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04.23.21 - Urgent Help Needed for Graduation + EOY Events




Principal's Letter

Dear Parents:

The guilty verdict in the George Floyd case led to many interesting conversations this week. I am grateful to the teachers for facilitating those and for helping our students understand the implications of this not just for Derek Chauvin and this trial, but also for our country.

ELA testing went smoothly this week. Students who missed the test this week, can take it next week on their in-person day. The NYS Math Exam will be given during the week of May 3, 2021. It was especially nice to welcome into the building students who are 100% remote. The students, teachers, and staff were excited to see them here. One afternoon, I got the following email from one of the students, “I went to the school building for the first time this year and my experience was really great :). I loved getting to meet actual people and the teachers.” It was followed by a late request to change to a blended model. And, this was not the only one like it that I received. Despite the halt on the transition from 6ft to 3ft, I have been working on other ways to get the students back into the building more.

Report Cards are now visible on your NYC Students Account. If you have questions about the grades, please contact the teacher. Just a reminder that at the end of the year, the four marking period grades, in each subject, are averaged to generate a final grade for the class. It is extremely important that students with incomplete or insufficient work (NXs) meet with their teachers to discuss a plan for completing it. Students who fail to complete it by June, will have to attend “Summer Rising,” aka summer school.

Did you know the following about attendance? That when you get the email telling you that your child was marked absent, you still have about an hour to have your child complete the survey (even if they thought they had already done it) before the data is finalized. This will prevent you from needing a teacher to verify the attendance. Here is the link:

I have set up some small group meetings for sixth and seventh grade parents to hear your thoughts about the coming year. I think we all hope that the students will be back in school every day, but beyond that, what is it that you think your children need. I have attended at least two of these kinds of meetings geared to school leaders. Since I found that at both meetings I was an outlier among the participants (you might not be shocked by that), I think it is vital to hear from you. Sign up for a session: I plan to keep these relatively small so it can be more of a discussion.


Graduation Site Needed:  We're desperately seeking a site for this year's graduation! Got an idea? Can you make some calls? Parks, Columbia University, nearby athletic fields ... what else might work? Reach out to with ideas or to pitch in.
Teacher Appreciation Week is May 3 - 7! Help us show our teachers some love, on Sunday, May 2nd from 10:00am - 4:00pm to "Chalk the Walks" around Booker T. with inspiring messages of joy, gratitude, and love. If you have chalk, please bring it; if you don't, we'll have plenty to share. Can you host this effort for an hour? Sign up HERE!
Student Desks: An alum dad+son team have made over 30 desks for some of our students in need and they are donating more! Please email if you would like one. The desks will be completed in the next two weeks and delivered to the school.
Thank you to all who have given so generously to the family in our community whose child passed away during an asthma attack last weekend. Your contributions will go toward the child's memorial services in Senegal. 

Donations are being collected by the PTA through this weekend if you would still like to give.
Your generosity has sustained Booker T. families for 10 months! Thank you all for your boundless kindness. We never imagined when we began the food drive last June that it would still be so necessary almost a year later. Please use the MS54 Amazon Wish List or support your local grocer as you shop for our families in need. 
54 for 54 Updates!

The moms are crushing it when it comes to completing 54 challenges! Sandra Temko is currently in the lead, logging 67 dog walks/yoga workouts! Staci Risman + Marni Aarlev round out the leaderboard with runs, scoots, and walks! All have already gone well beyond their goals!


JOIN over 100 other MS54 friends working their way toward a goal of 54 something while fundraising for our school.
CHOOSE a meaningful challenge that you can achieve by the end of May.
FUNDRAISE by letting your network of family, friends, and colleagues know about your effort. Activate your fundraising page by selecting DONATE --> BECOME A FUNDRAISER in the left navigation. You can then share the link to your page to start receiving donations!

Or, simply DONATE, to an existing participant, whether a friend, a child, your homeroom, your favorite teacher or principal!
Equity Team Updates

The Equity Steering Committee hosted an open school meeting on April 21 to continue our ongoing conversation about equity and inclusion at the school, with a focus on school-family communication. Nearly 30 parents, teachers, staff, and administrators attended. We opened by sharing this poem by Clint Smith:

When people say, “we have made it through worse before”

all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones
of those who did not make it, those who did not
survive to see the confetti fall from the sky, those who

did not live to watch the parade roll down the street…

Click here to read the full poem.

