121820 - High School + Middle School Admissions Updates
In this issue:

Principal's Letter

Dear Parents, 

As has been the case through much of this year, I heard about the DOE’s decisions around this year’s middle school and high school admissions processes about the same time you did this morning. While we are figuring out what this means, I want to assure you of a few things:

  • Regardless of the process by which we matriculate students for next fall, we will maintain the rigor of our program and the high expectations we have of our students. Booker T. has a well-earned reputation as an academically challenging school and that will continue.

  • In regards to the High School process, I am very glad that the SHSAT will still be offered and that your children can take it at Booker T. Hopefully your children view that as a plus. We will do everything we can to ensure that on test day your children feel comfortable and confident.

  • Additionally, our High School exmissions consultant, Rebecca Mansell, now has the information she has been waiting for to help your children with the High School process. You can expect that she will be reaching out with the information families need to move forward early next week.

I’m confident that with the education that your child(ren) received here at Booker T, they will perform well when it comes to HS admissions criteria be it the SHSAT, screens, auditions, etc. If there’s any way that we can be supportive as you navigate the process, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

I will keep you informed as I learn more about how all of these changes will unfold.

Changing gears, recognizing that everyone needed a snow day on Thursday, I encouraged the teachers to plan a more relaxed day so that students could have an opportunity to enjoy the snow before it got dark. I hope your children did.  

[Actually, here is what I really wrote to the faculty.] 
While it was not the kind of snow day that we knew and loved, we made the most of it.   
I think that many of you know me well enough to know that I am the first to advocate for more instructional time, high standards, and rigor. What I hope you know about me is that I also recognize the importance of downtime, opportunities to play in the snow, cuddle up with a book of your own choosing, and assignment-free time too. I’ll see to it that there is no assigned work over the break, and you can see to it that your children have opportunities for the other things. I know that the students and the faculty are looking forward to the upcoming break. We are definitely seeing the signs that everyone needs some time “away.”   
Lastly, we have had an uptick in the number of positive cases in our community this week. If your child does test positive, please inform us. We have not heard any major updates this week on returning to the building or admissions. If you have not already consented for in-school COVID testing, please do so there is no delay in your child’s return to in-person learning. 
Elana Elster 

Winter After School Registration Continues

We're thrilled to announce that after school programming will begin in the new year! There's a terrific assortment of art, STEM, fitness, music, crafting and other options! Check out the winter brochure HERE.

All classes will be remote for this session regardless of whether in-person school starts again or not, so feel free to choose whatever day of the week is best for your child. Classes will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Registration runs through December 31.*
*If your child is interested in Art with the Jewish Museum, please sign up immediately as registration closes TONIGHT (December 18)!

Programs will begin the week of January 11 and run through the week of March 22. 

Payment for the winter session is a pay-what-you-wish donation. If you are able, please help offset the cost of teachers' time by donating HERE.

Students may choose up to three programs; register your child ranking the sessions in order of preference. Confirmation emails will be sent by Anne Pejovich the week of January 4, followed by a Zoom link from the teacher. Register HERE.

December 18: Last day to register for Art with the Jewish Museum
December 31: Last day to register for winter session
Week of January 4: Confirmation details sent to families
Week of January 11: First week of after school sessions
Week of March 22: Last week of sessions

Note that parents are responsible for legal supervision of their child since the teacher cannot have eyes on the children at all times.

Please reach out to Anne Pejovich with any questions at:


Last Chance to Donate to the Annual Appeal in 2020!

Time is running out to give to the MS54 Annual Appeal in 2020!

Our goal is to raise $250,000.00 through the Annual Appeal and so far we are less than halfway there.

Every fundraising event other than the Annual Appeal involves significant effort, volunteers, coordination, and often expense. The Annual Appeal is by far the simplest, easiest and least expensive way to raise the funds our school needs. Simply put, a dollar raised through the Annual Appeal is a dollar we don't have to struggle to raise in some other way.

To ensure that your tax-deductible Annual Appeal contribution counts in 2020, please donate online here before December 31!

We are very grateful for your support!


A BIG Holiday Thank You to All!

Thank you to everyone who participated in and/or donated to the many holiday giving events this season. From the Staff + Teacher appreciation gift, to the Family-to-Family drives for gifts and food, the generosity of this community has been overwhelming. Your kindnesses have made this season so much brighter!


