The Unity Scoop – May 27
Dear Families of Unity,
I hope this note finds you and your family safe, healthy, and gearing up to spend quality time together over the long holiday weekend.
I admit that I am at a loss for words as I write to you today. In last week’s Scoop, I expressed my deep sadness and concern over the tragedy that occurred in Buffalo. And this week, we find ourselves reeling from another mass killing in Uvalde, Texas, in which 18 innocent children and two teachers were killed by an 18-year old gunman while going about their day in school. As a community member, educator, and parent of two young children, I cannot imagine what the Uvalde and Robb Elementary School communities are going through, and the extreme grief that the families of the victims are experiencing. I know that I state the obvious when I write that these horrific acts cannot be allowed to happen. And yet, they continue to happen with a suffocating frequency.
Over the past several days, prominent figures across the country have expressed their sadness, frustration, and called for action to prevent such atrocities from happening in our society. While the emotional toll of the gun violence we are experiencing is both overwhelming and exhausting, I believe that we must prioritize two things. First, we must continue to care for one another during these challenging times. Second, we must take actions that effectively end gun violence in our country.
I commend our team at Unity for making space to discuss the recent atrocities with students both in and outside of class. Specifically, I want to thank our social work team for facilitating a circle today with our middle school community to share feelings and show care and support for another. I imagine similar discussions are happening in your homes with family members over the past several days. I encourage families to make time and space for honest and open discussions if you have not already done so. I offer this resource as a guide to having conversations with your children and loved ones.
In taking action to end gun violence, I want to commend our 8th graders for engaging in a walkout and march yesterday in protest of gun violence in schools (see the photos below). Unity’s mission centers on the empowerment of our students to lead fulfilling lives. Yesterday’s walkout and march reflects our mission, and I am proud of our students for doing their part to create positive change. With this interest at the forefront of our minds, we, as a school community, will continue to engage in actions that correct the deep flaws and injustices of our society – this includes but is not limited to gun violence. As I have stated many times before, particularly in moments of adversity – in Unity, there is strength – and we are committed to putting our collective strength to good use.
Head of School / Co-founder
Updates as of May 27, 2022:
1. New – June 2022 School-wide Calendar: For your family’s convenience, here is a schoolwide calendar of events for the month of June – print it out and throw it on the refrigerator door! It is possible that events could change and new events could be added. An up-to-date events calendar can always be accessed on our website. Notable upcoming events include:
- 5/31-6/2: Spring Star Exams in reading and math
- 6/1: Roundtable project selection for students in grades 6-8
- 6/1: Senior credit recovery sessions begin for select seniors
2. New – Unity Middle School Students Learn about Career Paths During Recent Fair!: Our students in grades 6-8 gained some exposure to potential career paths this past week during the middle school’s first-ever career fair. During the event, students interacted with a host of professionals working in real estate, engineering, fashion design, music, consulting, software development, law, and more. Thank you to Ms. Gillies and Ms. Nadel for organizing the event. In addition, thank you to the family members and the friends of our faculty and school community who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with our students to get them excited about potential career opportunities!
3. New – Upcoming Events of Interest to Unity Families!: Brought to you by Mr. Beckford, we are happy to highlight upcoming events across Brooklyn for our families. Here are two!
- Free BAM DanceAfrica Outdoor Bazaar, Saturday, May 28th, 12-10pm: The nation’s largest festival of African and African American dance, music, and culture is back with this beloved annual event. DanceAfrica’s global marketplace of Black arts and crafts will take place on the Plaza, Lafayette Avenue, and Ashland Place (the plaza at 300 Ashland Place). No registrations required.
- Brooklyn Poetry Slam (free), Saturday, May 28th, 6-8pm (The Plaza at 300 Ashland – Corner of Lafayette and Flatbush): The Brooklyn Poetry Slam is celebrating five years at BRIC! In addition to the Slams, poets and co-founders Mahogany L. Browne and DJ Jive Poetic are excited to present a series of writing workshops as well as a new podcast through BRIC Radio. Join this vibrant community and hear, speak, and write poetry.
