Community News

MCS Educators Present at Progressive Education Network Conference

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, October 13, 2019

Upper School Director Maiya Jackson and Upper School teacher Nassim Zerriffi attended and led workshops at the Progressive Education Network (PEN) National Conference in Minneapolist/St. Paul, Minnesota the first weekend in October. The conference takes place every two years and is a diverse gathering of educators from around the country. The theme of the PEN Conference 2019 was Educating for Democracy: Navigating the Current and Channeling the Future of Progressive Education.

Maiya led a conference titled Progressive Leadership: Building School and Cross-Sector Partnerships that Educate for Democracy. The main question she focused on in her workshop was: how do the leaders of progressive schools support, protect, and celebrate progressive philosophy and teaching?

"We feel a sense of urgency in both teaching children about social justice and democracy and engaging in the practice of education as an act of social justice," Maiya said in her presentation. "With current systematic changes in both independent and public sectors we are particularly attuned to the need for joining together to uphold our values and practice.  As school leaders, we must find a balance between daily support and decision making, larger questions about the culture and inclusivity of our schools, and even broader discussions about our schools in the context of politics, districts, communities, activism and more."

Participants in the workshop worked in small groups to learn about practices of school leaders from various sectors that are working to lead and build schools centered around democratic progressive education, even as we all may define that differently within the context of our communities and schools. Maiya challenged those who attended to "reflect on their own practice as school leaders and how their educational philosophy shapes their work and future goals for their communities."

Nassim hosted a workshop titled Activism as Essential Pedagogy. The workshop explored ways to engage youth in activism and advocacy and include strategies for integrating activism into the curriculum. He also discussed how to build a stand-alone activism program, from designing the program and elements of a successful program to potential challenges and opportunities. 

Nassim described the goals of his workshop as follows: "Activism provides youth with an opportunity to be involved in their community, the political process, and is academically rich while being practical and speaking to their needs. It provides opportunities for youth to step into leadership, and develop a sense of agency. The experience of having a voice in the issues that affect their lives and their world can be an empowering and life-changing experience.  This kind of empowering program can also be transformative for school culture in general as it fundamentally shifts the adult-youth dynamic, shows high expectations and trust, and makes school a “real life” experience. Furthermore, young people are feeling, and correctly assessing, high risk of multiple crisis including ecological collapse, the erosion of democracy, unstable inequality, the resurgence of white supremacy, and even fascism globally. Given the recent examples of powerful youth activism from the anti-gun violence students to the school strike movement, can we afford not to prepare our young people for powerful civic engagement?"

 Manhattan Country School educators have long since been models of teaching progressive education. In addition to educating children, our skilled and dedicated teachers take opportunities to share their knowledge with other educators. 

MCS Students Support the Youth Climate Strike

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 29, 2019 Byline:  Michèle Solá, Director

The School Strike 4 Climate on September 20, 2019 energized over a million students to organize massive demonstrations in New York and across the globe on a school day. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist who embodies  our ideals of a youth leader, moved to act with her weekly act of defiance outside the Swedish Parliament. A global youth movement aiming its collective voice at a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly animated students and schools to announce they would take part.

Questions about MCS participation came up in mid-summer when the strike was first gathering steam. Members of the MCS community looked to MCS for guidance. How would a school educating to an authentic commitment to sustainability and environmental justice treat this opportunity? Comparisons to the #Enough Walkout, Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the Women’s March came up. Experiencing collective action is powerful and also sometimes scary (as some students could articulate). 

Faculty and staff took time to define our participation further during the opening weeks of school. From beginning to end, this became a collaborative effort among the staff. Student Council was brought into the planning too. Resources, videos and Ted Talks were shared. Leadership emerged among both experienced and new staff as decisions had to be reached. To act? Or not? As a whole school, or separately as Lower and Upper Schools? With or without families? 

“Climate change,” “global warming,” and other sophisticated vocabulary for various age groups became the focus of conversation. The decision was made to support strikers, organize a teach-in for the day and convene the Lower School in Central Park. How could we support a variety of experiences to mark the occasion that would be impactful for children? What relevant songs are already part of the Lower School repertoire? How might students’ creativity be incorporated? What connections to last year’s Green New Deal activism project could be drawn? How would the debates about race and class in the environmental movement shape our participation? 

There was a lot to appreciate when it all came together. 85th Street neighbors, who weren’t always the voices of welcome, watched in admiration and with smiles as Lower School classes chanted and sang their way to the “March for our Planet” in Central Park. Upper School students who did not attend the march spent the afternoon working on climate change related activism projects and activities that consisted of mind-stretching data challenges and playfully combative court battles from “Rethinking Schools’ A People’s Curriculum for the Earth.”

Greta Thunberg is the youthful hero who inspired so many that day. Only a week later she continues to be the object of admiration even as hope of the United Nations embracing substantive change fades. Having so deliberately and creatively made a day of the School Strike for Climate, this September will forever be an experience that was meaningful for MCS students. 

Who are other young champions of environmental justice that deserve to be recognized too? How many more times it will feel right to organize a collective school experience? That is still a question. Who among our students will emerge as young leaders devoted to protecting the earth’s resources in equitable and just ways? That is still a work-in-progress. How many more science classes, social studies projects, trips to Central Park or trips to the Farm will help them figure out the answer? The School Strike for Climate will be another memory that will shape our individual and collective commitment to living lightly and justly on earth. 


