Tips for Freshman Parents

Congratulations! Welcome to the Stuyvesant Family!

Stuy is a big step up from middle school, so we thought you might find some tips from fellow parents helpful to get you started.

Remember, the Parents’ Association is here to help you (and your student) navigate your way through four years of high school and on to college. We are your team. Just reach out if you need help.

Before school starts

Enjoy your summer of freedom before high school starts in September. High school summers often include internships, volunteering activities, and more. You have some free time now, so enjoy it!

Come to Camp Stuy for Parents in late August. At Camp Stuy you will meet fellow parents, school counselors, Big Sibs, and upper classman parents in your student’s homeroom. You will get information about class schedules, homework policy, details about TALOS, our student record system, the gradebooks used by teachers (i.e. Jupiter Grades), Naviance (a college tool), and much more. You can buy Stuy T-shirts, hoodies, and other Spirit Wear. Note, students have two sessions of Camp Stuy: one in June when they take placement tests and do auditions etc and one in August.

Make friends with parents of upper classman. They have a wealth of experience and advice to share with you. The Stuy family is a friendly one! It is one of your best sources of information about the school and even college applications.

Plan your student’s daily journey to school. Some high schools run buses. Stuy has never done that. Therefore your student will have to use public transport to get to school on time. It’s a good idea to do a test run before school starts so that your student knows how long the journey will take on public transport.

Link to the StuyPA Google Calendar
and you will never have to retype the entries again!

When school is in session

TALOS is your friend. TALOS is our student information and records system created by one of our talented alumni and used by multiple other specialized high schools in New York. You will get an access code to use TALOS and be able to log on and see your student’s absences, late swipe ins, textbook loans, course options, grades, and other information. Your students report cards are emailed to you from TALOS. It is a one stop place for all up to date information.

Parent Update weekly newsletter from Dina Ingram. Dina, our Director of Family Engagement, sends out a PDF newsletter every week with updates on what is happening at school, including a calendar of upcoming events. Be sure to check your email.

Student Opportunity Bulletin. With your donations, the Parents’ Association funds a special internships and opportunities counselor, Harvey Blumm. Harvey publishes a weekly Student Opportunities Bulletin to help students find internships, jobs, volunteering positions, and more. Harvey is a parent of two alumni and was our Parent Coordinator for many years. The SOB is an excellent resource. It is sent to you via email once a week by Dina Ingram. Be sure to read it.

Parents’ Association Monthly Meetings are a great way to find out what is going on at school. The meetings held in the auditorium start at 7:00pm. Come early to the refreshments meet-and-greet session at 6:30pm. Principal Contreras, Dina Ingram, PA Executive Board, School Leadership Team (SLT) delegates, and parents of upper classman are there to talk with. Check the PA calendar for monthly meetings and other events.

Parents’ Association Monthly Meeting programs include:

  • School
    • How to use TALOS our school student information and records system.
    • Course selection, curriculum, Advanced Placement exams
    • Summer opportunities and internships
  • College
    • How to choose a college – visits, information, alumni parent experiences of applications
    • How to finance college
    • College application process – early decisions, early action, regular decision and more
    • What to expect and how to prepare for when your student goes to college
    • How to use the college tool Naviance
  • Wellness
    • Dealing with stress
    • Substance abuse, vaping, Juuling, etc
    • Solving problems – communicating with teachers, counselors, APs, and parents

Coping with stress. Read our tip sheet on coping with stress.

Parent Teacher Conferences. Read our tip sheet on our twice yearly Parent Teacher Conference sessions here.

Get involved

Can you help out? We need volunteers to help us stage certain events like College Night for Juniors, Parent Teacher Conference Faculty Receptions, Spring Feast gala, and more. Come and work with like-minded parents and help the Parents’ Association Executive Board and the School Leadership Team. Run for election in September or May.

September 2019 Elections – Included in this election are 5 Parents’ Association Freshman Members-at-Large and 1 Freshman School Leadership Team delegate and alternate. See this page for more information. Get involved. Consider running and helping out.

Advice for your student

Here are some tips that you can pass on to your student.

Extra-curricular activities and finding your support group

Friends are important! Find your group – or groups. Friends help by solving shared problems and are the best support network out there. Making new friends and learning cooperation and problem solving skills are great ways to prepare for college!