- Hands On With Magical Miniature Horses, June 5-6th (Bell Point Drive Brooklyn, NY, 11234): Visit our peaceful, natural, and unique farm setting! Spend time meeting our menagerie of critters as you make your way through the farm to our baby goats! Put life on pause as you enjoy an hour and a half of tranquility in a secluded area on our farm while cuddling cute baby goats! Tickets may be purchased here.
4. Recap – Students and Teachers in Action this Week: We are thrilled to continue celebrating the hard work of our students as they engage in their learning each and every day. This week, we return to spotlighting our middle school scientists-in-training. Ms. Diaz, our middle school Science Chairperson, would first like to shout out our STEM club scientists for all that they have learned this year, including their study of virtual reality, data science, accessibility and inclusion, user experience design, visual design and copywriting, and coding. Enjoy the photos below of club members presenting prototypes they built while celebrating their experiences with STEM this year.
In addition, Ms. Diaz would also love to shout out to our 8th grade scientists-in-training who completed the mock written exam and mock performance exam in science last week. In the photo below, students are practicing their newly acquired scientist skills in preparation for the performance component of their upcoming state science exam.
Finally, Ms. Diaz would like to spotlight our 6th grade students on their recent field trip to the New York Aquarium. Enjoy the photo below as students and staff get together for a group photo at the tail end of the trip. Indeed, “there is so much to sea.”
5. Recap – Student Artwork Exhibited at Local Art Gallery!: Earlier this month, students, staff, family members, and community members participated in our High School Art Exhibit at the Living Gallery on Broadway. The affair featured artwork and essays created by Ms. Glickman’s art students this year. A highlight of the evening was having our student artists provide guided tours of the works and offer their thoughts and inspirations for their works. Congrats and thank you to Ms. Glickman and her students for bringing this glorious event to our community!
6. Recap – Weekly Basketball and Networking with the Class of 2020: Over the past few months, members of the Unity’s Founding Class of 2020 have been reconnecting with one another, their past teachers, and with various professionals and mentors over weekly pick-up basketball games. In many cases and prior to organizing the weekly games, participating alumni hadn’t connected in-person with one another since March of 2020. Being able to be together, support one another, and have some fun on the court has been a highlight for all those involved!
7. Recap – Summer Enrichment to Return with New Offerings Starting July 11th!: Last summer, Unity scholars toured NYC, cooked new cuisines, participated in intramural sports, and much more. Summer Enrichment sign up information will be available June 1st. Please reach out to Ms. Olivier if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the photo below of members of last summer’s rock climbing club as they take in views of the NYC skyline after a morning of climbing!
8. Recap – Updates from Mr. Gonzalez and Unity High’s College & Career Readiness Team: This time of year is typically marked by excitement – college admissions and career-training programs usually notify students in the spring and families then get to make some big decisions. Each week for the past few months, our students have received wonderful news about their college and career aspirations – they have been admitted to incredible schools and programs. Please join us in celebrating the impressive resilience and strength of our young people. It is truly inspirational. Here are few other updates from Mr. Gonzalez:
- College Application and Admissions Updates: As of April, members of our senior class have been admitted to the following colleges and universities with scholarships totalling over $400,000: CUNY Brooklyn College, CUNY Hunter College, CUNY Hostos Community College, CUNY Kingsborough Community College, CUNY Guttman Community College, CUNY LaGuardia Community College, CUNY College of Staten Island, CUNY John Jay College, CUNY City Tech, CUNY Queensborough Community College, CUNY Medgar Evers College, George Washington University, Skidmore College, SUNY Albany, SUNY Buffalo State College, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Purchase, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY University at Buffalo, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY New Paltz, Clark University, Dickinson College, Penn State University, St. Francis College, Spelman College, Marist College, Hampton University, Howard University, Hofstra University, Ithaca College, Long Island University, Temple University, Vassar College, and Quinnipiac University.
