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03.12.21 - Dr. Elster Coffee, Wellness + Equity Meetings V2




Principal's Letter

Dear families,

The school feels good! The students seem happy to be back, the teachers are excited to be teaching in person, and parts of our day even feel like they are approaching normal.   

We’ve got a small group of students in the building five days a week, and they are benefiting tremendously from this opportunity. Many teachers are Zooming with and including the students who are 100% remote in their class on the in-person day. Both teachers and students are finding this is working better than they had thought possible. Others are set to try it too.   

What we are working on is how to make the day your child is at home, but their teachers are in school, more robust. We understand that students have more downtime on that day than on others and they are in need of more structure. After the spring break, we hope to be able to offer some possibilities for those unscheduled periods. We know too that students who are 100% remote are also seeking more opportunities to be with peers and more structure in their day too.  We have that on the “front burner” too. I also know that all of you want your children in school more than one day. I want that too, but we still do not have the physical space or the staffing to do that. Last week I received an email from the Office of the Chancellor asking what I would need to bring back 50% of our school 5 days a week. My answer was, "50 additional teachers and 3 additional floors."   

This is the midpoint in the Third Marking Period. It’s time to check Jupiter and follow up with your children.   

We have a great line-up for Wellness Day on March 16. Take a look at the sessions and ensure that your child registers for two, and then on Tuesday evening, ask them about it at dinner or on the way to or from your activities.   

Have a good weekend.


We're springing FORWARD, people! 

Join us Wednesday morning, March 17 at 8:00 am for coffee with Dr. Elster! She'll share the latest school updates and answer all your questions. Can you think of a better way to kick off St. Patrick's Day?
Join our next Equity Team meeting on Wednesday, March 17, at 7 pm. Register in advance for this meeting. We will provide a brief update on Equity Steering Committee activities and then discuss how can we continue to foster a growth mindset around supporting students as whole, multifaceted individuals. Learn more about MS54's Equity Team, or contact
MS54's counseling team has created a mental health resource guide for families' contacts within the school, as well as listing free and low-cost mental health resources in the community, mental health resources for families of color, and a list of recommended books and podcasts for families and children around mental health issues. 
Who's in?  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:
At Tuesday's PTA meeting our guest speaker Dr. Lara Pence, Psychologist + Parenting Expert, explained why sleep is a non-negotiable, life-support system to help our bodies and minds recover and repair. Here are her strategies + solutions for ensuring you and your family are at their best!
Please complete the MS54 Parent Skills SurveyWe want to find out what amazing skills you have and how you can potentially help Booker T.  maintain and expand the wonderful offerings it provides for our children and community. 
Please help! Our inventory is low across the board but we are in particular need of: cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix + syrup, peanut butter + jelly, fruit cups, soup, vegetable or olive oils, and canned proteins like beef, chicken, and tuna. Everything can be ordered here: MS54 Amazon Wish List or you can support your local grocer. Our families thank you!

Teacher Talent Night is March 21!
You've never seen anything like this!
Booker T. teachers + staff have teamed up to put on the Talent Show we all need right now! Join hosts Ms. Weinreb and Mr. D for this once in a lifetime spectacular! A donation of any size gets you in.

DATE: Sunday, March 21
TIME: 6:30 pm
PLACE: Your Living Room!
DONATE: Any amount to get the Zoom link
Join Us On March 21!
Hey, eighth grade parents! This is your ONLY chance to order limited edition Class of 2021 graduation sweatshirts! There are six awesome colors to choose from. Order through March 21 — orders will ship the week of April 9.  Shop now before you forget!

For questions, email Eve Epstein at
Shop 2021 Grad Gear
Get Ready for the 54 for 54 Challenge!
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 1 and May 31 and encourage friends and family to do the same!

Tell us what your challenge is and sign up to raise money for our school!

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!

And what would an event be without fun SWAG? Place your orders now through March 21 to get your gear in time for the challenge! Items will ship the week of April 9.
Choose Your Challenge!
School Meetings + Events

March 14, 2021
Set your clocks ahead one hour, lose an hour of sleep, be cranky for the next three days.

Sunday Wellness Walk

March 14, 2021 @ 10:00 am
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

CEC3 High School Admissions Meeting
March 15 @ 7:00 pm

Register for the Zoom Meeting 
Tune in to this district-wide meeting for the latest insights into this year's HS process and ask what's in store for next year.

Wellness Day
March 16, 2021 @ 9:15 am
Professionals from a wide variety of wellness backgrounds will meet with our students to share information, insights, and support from their areas of expertise. 

Class Parent Meeting
March 16, 2021 @ 7:30 PM
Join the Zoom Meeting 
Get the latest scoop on spring events and share your thoughts + ideas with PTA leadership. Class Parents ONLY, please!

PTA Coffee w/Dr. Elster
March 17, 2021 @ 8:00 am
Join the Zoom Meeting

Dr. Elster will 
share the latest school updates and answer all your questions.

Equity Team Meeting
March 17, 2021 @ 7:00 pm
Register for the Zoom Meeting
Learn more about MS54's Equity Team, or contact

Citywide Council on English Language Learners and Special Education

March 18, 2021 @ 6:00 PM 
Register for the Zoom Meeting

Wellness Meeting
March 19, 2021 @ 7:30 am
Join the Zoom meeting

Everyone is invited to join the monthly Wellness Meeting. Help us plan for wellness activities and events for our community.