Thank a Teacher with an Award Nomination 

Please take some time over the holidays to thank one of our incredible teachers with a nomination for one (or both) of the teacher excellence awards below.

Nominate a Teacher for a FLAG Award for Teacher Excellence by January 3!
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. 

Classic Booker Gear for the Holidays!


Still undecided on that thoughtful gift? Our MS54 E-gift cards make a perfect gift when you are short of time or don't know what they want. Buy online and have them delivered instantly by email for immediate redemption. 

Looking for stocking stuffers? We have you covered with cozy PJ bottoms + sweatpants, hoodies, zippies, and even MS54 beanie caps! Shop online and have it delivered to you. (FREE shipping on any order of $99 or more!)  

Pick up your Classic items at the school before the holiday recess. Customers who receive a confirmation email with order status as "Ready" can pick up their orders Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm until December 21st. Use the 108th St entrance by the Security Guard desk. Please bring a hard or digital copy of your order at pick up. If you need to make special arrangements, please contact us at

Please note: the Classic School Store is run separately from the Holiday Specialty Store.


Pick Up Your Holiday Booker Gear! 

If you recently ordered Limited Edition Holiday gear or 2021 Grad gear, and chose to have it shipped to the school, you can pick it weekdays between 7:00 am and 4:00 pm until Wednesday, December 23rd. Please use the 108th Street entrance. 

Email with any questions.

HS Admissions Updates


Please refer to the email from Ms. Mansell sent via Jupiter last Friday morning for more information about your child's MySchool account letter and next steps. For those who don't currently have access to their NYC mail, the information was emailed to all families by the school this week. Additionally, Ms. Mansell shared updates with all eighth grade families today, December 18th, reflecting the recent DOE news regarding this year's High School admissions process. Info sessions and more will be coming in January!


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!

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! YOUR GENEROSITY, BOOKER T., has made all the difference to families in need. If you need food, please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich at

Snow Excuses! Come on a Wellness Walk this Sunday 12/20 @ 10 am. Meet at the Community Garden inside Riverside Park on the Promenade at 91st Street. Children optional. Masks required. Sign up HERE. Questions? Text Alison Gardy at 917-696-2370.

Ask The Mask. A pandemic advice column written by and for middle schoolers. Check it out HERE.

DOE Info & Community Updates

COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Town Hall
Join Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in a virtual discussion on the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine and obtaining herd immunity in New York City.
MONDAY, DEC 21 @ 6:30 PM
More info + Registration here:

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 January 7, February 11, and March 11 through zoom. Visit for more info.  

DOE Parent University
Parent University is for all parents and family members. Parent University is a course registration and management system where NYC families can find free trainings on a wide range of topics. Parent University serves all families, from early childhood through adulthood, and seeks to educate and empower them as partners and advocates through free courses, resources, events, and activities. You can check out the site here: For more information, including flyers in different languages please visit the DOE’s Family Empowerment site.

New York Cares Coat Drive Drop-Off Locations
Due to COVID-19, community partners will receive coats directly this year. Use our drop-off map to find partners near you accepting donations, the kinds of coats they need, and their contact information.
Before donating, please review these guidelines:

  • Wash coats in soap and water or dry clean at the highest temperature possible without damaging the coat.
  • Store coats in a dark plastic bag or box to reduce contact.
  • Call ahead before visiting a location.

What: Homework help line for students, run by classroom teachers
Where: Call 212-777-3380
Who: Students in kindergarten through 12th grade
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4 to 7 p.m. when school is in session
Languages spoken: Armenian, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog
Subjects available: English, math, science and social studies.

Events Calendar

December 18: Last day to register for Art with the Jewish Museum after-school program.

December 24 – Jan 1: Winter recess

December 31: Last day to register for winter after-school programming.

Week of January 4: After-school confirmation details sent to families.

January 8 @ 8am: MS54 PTA's Friday Coffee with Dr. Elster. Zoom:
Meeting ID: 973 1405 1863, Passcode: 941455

Week of January 11: First week of after-school sessions

Amazon Smile

When you're doing your holiday shopping, please be sure to activate Amazon Smile by going to and selecting MS54 as the charity recipient. Do this once and you're set forever! And while you're getting your holiday shopping done, please consider making a donation to the MS54 Holiday Food Drive for families in the MS54 community.

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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