Thursday, November 8, 2018

I would like to start with a special shout out to the student Council...

November 5th, 2018

Hello LoMA Family!

I would like to start with a special shout out to the student Council, especially to the teachers who helped M. L set up and chaperone,  for improving spirits with an awesome Spirit week and fall dance!  If you took photos of spirit week, please send them to me at so I can print them for the photo Calendar.  The other day, a teacher asked me, "A dance that starts at 4:30?" Absolutely!! By 4:45, LoMA was wasting no time and got the party started.  LoMA kids just need some music and fun friends, they can dance day or night.

            It was also really a pleasure meeting your families at the conferences.  We met so many nice families and it is no wonder we have such great, well raised, and thoughtful students in our school. We want to work with your parents and guardian's to make high school a success for you.

 How about those report cards?  I saw many people gather around the Honor Roll board and I was thrilled to see how well many of you did this marking period.  If you did not do so well or were not happy about your report card, I have some good news.  The marking period grade is just a progress report.  It is the perfect time to reflect on the choices you are making and time to make adjustments where necessary. What can you do to improve your grades over the next 6 weeks?  Attend tutoring? Start a study group with friends? Let teachers know when you are struggling or don't understand something? Waste less time on the internet and video games?  Do some homework in Credit plus during lunch? Participate more in class?  Every one of the choices listed above can improve your grades so you can end the semester strong.  Remember, there are 3 marking periods and in January you receive final grades for the semester.  The final grades are the grades that will appear on your permanent transcript. This is the record that colleges and employers will see in the future. You still have two+ months to work towards getting grades that you are proud of.

I reached out to the Seniors for some advice for the students at LoMA, this is what they would like you all to know:

"Always talk to your teachers! All of them are willing to stay and talk to you about your grades and how you can fix them (tutoring is the best time to talk)"

"Even if your grades are great in the beginning, don't think they will stay like that. KEEP PUSHING"

"Do your work AND manage your time to include a social life"

" Doing your homework is very important, don't slack because of your friends, every year counts"

"Don't depend on others, rely on yourself"

"Sports are a good way to make friends"

"Stay focused on what is really important and don't let relationships (boyfriends/girlfriends/friends) consume you. Stay true to yourself."

"Try and be nice to teachers so you will have people to write recommendation letters for you Senior year"

"Take chances and do things out of your comfort zone because life is short."

"Do your homework, It may be challenging, but trust me, when you finish it, it feels good"

Thank you seniors for your great advice.  You are proof that it is possible to make it through high school!  As hard as it is at times and as stressed out as you may feel, time will actually fly by.  Hopefully you are busy making great memories and keeping YOURSELF proud of what you do.

Nest week I would like to focus on managing stress.  What do you do when you feel stressed out?  How do you manage hard times and feeling overwhelmed?  Let me know at

Lastly, I promise I will never write as much or print my newsletter as small as that last one!  Once I started thinking about what I value at LoMA, I just couldn't stop. Next week I will also share with you what students said they value at LoMA.  Have a great week.  Make good choices and remember, if you need us, we are here for you.

Onward LoMA!

MS. Garfield, AP

Upcoming Dates

6th-  Election Day, No school for students.  Remind people you know over 18 TO VOTE!
8th-College Fair all day. LoMA 10th-12th will be attending ,  I will send specific times next week
12th-Veteran's Day. No school for you!  Thank a Veteran for their service

13th-Arts rotate 9th grade
13th- Junior drama majors at NYTW


Yetta Garfield, AP
The Lower Manhattan Arts Academy
350 Grand Street, NYC 10002

Monday, November 5, 2018

You didn’t really think that was the end of the newsletters did you?

October 29th, 2018


Dear LoMA family,


I am immensely proud of our school.  Last week was rattling and confusing for many of us but we did what we do best.  We supported each other, gave hugs where needed and focused on our work!  As a school we understand that change is inevitable and from change comes growth.  We will continue to grow together.


