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January 31, 2021

Dear Families,

We are now entering the twelfth month of the pandemic and associated restrictions. This has been a challenging time that has tested us all. At NYA, we are able to maximize in-person learning and keep our kids engaged. Like everyone else, however, we are vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. During temporary periods of remote learning, we have worked hard to optimize instruction and will continue to do so whenever necessary. At the same time, we will work to maximize in-person instruction. I appreciate the efforts and cooperation of our community. Our students, families, faculty, and staff have been amazing, and we need to remain vigilant. At school, we will keep emphasizing mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. Please also reinforce good decision making at home and keep students home if they exhibit any symptoms. For everyone’s health and well-being, I look forward to getting beyond this pandemic and am grateful for everyone’s support thus far.

Here is an important update for Upper and Middle School families about NYA Athletics and Activities.

You are invited to attend the PA Morning Forum on Thursday, February 4, at 8:15 a.m. The topic for this forum will be Athletics and the Arts at NYA. Panelists will include Kelsy Ross (Athletic Director), Linda Vaillancourt (Department Chair-Visual and Performing Arts), Colby Myer (Upper School Visual Arts), and Andrew Cook (Middle School Visual Arts). They will present overall goals of the program and provide a current update on each department. They will then be available to answer questions. We hope you are able to join us. A Zoom invitation will be sent to all families the day before the meeting.

On the subject of the Parents’ Association, the PA is looking for another co-chair and volunteers for Teacher Appreciation Day this spring. If you are able to help with Teacher Appreciation Day or would like more information, please reach out to Tori Baron . Thank you.

On The Bright Side:

Congratulations to Topher Prokopius and Madeleine Vaillancourt, both juniors, who were accepted into the All-Eastern Music Festival! All-Eastern is a regional honors music festival, selecting juniors and seniors from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington DC. Topher was selected to play tuba in the All-Eastern Band, and Madeleine was selected on cello in the All-Eastern Orchestra. The festival will be held virtually this year due to the pandemic, and the students will meet online March 4-6, with their virtual concert recording to be released in April.

An additional congratulations goes to sophomore, Emily Greene, and freshman, Hans-Erik Jerosch, who were selected  for the All-State Music Festival. Emily was selected for violin and will play in the orchestra, and Hans-Erik was selected for horn and will play in the band. They will join Topher and Madeleine, who were also selected for All-State. We are blessed with some amazing music students and an exceptional music faculty. Congratulations to all!

Congratulations to NYA senior, Emma Collins, who will represent NYA in this year’s Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition in February. To become our representative, Emma memorized and recited “In the Basement of the Goodwill Store” by Ted Kooser and “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron. After viewing all of the submissions, the NYA English Department selected Emma as this year’s nominee. In addition to reciting these poems, Emma will memorize and recite a third poem, “Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam” by Dan Vera and then send her recitations through video to the Regional Finals where regional winners will be announced on February 22, 2021. If selected as a regional winner, Emma’s recitation videos may be sent to the State Finals in March with the possibility of moving to a National Competition in May. Jack Schaeffer was selected as NYA’s Poetry Out Loud representative runner-up. Congratulations to Emma and Jack!

Congratulations to three ninth graders for their writing recognition through the 2021 Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards. They are: Bryce Curtis, who received a Gold Key for her short fiction “Seeing Clearly;” Haley Hegarty, who received a Gold Key for her short fiction “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Love;” and Madeline Prokopius, who received a Silver Award for her short fiction, “A White Blur.” We’re proud of these students for their award-winning writing as there was a high volume of Scholastic writing submissions this year!

Thank you to fourth grade student, Quinn Barschdorf. Quinn was so inspired by inaugural Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, that he returned home to write his own poem to capture the times. Quinn shared the poem with the school at Friday Forum. It was a thoughtful and amazingly well written piece.

Our first Upper School CivilTea Discussion of the year took place last Wednesday. The goal of CivilTea is to facilitate open discussions on topics that are important to our students and the greater community. The process is also designed to teach our students strategies to articulate their viewpoints on an issue and to maintain an open mind to other viewpoints. The conversations are led by trained NYA student facilitators. The topic this week was Sports Culture, Sportsmanship, and Real World Applications of Athletics. The day began with a virtual panel made up of athletic administrators, coaches, and college and professional athletes. The panel was followed up by small, student led discussion groups.

Yearbook announcements-All Middle and Upper School accounts will be charged $55 for the yearbook at the end of February. If you want to opt out of ordering a yearbook this year, the final deadline to do so is Friday, February 19. The yearbook is also available to Lower School students if they would like to order a copy. Any Upper or Middle School families who would like to opt out, and any Lower School families that would like order a yearbook, should email Yearbook Advisor, Sara Jaffe, no later than Friday February 19.

Yearbook recognition ads are on sale now! Parents, relatives, and friends may purchase and design their own ad online, recognizing a current NYA student and celebrating their achievements. While ads are typically purchased by families of graduating seniors, they are open to all! Ad space is available on a first come, first served basis, and all yearbook ads must be submitted by Thursday, February 11. Click here for more information on purchasing and designing a yearbook ad for your student. Feel free to contact Sara Jaffe with any questions.

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

Reminder-The faculty will have a professional development half day on Friday, February 5. Parents should make arrangements to pick up all students at 11:30 a.m. There will be no after care and no Middle School sports practices. Drama and Upper School athletic schedules for the afternoon will be communicated by coaches and group leaders. As I shared in an earlier newsletter, the faculty will focus on work as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This summer, we developed these goals related to this important topic. On Friday, in support of our work, faculty members will hear from Dr. Keith Hinderlie, who has worked in the field of education, leadership, and cultural diversity for over 20 years. Most recently, he was the Director of Cultural Diversity at Choate Rosemary Hall. We look forward to meeting with Keith as we set a foundation for our work around DEI.

Save the dateFriday, May 21, 2021, for the annual NYA Soirée. You will not want to miss this great evening of entertainment, comradery, and support for NYA. If you are interested in volunteering your time and joining other NYA parents to help plan this event, please email Crystal Gordon. There is a live and silent auction, food, entertainment, and much more to organize. We’d love your support to ensure this event is a success!

Reminder-We will observe Presidents’ Day with a four-day weekend. There will be no school Monday, and Tuesday, February 15 and 16. We return to classes on Wednesday, February 17.

Congratulations to former NYA student, Oliver Wahlstrom, who scored his first career NHL goal for the New York Islanders in a game against the Washington Capitals on January 28.  Way to go, Oliver!

Stay safe and healthy. Thank you and have a great week!


Ben Jackson
Head of School


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