Cooke Pride!

Nov 14, 2023

Cooke Family Movie

Night is Back


Picture this: the school gymnasium is transformed into a cozy movie theater, complete with comfy chairs, a giant projector screen, and buttery popcorn galore (well, maybe not the comfiest of chairs). Students and families gather together, excited for an evening of entertainment. As the lights dim and the film starts playing, the atmosphere becomes electric with anticipation. There’s laughter, gasps, and even some tears. But most of all, there’s a sense of camaraderie and togetherness that only a school community can create.

Years ago, parents asked Cooke to help facilitate new ways of connecting with each other and we listened. We ran several movie nights and other special events during the year. Finally, they are back! Our last movie night (on November 3) was a big success with over 150 in attendance. We’ve always loved movie night. It fosters community and connection by bringing students and families together for a fun, shared experience. It provides a relaxed and entertaining environment where students can socialize and make new friends. It offers a break from the academic confinements of a school day and allows kids to unwind and have some fun. And let’s be real, who doesn’t love popcorn and pizza! 

Thanks to all the parents and staff who pitched in to help organize. We can’t wait for the next movie night.

 Students and Staff Marched with Pride



NYC hosts an amazing Disability Pride Parade each year, and Cooke is well represented. Typically held in October, it’s a celebration of disability pride and inclusion. The parade features floats, music, marching bands, and more, all with the goal of promoting acceptance and equality for people with disabilities. It’s a great way to raise awareness and celebrate the diverse experiences of people with disabilities. The parade starts at Madison Square Park and winds its way through the streets of Manhattan, culminating in a big celebration at Union Square Park. Thank you to those who attended this year, and we hope you’ll celebrate with us next year.

Learning about and Celebrating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB)

Cooke has long strived to establish DEIB best practices. This year, we are more organized than ever. After working with several outside organizations to help get us going, we now rely on our own staff to lead the charge. Dana Pelerin, the Chair of the Vocational Department at 1713 Madison, has organized and outlined our DEIB professional development for the year. Dana is a student of the Justice, Equity, and Diversity Institute sponsored by the New York State Association of Independent Schools.  

The Justice, Equity, and Diversity Institute “aims to equip its participants to advance the work of justice, equity, and diversity in schools. It is designed to provide a comprehensive mid-level entry point into all aspects of equity work in independent schools, including specific topics related to identity and oppression, practices in the field, and strategic approaches to the work. The Institute harnesses the synergy of a cohort that explores these topics over a whole academic year, and provides access to participants to the networks available through past cohorts, the NYSAIS community, and the collective of diversity practitioners in the country.”

Dana and our administration have been organizing guest speakers, learning groups and staff training to promote and foster a culture of belonging and equity across our schools. This Election Day, we focused on Disability Identity and Pride at Cooke. We started the day with guest speaker Connie Senior, Coordinator of Sex Education at the Young Adult Institute (YAI). All staff attended a lecture entitled Social and Sexual Health for Students which focused on helping to acknowledge, support, and educate students’ social and sexual development. This is a very popular topic of interest among parents, and Cooke has sponsored workshops about this topic over the years. We plan on sponsoring a webinar in January on the topic for parents. More information to come. Following Connie Senior’s presentation, staff broke into small groups to reflect on Cooke’s current social and sexual health supports and to discuss creating a culture of anti-ableism and disability pride in our school.

Please read the documents shared with staff below to get involved in the discussion. It was an enriching and enlightening day with overwhelmingly positive feedback from staff.

Cooke Accreditation: 

New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS)

Cooke School will be undergoing its 10th annual NYSAIS review during the 2024-2025 school year. When a child attends a nonpublic school or is educated at home, the board of education of the school district in which the child resides must be assured that the child is receiving instruction that is substantially equivalent to that provided in the public schools. NYSAIS accreditation provides NYC nonpublic schools with proof of substantial equivalency. We have been accredited twice before and go through the process every five years. The accreditation process is a tremendous amount of work for staff, but it provides a detailed and focused self-study highlighting our strengths and areas we need to improve. 

Staff have already started organizing committees, documenting practice, and participating in workshops to collect data for the self-study. By the end of the school year, a full report will be ready for NYSAIS. 

NYSAIS is an association of independent nursery, elementary, and secondary schools enrolling over 80,000 students. It is affiliated with the National Association of Independent Schools and the New York State Coalition for Independent and Religious Schools. It has a Board of Directors and an Administrative Office. 

Founded in 1947, the Association is chartered by the New York State Board of Regents and is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. It was established originally to protect New York independent schools from obstructive legislation and regulation. The Association has added substantially to the range of its activities since its founding. These activities include:

  • evaluation and accreditation of member schools
  • professional learning for faculty, administrators, and trustees
  • advocacy for independent education
  • information on legislation, regulations, statistics, educational developments, and administrative practice.

The accreditation process is essential to making sure independent schools are operating and maintaining programs that are true to their mission while upholding statewide standards. We welcome the process.

Francis Tabone, Head of School
Cooke School and Institute



Dates to Remember

November 16: Transitions Workshop | All Families Invited

November 22: NO STUDENTS | Election Day | Staff Professional Development

November 22: NOON DISMISSAL | Thanksgiving Break Begins

November 23-24:  THANKSGIVING BREAK | School Resumes Monday, Nov. 27

December 1: Senior Ring Ceremony | 1713 Madison Ave

December 1: NOON DISMISSAL | Staff Professional Development

December 14: Transitions Workshop | All Families Invited



Cooke’s Founders Celebration | February 8, 2024

Food For Thought Gala May 22, 2024


Follow Us:  @CookeSchoolNYC

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