TRCS Monthly Newsletter
JANUARY, 2013 
Social Justice Day
Holiday Visitors
HESC Grant
Featured Article..
What's On Your Mind?
Admissions at TRCS
Spotlight On....
Cluster Updates
TRCS Sports Desk
PTA News
Alumni Corner
Helpful Hints and Cool LInks

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Happy 2013 to all our families and friends! We hope that the year ahead brings peace, happiness and fulfillment to all, and an exciting year of learning to our staff and students.  Just before the break we were happy to welcome back some alumni on our annual high school Social Justice Day; the middle school went "global" during their Festival of Lights, and the elementary school enjoyed final music and dance performances and special art projects--all celebrated below.  As we get back to business in our classrooms we look forward to the new semester with renewed vigor.

Enjoy our first newsletter of 2013!

Social Justice Day - A Student's Viewpoint
by Wagner Mendoza

Social Justice Day is one of the biggest events of the of the year for high school students at the Renaissance Charter School. Every year the Junior class takes on the task of informing fellow students, teachers and staff of some of the social injustices in our world today. The Junior class was first challenged with the task of creating several workshops about the social injustices they chose to shine a light upon. Instead of creating and organizing workshops, other students chose to be a part of the organization and food committees. The organization committee was in charge of creating schedules for the other students (9, 10, and 12 grades) to attend the workshops. The food committee was in charge of making sure each student would be doing their part by bringing in a dish of food, dessert, drinks,  or utensils. 

The workshops this year included The Dangers of Texting and Driving, Protest Music, Human Trafficking, Drug Cartels, Injustices in the Textbook industry, the Cocoa Industry, and  Police Brutality. I took a role in the texting and driving workshop. We discussed the danger one puts oneself and others surrounding them in when texting and driving. After presenting our slideshow and showing a few videos, our group presented the audience with a hands-on activity. We plugged in a Wii console and asked the students to attempt to drive in the car game whilst taking their eyes off the road for 5 seconds to look at their phone. None of the students were able to complete the task at hand and many of them came out of the workshop with different perspectives on texting and driving. At the beginning of the workshop we asked the question of, "Who thinks it's okay to text and drive?" to the class. Although some restrained from raising their hands, others said they think it's not "too dangerous" and if they were bored they would do it. After leaving the class, almost all the students agreed that texting while driving is a danger to all and no one should attempt to do so.

Human Trafficking


Textbook Industry


The Cocoa Industry 

Teachers and other students agreed that all the workshops they'd seen throughout the day were incredibly fascinating and taught them about injustices they'd never heard of. After the workshops, the food was the center of attention. Students (with help from their mothers, grandmothers, fathers, etc) cooked dishes that entertained one's tastebuds. Dishes of rice with meats, rice with vegetables, pastas, chicken, Mangu, platanos, Pisang Goreng, and others. There was such an excess of food that some were even able to take the leftovers home.


Following the feast, students approached the auditorium to see a glimpse of the hidden talents our school has. Music was the focus throughout the talent show. Students sang, danced and played their way across the stage. Some students also presented personal poems which were cleverly and wonderfully written. Fellow students also sang and danced to covers of songs from recording artists like Beyonce, Chris Brown, Lady Gaga, and Tyga.


This year's Social Justice Day was a success. The messages from the workshops influenced and affected the people partaking in the workshops. Food from all over the world was enjoyed and devoured by our peers. And, the talent show exhibited the great skills and gifts that are among our friends. Social Justice Day did exactly what it is expected to do. It brought our high school together to discuss and find ways to solve the social injustices in our world, eat great food and watch talented people. A special thank you to all who partook and supported the Junior class. 
Holiday Friends & Faces  
NYC Councilman Danny Dromm
NYS Senator Jose Peralta

Phil Gersmehl came to help us give Carol G. a "happy retirement" send-off!
Chalkboard Artists in Afterschool

Happy Family!

Fun workshops with FFA
Faces from our Holiday "Angel" Party

GRANT RECEIVED from HESC to Support High School After-School and College Access
The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation ("HESC") has awarded Renaissance a grant to increase our high-school students' competitive edge when applying to college.  The funds are through the federally funded College Access Challenge Grant program, and 
HESC, having received a $7 million College Access Challenge Grant, made those funds available to non-profit groups to improve college awareness, readiness, and attendance among low-income students in New York.   Families and students can access resources at HESC's website - http://www.gocollegeny.org/.

