Volume 04 | June 2018
Real Work, Real Play
Dear S2 Community,

We all know the adage “work hard, play hard”, but what is the value of hard work without purpose? And can we imbue moments of play with valuable life lessons?

Despite popular belief, the point of working hard in school is not to succeed on tests, but to succeed in life. Yet tests are a necessary evil of education and can of course be valuable for understanding students' needs and tracking their growth. And so we at S2 work hard to emphasize the importance of building academic skills not just for the sake of getting good grades, but for personal growth and agency in life.

We engage students in real work through important conversations, research and problem solving tied to their lived experiences, and through real world applications. Read below about a few such opportunities: time spent with Latino members of the NY Mets, a dialogue with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer about food security, and a final project that turned students' attention to solving problems in their communities.

To wrap up the year and remind students that learning can be fun, we scheduled thoughtful activities this Spring including Choose your Trip Day, a Talent Show , and our second annual trip to Camp Lakota. Though the students may not realize it, each of these activities provided opportunities for lessons about choice, courage, taking risks, and trying new things.

As always, we remain grateful for your support. Wishing you all a wonderful summer.
Evan Meyers
Executive Director

Several players from the NY Mets visited in June as part of their "Latino Leaders" initiative. They shared personal stories with a select group of our students, and related to our students' own stories about life as Latino-Americans in NYC.

Also in June, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer visited S2 for students' Food Justice presentation titled "Less is More" about the abundant marketing of unhealthy foods directed at kids. Ms. Brewer thoughtfully engaged with our students about their ideas and gave suggestions for making real changes in their community.

We could have planned a single field trip to commemorate the end of testing but, instead, we took the opportunity to emphasize Choice by planning multiple trips. Students and staff selected one of 10 trip options scheduled for June 8th, including visiting the Aquarium or Zoo, taking a boat ride on the Circle Line, getting a tour of Yankee Stadium, painting pottery at Little Shop of Crafts, or having a field day at Governor's Island. Groups scattered all over NYC for an amazing day of creativity, exploration, exertion, and good old fun! Every group had an awesome day learning and experiencing something new in our wonderful city.


S2 held its second annual trip to Camp Lakota this year, with one major difference. While 6th graders enjoyed camp for the day, 7th graders stayed overnight in bunks for a true camp experience. For some, this was their first time sleeping away from home. Students enjoyed traditional camp activities, including playing sports, swimming in the pool, and various lake activities. 7th Graders spent the evening competing in Cake Wars, writing and performing skits, and roasting marshmallows. Everyone came together to enjoy this special trip, making the most of the fresh air and nature while fending off a common enemy: the bugs!

For their final projects, social studies students considered times in ancient history and present day using one of five lenses: geography, natural resources, shelter, irrigation, and transportation & trade. Students wrote proposals for change-making in their communities based on lessons learned in history. Examples included petitioning for a community garden, creating awareness around lead levels in water, and fundraising to provide metro cards to single mothers. Through these projects, students gained a very real sense of the connection between what they’re learning in class and what is happening in their own community and city. We were blown away by the enthusiasm, creativity, commitment and energy students put into their projects.
Daniel Isabel, 7th Grader

Daniel Isabel is a charismatic young man who embodies the ethos of S2 in every way. 7th grade was a big year for Daniel, as the pressure of applying for high schools caused him to think differently about the importance of his grades and energized him to pay more attention to his schoolwork. "I pushed myself to become a new Daniel", he says. His favorite class this year was social studies, as it opened his eyes to many pressing topics, including the actions of our current president, the MTA crisis, the plight of single mothers, and the struggle for food security. In the past, Daniel wanted to become a baseball player, or own his own business, but now he's considering a career in politics. "I want to run a good community. Solve all the problems. I don’t want to see people struggle. I want people to live a good life.”
I wanted to share how excited and happy I felt as I left the school today. I want to thank you and the amazing staff at School in the Square for doing such an amazing job with our kids. I was extremely happy with [my daughter's] progress and improvement from the first quarter until now. It was great listening to all the great stories and advice from her teachers. You guys are doing such great work!

-S2 Parent, April 2018
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