Sunday Letter Graphic for WordPress

January 10, 2021

Dear Families,

As shared last evening, due to a positive test in the Upper School, Upper School classes will temporarily shift to remote learning. In the past, our safety precautions of wearing masks, distancing, hand washing, and responsible decision making has proved very effective in mitigating the risk of community spread. We hope that continues and appreciate everyone’s effort and vigilance thus far. Despite the temporary shift to remote learning for the Upper School, as a school, we remain committed to maximizing in-person learning for our students. We are also committed to maximizing student engagement in the activities and athletics that they enjoy. We will continue to approach this in accordance with state guidelines and with health and safety as our greatest priority. While we hope to minimize periods of remote learning, we will remain ready to pivot when circumstances warrant. These are the times we live in, and I truly appreciate the support and partnership of the whole community as we navigate the pandemic.

It is with mixed emotions that I share that Katherine Thomas, NYA Director of College Counseling, and Steve Thomas, Associate Director of College Counseling, will be retiring at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year. Katherine has been in this role at NYA for the past 15 years and has guided close to 700 NYA alums through the college process. Katherine has enjoyed a long and storied career in college counseling previously serving at Woodberry Forest School and Foxcroft School in Virginia, and  Steve came to NYA after a long career in college and independent school admission, serving as Director of Admission at Colby College immediately prior to joining NYA. NYA is grateful for their service to the students and Academy. Their knowledge, experience, and commitment will be sorely missed by the Academy and its students. There will be more time to recognize them both for their distinguished careers and contributions to NYA. For now, please join me in thanking them for their service to NYA and remarkable careers in education. NYA has immediately commenced a search for their replacements. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas look forward to working closely with the new Director of College Counseling to assist with the transition.

A highlight of the Lower School Physical Education program is ice skating at NYA’s Travis Roy Arena. Students in grades K-4 will begin this week. This letter includes additional information on the program. We would welcome donations of any skates that your children have outgrown to support the program. You may drop them off at the arena or any wellness check location. Have fun skating!

On The Bright Side:

“Snowballs” were flying last Wednesday when Ms. Grady’s French 1 class joined Ms. Cassily’s French 2 class for a celebration of L’Epiphanie. Class began with a listening exercise in French about the festival, followed by a game of bingo to reinforce new vocabulary, and proceeded onto a savoring of la galette des rois, baked by Ms. Grady. Two students discovered the whole almonds hidden in the cakes and were crowned King and Queen. To end the celebration, students engaged in a vigorous snowball fight with crumpled worksheets, in which they were challenged to correctly use adjectives in French. Ms. Cassily’s French 3 class was also able to celebrate this French festival later in the day, with a galette baked by Ms. Cassily.

Middle School students are starting another round of X-block mini courses. During X-block, Middle School teachers offer enrichment courses, largely for fun, for the students. This is the first session open to the fifth grade as well. Offerings over the next month include CSI Forensics, What’s Up Holmes, Designing Canvas Shoes, Open Art, Trivia Quiz Game, Monopoly and Legos, Make Your Own Tiki Toss, Cornhole, Extreme Beading (Jewelry), Beginner Ukulele, Civil Rights Team, Gym Games and More. It is a great way for students to pursue their interests, try something new, or just have fun.

The Parents’ Association Morning Forum Series continues on February 4 at 8:15 a.m. This series, for NYA families, provides information on different aspects of NYA. The February session will focus on the Arts and Athletics at NYA with the following panelists: Kelsy Ross – NYA Director of Athletics, Linda Vaillancourt – Visual and Performing Arts Chair, and others from the athletic and arts departments. A link to the Zoom session will be sent the day before the event. Note: The NYA Strategic Plan was originally scheduled for this day, but will be now held on April 8. The full lineup may be found through this link.

Admission season is well underway at NYA. We are now at capacity in many classes across all divisions, but we do have spots available for the 2021-2022 school year. Current families are NYA’s best ambassadors, and I hope you will encourage your friends and family to learn more about NYA and how it could be a fit for their child. The NYA Admission Office is always available to answer questions for prospective families and a series of virtual events is also planned over the next couple of months. These include Lower School Live Sessions and the Panther Chat Series (for Middle School and Upper School prospective families). Dates and additional information may be found through this link.

Thank you to the students for your positive attitude and patience as we have navigated guidelines around athletics and activities this school year. Ms. Ross, coaches, and directors will continue to keep everyone updated on our activities. Despite the impact that remote learning will have on Upper School athletics and activities, we remain committed to keeping the students participating and engaged and competing.

From the Athletic Department: NYA logo face masks are now available for purchase. Students can stop by to see Ms. Ross or Mrs. Michaeles in the Athletics Office anytime this week to purchase them. Masks are $7.00 each and will be charged to student accounts.

The third and fourth grade classrooms are sponsoring a Dress Down Day on Wednesday, January 13 to benefit the Maine Wildlife Park. After a presentation from NYA alumnus and author David Griswold on his new book, Fur and Feather Stand Together, the classes decided they wanted to extend their study of animals further. Students in Mrs. Turner’s class undertook an in-depth study of animals of Maine. In Mrs. Gagne’s class, David’s visit sparked an endangered animals project. As part of these studies, the students wished to help support animals and decided to sponsor this Dress Down Day for Maine Wildlife Park, which has been greatly impacted due to the pandemic. Please bring $3, exact change if possible.

Please note that there is no school Friday, January 15, and Monday, January 18, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Finally, I want to thank the many families who stepped forward over the last several weeks with generous gifts to NYA. Your financial support at year-end ensures the Academy can continue to deliver on its mission. Your support helps talented students and committed faculty as they accomplish great things in the classrooms, labs, through athletics, the arts, and beyond. On behalf of all of us at NYA, please accept my deep appreciation for your gifts.

Stay safe and healthy and 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)
YouTube – North Yarmouth Academy
Twitter – @NYAToday
Twitter -Athletics – @NYAPanther
Flickr – nyatoday
Instagram – Ben Jackson HOS, North Yarmouth Academy, NYAartists
Instagram – northyarmouthacademy