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Childcare Guidelines

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 29, 2019

With the start of each school year, we like to remind our friends of childcare guidelines and procedures. At MCS, we try to provide childcare as often as possible at school events. 

In order for us to safely provide childcare for MCS evening and weekend events we ask that you follow this set of guidelines.

  1. Sign up on the appropriate Google Form/Sheet which will be emailed to the community. Please note: sign up will close 24 hours before the event in order to provide adequate time for staff to plan for food, space, and the correct adult to child ratio. If you do not sign up on the Google Sheet we are unable to provide childcare for the event. Unlike Afterschool, we do not accept drop ins. 
  2. On the sign up sheet please indicate how many children will be needing care, their names, and if they will be eating pizza and snacks provided. If they will be eating with us, please indicate if they will be arriving late so that we can save them some pizza. Also, please note that we do not provide gluten free or vegan options at this time. If you intend to send food for your child, please adhere to the ‘nut free’ and ‘no candy, no soda’ policies in place.
  3. If your child is coming to childcare directly from afterschool there will be a space on the sign up sheet to indicate this. Childcare providers will pick them up on the landing at 5:30 p.m. and direct them to the childcare location. 
  4. When you arrive to pick up your child please leave promptly. To be ready for school the next day childcare closes as soon as the event is over.  We cannot accommodate extended time for adults to chat with each other or play with children. Staff needs to to organize and reset spaces so that the cleaning staff can begin their work. It is important for the classrooms to be cleaned for use by teachers the following morning and this work can only be done when everyone has cleared out. 
  5. MCS childcare is available to currently enrolled MCS students only. Unless they attend MCS, we cannot accommodate siblings.

Certain voluntary events will be funded by suggested donations of $10 per child. These events may require sign up on Eventbrite to allow for payment at the time of registration or will be indicated on the Google sign up sheet. 

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Family Style Lunch in the Classroom

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 29, 2019 Byline:  Amanda Hallowell, Food Program and Events Manager

MCS Food Program

The MCS Food Program supports the school’s core mission and values and provides our growing community of students and staff with delicious, nutritious meals each day. Since its inception in 1966, MCS has served lunch to students in the classroom to be enjoyed “family style” at small tables that the children set themselves.

Sharing a communal meal is a unifying experience that allows for conversations about everything from the impacts of food waste to the risks and rewards of trying new things. This tradition is an important reflection of the school’s mission to create a community of children and adults working together and enjoying each other’s company throughout the day.

The MCS Food Program works to ensure that each day’s meal is made from locally sourced, sustainably raised foods, most of which Head Chef Emilie Esders and the rest of the kitchen staff prepare from scratch. Most of our produce, dairy, eggs and meat come from the tri-state area, and our flour, rice and dried beans are from no farther away than New England. We carefully source the poultry from nearby family-run farms, and all of the pork and most of the ground beef we serve comes from the MCS Farm. In addition to preparing our menus from scratch as often as possible, we strive to minimize processed, packaged foods, and limit foods produced by companies with policies and practices that are not in line with MCS’s mission and values. 

Morning Snack

A light snack is served mid-morning to help students make it from breakfast to lunch. Snack offerings include things like fresh fruit, crackers, homemade baked goods, popcorn, cheddar cheese, cider, regular milk and chocolate milk. Students in the seventh and eighth grades receive a slightly heartier snack such as eggs, French toast, or bagels and cream cheese.


Lunch is served family-style in the classroom Monday through Thursday and includes a protein, a carbohydrate, cooked and fresh vegetables and fresh fruit, as well as 2% milk from a local dairy. We typically have one day without meat on the menu and no more than one day per week with beef or pork as the protein. 

Students are expected to join in the lunch prepared by the kitchen each day. Lunch is an important time of the day when students’ sense of community is enhanced by sharing the same meal and taking the time to forge relationships with peers. In the Lower School, while children learn to enjoy sharing a meal with their classmates they practice skills such as passing, pouring and cutting.


Each week’s menu is published in Nuestra Semana en MCS and is available on the MCS website. It is also communicated by email to faculty and staff.  

Each day’s menu, along with a comprehensive list of ingredients, is distributed on the lunch cart sent to each classroom to help teachers and lunch monitors manage dietary restrictions, especially allergies. The menu lists every ingredient, with major allergens for a particular item noted in parentheses.  Here's a sample menu listing:

Chicken Tenders (Gluten, Soy, Eggs & Dairy)
Baked Tofu (Soy)
Corn on the Cob
Fresh Vegetables
Fresh Fruit

For questions about the menu or requests for recipes, please email Head Chef Emilie Esders or call her at 212-348-0952, ext. 215.

On Fridays students bring lunch from home and families are encouraged to support our sustainability mission by packing food in reusable containers and minimizing packaged, processed foods. Sodas, caffeinated beverages and candy are prohibited and we ask that families refrain from sending food in glass containers for safety reasons.

Dietary Concerns

In general, MCS students are expected to participate in the family-style lunch provided by the Food Program each day. We encourage parents of children with a food allergy or restriction documented in Magnus to review the upcoming week’s menu and send in an alternative to the specific menu item (for instance, gluten-free pasta on a day when pasta is on the menu) so their child can participate in the day's lunch along with their peers.  

While it is not possible for us to accommodate every dietary restriction in our community, MCS is a nut free school, and families are asked to be careful not to send in foods that contains nuts. This includes afterschool and foods for classroom celebrations like birthdays, which should include a list of all the ingredients.

