112520 - Holiday Updates + Happy Thanksgiving!!
In this issue:

Principal's Letter

Dear Families, 

Just a reminder that the First Marking Period Report Cards have been uploaded into your NYC Student Account ( If you have not had a chance to review it with your child, I urge you to do so. 

By now, your children have already completed a week of total remote learning. One of the features we added to their schedule is a period of Early Academy. Early Academy is a chance for your children to meet with their teachers and get extra support. Early Academy is open office hours with teachers. Please encourage your children to take advantage of this opportunity.  

Beginning after Thanksgiving, we will also have a member of the administrative team or guidance staff available to STUDENTS during lunch each day to help address student needs and questions. We will send the Zoom address out to the students at the start of next week.  

I love Fall — the beautiful colors, the crisp air, “sweatshirt season,” the start of a new school year, and Thanksgiving. While I do not like Turkey, stuffing, or sweet potatoes, I always loved gathering together with family and friends (and of course dessert.) My parents never missed an opportunity to remind my brothers and I of the blessings we enjoyed and the importance of giving thanks. And, they began our Thanksgiving gathering with ritual befitting the importance of acknowledging our bounty and the freedoms we enjoyed living in this country. While I know this year the holiday will be different, I remain grateful for my abundant blessings which include this community, the joy that comes from working with your children, and the commitment the founders of our country had to public education. 

Enjoy the holiday and stay safe. 

Elana Elster 

P.S. Please see the DOE's November 24, Message for Families about Remote Learning and COVID-19 Testing Consent which contains information on:
  • devices for remote learning 
  • attendance requirements for remote instruction 
  • grading in the 2020-21 school year 
  • how to provide consent for in-school testing (when blended learning resumes) 
Here's a pdf of the DOE Nov 24 Update for Families.

A New Resource for G8 Families!


There's so much that's unknown about the HS admissions process this year, but we can help each other by sharing what we know!

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!

Thank You Turkey Trotters!

We are so grateful for the 300 parents, students and teachers who have made Booker T's First Annual Virtual Turkey Trot such a huge success! When we needed it most, you've gotten us outside, meeting up, exercising and smiling. And in doing so, we've raised over $7,000!

If you haven't registered yet, you still can!  And there are 30 different teams that you can join or you can create your own.

Need some encouragement? Sign up to join this Sunday's Weekend Wellness Walk @10:00 am in Riverside Park @ 91st Street!

Turkey Trot Reminders

  • Show your MS54 spirit by printing out and wearing your super cool MS54 bib during your run/walk.
  • Wear your turkey trot gear (if you have it).
  • Bring water.
  • Enter your results when you are done.
  • Post your finisher photos to the MS54 Turkey Trot Album.
See you out there, friends!


West Side Campaign Against Hunger Turkey Challenge

Thank you to all the MS54 families who have donated to the West Side Campaign Against Hunger Turkey Challenge! Donations are still being accepted through the end of November. Buy a Turkey or Text a Turkey (text TURKEY to 56512 using your smartphone); $54 supports 3 families! Read WSCAH Turkey Challenge flyer for more info.  

Are You Coming to Broadway Night?

The only place to see real Broadway performers these days is at the MS54 Broadway Night on December 6 at 6:30pm!

We’re thrilled to bring you an incredible lineup of acts ready to perform just for you in the comfort of your own home! Our host is Paige Davis of "Chicago" on Broadway and TLC's "Trading Spaces", and Steve Blanchard, the longest running "Beast" from Broadway's "Beauty and the Beast" will be performing. You won't want to miss it!

There are no tickets, but we hope that you will make a donation to support our school (perhaps what you might have spent on a night out during pre-Covid times). Any amount is appreciated!


Charleston Wrap Holiday Fundraiser 

This is the last weekend for the Charleston Wrap Holiday Fundraiser! Charleston Wrap has
a terrific assortment of over 2,500 gift ideas, including gorgeous gift wrap, gourmet kitchen essentials, personalized gifts, holiday treats & lots more! Our school gets a whopping 40% of every item you purchase! It's easy to get started:
  1. Register at Charleston Wrap using ID: 21508.
  2. Optionoal (but very nice!) Email your besties to invite them to shop.
  3. Shop to benefit Booker T!
This event only runs through November 30, so get your shopping on, people!

Classic Gear Available 24/7

No problem! We've opened our own School Store site that's open all year 'round to sell your favorite classics like hoodies, zippies, and T's. We've also got cozy PJ bottoms, sweatpants, and even MS54 beanie caps! Best of all, your items will be available in just a few days!

We now offer shipping for a small fee, or you can pick up your items at the school on select dates and times. Email with any questions.

Annual Family to Family Gift Drive

The PTA is hosting a holiday gift drive for our families in need. An Amazon wish list will be posted after Thanksgiving so that purchases can be sent to the school and distributed accordingly. 

If you are a family in need of assistance and would like to be included, please contact one of the following staff members:
Anne Pejovich -
Darlene Collet -
Shauna Dewar -
Tanya Gonzalez -

Requested gifts must be available on Amazon, with exact item number, color, and size noted. Two gifts per person, please.