We have spent the last week introducing Ms. Fontanez to LoMA and our very unique school culture.  Ms. Fontanez recognizes how many amazing things are happening at LoMA.  She has also made a point of getting to know our students, staff and families.  It is evident that Ms. Fontanez really cares about students. Though she has a lot on her plate, she has not been intimidated by the tasks at hand and she is diving right in.  Ms. Fontanez has a wealth of experience in schools and we appreciate having her as a teammate and resource.


Last Monday, many members of the LoMA community (staff, students, parents, alumni) gathered to express their shock and confusion about Dr. Wenk's absence.  I listened to many people express why LoMA is special to them.  I have also spent the last week reflecting on what makes us unique and why LoMA is special to me.   I wanted to share some of these with you.


•             LoMA lives our mission daily.  We care.  And we show we care in so many ways.

•             Advisory- Students have the opportunity to touch base with their advisors first thing in the morning and at the end of the day.  In most cases Advisors stay with their students for 3 years.  This is an opportunity for students to have consistency and long-term relationships with staff members. 

•             Extracurriculars- Our students and staff stay at school and get involved.  Our after-school programs and PSAL sports are a place where students can develop new skills, meet new people and spend time somewhere safe.  Many schools are empty when the last bell rings.  That has never been us.  We know that these activities relieve stress and allow relationships to form that are different than during the academic day.

•             Performances- LoMA has produced more than 70 shows in the last 13 years! In addition to our Lower Manhattan Theater ensemble shows (LoMATE) we also produce a Talent show, Major's show and Senior show every year.  Our productions are first rate and always fun for participants and spectators alike. As one student said to me last year, "everyone at LoMA can feel like Beyonce on that stage".  It's true.  LoMA recognizes your effort.  I have witnessed many times that a student froze on stage, forgot lines or just got overwhelmed by stage fright.  On these occasions, our community cheered for them until they got the confidence they needed to try again.  That is so special.

•             When we founded LoMA we made a commitment to being an arts school that does not audition.  We wanted to make the arts available to everyone.  LoMA allows students to experience the arts without the competitiveness of a screened school.  You do not have to come to LoMA with talent, just a passion for learning and interest in the arts as a form of expression.

•             Supporting each other- Our students are so kind.  Every day I see students supporting their friends who are having a rough time.  I see students walking their classmates to the clinic or to a counseling office when they see their peers hurting.  I see students that do not know each other reach out to other students who appear sad or stressed. Thank you. You are so kind.  You look out for each other.  You let adults know when you see people treated in a way you do not approve of or if you know someone is at risk. We are so lucky to have people like you in our community.

•             Spending time together.  Our staff are here early in the morning and stay late into the evening.  Our days do not end when the contract says but when the work is done. Our staff stays by choice.  On any given day, there are staff members after school in their classrooms and offices working with students and sometimes just working beside students.  These relationships are at the heart of what makes our community so tight.

•             Wearing many hats- in a small school, staff members wear many hats and take on many roles.  Our staff step up to the plate and get the job done.  Staff are willing to learn new skills and work with new people.  Staff consistently put the greater good of the community first. We do not look for the easy way out.

•             Family- LoMA families have trusted us with their most precious possessions.  We collaborate with our families because we all know it truly takes a community to raise a child. LoMA parents speak up, show up and strive to raise conscientious children who better our world. Thank you, parents, for your support, time, opinions, feedback and trust.

•             LGBTQ solidarity-  LoMA has always been a safe haven for students of all types.  Regardless of if our Principal is gay or straight, YOU ARE FREE TO BE YOU. We support and stand with our LGBTQ community.  When asked if we have a Gay/straight alliance, I often feel that as a community we are all part of that alliance.

•             Abilities and disabilities- LoMA recognizes that everyone is different.  We learn differently.  We all have abilities and disabilities, some we can see and some we cannot.  We celebrate these qualities and we know that ultimately everyone is different and as long as we continue to put in effort and make personal progress, then we are succeeding.

•             Tutoring- We have a school culture that values tutoring.  The majority of our students know that tutoring is their opportunity to be supported with new concepts and homework. Students can chose who they would like to tutor with based on what they need the most help with. Our after-school programs begin after tutoring so that students can get the enrichment they need both academically and socially.

