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04.16.21 - A Tragedy in Our Community




Principal's Letter

Dear Parents:

In chronological order, these are the messages I have received regarding bringing students back into the building more often:

  • Schools need to bring students back 5 days a week. Let us know what you need to make that work. 
  • Here is a spreadsheet with your capacity so that you can plan for the change from 6 feet to 3 feet.  
  • Start planning for the change, it’s around the corner. 
  • Stop planning for the change.  
  • The move from 6 feet to 3 feet doesn’t look like it will happen for middle schools. 
Monday evening we started reprogramming. Tuesday we stopped. I am as disappointed as you are to hear that the change from six feet to 3 feet is not around the corner. Let’s hope however, that like everything else, the DOE will change their tune on this, too. We already started the reprogramming, and although it is trickier, we can consolidate cohorts and get students back into the building 2-3 days a week.   

The constraints we have that other schools may or may not have  are: 
  • Almost 80% of our 837 students are blended (about 30 more opted back in during the last window to do so).
  • We do not think it is wise to change your child’s teachers for the final quarter. 
  • We are committed to live teaching when students come into school and not just Zooming from the building.   
  • We still have teachers out on accommodations. 

I hope the policy makers will relent before too long. 

All students will test on their in-person school day next week. (Cohort A - Monday, Cohort B-Tuesday, Cohort C- Wednesday, Cohort E -Thursday.) All ELA make-up exams will be given on Friday, April 23rd. 

Testing begins at 9AM PROMPTLY. Students who are late may have to test on the make-up day. We want to start the testing without delay so that we can resume regular classes by period 2.  While the exams are untimed, we do not anticipate that students will need as much extra time as they did in prior years. We are only giving PART I which consists of between 25-30 reading-comprehension -multiple-choice questions. 
As always, a good night's sleep, a good breakfast, and a good education (well underway) is the best preparation for a testing day! And, of course we'll provide those lucky Booker T. Testing Pencils. 
BLENDED STUDENTS who are not taking the exam should still come on their regular day. They should bring something to read as they will have to wait for the test takers to finish. We just do not have the staff and space to supervise the students in an alternative location.  Students should bring something in print to read as they will not be able to use their technology while testing is taking place.  
100% REMOTE STUDENTS who plan to come to school to take the test, should come to school on their cohort's day in the building. (Cohort A - Monday, Cohort B-Tuesday, Cohort C- Wednesday, Cohort E -Thursday.) Remote students will remain in school until dismissal (1PM) unless a parent comes to pick them up. Students may not self-dismiss before 1PM. 
If you did not complete the questionnaire, your child will not be tested. If you missed the deadline, please email me as soon as possible, and I will schedule them in.  
We hope to have report cards available for viewing on your NYC Schools Account midweek. We will inform you when they have uploaded.  
Please encourage your child to submit a picture or pictures for the yearbook. We would like a “portrait” type pictures and any pictures they may have from their time at Booker T. or with their Booker T. friends. We will also be taking pictures at arrival and dismissal this coming week.  We would like to make the book nice, but need contributions. All submissions should be emailed to
The DOE is planning an EXCITING summer for students who are either mandated to attend or who would like to attend their Summer Rising Program. Schools will be partnering with DYCD community organizations to run both academic, recreational, and enrichment activities. Students who have incomplete coursework (NX) in their major academic subjects will be required to attend.  SUMMER RISING begins on July 6th and goes for six weeks. The hours are 8:00AM-4PM for middle-schoolers. More information will be forthcoming. 

We can't wait to have you back! If you are coming for testing, we will see you next week. If you aren't, we look forward to seeing you the week of the 26th. 


PS. Save the following dates for picture day with Irvin Simon Photographers on Monday, May 24th and Tuesday, May 25th. You will receive an online code to view and order your portraits a few weeks after picture day. More info to come.

Barely two weeks into our 54 for 54 Challenge,  our first fundraiser has achieved the $1000 milestone! It's Dr. Elster who is working toward riding her bike 54 miles. And Mr. Bergen's homeroom is almost there with $987! Join us by registering and choosing a challenge, or donate to your homeroom, a friend, a student, or Dr. Elster! All proceeds go back to our school. Please help us reach our $20,000 goal!
54 for 54 gear and Class of 2021 sweatshirts have arrived! Orders shipped to the school will be delivered to your child's homeroom. Please ask them to be on the lookout next week!
Your generosity has sustained Booker T. families for 10 months! Thank you all for your boundless kindness. We never imagined when we began the food drive last June that it would still be so necessary almost a year later. Please use the MS54 Amazon Wish List or support your local grocer as you shop for our families in need. 
A Tragedy in Our Community

Our hearts are breaking with the news that the younger sibling of one of our students passed away during an asthma attack this weekend. The family is struggling, not only emotionally, but financially during this incredibly difficult time. If you are able to give, contributions toward the child's memorial services would go a long way. The PTA has set up a PayPal Pool where you can make a donation HERE.