We also offer a vegetarian option, such as tofu, hard boiled eggs or beans, on days when animal protein is served for our students who are vegetarian or do not eat certain meats for religious reasons. 

Please indicate any dietary restrictions, allergies or intolerances on Magnus Health and notify your child’s teacher if you have questions about your child’s diet as it pertains to food served at school. Most often, teachers will then direct families to make an appointment with the school nurse, Stephanie Bloom, to discuss their child’s dietary needs. If a child’s medical history indicates the need for an alternative plan for snack and lunch, a doctor’s note should be on file in our nurse’s office. Stephanie can be reached by phone at 212-348-0952, ext. 292 or via email.

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Arrival and Dismissal Procedures

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 15, 2019

As our school continues to grow, we have revised our arrival and dismissal procedures to accommodate the increasing numbers of families. Please read below for our routines:

School opens at 8:30 a.m. Students are expected to be in their classrooms at that time. Students who arrive after 8:45 a.m. must get a late pass from the front desk to give to their teacher.

4-5s and 5-6s: Living Room & Landing 

If 4-5s and 5-6s arrive with their grown-ups earlier than 8:30 a.m., they should wait on the sidewalk. In the event of inclement weather, they are invited to wait in the Living Room on the first floor with their grown ups before going to the classrooms. If 4-5s and 5-6s children need to be dropped off between 8:00 and 8:30, they may go to the 2nd floor landing. Due to space issues, we cannot accommodate children’s grown-ups on the landing.

6-7s - 9-10: Landing

For Lower School families, we encourage students to arrive closer to 8:30 a.m. We recognize that some parents will need to drop off children between 8 and 8:30 because they need to go to work. If you need to drop off your child before 8:30 a.m., there is a supervised space on the second floor landing where children can wait. We ask that parents not wait on the landing or the stairs with their children because there is limited space. There will be a sign-in sheet on the landing so we can keep track of which students are in the building.

5th-8th Grades: Library

Upper School students are encouraged to arrive before 8:30 a.m. so that they have time between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m. to get settled in their classrooms and prepare for the day. Students who arrive between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. can wait in the library on the 3rd floor until they are dismissed to classrooms at 8:30 a.m. Students will only be allowed to go their classrooms early if they have made an appointment with their teacher in advance. There will be a sign-in sheet in the library so we can keep track of which students are in the building.

There is no supervision for students before 8 a.m. We ask that students not arrive unsupervised before 8 a.m. Families who arrive before 8 am should wait on the sidewalk until we open the doors.


School ends at 3:00 p.m. for 4-5s through 5th grade. For 6th grade, school ends at 3 p.m. on Monday, Thursday, and Friday and 3:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 7th and 8th graders are dismissed at 3:15 p.m. every day. Starting on September 16, Afterschool begins at 3:00 p.m. for participating students.

4-5s and 5-6s: From Classrooms

Families and caregivers should please pick up students from their classrooms at 3 p.m.

6-7s - 9-10s: From Sidewalk

Students will be dismissed by their teachers from the designated area for their class on the sidewalk. In case of inclement weather, 6-7s will be picked up in flex space and 7-8s through 9-10s will be picked up in the gym.

5th - 8th Grades: 

Upper School students are dismissed from their classrooms to leave on their own.

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A Message from the Nurse

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 15, 2019 Byline:  Stephanie Bloom, R.N.

With the start of each school year, we like to remind our friends of the importance of proper health care in our community. It is my job to promote the health and wellbeing for all students and the school community at large. Some of the tasks involved in this process include: coordinating care between school, families and providers; addressing the health needs of the community, including social and environmental needs affecting health; providing health education to the school community; and delivering quality care and nursing interventions for actual and potential health problems.

But the reality is, illnesses do happen. Here are some guidelines for what you can do when your child is sick.

Children should not be sent to school or to the Farm if they are sick or unable to participate fully in the daily program, which includes time outdoors. A child who is not well cannot benefit from the program and jeopardizes the health of others. Please keep your child home if:

 Your child has a fever (temperature over 100.4). Students may return to school after 24 hours fever-free.
 Your child is vomiting or has diarrhea. Students may return to school 24 hours after the last episode of vomiting/diarrhea.
 Your child is suffering from a cough, runny nose, headache or other ailment severe enough to disrupt normal activity. Students may return to school when symptoms are less severe and full participation is possible.
 Your child has a new rash that has not been diagnosed and does not appear to be a minor skin irritation. Students may return to school when rash is diagnosed and verified to be non-contagious.
 Your child complains of dizziness or lightheadedness. Students may return upon medical evaluation and clearance.

If a child becomes ill at school and is unable to participate in the daily program due to health concerns, families will be notified and requested to arrange the child’s pick up.

Additionally, MCS conducts schoolwide lice checks periodically throughout the school year. 

Here's to a happy and healthy school year!

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Smiles, Hugs and High Fives to start the School Year

News Type:  Community News Date:  Sunday, September 15, 2019

Thursday morning, September 5, students arrived at Manhattan Country School for the first day of the 2019-2020 school year. Outside, they were welcomed by building maintenance and greeter extraordinaire, George, with hugs and high fives as they entered the front door. As children headed up to their classrooms and parents mingled in the lobby, the building was filled with laughter and spirited conversations about summer vacations and the new year to come.

