TRCS Monthly Newsletter
April 2015
The first day of Spring brought more cold and snow to New York City, but by Spring Break we were finally getting a glimpse of the sun!  After all the cold it was nice to have some time off with good weather.  Back at school we are realizing how quickly this school year has gone.  There are only 10 more weeks of school left, but there is a lot more work to be done, including state-wide tests and regents exams.  But students are also gearing up for year-end trips and performances.  As always, there's lots going on at Renaissance.....
 Our youngest students may not be able to write with pen and paper yet, but they narrated beautifully illustrated stories based on their versions of Goldilocks & the Three Bears.  Using special software, family members and school staff were able to hear prerecorded  readings of the childrens' stories, along with seeing the illustrations.  For their first publishing party, 8 students participated and judging by the enthusiasm that the event received, we think the rest of the class will want to join in on the fun next time.   
 This was a great example of how technology can be used to teach & inspire even the littlest ones! 
                          GETTING FEEDBACK
  The Lucille Lortel Theatre in the West Village

  Watch their video!
15 Ninth grade theatre students performed their original theatre piece in the Creative Arts Team Student Shakespeare Festival at The Lucille Lortel Theatre on Thursday, March 19. The story the student actors created was framed around a question raised in class: Why, when everything is so easily destroyed, does humanity continue to create? The story illustrates a Superhero who is happy being a Superhero, but becomes disheartened after 9/11 and goes to drown her sorrows in a bar. She decides to give up the Superhero life and travels to a tropical beach paradise to live a life carefree and exempt from the responsibilities of saving humanity. On the beach is a youngster building a sandcastle. The waves destroy the sandcastle and the youth is so distressed, his tantrum reignites compassion in the Superhero and she helps him rebuild his sand structure. Finally, she chooses to return to a life of a Superhero and pledges to help humanity again. The dialogue for the story was taken in bits and pieces from Shakespeare's "Richard the Third" and "Othello" The TRCS troupe was recognized for the extraordinary physicality in their performance. They all left with a t-shirt, a certificate, and a great big smile.

A shot of some of the artwork from the game Mage, developed by Yui Maehara  
 The students from the TRCS Engineering class, part of the HS Leadership Program, completed the Electronic Game Design: Platform Games program during the 2nd tri-semester on Wednesday, March 25th. Pictured here is an actual application file that the students created and was copied onto a USB drive (a yellow LEGO brick) for them to take home to play. The yellow LEGO brick USB drive is a hint of the next program to be offered - LEGO Robotics: MINDSTORMS EV3, where they will learn about robotics engineering, build their own robot using LEGOs and program it to perform different tasks and engineering challenges.  
  There is a saying "Seeing is Believing" and there is probably no better place to put this theory to the test than in a science lab.  Instead of just talking about science, Dan likes to use demonstrations so kids see science in action. He recently conducted a cool science experiment that had everyone in the class saying "WOW".  He demonstrated an experiment on vaporization, using isopropyl alcohol, which after evaporating left behind flammable vapors.  The flame ignited and burned out so quickly it could not be caught by the camera, but the students thought it was awesome! 

Our High School students also had a chance to board the Bio Bus, which was a big hit with our lower grades in the fall.  9th and 12th grade students participated in a science experience using high powered microscopes to observe microorganisms. Check them out below! 

We want to give a shout-out to the Science Department as a whole.  The primarily middle and high-school science teachers have been collaborating on fun, engaging lessons for our lucky 4th graders, as a way of preparing them for their first state Science exam.  That is an example of truly embracing our Pre-K to 12th grade model!
 As the weather is getting nicer, classes are taking fun field trips:   
  Pre-K visited the Queens Botanical Gardens to attend the "Plants We Eat" workshop. 


Kindergarten is studying animals in their science segments so they recently visited the Museum of Natural History's Discovery Room. They learned how to be paleontologists and biologists and the difference between animals that are extinct and ones that are still living.
 1st Grade went to Brooklyn College's  performance of the story, The Gruffalo's Child. In class students used the books for a writing exercise, creating pieces to convince the reader if they should go and see the show or stay home and read the book. Jose took his advisory to the Times Square area to view billboards, reflecting on the use of stereotypes and gender in advertising.
Following up on Cristine's Writers Group trip to Serendipity, we have another wonderful piece for you to read by 8th grader Ella Shea.  Check it out here!

