Friday, September 05, 2008

District Wide Events

Citywide High School Fair

High school fair for all 8th graders and their parents. School representatives from all five boroughs will be present. Workshops by Department of Education enrollment officials.

Start Date: 2008-09-20
End Date: 2008-09-21
Event Time: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Event Location: Brooklyn Tech High School 29 Fort Greene Place (by subway: 2,3,4,5 to Atlantic Ave.; Q or R to DeKalb; C to Lafayette;G to Fulton
Event Contact: Office of Student Enrollment, 212-374-2363 or the parent coordinator at your school

UFT Parent Outreach Committee

Where: 335 Adams Street 24th floor
When: Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
Time: 4:30pm– food /5:00pm- meeting
children are always welcome!
Please RSVP to: Betty Zohar 718.722.6936 (Office); 917.796.8950 (Cell)
Directions: 2-3-4-5 Borough Hall, A-C-F Jay Street R-M Lawrance Street

September 2008 Calendar

The September calendar was distributed this week, and the following are the highlights:

Tuesday, September 8: PTA, PAC and School Open House, 6:00 pm

Thursday, September 11: E.L.L. Parent Meeting, 9:00 am

Tuesday, September 16: Grade 1 Spelling Bee, 9:30 am

Wednesday, September 17: Grade 2 Spelling Bee, 9:30 am

Thursday, September 18: Grade 3 Spelling Bee, 9:30 am

Friday, September 19: Grade 4 Spelling Bee, 9:30 am

Tuesday, September 23: Grade 5 Spelling Bee, 9:30 am

Wednesday, September 24: Grade 6 Spelling Bee, 9:30 am

Thursday, September 25: Grade 7 Spelling Bee, 9:30 am

Friday, September 26: Grade 8 Spelling Bee, 9:30 am

Tuesday, September 30: Rosh Hashanah - NO SCHOOL

Welcome back!

welcome back, your dreams are your ticket out.....

Well, if you know the rest of that song you're old!

On behalf of the PTA, we would like to welcome you to a new school year. The 2008-2009 academic year holds much promise for us - we hope you all had a restful summer, because it’s going to take a lot of hard work from EVERYONE to ensure that we have a successful school year. A strong partnership among all the adults – Parents & Guardians, Teachers and Administration - can have a lasting impression on our children’s lives. Let’s get off to a great start!

Please join us for the first PTA meeting of the school year, on Monday, September 8th at 6:00 pm!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

we're all feeling the pinch....

It is pretty much old news that all segments of the US population are feeling economic hardships. Well parents, as we go out and buy school supplies for the upcoming school year, please take this article into consideration. Teachers have usually been reimbursed for school supplies that they purchase for their classes, not this year, that budget has been slashed by 42%. So if you can, pick up an extra box of pencils, or hand sanitizer, or a ream of computer paper, or.......

Class in recess-ion: Teachers will need to shell out more for school supplies


Wednesday, August 13th 2008, 3:44 PM

It's a harsh math lesson for city teachers.

They will need to dig deeper into their own pockets this year to pay for necessary classroom supplies, according to an e-mail sent to educators and obtained by the Daily News.

A program that reimburses teachers for supplies and other materials was quietly slashed by 42% in this year's budget.

Teachers can now be reimbursed only $150 for what they spend on supplies like crayons and construction paper - down from $260 last year.

"It makes things a little more difficult. It's like another way of saying, 'We don't appreciate what you do,'said Charlie Flisser, a teacher at Public School 112 in the Bronx.

"To cut it back to save a couple bucks - it's disheartening."

During this year's difficult budget negotiations, the 20-year program, paid for by a City Council appropriation, was put on the chopping block.

United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said funding for the $20 million program was initially cut altogether, but was restored to about $13 million.

"We tried to keep as much of Teacher's Choice as possible," she said. "At the end of the day, keeping the staffing intact became the priority."

Under Teacher's Choice, educators submit receipts for materials and get a reimbursement check in December. Flisser and other teachers said the refunds are only a fraction of what they actually spend for their classrooms, but the money does help.

A 2004 City Council survey found that teachers spend an average of $400 a year on supplies, and educators suspect that figure is far higher now.

"This is money out of pocket," said Jonathan Halabi, a teacher and UFT chapter leader at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College in the Bronx. "People are going to be pretty annoyed."

Crown School - City's Best?

Acknowledging what we at PS 161 have know for years, Clara Hemphill's "New York City's Best Public Middle Schools: A Parent's Guide" confirmed that PS 161/Crown School is one of the best schools in New York City!!!. The full list is printed below:


New Explorations Into Science, Technology and Math (NEST M)
Tompkins Square Middle School, IS 839
East Side Community High School
Manhattan Academy of Technology, PS/IS 126
IS 289
Greenwich Village Middle School, MS 896
Institute for Collaborative Education
Salk School of Science
Simon Baruch Middle School, MS 104
School of the Future
Lab School for Collaborative Studies
The Clinton School for Writers and Artists
Professional Performing Arts School
Robert F. Wagner Middle School, MS 167
East Side Middle School
Hunter College High School
Manhattan East School for Arts and Academics, MS 224
Young Women's Leadership School
Center School, MS 243
Computer School
Anderson School
Booker T. Washington School, MS 54
Mott Hall II, MS 862
Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering
Mott Hall School, IS 223
Frederick Douglass Academy


