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What's happening at the PTA

September 1, 2020: NYC public schools will re-open Sept. 21, 2020
 
de Blasio screenshot
 
New York City public schools will re-open on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. For much more details on the city's school re-opening plans, including important dates and safety protocols, please click on this link.
 
 
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August 17, 2020: An easy way to support Townsend Harris
 
As many of us are now shopping online regularly even for basic necessities, you can donate to the PTA simply by shopping on Amazon.com without any extra cost to you. Here's how to do so:
  • The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible smile.amazon.com purchases.
  • Tens of millions of products are eligible for donations. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation."
  • Recurring Subscribe-and-Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible to generate donations.
  • After you place a qualifying smile.amazon.com order, it may take several days for the amount you have generated to update.
  • Do NOT log into your regular Amazon.com account or the mobile app.
    Instead, you MUST log into Townsend Harris High School's special link to AmazonSmile. Or click on the banner below.
  • The name of our AmazonSmile organization is "Parent Teacher Association of Townsend Harris High School."
 
 
And to learn how to make more donations directly to the Townsend Harris PTA, please CLICK HERE. Every donation (no matter how small) is important because they will all add up to a bright future for our children at Townsend Harris.
 
 
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August 14, 2020: Recording of DOE video on school re-opening plans
 
The Chancellor of the Department of Education (DOE) recently hosted a live event on the city's school re-opening plan. If you missed the session, you can watch a recording by clicking on this link or on the screen shot below.
 
Re-opening video screenshot


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August 12, 2020: Updates on school reopening plans and Queens College Bridge Year program
 
Our preferred school reopening plan has changed to the Enhanced Virtual model. This reopening schedule provides fully remote learning Monday through Thursday. Each grade would meet in school one Friday every four weeks on a rotating schedule (freshman on the first Friday, then sophomores the next Friday, etc.). These enriched Fridays would be time for clubs, guidance counseling, college rep meetings, and other student-centered activities.
 
The previous Model 3B would have been a blended model where students would meet for in-school live classes for two consecutive school days followed by four consecutive school days of remote learning. Slides from the THHS info session comparing the two reopening models are available here.
 
One advantage of our new Enriched Virtual model is that all remote lessons would be synchronous (in real time with Q and A and not taped or assigned videos) and taught by THHS regular faculty. An issue with the blended Model B is that it may use teacher time in an inefficient way (9 students per class) so that many of the remote classes would need to be asynchronous and/or taught by people outside of THHS. Of course, Model B would allow more social contact with peers in school but may result in more possible exposures and, for some students, would require more use of public transit. Students opting for remote-only learning may also be at an unfair disadvantage under Model 3B.
 
Since our proposed Enriched Virtual model is not one of the three DOE pre-approved models, it would need to be approved by the DOE by August 24. If the DOE denies it, then we would need to revert back to Model 3B. General DOE information on reopening is here. The DOE also has a general reopening info session for all public school parents.
 
Blended learning schedule
 
QC Bridge Year program update
 
In a letter to students and parents, Principal Condon has given us the good news that our vital QC Bridge program has been funded for the fall term! Our school managed to self-fund the $400k from our budget without relying on cutting electives. Some of this money came from savings in having fewer supply needs; making more optimal use of class sizes; and increased budget flexibility because we will have 70 more students this year than last year. Keeping this essential program also restores money to support our clubs; The Classic and Phoenix; the Election Simulation; college essay coaching; our school play; Orchestra teacher support and more.
 
Our administration is optimistic that we can find some outside funding in the spring from state and city sources or private foundations because we cannot fully self-fund this again in the spring term. QC classes begin on August 26. All seniors will be taking the usual two QC college credit courses: our great books Humanities course (co-taught by a QC prof and a THHS English teacher) and a QC elective, which will be remote as CUNY is remote for this fall.


