Thursday, December 03, 2009


We want to thank all of the parents and staff who attended our PTA meeting
last week. We had a wonderful turnout. It was also great to see so many students
receive their awards for academic achievement - keep up the great work!

We are happy for the many recipients of our Turkey Give-Away. We would like to thank Assemblyman Karim Camara and the 71st Precinct for their generous donations! In addition, thank you for all the donations for our Pot Luck dinner! Lastly, we would like to give a big THANKS to Ms. Eastman for chairing our Uniform Exchange Project. She and her team cleaned, ironed and wrapped each individual uniform. They did such a wonderful job, that the uniforms were going like 'hotcakes'. The Uniform Exchange table will be featured at all PTA events.


School Pictures

Last week was Picture Retake Day open to any students unsatisfied with their original photos, or those who did not participate the first time. If you have any questions regarding quality, reorders or refunds, please do not call the main office. Please call Irvin Simon Photographers, at 51.437.4700 and ask for Laura Fisher. Laura is our Customer Service Rep and will assist you with all of your picture questions.

Before calling, please have the following information available: your child's class, teacher and picture package ordered.

December Calendar

The December Calendar was sent home this week. Below are the highlights:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - SLT Meeting; 5:30 pm
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - Parent Nutrition Workshop; 9:00 am
Thursday, December 10, 2009 - Last Day for Penny Harvest
Friday, December 11, 2009 - Parent ELA Workshop, All Grades; 9:00 am
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - Parent Nutrition Workshop; 9:00 am
Thursday, December 17, 2009 - PTA Meeting/Holiday Program; 6:00 pm
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - Heal the World HIV and Mural Fundraiser
December 24 - January 4, - WINTER RECESS

d'Essence Student Fundraiser

The PTA is participating in a new student fundraiser. Just in time for holiday shopping, you will find an order form from d'essence - an LMS fragrance company.

Featuring real perfumes and colognes in a wide selection of designer fragrances (Vera Wang, Chanel, Sean Jean and Gucci) at the wonderful price of $10.00 each! Now is the time to stock up for the holidays - for parents, grandparents, teachers, colleagues. etc.

The class with the most sales will receive an in-class pizza party. The top seller will receive a $100 gift certificate to GameStop - the second prize winner will receive an iPod shuffle.

The forms are due back in two weeks - December 9, 2009 - to ensure delivery before the holidays. Your payments of cash, money order or check will be accepted. Please make money orders and/or checks payable to: PS 161 PTA.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Looking ahead to our November meeting, we will be hosting a Thanksgiving Pot Luck during our PTA meeting scheduled for Monday, November 23. We are asking EVERYONE to bring a dish, dessert or beverage to share with the general PTA body. We need everyone to participate in this in order to succeed, so if you don’t cook, then bring some cups or napkins! We will be sending out a tear-off form for you to complete as we get closer to the date.

Additionally we will have a uniform exchange that evening. If you have gently worn and clean uniforms that you would like to donate (as well as coats, baby items etc.), please bring them to the meeting on November 23rd to share with your fellow parents.

Help needed!

We need many volunteers in order for our activities and fundraisers to be successful. With that said, we are looking for a few volunteers to iron some donated uniforms. We are hoping to have this project done in order to make the uniforms to parents at the next workshops. If you are interested in volunteering with this project or with any other project, please contact me at

Picture Day Info

We want to thank you for participating in School Picture Day - it was chaotic but overwhelmingly successful. I would like to thank SLT Member Carol Wilson and our other staff and parent volunteers who were on hand on October 19th to make sure this day was a success - from coordinating the photographers, to straightening ties and patting down braids - THANK YOU!!

Please note that it will take up to four weeks for the pictures to arrive at school – do not call the main office to ask them for this information. Once the pictures have arrived and are distributed, save the information on the envelope – there will be an account number for which you can call the customer service rep assigned to our school. You will be able to contact that rep, for issues about quality, increasing your order etc. If your child was absent on October 19th or if the quality of your picture is extremely unsatisfactory, our Picture Retake Day will on Monday, November 23rd. Please mark your calendars, as this will be your final opportunity to take pictures for this school year.