We will be working with our partner, 82nd Street Academics, to provide a full-service high-school after school program that will complement our in-school College Bound program.  The program will feature  
  • College readiness, academic skill building, and tutoring programs
  • Stay-in-school support programs for college students at risk for dropping out
  • College admission application and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion assistance
  • Family workshops on college financing, completing FAFSA, and applications

In addition, the new and improved after school programming for high-school students will begin on Monday, January 14th at 3:15 PM.  The Monday before, December 7th, students were treated to donuts and juice at 8:00 AM at a high-school meeting to introduce the program and urge students to sign up.  The program offerings are better than ever, designed to work around busy high-school extra-curricular activities, and fit the needs of a typical high-school schedule. Students will not only have access to tutors from 82SA, but also from the College Now program at Queens College and our own teachers.  Time is built into the schedule for sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities.   


The new program offerings include:

* Free ACT, SAT or P/SAT Prep
* Free College NOW ELA course here at TRCS
* Free Regents Prep
* Tutoring from your classroom teachers
* Homework Help
* Student Newspaper
* Opportunity for clubs that students design
* Willing to work with individual schedules!
* Students can keep their Sports Teams, Drama Club and other after-school commitments

Please help us spread the word to our high-school students!  


Featured Article: A Visit from Future Farmers of America State Officers

 Riaad's Agriculture classes got a visit from the New York State officers of the Future Farmers of America on December 18th. 

Riaad has been working on getting Renaissance students ready to start an FFA chapter for a couple of years.  This is the year he felt we were ready to take that step. The mission of the organization is to "prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population."   

FFA helps its members to develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways.  As these young people helped make clear in the workshops, today's FFA are not only 

future farmers, they are future biologists, future chemists, future veterinarians, future engineers and future entrepreneurs of America, too.


The FFA officers led workshops down in the Agriculture classroom that showed students strategies in leadership as well as highlighting aspects of the agriculture industry  that may not be evident to most people.  They also played games that showed students about the economics of global hunger. 


 The officers were touring the city, visiting NYC schools that are potential and current FFA chapters.  Renaissance was definitely on their list because of the success of our Agriculture classes and our innovative use of the roof garden.  Urban gardening is becoming one of the hottest, fastest growing industries in the country, and our students can definitely be on  the cutting edge of that innovation as well.   


We received a lovely thank-you card from one of the officers, Leann Green, thanking us for being one of the most supportive schools in the state "of FFA and of agriculture, and we truly appreciate that."  Thanks FFA! 

What's On Your Mind?
thought bubble
What are we doing about making up days lost during Hurricane Sandy? 
Several people have been asking about what is happening with our school calendar in regards to making up lost days due to Hurricane Sandy.  In particular, people are wondering about February break.

At our December board meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve calendar revisions that left February break in place.  The modification did eliminate some half-days, Brooklyn-Queens Day as a PD day and Tuesday, April 3 of Spring break.  HS Parents, please note that January 28 is no longer a day off for HS Students, it is a half-day along with K-8.

The revision was submitted to the NYC Department of Education as a charter modification.  We are awaiting their reply ~ as soon as we hear back from them, you will get notice. 

Admissions at Renaissance 

Admissions Lottery Process

Students at Renaissance are chosen through a blind lottery system. We typically have over 2000 applications for about 70 lottery seats, but as Francine Smith, our admissions coordinator always tells parents, "You have to be in it to win it!"   We welcome applications from all families interested in our school, and encourage applications from English Language Learners and Special Needs students. 


At Renaissance, from K-3 there is one class per grade with 25 students in each class, 4th grade has one class with 26 students, and from 5th -12th there are two classes per grade with 27 students in each class.


Every year we accept a new Kindergarten class and a new 5th grade class. All applications for grades K and 5 that are in the hands of school administrators by the due date will receive a letter from the school stating whether you have been accepted or not.  You can use the universal online application, or download a paper application from our website, at http://www.renaissancecharter.org/admissions.  


