The Unity Scoop – March 4
Dear Families of Unity,
I want to begin by applauding our school community on a strong return to school this week following the February break. I am optimistic about the health and safety of our community and our ability to conduct school in ways that mirror our approach pre-pandemic. To this end, I want to provide an update to families regarding our mask requirement policies given the updates from the CDC, New York State, and New York City.
I want to thank you for your thoughtful responses to our survey earlier this week; we reviewed all of the responses and took the needs and preferences of both our families and our staff into consideration in this decision. Unity will take the following actions regarding masks in March:
- Unity will continue to require all community members to wear masks inside of our school building through at least March 31st.
- Beginning Monday, March 7th, Unity community members do not need to wear masks when they are outside (e.g., at recess).
- Unity leadership will review data from the city and schools that remove the mask requirement over the next several weeks, and we will share another update by March 31st.
Our rationale for this decision is anchored in our shared vision from last summer:
- We will continue to offer the best possible educational experience for all of our students – with our mission of student empowerment and student fulfillment being realized.
- For the 2021-22 school year, we shifted to in-person learning for all and doing so with safety and well-being at the forefront of our minds. This also means being adaptive to the needs and interests of our stakeholders based on the best information we have on hand.
- We will continue to lean on our strengths of being responsive, nimble, and collaborative with our families as we experience the 2021-22 school year as one. In Unity, there is strength!
A letter with the full rationale of our decision was sent out via Jupiter this afternoon and can be accessed here. Once again, thank you for your thoughtful responses to our survey earlier this week, and for all of the work that you do every day to support our students during this challenging year.
On a final and separate note, we honor Unity’s social workers as a part of School Social Workers Week this coming week. On behalf of our community, I would like to thank Ms. Del Purgatorio, Ms. Rivera, Ms. Brookins, and Ms. Saunders for your dedication, advocacy, and support of our students, families, and community. We are especially blessed to have your talents and expertise supporting our community. Thank you for being such a tremendous support for all of us.
In this edition of The Unity Scoop, I highlight a number of academic and extracurricular accomplishments among our students. Moreover, I bring to you a number of upcoming events, including information on middle school conferences.
Enjoy the spring-is-almost-here weather this weekend!
Head of School / Co-founder
Updates as of March 4, 2022:
1. New – Students and Teachers in Action this Week: This week, we spotlight our young middle school mathematicians deep in thought. Below are a few photos from our middle school test-prep tutoring, which takes place after school Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students are in small groups with their teachers getting more hands-on, individualized support. Teachers are focusing on clarifying misconceptions and giving students more “at-bats” on the content they have not mastered, yet!
2. Updated – March 2022 Schoolwide Calendar: For your family’s convenience, here is a schoolwide calendar of events for the month of March – print it out and throw it on the refrigerator door! It is possible that events could change and/or new events could be added. An up-to-date events calendar can always be accessed on our website. Notable events this coming week include:
- National School Social Worker Appreciation Week, 3/7-3/11
- Virtual middle school conferences on 3/17 and 3/18
- High School Regents/Mock exams on 3/22-3/24
- High School Career Fair on 3/25
- Star reading and math assessments for all high school students
- Various athletic events
3. New – Congrats to our Middle School’s Students of the Month in February!: Kudos to our Students of Month for showing exemplary scholarship, citizenship, and growth – we are proud of you!
Citizenship: Steven Trivedi
Scholarship: Anaya Wilson
Scholarship: Sasha Elysee
Citizenship: Abilene Brown
Most Improved: Amiyah Parker
Scholarship: Adriana Pollard
Citizenship: Kester Floyd
Most Improved: Mekaliah Doyley, Erick Llivicura, Saniyah Habersham, Bryan Santo
4. New – Middle School Trimester-2 Conferences, March 17-18th: We have our second round of family conferences upcoming on Thursday, 3/17 (evening hours, 5pm-8pm) and Friday, 3/18 (day time hours, 9am-1pm). Advisors will be reaching out to families on Monday of this coming week to begin scheduling conferences. Please be on the lookout for a Jupiter message with a link to appointment options. Our goal is that all students have at least one adult family representative attending conferences. If you have any questions or need additional support, please reach out to Ms. Charles (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call Unity’s main office (718-455-5046).
