The Unity Scoop – April 9
Dear Families of Unity,
I hope that the week has been good to you and your loved ones. I want to shout-out those who participated in yesterday’s high school awards ceremony and congratulate our awardees! And a hearty thank you to Ms. Gutierrez and so many other team members for contributing to the event.
As we close out this week and look ahead to next week, the coming week is a short but eventful one. Here is a summary of the week by site:
- Middle School:
- regular classes Monday-Thursday
- no school on Friday
- High School:
- regular classes Monday-Wednesday
- virtual conferences Wednesday evening
- daytime virtual conferences on Thursday
- no classes on Thursday-Friday
In this edition of The Unity Scoop, I offer a host of updates, events, and noteworthy moments over the course of the past week. Please take five minutes to review and appreciate all that is happening in support of students and their education! The next edition of The Scoop will be disseminated on Thursday, April 14th.
Best wishes this weekend!
Head of School / Co-founder
Updates as of April 9, 2022:
1. New – Students and Teachers in Action this Week: This week, we spotlight our middle school mathematicians as hone their skills in preparation for the coming state math exam. In the first photo below, 7th grade students in Ms. Boadu’s math class are working together in small-group stations. Working in stations allow students to get individualized attention from their teacher while also collaborating with and support one another.
In addition, our entire community has been especially mindful this year in providing support to one another as we grapple with the hardships faced over the past two years. In the photo below, Ms. Vela offers her 7th graders small, yet powerful tips on how to maintain a healthy mind and being when feeling stressed.
2. New – Congratulations to our High School Semester 2 Awardees: Thank you to our families who attended last night’s Awards Ceremony. Over 100 middle school students were recognized for their achievements in Semester 2. In case you missed the event, here are the slides. Again, congrats to our awardees – we are proud of you!
3. New – New Student Welcome Reception – On Thursday night, Unity Middle School staff invited newly accepted students – our rising sixth graders – and their families to tour the building and learn more about all that Unity offers. Welcome Unity High School Class of 2029!
4. New – April 2022 School-wide Calendar: For your family’s convenience, here is a schoolwide calendar of events for the month of April – print it out and throw it on the refrigerator door! It is possible that events could change and new events could be added. An up-to-date events calendar can always be accessed on our website. Notable upcoming events include:
- 4/11-4/14: Regular classes for all middle school students
- 4/11-4/13: Regular classes for all high school students
- 4/14: For high school students only, family conferences (no classes)
- 4/15-4/22: No school for students (spring break)
- 4/25: Regular classes for all students resume
- 4/27-4/28: Mathematics state exams administered for all middle school students
5. New – Helping Your Child to Continue their Learning This Summer: Ms. Eason, Academic Counselor, offers a presentation – Avoiding Summer Slide – that offers valuable links to paid internships, volunteer opportunities and other things your child can do over the summer to promote critical thinking and learning during the months of July and August. Click on the image below to see her presentation slides. Feel free to reach out to her with questions: email@example.com.
6. New – Summer Opportunity for Girls in Grades 8 and 9 to Engage in Science!: The Intrepid Museum’s GOALS for Girls Summer Intensive 2022 is a FREE six-week summer program for 8th and 9th grade girls in New York City.
The program is designed to immerse participants in a variety of STEM topics over the six weeks as a way of combating the drop-off of females in STEM and provide STEM opportunities for the demographic populations that are most underrepresented in STEM fields (especially black and Latina girls). Over the six weeks, participants will learn about aviation, space science, marine/earth science, computer programming, engineering and many more topics. The web link to the online application is here. The application deadline is April 22nd.
7. New – Unity Middle Celebrates its Trimester 2 Honor Roll Students!: This past week, our middle school community recognized our students earning honor roll status based on their academic achievements in classes during Trimester 2. Congrats to our awardees and enjoy the photos below of students being celebrated during grade-level community meetings this past week!
8. New – Attention All High School Students: Updates from Mr. Gonzalez and Unity’s College & Career Readiness Team: It is a busy time in the exciting world of college & career readiness at Unity! As of this week, over 80% of our 12th graders have applied to college with a vast majority already earning administration to at least one of the colleges for which they applied. In addition, we have a number of students who are now in the process of applying for career training programs and jobs. It is exhilarating to collaborate with our seniors and their families in making concrete plans for the coming year! Here are few other updates from Mr. Gonzalez:
- College Application and Admissions Updates: Two exciting updates here!
- As of April, members of our senior class have been admitted to the following colleges and universities: CUNY Brooklyn College, CUNY Hunter College, CUNY Hostos Community College, CUNY Kingsborough Community College, CUNY Guttman Community College, CUNY LaGuardia Community College, CUNY College of Staten Island, CUNY John Jay College, CUNY City Tech, CUNY Queensborough Community College, CUNY Medgar Evers College, George Washington University, Skidmore College, SUNY Albany, SUNY Buffalo State College, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Purchase, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY University at Buffalo, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY New Paltz, Clark University, Penn State University, St. Francis College, Spelman College, Marist College, Hampton University, Howard University, Hofstra University, Ithaca College, Long Island University, Temple University, and Quinnipiac University.