Once in their classrooms, students met their teachers, played get-to-know-you games and learned about their daily routines and schedules. Teachers encouraged students to share their preferred pronouns with the group and anecdotes from their summer. According to teachers, an alarming number of Lower School students recounted "swimming with sharks" this summer.  

Our 4-5 and 5-6 students came for brief visits to meet their teachers and see their classrooms. Teachers remarked on the excitement among the families, "no one wanted to leave!"  Our youngest students had their first full day of school the following week on September 11 and 12.


After dismissal at noon on September 5, families made their way to the Arthur Ross Pinetum in Central Park for the annual Parents’ Association first-day-of-school picnic..  

First Day of School Photo Gallery

Please enjoy the first week of school in pictures.   


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Eighth-Graders Perform "Into the Woods"

News Type:  Community News Date:  Saturday, June 22, 2019

Last week, Manhattan Country School's eighth-graders delivered three performances of "Into the Woods," a production directed by Shadenia Davis with Dan Rubins on piano. Eighth graders performed for their families, young alumni and again on the night of Graduation. Bravo to all on a fantastic production. 


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Class of 2019 Says Goodbye to MCS

News Type:  Community News Date:  Saturday, June 22, 2019

On Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 22 eighth-graders graduated from Manhattan Country School. During a ceremony shared with faculty, staff, family and friends, the graduates offered the following thoughts about their time at MCS.

View Graduation Pictures

Tadeáš Beise

When I came into the 4-5s classroom on the first day of school, I didn't know anyone. I was pretty shy and decided to join a table with the stackable bears rather than people. Besides this, it didn't take too long for me to be invited to a game of Star Wars reenactments, though most of the times we made up our own stories. I experienced the accepting spirit of Manhattan Country School only a few days after stepping into the old school's courtyard for the very first time. I've rarely been the one to take others under my wing; I have always waited for an invitation to join someone when meeting new people. I hope that in high school I will be able to be that person when needed. I have learned so much about social bonds throughout my time here and I hope that with this knowledge I can learn to be the one to invite that stackable bears kid to my Star Wars role play (metaphorically). One of the things I have always found challenging when thinking about graduating is having to leave all my friends and my amazing relationships and start with a clean slate. That I will have to go through all of the awkward stages that lead up to having relationships this strong. However, I think that with everything I have learned here I can make that process flow much more smoothly. I think I am ready to graduate because MCS has prepared me for it, and MCS has been preparing me for it, ever since a few days after stepping into the old school's courtyard for the very first time.

Ayomide Bender

I've learned so much being at MCS. I’ve learned that young people can be the best type of activist. I’ve learned how to argue against racism, homophobia, sexism, and colorism. I've learned so much history and have written so many essays. MCS is the only school I’ve ever attended. Going to a new place is scary, but I believe that MCS has given me the tools I’ll need. I’ll miss the farm, my friends. I'll miss how there were so many things to learn that Nassim could never fit it all in 45 minutes. Every time I have a question, he seems to know the answer. Thank you, Nassim, for being so knowledgeable and also for giving me a hug when you had to tell me that my writing needed a lot of editing. Overall, thank you for being a great advisor, even if I didn’t always show it. I’ll miss how many times Tom says, “MLA format,” even though I forget every time to add it to my essays. I'll miss how Carolina complains about our teenage attitudes. I’ll miss how many times Maiya had to tell me to spit out my gum.

I hope that at Rudolf Steiner, I leave class upset when my teachers don't get to finish the hundreds of things they planned to teach me. I hope I make friends as I’ve made here. We have cried together and screamed at the top of our lungs together when we found out what high schools we got into. We've studied together. I can't picture going to class every day and not seeing everyone. I’ll miss MCS and everything that comes with it. Goodbye, MCS! I'll never forget you.

Brickelle Bixler​

I have completed all of what MCS has to offer me: all of the classes and all of the curriculum. During my six years at MCS, I have been introduced to several subjects. In the 8-9s, I learned estimation and we studied the encounters between Native Americans and Europeans. I learned how to estimate before solving math problems, which gave me an idea regarding the solution. If I was close to the estimate, I knew I probably did the problem right, whereas if my answer was much higher or lower I knew I made a mistake along the way. In our learning about encounters, we wrote a letter to the school asking them to change the holiday on the calendar from Columbus Day to Fall Weekend. In the 9-10s, I was introduced to research papers and persuasive writing. In 5th grade, I continued learning about and writing persuasive arguments that included debates. In 6th grade, we started a more formal research paper. I choose to work on the Farm Workers Movement. In 7th grade, we had combined classes with 7th and 8th grades. We also had our first activism campaign. In 8th Grade, we were introduced to robots and wrote a short story. I learned how to code and build robots, and I wrote a short story I was really proud of.

During my time at MCS, I have grown as a person. A lesson I have learned at MCS is that sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to grow as a person. For example, I volunteered and went to the climate strike with Kellyn and Nassim. Typically, I am on the quiet side and let other kids take the lead. During the conference, I participated and spoke about the Green New Deal. I also led a separate part of the workshop by myself. From that experience I felt myself participating and learned that I am capable of leading and having a speaking role. Another lesson I learned that I will keep forever is you get more done as a community. Last year when we went on our activism trip we had to raise money to go. By myself I could not raise the money. As the 7th and 8th grade classes we could not raise all the money. Nassim opened the fundraising up to the entire community, and all of us together, we were able to raise what we needed. We went to Albany and had an amazing trip. Also I have learned that what you do, as individuals, impacts others. For example, at the farm if someone does not clean the stall well, the next person has to clean even more, and they will have a more difficult time. Something else I have learned during my time at MCS is how to be analytical. MCS has made me see that everything has bias. Recently, we did a project about fallacies. We had to figure out which fallacies the author was using and what was their bias. The project helped me see that fallacies and bias are in television, news, movies, books, and basically anything else you can think of, so it is important to analyze the information we receive. For that, I am forever grateful for MCS.

