November 2018 Community & School News

Important School Dates:
• November 1 – Elementary Admission Event
• November 2 – TACHS Exam
• November 6 – Election Day (no school for public school students)
• November 9 – Deadline to schedule Gifted and Talented Test
• November 12 – Veteran’s Day observed (schools closed)
• November 14–15 – Elementary School Parent-Teacher Conferences
• November 19–20 – District 75 Parent-Teacher Conferences
• November 22-23 – Thanksgiving Recess
• November 27–28 – Middle School Parent-Teacher Conferences
• November 29–30 – High School Parent-Teacher Conferences

The Big Apple Awards
Think your child’s teacher is the cream of the crop? Nominate ‘em for a Big Apple Award! Now in its seventh year, the Big Apple Awards are granted annually to New York City’s most outstanding teachers. Since 2013, 88 teachers have been recipients of the prestigious award.

Nominating a teacher for this award is a wonderful way to show your gratitude for the impact they have made in your child’s life. Last year, over 6,500 teachers were nominated from over 1,300 schools across the city. To qualify, nominees must be current, full-time public school teachers in City district schools, charter programs, or early childhood education centers who inspire their students, exemplify great teaching, and improve their school communities. Nominations are accepted anonymously, and your nominee will not be given your name without your permission. To nominate a teacher, you will need to provide the teacher’s name and subject, the school name and borough, the teacher’s email address, and the school principal’s name. You will also need to provide a brief statement on why your nominee should be considered for the award.

Once this year’s Big Apple Award recipients are selected and identified in spring 2019, they will each be given the opportunity to participate in the Big Apple Fellowship and represent teachers citywide during monthly meetings as members of the Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Group during the 2019–20 school year.

You only have until November 26 to nominate your favorite teacher, so don’t miss out. Click here to learn more about the award and link to a nomination form. Good luck to all of Staten Island’s wonderful teachers!

Seen Enough Tobacco Day
Did you know the average age of a new smoker in New York is just 13 years old? There is overwhelming evidence to indicate the more young people see tobacco marketing, the more likely they are to start smoking (per a report from the U.S. Surgeon General).

According to, young people are almost twice as likely as adults to recall tobacco advertising, and it makes them more likely to smoke. That’s why Reality Check of Tobacco-Free Staten Island recently spent an afternoon at Wolfe’s Pond Park, where they hosted a chalk the walk and cigarette butt cleanup for their second Annual Seen Enough Tobacco Day.

Seen Enough Tobacco Day aims to demonstrate the scary impacts of tobacco marketing on youth in the community. The group’s goal was to protect themselves and other children from the billions of dollars tobacco companies spend advertising in places that can be seen by young people and to help put an end to youth smoking and tobacco use. Wolfe’s Pond was chosen for its location near one of the largest high schools on Staten Island. Kids spent the afternoon clearing the butts and placing flags where tobacco litter once was across the beach, and chalk messaging on the paths leading up to the beach. Click here to link to more information.

Free Skiing & Snowboarding for Kids
Thinking of a snowy getaway this winter? The Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association is once again offering free skiing or snowboarding up to three times to fourth and fifth graders at participating PA resorts. Additionally, the students can take advantage of a beginner lift, lesson, and rental package free and 50% off a beginner lift, lesson and rental package for the accompanying adult. Families do not have to be from PA to participate. Snowpasses are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis, so PSAA encourages families to fill out their applications online now. There is a nominal online processing fee of $35 before Dec. 1 and $40 after. Go to for a list of resorts where the Snowpass can be used, to download an application, as well as helpful first-time ski tips for kids.

Small Business Saturday
Show some love to your neighborhood businesses by shopping small! Small Business Saturday is a day when people across the country are encouraged to shop and support small, local businesses. Small Business Saturday was deemed a national shopping holiday in 2011 and is held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving during the busiest holiday shopping weekend of the year. This year, it will be held on Saturday, November 24. The Chamber of Commerce has signed up to be this year’s Staten Island Small Business Saturday Neighborhood Champion. If you own a small business, you can sign up at and contact the Chamber to help you promote it. Be sure to post your pics and purchases using the hashtag #ShopSmallStatenIsland!

