TRCS Monthly NewsletterFEBRUARY 2012  
Art Around the School
Theatre and Dance
Advocacy Day
TREA Folk Speak
What's On Your Mind?
Renaissance Rocks!
Featured Article..
Spotlight On....
Cluster Updates
TRCS Sports Desk
Most Honorable Mention...
PTA News
Helpful Hints and Cool LInks

Website Quick Links






Visit Our Partner
Visit Our Sponsor


Join Our Mailing List
What's New at TRCS!

 2012 is turning out to be an exciting year, with wonderful arts events, fabulous parties and performances, and the proverbial "bleak mid-winter" nowhere in sight, especially with our 2nd Grade Cupids delivering valentines all over the school!  Special thanks go out to parents, teachers and school-aides who stepped up to save the Mardi-Gras party (see the PTA report below), and to Elyse Lau and her parent arts committee for organizing two fascinating parent art events: Paper Folding and Geometry with Sunita Vatuk and Hiromi Niizeki, on Wednesdays through March 14; and Percussion with Found Objects, led by Sita Frederick of the Manhattan New Music Workshop - Wednesdays in May.  We hope to see you at the Latin American Carnivale organized by Martha Bolivar featuring choreographed dances performed by our students, this Friday, February 17 at 5:00 PM.  And there's more!  The fabulous Freedom Riders who followed the famous trail last spring are back at Renaissance giving workshops about what they learned, to the middle school last Tuesday and to the high school this Friday.  We'll follow up with them next newsletter.   

ART and Student Work Around the School
  art majors
 HS Masks & Oils and K-4 After-School celebrates the Lunar New Year!

8th Grade Self-Portraits


6th Grade Creation Stories

Art work can be viewed in the main hallway, and in the basement.
Theater and Dance Take Off at TRCS
There is a LOT going on in Theater and Dance at Renaissance, so we urge you to check out the detailed update on the website at: http://www.renaissancecharter.org/parents.html/cluster

CLUSTER ONE DANCE AND THEATRE: Please mark your calendars for our performance on Friday, June 15 at 6:30pm

As in years past, we will stagger performance times and rotate the audience due to constraints on space. This year, the end-of-year Carnival is the same evening, so there will be plenty to do before and after your child/ren perform. Please look for a more detailed informative letter in May, including information about costumes, etc. All Cluster One students will attend a performance of NEGO GATO at Queens College on February 27, 2012. Third Grade is working with our arts partner ARTS FOR ALL on a play entitled "Anansi and the Liar's Contest and will be performing  in March, date TBA, and in June.

CLUSTER TWO THEATRE: Please mark your calendars for the evening of Thursday, May 24, 2012, our final exhibition. Please keep a look out for a more detailed letter coming home the beginning of May.  Your Seventh and Eighth Grade students have just been placed idraman their Arts classes in which they will remain for the rest of the year. Theatre students will work together, creating their final performance.  Students who have been placed in Theatre will be attending a production of "I Can't Take It Anymore," a new play, inspired by real life stories, that deals with issues of bullying and personal responsibility; the trip is Wednesday, March 7, 2012.  A permission form should have come home in early February. We may need two parent chaperones.

CLUSTER THREE THEATRE: Please mark your calendars; the final performance is scheduled for Friday, June 1, 2012. A more detailed  letter will be sent home in May; please look out for it. HS theatre majors are currently working on "The Proposal" by Anton Chekhov in preparation for our partnership with Theatre for a New Audience.  With TFANA, students will work on Shakepeare's "Taming of the Shrew" and perform on June 1st.

Please feel free to contact Rebekah Slotnick (trcsrebs@gmail.com) with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your child's participation in dance and theatre.
Renaissance Goes to Albany
February 7th was Charter School Advocacy Day in New York and, once again, Renaissance representatives traveled up to our state capital to lobby for charter schools.  There, our group of 40 students, parents and staff had a chance to meet with other charter school families and supporters.

