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.

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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.



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!




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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,


Diversity in Admissions

Dear EVCS Family,

I am pleased to announce that our school has been accepted into the Chancellor’s Diversity in Admissions pilot program. In next year’s admissions cycle, priority will be given to students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch or students who are learning English for 50% of our Pre-K and Kindergarten seats. Students who attend EVCS for Pre-K will still be given priority for K seats, and sibling status will continue to be honored as a top admissions priority.

If you came to School-Wide Morning Meeting a couple of weeks ago you heard me talk about one of our core values: kindness. Another principle that is essential in our school culture and central to all we do, is inclusion. Our mission statement reads: “It is our priority to provide an environment where all children and all families are valued, welcomed, cared for and supported.” Yet over the last several years our school has become significantly less diverse. There is a growing trend in District 1, which has used a system of “pure choice” in the admissions protocol, of clustering according to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Our demographics at EVCS have become increasingly dissimilar to other District 1 schools and the neighborhood we serve, and many in our community have become uncomfortable with this. I am hopeful that the Diversity in Admissions pilot program will represent a significant step in the right direction to correct this trend. We’ll be joined in this pilot by our District 1 friends the Children’s Workshop School, the Earth School and the Neighborhood School. You can read a bit more about the pilot program in today’sNYTimes and Chalkbeat.

I’m looking forward to working shoulder to shoulder with our amazing school community to usher in this exciting and important initiative.

As ever,


Schoolyard Renovation

Dear Parents,

We are thrilled to announce that due to generous grants from Council Member Rosie Mendez, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and the The Trust for Public Land, the shared schoolyard at 610 East 12th Street will be getting a renovation. The Trust for Public Land’s NYC Playgrounds Program staff will begin working with the three schools and community members this fall to design a new school and community playground on the schoolyard.

Established in 1972, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a nonprofit organization that is committed to bringing open space and recreational resources to communities under-served by parks. TPL’s NYC Playgrounds Program has designed and/or created nearly 190 new playgrounds in NYC over the past 20 years. One of the unique features of TPL’s Playgrounds Program is that students, parents and community members design the new park.

TPL gave an introduction to the project in the school auditorium this morning and kids are pretty excited! TPL will then be leading design sessions with a design team made up of school representatives, students, parents, and community members on four Wednesday mornings in October and November: October 19, 26, November 9 and November 23. The meetings will begin at 9am in the library and usually run for about two hours.

We are very excited about this project that will benefit hundreds of children and their families in our community. More information, including updates from the design team, soon.



Coffee Talk with Bradley – Safety and Emergency Preparedness

I hope to see you at our first ever Coffee Talk with Bradley tomorrow morning where the topic for discussion will be Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The forecast calls for sun and unseasonably warm temperatures, so we’ll meet in the Tree of Knowing Garden right after drop off.

If you’re looking for some reading material to fertilize the conversation, here’s an article from The Atlantic, one from The Times, and one from The Washington Post.

Or just show up! There will be coffee. We’ll talk.


School Wide Morning Meeting Message 9/26/16

Dear EVCS students,

Welcome to the first School-wide Morning Meeting of the year!  For our new students and families – School-wide Morning Meeting is one of our favorite traditions at EVCS.  Every other Monday morning our whole school community gets together to sing songs, share things we’ve been working on in music class, and think about what is most essential in our learning.

This year, in addition to exploring the Habits of Mind together, we will be thinking about our Core Values as a school.  What are the things we care about the most at our school?  What is universal at EVCS, regardless of what grade you are in?  What do we stand for?

We will be working on developing a short list of our core values this year, but I want to start us off with the first one:

Our Core Value is kindness.

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Safety at EVCS

Dear EVCS family,

In light of recent, scary events here in our great city I thought it is a good time to review our building-wide procedures for emergency preparedness. None of us likes to ponder the unimaginable scenarios where we would have to execute these procedures outside of a drill, but we all recognize the importance of knowing what to do, and being able to do it quickly and safely.  Continue reading