Thursday, September 27, 2007

Updates and Reminders

We would like to thank everyone who came out last week for the Open School Night – there was a wonderful turnout, which demonstrated that parents and teachers are committed to starting the school year in full cooperation. We want to remind you of some upcoming events:

Monday, October 1, 6:30 pm - PTA Executive Board Meeting (All are welcome to observe, but only board members can speak)

Monday, October 15, 6:30 pm - PTA Meeting (The agenda will be sent home soon, but please mark your calendars for this important meeting.)
Thursday, October 18 – All Day – Picture Day:

Irvin Simon Photographers will be here again all day for our annual school picture event. Please fill out the attached form and indicate the following: picture package and background. If you have a child in the 5th and 8th grades, do not select a background for them, as they will be taking their pictures in graduation caps and gowns and the background for that will be a pastel color. You MUST PRE-PAY in order to take a picture – methods of payments accepted are cash, check or money order. You can turn in the envelopes up till the 18th when the photographers are here. As per usual, there will be a make-up date for the students who were absent or not happy with the quality of their pictures (note, class pictures cannot be redone). School pictures are one a PTA’s biggest fundraisers, so we need everyone to participate.

Finally, during the Open School Night, a PTA Membership Form was given out. Please fill that out, if you haven’t already done so, and return it to the PTA mailbox in the main office. There will be more forms available at the PTA meeting on the 15th.

Please, stop and smell the roses!

First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying to marry and have children. And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough so I could return to work. And then I was dying to retire. And now, I am dying…And suddenly realize I forgot to live.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Guide for NYC Public School Families Available this Week

From the NYC Department of Education Media Relations:

Press Release Chancellor Klein Releases 2007-08 Guide for NYC Public School Families

Guide Available In Nine Languages Sent to Schools, Homes This Week

Chancellor Joel I. Klein released the “NYC Family Guide: 2007-2008” today. The guide contains useful information for families about the City’s Children First school reforms, what students are learning, and the kinds of services that are available to the City’s public school students. It also provides information about how families can get involved in their children’s education—and how they can find answers, help, and support. The guide is available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu, as well as English.

The guide contains:

Information on new tools like Progress Reports; Parent, Teacher, and Student Surveys; Quality Reviews; and Periodic Assessments. Information about what students are learning in math, English, science, social studies, world languages, and arts, as well as the programs available to special education students and English Language Learners. Information about the annual tests New York City students take in elementary school through high school. Information about types of schools, programs, and special services available to students—from early childhood education to transfer schools and young adult borough centers—and how families can learn more about enrollment options.
Information on parents’ rights and responsibilities.
Information about how families can get involved at the school level in parent associations and parent-teacher associations, or at the district or citywide level.
Suggested questions for parent-teacher conferences.
Information about school safety, health, and sports.
Directory of contact information so parents can get help or find answers to questions.

“This year, we invite you to renew your commitment to your children’s education,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein wrote to parents in the guide’s introductory letter. “‘Commitment’ doesn’t mean you need to be an expert in what your kids are learning. It means you should be there for them. Support them. Guide them. Ask them to show you what they’re learning in school—and check in with their teachers regularly to find out how they’re doing and where they need extra help.”

“This guide provides families with important information that I hope they will use throughout the year,” Chief Family Engagement Officer Martine Guerrier said. “Working together with families, I’m confident this will be an exciting and productive year.”

Schools received shipments of guides starting yesterday. They will be sending guides home with students this week. The DOE will also send guides to community groups and public officials. The guides are available online at

What do you fight for?

It was 50 years ago this date that 9 young people from various parts of Little Rock, Arkansas stepped into the pages of history. Thelma Mothershed, Elizabeth Eckford, Melba Pattillo, Jefferson Thomas, Ernest Green, Minniejean Brown, Carlotta Walls, Terrence Roberts and Gloria Ray, or the Little Rock Nine, as they were called, spotlighted the fact that something as basic as starting the first day of school was not the same for everyone in this country.

Faced with angry mobs, a contentious and defiant governor, the Little Rock Nine, persevered until they were able to attend Central High. With all that those brave souls faced, how are you continuing their legacy? Do you thank them and all those pioneers in the past for your ability to go anywhere you want, anytime you want? When there are obstacles in your path, do you jump over those hurdles or just sit down and watch as others pass around you? Please take the time to reflect the meaning of this day and what legacy you would like to leave behind.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Now let's get to work!

There was a wonderful turn-out yesterday for Open School Night. Parents and teachers had an opportunity to meet and greet each other. The evening started on time, at 6 pm, with a welcome from Mrs. Barrett introducing the teachers - a fresh-faced and eager group of newcomers to complement the outstanding and experienced veterans already at PS 161! Ms. Arthur, our Parent Coordinator, prepared a handout consisting of a code of conduct for students and parents, as well as procedural school information - please read this carefully with your child. There was also a handout from the PTA, a guidebook of general information useful to parents. Additionally, the PTA handout included a PTA Membership Registration form. Please fill this out and have your child return it to school - this is a vital tool in reaching parents to share important and useful information.

Looking ahead, the PTA Executive Board meeting will be held on Monday, October 1, 2007 6:30 pm. All are invited, only board members can speak. The general PTA meeting will be on Monday, October 15, 2007 6:30 pm. This meeting will include a full agenda, so please mark your calendars. Also, Picture Day is coming soon, Thursday, October 18th will be picture day at school. More details to follow.

Now that parents and teachers have met, and expectations have been defined, its time for our students to get to work.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Is there anything worse than being blind? Yes, a man with sight and no vision.

The above quote by Helen Keller is rather timely as we approach our first Open School Night. Tuesday, September 18th at 6 pm, please join the teachers, administration and parent leaders in the auditorium as they welcome you to an exciting new school year. This is an opportunity to meet your child's teachers, other parents, and gain a sense of the goals set forth for the academic year by all parties with a vested interest in your child's future.

We have come up with a slogan or motto if you will for our PTA: PS 161 PTA – Shaping a Generation of Leaders. This literally means that whatever we do impacts our children's lives. So as people who want a generation of leaders, we must have a vision and a plan. We must inspire our children to be the future leaders they are all destined to be!

The agenda for the meeting part of the evening will be very brief. Introductions will be made of the parent leader groups after a general welcome from Principal Barrett and PTA president, Tricia Mecklembourg. Afterwards, everyone will head to the classrooms for a meet and greet of the teachers. See you next Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Whether its China, Burundi, or the U.S., it's a rite of passage for all children - BACK TO SCHOOL time. We want to welcome our PS 161 family - returning and new members. We hope that you had a restful summer because we are back and it's going to take a lot of hard work from everyone - students, parents, teachers and administration - to ensure a successful school year.

On behalf of the PTA, we welcome you and hope to see you at the first PTA meeting of the school year on Tuesday, September 18th at 6:30 pm.