Anna took a group of high school students to the College Fair Day at Lehman College in the Bronx.  There were representatives from many tri-state area schools, as well as the CUNY and SUNY colleges and universities.

In preparation for the Community Service Fair, our 9th grade advisories visited with area organizations for a day of community service or exploration:

Riaad took his 9th grade advisory to visit two NYC parks where many homeless people live,
Sandra's 9th grade girls advisory went to Women for Afghan Women,
Ali & Lisa brought students to the Meals on Wheels organization,
Ellie's 9th grade girls visited the Mental Health Association of Queens' Adolescent Skill Center,
Miyo's 10th grade girls volunteered at the Church of the Village Food Pantry
 1st Grade: We are delighted to report that the First Grade sponsored bake sale raised $275 for arts education in rural communities.Since the bake sale was such a success, the children also decided to donate $87 to The Renaissance Charter School's Angel Fund. The children were just delighted to be able to help our school community in addition to the schools in Utah and New Mexico.
 These pictures are from their newest program, Arch for Kids. Arch for Kids is designed to coincide with social studies curriculum about communities. The children have been discussing the needs and wants of a community and building their own community. They have been making buildings modeled after Jackson Heights, most recently replicating doors seen around our neighborhood. It was quite funny when some children found the actual doors to their homes.  
3rd Grade: Weekly Buddy Time with Kindergarten and 3rd grade is still a success. Both classes look forward all week to Wednesday afternoons when they can meet and read with their buddies!
This year our K-6th graders participated in the
Learn2Earn reading program.  This online program encourages children to read more everyday by allowing them to share what they are reading, for how long and to comment on the books.  They can also comment on other students reading activities and answer questions which allow them to delve more deeply into the stories.  It is also a great way to raise money, by having sponsors donate on a per book read, or per minutes read basis. We blew away our goal, getting over $2,000 in pledges~way to go readers!
 On April 2nd the 11th graders hosted Social Justice Day, offering workshops for the rest of the high school on several topics that small groups of students have investigated and researched together.  The workshops are led by each group of students in a live presentation that included power-points, videos, activities, games or skits that highlight the issues surrounding each topic.

This year's provocative line-up included Domestic Violence,Teen Unemployment, Discrimination in Society Animal Cruelty, Women in Prison, and Drugs in Sports.  Each group tends to take a stand on the issue, but lively debate is expected and encouraged.  Teen Unemployment gave job-seeking tips and examples of places that will hire teens, but also reflected on balancing work and school. The Domestic Violence workshop featured skits created by the participants showing how domestic violence can escalate and impact everyone.  The Animal Cruelty group showed heart-wrenching videos of rescued animals, and promoted ways to get involved and help. Investigators into Women in Prison gave statistics showing the large percentage of incarcerated women that are victims of abuse.  Drugs in Sports looked at the culture surrounding super-star athletes, and the question can be asked: Do today's athletes feel they simply cannot compete with out these drugs? 

Lunch was served by the 11th grade class food committee, and the day ended with an energetic talent-show in the auditorium.  Proceeds from lunch tickets go to the 11th grade class fund.  Congratulations 11th graders!


thought bubbleLast month Principal Stacey and science teacher and coach Dan Fanelli gave a presentation on the topic of testing, specifically the controversial NYS standard tests.  Many parents across the state are opting to have their children not take the tests. Many believe our children are being over-tested and they are frustrated due to the roll-out of the common core and the related examinations. However, Stacey and Dan pointed out the many reasons why testing can be a positive experience,  including:
  • Promoting collaboration because it integrates instruction across curriculum and grades, giving teachers significant data across the grades; 
  • Strengthening rigor because it requires students to critically think about the topic;
  • Teaching students to understand complex concepts and relationships covered in the state exams by using Common Core strategies actually puts creativity back into the classroom by having students experience more hands-on, project-based learning;
  • Gets Kids College Ready because students are taught to read and analyze  texts for information.

At Renaissance, we believe that standardized tests are only one measure of a child's performance. Just as important are Classwork, Homework, Social - Emotional Preparedness and
Readiness, a student's Passions and Interests, and a student's Individual Learning Needs.  We believe that the only way to properly assess a child is to look at the WHOLE child and this is exactly what we do. We never base promotion decisions upon one test. 


