The Unity Scoop – February 6
Dear Families of Unity,
I hope that the first week of February was good to you and loved ones. As you well know, February is recognized nationally as Black History Month. While we, as a school, take pride in honoring, celebrating, and learning about Black history every month and each day of the calendar year, we are excited to pay special tribute to Black history over the coming weeks through a host of events and festivities within our school community and beyond.
In this edition of The Unity Scoop, I highlight a number of the events that took place this past week and preview upcoming events to honor Black history. In addition, please join me in celebrating the recents achievements of our students and alumni.
I would like to end my introductory note with special thank you to Unity’s academic counselors as a part of National School Counseling Week. Unity is fortunate to have an extremely talented and dedicated team of academic counselors who play a central role in supporting our students in making the most of their educational experience at Unity. On behalf of our entire community, I would like to thank Ms. Roth, Mr. Gonzalez, Ms. Eason, Ms. Simon, and Ms. Madera for all that they do for our school and community.
Head of School / Co-founder
Updates as of February 6, 2021:
1. New – Congrats to our Middle School’s January Students of the Month!: Kudos to our Students of Month for showing exemplary scholarship, citizenship, and growth – we are proud of you!
- Elizabeth P. (citizenship)
- Emma C. (scholarship)
- Elijah M. (citizenship)
- Charmaine J. (scholarship)
- Meleik M. (most Improved)
- Francisco M. (citizenship)
- Junaydah H. (scholarship)
- Tatyana H. (most improved)
2. New – Unity‘s Alumni are On Campus!: Now that spring semester at colleges has begun, some students are moving onto campus, including Unity Alumnus Nigel D.! Nigel is one of three Unity graduates who attend Ithaca College (see the photo below). The college was shut down in the fall for safety reasons, but they have opened up for the spring semester – and Nigel is now on campus! We are excited for this next chapter for him and his fellow Unity Alumni/Ithaca classmates, Zariah F. and Tyrek B. Please join us in wishing them and all of the other Unity Alumni a great, healthy semester!
3. New – Unity Celebrates Black History Month!: All month, our school community will honor and commemorate Black History Month through a variety of events. Here is what happened this past week:
- In our history classes, our teachers highlighted prominent figures in black history each day of the week, including Kamala Harris, Angela Davis, and Amanda Gorman.
- In our dance classes, our teachers honored Black/African-American dancers. As Ms. McRae describes:
A part of Pre-AP Dance is teaching scholars about the history of dance and about iconic people within each dance genre. Many Black/African American dancers have shaped dance culture and communities as we know it today. I enjoy telling the scholars my personal stories and videos of my professional dancing experience prior to teaching to make connections. Within that, I decided that the iconic Black/African American dancers should be recognized for Black History Month. In honor of such, my class has been learning about new dancers every day through text, amazing video footage, and even great discussion questions. My regular dance classes are also being greeted as they log in with a video and quick information on a dancer.
- High school students and staff participated in BLACKOUT WEDNESDAY by wearing all black in honor of those we have tragically lost in our history and struggle with racial injustice, including but not limited to:
- Rayshard Brooks – Atlanta, GA
- Daniel Prude – Rochester, NY
- George Floyd – Minneapolis, MN
- Breonna Taylor – Louisville, KY
- Atatiana Jefferson – Miami, FL
- Upcoming events and festivities in honor of Black history include:
- 2/8 – Rep Your Roots (Unity High) – represent your cultural background by wearing anything that represents your background and Pan-African colors of red, black, and green
- 2/11 – One Love (Unity High) – wear pink or red as a symbol of unity
- 2/11 – Black Film – a virtual movie screening in honor of black film and cinematography
- 2/23 – The Movement (Unity High) – live performance by LEAP that features untold stories of young people living in the south during the 1960s
- 2/25 – Black Excellence (Unity High) – dress to impress or dress as a black icon who inspires you
- 2/26 – Unity‘s BHM Celebration – this is a full-school event that will feature readings, poems, videos, discussions, games, and a keynote speech by a special guest.
4. New – A Message from Mr. Coleman and our Athletics Department – Take Part in the Knicks Virtual Webinar Celebrating the Black Experience Career in Sports, Wednesday, February 10th, 4pm: See the flyer below for details. Here is the registration link: https://www.nba.com/knicks/
When registering, select “group member” and Unity. Once you register, the zoom link will be sent on the day of the event. Contact Paul LoFaso of MSG Sports with questions.
5. New – College Information for Students and Families of Unity: See the updates below from our College & Career Readiness Team!
- Important Notes & Semester 2 Key Dates for 12th Grade Students – Please note the following KEY DATES for the remainder of the school year:
- Quarter 3: 2/1/2021 – 3//19/2021 (February 1st – March 19th)
- Quarter 4: 3/22/2021 – 5/28/2021 (March 22nd – May 28th)
If you do not complete your graduation requirements and pass all of your current classes in that time period, you will be programmed for a mandatory credit recovery period in June and/or mandatory summer school. If you have ANY questions about whether or not you are on track to complete your graduation requirements by May 28th, please reach out to Ms. Roth or Mr. Gonzalez ASAP.
