TRCS Monthly NewsletterOCTOBER 2011 
Terrace Garden Renovation
What Are YOU Up To This Summer?
Featured Article...Robotics Club Win
Renaissance Leaders
Cluster Updates
What's On Your Mind?
Spotlight On...
TRCS Sports Desk
PTA News
Renaissance Rocks!
Alumni Corner
Helpful Hints and Cool LInks

Website Quick Links







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What's New at TRCS!

 We are back in school in full swing, but our first newsletter is harking back to the summer, when teachers and administrators were busy planning and deepening their learning, but also engaging in some wonderful travel! Our school development team worked with the wonderful Taproot Foundation on a beautiful new brochure, designed and produced by professionals who give of their time and expertise to help non-profits.  We are so grateful to our hard-working staff and the many partners who help our school.  Read on to see what lies ahead for students here at Renaissance, in the 2011-2012 school year.  

Don't forget to scroll down to the bottom for Up-Coming Events!  

Renaissance Wins Two Grants to Renovate Garden Space!
 We are excited to announce that Renaissance is the recipient of two (so far!) grants to turn our third floor terrace space into a true urban garden! A $10,000 environmental grant from Con Edison will allow us to build gardening beds around the entire terrace perimeter.  The beds will be equipped with a built-in watering system, helping to keep our produce alive and healthy over vacations when the school is closed.  Another grant of $2,000 from Grow NYC (sponsors of the Sunday farmers market in Jackson Heights) will allow us to expand and repair the greenhouse, giving us 50% more space.  We are also the beneficiaries of a hydroponic growing system from NY SunWorks.  This organization built the Science Barge and is working to help schools build rooftop greenhouses.  We will be the first school in Queens with a fully operational hydroponic greenhouse.  Here our agriculture class will germinate their crops and then move them outside when weather permits, allowing for more variety of crops and a longer growing season.

All of this expansion work will allow us to offer more agricultural experiences to all of our students, as well as create a beautiful green space for our school.  Here is a 'before' photo. We are hoping to get some of this work done by volunteers, so if you are handy with a hammer, please get in touch with Peggy Heeney.

What Were YOU Up To This Summer?
We've asked our families and staff members to share their vacation stories with us.  Besides all the amazing professional development activities our hard-working teachers participated in, many of our staff shared fun summer stories at our first meeting early in September. John Vanek, worked on a farm in Spain, Ram visited family in the Philippines and Alison Peacock cultivated her passion for food with a tour of "pop-up restaurants.

Here is what Ali Rosow, our social worker, was up to!

"This Summer I had the amazing opportunity to spend 5 weeks traveling around South Etempleast Asia. I began my trip in Bangkok, where I visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, went to a tiger preserve and rode elephants. Next, I traveled South to the Islands, and spent time on the beach.  I then flew to Hanoi, Vietnam, traveled down the coast of Vietnam by bus and plane, stopping at different destinations along the way. I stayed on a boat in beautiful Halong Bay, went to Hoi An, where I took a cooking class, and then traveled via bus to Cambodia, where I visited temples in Phnom Penh, and saw the Genocide Museum, which deeply impacted me. I traveled through the Cambodian countryside to Siem Reap, where I experienced the incredible thousand year old temples of Angkor Wat. I then returned to Thailand, traveling North to the Chiang Mai region where I visited an elephant preserve, and completed a 2 day trek in the foothills of the Himalayas. Finally, I returned to Bangkok for a few days before coming home!"

Two of our Spanish Lanuage teachers, Dennis and Helen, spent a part of their summer doing professional development with Lincoln Center Institute.  This year they will use their experiences to focus on Spanish/Latin American art, comparing it with other cultures; learning to help students notice patterns and connect them to prior knowledge and experiences, others experiences and to text and resources, and learning to exhibit empathy to help students respect the diverse perspectives of other in the community. One of the workshops was called "Living with Ambiguity" - to help students understand that not all problems have immediate or clear-cut solutions and to be patient while a resolution becomes clear.  These topics are all so very important as students learn not just about communicating in another language, but understanding the many cultural aspects of one another.