David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, MS/HS 141
Theatre Arts Production Company (TAPCO)
William W. Niles School, MS 118
Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science
Bronx Preparatory Charter School
Mott Hall III
KIPP Academy Charter School
MS 101


Eugenio Maria De Hostos Intermediate School, IS 318
Ronald Edmonds Learning Center, IS 113
Urban Assembly Academy of Arts and Letters
Math and Science Exploratory School, MS 447
Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, MS 448
William Alexander School, MS 51
New Voices School of Academic and Creative Arts, MS 443
MS 88
Sunset Park Prep, MS 821
North Star Academy, MS 340
Medgar Evers Preparatory School at Medgar Evers College
!!!Crown School for Law and Journalism at PS 161 !!!
KIPP AMP Charter School
Philippa Schuyler School, IS 383
IS 392
Andries Hudde School, IS 240
Mary White Ovington School, IS 30
Christa McAuliffe School, IS 187
Brooklyn Studio Secondary School
David A. Boody School, IS 228
Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented, IS 239
Bay Academy for Arts and Sciences, IS 98


Academy at PS 122
Baccalaureate School for Global Education
Renaissance Charter School
Louis Armstrong Middle School, IS 227
World Journalism Preparatory: A College Board School
East-West School of International Studies
Queens School of Inquiry
Robert Francis Kennedy Community
Middle School, IS 250
William H. Carr School, JHS 194
Louis Pasteur Middle School, MS 67
George J. Ryan Middle School, MS 216
Nathaniel Hawthorne School, MS 74
Marie Curie Middle School, MS 158
Irwin Altman School, MS 172
Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School, JHS/HS 680
Scholars' Academy


William Morris School, IS 61
Myra S. Barnes School, IS 24

What's perfect anyway?

We've all experienced the thoughts below, comparing our children to others who seem so "perfect". But writer Nell Musolf shares her thoughts in the Christian Science Monitor about the perfection we seek in our children. Enjoy.

The not-so-perfect son
Parenting: A mom worries when her firstborn isn't above average in every way.
By Nell Musolf
from the August 19, 2008 edition

"We expected our first child to be perfect." How many parents have said, or at least thought, those words? Most likely every single one.

I know that's what I expected with our oldest son, Joe. He would be perfect and I, by proxy, would look perfect, too. The terrible twos wouldn't exist in our house, adolescence would be a piece of cake, and Joe would sail through school from learning his ABC's to being awarded a PhD, all because our little boy, our firstborn child, was going to be perfect.

Joe, however, had other ideas.

He was always a good kid. He wasn't the kind of boy who threw snowballs at passing cars on a frigid winter day or who dropped water balloons on the mail carrier from an upstairs window during the humid heat of August.

But he wasn't perfect. Especially when it came to that nice little fantasy I had about sailing through school.

Slogging through is a more apt description. From the day Joe started kindergarten, he struggled – with scissors and handwriting and math. Always math. While he passed each grade, it was never with flying colors, and he was never at the top of his class.

How I envied friends who had children with the "math gene." For some reason, most of the women I knew had at least one offspring who excelled at math.

I don't know how many times I smiled while listening to another mom telling me that her daughter was doing high school algebra while in the sixth grade. Or that her son had just taken first place in the school district's annual Math Challenge. Or was sending both her son and daughter to Math Camp – that exclusive "resort" that was strictly invitation-only and practically guaranteed getting a scholarship to an exclusive college.

After hearing one of these stories – and there were, oh, so many of them over the years – I'd invariably hang up the telephone and look over at Joe – who would be happily playing a video game, drawing a picture, or simply enjoying a warm spring day – and wonder, Why didn't we raise a mathematical genius? How is he ever going to get into college if he doesn't get better at math? What is he going to do with the rest of his life?

Needless to say, my maternal angst never really amounted to much. Does it ever? Moms tend to worry and worry, while whatever they're worrying about usually disappears on its own (and is promptly replaced by another worry).

During high school, Joe slowly improved at math. He got through algebra I, geometry, and algebra II, our state requirements for math. I thought we were home free, mathwise, when he floored me by announcing that he'd be taking pre-calculus his last year of high school.

"Why?" I questioned.

"Because I need to keep my skills up," he explained. "I hate math, but I need to take it so I don't forget how to do it.

"For college," he added. "I want to do really well in college, Mom. I know it will be hard, but I think it's important that I try to do my best."

As I nodded, I thought briefly back over the long years of multiplication tables, fractions, and basic algebraic equations that had preceded that moment.

No, my oldest son wasn't perfect. He wasn't a math genius, either. But he knew what was important: He was focusing on his future while I was fretting over his past.

He was thinking about what he wanted his college experience to be about. Joe was trying to do his best, even when he knew how hard that was going to be.

And that, to me, is even better than being perfect.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Yet even more dancing!!!!!

Brooklyn's The Moxie Spot, invites families to get their disco groove on at their weekly Saturday free disco dance party.

"The MOXIE SPOT is a free-spirited Family Fun restaurant. We feature a variety of arts activities and family-friendly foods."

Date: Saturdays (Sat 7/26/08 - 8/30/08)
Time: 5:30
Where: 81-83 Atlantic Avenue (near Hicks Street)

More dancing....

To continue the dancing theme mentioned in the previous post, the Dance Theatre of Harlem is hosting its 35th Annual Street Festival in Harlem this weekend. There will be performances by special guest artists and DTH students, a talent competition showcase, arts and crafts, food, vendors, and more.

