PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

BSI Newsletter & Principal’s Message Month of May

BSI Newsletter

Good Afternoon Families,

Happy first day of May! During the month of May, there are many important events to keep in mind so make sure to scroll down to the “Upcoming Events” section.

Principal’s Message  

After several months of cold and some late winter snow storms, it is finally feeling like spring in Brooklyn!  First, a big congratulations to our students for completing state testing. As I circulated the building and checked in with our students, it was clear to me that students were focused and determined to put in their personal best.  To celebrate the end of day one on Tuesday, I learned how to play a version of four square with some of our third and fourth graders. They had me running all over the yard, and I still left recess confused about the rules….

It was great to see many of you here at Family Friday.  I gain energy from our conversations as we share ideas, celebrate student achievements and speak about how we can continue to improve the student experiences here at BSI.  Thank you for making all of our students feel included during this event.

This spring, our middle school advisors began working with a coach from Outward Bound.  Outward Bound works with schools to strengthen advisory programs by encouraging team-building, clear communication and respect for others.  Advisors are carefully planning lessons that will be delivered this year, and in June they have two days to work with their coach to plan for the launch of advisory in September.  As we begin to turn the page on this school year, I am confident that this new partnership will allow us to solidify plans to close out this year, and begin next year’s advisory program on very solid ground.  Our seventh graders will be headed to an Outward Bound facility for an overnight trip in June. We will be in touch with more details in the near future.


Throughout April, I visited students participating in new enrichments such as Together in Dance (5th grade) and Child’s Play NY (4th grade).  Ms. Cintula, Ms. Unay and the teaching artists, are working with our fifth graders to create a musical theater performance aligned with their immigration study.  The final performance will be next month, and it is sure to be a hit. After seeing a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, our fourth graders were visited by the actors on four occasions in their classrooms to explore the characters’ emotions and relationships through theater games.


Our new third grade Capoeira enrichment begins on May 15.  I look forward to adding another opportunity for our students to move while exploring this Brazilian martial art form.


Second grade teachers spent a day last week at BEAM Center, and returned energized and excited to launch a hands-on project where the students will be creating rural and urban communities in their classrooms.  In addition, students will be tasked with building a bridge and a model train that will connect the classrooms. First grade teachers are also working with BEAM as they finalize plans to ask students to explore their own communities, before bringing ideas back to develop model “ideal” communities in their classrooms.


The end of the school year is around the corner, and I am reflecting on successes and challenges from this year, as I start to turn my attention to next year.  Over the last eight months, I learned so much about the community, enrichment partnerships, and the instructional philosophy on which BSI was founded. The progressive approach to teaching and learning was one of the driving factors that led me to pursuing the opportunity of becoming the principal of BSI.  After spending the year experiencing the culture firsthand, I am even more invigorated by the opportunity to continue to improve instruction and the experiences of our students. I spent so much of this year learning from the teachers, staff, students and you. This year, my focus was strengthening the foundation of BSI, with a focus on social and emotional learning including initiatives such as buddy classes, advisory and initiating partnerships with the Child Mind Institute, Outward Bound, and John Halligan who was here recently to deliver a powerful anti-bullying message to our middle school students.  In collaboration with TAOTS and PS 370, BSI was recently awarded the designation of being a No Place for Hate school! In addition, as a part of the work on our foundation, we are developing an age-appropriate, comprehensive health/sex education curriculum that will address topics such as bullying, friendships, relationships and puberty.


Although my first priority will always be that BSI is a place where students feel cared for, safe, respected and loved, with a STEM lab on the horizon, I am looking at opportunities for our students to be exposed to cutting-edge experiences in the STEM fields.  I am having exciting conversations about partnerships with the Consortium for Research and Robotics at Pratt Institute and the Billion Oyster Project as well as thinking through how to incorporate more STEM experiences into our lunch club offerings and in our lower grades.


I will continue the work that will ensure that BSI is an educational institution where students can create, make, explore, invent and feel inspired every day.