- If you have:
- Not completed your college applications
- Not completed your FAFSA and TAP applications
- Have any questions about your graduation status
Please contact Ms. Roth and/or Mr. Gonzalez ASAP. These are time sensitive conversations and must happen immediately.
- Career Fair – A Week-Long Event! – A Unity tradition, our Annual Career Fair, has gone virtual this year. During their lunch breaks (11:45am – 12:30pm) on February 22, 23, 24, and 25th, Unity students will be able to interact with dozens of adult volunteers who work in a variety of industries, including advertising, law, technology, airline travel, fashion, television, finance, business, sports & entertainment, social work, dance, and even farming! Students will be able to sign up for sessions each day beginning next week!
- Unity Students Earn College Credits! – We are so proud when Unity students demonstrate initiative and resilience – two values which are so important in college and throughout life. The following students exhibited these values by earning college credits through our partnership with CUNY City Tech last semester. Despite being in a pandemic, learning remotely, attending to responsibilities at home and their regular high school courses, all of these students completed actual college courses and earned impressive grades! Please join us in congratulating them!
- Daniella W.
- Jaemiah W.
- Jennifer S.
- Keon H.
- Malika S.
- Roshawanna S.
- Samija T.
- Financial Aid – FAFSA and TAP – Parents/Caregivers of the Class of 2021 – please make sure that your children in the senior class complete and submit both their FAFSA and TAP applications before this Sunday, January 31! This can lead to over $11,000 in free money for your child’s college education! If you need help or have questions, please contact Mr. Gonzalez or Ms. Roth as soon as possible.
- College Acceptances (already!!!) – Although it is incredibly early in the college admissions process for schools to accept students, several Unity students have already been accepted to college! So far, seniors have been accepted to: Ithaca College, LeMoyne College, Manhattanville College, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Purchase College, SUNY University at Buffalo (one of the best schools in the nation!!!), SUNY Buffalo State, SUNY Brockport, Temple University (alma mater of three amazing Unity staff members), Drexel University, CUNY John Jay College, CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College, and CUNY Lehman College. Please join us in congratulating them! Stay tuned for more great news in the coming weeks!
6. Recap – A Brief Update on School Programming for the 2020-21 School Year: I am writing today to provide a brief update on our school programming for the 2020-21 school year. Given what we now know and new information gathered over the past month, the continuation of our remote program is the best course of action for our school community. We will extend our remote programming through at least April 12, 2021. As I have said before, we are at our best as a small, tight-knit community when we are operating in person and we are eager to transition back to in-person programming when it is safe to do so. With this interest in mind, we will re-evaluate conditions in early March and provide an update on how we will conclude the school year during the week of March 8th.
7. Recap – Miscellaneous Updates for our High School Families:
- Check out the Unity Prep High School Parent Corner: there are some really cool additions to the parent site this month, including a presentation on supporting your teen’s mental health, a full list of enrichment opportunities, and SUNY virtual experience information. Please remember to check the family site regularly for updates.
- SAT Updates: Many families have been reaching out with questions about the SAT. College Board introduced some very significant changes this week:
- Subject Tests have been eliminated for all U.S. students, effective immediately. They will remain available for all international students through this summer. Beginning in Fall of 2021, they will be eliminated for international students as well.
- The SAT Essay will be phased out after the June 2021 administration. However, it will still be offered for statewide testing when there is a state level contract (e.g., Delaware).
- A digital version of the SAT is coming soon, likely sometime later this year. More details to follow in April. The College Board is looking at ways to “streamline and upgrade” the SAT.
- 11th Grade Academic Counseling:
- Please remind your student to check the 11th grade academic counseling Google Classroom regularly.
- *NEW* Open Office Hours have changed! New Hours: Tuesdays 12PM-12:30PM & Fridays 11:10AM-11:40AM (Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/8406380546) 11th grade students and families are welcome to pop in with quick academic questions and concerns.
- To schedule an individual student or family session with Ms. Eason use this link: https://calendly.com/leason/
8. Recap – Unity’s School Calendar for Families through the End of June 2021: In the spirit of providing you with the information you need to best support your child with school at home, here are our updated middle and high school calendars through June 2021.
- Middle School Calendar for Families through June 2021
- High School Calendar for Families through June 2021
9. Recap – Unity’s Panther Den is Open to Middle and High School Students who Demonstrate PRIDE!: The Panther Den is where students can redeem the Core Value (PRIDE) points that they’ve earned for prizes and gifts of their choice.
- Middle school students can submit their requests for the Panther Den prizes via the following link. Middle school students should reach out to their grade level dean with any questions.
- The High School Den is open to students on Wednesdays from 3:05-3:50pm and can be accessed using this link.
10. Recap – Income Inquiry & Housing Status Form! We are asking for your help by completing the questions on the form below so we can best assist you and your family during this school year. Your participation in completing this form allows Unity to receive grant money from the state and federal government. The information will be kept confidential.