November 2009 Calendar

The November calendar came out this week and below are some highlights:

Monday, November 2 - SLT Meeting; 5:30 pm

Tuesday, November 3 - Election Day; No Classes for Students

Wednesday, November 4 - Candy Delivery Day

Saturday/Sunday, November 7 and 8 - Grade 8 Specialized High School Admission Test

Tuesday, November 10 - Parent-Teacher Conferences; 1:00 - 3:00 pm and 6:00 - 8:30 pm

Wednesday, November 11 - Veterans Day; NO SCHOOL

Monday, November 16 - NY State Grade 5 Social Studies Test, Part I

Tuesday, November 17 - NY State Grade 5 Social Studies Test, Part II

Wednesday/Thursday, November 18/19 - Open School, Visit your child's class; 9:00 - 11:00 am

Friday, November 20 - Grade 2 & 3 Parent ELA Workshop; 9:00 am

Monday, November 23 - PTA Meeting (Thanksgiving Pot Luck); 6:30 pm

Thursday/Friday, November 26/27 - Thanksgiving Recess; NO SCHOOL

Monday, November 30 - Math Parent Workshop; 9:00 am

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gifted & Talented Admissions Update

From the NYC Department of Education:

Gifted & Talented Admissions Update

Information Sessions
Reminder: Information sessions about G&T admissions for Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade will be held in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan next week. Information session dates and locations are listed below and on the DOE website.

G&T Testing
If you’re interested in having your child attend an elementary school G&T program, you must complete a “Request for Testing” form. The forms are available at elementary schools, Borough Enrollment Offices and on the DOE website. You can complete and submit the form online or you can submit a paper copy to your child’s school (or local Borough Enrollment Office if your child attends private school). The deadline to submit a Request for Testing form is Friday, November 6.

G&T Handbooks
Gifted & Talented handbooks with practice tests and program guidelines are available at elementary schools, Borough Enrollment Offices and on the DOE website. For more information about the G&T admissions process for elementary school grades, you can visit the DOE website or call (212) 374-4948.

We hope to see you at an information session next week!

Elementary School Enrollment Team


Gifted & Talented Admissions Information Sessions

October 19: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
MS 113 Ronald Edmonds Learning Center
300 Adelphi Street, Brooklyn, NY 11205

October 20: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
New Dorp High School
465 New Dorp Lane, Staten Island, NY 10306

October 21: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Long Island City High School
14-30 Broadway, Queens, NY 11106

October 22: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Brandeis High School
145 West 84th Street, Manhattan, NY 10024


Please don't forget that Monday, October 19, 2009 is Picture Day. Irvin Simon photographers will be here again all day for our annual school picture event. Please fill the order 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 graduation pictures in 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. If you don’t have an order form you can fill one out on Picture Day (October 19) as the photographers will bring in extra blank forms. You can turn in the envelopes up till the 19th 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

PLEASE NOTE, CLASS PICTURES CANNOT BE REDONE – NO EXCEPTIONS. ALSO, STUDENTS MUST BE IN COMPLETE UNIFORMS FOR THE CLASS PICTURE. School pictures are one of a PTA’s biggest fundraisers, so we need everyone to participate.


We want to thank everyone who braved the weather to attend the PTA meeting last night. We especially want to thank our special guest, Martine Guerrier - Chief Family Engagement Officer of the Office for Family Engagement and Advocacy for providing a wealth of information about her role at it relates to NYC Parents.

Ms. Guerrier spoke about the middle school process and the various events that are related to that: open houses, tours, application deadlines etc. She also informed parents about the vast resources that are available to them and their children. Please go to the OFEA website to learn more.