Applicants for 1st to 4th and 6th to 12th grades will be entered into a lottery when we have an empty seat, and that can be at any time during the school year.


Priority for the school's lottery is given in the order listed below:

  1. Siblings of students already in the school (siblings are defined as brothers or sisters and proof of legal guardianship required)
  2. Families that live in school district 30
  3. Everybody else in NYC
Spotlight On...Advocacy Day in Albany
This February 5th will be the ninth year that parents, teachers, students and other supporters of charter schools convene on our state capital in Albany to rally in support of charter schools.

Organized by the NYC Charter Center, schools in NYC are provided with round-trip bus service to  Albany.  The center also makes appointments with the elected officials who represent our school's district.  This gives us an opportunity to make sure they hear our voices about how much we need and support charter schools.


In the past, through strong turnout and advocacy on the part of charter parents, we have been successful in fighting budget freezes and making sure New York State raised the cap on charter schools, enabling us to receive funds from President Obama's "Race to the Top".  The Charter Center helped organize rallies at the United Teachers' Federation offices in lower Manhattan, to try to sway the teachers' union to support charter schools (while most charter schools are not union, Renaissance is).  The Center also offers support to new start-up schools, and is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers.  They also hold Advocacy Training Days at various charter schools around the city.  If you attended the recent training day at OWN Charter in Astoria, let us know what you thought of it! 


States all over the country have their own Advocacy Day.  The theme in New York this year is "One Vision - Many Stories".  All parents have a vision and a dream that their child will attend a great school and have a chance for a solid education.  But, unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Each year, Renaissance receives over 2000 applications, and we typically only have about 70 slots available.  Where do these other children go? Usually, into overcrowded neighborhood schools.  There, many who may need the extra help a small school like Renaissance can offer, will get lost in the shuffle.  Advocacy Day is a chance for us to let our officials know what great schools charters schools are, and that we need more of them.

This year the NYC Charter Center is again holding a "Poster Contest", as well as a video contest. The poster or video should reflect the theme of One Vision-Many Stories. Videos can be either 30 seconds, or a 1-3 minute video. Renaissance is one of the oldest charter schools in NYC and we have a lot of stories. If you and/or your child would like to participate in the contest and need some information, you can visit our website or contact pheeney@renaissancecharter.org.

Cluster Updates

The HS is in full Regents prep mode, with a new and improved after-school to help students prepare and keep up with their homework, and several teachers planning to work with targeted students over Regents Week.  Parents, please note - this year the January Regents week will NOT be a week off for students.  All students will be getting an individualized schedule showing either Regents exam appointments or prep classes.  So far we know that most AP classes are planning to meet, and students taking the following classes should look out for a schedule of class-times during that week:
  • Earth Science
  • Living Environment (certain students)    
  • Chemistry
  • Geometry 

More classes may be added.  Parents, ask to see your student's Regents Week schedule.  If they do not have one, please call the office and ask for Pierina Arias, 718-803-0060, ext. 118.


MS CLUSTER -  Core Value of the Month: INITIATIVE

Thanks to all staff members who participated in our annual Festival of Lights, where students break up into small groups to enjoy the global cuisine offered in our wonderfully diverse neighborhood!  Students and Staff members went out into the community and enjoyed food together from all over the world, celebrating several different cultures. 


MS students are taking mock ELA exams this week and MATH mock exams next week in order to better focus our teaching strategies.  Our Student CSG Representative, Sean Bradley, attended his first CSG meeting on Wednesday, January 9. The marking period ends on Friday, January 11 and report cards will be distributed on January 18.  We are looking forward to our ice-skating trip next month, on Friday, February 15th, and some of our students will be dancing in the Latin American Carnival that same evening!


ELEMENTARY CLUSTER -  The cluster finished up the unit with teaching artist Martin Urbach and welcomes back Izumi Vincent.  Check out our website to see pdfs of the art projects: http://www.renaissancecharter.org/parents.html/cluster; and our photo site (link below) for the K-3 music performance photos.