Upcoming PTA Meetings 

District 3 Town Hall with Chancellor Carranza: December 2 @ 6:30 pm
The District 3 Community Education Council is hosting a virtual Town Hall with Chancellor Richard Carranza. Please take advantage of this opportunity share your thoughts directly with the Chancellor!
When: Wednesday, December 2nd  from 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Link: Please register for this event:

Virtual Coffee Chat with Dr. Elster: Friday, December 4 @ 8am
Join us for the next PTA Coffee with Dr. Elster!
Time: December 4, 2020 08:00 AM 
Meeting ID: 996 2807 1526.    Passcode: 274321

General Meeting: Tuesday, December  8 @ 7:00 pm
December's guest speakers will be a panel of HS students from the specialized high schools. The panel will be moderated by MS54 Alums: Marina Gallo and Talulah Lametrie and there will be time for parent Q&A. Please register in advance for this meeting.
Time: December 8, 2020 07:00 PM

School Leadership Team: Friday, December 11 @ 7:20am 
Any member of the MS54 community who wishes to observe the meeting may email in advance for the Zoom link.     

Wellness Update

Donate to the MS54 "Family to Family" Food Drive! Choose from the holiday meal items we added to our MS54 PTA Food Drive Wish List! If you need food, please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich at

Kudos to Dr. Elster and Ms. Mafdali, who gave superb presentations on students’ social and emotional well-being at the Nov 20 Wellness Committee meeting. Click HERE for a summary of the meeting and action plan!

Stay safe, healthy, and connected this Thanksgiving! Check out “Reimagining Your Thanksgiving Celebration” for child-friendly activities to express gratitude and caring. Additional Wellness resources can be found at The Well at 54. Share yours!

Holiday Indulgence? Enjoy a Wellness Walk, Sunday 11/29 @ 10 am. Meet at the Community Garden inside Riverside Park along the Promenade at 91st Street for a 5-mile walk inside the park to support the MS54 Turkey Trot! Children optional. Masks required. Water bottles suggested. Peel off at any time. Sign up HERE. Questions? Text Alison Gardy at 917-696-2370. 

Friday, December 18 @ 7:30 am is our next Wellness Meeting. We’ll discuss our action plan to support the well-being of all MS54 students. Bring your concerns and ideas. We are eager to listen and learn from you.
Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 930 3813 1592; Passcode: 734885

DOE Info & Community Updates

District 3 Virtual Town Hall with Chancellor Carranza
The District 3 Community Education Council presents A Virtual Town Hall Event with Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. All District 3 parents are urged to attend. Issues and concerns for District 3 will be addressed.
DATE: Wednesday, December 2nd
TIME: 6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
Please register for this event:

New NYPL App
Get the power of The New York Public Library, anytime, anywhere. With the new NYPL app, you can manage your account online, browse for books, and request materials for pickup at one of NYPL’s 50 grab-and-go locations. You can even use the app for contactless self-checkout while at the Library. Learn more.

National Green Girls Training Program
Applications are now open for the first session of the CityParks Green Girls Empowered by ING National Curriculum Training. Green Girls is designed to excite young women in 6th-8th grades about STEM learning by transforming local parklands, forests, and waterways into learning laboratories for hands-on experiments and service learning. With support from ING, the digital curriculum and training will be available free of charge. Applications are being accepted until December 18, 2020.

FLAG Award for Teacher Excellence Nominations Open Until December 15
The FLAG Award recognizes and celebrates extraordinary public-school teachers who inspire learning through creativity, passion, and commitment. One grand-prize winner from each of NYC’s five boroughs will receive a $25,000 cash prize and finalists will each receive $10,000. The winning teachers’ schools will each receive $10,000 and each finalist’s school will receive $2,000 for arts-based initiatives designed by the award recipient. 

Nominate a Teacher for the Big Apple Awards by January 10
The Big Apple Awards is New York City’s educator recognition program that honors and celebrates educators who go above and beyond for their students and school communities. Nominating a teacher for the Big Apple Awards is a great way for students, families, teachers, administrators, school employees, and community members to show their appreciation for the City educators who have gone above and beyond for their students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Events Calendar

Now through November 30: 
Participate in MS 54's First Annual Turkey Trot!

December 4 at 8am: Virtual Coffee Chat with Dr. Elster:
Join us for the next PTA Coffee with Dr. Elster!
Time: December 4, 2020 08:00 AM 
Meeting ID: 996 2807 1526    Passcode: 274321

December 6 at 6:30pm: Broadway Night 
There are no tickets needed for the zoom performance, but we hope that you will make a donation to support our school. 

December 8 at 7:00pm: General Meeting 
Panel of HS students from some of the specialized high schools that eighth grade students might be considering. 
Time: December 8, 2020 07:00 PM

December 11 at  7:20am: School Leadership Team 
Any member of the MS54 community who wishes to observe the meeting may email in advance for the Zoom link.     

December 18 at 7:30 am: Next Wellness Meeting. We’ll discuss our action plan to support the well-being of all MS54 students. 
Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 930 3813 1592     Passcode: 734885

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.
Copyright © 2020 MS54 PTA, All rights reserved.

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