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03.26.21 - Important Pre-Break Updates!




Principal's Letter

Dear Parents:

I found the PTA’s Fireside Chat on Wednesday night enlightening and important. I came away with a deeper understanding of what many of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) members of our community are feeling and have experienced. I appreciate the willingness of so many of you to share your experiences and the PTA to provide this space. I have planned time to address some of my takeaways with the teachers. 

This week’s Holi Color Throw drew a lot of enthusiasm after classes each day. It was a wonderful way to share this Hindu Festival with the community and for our students to learn about it. Many thanks to Ms. Zipkin, Ms. Kaon, and Ms. Johnson and the AAA for organizing this and to all the other teachers who helped.   

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Justine Fonte spoke to all of the students. I hope you had a chance to ask your children about her presentation. One piece of her presentation that especially resonated with all the students was about “Sexting.” Sexting is a general term that encompasses the sending or receiving sexually explicit messages or images. It seems that many students had an abundance of questions about what to do if someone asked them to send a picture. While the 6th graders touched this more generally, the seventh and eighth graders delved into it in more depth. It is worth a follow-up with your children. Many were surprised to hear that it is illegal to take a nude photo of themselves.  

Parents of students who are 100% remote may now change their learning preference to blended. You have until April 7th to complete this survey: We are not yet sure of when these students will be able to begin. We are waiting for further guidance. 

3 feet? 6 feet? I know you are aware that the CDC has now said that if all other safety protocols are in place, students are safe to be 3 feet apart in school.  What does that mean for Booker T.? Assuming that the Department of Education gives schools the go-ahead, we hope to expand the in-person offerings for all students.  One plan is to adjust the programs so that all 7th and 8th graders will come to school on Monday and Wednesday and every other Friday, and 6th graders will come to school on Tuesday and Thursday and every other Friday. Those students who are currently coming for in-person services on Friday, would only come on their in-person days. We are considering other possibilities too. 

Students are expected to complete their attendance survey every morning before 11:30AM. They get the link (which does not change) each morning in an email. It takes approximately 10 seconds to complete. In order to correct the attendance, a teacher must verify that the students was present in class. All correspondence related to attendance must be sent to Help your child figure out a way to remember this. Here is the link: 

I hope your children enjoy the week off. Keep them reading. This week, I picked up 7 library books I had reserved, and am looking forward to diving into them. I hope the weather will be nice so, I can start working on my 54 for 54 Challenge! You might see me pedaling along the river. 

Happy holidays. Happy Spring.


PS As we look towards spring break, please stay healthy and safe next week by minimizing travel as much as possible. Please view Chancellor Porter's March 26, 2021: Spring Recess Travel Advisory

Thank you to all who joined us Wednesday night for an honest and personal conversation about AAPI racism. 53 members of our community attended, including 10 teachers and Dr. Elster. Thank you all for your courage, strength, and openness. We all learned from this event and our community allyship is strong! For more resources on anti-Asian hate, please visit the MS54 Equity Page
Our incredible teachers blew us away on Sunday night while raising nearly $7,000 for the school! We can't thank them enough for sharing their many talents! Extra special thanks to our hilarious MCs, Mr. DiPasquale + Ms. Weinreb, and the amazing man who wove the whole night together, Mr. Fagen. We are so in awe of all of you!
PLEASE PAUSE FOR SPRING BREAK! The building will be closed next week so please schedule your food deliveries to resume April 5th. Everything can be ordered here: MS54 Amazon Wish List or you can support your local grocer. Thank you for your generous support as we feed over 40 families in our community!
The Ryan Health Center now has a fillable consent form that makes it easier for parents to complete without needing to print and scan: Ryan Health School-Based Health Center Fillable Consent Form (English) and 
El Ryan Health Centro de Salud Escolar Formulario (Español).
Don't forget to register for Spring After-School —NOW with IN-PERSON options!! All your kid's favorites are back PLUS awesome new offerings like:
  • Central Park Track Club - stretch, run, and chat with your friends in Central Park
  • Carboni's Sports Club - play all your favorite yard games like kickball, dodgeball, spikeball and more!
  • Beginning Strings - learn to play the violin, viola, cello or double bass.
  • Film Club - write, film, and edit your own film shorts using your phone
  • Poetry Slam - read, write, and recite poetry.
  • Finance Club - let's talk about MONEY! Bring your questions and we'll demystify this topic together.
Check out all the amazing art, STEM, fitness, music, crafting and other options in the spring brochure HEREClasses will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Programs will begin the week of April 5th and run through the week of June 7th. 

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 March 29th, followed by a Zoom link from the teacher. Register HERE.

Registration runs through March 26th.

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

March 26th: Last day to register for Spring Session
Week of March 29th: Confirmation details sent to families
Week of April 5th: First week of after-school sessions
Week of June 7th: Last week of sessions

For remote classes only, please note that parents are responsible for legal supervision of your child since the teacher cannot have eyes on your child at all times.

Please reach out to Anne Pejovich with any questions at:

The 54 for 54 Challenge Is the Biggest Fundraiser of the Year!
Auctions are so 2020! This year we're doing a fundraiser that's actually fun instead!

Run, scoot, or cook your way to 54 for 54! We've launched our first-annual 54 for 54 Challenge to raise money for the school. Whether scooting or dog-walking your way to 54 miles, or reading your way through 54 chapters as part of a team, log 54 of something meaningful to you between April 1st and May 31st and encourage friends and family to do the same!

Register today and start or join a team. Adults are $30 (+ registration fee) or you can pay what you wish. Children under 18 are FREE!