      Kindergarten students are doing a hibernation unit in January and recreating places of hibernation with our visiting artist, Izumi!   Last month we did a unit on the Gingerbread Man (read and compared different versions of the gingerbread man story) and made gingerbread houses with Izumi.
       First Grade joined the Kindergarten to see The Paper Bag Players in a performance of "Saddles and Sunshine."  As always, the show was very entertaining and students really enjoyed it.  Themes of the show included how to be a good friend, and making compromises.  We will be finishing our math unit on addition strategies the week of 1/14, and begin a unit on subtraction strategies that same week.  Everyone is continuing to climb the ladder of progress in reading and moving up a level or two.  In phonics, we have been learning about words with "bonus letters" (ff as i
n puff, ll as in bell, ss as in miss) and the glued sound -all (as in call).  We just finished a Junior Great Books story, "The Mouse and the Wizard," a Hindu fable.  We look forward to learning more about maps and globes and the 7 continents.   

     Second Grade is getting ready to embark on a journey, getting to know New York City.  We started learning map skills, created our own compass roses, and got great new Geography text books.  We are planning walking trips in Jackson Heights and hope to hit all 5 boroughs by the end of the year.  Look out NYC! 

     Third Grade is very excited to announce that we have mastered multiplication!  We have been breaking down word problems and attempting many math challenges!  We have just begun a science unit on sharks, and a social studies unit on Harriet Tubman.  We just welcomed Flat Stanley back from Japan!  Our new year is off to a very busy start!   

       Before the break, Fourth Grade had a fantastic community potluck! We got to try foods from so many different traditions and cultures. We are currently  delving into division, a new poetry study and literacy centers! A highlight has been learning about Shel Silverstein's poems through fun (and funny) Reader's  Theater. We've begun a Social Studies unit where we'll learn about early explorers, navigation and cartography. We are also eagerly awaiting letters from our pen pals in Buffalo, New York!   

     Fifth Grade - is currently revising and editing our original stories- both realistic fiction and fantasy. We are eager to publish and illustrate! We left whole numbers behind, conquered decimals and are entering the world of fractions. We will be busy with lots of fun, interactive SmartBoard games while learning how to identify, compare, add, subtract, multiply, divide and simplify fractions and mixed numbers. 501 has learned about America's first inhabitants, and the motivations that brought European settlers to the New World. We will learn more about what their life was like when they first colonized here.


See more photos at the Renaissance photo site: http://photos.renaissancecharter.org/photos/!   


SPANISH & ARTS CLUSTERS - Save the Dates!!
Latin American Carnival - February 15, 4:00-10:00 PM (Food, games, beautiful traditional dances, and more! Tickets $10/adults, $6/students.
Spring Theatre Production -- March 19, 20, & 21
(Come see the evening of one acts by our High School Production and Performance Class. This production is PG-13.)

Middle School Arts Presentation -- May 23
(Eighth grade students present work from their Arts Classes.)

High School Arts Presentation -- May 30 (High School students present work from their Arts Classes.)
Elementary School Dance Presentation -- June 14
(Kindergarten through Fourth grade students present their work from Creative Movement and Dance Classes.)

TRCS Sports Desk


Basketball Season is in full swing :


MS Boys BBall is currently 1-1 , with recent wins over PS 111.   Upcoming Games - IS 230, PS 102.


MS Girls BBall is currently 1-2 , with recent wins over IS 61.  Coming up -  Harriet Tubman, PS 194.


HS Girls BBall is currently - 0-1.  In a recent game vs. Promise Academy  our team cut the 29 - point deficit in half  in  8 minutes, but unfortunately ran out of time. Next time!  Upcoming games - Democracy Prep,  Bronx Prep.  

HS Boys BBall is currently - 4-2 in league play. Recent wins over Cathedral Prep and Queens HS Complex.  Upcoming games -  Robert Goddard, Townsend Harris.

basketball2013 past few seasons have been very successful ones for TRCS sports.  We are happy to be able to offer a wide variety of athletic events for our students to participate in.  Please encourage your child to get involved in sports for a fun team experience and a healthy lifestyle! 