Date: Saturday, August 9, 2009
Time: 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Where: 466 W 152nd Street
Cost: Free

Ailey Day

This Saturday, August 9th, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Celebrates its 50th Anniversary with New York City Center by throwing a street party!!!

"Come out and celebrate Ailey’s 50th anniversary with free dance and drumming classes, food, prizes, kids’ activities, and more! It’s fun for the whole family!

Below is a sample of the schedule of events:

Dance classes:
11:00-11:45am – West African Dance
12:45-1:30pm – Horton Dance
2:15-3:00pm – Hip Hop Dance
4:15-5:00pm – West African Dance

Drumming classes:

Free Dance and Drumming Classes! Take free dance and drumming classes with Ailey’s teaching artists throughout the day.

Date: Saturday, August 9, 2008
Time: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Where: West 55th Street (b/w 6th and 7th Avenues)

Tickets are general admission and will be distributed on a first come, first served basis beginning one hour prior to each performance in front of the New York City Center entrance. The house will open 30 minutes prior to each performance. Tickets are limited to 4 per person.

we're baaaaack!

It's been a while since we posted - we have been enjoying every drop of summer vacation (hope you have as well), that we have been a little lax with our posting. As we get ready for back to school, we promise we will have more postings here. Promise.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Does 8th-Grade Pomp Fit the Circumstance?

With June being well over, many parents spent the past month attending year-end events of all kinds: award ceremonies, talent shows, graduations, even chaperoning proms. To quote Barack Obama "Are we overprasing what's expected?" Do you think kindergartners, 5th graders or even 8th graders should have "graduations" or better yet "proms"!!!

Most schools including PS 161 refer to the kindergarten ceremony as a Stepping Up, basically stepping up to 1st grade. The milestone is acknowledged because many children start kindergarten not knowing how to read and write, yet they leave with increased confidence and independence. While perhaps it's cute to take the child out afterwards for ice cream, does the entire extended family need to attend this event as if this is the only graduation that this child has to look forward to? The same holds true for 5th and 8th grade - while we should reward our children for doing well, working hard and moving to the next level, the bacchanalia that is has turned to is out of hand.

The New York Times asks the same question, click here to read the article. I invite you to leave your thoughts or comments.

Having just attended an 8th grade "prom" as an observer, I think that early exposure to some rituals takes the specialness out the real deal, ie high school prom, high school graduation, college graduation. We should want our children to aim higher. So in a couple of years when my first born is in 5th grade, I think we will bypass the prom, and Mom and Dad and student will go out for ice cream and we'll save the graduation tickets for relatives for the medical school graduation!

Akili na Moyo

Akili na Moyo meaning Mind and Heart in Swahili is the theme at this year's 37th Annual International African Arts Festival. Formerly held for years at Boys and Girls High School, the African Arts Festival located a few years ago to Downton Brooklyn.

"Festival goers will gather each day to enjoy live music, dance, spoken word performances, African marketplace, showcase performances, fashion, and hair shows."

Date: Thursday, July 3rd through Sunday, July 6th
Time: Each day from 10:00 am until 9:00 pm
Where: Commodore Barry Park - Park Avenue and Navy Street

Seriously Folks,

While last Thursday was the last day of school, some students of PS 161 received notices that they would have to attend summer school. Per the NYC DOE, "Summer school provides students with additional instructional support to ensure that they achieve proficiency in NYS Learning Standards and NYC Performance Standards in order to move on to the next grade level. Students in grades 3-12 who have not yet met the criteria to be promoted to the next grade".

If you have received a notice for your child to attend summer school, PLEASE MAKE SURE TO SEND THEM EVERY DAY!!!! Attendance at summer school is never 100% and we don't understand why parents would not ensure that their children meet the standards needed for promotion.

The 2008 summer school site for PS 161 is PS 241 located at 976 President Street.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

hurray hurray!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On behalf of the PTA executive board, I would like to extend warm thanks to all those who came out last Tuesday, June 17 for our PTA Thank You Dinner and Award Presentation. We are very proud of the hard work that our PS 161 children have put forth this year. We also thank all of the volunteers and staff who have lent their support for our programs throughout the year.

To all our returning students, we wish you a safe and fun summer – don’t forget to read and go over your spelling lists! To all the other students moving on, 5th and 8th graders, we wish you the best of luck and hope you succeed in all of your endeavors – remember you will always be part of the PS 161 family.

To all the teachers and staff, we thank you for all the work and time you have put in our children this year. Enjoy the summer off!!

ps – please continue to log on to the website, for updates over the summer.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

the day the last ones heard

"Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond."

Did you know that two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 - which stated that all slaves were now free, that Texas slaveholders conspired which each other to keep that knowledge from their slaves. It was on June 19th, 1865 that Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and let the population know that the war had ended and the slavery was abolished.

Go the Juneteenth website for ideas on how to celebrate.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Please pass some tissues

Today, the Kindergarten students at PS 161 had their Stepping Up ceremony - stepping into 1st grade! The year certainly goes by fast. One minute they were shy little sweeties crying for their mommies, the next minute they're bouncing all over the place talking a mile a minute. Oh, can someone please pass the tissues!

Happy Friday the 13th!!!

party over here....

This Saturday, June 14, the PS 161 PTA is proud to present A Dance Party Extravaganza - A Summer Vacation Kick-Off Celebration.