Featured Article:
Robotics Club Wins Mechancial
Design Award
by Richard Doherty

 This year's Botball Robotics competition started off with a little excitement.  Everyone was ready to go to Regis High School on East 84th Street for the competition until Richard Doherty, the team advisor, checked his email that morning.  An emergency email from The KISS Institute of Practical Robotics in Norman, OK told us to stay home!  It seems there had been a fire at Regis, and the competition was postponed until the next weekend.  Roboticist Sarah Semple and her father didn't get the message in time, and they reported arriving at Regis only to see lots of glass on the sidewalk and experience lots of fire smell.  The had a great day, however, in Central Park.  (Another competitor, Xavier High School, had been practicing at Regis the night before, and they lost all their equipment when they left it there charging overnight.  They got new kits on Monday, and they went on to do very well at the postponed competition.) 

The team then faced another week of frantic continued development of their entries.  Max Perez never let on whether he was happy or sad; he just plugged away, making the programs better able to cope with slippery surfaces, uncooperative "biofuel" ping-pong balls and control tower building blocks.  Rebeca Falla-Riff was relieved that her hard work on submitting the documentation was done, so she relaxed.  Her hard work won us a lot of points.

 botballThis year's task revolved arou
nd an airport theme.  We had to place (paper) airplanes on the runway, move biofuel (stored in ping pong balls) to the fuel dump, build a new control tower and sort and move luggage.  Getting around involved a lot of clever moves, and grabbing objects was more difficult than usual this year.  Marcela Rodriguez and Erica Cawthon tested and modified a line-following program.  Jerry Anastasakos and Jairo Alvear worked with Nicholas Maniace on some clever mechanical designs while Alec Stachnic put the robots through their paces on our home-built playing field.  Dylan Neary got involved in everything, and we all had a great, cooperative team.
The next Saturday we commandeered several parent/drivers and all went to The Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ for the postponed competition. The robots performed as designed, but numerous minor technical difficulties conspired to keep our scores relatively low. The slipping wheels problem got worse after the pizza lunch provided for all.  You guess why. 
Our hard work was rewarded in the end, though, with a Judge's Choice Award for Mechanical Design.  Our design used two balls as the "front wheels" of the two robots.  This clever design caught the judges' eyes, and the comment was that they had never seen this innovation used before.  Former Botballer Scott Brevda joined us for the competition.  Scott is at Fordham, and he earned an A- in the C++ programming course he took there last Fall. Science teacher Richard Doherty is attempting to win $10,000 from the Ashoka Changemakers Competition to revitalize the equipment for the elementary after school program.


Renaissance Leaders in Action!

In keeping with the TRCS motto: "Developing Leaders for the Renaissance of New York", a number of Renaissance students are learning about how the government works by getting involved and giving back. Junior Minah Whyte has been selected to join the Coro New York Leadership Center community as a member of the Mayor's Youth Leadership Council.  Coro is New York City's premier leadership training program and a community of 2,000 alumni across business, government, schools and non-profits that is shaping our city's future.  In the words of Mayor Bloomberg:   "The Mayor's Youth Leadership Council will help bring a critical voice to our Administration's policy making process - the next generation. Talented, committed, and passionate young people have an important role to play in shaping New York City's future."

Sophomores Ryan White and Wagner Mendoza stayed busy last spring, when they presented a mock bill in Albany as part of the YMCA Youth in Government Program. Also in the spring, Seniors Samuel Benitez and Stephen Ruck went to Washington D.C. as part of their internship with the Queens District Attorney Youth Council.  This year Daisy Garate and Eric Wortman will join Ryan and Wagner by participating in the Queens District Attorney Youth Council.  

We have an active Student Government this year in both the middle school and the high school, and elections for class representatives are underway.  Last year's student government so impressed our district legislators that we have two students who are interning at the district offices.  Ayana Vega (9th grade) is working at Senator Jose Peralta's office and Saoussan Elghouass (12th grade) is working at Assemblyman Francisco Moya's office. 


 Congratulations to our leaders one and all!    

Cluster Updates

Cluster 1:   K-5 classes have all been working hard on the beginning year's assessments, and they are all looking forward to Spirit Week (starting Monday, October 31, when they will be dressing up for Halloween!)

Cluster 2:   Our middle school is organizing the MS Student Council.  Elections were held last week and the results are in!  Destiny Evans, Sean Bradley, Corinne Stonebraker and Zahid Hasan will represent the 7th grade, and Tenzin Samten, Julia Krutel, Sarah Semple and Luke Rogan will represent the 8th grade.  The representatives will vote amongst themselves to determine who will be president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and committee chairpersons, including choosing a representative to the CSG. Watch out for our student leaders in action!   

