2019 5th Grade Graduation

The latest graduating class of 5th Graders from Challenge Preparatory Charter School were celebrated on Wednesday, June 12th. The ceremony was held at Far Rockaway High School with parents, families, staff, and teachers in attendance.

K-5 Principal Nicole Griffin welcomed the crowd and gave an opening address to encourage the scholars citing that excellence is not an accident. She gave the scholars some advice saying, “There are 3 Gs that are the secrets to success: Growth, Generosity, and Gratitude…I thank you for the privilege of being your principal.”

Following brief inspirational addresses from Salutatorian, Blessing Oladipo and Valedictorian, Da’Saki Barango-Tariah, CEO and Founder, Rev. Dr. Les Mullings spoke to the proud families and scholars saying, “If there is any doubt about what we do, take a look at our scholars. Listen to Blessing and Da’Saki.”

Along with scholar recitations and various musical numbers led by Music Johnson, certificates and special awards were presented. Lisa George brought congratulations on behalf of Senator James Sanders.

The gallery of professional photos from the day can be found below.

Staff Appreciation Feature: Carlene Marquez-James

It’s Staff Appreciation Week at CPCS! Our Parent Association has planned a number of events to express gratitude to our Teachers and Staff. As a special feature this week, we are celebrating K-5 Principal Administrative Assistant, Carlene Marquez-James. Mrs. James helps to create the sense of family that scholars, parents and guardians, and staff enjoy at CPCS.

Our K-5 office is a busy place. What summarizes your work in a given day?

James: As the Principal’s Assistant I work closely with Principal Griffin, AP Thomas, AP Shepherd, staff, parents and visitors in plannings and meetings. My first priority is making sure the staff and scholars have all the resources and support they need to for learning, to make education interactive and fun. I also help assure parents and guardians that their scholars are in a safe and nurturing environment. 

I am very family oriented which makes it a pleasure coming to work everyday at CPCS because here at CPCS we are a family!
K-5 Principal Administrative Assistant, Mrs. James

K-5 Principal Administrative Assistant, Mrs. James

What is the best part about working at CPCS?

James: The best part of working at CPCS is seeing the scholars happy and knowing they are part of a family at school. Staff make comments like, "I love working here;" "The admin team is always here for us;" "We feel supported." About one month ago one of my parents said, "Mrs. James you are my hero. Thank you for taking care of my kids and giving me a sense of security." I am very family oriented which makes it a pleasure coming to work everyday at CPCS because here at CPCS we are a family!

Who are your major positive influencers in your life and why?

James: My biggest influencers are my eldest son Ricardo and my boss Ms. Griffin. They are always pushing me to continue my education, using all my potential and experience to the fullest. 

Challenge Charter Receives Renewal and Expansion

After a lengthy review and application process, Challenge Charter has been granted a 5-year Renewal and Expansion from the NY Department of Education. The expansion will include the addition of a Kindergarten class and approval to open a High School.

Founder and CEO, Rev. Dr. Les Mullings was happy to hear the news, and staff followed suit with their positive responses and affirmations of the school’s efforts over the 9 years since opening in 2010.

The application process involved the support of the Board of Trustees, the Executive Leadership Team, K-5 Principal Griffin and 6-8 Principal Gordon and staff throughout the K-8 school. While renewal was anticipated, the expansion is a great vote of confidence for Challenge Prep as very few new schools and expansions are being approved by the DOE due in part to the NYC Charter School cap.

Dr. Mullings has led the school through renewal applications across the school’s history. Senior Advisor, Dr. Estep followed the process closely assisting staff and administration through each step. The DOE Renewal Team visited the school for key meetings with the Board, Leadership Team, Principals and Staff, as well as classroom observations, curriculum reviews, and test and scholar data analysis.

The Kindergarten seats will be filled from the waiting list from the 2019-20 Applications and Lottery that took place in April. Plans for the High School will be ongoing as logistics such as building and staff needs are discussed.

Read the official Press Release on the Renewal and Expansion.

Cheering on Our Cheetahs

With pom poms waving and sporting our bold school colors, the Challenge Prep Cheerleaders are a key group of scholars that energetically express our school pride. Going beyond the physical aspects of cheerleading, our program is one of the ways CPCS intentionally helps to boost confidence and to help create lifelong leaders amongst our scholars. The 2018-19 squad consists of 17 bright ladies that were selected not just based on their skills but also on their academics. The squad has helped to create energy and team spirit at a number of events throughout the year, including cheering our basketball team on to a winning season.

Coach Hargrove and the 2018-19 Cheer Squad

Coach Hargrove and the 2018-19 Cheer Squad

We caught up with cheer Coach and Mentor, Ms. Adrian Hargrove, to talk to her about the squad and their growth this year. She explained her role and focus for this thriving after school program.