5. New – Recent Happenings with Athletics, Physical Education, and Health at Unity: This week, we highlight two upcoming events, celebrate our Student-Athletes of the Month, and offer details on an upcoming health initiative at our high school.
- Spring Athletics Tryouts for all middle school teams will take place on Tuesday, March 8th and Thursday March 10th. This spring, Mr. Coleman is excited to offer the following sports: Girls Middle School Volleyball, Boys Middle School Basketball, Coed Middle School Baseball and Coed Middle School Track. Permission slips are located in the main office (room 311). Once signed, forms may be returned to the main office.
- The Unity Queen High School Steppers’ next competition is scheduled for Saturday, March 12th, at 2 pm. Details are provided on the flyer below.
- Unity’s Student-Athletes of the Month for February! Congrats to Sariah W. (6th grade) and Maykayla S. (9th grade) – we are proud of you!
- Sariah boasts a 3.5 GPA, and is widely regarded as one of the kindest and most respectful students in school. Sariah recently was named the Most Valuable Player of the Pink Classic Basketball Tournament, as she led her team to win the championship. As a 6th grader, she was named one of the team captains for her leadership style and work ethic. Sariah is consistently positive and upbeat in her classrooms as well as on the basketball court.
- Makayla is the epitome of a Unity scholar-athlete. Makayla currently maintains a 4.0 GPA, and is widely regarded as one of the kindest and most respectful students in school. She shows up to school everyday with a smile and positive attitude. She brings so much joy to all her peers and teachers. On the court, Makayla is one of our most well-rounded competitors. She has been appropriately given the nickname of “Mighty Mouse” for her fierce and aggressive style of play. Makayla was one of our top defenders and despite only being a freshman, she was a huge reason for our Unity Panthers’ successful season.
- Unity High’s Health Initiative regarding social media and digital communication as a tool for positivity begins this Monday. See Mr. Martinez’s flyer below for details.
6. New – Attention All High School Students: Information on Two Exciting Events from Mr. Gonzalez: See the updates below from our College & Career Readiness Team!
- Our Sixth Annual Career Fair is on Friday March 25th, from 12:00pm to 2:05pm (details provided in the flyer below). We would love to have family members of our students participating as presenters. If you are able to take part, please complete this survey of interest. Thank you!
- Upcoming College Field Trips: On Thursday, March 31st, select students from grades 9, 10, and 11 will visit one of the following universities: Lehigh University or Villanova University. Each trip is capped at 45 students. Permission slips will be distributed to students on Monday, March 7th. The first 45 to submit their paperwork for either trip will be able to attend. Information on chaperones will be forthcoming.
7. 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.
- 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
8. Updated – Upcoming Events of Interest to Unity Families!: Brought to you by Mr. Beckford, we are happy to highlight a number of fun upcoming events across Brooklyn for our families. Here is one happening this coming Sunday!
- Illuminating Lewis Latimer’s Brooklyn History: A Conversation on Latimer’s Life + Work in 19th Century Brooklyn [Virtual] Sunday 3/6, 2pm: Join Beam Center to celebrate public art sculpture BEACON and pay tribute to pioneer electrical engineer and Brooklyn resident, Lewis Howard Latimer. BEACON artist, Shervone Neckles; Brooklyn historian and scholar, Prathibha Kanakamedala; Lewis Latimer House Museum Director, Ran Yan; and Beam Center Director, Brian Cohen together explore Latimer’s life, work, and activism in Brooklyn during the turn of the 19th century.
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
|First day of school for students
|Indigenous People’s Day, school closed
|Election day, remote school day
|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 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, school closed
|February 21 – 25
|Monday – Friday
|Midwinter Recess, school closed
|April 15 – 22
|Spring Recess, school closed
|Memorial Day, school closed
|Juneteenth (observed), school closed
|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 (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.
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.