Community & School News March 2017

Important School Dates
Wed, Mar 1 – Registration Day for Catholic High Schools
Mon, Mar 6 – D75 Evening Parent Teacher Conference
Tues, Mar 7 – D75 Afternoon Parent Teacher Conference
Wed, Mar 8 – Public Elementary School Evening Parent Teacher Conference
Thurs, Mar 9 – Public Elementary School Afternoon Parent Teacher Conference
Wed, Mar 15 – Public Middle School Evening Parent Teacher Conference
Thurs, Mar 16– Public Middle School Afternoon Parent Teacher Conference
Thurs, Mar 23 – Public High School Evening Parent Teacher Conference
Fri, Mar 24– Public High School Afternoon Parent Teacher Conference
Thurs, Mar 17 – Feast of Saint Patrick (some Catholic schools may be closed)

Spring Ahead!
Good news, Staten Island! Lighter, brighter days are on the horizon! Daylight Saving Time begins at 2am on Sunday, March 12. Don’t forget to set your clocks forward an hour. Not to be confused with when we “fall back” an hour in autumn, Daylight Saving Time provides some much-needed relief from the dark days of winter when the sun sets before many people leave work. We’re ready for you, spring!

Need a Summer Job?
Is your son or daughter looking for a summer work? Staten Island teenagers and young adults who wish to work over the summer break can apply through the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Qualified youths, ages 14-24, will be placed in paid, entry-level summer job programs for six weeks throughout July and August. SYEP also provides workshops on job readiness, career exploration, financial literacy, and opportunities to continue education and social growth. The programs are located in community-based organizations in all five boroughs of New York City. Applicants can apply online or at a community-based organization during the application period and will be selected via lottery. The deadline to apply is March 17, 2017. Go to to link to an application.

Pancakes with Purpose
Free flapjacks all around! To celebrate its 12th Annual National Pancake Day, IHOP is once again offering a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes to customers all day on Tuesday, March 7. Although the pancakes are free, guests are encouraged to pay it forward by making a donation to a local participating charity. The annual event has helped raise over $24 million for children’s and local charities across the country to date. The Staten Island IHOP is located at 935 Richmond Ave.

Free Tax Help 
Need a little help filing your taxes this year? Project Hospitality is now offering free tax preparation services to anyone who was unemployed or earned less than $54,000 in 2016. The help is available remotely from Volunteer Income Tax Assistance preparers who are certified by the IRS. It’s open until April 18. To schedule an appointment at 1546 Castleton Avenue, call 718-420-6466. To schedule an appointment at 514 Bay Street, call 718-448-3470.

Readers are Leaders
Borough President Oddo recently kicked off his annual Readers Are Leaders 4th Grade Reading Challenge with an exciting event held at P.S. 38. “Readers are Leaders” challenges 4th grade classes in Staten Island’s public, parochial and private schools to read a minimum of six books at grade level or above between February 20 and March 27, and then submit a report on their favorite book that they read during the period. Each school picks an “Exceptional Reader” to receive an award at a ceremony in May. Over 630,000 books have been read by bright 4th grade students since the challenge started 21 years ago. “This is a truly special program that has brought the love of books into the lives of so many Staten Island children,” said BP Oddo. “Whatever you want to learn about, whatever place you want to go to, reading can take you there.”

Springtime Basket Auctions
Holiday Fair season seems like a distant memory by now, but Spring Basket Auctions are right around the corner! Head to for a list of auctions held in Staten Island this spring. Feeling generous? Be sure to contact the schools in your area if you are interested in donating a basket of your own. If you would like your school’s auction to be added to the list, please email the details to [email protected] with the subject line: Basket Auctions.

Cloth Diapers for All
Cloth diapers may be a cost-effective alternative to disposable diapers, but not every family can afford the initial purchase of the reusable diapers. The Rebecca Foundation’s Cloth Diaper Closet (TRFCDC) is a non-profit organization based out of San Antonio, Texas, that assists families in covering the start-up costs involved in cloth-diapering. The initiative began locally but now covers 85 areas nationwide, recently adding Staten Island to the list. Families who are currently on a government assistance program, military-affiliated, foster parents, or parents of special needs children can complete an application for assistance online. Approved applicants will be provided with reusable diapers, on loan, for up to one year after the completion of a Cloth Diaper 101 class, which covers the care and use of the diapers. Each family on the loan program “pays it forward” by volunteering within the foundation for a minimum of 2 hours each month. Click here for more information on the program.

Reality Check: Smoking Kills
Did you know that tobacco is currently the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in New York State, contributing to 28,200 lives lost annually? A group of local teens met with state lawmakers in Albany last month to educate them on the success of established tobacco control programs and opportunities to further reduce the burden of tobacco addiction on New Yorkers. They described the valuable work being done in Staten Island to reduce smoking rates and to keep youth from starting smoking, which begins at 13 years old, on average. Reality Check youth of Tobacco-Free Staten Island, housed at the Jewish Community Center, informed the legislators that while New York State Tobacco Control Programs have been proven to reduce youth smoking and help current smokers quit, higher rates of smoking continue to persist among individuals with less than a high school education, income less than $25,000 a year and those with poor mental health.