We also had a guest from the 71st Precinct, Officer J. Evola stop by to meet parents and students. Officer Evola spoke about the work his precinct does to keep our community safe, and asked how they can be better partners. He asked parents to be a first line of defense between their children and outside influences.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

October 2009 Calendar

The October calendar came out this week and below are some highlights:

Thursday, October 1 - Meet & Greet School Night

Saturday, October 3 - Citywide High School Fair; Brooklyn Tech High School

Sunday, October 4 - Citywide High School Fair; Brooklyn Tech High School

Thursday, October 8 - Grade 5 Social Studies Parent Workshop

Saturday, October 10 - PS 161 Entrepreneur Club Fundraiser: Rockaway Revue 1:00 pm

Monday, October 12 - Columbus Day SCHOOL CLOSED

Thursday, October 15 - PTA Meeting; 6:30 pm

Sunday, October 18 - Breast Cancer Awareness Walk; Prospect Park

Monday, October 19 - School Picture Day

Tuesday, October 20 - A.R.I.S Parent Workshop; 9:00 am

Thursday, October 22 - Grade 3 Math Parent Workshop; 9:00 am

Saturday, October 24 - Borough High School Fair; Edward R. Murrow High School 11:00 am

Sunday, October 25 - Borough High School Fair; Edward R. Murrow High School 11:00 am

Wednesday, October 28 - CSLJ Ring Day

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Saturday Parent Academy

The Office for Family Engagement and Advocacy (OFEA) presents its second annual Saturday Parent Academy. The will be sessions on a variety of topics to support parent leaders in their various volunteer positions in our school. Whether you are already active in your school community or considering becoming involved, we invite you to join OFEA for Saturday Parent Academy.

The Program:
Registration: 9:00 - 9:30 am
Opening Session: 9:30 - 9:40 am
Overview of OFEA: 9:35 - 9:45

Workshop, Session 1 - 10:00 am - 11:30 am
  1. Ensuring success for your child's elementary school experience.
  2. Ensuring success for the first year of middle school.
  3. Title 1
  4. Overview of School Leadership Team
  5. Record Keeping
  6. Roles and Responsibilities of the PA/PTA

Workshop, Session 2 - 12:45 pm - 2:15 pm
  1. Ensuring success for your child's elementary school experience.
  2. Ensuring success for the first year of middle school.
  3. Title 1
  4. Overview of School Leadership Team
  5. Record Keeping
  6. Roles and Responsibilities of the PA/PTA

Closing session 2:15 pm - 3:00 pm

Dates and Locations
Manhattan/Brooklyn - Saturday, October 24, 2009 PS 234 Independence School; 292 Greenwich Street

Queens - Saturday, October 17, 2009 Aviation High School; 45-30 36th Street

Bronx - Saturday, November 21, 2009 The Fellsa Rinconde Gautier Institute for Law and Public Policy High School; 1440 Story Avenue

Staten Island - Tuesday, November 10, 2009The Petrides Complex Center; 715 Ocean Terrace Room 118

Contact the OFEA for registration details at 212.374.2323.

School Safety Forum

Community School District 17 invites all parents to a School Safety Forum - Children are welcome.

October 24, 2009, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at 1224 Park Place between Troy and Albany (entrance on Sterling Place).

The program will feature:

  • Gang Awareness
  • General Session on the Juvenile Justice System
  • Break-out sessions on school safety, cyber bullying and the NYC School Discipline Code
  • Operation Safe Child (Free Child ID) presentation by the Office of Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes

Special Guest Speakers: Congress Woman Yvette Clarke; Council Member Letitia James; Senator Eric Adams; Council Member Mathieu Eugene; Assemblyman Karim Camara; and Council Member Darlene Mealy.

Refreshments will be served, also Free "Give-Aways". For further information please call 718.221.4372

Rockaway Revue, Inc.

The Young Entrepreneurs Club at PS 161 along with First Baptist Church of Crown Heights Floral Ministry will host a community fundraiser to help purchase a video system for PS 161.

