The Unity Scoop – December 19
Dear Families of Unity,
I hope this note finds you safe, healthy, and gearing up for a pleasant holiday vacation.
Our school community has much to be grateful for in reflecting on the past four months of school and the successful return to in-person schooling. While we have faced challenges, and I anticipate additional challenges in the coming months, I am immensely proud and in awe of our team and community. On behalf of our entire staff, I thank you for your trust in us and for your collaboration.
This past week has been especially demanding, with an uptick in confirmed COVID-19 cases at both our middle school and high school. Due to the uptick in which the confirmed case rate is 5% of our school community, we are shifting our school programming to remote for the week of December 20th, starting tomorrow. Details on programming went out to middle school families on Friday via Jupiter. Details on remote high school programming went out today.
As we move into the new year and take all necessary precautions to be as safe and healthy as possible, I urge all of our families to have their children vaccinated and, if eligible, boosted by our return to in-person schooling on January 4th. I am pleased to report that significantly more of our families confirmed their child’s vaccination this past month, particularly among our high school families. The degree to which our entire community is fully vaccinated and boosted will directly impact our ability to safely operate school without disruption to learning in the coming weeks and months. This is a cause worth acting on immediately. I thank you in advance for taking this important step and prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of our school community.
In this edition of The Unity Scoop, I highlight a number of students for their recent accomplishments. I also offer updates on upcoming community events and initiatives.
Warmest wishes in the week ahead. Expect the last edition of The Unity Scoop for 2021 in your inbox this coming Thursday.
Head of School / Co-founder
Updates as of Decemer 19, 2021:
1. New – Congrats to our Middle School’s Students of the Month!: Kudos to our Students of the Month from November for showing exemplary scholarship, citizenship, and growth – we are proud of you!
- 6th Grade:
- Scholarship: Corey W.
- Citizenship: Zy’eare S.
- 7th Grade:
- Scholarship: Abilene B.
- Citizenship: Jayda W.
- Most Improved: Yendi K.
- 8th Grade:
- Scholarship: Ibrahima B.
- Citizenship: Keianna M.
2. New – Update: The Middle School LeFrak Ice Skating Trip is Postponed: The trip scheduled for Tuesday, 12/21, has been postponed until after the New Year with an exact date to be determined. All permission slips and payments will be kept and applied to the trip on the make up date (to be announced).
3. New – Attention Senior and Families of Seniors: Information regarding College Applications, Acceptances and Financial Aid from Mr. Gonzalez: See the updates below from our College & Career Readiness Team!
- College Application Update: As of December, 47% of seniors have applied to college! This is one of the fastest paces for college application submission we have seen in the past few years. Please celebrate your child if they have applied already! And if they are still working on applications, please have them see Mr. Gonzalez immediately to submit their applications!
- College Acceptances Update: Please join us in celebrating the following students for earning admission to college already – Samija Thomas, Katana Kirton, Jennifer Smith, Brian Frett, Gregory Ward-Plante, Jonathan Belton, Michael Downes, Jesse Vidal, and Sincere Baptiste. They have been accepted to a number of great colleges, including Hampton University, SUNY Albany, SUNY Buffalo State College, SUNY Purchase College, SUNY University at Buffalo, Temple University, SUNY Fredonia, and Quinnipiac University.
- Financial Aid Updates: Once students submit applications, they must complete the FAFSA and TAP applications for financial aid. These programs could get students up to $12,000 of free money for college! Mr. Gonzalez has conducted workshops to help families start the FAFSA on December 2nd, 9th, and 16th. Please contact him as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need support completing the FAFSA or TAP.
4. New – A Shout-out to our Student-Athletes of the Month!: Congratulations to our two Student-Athletes of the Month, Kyleah and Sariyah – see both student-athletes spotlighted below. Go Panthers!
Kyleah Mills is a 7th grader who is a member of the Basketball team and Step team. She is currently the only two-sport athlete for the winter season at Unity. Kyleah leads by example and has been successful by doing things the right way during practices and games. Throughout the fall season while on the volleyball team she maintained a 3.4 GPA. Kyleah works hard in and out of the classroom. Her teammates and peers have described her as a “talented athlete with a big heart.” We are proud to see what Kyleah will accomplish on the basketball court and stage this winter.