“It is truly a pleasure to coach and mentor such a wonderful group of young ladies. They make coaching and mentoring such an amazing experience for me. I can recall cheerleading being an outlet for me to express myself and practice self love. Cheerleading helped me to be confident, responsible, and most of all a team player. Those same key values that my coach instilled in me are the same key values I want to instill my girls.  I want to leave a lasting impression on each one of my cheerleaders, past and present, and always encourage them to be their best self.”  

Several scholars in 4th and 5th grades spoke about their experience being on the squad saying:

"Being a cheerleader is very fun. I love being a cheerleader because I like making people feel good and seeing people happy.  Being that this year was my 1st year being a cheerleader, I have got so many opportunities from performing at pep rally's, basketball games, and running bake sales.  My job as a cheerleader is to be a role model to others and to cheer others on." - Soleil Hall, Class 503

"I love Ms. Hargrove as my cheerleading coach.  Cheerleading helps me to be a better person and my coach and cheer mates are like another family to me." - Abigail Hardy, Class 403

"Cheerleading means having responsibilities, having fun, and having respect for myself and others. I joined cheerleading because I knew I wasn't going to just have fun, but I would also learn something new." - Charle Williams, Class 503

"I am the captain of the CPCS cheerleading squad. Being on the team for the past 2 years has helped me come out of my shell. Ms. Hargrove's coaching style is tough love, but I would not be this far without her.  When you cheer you express who you are, and that's what I love most about cheerleading. - Blessing Olidipo, Class 501

While athletics, teamwork, and confidence are a big part of being on the squad, academics are not forgotten. As Ms. Hargrove says, “My mottos as their coach are, ‘You’re a student before you’re a cheerleader,’  and ‘Books before Pom Poms.’ My goal as their coach is to create little ladies for our future and to cheer CPCS on to victory in anyway.”

Victory is a cheerleading program filled with Cheetah Pride that has been a benefit to CPCS scholars across the student body for several years. As Hargrove stated, “With each year, I want us to grow bigger and better. My Goal is to put CPCS cheerleaders on the map!”

2019 Lottery Recap

With only a few weeks left of school this year, we looked forward to our 2019-20 Academic Year with our annual Lottery Night on Thursday, April 11th. Led by our Director of Enrollment and Recruitment, Mrs. Tameeka Richards, and her capable team, the event was held at at our K-5 site at 710 Hartman Lane. For the first time in our school’s history, all applicants were assigned numbers electronically. The Challenge Prep Lottery is a random drawing for those wanting available seats for the upcoming school year, and on the 11th seats for around 96 openings in Kindergarten were filled. All remaining names were placed on the waiting list.

Entertainment was provided by Champ the Cheetah, our official school mascot. Puppeteer for Champ, Steve Pennington, also develops the curriculum for Project Character—a monthly word-based curriculum that teaches scholars about the importance of good character.

Our Founder and CEO, Dr. Les Mullings commented on the event saying, "We celebrated another annual Lottery and welcomed new scholars and their families to our school. This year's electronic Lottery was a great success, and I thank Mrs. Richards and her team for all their hard work. We hope to see our school grow even more with our proposed additional kindergarten class for 2019-20."

A separate Lottery was held for the few available 1st through 8th grade seats on Wednesday, April 10th. In the coming weeks, families will have to officially accept their seats and register their children for the upcoming year or forfeit their spot to other waiting families. Over 1200 families applied this season, proving the need for quality education choices for families and the continued community support for Challenge Charter School.

K-5 Summer Day Camp

It’s time to plan for summer! The K-5 Challenge Day Camp (CDC) has been offered for seven years to provide an educational adventure shaped by fun and friends, featuring STEAM, culinary arts, technology, field trips, art, tennis, soccer and lots more! The 2019 will be held July 8th through August 2nd for grades K-5.

The highly successful day camp is known for fantastic programming that features field trips, sports, crafts, STEAM activities, and exciting special features including performances by Steve Pennington and Friends for the participants. CDC draws upon the faculty and staff from Challenge Prep as well as the Far Rockaway community to serve as the CDC Team.

The regular cost of the camp is $595. You can save $100 by registering and paying in full by May 31st. Siblings receive a 10% discount. 

Register your child today! It's going to be a great summer at the CDC. 

K-5 Summer Day Camp Flyer

K-5 Summer Day Camp Flyer

K-5 CDC Spanish Flyer

K-5 CDC Spanish Flyer

We need YOU! It's Parent Survey Time

It's that time of the year again: SURVEY TIME! Our Family Engagement Coordinators, Mrs. Wiggins (K-5) and Mrs. Vaughn (6-8) have been working hard to get the word out about this annual and important time of year. New to the survey or wonder why we need every family to participate?

“Every year families take the NYC School Survey to share feedback about our school. Survey feedback can help improve your scholar’s learning,” explained Mrs. Vaughn.

Last year we had over 60% of families respond, but it simply isn’t enough for Challenge Charter. This year, Mrs. Wiggins and Mrs. Vaughn would love to see our K-8 parents achieve 100% participation.