After attending a rally, we were off to several appointments we had scheduled with our local legislative officials.  This year, a major focus of Advocacy Day was "Building Bridges With Our Community". Fortunately, at Renaissance, we have always opened our doors to the community and are a strong presence in our community.  We also have strong 
Students with Assemblyman DenDekker
support from our local representatives, and they were happy to welcome us into their offices.  Another focus of Advocacy Day was to urge support for the Parent Empowerment Act, a bill which, if passed, would allow for a parent representative to sit on the CEC, or Community Education Council.  In a meeting with Assemblywoman Nolan's office, we spoke with her Education Liaison Devra Nusbaum, and received very positive feedback on Nolan's support of charters.

Another successful trip was to the offices of Senator Peralta.  We managed to see him briefly, but met with his Legislative Fellow Jason Fuhrman, who was very impressed with our students.  To quote from an email he sent following the trip, "It was an absolute pleasure meeting with your group. I take a lot of meetings for the Senator and it was a breath of fresh air to talk to such confident, passionate and engaged students..."
The full group with Assemblyman Moya
A highlight of the trip was a visit to Assemblyman Moya's office.  Students had a great time, and were especially excited by the time they spent in chambers and on their private tour.  We are also so proud of Saoussan, one of our senior students who interns as an aide in Moya's Queens office.  She stood on the floor with the Assemblyman while he voted, giving our students an opportunity to see democracy at work! 
Renaissance with Valeria Babb, of CPAN
For more information about the charter school movement, visit the NYC Carter Center website at http://www.nyccharterschools.org/

 TREA - Teens For Racial and Ethnic Awakening 

Teens for Racial and Ethnic Awakening (TREA), a project of the Renaissance Charter School, is proud to share that City Councilman Danny Dromm attended our discussion on Racism and how it affects teens at our weekly workshop last Thursday. TREA discussed what discrimination is, how and why people judge, where these sentiments come from, and together discussed what we can do about it. The group shared how they've been discriminated against but also about the hope and faith they see in the community.

Danny Dromm was truly an inspiration to the teens speaking honestly from the heart about how he was a subject of discrimination as an openly gay man in Jackson Heights. He described the awareness of his identity like an onion, the core of himself being discovered layer by layer and showing the world this, one piece at a time. Even as an esteemed educator and respected political figure society's fear and ignorance still stings.

The group of around twenty teens and adults quickly picked up on the deep spirit of the Councilman's story but also on his serious yet encouraging tone. His words placed the audience in a position of power; we are all able to influence social change by getting to know each other better, by understanding each other's stories and backgrounds, by continuing to dream, question and speak out. As we discovered last week discrimination doesn't discriminate.


Dialogue creates empathy-one of the best ways of fighting fear and ignorance and the power of change first starts with the self. If we made the commitment not to judge others, and spread that outward toward friends and family, this deeper understanding will allow for a stronger and more equitable community.  At the end of the meeting, TREA drew up a list of ways that teens can fight racism and discrimination.

TREA meets every Thursday at the Renaissance School in room 313. All community teens are welcome. Visit TreaFolks.org for more information.

What's On Your Mind?
thought bubble
 Tutoring, Test Prep and Middle School Enrichments

 3rd through 8th grades are gearing up to meet the challenges of the NYS ELA and Math exams in April.  The school has put tutoring and test preparation activities in place in all the testing grades, and invested in a new scaffolding preparatory program from Curriculum Associates called "i-READY" (http://www.curriculumassociates.com/default.aspx).  There is an online exam that creates an action plan for each student. It identifies the areas of weakness and directs the students to more lessons and questions that will strengthen the necessary skills.  It does not let them move on until the skill is retaught.  It provides motivation and incentive because questions answered correctly allow the students to accumulate points towards a game to play.   


