September 4, 2020 Weekly Newsletter

Letter From the Principal

Dear Parents, 
Thank you so much for dropping in during my office hours. It was great to see so many people and have an opportunity to answer everyone’s questions.  
The teachers return to work on Tuesday. I am looking forward to welcoming them back. This summer, Ms. Rietberg, Ms. Tsai , Ms. Wuu, and Ms. Campanzano moved on to other schools and/or pursuits, and Mr. Drogin retired. I am grateful for their service to our students and their dedication to our school. We are fortunate that Rob Erickson, a former humanities teacher will be returning, and we are hoping that the city will lift some of its hiring restrictions to enable us to hire additional positions. 
As of now, the first in-person day of school is September 21st.  We will use the 16-18th for orientations and opportunities for students. A schedule will be distributed next week once we receive more guidance. I will also update you as I learn about how the random testing that will be done. 
After putting the final details of the schedule on our master excel sheet this afternoon, I said to Erica Williams, “Even given all the constraints, we actually created a solid educational program with opportunities for small group instruction, remediation, and enrichment.” I am grateful to Erica Williams and Andrew Bergen for working with me on this and for the many days they spent with me on Zoom – each with our own spreadsheets and chart paper in front of us.  
Each day more and more PPE and supplies have been delivered, and I have already put in a request for more. Unless we have extra, I will not feel like we have enough! 
Please remember that our MANDATORY SAFETY ASSEMBLIES will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday (see details below).            
When I got to the building on Monday morning, I felt like it was my first day at a new place. It felt so different to be back in the building. While I initially wished I could have brought my dual monitors and desktop home, over the months, I got so used to working on my 11-inch screen, I actually used it on Monday at my desk. I couldn’t find the correct key to turn the alarm off on the front door, and it took a while to get back into my work routine. But, by Tuesday, I turned the alarm off before waking the neighborhood, put my laptop away, and took a walk around the building. I felt like I was in an apocalyptic movie. The bulletin boards were dated March, teachers’ things were still out on their desks, the time cards in the main office were set up for what was then our expected return in April. It was very surreal. In the next week the faculty will return, those things will come down and fresh new bulletin boards and signage will go up, and the building will be abuzz with the excitement that comes each fall. It’s one of the great things about teaching—every year we get to start afresh.   
I look forward to seeing your children back too! 
Please mark your calendars for the important meetings below and note that the Safety Meetings are MANDATORY for all families


Tuesday, September 8 at 6PM: What will 100% remote look like? 
Come hear about how this option will be handled at Booker T. 
Topic: 100% Remote 
Time: Sep 8, 2020 06:00 PM 
Meeting ID: 964 6057 1587   Passcode: 187516 
Tuesday, September 8: MANDATORY Safety Assemblies 
7PM: Cohort B 
Topic: Safety Assembly Cohort B 
Time: Sep 8, 2020 07:00 PM 
Meeting ID: 984 6788 3813   Passcode: 983124 
8PM: Cohort E 
Topic: Safety Assembly Cohort E 
Time: Sep 8, 2020 08:00 PM 
Meeting ID: 952 9698 8160   Passcode: 940218 
Wednesday, September 9: Mandatory Safety Assemblies 
7PM: Cohort A  
Topic: Safety Assembly Cohort A 
Time: Sep 9, 2020 07:00 PM 
Meeting ID: 918 7192 6632   Passcode: 481474 
8PM: Cohort C 
Topic: Safety Assembly Cohort C  
Time: Sep 9, 2020 08:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 
Meeting ID: 972 8035 4421   Passcode: 524187 

Have a wonderful weekend and see you next week at the Mandatory Safety Meetings.

Elana Elster 

2020 Annual Appeal

The 2020 school year will be unlike any other. Our exceptional teachers and administrators will be working their hardest to accomplish the extraordinary for our kids at a time when there is insufficient city funding to meet the new expenses. Our need has never been greater -- yet the ability to fundraise through traditional in-person events and gatherings simply isn’t possible for the foreseeable future.

As a result, our goal is to raise more than we ever have through the Annual Appeal: $250,000.00

We're hopeful that every family will try to give this year -- in whatever capacity is possible.

In the past, we've requested that families donate $1000 per child. However if you are able to give more, this is the year to do so! And if $1000 isn't in your budget, whatever amount you're able to give is welcome and very much appreciated! Every donation gets us closer to our goal.

The PTA plans to contribute nearly $500,000 to the school this year including:

$350,000 in Teacher & Administrator salaries
$  55,000 in Supplies including COVID essentials not funded by the DOE
$  25,000 in Technology funding
$ 15,000 to keep our teachers in school during state test grading

The 2020-21 Preliminary Budget is posted on the MS54 website here.*

  • DOUBLE YOUR GIFT -- Look up whether your employer participates in a matching gift program right on the donation page!

  • DONATE a lump sum or choose recurring monthly installments. 

  • CONTRIBUTIONS are 100% tax-deductible. 

  • CHOOSE to make your gift anonymously.

And of course, donations are completely voluntary.

Please make your donation today to help pay for the unprecedented needs we are anticipating at the start of this very unusual year!

*Note that budget adjustments to more accurately reflect current circumstances (primarily reductions to the After School and Educational Consultant lines) will be voted on at the September 22 PTA meeting.