Building a Better Team
The NY Sports Science Lab (SSL), based in Staten Island, recently visited St. Joseph By the Sea to bring its “Build a Better Team” assessment and technology to the athletic program. The assessment, which is conducted using state-of-the-art sports science technologies, tests for imbalances and weaknesses that usually go undetected, but may affect an athlete’s movement patterns and increase the risk of injury. The SSL worked with football and soccer athletes at Sea to provide access to technologies used by all the pro sports organizations throughout the country.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our team on an individual level”, said Mike Corona, Head Football Coach of St. Joseph by the Sea. “Having access to experts in the field of sports science, along with cutting-edge technologies, will allow our athletes to prevent injuries and further their athletic careers beyond high school, and into top athletic college programs in the country.”

SI Tech Test Changes
Is your child applying to a specialized high school in the fall? Upcoming changes to the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) will allow for a more diverse group of students to be admitted to those schools. The new test will omit a section that features questions not taught in public schools. It will also include the addition of a math portion that allows students to show their work. The SHSAT is the test for entry to Staten Island Technical High School in New Dorp.

Bag Tax Suspended
The bag tax has been bagged – for at least a year. Governor Cuomo recently signed a bill blocking the city from charging shoppers five cents for each plastic disposable bag used. The unpopular fee was originally slated to begin last month, but halted just one day before going into effect. Governor Cuomo hopes to quickly find a solution to environmental concerns posed by the overuse of plastic bags that will not hurt low-income consumers.

American Boy 
Great news for doll fans! American Girl recently debuted their very first boy doll, an 18-inch drummer named Logan Everett. The company is responding to feedback from parents and kids hoping for more diversity in its dolls. They are planning to release more dolls in 2017 than in previous years. The dolls will be more diverse than ever, including a Hawaiian doll and a Korean-American doll.

Literacy Day Celebration
The Staten Island Reading Association is set to celebrate their 10th annual Family Literacy Day on Saturday, March 18, from 1-4pm at the Staten Island CHildren’s Museum (located at 1000 Richmond Terrace on the grounds of Snug Harbor). This year’s theme is Wild About Reading. Children and their parents are encouraged to attend to celebrate the joy and importance of literacy. Children’s author, Michael Sampson, will be on site reading his famous books and there will be a variety of family fun events including arts and craft activities, read alouds, balloon animals, and a free book per child. “We look forward to celebrating another successful Family Literary Day,” said Diane Matteo, Co-President of the Reading Association. “We consider this to be an extraordinary opportunity to illustrate the importance of reading to our youth.”

The event is free with the purchase of a museum ticket. For further information, email [email protected] or call Staten Island Children’s Museum at 718-273-2060 ext. 265.

Pajama Program
Every child has the right to a good night. Pajama Program is a non-profit organization that supports that right — and a good day too — by giving at-risk children (children in homeless shelters, children living below poverty line, etc) the gifts of warm, new pajamas and an enchanting storybook at bedtime. The goal is for these gifts to fill them with love and a feeling of being cared for, transitioning them to bedtime and delivering a good night – preparing them for a good day that leads to a better life. The organization has provided over two million pajamas and books to children in need to date, with over 780 volunteers reading to kids all over the country so far this year alone.

Founder Genevieve Piturro was inspired to start her initiative in 2001 after meeting a homeless child who did not know what pajamas were. Genevieve then discovered that the children she read to at a local shelter did not have a caring adult to tuck them into bed each night, let alone a pair of warm, comforting pajamas to change into or a storybook to enjoy before bed. Instead, the children often slept on a cot or futon, two or three together, still wearing their clothes of the day. She then returned to the shelter with bags full of pajamas and storybooks, and Pajama Program was born.

Interested in donating or volunteering your time? Click here to link to more information.

Get Involved
Public schools need parents like you to champion for our children! Parents interested in running for a Community or Citywide Education Council can apply through March 5. New York City public school parents with children currently enrolled in kindergarten through 8th grade can run for a Community Education Council seat. Parents with a high school student can apply for the Citywide Council on High Schools. To run for the other three Citywide Councils (D75, English Language Learners and Special Education), a parent must have a student receiving the respective services or programs. Parents interested in becoming members of a Community or Citywide Education Council should visit to apply (or link directly at Parents can also text RUN2017 to 877-877 to receive an Elections Guide and ongoing updates.

“I encourage every parent to get more involved in their child’s education and run for a Community or Citywide Education Council,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Education Councils play a critical role in their school communities, impacting the lives of their child and thousands more. During the last CEC election in 2015, we saw a big spike in the number of parents who ran for a seat, and I know we will continue to see that enthusiasm and commitment to public education. Every parent- regardless of the language they speak or immigration status—should run and make a real difference in our public schools.”

Click here to read Community Council Education 31 President Michael Reilly’s column for Staten Island Parent. You can also submit a question or concern to be answered by Michel in a future column.

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