There is after-school and/or Saturday tutoring going on for 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades, and the middle school is breaking students into small skills-groups and utilizing Writers Workshop and Math Skills periods for 7th graders, and 9th period for 8th graders.  Letters to parents are being sent home with 7th and 8th graders this week to explain the options available, including the online "i-Ready" program, and how to use it on your home computer.  If you have questions about "i-Ready", or want to know how your 3rd-6th grade student can access it, please contact your child's teacher.     


8th graders' 9th period is being re-programmed starting on February 23rd, after the break.  Prior to this date, all 8th graders were being cycled through a series of 5 enrichment classes including Music Appreciation, Culinary Arts, Internet Exploration, Arts and Crafts and Photography.  Students who have been taking HS Algebra also take this class during 9th period, and go to enrichment on alternate days.  These small classes (no more than 11 students in each section) are meant to give students a hands-on experience in something they may not have had a chance to delve into before.  Teachers from 82nd Street Academics taught 3 of the classes, and Renaissance consultants Sal Maida and Joe Ford have been brought in to teach Music Appreciation and Culinary Arts.   


On Monday, February 23, all 8th graders will be programmed into two of the following options: ELA Tutoring, Math Tutoring (or Algebra), i-Ready Online Program, Culinary Arts or Music Appreciation.  Your 8th grader will have his/her schedule by Friday, February 17. 

Renaissance Rocks!
By Suzanne Arnold
There are so many wonderful things going on right now, and teachers have given me so many fabulous shout-outs for our remarkable students, (thank you Teachers!!!) that my article could fill up this entire newsletter.  Instead of editing even one name out of our usual "Shout Out" article, we have decided to post the article in its entirety on our website, on a new page on our website called "Shout Outs and Updates" -  http://www.renaissancecharter.org/parents.html/clusterPlease take a few minutes and check it out.  We have instituted these same shout-outs verbally every Friday over the loudspeaker, so we can celebrate the great things our students are doing as a community, and want all of our friends and families to know them too.

To continue building our community into one that supports and celebrates positive behavior, we hosted an assembly from Soren Bennick's The

Power of One™ organization, who brings what they advertise as a "bullying-proofing performance for elementary school children.  They presented the assembly to our K-4 population, which turned out to be a wonderful series of skits presented by actors who use boxes, colours, and masks to vividly portray what bullying is, what can be done about it, and how every child has the power of one, the power to report bullying when they see it. 

Featured Article  - HS Student Government

By Kelsang Tsowang 

In our school we have a group of students called the Student Government. The student government is the voice of the student body. We help to voice the concerns and needs of our peers to the administration and faculty at our school. This is done in several forums.   

 Our high school Student Government has representatives from each grade, so no one is left out of the decision-making process of our school community. Aside from weekly grade-specific meetings, once a month the various representatives of each grade come together to conference about the many topics our student body feel should be discussed, addressed, and hopefully changed in a proactive manner.  We do not only speak about what "we" the representatives think needs to be changed, instead, we are open to all voices of our community.

Listening to the issues of students at TRCS is important to us and we are able to do this through town hall meetings.  The student government and teachers organize a town hall meeting every month or two to hear the student body voice their points of interests, and during this time Student Government representatives take notes to discuss in our monthly representative meetings.

After listening to our student body at our town hall meetings, we take in their concerns and recommendations and talk about it with our whole government at the monthly representative meetings. Then we brainstorm ways to come up with a change. If we don't get any direct concerns or comments, we try to improve our general school environment.

For example, during our last town hall meeting we received a lot of feedback due to the actions our officers were already initiating, like improving the flow of the lunch line and repairing locks on bathroom doors.  We were able to communicate to the audience that everyone can create a change for our school; they just have to tell the officers what they believe is wrong and we can try to fix it. After this town hall meeting, everyone was convinced that student officers take their responsibilities seriously, and we're not here just to look pretty. Rather, we are here to be help and work with students/teachers to improve TRCS.   After all, everything is for the betterment of our community.  

 by Tenzin Samten Ukyab 801, MS President


The Peace Patrol is a team that was created by the TRCS's Middle School Student Council to help keep the hallways clear and easy to navigate. This was requested by the student body because the congested locker area caused them to be late and/or bothered them. The idea of a student enforced team was suggested because teachers were not able to monitor the hallways when they are responsible for a class.