Carlo Brown

I’ve been going to MCS for 10 years, my whole life until tomorrow. I can’t imagine not being able to have the luxury of waking up at 7:45 and going three train stops to MCS and walking through those all too familiar MCS doors and seeing all my friends' smiling faces. I can’t imagine not walking into school and being greeted by George with an enthusiastic “Good Morning”. I can’t imagine not getting an email from Tom every Thursday saying, “Hi Carlo, below is the work you are owing. Let me know if you’ve got questions.” But one thing won’t change -- I probably still won’t eat lunch. I remember Sarah telling me, “You need to eat, Carlo,” but rebellious 4-5 me didn’t eat lunch. I’ve learned so much at MCS. I’ve gained the ability to speak my mind, disagree and have fun learning. I’ve made everlasting friendships, and my last year at MCS was all I could've ever asked for and I will miss all of you. But one thing I will never gain is the appetite for the lunch.

Ana Castillo

When I first came to MCS in 5th grade, I came from a place where I wasn't able to be myself. Where, every day in school, I was mocked and made fun of.  It was easy for me to feel comfortable in the MCS community. I felt accepted. After years of not knowing who I was, MCS taught me that I could be myself. MCS taught me that my flaws are important. Over time, MCS has taught me how to become a better person and how to view the world from different perspectives. I have learned how to build close relationships with my friends and how to solve my problems on my own. I think I am ready to graduate because I have learned who I am with the help of MCS. Last year, when I was in London, it was a sobering view of the reality of the world, and when I came back to MCS I was able to be myself again. Last year wasn't easy but I think I am comfortable enough with who I am, so that when I go off to high school, I won't let anyone ruin how I view myself. Everything that has happened to me led to this moment, the moment where I am graduating from MCS. My father and my aunt went here and then my brother and me. Every story I have heard and experienced in MCS will always take up a part of my memory. MCS has given me laughter, tears, smiles, and crazy memories. Thank you, MCS. Thank you for everything that you have taught me and given me. Thank you for teaching me to be a better person.

Sabrina Clauss-Ehlers​

With what’s happening in the world right now, it's important to have a school like MCS. MCS is a place characterized by diversity, a tight-knit community, academic rigor, and a commitment to social justice. Throughout my 10 years here, I've learned how to make lifelong friends, fight for the things I care about, and advocate for myself and others. Academically, I've also been taught what I need to know in order to transition into high school.

I’m ready to graduate because I’m ready to take all of these skills to a new environment. I’m ready to make new friends, broaden my experiences, further my education, and grow as a person. MCS has given me a valuable set of skills and friendships. I am grateful for this and am excited for the next chapter of my life. Even though I’m graduating, these life lessons and life friendships will stay with me.

Arlo Cyran

When I look back at the last nine years, I see that many of the moments I remember are at MCS. It makes me realize how much I appreciate this school. And as much as I want to relive those memories, at least I will always remember them. I think I am ready to graduate from MCS because I can take what I have learned along with these memories and apply them to the rest of my life. I have learned how to voice my opinion, for example when we studied habitats in the 7-8s and built on it in the 8th grade when we marched to stop habitat destruction. Being in a community has been an invaluable learning experience, too. Working closely with my classmates for nine years has made me feel comfortable to take risks and experiment. I've also gotten to know kids of other ages in the whole school through reading buddies. I was read to by older students and I was able to share with younger students later. I also had a special bond with the 7th grade because we have been in mixed classes. The reason why I love the vision of MCS is that what I've learned has equipped me. Thank you, MCS.

Anika Feinsilver​

Am I ready to leave MCS, let’s see. My relationship with MCS is one where I give my time, energy, intellect and ideas, and in return I receive an education that has shaped me over the years as an informed citizen, a confident speaker, a person who knows a whole lot about the civil rights movement and a young activist. What MCS and its curriculum have given me, is me. Without the teachers, my fellow students, the curriculum and the lively discussions we have here, I wouldn’t be me. The me who is conscious of who holds the power in any given situation or the me who feels comfortable explaining the Haitian Revolution or the me who eventually learned how to play Mancala. During my journey through MCS, I’ve learned a tremendous amount of academics, but one thing MCS has taught me, that is prevalent in many aspects of my life, is recognizing the importance of diversity and how privilege, race and power play a role in almost everything. Using this lens, while either looking at high schools and noticing who makes up the classroom, or having lively discussions with my family, I am very aware of how my identities and privilege can affect any situation. This lens is simply a part of me. MCS has given me a foundation to begin to comprehend many big ideas and develop sensitivity and empathy to and for other people’s life experiences. Here at school I’ve experienced an environment and a community that encourages conflict resolution and has fostered, for me at least, independence, creativity and the confidence for self-advocacy. No, I'm not fully ready to leave. I can't imagine not seeing Tom every day or eating lunch with my friends, or hearing ANIKA every five seconds. Yet here we are. But I know stepping into high school, I have already found my voice and confidence, I will let it guide me. Thank you to all the teachers over the years who have all had an impact on me and my voice. Thank you to the seventh grade, who even through the stress, made everything laughable and fun. Lastly, thank you to my class, from my first day to the last, you have all supported and guided me. All the memories and I mean all of them I will forever cherish and reflect upon.

