Cold front skips over annual Meet Me in Miami Conference

Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 11/2/2011, 5:12 p.m.

Also seen were the Hon. Betty Staton, Toni and Phil Brown, Chloe Stenson, Theresa Manning, Barry Stanley, Gay Bullock, Tracy Cook-Person, Drs. Ruby and Jim Malone along with their daughter Bernice Malone and several grandchildren, Robin Leech and, like I said, 600 more.

For those of you in the grips of the application process for the 2012 kindergarten school term: first, you have my sympathy and second, there are alternatives, especially if you are interested in an independent school. Now is the time to realize that space is extremely limited at the most popular independent schools around the city and the competition is fierce. A message I recently received is as follows:

Mohawk Country Day School in White Plains will begin busing in Manhattan students next fall. The small school, which has preschool, kindergarten and first grade classes totaling 150 students, hopes to expand its base among New York City families.

According to Barbara Schainman, whose family has directed the school and Mohawk Day Camp for more than 40 years, "The ride to the 40-acre campus from Upper Manhattan is 30 to 35 minutes."

Confronted with fierce competition for Manhattan's top private schools and overcrowding and waitlists at many public schools, some city parents are seeking out suburban schools that typically offer lower tuitions and easier admissions, as well as multiple playing fields and even nature preserves.

"It has always been difficult getting into kindergarten, but what has changed is the amount of hassle," said Emily Glickman, president of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting. "Now test prep is de rigueur and you're applying to more schools. You don't even have your neighborhood school as a backup because of waiting lists."

The Hackley School in Tarrytown will dispatch buses to the Upper East and West sides for the first time next fall to carry students back to its Westchester campus. Just over the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey, the Dwight-Englewood School will expand its efforts to recruit city students by offering door-to-door pickup for children in preschool through fifth grade.

Dwight-Englewood's head of school, Rodney V. De Jarnett, said "While the school does require ERB testing for admission, it accepts 45 percent of applicants, compared with, for example, 8.2 percent at the Trinity School on the Upper West Side. At Dwight-Englewood, there are 50 New York City students, including three kindergartners.

"I really feel for Manhattan parents," stated De Jarnett. "The pressure to get their children into school is not what we feel here."

Until next week...kisses.