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The Unity Scoop – January 8

Dear Families of Unity,

I hope that the December holiday and New Year were especially good to you and your loved ones.

As we conclude our first week back to school, I admit that I write this note today with strongly mixed feelings.  On the one hand, it feels great to be back in school alongside our dedicated staff in support of your child’s education.  I am excited to enter the new year of 2021 and the freshness of it after such a tumultuous 2020.

On the other hand, I am dismayed by what took place on Wednesday at the Capitol, in which our country’s leadership bears much of the responsibility.  I am especially disheartened by the racial double standard that was on display as I juxtapose the images of the tepid response of law enforcement to Wednesday’s insurrection with the brutal response to peaceful protest outside the White House this past summer.  This was yet another piercing example of institutional racism that continues to plague our country.  Rooting out it is the all-important work that we, as a society, must commit to in 2021 and beyond.  As a school, Unity is fully committed to this cause.

In this edition of the Scoop, I offer two new announcements, including a new edition of our middle school literary magazine and an update on intramural athletics at Unity.  I also feature a number of announcements that are still relevant to our programming and may be helpful to you as resources.

I wish you a safe and restful weekend.


Warm wishes,

Josh Beauregard
Head of School / Co-founder

Updates as of January 8, 2020:

1. New – 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!

2. New – Calling for Submissions to the Coming Unity Lit Mag!: We are so excited to announce our fourth theme for Lit Mag: “A New Fresh Beginning.”  A HUGE shoutout to Ms. McPherson and Mr. Teixeira who have submitted on behalf of staff, and a shout-out to Ms. Stagliano who sent along some 7th grade poems that were beautiful!  We are now encouraging new submissions for our fourth edition from our school community!

  • Submit your own work (art, poems, narratives, essays, articles, listicles etc.)
  • Submit essays or schoolwork that students have completed that relates in any way to new, fresh, or beginnings.
  • Encourage students to send along their work or artwork.

Submissions are due to unitylitmag@gmail.com by Friday, January 15th.  You can also send submissions to Ms. Driscoll at mdriscoll@unityprep.org or Queen Jade at jadespringfield@unityprep.org.

3. New – Opt-in, In-Person, Intramural Winter Athletics to Launch at Unity on January 19th: High school intramurals will 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.  For those students who are interested in participating, a Jupiter message with directions on how to register your child will be sent out this coming Monday, January 11th.  Please contact Mr. Noblia (pnoblia@unityprep.org) with questions about high school intramurals.  If you have any questions about middle school Intramurals, contact Mr. Coleman (acoleman@unityprep.org).

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Recap – College Information for Students and Families of Unity High:

  • PSAT and SAT Updates: The College Board has not yet clarified testing options for students, but we want to enable students in different grade levels to take either the SAT or PSAT this fall or winter.
    • 11th Graders: We are assessing the possibility of administering the PSAT to juniors in January.  More information will be provided as we get closer to the testing dates.  Please note that in addition to the PSAT, 11th graders should strongly consider taking the SAT twice this spring (in March and either April or May).  More information will be provided later in the school year.  Until then, students may join Khan Academy to prepare for the PSAT in the event that it is offered in January.

8. 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.

9. Recap – Mental Health Counseling and Social Work Services at UnityIf 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 (tdelpurgatorio@unityprep.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.us/en/.

10. 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 cbeckford@unityprep.org

11. Recap – A Website Resource High School Caregivers: The Unity Prep High School Parent Corner is here to assist you with the tools and resources necessary to make your role as a Panther Parent easier. At UPHS, we see you as our partner in education and understand the crucial role you play in the lives of our students. There is no doubt you will have questions and concerns as your student journeys through high school; this page will help to serve as a resource to support you.

Please review the information provided on this page – from calendars to quick navigation to helpful webpages, ways to stay connected, and of course, a place to call or email when you need it. The site is updated weekly, so bookmark it and check it frequently for new information.

12. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 today.  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.

Unity’s School Calendar through December 31st: In the spirit of providing you with the information you need to best support your child with school at home, here are our middle and high school calendars through December 31, 2020.

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.0

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