Josephine Finklestein​

I have been here at MCS since I was 4 years old. I have learned a lot during my time here at MCS, but it is time for me to move on. When I first came to MCS, I struggled. It was hard for me to sit still and focus and control myself. My teachers and friends helped me with that. I feel like they played a large part in my change from being that out of control little kid into the more controlled older kid that I am today. I have learned so much at this school and I have grown a lot. I have learned how to write research papers and essays. I learned some algebra and coding. I have learned Spanish and biology. But I think I have gotten to the point where there isn't much more for me to learn here at MCS. To be honest, it was hard for me to imagine ever leaving the warm and welcoming community that is MCS. But now that the year is ending and I have been accepted into high school, I realize that I am more ready than I thought. I have learned as much as I could here at MCS and it is time for me to move to a new school where I can learn even more. Goodbye, MCS, I will never forget all the gifts you have given me.

Rafael Green-Arnone

Ten years ago I walked into MCS wearing someone else's skin. Peter Parker’s, to be exact. I didn't pretend to be Spider-Man. I really was Spider-Man, and I really believed that with all my heart. When I was coming to MCS, my mom told me that I wasn't going to be allowed to wear the costume anymore. This came as a shock to me because I literally lived in that costume, and I didn't feel ready to step out of it. We even practiced having me wear regular clothes before the first day of school. Those first few weeks without Spider-Man were difficult, and I missed him terribly. But as the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years, I thought about him less and less. What I didn't notice was that with the passing of time I needed him less and less because with the help of all of you in this room, including my friends, my family and the MCS parents and staff, I was beginning to discover and create my own person. And I didn't need to borrow his person anymore. I wouldn't say it was always easy or fun to be pushed past my comfort zone, and in the moment I didn't always appreciate the pushing, but looking back I have come to realize that I was pushed not for the sake of pushing but with the goal of helping me figure out who I was, what I believed, and what I had to contribute to the MCS community and the larger community beyond MCS. I suppose, then, that it’s time for me to test some of that out. I will be sad to leave all of you and leave so many people whom I truly love. So of course today is in part a sad day, but at the same time there is a way in which you will be coming with me because I couldn't have become who I am without you. Thank you.

Kellyn Guzman

In my ten years at MCS...let me just stop and say that again...TEN YEARS AT MCS...ten years of my life with all of these wonderful people. We've moved from the east side to the west side. We have gone from being a small school to a bigger school. But we have not lost sight of what we are. We are a place where you can ask your science teacher about the chemistry behind narcotics. A place where sometimes you have to pretend to be your math teacher’s daughter, so you can get into the MOMA for free...true story. A school where we spend our time in class making protest signs for a Climate March, or a walkout in support of gun control, or to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King because we know when it is our responsibility to rise up. And, of course, this is a place where you learn. I have learned comma placement (though I never really got that one right, sorry, Tom), I have learned algebra, circles of evaluation, the troubling history of the United States, the density of water, the periodic table of elements, and so much more than I can fit in this speech. MCS has taught me so much. And I feel like the most important thing it has taught me is not to be afraid to say I'm grateful for what I've learned here. To not be afraid to say that I feel honored to have shared my ten years here with these people...these human beings...that I have known since I was four years old. I cried all of my tears at our last farm trip, so there is no way I'm going to cry tonight. Of course, I said that during the last farm trip, so we will see how tonight goes. Anyway, whether I cry or I don't, I'm ready to graduate. I am ready to graduate because they told me I can't come back here anymore...I asked...they said no. No, seriously, I am ready to graduate from MCS because I got into a high school...shocker, I know! I am ready to graduate because MCS has prepared me to be who I am, no matter where I am. Even if that is a few blocks away. I'm going to miss the people I have met here. I'm going to miss sprinting up the fire escape on Wednesday morning to sign up for extra IS. I am going to miss the chaos of having chocolate milk for a snack. I am going to miss feeling comfortable and supported by asking my teachers questions. I am going to miss white sheets, even though they sometimes made me want to throw up my hands and declare defeat, and just say, “Maiya Jackson YOU WIN!” MCS and I (Tom, I got the subject in that sentence right!) have had a long, beautiful, crazy, lovely, frustrating, delicious, action-packed, adventurous journey together. I am very ready to spread my wings and fly to 80th street, where I will spend the next four years (high school). However, saying goodbye is exactly like my time here, a little bit salty, but mostly really awesome. Parents, thanks for coming here today to see your children graduate. Thanks for coming to our Upper School assemblies, our Lower School assemblies, our Christmas assemblies, our Thanksgiving assemblies, our MLK assemblies, our spring concerts, our fall concerts, our activism assemblies, and our MLK March. And thank you, MCS, for making all of those things happen...I mean it, thank you, I'm never going to forget this place.

Madeleine Louisell​

MCS has taught me so much, and not just academically. This community has helped shape who I am today and will forever be a big part of my life. During my time here I learned to use my voice to speak out for what I believe. I have learned to support and respect my peers and teachers. I have learned to look at many perspectives. I am ready to graduate because I can use the tools that MCS has taught me and bring them to high school. I will miss walking into this building and seeing such amazing and inspiring people. In the beginning, I really disliked school. I hated coming in and sitting in a classroom all day. Overtime, MCS taught me to enjoy what I learn and use my knowledge outside of the classroom. The journey here wasn't all positive. There were ups and downs, but no matter what, this community has been the most supportive and caring to me. I have been at MCS for 6 years. I realized that the amount of time you spend at MCS doesn't matter because no matter if you spend 1 year, 6 years, or 10 years here, MCS is one of the most influential places. 