So far, we have 54 participants (which fits our school name) but we our goal is to have the entire school community participate (or at least 540 participants)!
Statement of Solidarity from the MS54 Equity Committee

Dear MS 54 Families,

We, the Equity Team at MS54, express our solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community within and beyond our school network. We grieve with the families who have lost loved ones in Atlanta in the most recent documented hate crime against people of AAPI descent, and condemn white supremacy along with the systems that enable acts of domestic terrorism. We recognize the importance of contextualizing this tragedy, understanding that the AAPI community, and particularly AAPI women, have needed to fight for safety, civil rights, and equity in America long before the escalated attacks we have recently witnessed throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

In generating and distributing this resource, we aim to translate alliance into action and amplify the voices of Asian Americans who have always been at the forefront of their own civil rights initiatives throughout history and today.

Please see the MS54 Equity Page for an extensive list of resources and actions to support our AAPI friends and community.
School Meetings + Events

Spring After-School Registration Ends
March 26, 2021
View Brochure

Sunday Wellness Walk
March 28, 2021 @ 10:00am
Riverside Park Community Garden at 91st Street

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

March 29 - April 2, 2021

Start of 54 for 54 Challenge 
April 1, 2021 
Don't forget to register!

Sunday Wellness Walk - Counts towards 54 for 54 Challenge!
April 4, 2021 @ 10:00am
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

SLT Meeting 
April 9, 2021  @ 7:20am
Email in advance for the Zoom link.

End of 3rd Marking Period 
April 9, 2021 

Sunday Wellness Walk - Counts towards 54 for 54 Challenge!
April 11, 2021 @ 10:00am
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

April PTA Meeting 
April 13, 2021 @ 7:00pm

In addition to all the usual PTA insights and updates, the Equity Team will host a presentation and discussion on the theme, "Building an Anti-Racist School Community." Register to join
Note that 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:

April Coffee Chat with Dr. Elster 
April 16, 2021 @ 8am
Join Dr. Elster and the PTA for a monthly chat about whatever's top of mind! Questions welcome. Coffee encouraged.
Register to join

Sunday Wellness Walk - Counts towards 54 for 54 Challenge!
April 18, 2021 @ 10:00am
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

April Equity Meeting 
April 21, 2021 @ 7:00pm
Register to join

April Wellness Meeting 
April 23, 2021 @ 7:30am
Join us to brainstorm wellness activities through the rest of the year.
Register to join

Sunday Wellness Walk - Counts towards 54 for 54 Challenge!
April 25, 2021 @ 10:00am
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

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.

Westside Campaign Against Hunger Town Hall – A Volunteer’s Perspective
Wednesday, March 31, 2021 @ 1 - 2pm
This will be an opportunity to hear directly from two WSCAH volunteers, Ana Nicasio and Emily Uruchima, on why they chose to support hungry New Yorkers and how the pandemic has given them a call to action. The WSCAH team will also discuss how they continue to meet the growing need for healthy food. Please registerThe WSCAH will be sending the Zoom link to registered attendees on the day of the event.

Youth Policy Council for 8th Graders
NYC Councilmember Helen Rosenthal's (District 6) Office is collaborating with Project NextGen to create a Youth Policy Council (YPC) for students that live or go to school in District 6. Project NextGen is a non-partisan, non-profit organization working to make government more accessible to students by increasing youth involvement in policy-making and civically empowering the next generation of leaders. As part of CM Rosenthal's YPC, students will engage in discussion on current events while simultaneously addressing issues important to their community through the development of projects and potential legislation. Meetings will be held biweekly on Saturdays at 10am virtually, starting March 27th, 2021. Apply today.  Questions: email

Changing Behavior to Fight Racism and Bias 
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 @ 6 - 7pm 
In this virtual Stavros Niarchos Foundation Brain Insight Lecture Series event, there will be two 15-minute talks from experts at Columbia University whose research focuses on recognizing and reducing social inequalities due to racism. Dr. Dana E. Crawford, clinical psychologist and Scholar-in-Residence at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, will talk about how we must view anti-racism work as humanitarianism, impacting all of humanity with particularly prominent devastation levels in the United States. Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn, Associate Professor of Social Work at Columbia University, will speak about how the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent uprisings sparked by ongoing racial violence have exposed some of the deepest and most persistent inequalities in our society. Following the two talks, Dr. Ariel J. Mosley, postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in the Columbia Social and Moral Cognition Lab, will then moderate a discussion with the speakers. Audience questions are welcomed, either submitted during registration or live during the event. RSVP by Monday, April 5, 2021. Registration is required. 

CEC 3 Candidate Forum
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 @ 5 - 7:30pm
Saturday, April 10, 2021 @ 10am - 12:30pm

Register for the event.
Meet the Candidates running for District 3’s Community Education Council hosted by District 3 Presidents’ Council. Different candidates at each event — attend all forums. Interpretation available in Spanish, Mandarin and Russian. Questions:

Summer Arts Institute - application deadline extended to April 5, 2021
SAI is a free, virtual, four-week arts program in July for New York City Department of Education public school students entering grades 8 through 12 in Fall 2021 (students currently in grades 7 through 11). For 2021, this intensive program will be held virtually, Monday - Friday from 9am - 12pm. Students participate in one of the following studios: Dance, Instrumental Music, Moving Image, Strings Orchestra, Theater, Visual Arts, or Vocal Music. The program is designed for students at an intermediate or advanced level of study in their discipline. Admission is by application (due by April 5th) and audition (submitted virtually by April 5th); students may apply and audition (see tips) for only ONE studio.
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