The Floral Ministry will present an autumn spectacular featuring the Rockaway Review, Inc. The performance titled "This is It" will be held at PS 161 on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 2:00 pm. Door open at 1 pm. Tickets are $20.00 (tickets will not be sold at the door on the day of the show.) Please contact PS 161/ Ms. Mackey or Ms. Arthur for more information. Light refreshments will be sold.

got game?

Calling all students between the ages of 5 and 17, the 78th Precinct Youth Council presents their 2009-2010 Basketball Season.

"The 78th Precinct Youth Council is a non-profit youth sports organization that provides Brooklyn children from kindergarten through high school with the opportunity to develop leadership abilities, team skills, and personal discipline."

Information for this season is listed below:


* * *


Season begins the last weekend of October and ends the first weekend in March. Games are in local public school gyms in the Park Slope area.

The Fee is $190 for 12 weeks of basketball training and games, jerseys, trophies or other awards, and a season-ending Pizza Party.

On-time registration has ended, however late fees are waived through October 10th for first-time registrants.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Thousands of children marched to City Hall this week in sensible black shoes, a stream of boys and girls from township schools across this seaside city that extended for blocks, passing in a blur of pleated skirts, blazers and rep ties. Their polite demand: Give us libraries and librarians."

No, that paragraph was not in a pamphlet from your local librarians and educators, but from an article in the New York Times describing a protest by students in South Africa to demand an overhaul to the education system there (click here to read the entire article). Earlier this month, PBS aired the latest installment of the Wide Angle documentary, Time for School, a 12-year project on global education. The recurring themes from both the series and article are: education for all children is a inalienable human right; developing countries

It seems as if the students from those countries yearn and appreciate the value of an education more than children in the 'First World' - specifically our children. What happened? When did we lose our way? There was a time in the history of this country when education was the only way to a better life. In fact it's fair to say that some folks died trying to receive a good education. In the Jim Crow south, children were packed into one-room schools; earlier than that, it was a crime for slaves to learn how to read and write. Yet fast-forward two/three hundred years, we have adopted such lackadaisical approach to education. Can we ever get back that passion? Does something have to be taken from us before we feel it's worth fighting for?


Thank you for attending the PTA meeting last Monday - we had a wonderful turnout of parents, staff and children!! It was great to meet everyone and to start off the school year with a strong showing of support.

During the meeting, the vacant position for treasurer was filled by Ms. Cindy-Ann Williams. Welcome Cindy-Ann, we look forward to working with you!

We want to remind you of some up-coming activities:

Thursday, October 1 - Meet & Greet/Open School House; 6:30 pm

Thursday, October 15 - PTA Meeting

Sunday, October 18 - Breast Cancer Awareness Walk; Prospect Park

Monday, October 19 - School Picture Day

Sunday, September 20, 2009

back in the day.....

I was lamenting the fact that my son takes so long to write and I realized it was due to the fact that he doesn't know how to write in cursive. Is this something else for us 'Helicopter' parents to worry about. Well to quote Granpa, 'back in my day', taking notes in class was impossible unless you wrote in cursive, what about signing your name? I remember the pride and joy when I was able to master my 'grownup' signature! But if you ask any child below the age of 15, and I suspect some older than that, they don't know how to write in cursive!

Glancing through the papers this weekend, I came across this article in the New York Daily News.

Cursive writing is a fading skill, but do we care enough to save it?


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston resident Kelli Davis was in for a surprise when her daughter brought home some routine paperwork at the start of school this fall. Davis signed the form and then handed it to her daughter for the eighth-grader's signature.

"I just assumed she knew how to do it, but I have a piece of paper with her signature on it and it looks like a little kid's signature," Davis said.

Her daughter was apologetic, but explained that she hadn't been required to make the graceful loops and joined letters of cursive writing in years. That prompted a call to the school and another surprise.

West Virginia's largest school system teaches cursive, but only in the 3rd grade.

"It doesn't get quite the emphasis it did years ago, primarily because of all the technology skills we now teach," said Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent for elementary education in Kanawha County schools.

