T. community members.
  • Performances from the Booker T. Dance Team, the Booker T. Step Family, and an Electric Slide dance party!
This celebration was in memory of Michael "Mike" Lattimore, beloved Booker T. school cook. For more details about Family Night, see the News and Resources section on the MS54 Equity Team page.

ICYMI: Check out the BCAM daily slideshow!

Celebrating Black Haitian History
In 1791, a coordinated slave revolt in Saint Domingue, today’s Republic of Haiti, spawned a thirteen-year revolution against French colonialism that resulted in the first Black republic in the Western Hemisphere. For African Americans, Haiti’s declaration of independence in 1804 became a symbol of self-emancipation and radical equality leading many to emigrate to Haiti in the mid 1820s. Learn more in the News and Resources section on the MS54 Equity Team page.
School Meetings + Events

Weekend Winter Wellness Walk
February 28, 2021 @ 10:00 am
Riverside Park Community Garden at 91st Street

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

March PTA Meeting
March 9, 2021 @ 7:00 pm
Register for the meeting

Get the latest school news + all your favorite PTA updates.

March SLT Meeting

March 12, 2021 @ 7:20 am
Any member of the MS54 community who wishes to observe the meeting may email in advance for the Zoom link.     

Wellness Day
March 16, 2021 @ 9:15 am
Professionals from a wide variety of wellness backgrounds will meet with our students to share information, insights, and support from their areas of expertise.

Wellness Meeting

March 19, 2021 @ 7:30 am
Join the Zoom meeting

Everyone is invited to join the monthly Wellness Meeting. Help us plan for wellness activities and events for our community.

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 28, 2021 @ 10:00 am
Riverside Park at 91st Street;

Final Day to Submit Non-Specialized High School Lists
March 1, 2021

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

March PTA Meeting
March 9, 2021 @ 7:00 pm
Register for the meeting

March SLT Meeting
March 12, 2021 @ 7:20 am
Email in advance for the Zoom link.

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

Wellness Day
March 16, 2021 @ 9:15 -10:15 am
For students only

Wellness Meeting
March 19, 2021 @ 7:30 am
Join the Zoom meeting

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

DOE Info & Community Updates

P-EBT Food Benefit
As of February 10, 2021, the $420 food benefit for spring 2020 has been distributed to all NYC public school students. If you haven't received the spring 2020 benefit, contact the State, and send an email to It is anticipated that P-EBT food benefits for the 2020-2021 school year will be issued to eligible children starting in March 2021. For more information, visit You can also find additional information on what the Pandemic EBT food benefit is and who is eligible here.

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.

  • Improving Your Relationship With Your Child: March 3, 2021 @ 4:00pm - 5:00pm
  • Parent Calming Techniques: March 9, 2021 @ 9:00 -10:00am
Discussion of Boys & Puberty with Dr. Cara Natterson & Vanessa Kroll Bennett
March 3rd, 2021 @ 8:00 pm
Looking for an an honest and practical conversation about boys and puberty? On March 3rd, Cara and Vanessa will discuss boys, puberty, and Cara's two new books: 
Guy Stuff Feelings and the paperback version of Decoding Boys. Their discussion will include the emotional lives of developing boys (critical right now), the challenges of gaming (major issue in the pandemic), and the importance of talking to our kids about pornography (ditto). Register for this FREE event on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 8pm.

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 Competition deadline is Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

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.

Jeter’s Leaders Program
Jeter's Leaders is a leadership development program created to empower, recognize, and enhance the skills of high school students who promote healthy lifestyles, achieve academically, are committed to improving their community, and serve as role models to younger students and deliver positive messages to their peers. To be eligible, applicants must be high school freshman in the fall. Application deadline is April 9,2021. For more info, see:

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.
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