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June 9, 2020

Dear Families,

Congratulations to the amazing Class of 2020! Commencement was held on the Curtis front lawn on Sunday. We honored NYA’s 47 members of the Class of 2020. It was a bit unconventional, and attendance was limited due to gathering restrictions, but it was a beautiful ceremony with musical performances from members of the class and a Cum Laude speech from Executive Council President, Mason Parks. Eight members of the class weren’t able to attend due to restrictions on travel, but we were able communicate with them via Microsoft Teams. Their faces were displayed on a large monitor next to the stage, and they could interact with everyone virtually. The Class of 2020 was an amazing class that demonstrated resiliency and provided steady leadership through COVID-19. We look forward to having the full class gather again on campus sometime in the near future when circumstances allow.

As I shared at commencement, COVID-19 will certainly be a memorable part of all of our students’ experiences this year, but it doesn’t define them. Despite the challenges the year presented, they can all look back with pride on their individual and group accomplishments in the classroom, on the athletic field, on stage, in the art room, and out in the community.

The last three months have been a challenge for us all, but I feel strongly the best was brought out in our community. The normal educational environment shifted overnight, and teachers worked hard to learn a new way of teaching with creativity and innovation. Our students demonstrated great resiliency and showed they could adapt to this situation. Further, I am greatly appreciative of the support of our families as we transitioned to remote learning. As a community, we learned new ways of doing things that will serve us well in the future.

As always in summer, we are in planning mode for the next school year. This summer presents new challenges, but I want to reiterate our focus and efforts are on planning for a safe reopening of school in the fall. I shared some background on the school’s planning process from this letter (mailed on May 22). Throughout the summer, we will have teams of administrators, faculty, and staff working on health and safety, program, and operations as we prepare for reopening campus in the fall. We will update you regularly on progress throughout the summer.

With uncertainty around the types of activities that will be available to our kids this summer, NYA’s Ian Ramsey is hosting an Instagram Live series, Summer to Thrive, throughout the summer. The first show is tonight (Tuesday) from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. The Summer to Thrive series seeks to give kids and families tools for thriving, learning, and having fun in their back yards in this disrupted summer. The show features Ian Ramsey (Director of NYA’s Kauffmann Program) in conversation with a variety of experts in the fields of mental health, outdoor adventure, and performance. In this first episode, Ian and NYA Counselor Cindy Hould will discuss strategies for kids and families to have a great summer. The next episode is on June 24 and will feature Ian discussing mindset and self-talk with Danielle Snyder, an Oregon-based coach, ultrarunner, and social worker who coaches world-class athletes on mental strategies for success.

As always, NYA offices will remain open throughout the summer. We have modified hours from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Fridays. You can usually find people here beyond those listed hours as well. In addition to preparing for next year, the admission office is also open. Spots remain in some classes, so please feel free to encourage your friends and neighbors to contact us and consider how NYA can make an impact their children’s education.

While our students have demonstrated great resiliency over the course of the last three months, these are challenging and emotional times for adults and children alike. If dealing with a pandemic was not enough, our country is in the midst of increased racial strife. There is no place for racism and discrimination in our country in the year 2020. We must look inward to confront these issues and do better as individuals, a school, and as a society. We need to support one another as we maintain an open dialogue on issues important to our community, nation, and world. These times make our mission even more important as we continue to educate thoughtful, well-informed, critical thinking young people.

Again, thank you for your support and commitment to NYA this school year. It is a great honor to provide your children’s education. We miss all of you and look forward to returning to campus soon. I will remain in regular contact as plans progress for the upcoming school year.


Ben Jackson
Head of School


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