We constantly admonish our children to work hard, play nice and to please please clean their rooms. Well, we believe that the children of PS 161 have certainly kept their end of the bargain - so that is why we are rewarding them. There will be a DJ, lots of goodies to eat, and lots and lots of prizes. And as a special treat and as co-sponsors of the event, Assemblymen Camara and Jeffries will be present to award certificates of merit to the 8th graders who were accepted in the specialized high schools.

Event: A Dance Party Extravaganza
When: Saturday, June 14, 2008
Time: 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Place: P.S. 161 – backyard (or cafeteria in case of rain)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

PROJECT ARTS - June 6, 2008

This Friday, June 6th, PS 161 is hosting a Celebration of the Arts, coordinated by Ms. Arthur, our Parent Coordinator. There will be performances from the steel band, chorus, African dance class, modern dance class, Caribbean dance class, visual arts class, band, etiquette art, sign language class, inspirational choir and photography and staff ensemble.

A donation is requested of a non-perishable food item to be donated to a Crown Heights food pantry.

For more information, please contact Ms. Gloria Arthur, Project Arts Coordinator

The June calendar was distributed this week, and the following are the highlights:

Monday, June 2: Half day for students, 12:00 pm dismissal

Tuesday, June 3: New York State Social Studies Exam; Grade 8

Wednesday, June 4: 5th Grade - Medieval Times Trip; 7th Grade - Baltimore Trip; Selected classes - Prospect Park Zoo Trip

Thursday, June 5: Chancellor's Conference Day - NO SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS

Friday, June 6: Project Arts Performance; 6:30 pm

Tuesday, June 10: 5th Grade - China Buffet Trip

Wednesday, June 11: Kindergarten Picnic

Thursday, June 12: Half day for students, 12:00 pm dismissal

Friday, June 13: 5th Grade - Field Day; Kindergarten Stepping Up Assembly

Saturday, June 14: PTA Dance Festival - Summer Kick-off; 12pm to 4pm; Steel Band performance at PS 91

Monday, June 16: 8th Grade - Hershey Park Trip

Tuesday, June 17: PTA Honor Roll Recognition Program and Dinner; 6:30 pm

Wednesday, June 18: School Leadership Team meeting, 5:45 pm; 8th grade prom; 5th grade awards assembly

Thursday, June 19: Math A Regents Exam

Friday, June 20: 5th Grade Graduation at MS 61 and prom at PS 161; CSLJ Field Day

Monday, June 23: CSLJ Awards Assembly, 9:00 am

Tuesday, June 24: Living Environment Science Regent Exam; Spanish Regent

Wednesday, June 25: CSLJ Graduation, 9 am at PS 161

Thursday, June 26: Last day of school, 12:00 pm dismissal

Friday, May 23, 2008

Upcoming Events

The following are some upcoming PTA activities - more details to follow:

Saturday, May 31 - 12 pm to 4 pm: Nu Chapter of the Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority Talent Showcase in association with the PTA

Saturday, June 14 – 12 pm to 4 pm: PS 161 PTA Dance Festival

Tuesday, June 17 – 6:30 pm: PTA Honor Roll Recognition Program

The ballots are in....

We want to thank the many parents and teachers who came out this past Wednesday, May 21 to elect our new parent board members and attend our PTA meeting. We would also like to thank our volunteers, Ms. Farahdja Jean-Baptiste, Ms. Nerissa James, Ms. Camille Orta and Mr. Kenneth Llewellyn for facilitating the election. The results were as follows:

President – Tricia Mecklembourg
Vice President – Vacant
Treasurer – Wenda Delpesche
Corresponding Secretary – Vacant
Recording Secretary – Ian James

SLT Newly Elected Parent Members
Kathleen Lansiquot
Camille Orta
Indira Decastro
Cherry Williams
Marian DeJesus

Chairperson – Ian James
Secretary - Wenda Delpesche

Please congratulate your newly elected parent representatives; their term is from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009. They are eager to work with you and help our school move forward. (Please note, an election will be held at a later date to fill any vacant positions)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Profiles in Education

Last week, the New York Times featured a story on a local hero doing big things in a New York City public school.

George Leonard, Principal of the Bedford Academy High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, is a no-nonsense educator who believes that EVERY child can learn. In fact Mr Leonard has been such an effective and successful educator (close to 95 percent of his students graduate, and virtually every one of those goes on to college!!!), he has been given basic carte-blanche by the DOE since his methods are so successful. Read more about Mr. Leonard and his school here.

PTA MEETING, Wednesday, May 21 at 6:00 pm

There will be a PTA meeting on Wednesday, May 21 at 6:00 pm. Please note the time change for this meeting. This is being done because we will also be holding school board elections that evening starting at 6:00 pm sharp.

Below is an election guideline. Please read it carefully, and come out on the 2st to support your fellow parents and ensure that you are represented on the school board.

Elections for Officers of the PS 161 Parent School Boards Are Open!
Please Run, Vote and Get Involved!

• Will take place from the floor on election night on Wednesday May 21 at 6:00 pm

• Will take place on Wednesday May 21 at 6:00 pm. You must be present to run or to vote.

