August 7, 2020 Weekly Newsletter

Letter From the Principal

Dear Parents: 

I was glad to be able to update you this morning and answer your questions. Please see August 6 letter to families from Chancellor Carranza.

I wish I had more answers. I eagerly await them. Yet, as I said, we have moved forward doing our best to plan. We have submitted our program appeal. If accepted, this would permit us to divide the school into four groups which would each come to school on a different day. If this plan is approved, half the seventh and eighth graders will come to school on Monday and the other half on Wednesday. Sixth graders will come on Tuesday and Thursday. The only exception is the 12:1:1 seventh grade students who because of staffing constraints will come on Thursday. Included in this appeal are changes to the length of the school day. It is unclear when we will know if our appeal is approved. They have set August 28 as the date when we will have all of the information we need to begin planning for the upcoming year. (I had and continue to have no plans to wait until then to begin.)

As you know, the students will be grouped in small classes of either 9 or 12 students.They will remain with these students for the entire day they are in the school building. During remote instruction, these small groups of students will be combined with others. We know that the students are concerned about spending their day with such a limited number of students, and will TRY to group them with a friend. Understand however, there are multiple constraints at play – travel needs, academic needs, IEP mandates, and language classes, and this MAY NOT be possible. With the help of a very generous and savvy tech expert parent, Gil Mermelstein, who has developed a computer program to attempt this challenge, we will give it a TRY.  If you would like to express a preference, please click on the link below to complete the survey. It must be submitted by Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 6:00PM.  

MS 54 In-Person Class Preferences Survey:

Last week we hosted a Summer Clinic in which volunteers from the community (many of whom were former students) worked one-on-one with some of our incoming sixth graders to help them complete their summer assignments. This spanned three evenings. I am grateful to Elisabeth Cohen, Kirby Mason, Andraya Guttzeit, Liz Goldfarb, Rachel Pinsen and Haley Dorian for designing and implementing this program. I know the students felt accomplished by the end of the three evenings. 

And by the way, how are those summer assignments coming in your home? You will be asked to turn them once school starts.
Thank you for sticking with us.

Elana Elster

Parent Advocacy Needed for Safe Reopening

Schools are scheduled to reopen in just five short weeks, but the city’s plan is still incomplete and the DOE has yet to provide answers to an alarming number of essential questions regarding how they will protect the health of students, teachers, and families. We need more parents to voice their concern to the DOE and elected officials within our community in order to get the answers we need.

Please click HERE to find an email template you can use to reach out to DOE and elected officials to demand answers. Thank you in advance for your advocacy and support!

Back to School Summer Gear is HERE! 

MS54 Merchandise on sale ONLY through August 17!!

You’ve been waiting all summer for this!! For just TEN DAYS there’s an online Booker T store selling the classic gear everyone wants! Hoodies, Zippies, PJ’s, t-shirts, and MASKS!!

Get them before they sell out at:

Orders will be distributed to students at school in early September. For those who will be 100% remote, we will figure out how to get you your gear. See the promo flyer.

Help Wanted! 

We have two projects that could use some helping hands this month. 

Fundraising Platform - We use FirstGiving/Panorama to run our Annual Appeal. There was an update this summer and we’re now struggling with it a bit. If anyone has experience with FirstGiving/Panorama, your expertise would be appreciated for an hour or so as we set up this year’s fundraising campaign.

Mailchimp/Email Marketing - Our hardworking Corresponding Secretary is taking a well-deserved vacation off the grid the week of August 17 and we could use someone with MailChimp and/or Email marketing experience to help us get out the weekly newsletter. This would take maybe a couple of hours from start to finish.

Please email if you can help with either task. Thank you!

Friday Zoom with Dr. Elster on August 21

There’s always new news to share on the school reopening front! Join us Friday, August 21 at 8:30 am to hear the latest reopening updates from Dr. Elster and get your questions answered. Due to privacy issues, these zooms are not recorded. 

DATE: Friday, August 21
TIME: 8:30 AM
Meeting ID: 874 683 3206
Passcode: 951116
One tap mobile
+16465588656,,8746833206#,,,,,,0#,,951116# US (New York)

Family Zoom Meet & Greets

Sixth grade families are invited to join a Zoom Meet & Greet with teachers on August 18 or 20 from 7:05 - 8:00 PM. Learn more about the coming year and get to know our teachers and other new parents. Encourage your child to join — if possible, on a separate device — there will be a breakout session for parents & kids! Register HERE.

Community Food Drive Extended to August 10th

Help Our Hungry Neighbors! 

Last week we distributed 43 bags of groceries in less than an hour — our community was so grateful! Due to the extreme need, we’ve extended our food drive through Monday, August 10. To participate, simply place an online grocery order and have it sent to: MS54 Booker T. Washington JHS Main Entrance on West 108 Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. Volunteers will sort and distribute all groceries.

Monday, August 10 from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM is the final delivery window!
Please do not order deliveries for the weekend.

Suggested non-perishable pantry items:

  • dry pasta
  • beans (dry and canned)
  • rice
  • tomato sauce 
  • peanut butter
  • jelly
  • canned tuna
  • sardines
  • breakfast cereal
  • oatmeal

Basically anything in boxes, cans, and jars that families often need for meals is helpful!

Please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich at 347-563-5156 or  Thank you in advance for your generosity.

P-EBT Food Benefit Cards

By the end of August, all families of students enrolled at NYC public schools will receive a debit card (P-EBT card) in the mail pre-loaded with $420 per student to help cover the cost of meals while school buildings were closed due to the pandemic. You do not need to take any action — cards will be sent to the address on file or existing EBT cards will be credited the amount. These cards are distributed by the state, not by Booker T, so if you have questions, please visit the NYS FAQ page or call 1-888-328-6399.

Want to learn more about the P-EBT program? Read this terrific Gothamist article.

Request a DOE Learning Device

The DOE is lending internet-enabled iPads to support remote learning for students. If your family has been sharing devices, or has unstable internet, a DOE iPad could be a big help. Here’s the link to request a device: 

School Supply Update

This school year is certainly going to look different and as a result, our school supply lists will as well. After we finalize plans for in-person and remote learning, our next step will be to update our recommended student and classroom supply lists. Please stay tuned for more info to come soon!

School Calendar

August 10: 7:30am to 1:30pm is the final delivery window for Community Food Drive
August 16: Last day to complete MS 54 In-Person Class Preferences Survey
August 17: Last day to order MS54 Back to School Gear
August 18 & 20: G6 Teacher Meet & Greets. Register HERE
August 21
: Friday Zoom with Dr. Elster at 8:30am
September 10: First Day of School???

Community Calendar

August 10: Scott Stringer Round Table @ 6:00 pm — Register HERE
August 12: CEC3 Business & Calendar Meeting @ 6:30 (Agenda: DOE Schools Reopening Plan) — Register HERE
August 12: DOE Return to School Information Session @ 6:30 — Register HERE
August 27: DOE Return to School Information Session @ 6:30 — Register HERE
Amazon Reminder

If you are placing orders with Amazon, please remember to always use this link: or click on the Amazon logo on our website and begin your shopping. 

At no extra cost to you, MS54 gets money for every dollar you spend as long as you use our link.
Booker T Facebook Communication Forum

Join MS54's Facebook group - a closed group of the parents, teachers, and staff where information is shared and issues of interest to the community are discussed.  Once a member of our group, anyone can post and share articles and messages with our school community.  

You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
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