Even if you don't have a PayPal account you can still donate using any debit card.
In honor of National Poetry Month, and in reflection upon ongoing traumatizing events in the news, the Equity Team would like to share the following poem:

From Citizen, VI [On the train the woman standing] by Claudia Rankine

On the train the woman standing makes you understand there are
      no seats available. And, in fact, there is one. Is the woman
      getting off at the next stop? No, she would rather stand all the
      way to Union Station.

The space next to the man is the pause in a conversation you are
      suddenly rushing to fill. You step quickly over the woman’s 
      fear, a fear she shares. You let her have it….   

[click here to read the full poem at]

Help reduce disparities in access to COVID-19 vaccines by sharing vaccination information compiled by Mr. Chilelli (7th grade Humanities teacher).

Ayúdenos a reducir las disparidades en el acceso a las vacunas COVID-19 compartiendo esta información de vacunación compilada por el Sr. Chilelli (maestro de Humanidades de 7 grado). Ver versión en español.
School Meetings + Events

Sunday Wellness Walks @ 10am — Counts towards 54 for 54 Challenge!
April 18, 25, 2021 & May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 2021
Riverside Park Community Garden at 91st Street

Join Wellness Chair Alison Gardy and other parents for a walk through Riverside Park and help meet your 54 for 54 Challenge! Masks required, water suggested, children optional. Questions? Email Alison at

Week of April 19th & May3rd
The NYS ELA Exam will be given the week of April 19th and the Math Exam during the week of May 3rd. Students will take the exam on their in-person day. See DOE Student Participant Guide for more information.

AAPI Family Conversations via Zoom
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 @ 8:00pm
Join fellow AAPI families for another get-together via Zoom. We'll share our wins, laughs, and asks. While we'll focus on AAPI experiences, all are absolutely welcome. Questions? Email 6th Grade Rep Lee Uehara at or PTA co-president Larry Lee at
Register to join 

April Equity Meeting 
April 21, 2021 @ 7:00pm
The Equity Team invites all members of the community to join our ongoing conversation about equity and inclusion at the school at an open meeting. For this meeting, we are interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas on issues of representation within the school community generally, as well as within decision-making spaces such as the PTA and SLT. We will also explore connections to our prior discussion of school culture.
Register to join  (if you already registered, please do so again as the link has been updated)

April Wellness Meeting 
April 23, 2021 @ 7:30 am
Join us to brainstorm wellness activities through the rest of the year. See the February 26th and March 19th Wellness Meeting Summaries. 
Register to join

AAPI Family Picnic

Sunday, April 25, 2021 @ 4:00pm
Here, we’ll come together to hopefully catch the cherry blossoms before they fade, while allowing for safe social-distancing. Just bring a picnic blanket — and favorite food for your family. All are welcome, always. Questions? Email 6th Grade Rep Lee Uehara at or PTA co-president Larry Lee at

Executive Board/SLT Info Session
April 27, 2021 @ 7:30 pm
Curious about the requirements and responsibilities of the PTA Executive Board and SLT? Interested in learning more about the specific roles and what the time commitment might be before submitting a nomination for yourself or someone you think would be a terrific candidate? Join outgoing PTA Exec Board members Laura Adams, Kyle Clayton, and Marianna Crespi for an honest discussion about what's expected of those who serve on the board or SLT. Bring your questions!
Register to join

May Coffee Chat with Dr. Elster 
May 7, 2021 @ 8:00 am
Join Dr. Elster and the PTA for a monthly chat about whatever's top of mind! Questions welcome. Coffee encouraged.
Register to join

May PTA Meeting + Session on Mindful Parenting
May 11, 2021 @ 7:00 pm

Join us to weigh in on next year's budget and the expansion of the executive board to include representation from the Wellness + Equity teams. Also, Clinical Psychologist Erika Rooney of the Child Mind Institute will share strategies and exercises for Mindful Parenting. *Please note that this meeting will BEGIN with the guest speaker and PTA business will follow.
Register to join
Nominations are open for all positions on the MS54 PTA Executive Board and four seats on the SLT (note that one seat will be held for the fall election). Nominate yourself or someone you love at:

Picture Day: Save the Date
May 24 & 25, 2021
Save these dates for picture day with Irvin Simon Photographers. You will receive an online code to view and order your portraits a few weeks after picture day. More info to come.

For more details, please consult the MS54 Calendar!

DOE Info & Community Updates

New items are listed below. To see previously listed but still active notices, please see the DOE Info and Community Updates page on the MS54 website.

Apply Before April 23rd for Exciting STEM Summer Enrichment Programs!
Students entering grades 1-12 can apply now to attend programs with STEM Matters NYC. Get your hands dirty in the garden, encounter amazing animals, or design an art or engineering project! Students entering grades 1-9 in September can apply for one-week camps. Choose from a wide range of programs offered at sites throughout the city! Spots are limited and the application deadline is Friday, April 23rd. Preference is given to students who attend Title I schools. For questions, contact

Inside Schools Free Resources Listings
New York City offers children and teens a wide range of after-school and summer activities. The free and low cost programs listed by InsideSchools are a great way to explore new interests, get extra support, and supplement what is being taught during the school day. 
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