Spring Updates

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Dear EVCS Family,

It’s an exciting time of year! The plants in our Tree of Knowing Garden have all woken up from their winter slumber and the Kindergartners and First Graders are busy planting spring vegetable crops. Our Second Graders are getting ready to go sailing in New York Harbor next week on the 19th Century schooner Pioneer, and our Fifth graders are getting ready for their overnight camping trip in the Catskills. And of course our parents are getting very psyched to party down this Saturday at our annual gala. It’s spring time at EVCS!

Our core value is social action.

I’m very excited to tell you about a project our older students have been working on recently. Our Fourth and Fifth graders have been learning about the crisis unfolding in Syria. They learned a bit about the history of the crisis and the forces at play, but we have kept the majority of the focus away from the politics of the region, which are very complicated, and more on the plight of the many displaced citizens who are victims of the crisis. Our students have been struck by the abject human suffering and the numbers of people who have been affected, and have felt determined to do something that might help. You should expect awareness raising and fund raising efforts to come from these classes soon! And we have planned a very special event for the entire school community – a concert of traditional Syrian music performed by the New York Arabic Orchestra, right in our school auditorium. The concert will be on May 11th at 1:30 PM and all family members are invited!

Our core value is joy of learning.

I have great news to report! We recently found out that we received a grant from the DOE to have a fully funded Physical Education teacher at our school next year, and subsidized funding over the following few years. This means our children will have regular PE opportunities next year and beyond, which is something that we have been needing and wanting. Now we just need to hire an excellent PE teacher — if you have any leads please let me know.

That’s all for now. See you on Saturday!

Kind regards,

Bradley

Betsy DeVos would be bad for public education

Our Core Value is Social Action

Dear EVCS Family,

I feel compelled to share with you my deep concerns about President Trump’s nominee to lead the US Department of Education, Betsy DeVos. As Secretary of Education she would be in a position to create policy that would directly affect our school and all public schools. Please consider these actual facts (and a few personal opinions).

Betsy DeVos has absolutely no experience in public schools – not as a student, not as a parent, and not as a teacher or administrator. She has no background in education whatsoever and would not meet the baseline criteria to qualify for a job as a teacher in New York State, let alone a school or district leader. How can she possibly be qualified to lead the United States Department of Education?

Continue reading

Between the World and Me

Dear EVCS Family,

I hope to see many of you on Tuesday evening for our discussion of the beautiful and heartbreaking book by Ta-Nehisi Coates , Between the World and Me. We’ll gather at 5:30 (room TBD). Though this event is part of the “Coffee Talk with Bradley” series, we’ll probably forgo the coffee and instead have something more appropriate for the hour. If you haven’t read the book but would like to participate anyway, please come. For those of you who can’t make it on Tuesday – we’ll miss you , but try to make space for this book in your life this year. It’s required reading for EVCS adults!

And I hope to see many of you tomorrow at the New York City Women’s March. Many of us from EVCS will be there to stand up for our core values: Kindness, Inclusion, Social Action and Self Awareness. In case you missed it in Catharine’s last email: we will be joining the Rude Mechanical Orchestra group at 12 PM at 47th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. I’m fired up, ready to go.

Looking forward.

Bradley

End of year update

Dear EVCS families,

It was wonderful to see so many of you at our Festival of Lights on Wednesday! The kids looked and sounded fantastic – big thanks to our music teacher Stephanie for putting the entire program together. Another big thanks goes out to the Family Band. Was that not the swingingest version of Greensleeves you’ve ever heard?

I wanted to touch base before we unplug for the holidays to update you on a couple of things, including our diversity in admissions initiative. Last month there was an article in the Times that led some to believe the initiative was on hold. I’m not sure if that piece qualifies as “fake news”, but it was misleading. I’m here to tell you that the initiative is most definitely not on hold. In the admissions cycle for the 2017-2018 school year, students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch, or who are English Language Learners, will be given priority for 50% of our Pre-K and Kindergarten seats. Students who have older siblings at EVCS and those who were here for Pre-K will still be given top priority for seats. I’m confident that this initiative will represent a positive and important step for our school, and I’m proud that we are a part of it. Continue reading

Reminder: Sign up for Blind Cinema!

