The Unity Scoop – January 23
Dear Families of Unity,
I hope that the past week and its events, most notably Wednesday’s inauguration, has offered a sense of calmness and hope. What we have experienced together over the past year has been truly astounding. I am proud of our community, both in our support of one another and in our active contributions in making society a better place. Together, we have provided care for our community’s health and safety throughout the pandemic, taken forward steps to advance racial equity, and encouraged voter participation and engagement in our election process.
This week’s inauguration ceremony was historic on a number of levels. Our staff and faculty were honored to share in the moment alongside our students and one another. Below is a screenshot of the watch party with our middle school community. Again, there is much to be proud of and hopeful for as we move fully into the new year.
In this edition of The Unity Scoop, I offer a number of new high school announcements, including details on next week’s end-of quarter exams at the high school.
I end my introductory note today with the final six lines of Amanda Gorman’s powerful poem, which she recited magnificently during Wednesday’s inauguration:
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it
Head of School / Co-founder
Updates as of January 23, 2020:
1. New – High School End-of Quarter Exams Happening Next Week: From 1/25-1/29, high schoolers will have end-of-quarter exams (Interim Assessments 2). Students have been studying hard for their first remote exams, and exam schedules were sent to students via email yesterday. Thank you in advance for supporting your student in getting a good night’s sleep and signing in on time. Here are reminders that were shared with students at Community Meetings:
- CHECK YOUR UNITY EMAIL
- Use the Zoom links that were emailed to you
- DO NOT USE your regular class zoom link
- Check your Unity email before Monday morning in case there are updates
- BE ON TIME
- Exams are timed and will start promptly
- If you are more than 30 minutes late, you will not be able to take your test
- If you miss an exam, you will make-up the exam on Friday.
- TAKE STAR EXAMS SERIOUSLY
- The ELA and Math Star exams are very important! They measure your skill growth over time.
- They will also count for class credit. Do your best!
- IF YOU NEED EXTRA HELP OR HAVE QUESTIONS…
- Email email@example.com
2. New – College Information for Students and Families of Unity High: See the updates below from our College & Career Readiness Team!
- Class of 2021 – Keep pushing! – As of Thursday, January 21st, 68% of our senior class has submitted college applications! We are so proud of them! For those who are still working on applications, please make sure to contact Mr. Gonzalez and Ms. Roth as soon as possible so you can submit your applications before the deadline!
- 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!
- Financial Aid – FAFSA + 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 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.
3. New – 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 our 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. Special Shout-out to Samija T. for checking this week’s updates and registering for the January 22nd SUNY FInancial Aid session, as well as the HBCU Virtual Experience.
- *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/
4. New – Kudos to our High School Students who have Shown Strong or Improved Impressive Daily Attendance! Congratulations to our high school students who have exhibited one our three B’s in BEING READY for class consistently during the week of January 11th. We celebrate our students who had class attendance of 96% or higher and those who showed improvements of 25% or higher over the past week.
5. New – A Spotlight on What Students are Doing in our High School Dance Course: Dancers at the High School are using yoga as a part of our current unit of study on Healthy Dance Habits. Over the course of the unit, students are learning about the body, flexibility, and injury prevention. Dancers are also setting their goals for this unit by creating virtual vision boards for self-motivation and self-accountability (see the student samples below). As students prepare for their end-of-quarter exams, students are learning more about prana breathing techniques and how yoga can help them relax and focus their attention.
6. Recap – Issue No. 3 of the Unity Review is Available for your Reading Pleasure! I am excited to share with you the third issue of the Unity Review literary magazine. The Unity Review team has been working incredibly hard to bring to you their third issue. Along the way, they continue to develop new skills as young writers and artists. Here is a quick note from two members of Unity Review’s editing team, Tatyana and Jade: For this issue, we chose to base this edition of Unity Lit Mag on Winter Wonderland because of the holidays, because it was Christmas, and because we love the snow! We had to postpone our issue because of winter break, but this way, the holiday season can live on a little bit longer!
7. Recap – Opt-in, In-Person, Intramural Winter Athletics Launched at Unity on January 19th: High school intramurals began earlier this week and will continue to take place on Monday through Friday afternoons. Middle school intramurals will take place on Saturdays only. All programming will take place in the gymnasium of Unity’s high school facility at 584 Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg. Please contact Mr. Noblia (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions about high school intramurals. If you have any questions about middle school Intramurals, contact Mr. Coleman (email@example.com).
8. Recap – A Brief Update on School Programming for the 2020-21 School Year: As promised just over a month ago, I am writing today to provide a brief update on our school programming for the 2020-21 school year. At this time, given what we know and what new information we have gathered over the past month, there is no change to our existing plan. We will continue with our remote programming through at least February 28, 2021. Expect a new update during the week by January 29, 2021. We are still living in very uncertain times, but we hope to have additional information about the state of health and safety in New York by the end of January, to best inform our plans moving forward.
As I mentioned in my last note in November, we are at our best as a school when we are working fully in-person alongside one another, and alongside our students. My hope is that we experience this again as soon as possible. The safety and health of our entire community will drive this decision.
9. 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
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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 (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.
13. 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 email@example.com
14. 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.
For additional tips on making an ideal, remote workspace for your child, check out this guide and these suggestions.
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.
- Flynn O’Hara for middle school students or high school
- Unityprepuniforms.com for high school only
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.