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Back to School and Programs 2023: What Harlem Children’s Zone Families Need to Know

After a busy summer, Back to School and Programs 2023 is upon us — and we can’t wait to see our scholars’ smiling faces in our buildings!

This month, we’re excited to open our doors for the first day of school at HCZ Promise Academy (September 6) and the first day of Zone Programs (September 18). 

As we head into the 2023-2024 academic year, we want all our scholars and families to be ready to start school and programs on a positive and productive note. From safety tips to important dates, here’s everything you need to know about Back to School 2023!

Step 1: Know your Back to School 2023 dates and times

First things first, mark these dates in your calendar:

HCZ Promise Academy Scholars

  • Classes begin: Wednesday, September 6.
  • After-school programs begin: Monday, September 18

Harlem Gems Scholars

  • Classes begin: Wednesday, September 6.

Zone Programs Scholars

Peacemakers, A Cut Above (ACA), Academy of Arts and Civic Engagement (ACE), Countee Cullen Community Center (CCCC), and Employment and Technology Center (ETC): Monday, September 18

Next, find out your pick-up and drop-off times:

HCZ Promise Academy I and II

  • Drop-off: scholars can arrive as early as 7 AM
  • Pick-up: 4 PM

Harlem Gems

  • September 6: 8 AM drop off, 12 PM pick up
  • September 7 and 8: 8 AM drop off, 2:30 PM pick up
  • September 11 and onward: 8 AM drop off, 4 PM pick up

Zone Programs

Drop-off and pick-up times vary for each program — reach out to your program leadership for more information.

To celebrate the first week of school, Community Pride and Healthy Harlem will host a Back to School Backpack Giveaway and Carnival for Zone Programs scholars on Saturday, Sept. 9​, 10 AM-2 PM​ at St. Nicholas Plaza (West 129th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglas Boulevards). Please note: scholars must attend the event, in person, with a parent/guardian to receive backpacks and school supplies.​

Step 2: Know your pick-up protocols (for HCZ Promise Academy scholars and families)

In addition to pick-up and drop-off times at HCZ Promise Academy, please review our protocols:

  • All scholars must be dropped off outside, at the door of their school building.
  • Scholars should not be picked up before the end of the school day unless there is an extenuating circumstance. Parents should call the school so that the main office can coordinate early pickups.
  • Transportation to and from school should be arranged for your scholar in advance. For more info, please contact your school’s transportation coordinator.
  • Families of scholars are not allowed to enter HCZ Promise Academy buildings without an appointment. To gain access to the building, please contact your school.

Step 3: Stay safe going to and from schools and programs

Our HCZ Safety Team is committed to keeping our scholars and families safe. Here’s a few safety tips to keep in mind as the school year begins:

  • Be careful crossing the street – Get to school safely by watching for cars as you cross the street and listening to crossing guards. If you’re taking the bus or a car, make sure to be careful as you exit the vehicle.
  • Go straight to and from school/after-school programs – When going to and from school and after-school programs, scholars should be there on time. Parents and guardians are encouraged to check in with scholars to make sure they got to school and programs safely.
  • Get to know our Safety Team – If you ever need help, be sure to ask our Safety Team members, stationed at sites across the Zone. Be sure to say “hi” when you enter the building and get to know them! Discover more about our Safety Team>

Step 4: Get to Know Your Principal (for HCZ Promise Academy scholars and families)

Our principals care deeply about all our scholars and are committed to their success. Get to know them! 

Step 5: Get to Know Your Program Director (for Zone Programs scholars and families)

Step 6: Locate your school or program 

To locate your HCZ Promise Academy Charter School or Zone Program, see our Locations page or view our Zone map:

Step 7: Get ready for your first day of school or programs

Chances are, you’re feeling some back-to-school butterflies — that’s totally normal! The more you prepare for the big day, the better you’ll feel. We recommend that scholars:

  • Set your sleep schedules back to “school time” two weeks before the first day of school.
  • Talk about your feelings returning to school, especially what, if anything, is bothering you.
  • Put together a rough outline of a school and activity schedule, and make sure to sync up that schedule with the family’s calendar.
  • Get in touch with friends and classmates ahead of time and make plans to meet up in school.
  • Take a few deep breaths and try to relax. We can’t wait to welcome you for Back to School 2023!