The Peace Patrol is helping students get to class on time and avoid problems that can occur in the hallways, such as  fights, ditching class, leaving the class without permission, etc. The Peace Officers will be standing at their assigned posts, spread across the 2nd floor, during the class transition times. They will be holding clipboards in which they will be writing reports on about the behaviors of the students, including making note of good behavior!

The Peace Patrol was created on the grounds that we are here to help students. We are not going to boss people around and force people to do things just because we have the authority to. We are here "... to serve and not to be served!" as our Peace Patrol hats quote. If a student has a problem with the way an Officer is speaking towards them, they can file a complaint with the Student Concerns Committee Chair, Julia Krutel. He/she will be replaced with another volunteer as fast as possible.

The Student Council and Peace Patrol Officers have been gathering for training every Tuesday during lunch time. We have gone through all the duties and conditions that we might encounter. We even did some role-playing to see how we would react to different situations. Last Friday, we had a guest in, named Derrick Baity, a Gang Division Detective in Brooklyn and step-father of the 8th grader Elijah Jones.  He has been in some crazy situations and gave us some advice on how to deal with some situations that we might encounter. He coached us on how we should react to people if they refuse and fight back. I was put in the spotlight for that one, and of course, I freaked out because I had no idea how to respond. At the end of the talk, I noticed a change. We all seemed more confident with the words of a real law enforcer to refer to for help. We all, the Student Council, volunteer Peace Officers, and all the MS teachers, are excited about this project.

We launched the program on Thursday, February 2, 2012 after a Town Hall Meeting for the whole Middle School, explaining the objectives and procedures of the Peace Patrol. Thank you to everyone who made this possible and especially to Mr. Baity, who took time out of his busy day to come help us. Also, special thanks to the PTA for funding our awesome Peace Patrol hats!  We hope you will support us when we see you in the hallways!


Cluster Updates

Thank you to our awesome teachers, who provided so much information this month that we are spilling over onto our website!  Please go to http://www.renaissancecharter.org/parents.html/cluster to see more specific from your child's classes, their academics and their arts classes.

CLUSTER ONE...is working hard!  Everyone is working on the second round of reading level assessments.  This program allows teachers to identify the students' reading levels, as well as identify the necessary skills for improvement in areas such as inferencing, summarizing, fluency, accuracy, and oral reading rate.  Knowing their independent reading level allows students to choose appropriate books for themselves, and to track their own progress.  This program also empowers parents to help their children by focusing on specific skills, and allows them to purchase appropriate books, and make better choices at the library and lets them borrow books in other classrooms.

The fourth grade hosted a Valentines Fun Day on Friday February 10 in the third floor common area for K-5th grades.  4th Graders conducted activities appropriate to each grade level, including reading Valentines books and making a Valentine with kindergarten, first, second and third grade students.  Fifth graders conducted a heart rate science experiment & received a web of love math problem sheet.   Every child got a Valentine treat and fun was had by all!    


K-3 celebrates 100 days of school today (February 16), with AMAZING projects! We will have the photo album devoted to the 100 days up soon, but stop by the classrooms to see the beautiful work!       100 M & Ms............................100 years....................100 Flowers...........  

CLUSTER TWO...is proud to announce the launch of the Peace Patrol (see related article above) celebrated at a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, February 1.  Sixth graders are combining art and academics in many ways this month - studying Greek Myths in their humanities class in preparation for a music-theater project in the spring, and continuing to work with Carnegie Hall artists creating their own spirituals.  In Math they are learning Geometry and creating an integrated art project using geometry concepts. 