Davis' experience gets repeated every time parents, who recall their own hours of laborious cursive practice, learn that what used to be called "penmanship" is being shunted aside at schools across the country in favor of 21st century skills.

The decline of cursive is happening as students are doing more and more work on computers, including writing. In 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019.

"We need to make sure they'll be ready for what's going to happen in 2020 or 2030," said Katie Van Sluys, a professor at DePaul University and the president of the Whole Language Umbrella, a conference of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Handwriting is increasingly something people do only when they need to make a note to themselves rather than communicate with others, she said. Students accustomed to using computers to write at home have a hard time seeing the relevance of hours of practicing cursive handwriting.

For the rest of the article, click here.

Destination Book Fair

PS 161 is hosting a Scholastic Book Fair on September 29, 2009 through October 1, 2009.

From the Scholastic website - FALL 2009 THEME: Destination Book Fair!

Books take you places, near and far. Destination Book Fair invites readers everywhere to Read Around the World!

Scholastic Book Fairs is sending readers on an adventure, giving them a passport to meet interesting people and visit amazing places through books. Bon voyage! Happy reading!

Please support our school while encouraging your child's passion for reading when you attend and support the book fair.

PTA Meeting on September 21, 2009

Please join us for the first PTA meeting of the school year on Monday, September 21, 2009. You will have the opportunity to meet teachers, staff and parent board members from the PTA, PAC and SLT (you will also learn what all those acronyms are!)

Additionally, a position on the PTA recently became available and we are now looking for a treasurer. If you are interested in joining the PTA board as treasurer, please join us on the 21st to nominate yourself and/or vote.

Monday, August 31, 2009


They say all good things must come to an end - and summer vacation is one of those that depending on your point of view can mean the return to friends, colleagues and routines and schedules. For parents and caregivers, it means a return to... serenity now!

The following is the schedule for the first week of school.

Monday, September 7 - Labor Day, NO SCHOOL

Tuesday, September 8 - Teachers and other staff report to school

Wednesday, September 9 - All Students: First Day of School
Early Dismissal for Kindergarten Students Only.
Partial school time for Prekindergarten Public School students

Thursday, September 10 - Early Dismissal for Kindergarten Students Only.
Partial school time for Prekindergarten Public School students

Friday, September 11 - Partial school time for Prekindergarten Public School students

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PTA Meeting Tonight

Please join us for the final PTA meeting of the year, scheduled for this evening at 6 pm. Tonight's agenda will feature a wrap-up of PTA activities of the 2008-2009 school year, an introduction to the new parent board members and a year-end appreciation dinner.

We're back baby!!

First and foremost, I apologize for the lack of posts this school year.

However with a newborn at home, and crippling technical difficulties it was often impossible to post. BUT, WE ARE BACK!!!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

January 2009 Calendar

The January calendar was distributed today, and the following are the highlights:

Tuesday, Wednesday January 13 and 14: New York State ELA Exam; Grades 3, 4 and 5

Thursday, January 15: New York State ELA Exam: Grade 4

Wednesday, January 14: SLT Meeting; 5:30 pm

Monday, January 19: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day - NO SCHOOL

Tuesday, January 20: Presidential Inauguration

Wednesday, Thursday January 21 and 22: New York State ELA Exam; Grades 6, 7 and 8

Friday, January 23: New York State ELA Exam: Grade 6

Thursday, January 22: PTA Meeting; 6:30 pm

Tuesday, January 27: 8th Grade G.A.C. Meeting; 5:30 pm

Friday, January 30: Hearing/Vision Screening begins for Grades K & 1


New parent officers: Ms. Leah Cooper joins us as PTA Corresponding Secretary and Ms. Indira DeCastro joins us on the SLT. Please welcome them to the board and we look forward to working with them!

we're baaaaaaaaaaack!

Apologies for staying away for so long - but we are back from our extended maternity leave (it's boy!).

First of all, we wish you all a Happy New Year! 2008 was a year that most of us want would rather forget - so we gladly welcome 2009. Let's hope that we have a healthy and prosperous new year.