• Will be announced at the May 21 meeting

Term of office
• July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009

Number of positions available
• PTA - 5 positions
• PAC – 3 positions
• SLT - 4 positions

Positions and general duties of PTA positions (see bylaws for specific duties)
1. President - Heads association & presides at ALL meetings
2. Vice President - Assist president & performs duties in absence
3. Corresponding Secretary - Maintains all official records, coordinates all correspondence
4. Recording Secretary - prepares meeting minutes, share duties with Corresponding Secretary
5. Treasurer - Conducts & responsible for all financial affairs

Goals and objectives of other offices: PAC and SLT
1. PAC – Parent Advisory Council: Ensure effective involvement of all parents of Title I participating children and to support the partnership between other school community stakeholders (school administration and staff, PTA and SLT); To involve parents of Title I participating students in an organized and timely manner with the planning, review, and implementation of Title I programs and the joint development of the school parental involvement policy and the school-parent compact.
2. SLT – School Leadership Team: Comprising of administration, teachers and parents, the SLT is responsible for developing an educational plan, matching budget to needs, and building a sense of community. Parents make up half of membership; rest is teachers, school staff, union and Parent Association representation, and possibly students or community members

Eligibility for Parent Members: Per the bylaws, whether or not you pay the “suggested dues”, you are automatically a member of the Parent Teacher Association if you are a parent, guardian or person in parental relation to a child attending PS 161. A member is entitled to vote and to run for any position. The election process and officer’s duties are outlined in the bylaws – copies will be made available during the election. You can also obtain a copy of the Chancellor’s Guidelines on the DOE website.

Eligibility for Teacher Members: Per the Chancellor’s Regulations, as a Parent Teacher Association (PTA), membership must be open to all teachers in the school. Any staff person who is a member of the association is eligible to vote, unless otherwise restricted by conflicts of interest. Persons employed in the school cannot serve on a nominating committee, or run for positions on the executive board.

Chancellor Announces New Web Site for City's Teachers

Press release from the Department of Education:

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced the launch of a new one-stop-shop on the Department of Education’s Web site for public school teachers. Teacher Page, which is launching during National Teacher Appreciation Week, will give teachers quick and easy access to human resources information and a wide range of teaching resources. It will also allow teachers to access calendars, e-mail, and lists of special opportunities, including grants and other programs for teachers and students. It is located on the Department of Education’s Web site at

Friday, May 02, 2008

Free Comic Book Day

Midtown Comics celebrates the seventh annual comic book giveaway by offering free comics (while supplies last).

Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free* to anyone who comes into their stores.

Stop by either Midtown Comics location and get free comics! No purchase required!

Saturday, May 3

200 W. 40th St. (Corner of 7th Ave.); 212.302.8192

459 Lexington Ave. (Corner of 45th St); 212.302.8192

Lights, Camera....

As the Tribeca Film Festival comes to a close this year, don't miss out on the fun-filled Tribeca Family Fest Street Fair. Get out of Brooklyn this weekend and head over to Tribeca for the all-day Festival Street Fair featuring performances, activities, local merchants, and much more!

When: Saturday, May 3
Time: 10 am to 6 pm
Where: Runs along Greenwich Street, from Hubert to Duane

East meets West

This Saturday, May 3, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is proud to present the 27th annual 'Rite of Spring' with the presentation of Sakura Matsuri Cherri Blossom Festival. There will be over 60 events and performances celebrating Japanese culture and the blossoming of BBG's 220 cherry trees.

Visitors to the weekend-long Cherry Blossom Festival can enjoy J-pop concerts, traditional Japanese music and dance, taiko drumming, martial arts, bonsai pruning workshops, Japanese Manga art, tea ceremonies, and workshops for all ages. New this year is the Sakura J-Lounge, featuring some of the country's hippest DJ's spinning Japanese pop sounds.

May 3–May 4, 2008
10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Rain or Shine

Click here for more Brooklyn Botanic Garden info

Oh, by the way if you suffer from seasonal allergies, don't forget your medicine and your tissues!

May 2008 Calendar

The May Calendar is out and these are some of the highlights:

Thursday, May 1: 4th grade science performance exam
Friday, May 2: C.S.L.J. (7th and 8th grade) and 4th grade science performance exam
Monday, May 5: 4th grade science performance exam

Tuesday, May 6: National Teacher Appreciation Day
Thursday, May 8: Grades K - 1, Vision and Hearing Testing
Friday, May 9: Grades K - 1, Vision and Hearing Testing
Monday, May 12: Grades K - 1, Vision and Hearing Testing
Tuesday, May 13: Crown School 6th Grade Lottery Drawing; 6 pm
Wednesday, May 14: School Leadership Team meeting; 5:45 pm
Friday, May 16: School wide spelling bee
Wednesday, May 21: PTA Meeting/Elections; Student of the Month/Most Improved Student
Thursday, May 22: Science Projects due
Friday, May 23: Career Day; 9 to 11
Monday, May 26: Memorial Day - SCHOOL CLOSED
Wednesday, May 28: Science Fair


By now, the construction crews at PS 161 this past year have become old news. Our school is undergoing a vast capital plan to basically bring a building built in the 1930's into the 21st century. With that being said, a handout was sent home this week from the NYC Department of Education that states that PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) have been found in the caulking material in a number of schools in the city. PS 161 is one such school.

Per the handout from the DOE, "PCBs in intact building materials do not result in significant exposure and are unlikely to result in health effects. The Department of Education has recently rested air samples in the schools in question, and those tests find no evidence of significant exposure for children or teachers."

With that being said, children are children and often touch materials they are not supposed to, or put things in their mouths that they are not supposed to. Please continue to advise your children to refrain from doing this. And now as the weather becomes warmer and the children are sent to the backyard to play, please have them wash their hands and face with soap and water when they come back inside.