Cluster 2 would like to recognize our Students of the Month for September: Respect for School Rules are: Wallace (701), Leon (702), Julia F. (801), and Nia (802).  Congratulations to all!

Cluster 3: While the 10th and 11th graders took the important PSAT test last week, the 9th graders went to the Bronx Zoo and the 12th graders took in the Intrepid Air and Space Museum.  Students are busy preparing for the Halloween dance and festival on October 28.  The HS cluster teachers elected Helen Zumaeta and Yaakov Levy as the teacher reps to the CSG, meeting for the first time this year on Wednesday, 10/19. 

What's On Your Mind?  

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What's New in After-School?
This year our partnership with 82nd Street Academics steps up to a new level of cooperation with the welcome addition of the new on-site Education Supervisor, John Gardenhire.  John has an office in Room 214 which will make collaboration and coordination with our teaching staff much easier and meaningful.   
82SA-John G
John (shown here with Maria Strangas and Chodon Tenzin) has hired a caring, experienced staff for 5th-6th,  7th-8th, and 9th-10th grade groupings.  We will again be offering comprehensive homework help, skills building exercises and enrichments such as cooking, dance, comic book creation, science, robotics and media arts through our arts partner, Children's Museum of the Arts.

In the high school classes the 82SA teachers have been giving the 9th and 10th graders PSAT prep to prepare them to take the PSAT test.  All students are given supper and have the opportunity to work with skilled homework teachers and our own classroom teachers on occasion.  At this time the 5th & 6th grade classrooms are full and accepting waiting-list applications, but there is still room in the 7th & 8th and 9th & 10th grade classrooms.  You can access the application on our website at http://www.renaissancecharter.org/parents.html/afterschool_5-12.html. 

Any questions?  Please leave a message for John G. by calling the office, or email him at  john.gardenhire@82ndst.com.   
Spotlight On...Our Newest Teachers
Three new teachers join our ranks this semester, and we are happy to welcome these talented educators to our Renaissance family.

Yaacov Levy is rounding out our science department by teaching AP Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science and 8th Grade Science Skills.    

                           new teachers 2011                        Elizabeth Huston joins the English department, teaching 7th grade ELA, middle school Lit Skills and 7th through 12th grade Writing Workshop.

Erin Chae is our newest Math teacher, and is teaching Pre-Calculus and Algebra, as well as middle school (6th-8th grade) Math Skills.

Some of our current staff members are taking on new responsibilities and titles, including Victor Motta, long-time HS math teacher at Renaissance, who is our new Director of Data & Accountability, and Suzanne Arnold, who is our Administrator of School Culture.  Look for her monthly column which will debut in this newsletter:
Renaissance Rocks!
TRCS Sports Desk


Soccer and Volleyball are the current sports and our teams are representing Renaissance well!  Girls Volleyball has just gotten started practicing and we will be expecting great things from them.  HS Girls Soccer are currently #1 in their division, and HS Boys Soccer are undefeated: 4-0 record , with wins over Believe South , Health Opportunities, Cristo -Rey and Bronx Prep!
A big shout-out goes to senior James Jeffries, who has been nominated for the city-wide PSAL Senior Show-Case for Basketball!
PTA News
Please join us for the first full meeting of the year on Wednesday, October 19th.  Meet the executive board members and hear from the Arts teachers, who will be describing their curriculum and expectations for the year. 

The P.T.A Executive Board would like to welcome back the faculty, parents and students to the 2011-2012 school year. We would also like to extend a welcome to all new students and their families.

     The P.T.A is a vital part of our school. It has been proven that in homes where adults are involved and participate in school activities, children do better in school. Contributing your time to the P.T.A is very important; therefore, we are asking every parent in our school community to join us in continuing the tradition of having a strong and active P.T.A.

     One of the ways to be involved is by attending the P.T.A meetings which are held once a month. By attending these meetings you can stay informed in what is going on at the school and have a say in important decisions that affect your child. Volunteering, whether helping out at our book sales, chaperoning a class trip, or serving at our annual pasta night are all great ways to be involved. We know that everyone has many obligations, but all we ask is to give us a couple of hours a month to help keep the school a great place for all our children.