•             Trips- LoMA believes in developing cultural capital in our students.  We visit museums, concerts, plays, exhibitions, lectures and galleries.  We try to expose our students to performances and genres they may not otherwise get the opportunity to experience.  We want our students to be comfortable in different forums and environments.  Even if a student says a performance was "boring", we know that exposure is critical to development.

•             Partnerships- LoMA has partnered with organizations all over the city to provide programming and opportunities for our community.  This year we are partnering with The Henry Street Settlement, Educational Alliance, NYTW, ScriptED, The Whitney, The Park Avenue Armory, The Metropolitan Museum, The Door, TAC, Expanding The Arts, LEAP, City Lore and Grand Street Settlement.  We will continue to develop relationships with partners that benefit our community and students

•             Senior year- To prepare students for the realities of college and life after high school, Students have an individualized program Senior year.  Students spend the mornings in classrooms at LoMA and the rest of their day is spent taking AP classes, taking college classes at local Universities, interning all around the city, meeting with college advisors, touring colleges, prepping for exams and tutoring.  This truly transitions students towards life beyond high school.  LoMA Seniors learn to manage their time and have the opportunity to explore career interests before committing themselves to a major in college.  Our students have a proven track record of being successful in college and beyond.

•             Diversity- Our LoMA family consists of a multitude of cultures, nationalities, races, socio-economic backgrounds, religions, special abilities and traditions.  We celebrate this diversity. We want to know about each other. We respect you for who you are.

•             Staff- Loma staff are not just hired as employees, they are brought on to become members of our family.  We hire good people that are good at what they do.  We value experience as well as a willingness to learn.  We understand that people are so much more than just the titles they have been given.


These are just a few of the reasons I value LoMA. What about you?  What makes LoMA special to you?  Please think about this and if you have a memory about LoMA, or positive experience, please share them with me at  I would like to add student, staff and parent voices to my upcoming newsletters.  I would also like to have a section of my newsletter focusing on accomplishments in our community.  If you would like to share news about something awesome that you or someone else has been up to, please email me to let me know.


Thank you LoMA family, I am lucky to be part of your team.

Ms. Garfield, AP


Upcoming dates:


29th-2nd- Spirit week Mon, Oct. 29th - Pajama Day/Tues, Oct. 30th - Breast Cancer Awareness -wear pink/Wed, Oct. 31st - Costume day (Halloween)- No face masks or fake weapons please/Thurs Nov. 1st- Twin Day/Fri Nov. 2nd- Color Wars: Teachers wear black (Yay! My favorite). 9th-green, 10th-orange, 11th-yellow, 12th- blue

I will be coming around advisories to take photos!-


1st- Fall dance! 4:30-7:00, 3$ in advance, 5$ at the door/day of dance.  LoMA students only.  You may not attend the dance or any after school activities if you were absent from school that day. 

6th- Election Day. No school for students, PD for staff

8th-College Fair visit for 10-12th grades. Times to be announced

       6:00-PA association meeting

12th-Veteran's Day- No school for students and staff

13th-Arts rotate 9th grade

15th- 5:00-SLT meeting

        6:00-PA meeting

        6:00- New Student orientation

Friday, October 12, 2018


Text Box: “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” -Socrates                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                 October 15, 2018
Dear LoMA Family,