As Mrs. Wiggins expressed, “Feedback is great for Challenge Prep Charter School, as it helps us improve our programs. I encourage each family to complete theirs today.”

Families can complete the survey in person at our school sites (710 Hartman and 1279 Redfern) or online by visiting NYCSchoolSurvey.org. We are hoping to reach 100% by the end of Parent Teacher Conferences on March 19 and 20, but the last day to complete the NYC School Survey is Wednesday, April 3, 2019.

Perhaps the best part is that scholars will be rewarded when his or her family participates. Middle School scholars will receive an Ice Cream Party on Wednesday, March 27th if they have a completed survey by Parent Teacher Conferences. K-5 scholars will receive $10 Cheetah Bucks for every survey completed.

Progress Reports are being shared every week on our Facebook page. As of March 8th, we had 13% of surveys completed. We hope you will take a few moments to fill out your survey today.

Mrs. Wiggins Survey Flyer

Mrs. Wiggins Survey Flyer

Apply for the 2019-20 School Year

We love Application Season at Challenge! It’s a great time of welcoming new families who are interested in our school. This year’s deadline to apply for the 2019-20 academic year is April 1st, 2019 at 5:00P.

Mrs. Tameeka Richards, Director of Enrollment and Recruitment as well as a long-time employee of our school, leads the efforts for the application process.

Richards reflected on this busy part of the year saying, “Every year, I look forward to meeting new families that are so optimistic about what Challenge brings to the community. Annually, the Enrollment team meets families at daycares, Open Houses and on Lottery Night. They all want the same thing for their children, and that is to get their child into our school. The demand for our school keeps me energized and committed to getting the word out there that we are accepting applications, so more families can have the opportunity to experience a great education within a safe and supportive environment. These are the reasons I am so excited every year. I get to open the door to more families and change lives.

Our website has full information on Applying (English or Spanish) including many FAQs. To apply online, go to our portal on School Mint. We also host Open Houses to provide a way for interested families to see the difference at Challenge.

“At these events, families can expect the full Challenge Prep experience. They will get to meet the leaders and teachers that work hard on a daily basis to create the school and environment our scholars love and enjoy. They will experience a day in the life of a CPCS scholar and get a tour of our state of the art facilities,” explained Richards.

Our next and final Open Houses this season are Thursday, March 7th at 5:30P at 1279 Redfern Avenue and Thursday, March 14th at 5:30P at 710 Hartman Lane. Lottery night where all names will be drawn for open seats and the waiting list will be held April 11th.

For inquiries or information about applying, contact Mrs. Richards at trichards@challengecharterschools.org or call 718-327-4040 Ext. 512.

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CPCS Basketball

Our fabulous Coaches Hassel and Reilly!

Our fabulous Coaches Hassel and Reilly!

As CPCS has developed, so has the offering of sports and other after school programs. Under the leadership of Coaches Ryan Hassel and Stephen Reilly, our boys’ basketball team has become another reason Cheetah pride is thriving. With an amazing 4-0 record for the Cheetahs so far, the start of their season is a testament to their hard work.

As they continue to grow in their skills, the Coaches report that the team is working hard everyday and has improved dramatically since they began playing. During practices, the team works on fundamentals such as dribbling, passing, and shooting. With many of the scholars being new to the game, the coaches are making sure they get the basics down before getting into anything more complex.

“We have a great group of boys who challenge themselves and each other to be better everyday,” commented Coach Hassel.

Scholar Demetrius Brown leads in scoring, averaging over 8 points per game. There are four more games left in the season, and plans are in the works to host another home game at CPCS. With limited space in our gym, families of the basketball team and cheerleading squad are invited to join these events for now.

The next away game for the Cheetahs is on Thursday, January 31st at 5:15 p.m. at Merrick Academy. Please join us there in support of our great basketball team.

Go Cheetahs!

Go Cheetahs!



Staff Focus: Eunice Armstrong

A few weeks ago, we welcomed Ms. Eunice Armstrong as our new Director of Finance to Challenge Charter Schools. Recently we had a chance to find out a bit about Ms. Armstrong and how in this key role, she brings her experience and leadership to bear.

Q: What excites you most about being a part of the Challenge Charter Schools staff?

Armstrong: I am excited to be a part of such a dynamic and caring team, from the educators to the administration who work tirelessly to provide a world class education, especially in Far Rockaway.

Q: What is your background in financial leadership?

Armstrong: I have almost 10 years financial experience in the non-profit & charter school sector, particularly with helping these types of organizations with budget management & operational system creation. Grant management has also been a significant part of my experience with city, state, and federal level funding & compliance.

Q: What hobby or activity do you spend time on when you're away from work?

Armstrong: I spend my free time engaged in charity work with some of my favorite organizations like The Bowery Mission.

Q: With the recent holidays we wonder, what is your favorite holiday treat?

Armstrong: My favorite holiday treat is eggnog, perfect for holiday gatherings.