- Three Seniors Make Trip to SUNY Fredonia: Over the weekend of March 25th, three Unity seniors (Kenny Ramos, Shanice McBean, and Jonathan Belton) who earned admission to SUNY Fredonia traveled upstate to take part in the school’s Mutli-Cultural Student Weekend (see attached photo). They observed classes, took part in on-campus events, and met current Fredonia students. This visit is helping them, just like many other seniors, get ready to decide where they will ultimately enroll. As always, Mr. Gonzalez and Ms. Ramjan want to help seniors and their families make this decision – please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
- Personal Statement Writing Workshop Series: Ten juniors demonstrated amazing initiative during March by joining a workshop series led by Mr. Gonzalez. The three-part series was designed to help them get a head start on their personal statements, the most important part of their college applications. Please join us in congratulating Antonie Robinson, Maya Moore, Mamadou Diop, Kevin Jimbo, Dominiq Small, Nnaemeka Omeruo, Giuliano Saico-Falconi, Danille Howard, Ashlee Deslandes, and Mekhi Herring! Keep up the great work!
- Attention all Seniors: College Financial Aid Comparison Sheet: By now, you should have received financial aid packages from all the colleges that have accepted you. If you have not received aid packages yet, please see me immediately! You have approximately two-three weeks to decide the college in which you will enroll. To help you make this decision, please use this Financial Aid Comparison Tool. Follow these instructions to use the tool, take the following three steps:
- Make a copy (“File -> Make a Copy”)
- Enter information for each financial aid package into the “Net Cost” sheet.
- Make an appointment with Mr. Gonzalez to review your aid packages: calendly.com/mr-gonzalez
9. New – Upcoming Events of Interest to Unity Families!: Brought to you by Mr. Beckford, we are happy to highlight upcoming events across Brooklyn for our families. Here is one!
- DTBK Presents: BAMkids SpringFest, Saturday, 4/23, 10:30-4pm: Take part in a day of performances, interactive activities, and showcases of local talent, celebrating the spirit of spring and themes related to environmental advocacy and care. Co-curated by the BAMkids Parent Advisory Circle.
10. New – Free Resources for Unity Families: Unity’s social work team is always looking for resources that may be helpful and of interest to our families. Three such resources are provided below. Reach out to Ms. Del Purgatorio, Unity’s Director of Social Work, with questions.
- New – The Child Mind Institute offers great (free & remote) caregiver workshops on a seasonal basis! Take a moment to visit their site and appreciate their offerings.
- The recent events in Ukraine may be a source of stress and anxiety for some children. Below are four resources that may be helpful for families:
- Helping Kids Cope with Frightening News from Child Mind Institute
- How to Talk to Kids About War from verywellfamily.com
- How to Navigate Difficult Conversations with Children from The Relation Station
- How to Talk to Children about War: An Age-by-Age Guide from Today.com
- Below are flyers for lists of low-cost dental providers in each borough:
- Free Child Nutrition Webinar Series: Register for the “An Alarming Rise in Excess Weight and Diabetes in Children: Strategies and Solutions” webinar on Monday, March 7th. The webinar is presented by French-American Aid for Children as part of the new Child Nutrition Webinar series. Parents and educators will learn about practical nutrition tips and accessible information to encourage children to adopt good eating habits in school—and at home—through an interactive dialogue between Dr. Juliana Cohen, nutrition epidemiologist and associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Dr. Ileana Vargas-Rodriguez, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital of New York. A Q&A session will follow the webinar. Check out previous recordings of past webinars, including:
- Engaging Children in their own Nutritional Journey
- Smart Summer Shopping and Cooking
- Nutrition’s Powerful Impact on Children’s Physical and Mental Health
11. Recap – Update to Unity’s Mask Policy: Per a letter that was sent out to families today, we will move to adopting the NYCDOE policy of having masks be optional inside our building (the full letter is here). As you know, we decided to continue to require all community members to wear masks inside our school building in March. During this time, we said that we would review data from the city schools that removed the mask requirement and share an update by month’s end.
Having taken this prudent step, we now believe that we can safely move forward with adopting the NYCDOE policy of having masks be optional inside our building. This step aligns with CDC guidance, which we have adhered to throughout the pandemic. This April, both sites will transition to all students and staff having the option of wearing a mask over the course of the school day.
- The change in policy took effect on Monday, April 4th at our high school with students learning about the reasons that community members may choose to continue wearing a mask versus not continuing to wear a mask.
- Due to state exams being administered at our middle school this past week, the policy change at our middle school will take effect on Monday, April 11th, in order to effectively prepare for the transition.
Note that we will not hesitate to reactivate our mask requirement if conditions change such that safety is at risk if masks are not worn. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will follow the guidance of health experts when making decisions here.
With this change in policy, I am cautiously optimistic as we move into the spring season and look forward to continuing in our path to engaging with one another as a community as we did prior to the pandemic. At the same time (and also in line with the guidance of health experts and CDC), I continue to strongly encourage you to have your child fully vaccinated if you have not already done so. This is the best step you can take in preventing COVID-19 from negatively impacting your child’s ability to experience school in the best and safest way possible.