Rachel Mafuru​

Even though I have been at MCS for two years, I have learned so much. I have learned a lot academically and even more about myself and others. At MCS, I grew as a student and as a person. My mentality and how I think has changed a lot and for the better. At MCS, I learned so many more things then I would’ve learned in other schools. Being that I live in the city and I got to go to the farm six times is something that I know I am very lucky to have. At the farm, I learned how to take care of animals and how to be in nature without depending on my phone.  At the farm, I got closer with my friends and my teacher, making each trip better than the last. At MCS, I have learned how to listen to other people’s ideas and at the same time express my own. I have learned how to be confident enough to speak up about something I don’t agree with. Here we were taught valuable life lessons that a lot of students aren’t, and I know I am very lucky to have that. When I came to MCS, and as I am ending my time here, I am more than grateful for the lessons it has given me, the lifelong friendships, and the long-lasting memories. MCS made me happy, and even though I haven’t been here for long, I’ve learned more than I could’ve ever imagined. I am going to miss this school more than you would expect, but I know that I am ready to graduate. What I have learned here about how to carry myself and how to interact with others is a lesson I can't forget and something I will use for every step of the way as I continue my journey. As they say, all good things must come to an end, and even though it was short for me, it’s still the end. I will miss how comfortable I was going to Tom, or any teacher for that matter, when I was upset about something. I will miss how annoyed the teachers got at my friends and me but at the same time knowing they wanted the best for us. I will miss the pure happiness and love I felt when I came to school, but I know that I will be taking that with me. I will be taking my memories, my lessons and my friends with me, which is why I can say that I can graduate.

Gabriela McBride

I am ready to graduate from MCS because I think I need to be exposed to a new atmosphere. I adore MCS and all of the opportunities it has granted me, but I think that I need to get myself out into the world and meet new people, and see the world from someone else's point of view. I don't think it is really possible to be ready to leave a group of kids you have spent the last ten years with, or a space that you've grown up in, but it is possible to be prepared, and be excited, and that I definitely am.

There is so much I have learned at MCS, not just in an academic sense, but in the sense of how to be a considerate, hardworking, passionate, and kind person. Of course, I still have a long way to go in regard to these things, but the way that MCS has always encouraged me to learn from my mistakes and to forgive people for hurting me has shaped the kind of person that I am. MCS has taught me to stand up for myself, and to stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves. MCS has taught me to write, read, solve, speak, not only with a grade in mind, but thinking about how what I am doing connects to the real world. Lastly, MCS has taught me how to take care of myself, advocate for myself, and get myself through tough situations, and that is why I feel prepared to graduate.

Maceo Morgan

When I first joined MCS, I wasn’t sure what to expect. On my first day of school I saw George's kind eyes and inviting smile that masked the huge and intimidating doors to the courtyard in the old building. The sounds of children screaming with joy and excitement warmed up my confidence, and the next thing I knew, I was in front of my new classroom. I started that school year as the only new person coming into a group who had been together forever. Joining the 9-10s class was exciting and terrifying. As soon as I stepped in, I saw a familiar face and a lot of new ones. I was surrounded by the people who would become my friends and second family. When we moved buildings and began school again, I wondered if it would feel like the MCS home I had come to know. With some clear physical changes, the feeling was home. It became clear that it wasn’t the space that made MCS, it was the people. I know what home at school feels like because I have been here at MCS. The saying “Time flies when you're having fun” is an understatement of what happened over the years. The next thing I knew, it was 7th grade and I was introduced to a whole new part of MCS: the fifth floor. In Maiya’s advisement, I was supported through struggles and navigating awkward situations that come with growing up. Then there was the high school application period where my friends and I would try to calm down by reassuring one another that it would all work out and playing games. The 8th grade farm trip was a time I won’t forget because my class got so much closer than I had known. From my MLK speech to the Color of Water essay, MCS has prepared me to bring their mission of social justice and an understanding of how to build community to my high school life and beyond.

Leonardo Pelizzari-Astle​

I am ready to graduate because I feel I have fulfilled MCS's mission of a progressive education. I think after 10 years here with the same class it's a good time to move on to another part of my life. MCS has given me an incredible experience full of diversity and subjects I would never learn about in another school. MCS's curriculum is truly unique; the fact that it is so hands-on and so inclusive is a real gift. During my time here I've had some incredible teachers from the 4-5s all the way to the 8th grade. I really appreciate MCS's love for activism and the incredible history they teach, shining a light on many "less known" events that happened, not just events in a textbook. The school has taught me about caring for others and noticing differences in communities. Without MCS, I could not imagine who I would be in the world. Going to MCS was an incredible experience where I made so many valuable friends that I will never forget. Because of the size of my class, we all know each other so well, and over the years I have met some incredible people in my class.  The school has made my life different and meaningful, and for that reason I am very proud to graduate from Manhattan Country School.

