Believing Punxsutawney Phil

Every year, we ask an oversized rodent to predict the end of winter.  And, every year, we all talk about it in the news, around water coolers at work, and with our friends. For the past 130+ years, North Americans have looked to Phil for answers. What’s funny is that Punxsutawney Phil has only been correct 40% of the time in those 130+ years. It literally is more accurate to flip a coin! So, why do we continue this tradition?

When winter feels long, the days feel short, and the sunshine feels limited, it somehow feels right to trust a rodent.  We want something that gives us hope for cherry blossoms and open windows. Although the time of year may be challenging to some, February is actually a really exciting month in schools.  Classes are deep into project studies, students are prompting new initiatives, and teachers are working collaboratively on integrated learning experiences.  Most importantly, with February comes Black History Month, Black Lives Matter Week of Action, and deepened discussions about celebrating differences, empowering voices and uplifting the accomplishments of African Americans both today and in the past. We question the (his)storybooks, critically look at diverse representation in children’s books, and question the promises made to Americans — all work that catapults us into the next’s year’s investigations.

Whether Punxsutawney Phil tells us we will have an early Spring or a longer Winter, February is still exciting to me.  I look forward to the great learning that will catapult us through the end of the school year.


Deadline for Enrollment Applications for 2019-2020:

February 8, 3:00 PM

Spread the word!  The deadline for Enrollment Applications for 2019-20 is 3 PM THIS Friday, February 8.  Our lottery will be held in the school library on Wednesday, February 13 at 1 PM.  We are required to notify all applicants by letter with either an acceptance or a wait-list status by February 25, however, our turnaround is much quicker, as we know how eager families are to know the results.  We will make every attempt to get letters out by Friday, February 15 or earlier.  Please let eager family and friends know that we will not be giving results by phone or email or carrier pigeon until the letters are mailed.  Thank you!


Two Important School Calendar Notes:

  1. We DO have school next Friday, February 15th. It is not a Professional Development Day.
  2. Whether or not we have school on Presidents’ Day (Monday, February 18th) is up in the air. (See message from City Schools below)


Important update regarding Presidents’ Day and snow day make-up

Because all schools were closed on January 14 due to weather, City Schools must now make up one day during the school year. According to the approved calendar for this school year, the currently designated make-up day is Presidents’ Day(Monday, February 18).

We are working to find another option, so that students, staff, and families will nothave to give up the long weekend. Although this cannot be confirmed until the next Board of Commissioners meeting (February 12) when the Board can vote on a calendar change, our plan is to recommend extending the school year by one day in June instead of opening schools on Presidents’ Day.

Governor Hogan’s executive order requiring school to begin after Labor Day and end by June 15 results in very limited flexibility to make up snow days or adjust the calendar for other emergencies. If we do not have more bad weather between now and spring break, we are optimistic that we can keep Presidents’ Day as a holiday and also avoid taking days out of spring break. However, if we have more snow days in the coming weeks, that may not be possible.

We will send out another communication the evening of February 12, to let you know the outcome of the Board vote regarding Presidents’ Day—and we will keep you updated about any other calendar changes that might be needed if we experience more bad weather this winter.

Thank you for your understanding.


Budget Discussion — Open to the Public

Next Tuesday, February 12th, the CNH Board will discuss the school budget for next year.  This is open to the public at 6:00 in the Atelier. You are welcomed to join us for the discussion.


Support this Student-Led Initiative

Hi, my name is Lillian Hyleck and I am in the 6th grade at CNH. About a week ago a homeless man came to my neighborhood and made a shelter behind my garage. I was worried about him and so I went to Ms. Lauren and my parents to see if maybe I could do something. My Girl Scout troop had done a Warm Things Drive and Ms. Lauren thought I could do something like that. Together we found two shelters for homeless people that we could donate to. The shelters that I am collecting donations for are Manna House (Clothing Items) and My Sisters Place (Food Items). We are collecting:

  • Toiletries
  • Blankets and Sheets
  • Men’s Clothing and Shoes
  • Womens Clothing and Shoes
  • Towels
  • Canned Fruits
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Meat
  • Canned Tuna and Chicken
  • Mayonnaise
  • Coffee (ground)
  • Sugar
  • Creamer
  • Canned Soups
  • Napkins
  • Aluminum Foil

All of the clothing items must be in good shape. Please drop them in your Classroom\Advisory. We would like to receive most donations by March 2, 2019. Thank you for helping the homeless in our city.


Supplies needed!

Students in the first grade are making sculptural relief murals of inventions made by Black Americans in history. Ms. LaShawn is seeking all sorts of recycled materials that could be adhered to a flat surface.  Supplies that would be super helpful include: newspaper, magazines/books that can be destroyed, cardboard boxes, paper towel/toilet paper rolls, plastic bottles, old cartons, etc.

Please drop all materials off to Ms. LaShawn in the 1st grade classroom by Friday, February 15th.  Thank you!!!