It is getting to be time for our seniors to start asking their teachers for letters of recommendation. The recommendation, in conjunction with the personal essay, allows colleges to get to know the who you really are – your background, skills, personality and potential. When I write them, I focus on three or four areas to show our students in the best light: academic achievement, extracurricular and artistic accomplishments, and personal successes. Sometimes these letters are tough to write, but other times they almost write themselves with all of the wonderful accomplishments of our students. Unfortunately, by the time our students become seniors, the letter is or is not already written. As is true with your GPA, what you do in your early years at LoMA determines what you can or cannot do after high school.
I only write recommendations for students who were in my global studies class so that I can write intelligently about their academic accomplishments. While I can generally see their grades and Regents results, I am too old to remember specific examples two years after my students took the class. Therefore, I expect students to be able to discuss what they learned in my class with copies of exemplary essays and projects they completed. Like all good writing, a recommendation needs to show the strengths of the student. To get a strong academic recommendation, students need to have plenty of specific examples of academic accomplishment, especially if their grades don’t represent their full potential.
Fortunately, LoMA’s extracurricular credit requirement makes the next section of a recommendation particularly strong for our students. One of the reasons for this requirement is that colleges like students who are active in their communities. Participation in after school activities demonstrates that a student is motivated for success, can work collaboratively, and cares about something besides herself. The more intense the activity, the more valuable it is. That is why intense activities that occur several times a week like LoMATE, sports teams, and Edgies are so valuable for college and in building character. Activities in the arts are especially positive as they showcase your creativity and talent. Colleges also rate community service activities like Student Council and LoMA Cares very highly. I am also impressed by how many of our students are active in local community organizations and churches. These all make for a strong recommendation.
            Finally, an important part of any letter is the personal section where I write about a student’s family, childhood experiences, or other influences. Often this can take the narrative of overcoming hardships. Some of our students have had to work especially hard because of difficulties at home, challenges in overcoming a disability, learning English, or the need to support others. Overcoming these challenges may explain a semester or two of low grades and show resiliency and strength that makes the student stand out.
            Ultimately, that is the goal of the recommendation and of the personal essay. All of LoMA’s staff and I are proud to write recommendations that show off the best in our students, but when you are a senior and sit down to discuss it with us, we have to have sufficient material to work with. That’s why it is never too early to show how you do stand out as a strong, thoughtful student; active community member; and multifaceted individual.

Work hard,

John Wenk

Friday, September 28, 2018


Text Box: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”                                Robert Swan
                                                                                                                        October 1, 2018
Dear LoMA Family,

            In your science and social studies classes, you will be learning about the destruction of the environment through trash, the use of carbon fuels, and the misuse of natural resources. The most significant and dangerous result of all of this is global warming, which is leading to the destruction of many species of plants and animals, worsening storms like Sandy and Hurricane Florence, and rising sea levels which could put much of New York City under water in your lifetimes. Unfortunately, as these effects are not generally visible on a daily basis, it is far too easy for people to stick their heads in the sand until the rising water drowns them.
One reason why so many people ignore the growing threat is that most of it is caused by businesses and individuals that profit off of carbon fuels. Oil remains the largest business in the world and oil companies will lose profit if people buy more energy efficient cars, use renewable fuels like solar and wind power, and diminish their electric use. Except for reducing electric usage, most of the decisions about these things seem to be beyond our control, and so too many people fool themselves into saying: it’s not my problem.
It is definitely the problem of government, but too many politicians are not doing anything about it. One reason for this is that some businessmen, who have made billions of dollars from oil, legally pay off politicians to set policies that support more, not less, usage of coal and oil. For instance, while Obama restricted oil drilling, set higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and subsidized renewable fuels, Trump has reversed these orders in order to build up the oil industry. State, local, and foreign governments, however, are continuing to cut back on carbon fuels and are subsidizing renewable fuel sources like wind farms and solar fuels. As this all can be confusing, it is up to citizens to learn what their politicians are doing and vote for those who will save the planet.
There is, however, no reason for you to wait before you make a difference. The decisions you make now have more consequences than you may realize. You can turn off lights when not being used, conserve water when you brush your teeth and shower, and not buy stupid stuff. To me, on the top of the list of stupid stuff is bottled water. Worldwide people drink a million bottles of water every minute. The energy involved in making the plastic bottles made from nearly one billion gallons of oil a year, filling them and then shipping them by truck to your local store wastes a massive amount of fossil fuels. Then, after just a few minutes we throw out the empties which have to be transported to dumps where they can take 1000 years to decompose. And why do we do this when taste tests show that it tastes no better and is no healthier than tap water as tap water is more heavily tested for purity than bottled water?
Now, New York City is doing something about this. The NYC Department of Sustainability, working with the makers of the world’s coolest water bottle company, is giving away fancy and fashionable S’well water bottles to all of our students. We are trying to get a chilled water filter set up, but in the meantime, do what I do and fill it with good old NYC tap water. Think of it as a first step in helping the planet.