- Unity High Celebrates College Signing Day in Style: On Friday, April 29th, Unity celebrated “College Signing Day”. This tradition began by former First Lady Michelle Obama; it provides high schools the opportunity to honor seniors as they declare their postgraduate plans. In our ceremony – which was the first time Unity has been able to hold this event because of the pandemic – the entire school community and families of our seniors, gathered in our gym. Our culinary club cooked breakfast for seniors and their families. As you can tell from the photos, the space was filled with excitement and pride. Seniors each gave thanks to family members and staff who helped on their journey. As each senior announced where she/he would attend college, the entire gym erupted in applause. It was a beautiful event!
- Co-op Tech Applications: NYC’s premier career-training program, Co-op Tech, has begin accepting applications for students who are interested in entering the building trades (carpenters, plumbers, HVAC, etc.), service industries (automotive repair, culinary arts, and cosmetology), IT (web design, computer networking, and advertising), and health careers (medical health careers, nurse assistants, and vision technology). In addition to having top-notch programs, Co-op Tech is free! Students who are interested in applying to Co-op Tech should make an appointment with Mr. Gonzalez immediately using this link.
- Brooklyn District Attorney Summer Internship – Apply Now: A Unity family member recently brought this opportunity to our attention. Here is the blurb: The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office offers high school, college, and legal internships throughout the year. These highly competitive internships offer students a unique opportunity to be part of a district attorney’s office. An intern’s duties may include assisting in investigations, attending trials, preparing and compiling documents and financial data, conducting and analyzing legal research, and supporting community outreach programs.
- Attention all Seniors: College Financial Aid Comparison Sheet: By now, you should have received financial aid packages from all the colleges that have accepted you. If you have not received aid packages yet, please see me immediately! You have approximately two-three weeks to decide the college in which you will enroll. To help you make this decision, please use this Financial Aid Comparison Tool. Follow these instructions to use the tool, take the following three steps:
- Make a copy (“File -> Make a Copy”)
- Enter information for each financial aid package into the “Net Cost” sheet.
- Make an appointment with Mr. Gonzalez using this link.
9. Recap – 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.
- DOE’s Beyond Access Series Presents Self-Regulation Techniques: This workshop will provide parents, caregivers and students strategies for reducing stress and improving the ability to self-regulate, with simple routines and activities that reduce anxiety and reactivity and promote calm and happy students and families. Spanish and Mandarin interpretation available. Learn more and register here.
- DOE’s Beyond Access Series Presents How to Access Supports for Students with Behavioral Challenges: This workshop covers the educational rights of students who face behavioral challenges in school, including different kinds of behavioral supports and interventions , along with the opportunity to share advocacy tips. Learn more and register here.
- The Child Mind Institute offers great (free & remote) caregiver workshops on a seasonal basis! Take a moment to visit their site and appreciate their offerings.
- 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:
10. Recap – Essay Contest in Celebration of Juneteenth – Open to Students in Grades 6-8!: The Black in Physics organization (https://www.blackinphysics.
11. Recap – Take Part in our Career Fair for Unity Middle School Students, Wednesday, May 25th, 11am-1pm!: We are excited for our middle school students to be inspired by the many career paths available to them in the not-so-distant future! We would love to have family members of our students participating as presenters (see the flier below). Interested in learning more and potentially taking part? Contact Ms. Gillies (email@example.com).
12. Recap – Helping Your Child to Continue their Learning This Summer: Ms. Eason, Academic Counselor, offers a presentation – Avoiding Summer Slide – that offers valuable links to paid internships, volunteer opportunities and other things your child can do over the summer to promote critical thinking and learning during the months of July and August. Click on the image below to see her presentation slides. Feel free to reach out to her with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. Recap – Full Calendar for the Remainder of the 2022-23 School Year: Here is a schoolwide calendar for March through June. As with the March calendar above, print it out and throw it on the refrigerator door! An up-to-date events calendar can always be accessed on our website. We are now working on our calendar for the 2022-23 school year and plan to share it in late April.
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
|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|
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.
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.