Breakfast with your Sweetheart

February 14, 7:30-8:00

On Thursday, February 14th, from 7:30-8:00, we will have our annual free “Breakfast With Your Sweetheart.” Ms. Keara will prepare pancakes with real whipped cream and berries, juice, coffee, and milk. CNH students and their adults are welcome to join!

Please RSVP here. 


Interested in Leading an After-School Club?

Parents and CNH Community members are invited to lead an after-school club.  Hosting a club will fulfill your family’s participation hours for the entire year (even if you simply find and support someone leading the club).  Please contact Dr. Shyla at for more information.


Join us at Zeke’s for a Public Charter School Letter-Writing Campaign!

Calling all lovers of their wonderful charter school! Come learn about the issue of equitable facilities funding for public charter schools and write a letter in support of a bill in the Maryland legislature. Our legislators need to hear from us!  We know you know you have been wanting to do more advocacy work.  Let us make it easy for you! We have information about the bill, sample letters, and information about who we need to write to.

When:  Tuesday, February 5
Where:  Zeke’s, Harford Road, 21214, 3:30 – 4:30  PM
I have reserved the small batch room. Bring your laptop if you would prefer to type your letter.
Contact Meg Stoltzfus with questions:  410-530-6629 or

We Need 40 City Neighbors Folks in Annapolis!

Please sign up to attend Lobby Night in Annapolis for charter school facilities funding on Tuesday, February 19.

A bus will leave the City Neighbors Hamilton campus at approximately 4 pm and will return to campus at approximately 8:30 PM.  Students are welcome to attend, as well (with a parent chaperone).

Please email Mike Chalupa at as soon as possible if you can attend and indicate how many seats on the bus you will need.  We need to fill at least ONE busload!

Details on the bill:  Last week, Governor Hogan announced a new bill (SB172) that would provide facilities funding for charter schools.

Charter schools in Baltimore currently do not get facilities funding, pay into the debt service of Baltimore City Schools, and then pay for their own facilities and maintenance.   Charter schools, unlike neighborhood schools, pay for their facilities out of their operating/program dollars.

This bill would create a fund in which charter schools could be reimbursed for facilities and maintenance costs up to $1600 per pupil per year.    This could mean up to one million dollars for our 3 schools.   This amount was determined by a state study of charter funding in 2016 and the proposed funding does not come from other educational spending like the lockbox or possible Kirwan funding.

We need to go to Annapolis to advocate for this funding.   We need you!

If you have questions about the bill, please email Mike, as well.


Join us at the Rally for Education Funding on March 11

This is a very important time of the year.   This is a time when our voices can make a difference for education in Baltimore.  And City Neighbors has always had one of the strongest voices in the city!

Sign up Here: 

First, we are fighting alongside all of our colleagues and friends in Baltimore City to convince the Governor and the Legislature to put a significant down payment on increases to education funding that will be suggested by the Kirwan Commission, the Commission working to determine how to create a world class education here in Maryland.   This down payment would mean significant more funding for all schools in Baltimore.

There will be a massive rally in Annapolis on March 11, and we need at least 50 people from our schools to help create the 10,000+ people sending a strong message to our political leaders that night.

Support Public Charter School Facility Funding Bill

Last week, Governor Hogan introduced a bill that would provide charter schools facility funding.   Currently, charter schools do not have automatic access to facilities funding, help pay for the debt service of Baltimore City school buildings, and then have to pay for our facilities maintenance and upgrades.    This bill would fix that – and could mean almost one million dollars in additional funding to our City Neighbors schools.   Funds that rightfully belong to our students.

We will be asking you to:

  • Write letters to our Baltimore delegation to ask them to support this bill.
  • Come down to Annapolis one evening in late February for a “Lobby Night”.
  • Attend a hearing in Annapolis to show support for this bill.

Stay tuned for more information from your Advocacy Team.   Let’s get into action!


City Neighbors Summer Program Open House

Thursday, February 21, 5:30-6:30 pm

City Neighbors Hamilton Atelier


What are your plans for fun and learning this July??  

Come join friends for adventures at City Neighbors Children Summer Program!


This four-week program, taking place in the month of July, is open to 50 rising first to fourth-grade students – starting with current attendees of City Neighbors Charter School and City Neighbors Hamilton.


Rooted in the philosophy and approach of City Neighbors, the CN Children Summer Program has a focus on literacy and include project work, field experiences, arts residencies, gardening, and physical challenges in a fun, developmentally appropriate environment with engaging teachers drawn from the staff of the CN schools.


Children and adults welcome at the Open House.  This is time to hear about the program, ask questions, plant seeds for our summer garden and play at the CNH play space!

Sharon Jackson, Program Director and Megan Doyle, Assistant Director, will give an overview of the program, its goals, and activities from 5:45-6: 00 pm.  We will be on hand throughout the afternoon between 6:00 and 6:15 to answer questions about the City Neighbors Children Summer Program.