Please read the handout that was sent home for more information about PCBs and precautions that you can take with your child.

HIV/AIDS Curriculum

This past week, a form was sent home for parents' consent to have their children participate in a HIV/AIDS curriculum designed by the New York State Education Department and the New York City Department of Education. Both of these departments have mandated the curriculum and that it be age-appropriate and address the nature of the disease, the methods of transmission and methods of prevention.

Lessons focus on developing an understanding of communicable diseases, ways to live a healthy life and how to identify community resources that can help enhance the quality of life. State regulations require that all students attend lessons on the nature of the disease and methods of transmissions. However, parents or legal guardians have the right to ask that their children not participate in the lessons dealing with methods of prevention. Parents who do make such a request must file with the principal of their child's school a written request that the child not receive such instruction and assure the principal that the pupil will receive such instruction at home.

Please sign the consent form and have your child return to his/her teacher.

Friday, April 18, 2008

In the Community

Last night at MS 61, District 17 Presidents Council held a meeting open to the community. The Presidents Council is made up of PTA presidents in a district as well as PTA/PAC and SLT board members. There were many guests present notably Assemblyman Karim Camara, Assemblyman Hakim Jeffries, representative for NY State Senator Eric Adams, and Ms. Martine Guerrier. Ms. Guerrier answered many questions from the crowd.

The following is some of the information that was garnered. You can visit these local elected officials offices (which are in the neighborhood) to get much more info - click on their names above to be taken directly to their website.

Friday, April 18 6:30 - 7:30 pm; Brooklyn Public Library (Grand Army Plaza) - Partner with NYS Senator Eric Adams to Develop a Contract with Our Children. Senator Adams is inviting Parent and Community organizations to join him in continuing to develop 10 critical items that elected officials must agree to in support of the educational needs of our children.

Saturday, April 26 12:00 - 4:00 pm; MS 61; 2008 Summer Solutions - Featuring Community Resources, Career Workshops and Job Fair. Sponsored by Assemblyman Karim Camara, The Crown Heights Unites Coalition and District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. The day will feature two programs. One for teens and young adults - find a job, attend job readiness workshops (YOU MUST DRESS IN BUSINESS ATTIRE); the second program is for families with children - find summer camps and other activities. Contact Lauren Baranco at 718.756.1776 for more information.

Various Dates: May 13, May 20, May 27 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm; Marcus Garvey Nursing Home; Maximize Your Job Search - a free seminar for people who are looking for immediate employment. Sponsored by Assemblyman Karim Camara, presented by SUNY-BEOC Bridge Program. Topics will include creating a marketable resume and cover letter; enhancing your interviewing skills. For more information or to register call 718.756.1776

Saturday, May 10 at 9:00 am; Walk a Mile for Your Momma - 4th Annual Mother's Day walk to raise awareness about domestic violence. Presented by Jonah Village, the Grand Marshall will be NYS Senator Eric Adams. Assemble at Bed-Stuy Restoration Plaza-Harriet Tubman Way (formerly Fulton Street) at 9:00 am; walk commences at 10 am.

Odds and Ends

First a THANK YOU to all who attended the PTA meeting this past Monday. It was a pretty special night as we honoroed the Students of the Month, Most Improved Students and Read-a-Thon winners. The auditorium was packed as parents came out to support their children's hardwork.

The evening also featured as special guest, Ms. Dona Collins of DC Collins Worldwide who did a presentation on ‘Simple Nutritious Snacks for Kids’. Ms. Collins brought a sample of the snacks from the line. Contact information for Ms. Collins is as follows, 866.766.9290 and The website is

Finally, one of the best features of the night was the PS 161 School Band led by Mr. Aird. This band was formed by Mr. Aird in January - most of the students have never played an instrument before. Well in a few short months, this band is rocking the house and performing at PS 161 events by special request. Anyone interested should contact Mr. Aird - practice is held after school on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Upcoming PTA and School Activities

Monday, April 14th at 6:30 pm – PTA Meeting (Auditorium). Please join us for general updates regarding PTA activities as well as reports from PAC and SLT. Additionally, certificates will be presented for Students of the Month as well as Most Improved Student of the Month.

Wednesday, April 16 at 5:45 pm – SLT Meeting (Cafeteria). This special meeting will be an open session – all are welcome, but only SLT board members will be able to speak. If you ever wanted to know what goes on in an SLT meeting, then please join us.

Week of April 21 to 25 – Spring Break – School will be closed for the entire week.

Changes to the Gifted & Talented Programs, again

From a press release today from the DOE, 'Revised Standard Would Give Nearly Twice as Many Students an Opportunity to Participate in a Gifted Program than Originally Approved Standard'. Chancellor Klein has revised the admission policy for G&T programs as ' to accommodate the overwhelming increase in the number of students testing for admission.'

Please click here to read the entire press release.

Pre-K applications are on line NOW!

Click here for the link for 2008-9 Pre-K applications and directory.

The Pre-Kindergarten Directory provides information about the New York City Pre-Kindergarten programs that are available for the 2008-2009 school year. These programs are in selected public schools and contracted Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). You will find two lists of schools (public school programs and CBO programs), their locations and other important information regarding the application process included in the directory.

The 2008-2009 New York City Public School Pre-Kindergarten Application is included in the directory. The application must be mailed to the following address by Friday, April 18.