Geoffrey’s Comeback
Are you still a Toys “R” Us kid? If so, we have some good news. The company posted the following tweet last month “Guess who’s back? He’s been traveling across the globe for the past few months but now #GeoffreysBack and once again ready to set play free for children of all ages. Share some of your favorite memories and get ready to make a whole lot of new ones!” The tweet linked to a press release indicating that its current investors would be holding onto all trademarks associated with the company, including Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, Geoffrey,, and over 20 well-known toy and baby brands like Imaginarium, Koala Baby and Journey Girl. Many are rejoicing over the news of a possible comeback after the company’s early 2018 bankruptcy left a gaping hole in the toy industry. However, thousands of former employees who are still awaiting severance pay were not happy to hear the news. What comes next is still unclear; but with the holiday season upon us, anything is possible.

Staten Island Student Wins Golden Ticket
Penguin Young Readers has chosen five children from across the United States to become the new golden ticket winners in their Roald Dahl’s Imaginormous Challenge — which tasks participants to come up with an imaginative 100-word story idea — and one of the winners is from right here in Staten Island.

Tara Isabel Dee Lago, a student at St. Joseph Hill Academy, is this year’s Theatrical Creation winner. Tara is meeting with the company from the new musical Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Cincinnati in order to transform her story idea into a theatrical creation with the help of the cast and choreography team.

“A pleasant surprise of epic proportions cannot even begin to describe the euphoria I felt when I learned that I was going to meet with the company from Roald Dahl’s play ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Tara said. “It was like a bridge from my dreams to reality has been formed… And I cannot wait to cross it!”

Since its inception last year, Roald Dahl’s Imaginormous Challenge has received over 50,000 story ideas from kids aged 5-12 throughout the U.S. The Challenge will be returning in 2019.

Catholic School Touring Tuesdays
Are you thinking of enrolling your child in Catholic School? The Archdiocese of New York has announced the dates for its 2018-19 “Touring Tuesdays” events at 133 elementary schools throughout the Archdiocese of New York, which includes Staten Island’s Catholic Schools. Touring Tuesday open house events are designed to introduce prospective families to the benefits of a Catholic education. These open house events will take place on select Tuesdays throughout the school year from 9am to 11am or by appointment. The 2018-19 dates are: November 13, December 4, January 8, January 29 (during Catholic Schools Week), February 12, March 5, March 19 and April 9. Link to the Catholic Schools here.

Special Discounts for Staten Island Vets
The Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Assemblyman Michael Cusick in the Staten Island Veteran’s Discount Program, a new initiative dedicated to thanking veterans living on Staten Island for their service to the country and community. Veterans will receive an identification card that, when presented at a participating business, will entitle them to a predetermined discount on goods or services.

Staten Island Veterans who are interested in the program can sign up at Assemblyman Cusick’s office (1911 Richmond Ave., 718-370-1384) with their discharge papers (DD214) and receive the Staten Island VETS identification card. This card will give them access to discounts at local businesses who have signed up for the program. Participants will receive a list of participating businesses that offer discounts. For a link to a list of participating businesses or to sign up, click here.

Blue Ribbon Winner in Staten Island
Congratulations to the College of Staten Island High School for International Studies on receiving a 2018 Blue Ribbon Award, an honor bestowed upon schools across the country in recognition of academic excellence. Just 20 public and private schools in New York State received the award this year. Other past Staten Island Blue Ribbon schools include P.S. 5, P.S. 35, P.S.53, P.S.48, the Hungerford School, Staten Island Technical High School, Tottenville High School, and Port Richmond High School.

2019 Public School Directories & Applications
A wealth of helpful knowledge – in the form of important links and directories – can be found at

Pre-Kindergarten. If your child was born in 2015, it’s almost time to apply to pre-kindergarten. The application period will be opening this winter. Link to more information, including the 2019 Staten Island Pre-Kindergarten Directory (when it becomes available), and other pre-kindergarten admissions resources at

Kindergarten. If your child was born in 2014, it’s time to start thinking about kindergarten. The application period will be opening very soon. All families currently residing in NYC should submit an application if you would like your child to attend kindergarten in a public school. Link to more information, including the 2019 Staten Island Kindergarten Directory (when it becomes available), and other kindergarten admissions resources at

Middle School & High School. Both middle and high school applications for public school must be submitted by December 3, 2018. High school resources, open houses and help with the application process can be found at You can also find the 2019 High School Directory and 2019 Middle School Directory at

Gifted & Talented. If you would like your child to take the test for Gifted & Talented programs, you must register by November 9. Go to for links to the registration form as well as other important Gifted & Talented resources.