Some themes that emerged from the discussion:
  • Providing more targeted resources and interventions for students beyond purely academic needs (e.g., mentorship for students, family social resources).
  • Importance of multiple modes of communication (text, phone, email, Facebook, website, etc.).
  • Making already existing spaces accessible, welcoming, and inclusive for ALL community voices.
  • Having more school-wide events that foster familial connections between families and staff members.
The next Equity meeting will be on May 19th at 7pm. Stay tuned for the agenda and Zoom link.
School Meetings + Events

Sunday Wellness Walks @ 10am — Counts towards 54 for 54 Challenge!
April 25, 2021 & May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 2021
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

AAPI Family Picnic
Due to a wet, chilly forecast for Sunday, we're cancelling the AAPI Family Picnic. Stay tuned for future events and please email 6th Grade Rep Lee Uehara at or PTA co-president Larry Lee at with any ideas!

Executive Board/SLT Info Session
April 27, 2021 @ 7:30pm
Curious about the requirements and responsibilities of the PTA Executive Board and SLT? Interested in learning more about the specific roles and what the time commitment might be before submitting a nomination for yourself or someone you think would be a terrific candidate? Join outgoing PTA Exec Board members Laura Adams, Kyle Clayton, and Marianna Crespi for an honest discussion about what's expected of those who serve on the board or SLT. Bring your questions!
Register to join

2021-2022 Discussions for Current 6th & 7th Grade Parents
April 28th @ 7pm, May 6th, @ 7pm, May 11th @ 8am
Use this form to sign up. You will receive an email with the Zoom information before your session.

Chalk the Walks Around Booker T. for Teacher Appreciation!
May 2 , 2021 @ 10:00am - 4:00pm
Help us show our teachers some love, by joining us Sunday, May 2nd from 10:00am - 4:00pm to "Chalk the Walks" around Booker T. with inspiring messages of joy, gratitude, and love. If you have chalk, please bring it; if you don't, we'll have plenty to share. Can you host this effort for an hour? Sign up HERE!

Week of May 3, 2021
The NYS ELA Exam will be given the week of April 19th and the Math Exam during the week of May 3rd. Students will take the exam on their in-person day. See DOE Student Participant Guide for more information.

May Coffee Chat with Dr. Elster 
May 7, 2021 @ 8:00am
Join Dr. Elster and the PTA for a monthly chat about whatever's top of mind! Questions welcome. Coffee encouraged.
Register to join

May PTA Meeting + Session on Mindful Parenting
May 11, 2021 @ 7:00pm

Join us to weigh in on next year's budget and the expansion of the executive board to include representation from the Wellness + Equity teams. Also, Clinical Psychologist Erika Rooney of the Child Mind Institute will share strategies and exercises for Mindful Parenting. *Please note that this meeting will BEGIN with the guest speaker and PTA business will follow.
Register to join
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:

Eid Al-Fitr, schools closed
May 13, 2021

May SLT Meeting
May 14, 2021 @ 7:20am
Any member of the MS54 community who wishes to observe the meeting may email in advance for the Zoom link. 

May Equity Team Meeting
May 19, 2021 @ 7:00pm
Contact for agenda and Zoom link. Learn more about MS54's Equity Team.

May Wellness Committee Meeting
Friday, May 21, 2021 @ 7:30am
Contact for details.

Picture Day: Save the Date
May 24 & 25, 2021
Save these dates for picture day with Irvin Simon Photographers. You will receive an online code to view and order your portraits a few weeks after picture day. More info to come.

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.

Vote May 1-15 for Citywide Community Education Councils
For the first time voting is open to parents of all students! Learn more about the 2021 elections. Here is an 8-minute video which gives a brief overview of CCECs and then explains how eligibility works and shows the voting process in detail.

The Citywide Council on English Language Learners Presents: Virtual Town Hall with Chancellor Meisha Porter
May 5, 2021 @ 6:30 - 7:30pm
Event RegistrationDon’t miss this excellent opportunity. Issues and concerns will be addressed.
  • English Conference Line: Dial (929) 205-6099 (Local NYC) and enter Webinar ID: 835 9700 6395
  • Spanish Conference Line: Dial (888) 475-4499 (Toll Free) and enter Pin 735-255-0102
  • Mandarin Conference Line: Dial (888) 475-4499 (Toll Free) and enter Pin 933-059-6663
  • Cantonese Conference Line: Dial (877) 853-5257 (Toll Free) and enter Pin 565-808-2412
Middle School Arts Audition Boot Camp
All applications' deadline: May 7, 2021.
This is a free, two-week arts program for NYCDOE students entering 8th grade in September 2021. This intensive virtual program is administered in collaboration with leading cultural organizations. The goal is to provide equity and access in preparation to screened NYCDOE arts high schools and arts programs for 300 currently Title I middle school students. Dates are August 2 – August 13, 2021; meeting Monday through Friday, 9am –12 pm. Admission is by online application (only) and an online audition submission.
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