New York City Department of Education
Pre-Kindergarten Admissions
PO Box 679
Willow Grove, PA 19090

To apply to pre-Kindergarten programs offered by CBOs, parents should submit applications directly to the appropriate CBOs. A CBO is a Community Based Organization that provides early childhood services such as a day care center, a Head Start or child care center. These sites located in neighborhoods across the city contract with the New York City Department of Education to provide Universal Pre-Kindergarten services.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Let no man pull you low enough to hate him

Today, April 4th, 2008, is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Over the years Dr. King has been placed into two groups; those who considered him too meek, not adamant enough or outraged about the atrocities committed by those during the Jim Crow era. How could a man who was arrested 29 times for his civil rights activities say the title quote above? Then there are those who are trying to vilify Dr. King - he smoked! And there are rumors of the extra-marital affairs. What does this all prove? That Dr. King was a mortal, a human being, not able to fit in a one-dimensional box created for him.

Truly think about Dr. King and his life's work. Did you know towards the end of his life, his platform changed from overall civil rights for black people to one of equal rights for all poor people? He was having success organizing the labor unions and other activists working for poor people (black and white) - that is why some believe that he was assassinated. His work was touching a chord in the mainstream society as he was starting to achieve one of the most illusive goals in this society – unity among the working classes.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Inspiration in Frozen Territory

A New York Times article published on March 28, 2008 by Sara Rimer “Harlem to Antarctica for Science, and Pupils” features Ms. Shakira Brown, a 29-year-old Harlem middle school science teacher and her eight weeks research expedition in Antarctica.

Could you spend a day, much less 56 in the following conditions: camping on the sea ice in unheated tents, in 20-below-zero temperatures; blinding whiteouts;. the bathroom - a toilet seat over a hole in the ice. Well Ms. Brown decided that this would be a great teaching tool for her students and provide some much needed role models in the field of science, research and the like.

Click here to read the entire story. Ms. Brown is definitely a trail-blazer that we will be reading more about in the future!

April 2008 Calendar

The April calendar was sent home yesterday, and below are some hightlights:

Friday, April 4th - Honor Roll Recognition; 9:30 am
Friday, April 11th - Schoolwide Poetry Contest
Monday, April 14th - PTA Meeting; 6:30 pm
Wednedsday, April 16th - SLT Meeting (Open Session); 5:45 pm
Thursday, April 17th - Poem in your Pocket Day
Monday, April 28th - New York State 8th Grade Science Test
Wednesday, April 30th - New York State Science Written Test; Grades 4 and 8

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Crown Gems Book Club

This Saturday, March 15th, the Crown Gems book club will gather to discuss Bill Cosby's, Come on People. Several copies of this book were raffled at the December PTA meeting - that is plenty of time to have read the book.

The Crown Gems book club was started two years as an outlet for adults, teachers and parents to get together over some great literature and social commentary. Come out this Saturday for refreshments and lively chat, at 12 pm.

Uh Oh!

It's report card time, folks!!! This Thursday, March 13 there will be Parent/Teacher Conferences at PS 161. There will be a Half Day for students - NO AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMS. The sessions will be from 1:00 to 3:00 pm and from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. Please make every effort to attend. Refreshments will be served and parking will be available in the backyard.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

March Calendar

The March calendar was sent home yesterday and the following are some highlights:

Monday, March 3 - M.E.C. "Read Across America" for grades K to 3

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, March 4, 5 & 6 - New York State Math Exam for grades 3, 4 and 5

Friday, March 7 - 100 Days Perfect Attendance Celebration

Saturday March 8 - Family Movie Day

Monday and Tuesday, March 10 and 11 - New York State Math Exam for grades 6, 7 and 8

Wednesday, March 12 - School Leadership Team Meeting

Thursday, March 13 - 1/2 Day for students - Parent/Teacher Conference 1:00 to 3:00 pm and 6:00 to 8:30 pm

Saturday, March 15 - Family Movie Day

Monday, March 17 - PTA Meeting; 6:30 pm

Wednesday, March 19 - Grandparents Workshop

Friday, March 21 - Good Friday, school closed


Across the city, hundreds of thousands of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders are taking the New York State Math Exam today and tomorrow. We wish them all good luck!

The specific schedule is as follows:

Grades 3 & 5: Tuesday, March 4 - Part I
Wednesday, March 5 - Part II

Grades 4: Tuesday, March 4 - Part I
Wednesday, March 5 - Part II
Thursday, March 6 - Part III

As always, please make sure that your child gets a good night's rest before each test day. Give them a nutritious breakfast and get them to school on time with two #2 sharpened pencils.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


PTA Vice President, Traci Tucker, has resigned her post on the board due to personal conflicts. We thank her for her service to our school, its students, parents and adminstration.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Upcoming activities

March 3 - Read Across America

March 3 - PTA Executive Board meeting, 6:30 pm

Math Exam:
March 4 & 5 - Grade 3 and 5
March 4 & 6 - Grade 4
March 10 & 11 - Grade 6, 7, and 8

March 5 - Parent Nutrition Workshop, 9 am

March 7 - 100 Day Celebration

March 8 and 15 - Family Movie Festival

March 17 - General PTA Meeting 6:30 pm

Time for sleep...

The importance of a good night's sleep cannot be overstated. Research upon research has proven that children and adolescents who have a good night's sleep, are healthier physically and emotionally. Sleep helps the body repair itself and for little ones who are growing this is a major factor in their development. But don't take my word for it, there is a great article in today's New York Daily News - click here to read.