College. The Department of Education suggests students apply to 8-15 colleges by December 1 of their senior year of high school. Financial Aid may be available for your family, even for application fees, so talk to your child’s school counselor about your options. You can download a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and get other important information about the college application process at

For those interested in the city’s 3-K program, it is not currently available in Staten Island. We will keep you posted!

Parent Teacher Conferences
It may not seem like it, but we are over two months into the school year already — which means it’s time for Parent Teacher Conferences! So take time to prepare. Talk first with your child to get a heads-up on any potential problem they might be having in the classroom and ask if there are any missing homework assignments or any upcoming projects they should be working on. Take note of how long it takes your child to complete their homework. Do they need a lot of help with their work? If your child is struggling, consider their seat assignment in the classroom. Are they distracted by certain other students, traffic near their desk, proximity to windows, or use of technology? Now is the time to ask for a change or for advice on how to help them succeed this school year.

Shore to Shore Upgrades for Staten Island Schools
Council Member Joseph C. Borelli announced recently that he’s allocated $550,000 in funding for South Shore Staten Island elementary schools in the Fiscal Year 2019. The funds will go toward a number of new initiatives and upgrades for a majority of the elementary schools in the Council Member’s district. The enhancements will include major technology upgrades, including smart boards and laptops at thirteen local schools; P.S. 4, 6, 8, 37, 42, 53, 55, 58, and 62, and I.S. 24, 34, and 72.

“We have the highest performing public schools in New York City right here on the south shore of Staten Island and it’s my privilege to augment the hard work of principals, parents, and PTAs by providing them with the resources they need to maintain their edge and continue producing outstanding students,” said Borelli.

Councilwoman Debi Rose also announced the allocation of $1.6 million for North Shore schools at the start of school year, which are being used for technology and infrastructure improvements. The Fiscal Year 2019 allocations include an auditorium upgrade at PS57, library upgrades to PS 861 and technology upgrades to 14 schools across the North Shore.

“Our world is changing rapidly, making it even more important to ensure that schools across the North Shore remain competitive,” added Councilwoman Rose, who spent more than two decades as executive director of Liberty Partnerships Program, which works to keep at-risk youth in school. “I know firsthand how technology, the arts and even a new playground or ballfield contribute to the learning experiences of our children, and so I was proud to allocate a significant portion of my capital funds to our local schools, as I do every year since I have been in office.”

Welcoming Our Newest Staten Islander!
Congratulations to Jill and Chris Bergstrom on the birth of their
fourth child, Matthew Domenick Bergstrom. Matthew was born on
October 12, 2018 at 12:15am and weighs 7 pounds, 9 ounces and is
20.5 inches long. Siblings Samantha, Michael and Elizabeth are proud to have a new baby brother, especially Michael. To submit your child’s birth announcement please visit

Exciting News for Harry Potter Fans
Grab your brooms and zoom into Manhattan! Harry Potter: A History of Magic, the British Library’s most successful exhibition, can now be viewed at the New-York Historical Society. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the New York exhibition explores the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories and showcases a new selection of objects that are on view to the public for the very first time.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic features centuries-old treasures, including rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the collections of the British Library, the New-York Historical Society, and other museums, as well as original material from publisher Scholastic and J.K. Rowling’s own archives. The exhibit is organized around the highly familiar subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including: Potions and Alchemy, Herbology, Divination, Charms, Astronomy, Defense Against the Dark Arts and Care of Magical Creatures. The New York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West in Manhattan. Click here to learn more about this magical exhibit.

A New Name for PS37R in Great Kills
P37R will now be known as The David Marquis School of the Arts, after the founding Director of Marquis Studios who passed away in November 2017.

“Equity and Access to the ARTS for Special Education Students accentuates their abilities,” said newly appointed P37R Principal Deborah Evans. Grounded in the belief of integrating the arts into curriculum, P37R is the home of the Teaching Artist Training Institute (TATI), which provides free training and arts education practices for individuals interested in working with students with multiple disabilities.

“Moving forward in the 2018-2019 school year and beyond, P37R is committed and will remain committed to the arts,” Principal Evans said. “P37R will be committed in all the ways we can, by all the means that we can and as long as we can. In honoring David Marquis’ legacy, we are humbled and proud to be formally named The David Marquis School of the Arts.”