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August 1, 2020: Next steps after defunding of Queens College Bridge Year program
 
Our school has been adjusting to the realities of the DOE's deeply damaging decision to defund our Queens College Bridge program. This cut amounts to a staggering 10% of our total budget. Our QC Bridge program is a 36-year tradition that is an inseparable part of our identity:
Townsend Harris High School at Queens College
 
These cuts are especially painful in light of the fact that the DOE will not cut the budget of nearly every other school in the city. Though THHS serves a student body that reflects the demographics of our great borough and where half qualifies for reduced or free lunch, the DOE still decided to make these devastating cuts to our school, the brightest light in a system of 460 high schools. We are ranked number one in New York State for a reason.
 
Our school leaders have reached out to several key DOE people and elected officials to see what can be done to influence the DOE to restore some of the funding to our QC Bridge program. At this point, the conclusion is that there is no chance of the funding being restored.
 
In the meantime, Principal Condon and our school leaders have decided that Townsend Harris will self-fund this promised senior-year rite of passage. Their plan is to maintain the usual two QC courses in the Fall. But in the Spring, the QC program will only have the Humanities Colloquium course with no QC elective. However, the cost of this program must come from our now reduced budget. So we will need to be creative to find funding of about $800,000.
 
So how will THHS find the money to self-fund the QC Bridge program?
  • To assure you, the school will not lay off any existing teachers.
  • Also, for now, most (if not all) electives will be saved.
  • Because of teacher attrition and the larger incoming freshman class, THHS will need to hire several new teachers. Savings may come from hiring teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool which will not cost THHS any money at all. ATR teachers are tenured teachers who, for a variety of reasons, are no longer able to find full-time employment in the NYC school system. They would be hired on a one-year contract.
  • Other options include reaching out to foundations such as Bloomberg, Gates, and Robin Hood.
We are sure that everyone is angry about this terribly unfair cut to our great school. So what more can we do?
  • The THHS Student Union and the PTA have organized a petition on Change.org. Please sign it and add a comment expressing your feelings. We will use this petition to influence our City leaders and others to help our school.
  • Write to your elected leaders. We have organized a convenient document with links to template documents here.
After reading this message, we understand that you may have many questions and concerns such as the possible hiring of teachers from the ATR pool and being able to afford the QC Bridge program. We are asking for your patience until Mr. Condon sends his formal communications directly to the parents.
 
We will keep in touch and let you know of any developments.


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July 30, 2020: Update on the DOE's budget cut to our Queens College Bridge Year program
 
Principal Brian Condon met with the DOE last night. The outcome was grim – the DOE will completely defund the Queens College Bridge Year program effective immediately. This represents an $800,000 (or 10%) cut to our $8 million budget. But most other NYC high schools are not getting any cuts at all. This is clearly very unfair and should make us all angry.

How we make up for the two classes that all seniors were supposed to take at Queens College and stay within our budget are challenges that our school leaders are addressing right now. Options include asking for a QC fee reduction.

Make no mistake, the effect of this deep cut will hurt our school in many ways, including possible cuts to electives, clubs, and sports. Nearly half (47%) of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch. We need to find out from the DOE how making these draconian cuts will supposedly help our most vulnerable population.

Our school leaders are now weighing their options, but it's clear that Mr. Condon will fight these unfair and harmful cuts and will not give up easily. This includes leaning on our elected officials, reaching out to the media, and counting on our students, the Student Union, parents, our PTA, and our dedicated Alumni Association to advance our cause.

What can we as parents do? Tomorrow, Principal Condon will send out a letter to our school community with details and any recommended steps to take. Please note that any options won't be limited to the ones that Principal Condon will suggest to us. We should try to be as creative and passionate as possible about how to restore these cuts to our children's educational program.

The PTA will be sending out another message with talking points and further steps to take in the days ahead.