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Dear families of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students,

If you haven’t already, please take time to consider signing your child up to participate in this unique opportunity. If we don’t get enough students from EVCS to participate we will open it up to other schools, but we want to make sure EVCS students get priority. If you are interested, please fill out this brief form:

Blind Cinema Student Participation Sign Up

Let me know if you have any questions!

Bradley

BACKGROUND:

EVCS along with PS122 will be working with Belgian-based artist Britt Hatzius to bring her film/performance experience called Blind Cinema to New York City this winter as part of their Coil Festival. EVCS kids will play a very important role in the experience of this film, and any interested 3rd, 4th or 5th grade students from EVCS are invited to participate. Here’s a statement from the artist about the project:

In the darkness of a cinema space, the audience sits blindfolded. Behind each row of audience members is a row of children who in hushed voices describe a film only they can see. Accompanied by the soundtrack (which has no dialogue), the whispered descriptions are a fragile, fragmentary and at times struggling but courageous attempt by the children to make sense of what they see projected on the screen.

The screenings of the film will be on January 9, 10, 11 and 12 at 5:30 PM, at the SVA Theatre – 333 West 23rd Street. EVCS staff will escort all kids who are participating to the theater from school, and back again when it’s finished. Each child who volunteers will participate in only one screening. To learn even more about Blind Cinema, please check out Britt Hatzius’ website.

Performance Space 122.

BLIND CINEMA POSTER

TICKETS ARE ON SALE HERE

BlindC 2015

EVCS Playground Results

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Thank you to all who voted for our new school yard! From all three schools, seven hundred thirty one kids, parents, and teachers voted for the new yard plan! After tallying all of the votes, 153 people voted for Option 1 (larger track and field but smaller, new play structure) and 578 people voted for Option 2 (smaller track and field but larger, refurbished play structure). While the winner was clear, there was still a lot of great suggestions put into our ballot box as well. The fourth graders working on the planning committee met one final time to look at the comments and make adjustments. Above is the final plan for the yard. (It’s hi-res, so you can zoom in closer to see details.)

This plan is Option 2, but includes a few changes based on the feedback that design received. The playhouse designed for the younger students will now be on the new play mats near the playground equipment. By making this move, we were able to incorporate the outdoor classroom space near the 12th Street fence so many people wanted from the initial Option 1 design. The four-square and the basketball shooting station is also now co-located, allowing that space to be more multi-purpose and keep the larger playing area less structured. This final design also now includes our students’ designs for artwork to be painted on the ground! The theme the students in our building voted on was “outer space” and so the artwork reflects that theme.

Now comes the fun part – waiting for approvals and permits from the city! We’ll keep everyone posted as to the timeline for the work to begin, but our fingers are crossed for summertime construction!

Blind Cinema

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Dear families of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students,

You know what’s one of the very best salves in trying times? Art. Making art, looking at art, talking about art, and participating in art happenings can do wondrous things for the soul. Well, we have a unique opportunity this year for our kids to get involved in something very cool through a new partnership with Performance Space 122.

PS122 will be working with Belgian-based artist Britt Hatzius to bring her film/performance experience called Blind Cinema to New York City this winter as part of their Coil Festival. EVCS kids will play a very important role in the experience of this film, and any interested 3rd, 4th or 5th grade students from EVCS are invited to participate. Here’s a statement from the artist about the project:

In the darkness of a cinema space, the audience sits blindfolded. Behind each row of audience members is a row of children who in hushed voices describe a film only they can see. Accompanied by the soundtrack (which has no dialogue), the whispered descriptions are a fragile, fragmentary and at times struggling but courageous attempt by the children to make sense of what they see projected on the screen.

Continue reading

Harvest Festival Tomorrow!