It's been a while!

We're back after a week-long break. Hope everyone is well rested and rejuvenated and ready to get back to work!!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sweet Valentine

"Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14 in which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. The holiday is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished."

We say, Valentine's is for everyone that you love, so Moms and Dads, shower your precious babies with some cards and sweets. Call your family and remind them again how much you love them! Happy Valentine's Day!!!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February PTA Meeting

Please join us Thursday, February 14 at 6:30 pm as we celebrate Black History Month at our PTA meeting. The evening will feature a choral group, a one-woman spoken word performance, an African dance troupe and more. In the spirit of honoring our best, there will also be a presentation of the Student of the Month awards.

Celebrate Valentine's Day with your family while enjoying wonderful entertainment - come out and support your school!

Events Around Town

The following is a list of activities and events sponsored by the UFT:


The Children’s Sports & Fitness Expo introduces children to over 25 sports activities, nutrition classes and health screenings which encourage children and parents to choose healthier lifestyles. Through this free event, families can gain exposure to activities, programs and services that will help them to become more physically fit, thereby reducing the risk of obesity in their lives.

When: April 5, 2008, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Where: St. Francis College
Contact:Vincent Ferguson at (718) 346-5852;

What: NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation Riverbank State Park Presents The 11th Annual COLLEGE Fair

When: Saturday March 8, 2008; 12 Noon - 4 PM
Where: Riverbank State Park; 145th Street & Riverside Drive Manhattan

Free Admission; Open to Junior High School and High School students seeking to pursue a degree from a Junior or Senior College, including Masters’ programs and trade schools. 70-plus national colleges and universities represented. Free workshops in Admissions Prep, SAT, essay writing, scholarship resources, and more.

Contact: Pat Vitucci, College Fair Coordinator, 212-694-3656

Liar Liar

Has this ever happened to you Dearest Mom and Dad? You’re preoccupied with something, cooking dinner, cleaning or just plopped in front of the TV, you look up only to see your darling daughter smack her brother in the face. Then she says “I didn’t hit him”!!! Or you go to your son’s room and discover that he’s created a masterpiece on your walls. Now, he’s an only child and you’re a single parent so there is no one else in the house but the two of you, and he still says “It wasn’t me”!!?!?!!

Have you ever wondered why children lie, most times about the silliest stuff. Well writer Po Bronson shares his investigation in an article in this week’s New York Magazine. Click here to read the story.

Oh, one more thing Mom and Dad, these perfect little liars learn it by watching…. you guessed it. Mom, every time you say to Jr., ‘answer the phone and if it’s so and so, tell them I’m not here.’ Or when Dad says, ‘Don’t tattle’ you are teaching the kiddies that lying is okay. I guess next time, I will pick up the phone myself!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Did you VOTE today?????

Voting: a method for a group such as a meeting or an electorate to make a decision or express an opinion — often following discussions, debates or election campaigns.

In many other countries, people die for the right to vote, the right to be heard. As a matter of fact, while we are celebrating Black History month, just one or two generations ago, many black people in this country did not have the right to vote - and paid dearly for trying to exercise this basic right of all Americans.

While the owner of this blog supports Barack Obama, we urge you to go out there and VOTE, no matter who your candidate is.

February School Calendar

The following is a list of activities and events included in the February calendar sent home last week:

February 1 – After School Boy Scouts meeting

February 2 –PTA Movie Festival, 12 pm

February 5 – Parents Math Workshop Part II Grade 4

February 8 – After School Boy Scouts meeting

February 9 - PTA Movie Festival, 12 pm; CSLJ Step Team Show, 10 am

February 12 - Parents Math Workshop Part II Grades 3 & 5

February 13 - School Leadership Team meeting

February 14 – PTA Meeting – Black History Celebration

February 15 – Grandparents Read Aloud Day; After School Boy Scouts meeting

February 18 - 22 – Mid-Winter Recess - school closed

February 19 – AIS Mid-Winter Recess Classes: Grades 3 to 8

February 20 - AIS Mid-Winter Recess Classes: Grades 3 to 8

February 21 - AIS Mid-Winter Recess Classes: Grades 3 to 8

February 25 – School re-opens

February 26 – Parent Lobby Day in Albany
February 27 – Grandparents Workshop; Black Inventors contest

February 28 – Parent Workshop; School Quality Review

February 29 – After School Boy Scouts meeting
Please be sure to check your child's bookbag for the following calendar.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

In honor of Black History Month, the following is a listing of some upcoming PTA activities:

Showtime Saturdays! A Family Movies Festival - Join us for the first in our four-part series this Saturday, February 2 at 12 pm. The movies are:

Transformers – Starring Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, & Anthony Anderson
Ultimate Avengers 2 – Rise of the Panther (Marvel Comics)

Black History Celebration – The PTA meeting this month will feature a celebration of the proud culture of the African Diaspora. The meeting will be on February 14 at 6:30 pm. The program will include performances by the following: Drum Song African Dance Troupe, the PS 161 chorus – the Crown Diamonds, a spoken word artist. In addition to the entertainment, we have several special guests who will be in attendance. Refreshments will be served and parking will be available in the backyard.

Artists in the Midst!

Did you know that PS 161 is home to celebrated authors! Mutiya and David Vision are a husband-and-wife team that epitomize the word inspiration. They have developed tools - books, music, art, poetry - to help children thrive above and beyond their capabilities. Check out their website for more information on book titles.