Sunday Wellness Walk
March 21, 2021 @ 10:00 am
Riverside Park at 91st Street;

March 21, 2021 @ 6:30 pm
Donate Any Amount to Join

Last day to order 54 for 54 Challenge Gear and 2021 Graduate Hoodies

March 21, 2021 @ 11:59 pm
Shop Now!

March 29 - April 2, 2021

For more details, please consult the MS54 Calendar!

DOE Info & Community Updates

The COVID-19 Pandemic, One Year In
Virtual Chat and Book Talk About Grief and Memorials for Teen & Tweens on Tuesday, March 16, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. (kids under 12 require parental/caretaker supervision). Two Riverside youth librarians will offer book suggestions and help resources for teens in mourning. There will also be an open discussion on pandemic loss and memorials. Note: this is an open talk NOT a grief support or counseling session. RSVP here.

Teen Virtual Comics Chat: Women's Comics and Feminism 
Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 3:30 - 4:30 pm. Join three Riverside young adult librarians as they talk about some of their personal favorite comics that they hope you'll check out! This month, they will offer suggestions on titles to start reading for Women's History Month and feminism. RSVP here.

Middle School Arts Audition Boot Camp
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 (Lincoln Center, Weill Institute of Music at Carnegie Hall, Harlem School for the Arts, NY Philharmonic, Studio in a School, and Julliard). 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, 9 am –12 pm. Admission is by online application (only) and an online audition submission. All applications must be submitted by May 7, 2021.

P-EBT Food Benefit
As of February 10, 2021, the $420 food benefit for spring 2020 has been distributed to all NYC public school students. If you haven't received the spring 2020 benefit, contact the State, and send an email to It is anticipated that P-EBT food benefits for the 2020-2021 school year will be issued to eligible children starting in March 2021. For more information, visit You can also find additional information on what the Pandemic EBT food benefit is and who is eligible here.

The Hero’s Journey
For interested teens that are searching for a fun and creative adventure. They will learn leadership skills, mental health care tips, encounter weekly creative challenges, and level up their own character. Spaces are limited. Application is open through March 12th! The program will run from April 12th to May 21st (meeting Tuesday afternoons). Open only to teens in NYC.

Brooklyn Public Library Teen Writing Contest (March 1-31, 2021)
Writers in grades 6 to 12 in New York City are invited to submit poetry and prose to be judged by a panel of BPL’s expert young adult librarians for creativity, style, and voice. Separate prizes for middle school (grades6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) writers. Entries are accepted in two categories: Poetry (up to 500 words) and Prose (up to 2,500 words). Top winners in poetry and prose will receive the Ned Vizzini Teen Wring Prize with cash awards ($500 and $250 for first and second place), and have their pieces published in the Teen Wring Journal distributed by the Brooklyn Public Library. See full rules and entry form.

Summer Arts Institute
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 7through 11). For 2021, this intensive program will be held virtually, Monday-Friday from 9 am-12 pm. 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 March 22) and audition (submitted virtually by March 29); students may apply and audition (see tips) for only ONE studio.

State Pre-College Enrichment Program Summer Session
S-PREP is a free high school and college preparatory program for 7th - 12th grade students, who are interested in a career in medicine or related STEM professions. The long-range objective is to increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students prepared to enter college, and improve their participation rate in healthcare and STEM. Summer Program offerings include: academic enrichment in math & science, PSAT prep, academic/career counseling, career development, college preparatory workshops, and virtual college tours. Program dates will be July 2nd – July 31st from 10am – 3pm. See program overview. Due to COVID-19 the summer program will be held virtually. Application deadline is April 19. Register for an admissions webinar.

Young Writers Awards Competition
The New York Society Library is holding its 19th Annual Young Writers Awards Competition and Booker T students are eligible to participate. Find entry guidelines and information at Competition deadline is Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

Riley's Way Call for Kindness
Teens who want to change the world can Answer the Call for Kindness and win up to $3,000 to fund their project idea. Applications close on April 7, 2021.

Jeter’s Leaders Program
Jeter's Leaders is a leadership development program created to empower, recognize, and enhance the skills of high school students who promote healthy lifestyles, achieve academically, are committed to improving their community, and serve as role models to younger students and deliver positive messages to their peers. To be eligible, applicants must be high school freshman in the fall. Application deadline is April 9,2021. For more info, see:

Hudson Guild SHSAT

This is a free tutoring program in partnership with Tutorverse for students in the 7th grade that are looking to take the SHSAT test in the 8th grade or need additional academic support. Families can apply by clicking the link here. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Middle School Program Director, Ashley Bermudez at or call/text (646) 883-4015. If SHSAT isn't for you, we also have free afterschool and a Learning Lab Program.

Tutoring Buddies

Tutoring Buddies is a program that pairs high school students (tutors) with elementary/middle school students who need help with school (tutees). Once the pairs are made, the students decide when they would like to meet and what subjects they would like help with (the pairs are made based off available times and subjects of interest). Sign up to receive free tutoring help.

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