Sadie Sklar​

I have been going to school here since I was 5. I have known and loved all of you before I knew how to tie my own shoe. I am ready to graduate because in my time here I have made so many memories here that I wouldn't trade for anything. I have laughed with all of you, cried with all of you, and most of all, I have grown up with all of you. Everyone here has taught me how to be a leader and how to be an upstander.  MCS has taught me to speak my mind, even if it might not be a popular opinion. I will miss Tom yelling at us for not cleaning up our tables, and I will miss coming back from summers excited to see all of you. I will never forget the experience and the memories I have had here and the friends I have made. Goodbye, MCS.

Eli Smurl

I am ready to graduate from MCS because I am prepared for high school and the challenges that I have to face. I am ready because I have overcome challenges and setbacks at MCS, and I want to be in a new environment. There are no more Farm trips so I wouldn't enjoy the school without the Farm, since it is such a major part of our learning curriculum. There are also more places to lobby and protest for social justice, especially with a school like Calhoun. At the Farm, I learned how to take care of animals, act responsibly, and have fun. I also learned how to use several formulas and methods in order to solve a math problem. It is very important that I use the skills I learned here in high school. In a way, I'm not ready to leave MCS. It would be a sudden change. Even though some of my friends are going to the school, it won't be the same without the whole class. I learned everything I need to know in terms of how to write an essay, thanks to Tom. I learned about the importance of history. I have learned what chemistry is all about and I hope to pursue it in high school. I learned the basics of Spanish and way beyond, since I have been learning it for a decade. I will also be continuing Spanish in high school. I am ready to graduate from MCS to face new challenges and make new friends. 

Oscar Uzdelewicz​

I'm ready to graduate in the sense that I feel prepared to advocate for myself and connect with others. This advocacy has been learned through the multiple activism campaigns I've been a part of and all the times I've needed to ask for help. I also feel that I've become a more responsible student during my time here because of the times when the workload was very large and I've had to manage my time very strictly. This responsibility will be incredibly helpful in high school where I'm going to have a lot of commitments and work.  MCS has taught me how to identify wrongdoing and injustice and to stand up to people and systems who perpetuate that injustice. MCS has also placed an emphasis on being considerate and caring towards others by putting everyone inside a small community where we can all form really strong and meaningful relationships. Because I learned this compassion, I'll have a smoother transition into high school and an easier time forming bonds with others.  

Aaron Wax

My Manhattan Country School experience has been one of the best chapters in my life. I remember skeptically walking through the front door on the first day of school, scared out of my mind. At that time, I didn't think I would be writing a reflection, feeling very nostalgic about all of the exciting experiences during my time here. Instead, I felt very uncomfortable as I asked myself, "I have to spend 9 YEARS HERE?!" But the years flew by fast, and before I knew it, I was preparing for graduation. I was sitting at a table, surrounded by my classmates who were always there for me. These people helped me with projects and assignments, and always checked in with me. During my time here, I learned that you can't succeed by yourself, but instead, you need others to help you. At first, I wasn't really open to learning from friends and teachers. But as the years went by, I started to open myself up to education. From the Martin Luther King Jr. Speech, to the Climate Change Debate, to the Belief Essay, to the Social Justice Data Fair, Manhattan Country School has trained me to become someone who is not afraid to share my opinion, identity, and values. Manhattan Country School has fully prepared me for the next stages in life. From complex math equations, to learning about density, to learning about the Industrial Revolution, the academics have really helped me to understand the world. I know that the next chapter in my life is about to start, and I feel ready for the new experiences and challenges I will encounter. However, I will remember all the important lessons that Manhattan Country School has given to me throughout all of these joyous years.

Adrian White-Bromleigh​

I believe that I am ready to graduate because of my ability to be a free thinker.  MCS has encouraged and facilitated my development in all areas of learning.  Most important, I have been taught to have my own opinion and to strive for what I want to be, instead of what someone else wants me to be.  I have learned self-respect and self-decency.  I hold myself accountable for my mistakes as well as my achievements, and I am able to stand up for what I believe.  

Elise Wilkey

MCS is where I've spent most of my life and gained so much. I've played here, worked here, laughed here, cried here and learned so many important lessons here. I've gained so much from this school, and I've done so many things that I know I couldn't do anywhere else. I've had irreplaceable experiences, and I've made friends that I will never forget. MCS has given me a gift that I couldn't possibly receive anywhere else, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I've learned how to debate, analyze, argue, experiment, and so many more things here. I've grown more than I could possibly measure, and I will grow even more after I leave this school. Leaving this school will be one of the most significant points in my life so far, and it will be painful to do it. But I feel prepared for the future because of all that I've learned, grown from, taught, and gained. MCS will be a bittersweet goodbye, and I can't begin to imagine what my life will be like with this not being a part of it. But now that I've learned everything I can, it's time to leave and learn even more in the future. I'll never forget the experiences I've had here, but it's time for those experiences to end. Our time is up, so it's time for us to go. Goodbye, MCS.

Newsletters Referencing this Item

Slam Dunk for MCS JV Basketball Teams at Barclays Center

News Type:  Community News Date:  Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Manhattan Country School JV Boys’ and Girls’ basketball teams experienced what it's like to play like the pros! The teams played back-to-back games against City & Country School at the Barclays Center last Tuesday, February 5.  Coach Jermaine Lloyd led both teams to victory. The girls’ team was up first and immediately took the lead. The final score was 20-12.  The boy’s team easily won with a final score of 21-2.  Lots of MCS parents and siblings filled the stands to cheer the teams on.

The Barcl​ays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, hosted this special day for school teams around the city to play at the professional arena.

View highlights of the game here:

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