Work hard,

John Wenk
Text Box: October 1  Extracurricular Activities begin
October 2  Junior Trip to the Armory
October 3 6:00 Senior Parent Meeting
October 8  Columbus Day – No School
October 10  Junior Trip to NYTW
October 17  College Trip to SUNY New Paltz

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Text Box: “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

September 24, 2018

Dear LoMA Family,

One of the things that makes LoMA unique is our wide variety of extracurricular activities for extracurricular credit (EC). Yes, they are required for graduation, but we have never had a problem with our graduates not meeting the 16 EC requirement because our students always enjoy their extracurricular activities and understand how important they are in building their social, artistic, and athletic skills. These activities help them nurture deeper friendships, develop leadership skills, and learn about themselves and the world.
In addition to being fun and interesting, participating in extracurricular activities makes it much more likely that students will get into good colleges. Imagine that you are a director of admissions for New York University choosing between two applicants. One student has good grades, but nothing else. Another applicant has good grades, has played volleyball, has been in three school plays, has created a photography portfolio, and has helped senior citizens through NY Cares. Which applicant would you accept?  For some students, these extracurricular activities will make the difference between college acceptance and rejection.
Tuesday at 1:40 p.m., advisors and presenters from a host of community-based organizations and school-based clubs and teams will visit LoMA’s classes to discuss the programs they have for extended day activities. Some of the things that students can do include: act in a LoMATE play, complete community service, compete with a PSAL team, or join a code writing class and work with computer engineers from Google and Microsoft. Students can also earn credit by attending weekly tutoring with any teacher for ten hours and then turning in their signed tutoring log to Ms. Dowridge. If students are already participating in a similar activity in their own neighborhood, they simply need to bring Ms. Dowridge documentation and a note from their parent explaining what they are doing and how many hours they put in.
When I did my research for my dissertation, I asked graduates about what made high school meaningful. I found that students who had participated the most in extracurricular activities generally had the highest grades and the closest friends. These students knew that the best lessons often take place outside of classes. As students work together to put on a performance at the Educational Alliance, compete in a swim meet, or plan special events with Student Council, they discover the meaning of  hard work and responsibility, think through meaningful projects and learn important interpersonal skills. Best of all, they have a good time in the process and make friends. I found it very sad when some of our graduates told me that they never got involved in anything and regret that they left high school with few good friends. That is why I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s good work in these activities.

Work hard,

John Wenk
September 25              1:40-3:00        Extracurricular activities carrousel
September 26              5:00                 Parents’ Association Meeting and Curriculum Night
October 1                                            Extracurricular Activities begin
October 2                                            Junior Trip to the Armory

Friday, September 14, 2018


                                                                                                                                                September 17, 2018

Dear LoMA Family,

I want to thank everyone for making the start of this school year so smooth and successful. Our new teachers are teaching like old LoMA pros, the old LoMA pros are trying out some new ideas. The counseling team was able to get everyone programmed and settled in quickly. The senior team organized the internships and about half our seniors are taking advanced placement classes this year. It’s remarkable how well everything goes when we work cooperatively as a team. Our students are also working diligently. As I visit classrooms, I see that nearly everyone is trying their best - they are prepared, attentive and completing all of their class and homework. There have been hardly any disciplinary issues and I see a lot of effort. We are in what experienced teachers call the honeymoon period.
Of all of the seasons of school – Regents Weeks, the holidays, the home stretch, graduation – the honeymoon period is the most universally optimistic. Students come in with their new notebooks and pens full of hope that they will keep up on all of the work, that they will be in school and on time every day, and that they can keep their focus on academics. They complete their homework every day and study for tests. In return their teachers think they’re the greatest kids they ever had and treat them accordingly.
And then something happens. Some students start making new friends in their classes that they cannot resist talking with during class, they miss a homework assignment or they come to class late, and their teachers start treating them accordingly. Less resilient students may then give up trying for the marking period, the semester or the year. The honeymoon often ends for these students sometime in mid-September.
I want to try an experiment at LoMA. My hypothesis is that if we can keep the honeymoon going for six weeks until the end of the marking period, students will see high grades on their report cards, realize that they really can be great students and in this way build their resiliency sufficiently to keep trying their very best throughout the year even when things get difficult. For this to work, students need to keep their commitment to class work and homework for six solid weeks. Now, of course, some students will fail to complete a homework assignment, get confused in their classes, or be legitimately absent. When this happens, they need to go to tutoring. Too many students only use tutoring after they fail a class and are required to go. This year, all freshmen must report to tutoring Tuesday through Thursday. Other students need to see their teachers as soon as they are absent, miss a homework assignment or start getting confused in a class. We have thirty-two weeks to go, if students start feeling even a little lost or confused now, it is only going to get worse, and June is a long way off. That is why it is vital to get to tutoring immediately, before they lose their resiliency, give up and turn this season of hope into one of despair. If we can prove my hypothesis correct, we can instead extend this season of hope to a year of success.

