121120 - December Updates + After School Registration Opens Monday
In this issue:

Principal's Letter

Dear Parents, 

I enjoyed “seeing” so many of you this week at Broadway Night and at the PTA Meeting. As we head towards the holidays and the upcoming vacation, the teachers are working incredibly hard to keep the students engaged in their classes. Across the board, we are seeing (an understandable) increase in Zoom “burnout.” This week during our Faculty Conference, the teachers shared strategies with each other that they found successful. I think that many found this useful as they look for new and better ways to teach remotely. I also encouraged the teachers to integrate opportunities for notetaking and students completing work on paper into their lessons. The hand-to-paper-to-brain is not an obsolete idea!  

On your end, you can consider having your own “phone box” where your child can store their cell phone during the academic periods. Many students juggle between their phone, multiple open windows on their computer, and class. More parents than ever are also contacting us about putting some “locks” on certain programs. And, I know this is because for all the benefits of technology, it also pulls students in so many directions. Talk with your children about this. Share the strategies you find effective as many of you are working remotely too. I encourage you to share with other parents too. 

I am in search of a carpenter who might be willing to build us a cabinet for a “Lending Library”  that we can keep outside in our courtyard. We want students to be able to come pick up books and contribute books. If you can help, please email me. 

Hope you are well. 

Elana Elster 

Winter After School Registration Opens Monday

We're thrilled to announce that we will offer after school programming starting in the new year and we have a terrific assortment of art, STEM, fitness, music, crafting and other options!

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

The winter session is being run on a pay-what-you-wish donation basis. Check out the winter brochure here and be on the lookout for the registration launch on Monday!

*Please note that classes will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

Holiday Teacher + Staff Gift Collection

The PTA is collecting Holiday Thank You gifts to the MS54 faculty, staff, and administration. The holiday collection is digital, anonymous, and completely optional. All donations will be pooled and distributed to the entire school team by the PTA Executive Board. Any amount you wish to give is very much appreciated!

Here’s how:

  • Choose your PTA executive board collection liaison by payment platform and/or grade. If you have more than one student, feel free to make a single contribution.
  • Include a memo or note with your contribution indicating that this is for the "MS54 Holiday Thank You.”
  • Please make your donation by Sunday, December 13.

It’s that easy! Please email with any questions.Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Kyle Clayton:

Tekla White:

G6 - Aleksandra Lokshina: @Aleksandra-Lokshina
CONTACT:, 734-223-7200

G7: Colleen Welker: @colleen-sorrell-welker
CONTACT:, 646.251.9425‬

G8 - Laura Adams: @Laura-Adams-nyc
CONTACT:, 646.327.5155

Thank a Teacher with a Nomination 

Another way to thank our incredible teachers is with a nomination for one (or both) of the teacher excellence awards below.

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. 

Middle School Memories Q&A with Assistant Principal Laura Geraghty!

From a post-college travel agent stint to Booker T.'s assistant principal for eight years, Laura Lynch Geraghty traces her academic path. She also recalls her own middle school years on Long Island, from nerve-wracking chorus try-outs to class trip roller coasters! Learn more.

In case you missed it, check out our profile of Dr. Elster (now in her 28th year at Booker T. and 16th year as principal!), which describes how middle school influenced her path in life. Learn more.


Classic Booker Gear for the Holidays!

Still undecided on that thoughtful gift? We've got cozy PJ bottoms + sweatpants, hoodies, zippies, and even MS54 beanie caps!

Here are three ways to buy Holiday gifts while supporting the school: Picking up your Classic items at the school: 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. Use the 108th St entrance by the Security Guard desk. Please bring a hard or digital copy of your order at pick up.

Please pick up your order if it is ready -- there are 30+ orders waiting for 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.


Holiday Booker Gear Has Arrived! 

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 up any weekday between 7:00 am and 4:00 pm. Please use the 108th Street entrance. If you selected home shipping, your items should be arriving over the next few days. Hooray!

Email Eve Epstein with any questions at

HS Admissions Updates


Please refer to the email from Ms. Mansell sent via Jupiter Friday morning for more information about your child's MySchool account letter. For those who don't currently have access to their NYC mail, the information will be emailed to all families by the school on Tuesday, December 15.

Join to learn about eight outstanding Manhattan Visual and Performing Arts Schools, and what you'll need to prepare for this year's audition and application process. Please feel free to share with friends and colleagues.
Date: Thursday, December 17th
Time: 5:00 PM


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

Friday, December 18 @ 7:30 am is our next Wellness Meeting. Join Dr. Elster as we reinvent Wellness during this unprecedented year. The agenda is HERE. Zoom: Meeting ID: 930 3813 1592; Passcode: 734885

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! Thanks to YOU, families in need will have food over the winter break! If you need food, please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich at

Self-Care Lagging? Come Out for a Wellness Walk, Sunday 12/13 @ 10 am. Meet at the Community Garden inside Riverside Park along the Promenade at 91st Street. Children optional. Masks required. Water bottles suggested. Peel off any time. Sign up HERE. Questions? Text Alison Gardy at 917-696-2370.

NYCDOE School Wellness Weekly. Ideas for K-12 fitness fun, winter outdoor activity, and even how to quit smoking! Check it out and subscribe HERE.

Gender Sexuality Alliance 

Students who are looking to find people in the LGBTQ+ community can join the GSA at MS 54. The GSA is a safe space for all students to be themselves and...

  • Hang out with friends
  • Talking about LGBTQ issues/ problems and experiences
  • Improve their school
  • HAVE FUN!!!
  • Meet LGBTQ+ students from different grades

The group meets every Friday at 2:50 pm via zoom with Mr. Chilelli. Students with DOE emails can complete this form for more info:

MS54 currently has three active student affinity groups, which are student-led with teacher facilitators. During the pandemic, all group meetings are conducted via Zoom, either before or after regular school hours. Students and parents interested in learning more about these groups can email the Equity Team at for more information. The Equity Team can also help connect students interested in forming additional groups.

DOE Info & Community Updates

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.

Child Mind Institute Coping During COVID-19 Workshop Series
As families continue to navigate through the changes and challenges of the pandemic, the Child Mind Institute would like to invite you to attend our upcoming Coping During COVID-19 workshop series. Interested caregivers can learn more about the workshops and register here.

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 16 at 6:30 pm: CEC3 Business/Calendar Meeting
Come hear from Superintendent Loughlin, learn what the District 3 education council is working on, and share your views on what's working or not when it comes to educating our children.

December 18 at 7:30 am: 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

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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