But before all of the above, we have so much to do in the coming months.  I look forward to experiencing projects such as Kindergarten Cafe and the Second Grade Post Office!


And, of course, I look forward to celebrating the graduation of our wonderful eighth grade students.

Be well, and have a wonderful week.

Principal Havlik

School-wide News

Stem Lab 

Join us as we turn the roof of our PS/IS 237 campus into an innovative STEMLab.

Thanks to generous grants from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member David Greenfield we are ready to break ground! Our project is in the hands of the School Construction Authority.

Meanwhile, we’re thrilled to partner with nonprofit New York Sunworks – experts in building and supporting innovative greenhouse science labs in urban schools.

Momentum is building. We are currently seeking grants to fund interior startup costs and sustain the greenhouse. Email if you’re interested in helping us create a legacy learning lab in Brooklyn.


Bullying Prevention Curriculum Con’t 

We have been learning about bystander feelings and ways to respond to bullying. Below is some information and questions that can be used for home discussions:

Bystander feelings: • Sad • Angry • Relieved • Interested
What are some other things you might feel if you were a bystander to bullying?

What did you do or what could you have done to help stop the bullying? (Refuse, Report) What can you do if you see someone being bullied? What should you do if you report bullying to someone who doesn’t help make it stop?


Friends and Family Day 

On May 18th, we will have our annual Friends and Family Day.  The PTO meeting will be at 8am followed by Friends and Family activities in the classrooms until 11 am. More details coming soon.

Spring – Family Fun Night 

We invite you to join us for BSI’s 4th annual Family Fun Night!

Join us for an evening filled with math games, logic puzzles, brain teasers and STEM activities. All grades and their families are invited. Siblings welcome!

  • Wednesday, May 23rd
  • 4:30 – 7:30 pm
  • BSI, 4th Floor

Musical Production: Seussical 

We are excited to announce BSI’s fifth school musical, Seussical. Our musical cast has been working extremely hard all year on this performance. There will be three performances of the musical. The dates are:

  • Thursday, June 14 during school hours (for students)
  • Thursday, June 14 at 5:00pm (for BSI families)
  • Saturday, June 16 at 2:00 pm (for BSI families)

More details will be coming from Mr. W and Ms. Diane. We can not wait to showcase the phenomenal work they have been doing. We hope to see you there!


As the culmination of a unit of study on restaurants, our Kindergarten students will be operating the Kindergarten Cafe again this year. The grand opening is set for May 29th!  (I’ll get back to you with future dates of operation.) While the families of the Kindergarten students and school staff members are the true target clientele of the cafe, students in upper grades will also have chances to visit and make purchases.
Participation in the cafe is entirely voluntary; there is no obligation.  Our little chefs are looking forward to operating their very own restaurant. They have been crafting menus, designing possible layouts and “applying” for jobs.


Middle School News 


Our 8th graders are approaching the regents exams soon for both Algebra 1 and Living Environment.

  • Algebra 1: Tuesday, June 12, 2018, at 1:15 PM
  • Living Environment: Wednesday, June 13, 2018, at 1:15 PM

Overnight Field Trips 

The overnight field trips have been wonderful. So far our 8th and 6th graders have enjoyed theirs. The 5th graders are going for their overnight this Friday. The 7th grade overnight is being planned and packets will be going home in a week. The date for 7th grade overnight is June 21st and 22nd. 

Community Service  

Middle school students have been researching and implementing community building projects. Most of this work is happening in advisory. Here are some projects:

  • Library up-keeping where students take inventory, include more diverse books and beautify the space.
  • Food drive for people in need.
  • Food drive for animals in need.
  • Park restoration


If anyone has any SHSAT prep materials that they no longer need the school will happily take them and make available for middle school students through a sign-out process. 

Also, if anyone needs SHSAT materials we already have a small inventory of materials that can be signed out by students. 

Upcoming Events:

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(for details go to the main calendar and click on the event)

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