To help our students better prepare for the tests, we have developed several strategies, including using the Kaplan Key Advantage Program, materials from and Engage NY, test prep with additional teacher push-ins, and additional tutoring for targeted students taking place either after school or on Saturday mornings. 


As always, Renaissance is dedicated to helping its students be successful in test taking, and in all they hope to accomplish in school and beyond.  To see a detailed list of what is happening in grades 3-8 as they prepare for the NYS tests, check out the full presentation here.  

On March 18th the Middle School Peace Patrol had a training workshop with parent, NYPD officer Phillip Chan. Topics included basics of law enforcement, basic strategies in apprehending violators, Q and A. After the workshop, they all got an NYPD Auxiliary hat!

Shout Outs to 7th grade students Nahsiem Gayle and Jermaine Colon. They saw an unattended cell phone and turned it in to the office, giving the name of the rightful owner. That's acting responsible!

Maria is giving shout outs to some students for their excellent work in the K-4 after school program.  Those who received certificates were Justin Tobon, Thomas Leahy, Sebastian Castro, Myles Peralta, Tenzin Tenkyong, Nikolas Rodriguez and Jade Alvarez. 
We  all know we have a lot of great teachers at Renaissance, but you may not know that a number of our educators have second jobs or hobbies that they do outside of Renaissance.  And many of them use these talents in the classroom, which we think leads to a much richer education for our students.  One of those people is Lisa Burns......  
Lisa is a support staff member who works in The Learning Center, and as a Humanities Global Labs teacher.  She has also been a long-time staple on the music scene  in New York, recording her first solo album in 1978.  In 2010 she paired up with George Usher and together they wrote and recorded an album, The Last Day of Winter.  They have now been playing live shows to great acclaim.  To read more about Lisa, check out this cool article, and then watch this great video!  Their album came out in digital and CD form on April 2nd, so pick up a copy! 


The following are the sports for the Spring Season : 

HS Baseball 
HS Softball 
                                    MS  Co-Ed Soccer 
                                    4-6th Grade Basketball Boys Club/ Traveling Team 
                                    4-6th Grade Basketball Girls Club / Traveling Team 
TRCS Sports would like to welcome back alumni Daisy Pena , who previously help coached the HS Softball Team.  She will be the Head Coach of Lady Knights .  We also welcome Hendrick Fernandez as our MS Soccer Co-Ed Coach this year.

The MS Boys Basketball made an outing to a Knicks game.  They received some cool gift bags of Knicks apparel and got autographs from some NYC Basketball Legends (John Wallace, Herb Williams, Felipe Lopez and Larry Johnson).


Welcome back to all TRCS families.  We hope you all had a great spring break.


The PTA Executive Board would like to send a shout out to the Spanish Department (Dennis, Helen, Lisjane and Martha) for putting together such a fabulous Latin Festival.  Special thanks to Lisjane and Martha's students who performed, setup, cleaned up and helped out.


Upcoming Events/Important Dates:

Miss Chocolate Spring Fundraiser - Orders are due by Friday, April 17

PTA General Membership Meeting - Wednesday, April 29 - Nominations for 2015-2016 PTA Executive Board, Voting on funding requests:  $2,200 Teacher's Choice, $1,000 for Arts Department and more. Watch your email for an agenda and additional information.

Scholastic Buy One Get One Book Fair - May 4-8 - Purchase books for your students for summer reading

Book Raffle - $5 per ticket - each prize retails for over $50

Staff Appreciation Lunch - Monday, June 15 - Show your appreciation for your child's teacher by cooking a dish to share.  Teachers really enjoy trying foods from the different cultures. 
Tuesday-Thursday, 4/14-4/16 - NYS ELA Exams, grades 3rd-8th grades
Wednesday-Friday, 4/ 22- 4/24 - NYS Math Exams, grades 3rd-8th grades
Thursday, 4/23 - No School for PreK
Tuesday, 4/28 - Bubble Foundation PreK-K Family Dinner, 6PM
Wednesday, 5/6 - Board of Trustees Meeting, 6:45PM
Monday-Friday, 5/11-5/15 - Nature's Classroom 4th-6th Grades 

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. Here are some additional resources:


NYUL Parents Guide to STEM 


Read the following document for tips on internet safety:

Internet Safety  


Elementary Math: 

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