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December 6, 2020

Dear Families,

On Wednesday, we held the second in our series of Parents’ Association Morning Forums. The topic was Health and Wellness during COVID-19. The physical and mental wellness of our young people is an important topic at any time, but it has taken on increased importance during the pandemic. Our panelists were Cindy Hould P’33 (NYA Counselor) and Ian Ramsey (Upper School Music and Chair of the Kauffmann Program in Environmental Writing and Wilderness Exploration). We are now well into our ninth month of the pandemic. Since the beginning, Mrs. Hould has been at the forefront, supporting the mental health and wellness of our community. Both Cindy and Ian demonstrated great leadership early on in the crisis and compiled resources for students and families that remain on the NYA COVID-19 Health and Wellness page on the website. During the session, they shared these additional resources:

This pandemic has presented challenges for us all and impacted us in many different ways; time away from extended family, restrictions on the activities we enjoy, absence of regular social interactions, concern for loved ones at risk, and concern for our own health. Amidst all of these challenges there is also much to be thankful for; increased family time, learning more about ourselves, lessons in resiliency, empathy and compassion, and so much more. As much as these are real struggles, we should also cherish these silver linings. Our faculty, staff, students, and families have done an amazing job working together and supporting one another these last nine months. If you have questions on mental health issues or if your child needs some support please reach out to Cindy Hould. Thanks to all who joined us for the session. The next Morning Forum will be on February 4. The topic will be NYA Strategic Initiatives. Joining me for that panel will be Linda Manchester, NYA Board President; Garrett Bowne, CFO; and Jennifer Richard, Director of Development. I will share more details as the date approaches.

Restrictions due to COVID-19 have presented many hurdles, and nowhere has it created more challenges than with the music and performing arts program. Linda Vaillancourt, Ian Ramsey, Nora Krainis, and Eli Gilbert have done an amazing job overcoming these barriers. The holiday season is normally a time to showcase the musical abilities of our students at the holiday performances. Even though we haven’t been able to gather as a community at these performances, our musicians are doing great work, and their talents were recently shared via social media. You may follow NYA social media on Facebook and Instagram (and others linked at the bottom of this letter).

On The Bright Side:

The NYA Science Department takes advantage of the diverse ecology of Maine and local resources in many different ways. A great example of this is the annual seventh grade Royal River Project where students learn about and research the ecosystem of the Royal River. They collect and study samples of the water, plant life, and animal life, and they present their findings in multimedia presentations to other students and adults. It is always an amazing project that combines science, critical thinking, technology, writing, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills. This year’s presentation was virtual, and instead of gathering as a community, “watch parties” for families were scheduled last week to view the presentations, complete with snack bags sent home by Mrs. Barschdorf. The students did an amazing job and demonstrated a deep understanding of the life cycles of the Royal River.

NYA alum and author, David Griswold ‘03, joined grades K-2 for a live Zoom meeting to share his book, Fur and Feather Stand Together. Following the presentation, the students joined in a discussion on actions that we can all take to take care of the planet.

Ms. Leslie’s primary students did a fun gratitude project prior to Thanksgiving Break. Gratitude was one of the topics of the month. For inspiration, the students read books and did yoga to guide them on the meaning of thanks. As a culminating project, the students completed a Thanksgiving inspired “Thankful Turkey” to express their gratitude.

All Middle and Upper School winter activities officially begin this week! Activities will run under the current state guidelines, most recently updated for athletic activity on Friday, December 4. Individual coaches are communicating specific schedule and team information via their weekly emails. Upper School students and families should review this link to see an official breakdown of important information about winter activity locker room use and campus behavior.

Upper School studio band is in session, and Middle School and Upper School drama is underway. Lower School ice skating at NYA’s Travis Roy Arena will begin after break. This is a highlight in the Lower School physical education program.

Despite restrictions and changes to activities this winter, it is great to see our student athletes, musicians, and thespians engaged in the activities they enjoy. We want to thank everyone in advance for their cooperation and support as we navigate the nuances of winter activities together.

Three years ago, NYA launched the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. Students in grades 7 to PG bring their own laptop to school to have as a resource for their classes. For the 2021-2022 school year, we are expanding the BYOD program to include students in grades 5 and 6. Most any internet enabled device with a keyboard works. This link shares more information on the minimum requirements. The BYOD program is designed to promote responsible use and leverage technology as tool for learning. At the same time, the Academy will always strive to strike the proper balance with respect to screen time.

Kind Campus would like to recognize the NYA Girls Hockey Team for raising money this season for the American Cancer Society through Hockey Fights Cancer. This cause is very close to their hearts, as a teammate’s father passed away from bile duct cancer in February 2020. They will be hosting a Dress Down Day on December 17 and have established a GoFundMe page through this link.

Thank you to all who contributed to NYA on #GivingTuesday. Over 170 donors – parents, alumni, grandparents, faculty, staff, and friends – gave more than $21,000 to the Academy Fund last Tuesday. Your gifts make an impact on every aspect of the NYA experience by supporting student programming, rigorous academic experiences, faculty development, financial aid, athletics, the arts, and more. On behalf of all of us at NYA, please accept my gratitude for your generosity. The Academy Fund runs throughout the school year, and you may join in supporting at any time.

It is hard to believe, but Thursday, December 17 marks the end of the first semester. I hope it has been a good one for your children. There is still time to finish the semester on a strong note. Advisors and teachers are here to support the students over the last couple of weeks of the term. Grades and comments will be compiled and sent out the week following winter break.

Winter Break begins after classes on Thursday, December 17. We return to class on Monday, January 4. Division newsletters are scheduled for Sunday, December 13, so this is my last scheduled Sunday letter of the calendar year. I hope you all have a wonderful and healthy holiday season.

Have a great week!


Ben Jackson
Head of School


Facebook – North Yarmouth Academy Page, NYA Parents’ Association Group, NYA Athletics Page (for livestreams of home contests)
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