11. Recap – 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.
12. Recap – Unity Middle School has 6th Grade Seats Available!: Unity’s 6th grade still has a few remaining seats available. Please spread the word throughout your respected networks! If you know a family looking for an amazing middle school, please encourage them to apply today, or complete the following form: Unity Prep Interest Form. Key features in our 2020-21 program include:
- Each scholar will receive a laptop
- Engage in classes from the safety of home
- Five days of virtual, live instruction each week
Any questions? Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
13. Recap – Requests for a Laptop and Support with Technology or Internet Access: Unity will provide a laptop to all students who need one. If you still need a Unity laptop OR do not have internet access at home, please complete the following form: https://bit.ly/Unitylaptops. After completing this form, somebody from the school will reach out to you. Our goal is for 100% of students to have access to the technology they need to fully engage in their studies.
Relevant Information from Past Editions of The Scoop:
Unity Caregiver Checklist: Now that we are a full week into the school year, you have likely checked a number of the items below off the list. Again, kudos to you – these are challenging times for families in balancing school from home along with all of the other commitments we are juggling in our lives. To help you in best supporting your child to get off to a strong start this school year, here is a list of important things that you should be doing:
- Secure a functioning laptop and reliable internet service (we can help here – #10 below)
- Arrange your child’s workspace (see #11 below for tips here)
- Obtain school supplies (see #12 below)
- Purchase Unity school attire – parents and families are encouraged to purchase the Unity uniform now, as uniforms will be required whenever we return to in-person instruction. During remote learning, students are encouraged, but not mandated, to wear a school uniform (see #13 below)
- Plan your child’s daily routine and schedule to accommodate their class schedule.
- Attend Unity’s Family Orientation Night on September 24th and/or watch the recording of the event (see #14 above for more information).
Creating the Perfect Workspace for your Child at Home: Virtual learning can be challenging, but with a welcoming, comfortable learning environment, students are more likely to engage fully in their studies without distraction. Here are three simple best practices to turn a corner of your home into a workspace:
- Find a spot that has lighting: whether it’s natural sunlight from a window or light from an overhead lamp, it’s important that your workspace has enough light so that your student won’t need to strain to see.
- Make sure the table and chair are comfortable: working while sitting in a chair at a table increases productivity and focus, but it’s just as crucial that students are comfortable, since they’ll likely be sitting for long periods of time.
- Ensure that the workspace is free of distractions, noise, and clutter: games, toys, phones, laptops – they’re all fun, but they can be distracting to students while they try to learn. Therefore, the workspace should be spacious, quiet, clean, and clear of distractions.
School Supply List for New Students: For remote learning, the supply list may appear different than previous years. Please refer to the two supply lists below:
- Middle School Students: All students are expected to have the following school supplies:
- 5 composition notebooks
- 10+ pencils
- 10+ pens
- Ruler with centimeters (science only)
- Blank white paper
- Colored pencils
- New York City Public Library Card
- High School Students: High school supplies are organized by course and can be found here. Students are expected to have the supplies listed for each of the courses they are taking. In addition, we thank all of the families that picked up their class resource bags. Members of our high school operations team have been contacting students and families who were unable to pick up their bags to coordinate alternative pick up times and will continue to do so this coming week.
Information on Uniforms: Students are not required to wear uniforms during virtual learning. However, uniforms and school attire may be purchased by visiting the following links below.
Recordings of Unity’s Annual Back to School Night: Recording of last night’s Back to School Night can be accessed with the links below. If you were unable to participate in last night’s festivities, we strongly encourage you to watch the recording to be fully abreast of all supporting your child’s education in the 2020-21 school year.
Free Breakfast & Lunch are available for Students – Any student has access to free meals a day at more than 400 Meal Hubs across the city. More details, including a search tool, is available by clicking here.
Helpful Guidance on Obtaining the Perfect Book for Your Child – With the Unity Library closed for the time being, our public libraries in Brooklyn offer a vast majority of their books and resources online. Additionally, many private companies are stepping up and offering their services for free. Check out this helpful guide to gain access to ebooks or audiobooks from the Brooklyn Public Library. In addition, see the list of resources below:
- Do you have dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, or other reading barriers? Access Bookshare’s free online ebooks.
- Are you an English Language Learner (ELL) and interested in practicing your English? Are you looking to learn a new language? Rosetta Stone is being offered free for three months to all students.
- Are you finding it difficult to spend all day looking at a computer screen? Download BeeLine reader for free, which uses color gradients to make reading just a little bit easier.
- Worried that by spending so much time alone your vocabulary is growing more and more limited by the day? Dictionary.com has free daily activities such as puzzles, quizzes, and a word of the day to keep your vocabulary skills sharp.
- Want to practice your reading and thinking skills? Scholastic has a remote learning program where you can play games and participate in activities.
- Try using Newsela, which is an online news-as-literacy platform that features high-interest articles on everything from current events to myths and legends and from literature to science. Follow this link to create an account.
- Audible is offering free audio books for students. Click here to access a huge selection of audiobooks.
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.