   We hope to see you all at our next event, which is the Fall Festival on October 28th. Remember: all money collected at these events go right back to your children to support many trips, Robotics, the Angel fund, the Arts and Buses when needed. And lastly if you cannot give your time a donation made out to the P.T.A will help us to keep supporting the wonderful programs at your child's school. Let's make it a great year.

Your TRCS PTA Executive Board
Renaissance Rocks!
The new monthly column by Suzanne Arnold, Administrator of School Culture

We are off to a great start for the 2012-2012 school year!  Spirits are high and students are already on their way to great achievements.  We have many new incentives this year that you will be hearing more about as the year goes on.  One new action we are taking is "Shout Outs".  We are collecting the names of students throughout the school who have earned special notice from our community.  We give shout outs for community leadership, random acts of kindness, citizenship, academic courage, academic excellence, and more.  For our students in grades 7-12 the shout outs are given over the intercom system during homeroom.  Our K-6 students will begin hearing their shout outs during lunch next week.  Students also receive a small token (stickers or temporary tattoos) and certificates of recognition.  I will also share shout outs with you in this newsletter and at the monthly PTA meetings.

Other new happenings this year are monthly assemblies for our K-4 students and monthly town hall meetings for our 9-12 students.  These gatherings will be fun, educational, supportive, and are intended to inspire both school spirit and community amongst our students and staff.  Teachers from all of our clusters have been instrumental in designing these gatherings and supporting character-building in many ways that I will be reporting on in this column every month.   I am looking forward to gathering with these members of our community and joining in what promise to be great events. 

Cluster 1 will be implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in the coming weeks, and there will be special shout-outs for "bystanders" who stand up against bullying at the monthly assemblies.  Parents who are interested in being on the school-wide Bullying Prevention Committee, please contact me (see below.)

Finally, we will be holding two pep rallies this year.  The first will be held the last week of October to kick off the playoff portion of the season for our soccer teams, the start of the basketball season, and to celebrate our newly formed volleyball team.  The second pep rally will be held in the spring to kick off our spring sports, baseball and softball.   The pep rallies will include all 9-12th grade students and will be held in the gymnasium with special, surprise performances by some of our talented TRCS students.

As you can see, we are very excited to start this year off with positivity and enthusiasm. We are also planning a series of workshops for parents this year, so be on the look-out for email notices and next month's column to find out more.  If you have ideas for these workshops, please contact me at  sarnold@renaissancecharter.org
Alumni Corner
Congratulations to Ana McDuff, class of 2005, who had a baby girl this month, named Oliva McDuff, 8 lbs, 6 oz!  Nancy and Julian Laverde (class of 2004) are expecting a girl in about 4 months time.  Welcome to all those future Renaissance leaders!
Helpful Hints and Cool Links

Check out the new link on the Parents page of our website called "Supporting Your Child."



This page includes many helpful documents and resources to support your child both academically and emotionally, from experts in the field and our own staff. Currently, there are several documents that will help you help your child, by understanding our discipline code, our commitment to an anti-bullying culture, and by understanding what our communication protocols and our philosophy of student counseling.


Upcoming Events  


October 17th-21st we will be having our annual Scholastic Book Fair, located on the 3rd floor common area. Any one interested in volunteering, please contact Eylse Lau at elautrcs@gmail.com .   


October 19th at 5 P.M. will be the first Collaborative School Governance (CSG) meeting of the school year. This will be followed  by the first PTA meeting, at 7:15.  All are welcome & encouraged to attend.


October 21st is fall Picture Day.  Be sure to send in your form. 


Friday, October 28th will be a full day of festivities starting off with our K-6 Halloween costume parade.   There will also be a K-12 costume party followed by the PTA's Fall Family Festival that evening.  Also that evening will be a High School Fright Night party, with our high school students creating a Renaissance "haunted house".  Please join in on all the fun.


Monday, October 31st Renaissance will be marching in the Jackson Heights Halloween Parade down 37th Avenue.  Wear your costume to school or meet us at the beginning of the parade, 37th Ave. & 87 Street. Those who walk to the end of parade line at 77th Street receive a goodie bag.  Look for our banner!  


Make an investment in children, education and the future of our world.  Safer, better-educated communities are great for business; they improve the quality of life for everyone. Renaissance's hard-working, high-achieving students strive to make that happen and with your help that goal is closer to being a reality:  Please visit our website for more information, and lick on the red DONATE button on the bottom of each page: http://www.renaissancecharter.org/.  Thank you!


The Renaissance Charter School