Succeed at PSMS 161

In preparation for applying to NYC High Schools, middle schoolers at MS 161 are placed into mentoring groups as 7th graders where they work closely with a faculty mentor to navigate the high school application process.

In addition, we provide evening information sessions for our students and parents, and organize group excursions to the annual high school fairs.  Through our electives and after school programs, many of our students choose to apply to schoolswith fine arts focus. Last year, 12 8th graders were accepted into selective fine arts high schools.


Debate Team

After two years of intramural debate, PS 161 joined the NYC Urban Debate League in 2012, where they now regularly compete against top NYCteams in rigorous academic competition. Even among strong programs like Berkeley Carroll, Anderson School, and Hunter, PS 161 has rapidly emerged as a home to powerhouse debaters, consistently ranked as one of the top middle school teams at the Urban Debate League tournaments.

Scholastic debate competition has been called one of the great equalizers in American Education. For PS 161‘s 50+ member team, Debate has created access to elite educational spaces, and unlocked enormous academic potential.  Through giving hundreds of speeches, students develop poise, critical thinking, civic engagement and confidence.  With a large percentage of English Language Learners, PS 161 is proud to have many debaters who compete in their second-language.  It reverses the traditional classroom paradigm; here, the students do most of the talking. Even when life feels out of control, debate creates a forum where students can take charge and speak out–and they do.

“I say that we‘re colleagues,” says 7th grader Katherine Rosas, “which means that we work together, and we don’t always like each other, but we do always care about each other. And we are there for each other no matter what.”

The team practices during debate enrichment classes, lunch, recess and after school, and competes in about two tournaments a month. Last February, twelve debaters attended the Westchester Classic, an overnight tournament at Lakeland High School, winning first place Parliamentary team.

The 161 debaters spend hours and hours together inside and out of school. They challenge each other and push each other to be better.

“The team is really a family,” several students say. Ask any of the students to tell you themselves– they love to talk.

Mouse Squad


MOUSE Squad is a youth development program that prepares and supports students in establishing and managing leading edge technical support help desks in their schools.

MOUSE Squad improves a school’s ability to use technology to enhance learning, while also providing a powerful, hands-on 21st century learning experience for students.

At PS/MS 161 our squad will create a video library of student produced Tech How-To videos. This evolving video library will serve as the backbone for students to make repairs and to pass the information on to future members.

Take a look at our Videos:

<p><a href=”″>Mouse Squad Presents*</a> from <a href=”″>JoJo Farrell</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”″>Mouse.Parts.Video</a&gt; from <a href=”″>JoJo Farrell</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

DPAC Debaters

Our DPAC debaters took part in a tournament last weekend in the Bronx.  Our students headed out bright and early at 6:30am.  Mr. Beattie our kids and once again they were some of the top performers.  We’d like to give a special shoutout to 8th graders Melissa Jimenez and Melvin Morla who went undefeated for the day.  They also both won top speaker awards!  Make sure to celebrate all of our debaters when you see them around school.

DPAC Debaters

On Saturday, October 1st, PS/MS 161 hosted the first NYC Urban Debate League tournament of the year.  The tournament was a Manhattan middle school invitational and welcomed more than 200 students from 15 schools. We had an awesome season opener!    Students debated abolishing the Electoral College, condemning Big Pharmaceutical Companies and adopting a New York City school dress code. Our team took home 1st place overall and there were strong performances by all of our students.  Way to go to our team and coach Tyler Beattie!

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161 Book Give-Away

On Thursday, September 22nd, DPAC families were invited in for a chance to meet 161 staff and to find out what students will be learning this year.  Families were also provided the chance to go book shopping in our cafeteria and many kids walked away happy.  Thanks to Ms. Salute for helping our students bring home the joy of reading!reading-pic

Top Apple Executives Visit 161 to Celebrate ConnectED Grant

tim-cook-with-principalOn September 13th, our school hosted special visitors that included Apple CEO Tim Cook.  The team from Apple visited three of our classrooms to see some of the things possible when students are connected to technology in the classroom.  ABC’s Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts also stopped by to see what our students were up to and to interview Tim Cook about the role that technology can play in education.  It was a wonderful moment for PSMS 161 to shine.

161 Debate Team


This past weekend, 16 members of the 161 Debate Team represented our school at the 2016 NYC City Championships, hosted at the Institute for Collaborative Education.

Very proud to share that the team of 7th graders Nelson Sanchez, Dashaun Conde and 8th graderHerbert Espinal advanced to the semi-finals of Varsity Middle School Parliamentary Debate, making them one of the top 4 middle school teams in the city!  Dashaun and Herbert also earned top speaker awards.

The team of 7th graders Melvin Morla, Justin Cordero and 8th grader Willmer Rosario advanced to the quarter-finals in Varsity Debate.  And… Willmer took the 1st place individual speaker award, making him the City Champion speaker for 2016!

In Congressional Debate, 7th grader Melissa Jimenez advanced to the final session, and earned 7th place overall!

In Novice Debate, congrats to 7th grader Jamaly Collado who earned a top speaker award.

Congrats to the rest of our City Championship team: 8th grader Gregory Carter, 7th graders Kevin Fabian, Yunior Crisostomo and Rashaun Jones, and 6th graders Jeniyah Martinez, Isaiah Santana, Nyomi Russo and Sean Correa.


Mr. Denson for joining us and judging!

Our alum Katherine Rosas for volunteering at the tournament!

Parents of Dashaun Conde, Melissa Jimenez, Isaiah Santana, Justin Cordero for joining us!

PSMS 161 Student Daniel Abreu featured at the MET!


Congratulations to Daniel Abreu, he has been selected from approximately 1,000 entries to be in the P.S. Art 2015 exhibition.

P.S. Art celebrates the visual arts in New York City’s public schools and showcases the tremendous talent of students from every neighborhood across the city.  You and your student are to be commended for the exemplary work submitted for this competition.

The P.S. Art exhibition will be on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education.  P.S. Art will be on exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 10th to October 18th and then will move on to the Tweed Courthouse where it will be on display during the fall semester.