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April 4, 2021

Dear Families,

The third quarter ended on Friday, March 26, and we are well into spring term. Upper and Middle School families are in the process of advisor conferences. Lower School teachers have conferences scheduled for April 20. I hope the spring is off to a good start for everyone.

We have just completed our first week of full team practices for Upper School athletics. The MPA is moving forward with a familiar, statewide, postseason tournament format in June, which is great news for our student athletes. Upper School students are competing in lacrosse, baseball, softball, tennis, and track. Competition schedules will soon be available via coaches and on our website. We are working with our new schedule platform and plan to post practice schedules as well games on the site. An official Western Maine Conference spectator policy is not yet confirmed, but we will be prepared to offer limited home game attendance to our Panther fans.

The Middle School is offering baseball, softball, lacrosse, and track. It is still not clear if there will be competitions. It is wonderful to see everyone outside on the field practicing, and I look forward to a great season.

We have said repeatedly that this has been a year like no other. This applies for everyone at home, at work, and certainly at school. Much of our focus last spring and summer was on  how to open school safely in the fall. Since school opened in September, we have remained focused, trying to keep our students in school and engaged. It has not been without challenges, but I would be remiss not to once again mention the amazing collective effort of our faculty, staff, students, and families. We value each day we are in school, hoping for everyone’s good health, and in many respects, living one day at a time. While a lot of the school’s time and energy has gone into the present, we continue to plan for the future.

To that end, the PA Morning Forum on Thursday, April 8 will be dedicated to the Academy’s strategic planning. We will revisit NYA’s Strategic Vision: 2020. We will present on the progress on the school’s strategic initiatives and share some of our goals for the future. Joining me on the panel will be Linda Manchester (NYA Board President), Garrett Bowne (CFO), Jennifer Richard (Director of Development), Marissa Markonish (Head of Lower and Middle Schools), and Eric Austin (Head of Upper School). There will be some time for questions as well. If you have not already done so, you may rsvp through this link.

On The Bright Side:

We had a Dress Down Day on Thursday to support NYA’s Kiva Club. NYA’s Kiva Club is a member of an international group of clubs that provide crowdfunded microloans to individuals around the world. These individuals have no access to banks, and the loans allow them to start a business of their own and provide for themselves and their families. Mr. Sillin founded the club in 2008 as a good way to expose students to everyday life in different parts of the world, to teach how and why entrepreneurs use financing to capitalize their businesses, and to help build the habit and culture of philanthropy in his students. Each year, they raise money through a few fundraisers and make loans in $25 increments. The club has a repayment rate of 97%, and as the loans are repaid, additional loans are made. To date the club has loaned more than $170,000. You can learn more about the NYA Kiva Club through this website. Worldwide, Kiva has over 1.9 million lenders that have loaned over $1.56 billion. The NYA Kiva Club ranks an amazing #11 in the world. The students in Mr. Sillin’s club are doing some amazing and impactful work.

Dr. Bouman, an NYA parent, visited Ms. Sahlman’s class virtually last week. His presentation was about skin and dermatology, in conjunction with the class’s study of the skin. He shared how he became involved in dermatology and how the skin can serve as a diagnostic aid. It was an informative presentation for the class.

Last week, Ms. Barschdorf’s seventh grade started learning about climate change. They had a “Climate Change Mixer,” where students took on different roles of people across the globe and shared how climate change is affecting them or their area. They also learned about mountaintop removal of coal in Appalachia and simulated mining by taking chocolate chips out of chocolate chip cookies. Students found out how hard it was to put the chocolate chip cookie back together after it was strip mined.

In Ms. Leslie and Ms. Cindy’s primary class, the students are doing several projects to prepare for Earth Day. They have a new fish in the classroom, a healthy baby Beta girl. They are making observations on the fish and also voted on a new name. Pinky won out over Fishy and Isabella. They are also observing the signs of spring, including the recent rains and worms.

Ms. Jen and Ms. Grace’s primary class introduced Writing Workshop Wednesdays. The students learned about their amazing ability to write their own books and how books have three things: ideas, pictures, and words. They also discussed cover pages, and the students were naturally eager to get started on their own books.

As I shared last week, we are seeking host families for the 2021-2022 school year. As many of you know, NYA has a homestay program for Upper School students who come to NYA from out of the state or country. In recent years, NYA has hosted students from many different states, Canada, China, Austria, Spain, India, Germany, and more. We are always looking for potential homestay families to host these students. You don’t have to be a current NYA family to host a student. A monthly stipend is also provided. The school would be responsible for facilitating COVID screening on the student’s arrival to Maine. There is more information here. Please email us (Sagaree Sengupta and Eliot Grady) at for specific details.

NYA has some exciting things planned to share with Lower School grandparents this year. Be sure we have their contact information so they will be included in this year’s communications and outreach, including NYA Grandparents’ Day video celebrations. You can fill out contact information here. We look forward to being back in person next year.

From the Parents’ Association: A Faculty & Staff Appreciation Celebration is planned for the week of May 10. Please keep a look out for an email from your class representative about how you can show your thanks and help make it a success.

On the pandemic front, COVID cases continue to increase slightly in the state of Maine. This means we need to continue to remain vigilant on campus. We have been fortunate to have avoided any major disruptions to the classes for a good period of time, and we are hopeful this will continue.

Reminder: There will be no school April 19 and 20 due to the observance of Patriots’ Day on Monday, and Lower School conferences, and Middle and Upper School in-service day on Tuesday.

Have a great week!


Ben Jackson
Head of School


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