If you would like to support our sports program, please see Fran Smith in the main office.
PTA News

Holiday Calendar Winners

The PTA Executive Board would like to thank everyone who donated a raffle item or purchased a raffle ticket.  Special thanks to Lisa Liropoulos and Esther Diaz for putting this together.  And now, the winners are:


  1.     Avon Basket - Mika Tunstull

  2.     Starbuck's Basket - Teresa Oliva

  3.     Diary of a Wimpy Kid Board Game - Carina Salvi

  4.     Family Movie Night Basket - James Davis

  5.     Disney Princess Gift Set - Laura Zimmerman

  6.     $20 Subway's Gift Card - Jack Goodwin

  7.     $10 Dunkin Donuts Gift Card - Henrietta Thornton

  8.    One Direction Board Game - Barbara DeMarco

  9.    Hand Bag Basket - Rinzin Rinzin

10.   Xmas Candle Set - Alicia Serrano

BONUS GIFT - Webcam - Katherine Orengo

11.   Relaxation Basket - Francine Smith

12.   Spiderman Set - Barbara Mayers

BONUS GIFT  - 5 Piece Wall Organizer Frames - Henrietta Thornton

13.   Jenga Game - Carson Sherpa

14.   Hot Chocolate Basket - Nicolas Liropoulos

15.   Don't Spill the Beans Game - Jack Goodwin

16.   Cross Pen Stationary Set - Dawn LeDu

17.   Spongebob & Diego Set - Henrietta Thornton

18.   $10 Starbucks Gift Card - Pierina Arias

19.   Girls Room Set - Mary Sugrue

BONUS GIFT - Tracey Spellman

20.   $10 Dunkin Donuts Gift Card - Chester Hicks

21.   School Supply Store Gift Certificate - Cotrina Noemi

22.   Snowman Candy Basket - Angelica Corona

23.   Snuggle Hug Blanket & Toy Set - Darren Collado

24.   $10 Dunkin Donuts Gift Card - Briana Diaz

25.   Tiffany Necklace (Child) - Carson Sherpa

26.   Dora Gift Set - Pierina Arias

27.   Family Movie Night Basket - Luke Wortman

28.   Starbucks Basket - Maria Cortez

29.   Bath Time Basket - Christian Bernal

30.   Brave & Cars Gift Set - Pat Poljanic   

31.   Holiday Comfort Set - Tara Pemba

Our annual Mardi-Gras Party is planned for Friday, March 1st. All proceeds will to toward fundraising for the buses needed for Nature's Classroom and the middle school trip to Quinipet in the spring.  More details to follow! 
There have been some changes to the PTA calendar over the course of the school year, so please take note of the upcoming meetings:

PTA General Meetings

Wednesday, January 16 - 6:30pm      

Wednesday, February 27 - 6:30pm

Tuesday, March 19 - 6:30pm

Wednesday, April 17 - 6:30pm

Thursday, May 16 - 6:30pm

Garden Party - Wednesday, June 19 - 6:30pm
Alumni Corner
We love it when our alums come back to visit at the Holidays, like Viviana Cordero and Max Perez coming to visit their younger siblings, or this wonderful crowd coming to support the Social Justice Day talent show! 

Wagner & Viviana

Max & Sophia

Follow Up - See what's happening with Wilbur the Pig!
Remember Wilbur the Pig and Harvey the Service Dog? They came to visit Renaissance during Rensizzle Week with their friend and trainer, Nadine Darsanlal.  They were featured in an article in the Times Ledger last week.  Check it out! http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2013/1/helperpig_all_2013_01_03_q.html.

Upcoming Events:   

  • PTA Meeting - Wednesday, Jan. 16, 6:30 PM
  • Martin Luther King Day - Monday, Jan. 21-No School
  • HS Regents Exams - Begin Tuesday, Jan. 22
  • Half-Day for K-12 - Monday, Jan.28 
  • Spring Semester - Begins Tuesday, Jan. 29
  • K-5 Dance Trip - Monday, Feb. 4
  • MS Ice-Skating Trip - Friday, Feb. 15
  • Latin American Carnival - Friday, Feb. 15, 4:00 PM 
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.


Also check out the NY Charter Center website to keep up-to-date with what is happening within the charter school community. Here is a link to their News Page, which has articles on state exams, new schools opening, and more: http://www.nyccharterschools.org/news  


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