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April 26, 2020

Dear Families,

NYA alumnus, Jason Kroot ’05, has run the Boston Marathon for the last eight years in support of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Along with his siblings, Travis ’07 and Alexis ’09, they walk under “Team Kroot” in the fall to raise money for research. The Kroots walk in honor of their parents, who both passed away due to cancer. To honor his parents and promote funding for cancer research, Jason did not allow the postponement of this year’s race to stop him from successfully completing a marathon on Patriots’ Day. He will still go on to run this year’s Boston Marathon when it is held in the fall. Jason didn’t allow COVID-19 to get in the way of honoring his parents. His inspirational story was featured this week on NewsCenter Maine. You can see it here. We have some amazing alumni.

Of course, the Boston Marathon was not the only event that was cancelled this spring. Major events at schools and businesses have been cancelled, postponed, or altered because of the pandemic. I shared last week that this can be especially challenging for our seniors. That is certainly the case, but there are many events that are important to our entire community and students. A small sampling includes musical performances, Lower School Grandparents’ Day, Middle School Recognition, Senior Speeches, Awards Day, Fun Day, Prom, Commencement, and many more. These events have both a practical purpose and important symbolic meanings. They remain important, and we are approaching them as thoroughly and thoughtfully as possible. A challenge to effective planning is the unknown. In the current climate, we don’t know when restrictions will ease, what will be possible to hold in person, or when we will be able to hold events. That makes planning a challenge, to say the least, but it isn’t too soon to prepare. We have organized a committee of administrators and students to begin planning for these important milestones, and we will share information as it becomes available.

A few highlights around remote learning at NYA:

Haley Bennett, NYA ’09, joined Mr. Ramsey’s AP Music Theory class this week to share some of her Broadway musical experiences. Haley is based in NYC, where she has worked as an associate music director, conductor, and music coordinator on musicals like Diana: A True Musical Story, Once On This Island, Finding Neverland, NBC’s broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar, and the touring production of Hamilton. She has also been a Music Supervisor for NBCUniversal’s Upfront presentation at Radio City Music Hall, and has helped to coordinate several Broadway cast albums.

Mrs. Barschdorf has been whipping up many amazing experiments with her Lower School students. This short video  shows clips from her Lava Lamps, Gummy Bears, and Oobleck experiments. She is accompanied by her assistant, Quinn. Also in the Lower School, Mrs. Gagne’s class just finished reading Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and joined Mr. Hopkins’ class to Zoom the movie together.

The Senior Speech is a major milestone for our graduating seniors. When NYA transitioned to remote learning, there were seven speeches still to be delivered. This week, the speeches returned in a virtual format during Friday Forum. Clément Delisle-Blais, Eliza Tod, and Carly Downey all presented fantastic speeches. The students were able to make comments in the “chat” feature during the speeches for some real time feedback and as a way to offer their congratulations.

Mission Spotlight

Middle School students celebrated Earth Day on its 50th anniversary on Wednesday, April 22.  Earth Day was created in 1970 to promote awareness for the environment and how we treat nature. Earth Day is celebrated internationally as Mother Earth Day in about 193 countries. In advisory, the Middle School students stepped outside and took pictures of things that celebrated Earth Day. Each advisory created collages of all their beautiful pictures. In our Wednesday Forum, Ms. Sahlman talked to students about taking time out of their day to enjoy nature, read outside, or think about the things we do that create an impact on Earth. She also discussed things that students can do at their own house like composting, using reusable water bottles, and keeping energy usage low.

Our school counselor, Cindy Hould, recognizes that after a month of social distancing it is normal for families to have moments of tension, frustration, and, perhaps, conflict. The Wellness theme for next week will be Positive Discipline, a parenting approach that focuses on kind, firm discipline developed by Dr. Jane Nelson. Strategies from this approach will help families to engage in respectful communication and healthy interactions. In addition, these strategies should encourage individuals to practice self-discipline to enhance their overall success and happiness.

Also be sure to check out the NYA “Get Moving” page for fitness tips and weekly challenges.

We hope you will join us for the first-ever virtual Soirée the evening of Friday, May 15. This year’s event features entertainment from NYA alumni, students, and families, a live and silent auction, and more! Proceeds from this year’s gathering will help NYA, faculty, and our families as we face challenges related to COVID-19. All funds from the event will benefit current and incoming families increased demand for need-based financial aid and ensure faculty have the resources to be successful today and into the future. Please join us for the event and, if you are able, consider a sponsorship or donation to the auction by contacting Crystal Gordon. Let’s rally together for a fun evening of camaraderie and support for NYA! Register and learn more at

Reminder – NYA summer camp registrations are active. We continue to monitor the newest developments regarding COVID-19, and safety is our number one priority. We hope that as we move past the worst of the outbreak, we will be able to run our whole calendar of scheduled camp offerings. Should we be forced to cancel any camps due to the virus, camper families will receive a full 100% refund. Early Bird pricing of a $25 discount has been extended from April 15 to May 1. NYA also offers an additional 10% discount to families who sign up one camper for two or more sessions at the same time. We will keep you updated with any changes to the NYA Summer Camp program. If you have questions, contact Mary Goodrich at

We miss you all on campus! Stay healthy and safe. Don’t hesitate to reach out to NYA if you need anything. Have a great week!


Ben Jackson
Head of School


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