Work hard,

John Wenk

September 19                                      Yom Kippur – no school
September 25              1:40-3:00        Extracurricular activities carrousel
September 26              5:00                 Parents’ Association Meeting and Curriculum Night
October 1                                            OctExtracurricular Activities begin


Friday, May 18, 2018

Positive bias

                                                                                                                                               May 21, 2017
Dear LoMA Family,

Two weeks ago I wrote about how much of the prejudice and discrimination in the world can be traced back to negative unconscious bias. This is an old idea with plenty of research to back it up; now, however, there is more research being done into positive unconscious bias. This may sound like a weird problem as it is seems to be a good thing to be biased towards liking people; after all isn’t loving someone a kind of bias? Maybe, but unconscious positive bias can actually get us and our society into trouble. The website Social Talent shows how these biases towards the following groups can affect our judgement, listening skills, attitudes, and attention.
1.     Beauty Bias: Because we all like beautiful people and to be liked by beautiful people, we are more likely to pay attention to them, believe them and be influenced by them. How one defines beauty varies of course, but as a society people who are tall, slim and have “good hair” or any hair tend to be promoted more than others. For instance, 60% of CEOs are over 6’ tall, and female actresses tend to have hourglass figures. On a personal level, beautiful people can often get away with more bad behavior with a smile and a wink than others.
2.     Similarity Bias: If someone has similar likes in things like music, food and movies, we tend to be more trusting in their opinions on other matters. Of course, good taste often has very little to do with intelligence and judgement. In hiring staff, I have to remember that just because someone has the good taste to appreciate early Madonna (especially the “Like a Prayer” video), it does not mean that she will make a great teacher.
3.     Confirmation Bias: Once we have begun a narrative about a person, whether positive or negative, we then automatically and unconsciously begin ginning the data. We accentuate the evidence that agrees with our judgement and discount anything that we disagree with to prove that we are really right.

All together these biases can add up to a “halo effect” where we become unconsciously biased towards people who look and act like us – we listen to them more carefully, trust them more, and cut them breaks more often. It is why “pretty girls” can get out of driving tickets more often, popularity contests are so unfair and people who “look good” get hired more easily.
            The flip side of this is that prejudices towards some easily become discriminations towards others. In our society where white men traditionally hold so many keys to power, giving a halo to people who look and act like them, no matter how unconsciously, perpetuates racist and sexist policies towards rewards such as hiring and promotions and penalties such as arrests and incarcerations.
As I have said before, we can never totally escape the narratives we create around unconscious biases, but we can become more aware of them and the thus the ways they affect our decision-making. A couple of years ago, I encouraged students and staff to surface their own biases with a very clever study created at Harvard University. Just Google “implicit bias challenge Harvard.” The more you know yourself the more thoughtful you can be.

Think about it,

John Wenk
May 22                                                Junior trip to Philadelphia
May 28                                                Memorial Day (no school)\
June 4                                                  Prom
June 5                                                  Global History Regents
June 5              6:00                             Majors’ Show