Dear EVCS Family,

Tomorrow is the Harvest Festival! If you haven’t already brought in cans of food, it’s not too late. You can bring them tomorrow morning directly to the auditorium.

Apropos, our fifth grade students have been learning a song in Spanish with the help of parent Anna Cordero. It’s a beautiful song by Danny Rivera with a message that resonates deeply as we prepare for our Harvest Festival. The words in Spanish are:

Tu gente es mi gente, tu hambre es mi hambre _
Tu rabia es mi rabia, que no importa nadie _
Y mis ilusiones por querer ser alguien _
Y a estar separados, aquí entre dos calles._

It can be translated as:

Your people are my people, your hunger is my hunger _
Your anger is my rage, that nobody matters _
And my dreams of being someone _
And to be separated, here between two streets._

I’m so proud that we are teaching our students that we won’t let the streets we happen to be on, or anything else separate us in our community! The fifth graders will be sharing this song at a School-Wide Morning Meeting soon.

We’ll get started right at 8:50 with a little singing, and then we’ll march down to the Trinity Church soup kitchen and pantry by 9:15. I sure hope you can join us.

Yours,

Bradley

School Wide Morning Meeting Message 11/14/2016

Dear EVCS students,

I hope you had a wonderful and restorative three-day weekend with your families!

At the last two School-Wide Morning Meetings I talked to you about our first Core Value: Kindness.  Kind people show concern for others, for our school, and for the environment.  Kind people have empathy and try to understand or share other people’s feelings.  Every single person in our school community has the capacity and ability to be kind!  Today I want to introduce you to our next core value:

Our core value is Social Action.

Social action involves identifying things that are wrong in our world and then taking steps to make them better.

Sometimes the problems of the world seem so big that it’s hard to imagine how we can make a difference.  But we can think about ways to make an impact here in our own community.  For example, there are people right here in our neighborhood who don’t have enough food to eat.  We can help those neighbors by collecting cans and boxes of food for the annual Harvest Festival.  This is a form of social action!  We’ll all march down to the soup kitchen next week and deliver the food we’ve collected.  When you go into the soup kitchen, please say a big “Thank you!” to the kind women and men who work there.  They are also doing a kind of social action by preparing the donated food for our hungry neighbors.

There are so many other ways to help make the world a kinder and better place through social action, and you will explore some of those ways with your classmates this year.

In the words of Margaret Mead,  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Don’t underestimate your ability to be make a positive change in the world!  We’re counting on you!

Love,

Bradley

Onward

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Dear EVCS Family,

Politics aside, I want to acknowledge the heightened level of melancholy and anxiety within our school community, especially among our students (but also among our parents). The tone in the schoolyard this morning as families arrived was uncharacteristically somber! This has been a brutal election cycle and our nation clearly needs some healing. I want to share with you that in the midst of my own personal journey over the last many months, culminating late in the wee hours of this morning, I have taken tremendous solace in the fact that my family and I are a part of something truly great and wonderful in this school community. Regardless of the turmoil all around us, the kids and adults at EVCS will continue to teach, learn and practice kindness, inclusion, and generosity. I comforted more than a few students today by reminding them of how lucky we are to live in the greatest city in the world, and to go to a school we love where we are safe and part of a community that takes care of each other.

One parent asked me today if we could schedule an “emergency School-Wide Morning Meeting”! Regardless of how your family may have voted, I think we could have all benefited from some Kumbaya this morning. Hang in there – this coming Monday we will gather in the auditorium to sing loud and proud together. I hope you’ll be there to sit with your kids and lend your voice. Definitely on the sing along agenda: This Land is Your Land and We Shall Overcome!

Another thing we can do to lift our collective spirits and empower our children as agents of change for good in their world is to collect more cans than ever before for our annual Harvest Festival food drive. Our school’s mission statement refers to the importance of community building, social responsibility and contributing towards positive social change. Directly helping others in our community who are in need is a wonderful way to foster these values of kindness and community. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

As ever,

Bradley