12. Recap – Full Calendar for the Remainder of the 2022-23 School Year: Here is a schoolwide calendar for March through June. As with the March calendar above, print it out and throw it on the refrigerator door! An up-to-date events calendar can always be accessed on our website. We are now working on our calendar for the 2022-23 school year and plan to share it in late April.
13. Recap – Congratulations to our Middle School Trimester 2 Awardees: Thank you to our families who attended last night’s Awards Ceremony. Over 100 middle school students were recognized for their achievements in Trimester 2. In case you missed the event, here is the recording. We look forward to celebrating our students’ accomplishments in Trimester 3 with you in the coming months!
14. Recap – Unity High Students Holds its 6th Annual Career Fair!: Unity’s longest standing tradition – our Annual Career Fair – took place on March 25th. We welcomed 32 professionals from careers ranging from legal services to real estate development, and fashion to medical research, as they shared stories and information with Unity High students about their lives, career paths, and current work. Amongst the guest speakers was Horatio Johnson, from Unity’s Class of 2020. He is now working as an Emergency Medical Technician and completing his degree at CUNY John Jay College. This year’s Career Fair brought back wonderful memories of years past, and helped remind us that such experiences are key to helping connect students with powerful, meaningful engagement with the community.
Relevant Information from Past Editions of The Scoop:
2021-22 School Year Vacation Calendar for Students and other Key Dates: So that you may make plans for the year, with our school schedule in mind, the table below provides the vacation dates for students and families for the 2021-22 school year. Students will not report to school on these dates. Moreover, here are a few important notes regarding next year’s calendar:
Day of Week
|Wednesday||First day of school for students|
|Monday||Indigenous People’s Day, school closed|
|November 2||Tuesday||Election day, remote school day|
|Thursday||Veteran’s Day, school closed|
|November 24 – 26||Wednesday – Friday||Thanksgiving Recess, school closed|
|December 24 – January 3||Friday – Monday
|Winter Recess, school closed|
|Monday||Monday Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, school closed|
|February 21 – 25||Monday – Friday||Midwinter Recess, school closed|
|April 15 – 22||Friday –
|Spring Recess, school closed|
|Memorial Day, school closed|
|June 20||Monday||Juneteenth (observed), school closed|
|June 27||Monday||Last day of school for students|
COVID-19 Vaccines: Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized three COVID-19 vaccines: the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines. The vaccine can prevent COVID-19 symptoms and severe COVID-19 illness. People 5 and older are eligible for the vaccine. Those who are fully vaccinated can more safely gather with friends and enjoy other benefits of vaccination. Many vaccination sites in the city no longer require appointments.
- See a list of sites where you can get a walk-up vaccination today. To find a vaccination site near you, including those that take appointments, use the City’s Vaccine Finder.
- Note, people who are 12 to 17 years old can only receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Mental Health Counseling and Social Work Services at Unity: If you would like to speak to a social worker about your child’s mental health or if you would like your child to receive support from a social worker in school, please reach out to Ms. Del Purgatorio via phone or text (347-688-9107) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Unity social workers can also be of assistance in providing information regarding social services (for example: housing, immigration, access to community mental health services & referrals to mental health providers, food security / access to food, public assistance, crisis intervention, etc.).
If your child or family member is experiencing a mental health crisis, NYC Well is available 24 hours a day and can be accessed by phone (1-888-NYC-WELL) or text (text WELL to 65173) or by internet chat via their website: https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.
Update on P-EBT Benefits for Families: New York State is providing Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) food benefits to all households with children who are eligible to receive free school lunch under the National School Lunch Act and whose school was closed or operating with reduced in-school attendance due to COVID-19 during the 2020-2021 academic year. Issuance of the food benefit will continue for several months, due to the large number of eligible children and schools participating in the National School Lunch Program across the state. For additional information visit NYSOTDA P-EBT Benefits Information Page.
- If your child(ren) is eligible and has not received P-EBT benefit by November 2021, you may fill out the P-EBT Information Form.
- If you have misplaced a P-EBT Food Benefit card issued to your child[ren), you may order a replacement card by calling 1-888-328-6399. If your child(ren) received P-EBT benefits on a Medicaid card and you need to order a replacement NYS Medicaid card or select a PIN, go to otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19/P-
EBT-Medicaid-Card-PIN- Instructions.asp for more information.
- Once you have set up a PIN to access your P-EBT food benefits, you can check your family’s P-EBT food benefits balance by visiting www.connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.
Discounts on Home Internet Services Available: If your household is struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a monthly service discount through the Emergency Broadband Benefit. Please visit this information page or call 833-511-0311 for more information.
NYC Rental Assistance Program – The New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is a new program that will provide significant economic relief to help low and moderate-income households at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability by providing rental arrears, temporary rental assistance and utility arrears assistance. If you know of somebody who might be eligible for the program, please encourage them to learn more or apply here.