Freshman year is a good time to get involved in clubs, teams, and other extra curricular activities. Junior and senior years are full of AP exams and college applications – so better not wait until then to do extra activities. There is a clubs, teams, and publications fair after school in October.

Our principal calls some extra-curricular activities – “lifestyle clubs.” In other words, they take up a lot of time and require dedication. Lifestyle activities include Robotics (at least 3 teams), Speech and Debate, Track & Field (3 seasons: X-country, indoor, and outdoor), Stuy Spectator, Model UN and more. Many students do an extra-curricular activity and keep up with their homework – it’s all about learning time management!


Your freshman year grades count – do the math, an average can be hard to upsize. But do balance your life to reduce stress and enjoy the many activities our great school offers.

Grades in the first marking period of each semester are letter grades. That is intended to reduce the stress on your student and allow them time to adjust to new courses etc.

  • E: 90 – 100.
  • S: 75 – 89.
  • N: 65 – 74.
  • U: < 65.
  • NS: No show.
  • NL: New admission.
  • P: Pass (for pass fail courses).
  • F: Fail (for pass fail courses).

Ask for help – no need to be shy, no question is a stupid one. Our students often meet up after school to go over homework together. Find that support group.

Get to know your school counselor. Just drop in to establish contact. Then if you have any concerns, reach out. They are there to help.

Academic help – reach out if you need help with a subject. Students who need a little extra help with a subject can find it at:

  • ARISTA tutoring – our student honor society runs tutoring programs and can set up one-on-one sessions to help. Check the school website for the sign up link.
  • AIS – Academic Intervention Services are sessions run by teachers after school. More information at the school website.

Sleep – get some, it is important. Social media provides a support group at all times of day and night – but be sure not to let it take away your sleep and cause you to delay doing homework.

Take the classes you are interested in – not the ones in which your friends are.

Speak up in class. Class participation is necessary – but not all students feel comfortable do so. Try and set yourself a small goal of participation each week and it will grow easier with time. Learn to advocate for yourself.

Growing up at high school

We’re growing adults – not sheep. Our young adults are growing independent, making their own decisions, sharing confidences with friends you may not meet. They will need to be self-supporting for college and parents should encourage their self sufficiency as much as their academic achievements.

Skipping classes or missing homework is a warning sign – have a conversation if you think that is happening. Always reach out to your student’s school counselor if you have concerns. Counselors treat your communications in confidence. Our Director of Family Engagement, Dina Ingram, is also available to help with any problems that may arise.

If your student misses a deadline, they should still hand the work in. Missing the work means missing the information! If your student has an extenuating circumstance that stopped them from doing homework, the student should reach out to the teacher and explain.

If your student is having trouble with a class, have a conversation. The key is listening. Help them advocate for themselves – but let them do it.

Help them learn to resolve problems. Resolving problems that may arise with a class, teacher, or classmate is part of learning. When students are in college, they will have to do this by themselves without your help. So if they learn how to speak to teachers and counselors now and solve their problems, they will be well prepared for life! You can always act as an advocate for your student – but try and let your student find the solution first. They will need your advice in dealing with situations – let them come to you and ask for it.

To resolve problems related to classes, contact should be made in this order

  • Teacher
  • School counselor
  • Department Assistant Principal
  • Director of Family Engagement (Parent Coordinator) with parents
  • Principal with parents

Conversations are often hard to have when your student comes home tired after a day of school. Keeping in touch can be difficult. They have after school events, homework, and are often not very willing to give a complete account of their day. They don’t have the energy to explain it all. Give them some slack.

Homework. A new Homework Policy has been put into effect in June 2019. The policy is designed to help students avoid overload and stress and to give them time off during vacations. Check the school website for details.

  • Homework is to reinforce and prepare for classroom work – writing, reading, problem sets, reviewing.
  • Homework assignments for non-AP non-honors subjects are up to 30 minutes per night 3-5 times a week.
  • Homework assignments for AP subjects are up to 60 minutes per night.

Time Management
If homework is taking your student too long, perhaps consider the following:

  • Organize the work space.
  • Encourage a regular schedule for eating and doing homework.
  • Eliminate distractions like TV.
  • Have a conversation with your student about their social media use, how it distracts and can be addictive. But be aware that social media can also provide their support group.

Help them with deadlines. A shared Google Calendar is a useful tool for students and parents. It saves having to ask questions about what is going on too.