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July 28, 2020: Call to Action to Save the Queens College Bridge Year Program
 
Last night, our principal, Brian Condon, sent out an "all-hands-on-deck" letter urging your help in preserving Townsend Harris's Bridge Year Program where our seniors take four classes at Queens College. (To read the original letter, please click here.) The Bridge Year Program has been a cornerstone of Townsend Harris since 1984, and is one of the main reasons why students decide to attend our school in the first place. Right now, the Department of Education (DOE) may be in the process of either cutting or completely eliminating funding for the Bridge Year Program which will not only leave our rising seniors with a hole in their programs, but also deprive future students of an essential part of their educational experience at Townsend Harris. (As a way of background, the DOE has, for years, tried to undercut funding for this program.) Tomorrow, a senior DOE budget director will meet with Mr. Condon to discuss funding for the program.

What can you do? Please contact your city representative RIGHT NOW by calling and/or sending him/her an email message. You can use the text from this form letter or write your own text. You can also find the contact information for your representative by clicking here.
 
If there was ever a time to work together to help Townsend Harris, now is the time!


 
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July 23, 2020: Summary of Fall 2020 Reopening Information Session
 
If you missed the online information sessions of the school's reopening plans earlier this week, you can view the PowerPoint slides by clicking on the image below or this link. We hope you find it useful.

PowerPoint cover page


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July 1, 2020: PTA Virtual Year-End Gathering
Join fellow PTA parents during this informal virtual celebration as we mark the end of another academic year at Townsend Harris. Because the continuing COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on our annual tradition of having a year-end party at a local restaurant, it won't stop us from meeting online where we can connect with and support one another, allow senior parents to say good-byes, and leave supportive messages to our children's teachers and the school's staff. And if you are interested in getting more involved with the PTA in the 2020-21 school year, please come by and let us know!
 
 
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July 1, 2020: Update on Yankees game fundraiser
 
Everyone who bought tickets to the already-cancelled April Yankees game has two options:
  • The money paid for the tickets will be kept on account as a credit, and can be used for tickets later this season or during the 2021 season. No action is required for those who want to keep the credit, as it will be applied automatically.
  • For those who want a refund, please email support@fevo.com
 
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June 25, 2020: Townsend Harris High School profiled in today's issue of The New York Times
 
The New York Times profiled how the students at two New York City high schools rose up to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of them was our very own Townsend Harris! The article focused on how the editors and staff writers of our school's newspaper, The Classic, reported not only on the effects of the corornavirus on the Townsend Harris community, but also how the student body recreated some of the annual rituals of the graduating class who was unable to meet in person to celebrate the close of their high school experience. To read the article, click here or on the image below.

NYT article
 
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June 22, 2020: First-ever virtual Townsend Harris graduation ceremony
 
For the first time in its history, Townsend Harris High School today held a virtual ceremony for a graduating class of students. Due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, the members of the Class of 2020 gathered online at 3:00 pm where they celebrated four years of hard work and accomplishments during a two-hour ceremony filled with music performances, photos, speeches, and videos. To watch the entire commencement on YouTube, please click here. To see some screenshots, click here.
 
THHS graduation


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May 13, 2020: Virtual PTA meeting
 
Virtual PTA meeting on May 13, 2020: Meeting runs from 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm. Please see the agenda below.
  • PTA opening remarks
  • Mr. Condon, Principal
  • Ms. York, Assistant Principal of Guidance
  • Ms. Fee, Assistant Principal of Organization (tentative)
  • Dafne Manhart, Parent Coordinator
  • Q&A with parents
Please visit the "News & Updates" section for more details to join us virtually.


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April 21, 2020: Townsend Harris: The top-ranked high school in New York in 2020
 
Breaking story . . . Townsend Harris is the #1 public high school in New York City, the #1 public high school in the New York metro area, and the #1 public high school in the state, according to the 2020 rankings by U.S. News & World Report. And of the over 24,000 public high schools in America, Townsend Harris is ranked #5 (up from #11 last year). Click on the image below or this link to see the full rankings.
 
THHS 2020 rankings
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Please check what our sponsor KWELLER PREP is offering for our students to prepare for the SAT and ACT.
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NAVI CONSULTING (formerly Merica Consulting) works with the Townsend Harris PTA to prepare our students for a bright future. To register for their June 2020 educational seminar, click here. Or contact them at info@naviconsultingny.com or 888-978-1588.
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