Sariyah Gordon is a freshman member of the step team who uniquely earned her position during the summer while participating in Unity’s summer enrichment program. Sariyah is a power stepper – she picks up new steps with ease and is always willing to support her teammates. As one of her teammates describes, “Sariyah is very attentive, shows a lot of self-confidence and has been putting in a lot of work to be her best.” Sariyah has proven both in the classroom and in practice that she has immense promise to be a leader and student athlete. We are proud to see what Sariyah will accomplish as she and her team prepare for their first competition on January 22nd.
5. Updated – An Opportunity for Unity to Contribute to our Community this Holiday Season: I am thrilled to report that we are on our way to achieving our goal of raising $2022 for The Campaign Against Hunger (TCAH). As of today, roughly $500 has been raised to support TCAH in increasing access to nutritious food, social services, and a wide range of programming to underserved and disenfranchised members of our community. Note that for every dollar donated from a member of our community, that dollar will be matched by an anonymous donor until our goal is reached. In effect, when you donate a dollar, your donation will have twice the impact, as TCAH will receive two dollars! If you donate $20, TCAH will receive $40, and so it goes. While we are in a better position as a society now than we were at this time 12 months ago, the times continue to be hard on our most vulnerable neighbors and community members. If you are in a position to do so, consider making a donation to this important cause today. Donations may be made here.
6. Recap – A Few Open Seats Remain for Prospective Students at Unity Middle School and at Unity High School – Spread the Word!: Unity Middle School has seats available in Grades 6, 7, and 8 and Unity High School has seats available in grades 10 & 11! If you refer a student that enrolls at Unity by November 15th, you will receive a $100 amazon.com gift card for school supplies. Please contact Mr. Doscher for more information or if you know a family that might be interested in Unity.
7. Recap – Regular COVID-19 Testing of Students Conducted This Week: During the 2021-22 school year, Unity will be testing 20% of our unvaccinated student population once per week. This additional safety measure is intended to complement—and not replace—our current health and safety measures and other adjustments we have made to keep our community safe and our buildings open. The goal of this type of screening testing is to be able to identify individuals who have COVID-19 and enable them to take precautions immediately to protect themselves, their families, and the broader school community.
8. Recap – A Resource for Supporting Adolescent Mental Health During a Pandemic and Back to School: Unity’s social work team would like to share a helpful resource with our families on how to best meet the needs of our students as they transition back to school ’ mental health as they (and we) all experience the transition back to school after a very challenging 18 months.
9. Recap – Slides and a Quick Recap from our Open School Night for High School Families: Here are the slides that Ms. Yun and Ms. Louisma shared. Below is the slide that Ms. Eason presented regarding our HS Family webpage. Visit the page for high school-specific updates and resources.
10. Recap – Slides and a Quick Recap from Thursday’s Open School Night for Middle School Families: Thanks again to our middle school families for participating in Thursday’s session. Here are the slides that Mr. Burns and Ms. Williams shared. Below is a list of 5 ways that middle school families can best support their children at home in getting the most out of their Unity education this school year. Note that our Middle School Student & Family Handbook is on our website.
11. Recap – Update on Dress Code: During our Listening & Sharing sessions last month, a number of families inquired about our dress code for the coming year. One question that came up is whether families will be able to use past uniforms this year. The answer is yes! All past uniforms will be permitted this coming year. Details on dress code for the 2021-22 school year for the middle school and high school are listed below:
- Middle School:
- High School: There are key components of our dress code that we would like to highlight – see below. Additional details can be found here.
- TOPS: Unity tops are strongly encouraged and can be purchased at unityprepuniforms.com/ for high school students. All tops must fully cover the torso and shoulders.
- BOTTOMS: Bottoms must be knee-length or longer. No skin can be visible under small rips or tears.
12. Recap – 2021-22 School Year Vacation Calendar for Students and other Key Dates: So that you may begin making plans for next 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|
Relevant Information from Past Editions of The Scoop:
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 (email@example.com)
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.
Resources Regarding Unemployment Due to COVID-19 – NYC has developed a list of resources for those who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 or are seeking additional assistance. The website will be updated frequently and includes information on employment/unemployment, food assistance, financial assistance, rent arrears, health and medical assistance, and so forth.
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.