2020-21 School Supply List

  • 5   Composition books  (preferably 5 different colors) 
  • 1   Composition book with graph paper 
  • 1   8 ½ x 11 size spiral notebook (paper must be 8 ½ x 11) 
  • 10 Double pocket vinyl folders (as many different colors as possible) Vinyl is far more durable than paper folders 
  • Pens and pencils 
  • Calculator: 
    • 6th Graders: Scientific calculator (with √, π functions—TI-34 multi-view calculator preferred) 
    • 7th Graders: Preferred: Graphing calculator (TI 84 Plus)
      Acceptable: Scientific calculator with π, √ functions  
    • 8th Graders: Graphing calculator required for Regents math (TI84Plus)  

You will need these supplies at home: 

  • colored markers 
  • colored pencils 
  • loose-leaf paper 
  • 3x5/4x6 index cards 
  • 10 glue sticks NOT LIQUID 
  • 1 roll of scotch tape 
  • 1 small stapler 
  • white out 
  • 6 inch dual-sided ruler (in/cm) 
  • small scissors (approx. 5 inches) 
  • small pencil sharpener with cover for shavings 
  • graph paper – 1 pack 

Food Drive for Community + Neighbors

Please contact Anne Pejovich if you are in need of grocery assistance.

To help our community members and neighbors, have an online grocery order sent to: 

MS54 Booker T. Washington JHS Main Entrance on West 108 Street
(between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues) 

Deliveries accepted every weekday (excluding Labor Day) until Thursday, September 10 from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM!

Suggested non-perishable pantry items:

Dry pasta or rice
Beans (dry and canned)
Tomato sauce 
Peanut butter & jelly
Canned tuna or sardines
Breakfast cereal and/or oatmeal
Shelf stable milk such as Parmalat
Applesauce and other healthy snacks

Anything in boxes, cans and jars that families often need for meals is helpful.

Please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich with any questions at 347-563-5156 or and THANK YOU to all who have already donated!

Summer Assignments

Please remind your children to complete their summer assignments. These assignments should be submitted via google classroom once school resumes. Access to google classroom will be provided to new students after school starts

P-EBT Food Benefit Cards

Be on the lookout! Those P-EBT cards have started arriving in mailboxes! Each child will receive $420 in food benefits. Read this terrific Gothamist article to learn more. 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.

DOE Info & Community Updates

Learning Bridges
As the New York City public schools reopen this fall, most schools and sites will operate on a blended learning model. If you're in need of child care support on the days when your child is scheduled for remote learning, The DOE is piloting a program called "Learning Bridges". Please complete this survey to express interest in the Learning Bridges program, which will provide child care options for children from 3-K through 8th grade this fall on days when they are not in school buildings. The information collected  will be used to guide the City's planning for the Learning Bridges program. Families can expect more information about a potential placement in the coming weeks.

Please note: programs will become available on a rolling basis through the start of school.

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: 

Census 2020!
Help NYC get the funding and representation we are entitled to by filling out the Census form today! Go to or call 844-330-2020 to complete your Census today. New York City’s future depends on it!
WHAT: The US Census is a count of every person in the United States, regardless of age or citizenship. This count is done once every 10 years.
WHY: The US Census is super important because the data collected is used to determine:
  • The number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Congressional and state legislative districts
  • How and where billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources
  • Other products, services and support for your community
If we do not achieve a complete count, New York City stands to lose billions of dollars in federal aid annually for schools, hospitals, affordable housing, transportation, and more, as well as our representation in Congress and in Albany.
WHO: Everyone living or staying in the U.S. (Complete one census questionnaire per household and count everyone who lives there.)
HOW: Go to There are just 10 questions and it takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Your answers are completely confidential, and there are NO questions about citizenship.
WHEN: The 2020 Census ends this month on September 30thPlease respond today!

Free Online Class for NYC Families from Inside Schools
Inside Schools launched “How to Support Online Learning at Home,” a free online class for NYC families. It was designed by InsideSchools editor in chief Dr. Tom Liam Lynch, a former education technology professor and parent of a soon-to-be middle schooler. You can take the class at your own pace and convenience. If you are extra worried about the reopening of school this year—as many families are—this class will help you get ready. 

Free Math Tutoring Program from Common Denominator
Common Denominator, formerly known as Top Honors, will offer their FREE math tutoring program virtually for the 2020-2021 school year. They are accepting applications for students who will be enrolled in the 5th-8th grades starting fall 2020.

Application process:
  1. Review and submit an application here.
  2. Register for a student interview, during which the student will take a virtual math assessment to see where they need further support.
  3. Parents will attend a separate virtual orientation to be announced at a later time.
C/D participation requires that students have access to the following:
  • A reliable wi-fi connection.
  • Their own laptop, desktop, or tablet.
  • A working microphone on their device.
  • A working camera on their device.
  • A quiet space without distraction during tutoring'

Events Calendar

September 8 @ 6PM: What will 100% remote look like? 
Meeting ID: 964 6057 1587  Passcode: 187516 
September 8: MANDATORY Safety Assemblies 

September 9: Mandatory Safety Assemblies 

September 16: First Day of Remote School
September 21: First Day of In-Person School
September 22: PTA General Meeting at 7:00pm via Zoom

Amazon Reminder
When you place an Amazon order, please use this link: or click on the Amazon logo on our website before you begin shopping. That way, MS54 gets a percentage of every dollar you spend (at no cost to you!). Thanks, everyone!!
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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