Some highlighted events from the 7th & 8th grades:
  • Ice skating Trip on Feb 17 - If you would like your child to attend this trip, please return the permission slip with $7.00.
  • End-of-the Year Trip, The middle school will be going to Boston at the end of the year.  There are still seats on the bus.  Please return the reply letter and a down payment of $87 if you would like your child to attend.
  • ELA 7th/8th grade Poetry slam project is February 16th, from 11:00-12:30pm.  Students will be writing and reading their own poems to the middle school community.  Parents are welcome to join us in celebrating this event.
  • Spanish in the Middle School, students are preparing for the Latin Carnival on February 17th in the evening. 
Please visit our website to learn more specifics from our great teachers.

CLUSTER THREE...The college office happily reports that ALL seniors have now applied to at least one college; they are now feverishly working on scholarship applications and FAFSA student aid submissions.  The Senior Trip came off beautifully, everyone had a GREA
T time, and we thank Thandi and all the chaperones for making it all happen.  10th graders are hosting a feast on February 17, after the high school Freedom Riders presentations.  All the Renaissance students who went on the trip have worked since October developing workshops, power-point presentations and activities to illustrate the meaning behind the famous ride.  Alumni Kadin Wisniewski even took time from classes at city college to give back to the school.   
TRCS Sports Desk


Congratulations to HS Boys Basketball for receiving the number 9 seed in this year's upcoming PSAL B division playoffs. They finished second in the division with a record of 13-3.

HS Girls Basketball  are currently in first place with 7 W - 0 L . Recent wins were over Democracy Prep and AECI

Middle School Basketball starts their season Thursday the16th at St. Andrews.   Come cheer them on if you can! 

MSGirls BasketballMiddle School Girls currently hold second place in two leagues, with an overall record of 10-4.  


Congratulations are in order for Senior Captain James Jefferies for reaching over 1000 points for his High School Career.

Great Job By All! 
We're Proud to Work With...
We are proud to work with our Geography consultants, Carol and Phil Gersmehl.  Carol helps teach our AP Human Geography Class, and has worked closely with lots of our teachers to bring real geography back into K-12 education.  Both Phil and Carol were honored with a President's Lifetime Achievement Award from the UFT.  Carol's was given for her "untiring diligence to making Geography a living experience in the classroom and in our lives."  The other award was presented to Phil, "who
has taught us to think spatially, to view the world through a geographic lens to question, explore, ponder, and reflect on the relationships and
impact of our actions and place in the world."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves!

PTA News
 Last friday night the PTA held their fourth annual Mardi Gras party and it was a huge success ,even with the very short notice. They raffled off some great prizes from a 32 inch flat screen TV,  a Family Game Basket, a Chocolate basket and a Spa Basket to a $100 gift card donated by our third grade teacher, Janet Jefferson.  Miss Jefferson also donated the fee of the fabulous D.J., who kept everyone dancing the entire evening. The PTA would also like to send the Francione family a big thank you for donating all the beads, masks, hats and bracelets and for their wonderful baking and cooking skills. Families brought fantastic food to share and danced the night away with staff members Janet, Andrea, Marlen and Pierina (who all stayed to clean up too!) and also a handful of our seniors, who kept line dancing alive. 

A great surprise of the evening was a dance performance by a Mayan group brought by our Spanish teacher Dennis.  They wore beautiful costumes and taught the kids the meanings of each dance.

And where would we be without Raheem, who was a major help with everything from A to Z. Over $1,000 was raised, which will go towards helping out with the expenses of some up-coming trips.  Thanks to everyone for making it an awesome party.  

Upcoming Events:    

February 17 - HS Freedom Riders Presentations

February 17 - 10th Grade Feast

February 17 - Carnaval Latino Americano, 5:00-10:00 PM 

February 17 - MS Ice Skating Trip

February 29 - Paper Folding & Geometry, 6:00-8:00 PM

                         (every Wednesday through March 14) 

March 22 - Parent-Teacher Conferences, 6:00-8:00 PM

March 23 - Parent-Teacher Conferences, 1:00-3:00 PM  

March 29 - National Honor Society Induction Ceremony 

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 (a few linked here) 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.

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