Lower School Newsletter for December 4, 2016

One of the most remarkable things about living in Maine is how quickly the weather changes. While the winter weather brings many joys (skiing, sledding, snow shoeing, and hot chocolate among them!), it also presents a few challenges at times. This change in weather necessitates a change in attire. As we move about the campus throughout the day and spend recess outdoors, it is essential that everyone has the appropriate cold weather gear to stay warm and dry. Be sure to update changes of clothes to ones appropriate for the season. It is essential that all winter gear be labeled with the student’s name. This is also the time to think about what happens when weather impacts our school day. Please review the information on snow days below which is also included in the Lower School Family Handbook. With thoughtful and thorough preparation, we can all shout with glee, “Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!”

Marissa Markonish
Head of Lower and Middle Schools


not-a-boxDuring the week ahead, the Lower School will be participating in a Cardboard Challenge. Each class will decide what to build, working as a class or in small groups. Students will visit the Innovation Lab to select materials for their project and then work together to build. This will be a wonderful opportunity for students to unleash their creativity. Upon completion of the projects, there will be a gallery walk on Thursday, December 8 where students can marvel at what their friends have dreamed up and brought to reality. In preparation for the challenge, students have listened to some excellent books, including What To Do with a Box by Jane Yolen, Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires, and Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty. For more great science books, visit the National Science Teacher’s Association’s list of best books.


Parents of children in Toddler 2, Primary 3, and Grade 4 are invited to set up a time for a Transition Meeting with Marissa Markonish, Head of Lower and Middle Schools, and Leslie Durgin, Associate Director of Admission and Lower School. These meetings offer the opportunity for parents to hear more about what to expect as children transition to the next level at NYA. Parents will be able to see sample schedules, receive a curriculum overview, ask questions, etc. Parents may sign up for a meeting time here. If the available times do not work with your schedule, please contact Marissa to arrange another time. We look forward to talking with you!


As students become settled into the routine of school, it is easy to become lax about following the dress code guidelines. While continuing to promote neatness and simplicity, the dress code for elementary students is more formalized than for our youngest students. We appreciate our students and parents reviewing and adhering to the guidelines.


  • Polo or rugby shirt; Collared button up shirt; Sweater
  • NO T-shirts, hoodies, or sweatshirts


  • Pants (chino-style); Bermuda shorts (knee-length); Knee-length Skirt (with dressy top or collared shirt); Knee-length Dress
  • NO blue jeans, sweatpants, windpants, athletic-style shorts, yoga pants
  • Leggings should only be worn under dresses or skirts


NYA’s Make-A-Wish club works each year to raise funds to grant the wish of a child with a life-threatening illness in Maine. As one of their fundraising efforts, Upper School students and faculty advisors are hosting an evening of babysitting for Lower School families. Drop your children off this Friday from 5:00 through 8:00 p.m. and they will enjoy a pizza dinner, crafts, and games while you have the opportunity to do some holiday shopping or enjoy a dinner out. Suggested donation: ≈$10 per hour.


Brio Dance Studio is once again joining with NYA to offer an after school dance class beginning in briohippityhopJanuary. The class will be an introduction to hip hop and jazz dance styles open to boys and girls ages five through eight. This all-level class will encourage creativity and expression through dance as well as include basic dance technique, a warm up, taking turns, and working with a group. Dancers are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes and sneakers to class. Classes will meet on Thursdays from 3:15 – 4:00 p.m. (6 weeks total), from January 12 through February 16, 2017 (March 2 snow date). The cost is $80 per child, per session. Session size is limited to a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15 students. Interested students should sign up at Ms. Jen’s desk in the Lower School.


On Friday, December 9, students in grades one through four will travel to the Portland Science Center for a special exhibit of Dinosaurs Unearthed. The exhibit includes full-size skeletons, fossils, and state of the art animatronic dinosaurs. Students should bring a packed lunch, snack, and water bottle. It is sure to be a fascinating trip!


Because it is sometimes necessary to cancel or delay the start of a school day due to stormy snowflakeconditions, we urge families to listen for reports on the local radio and television stations or check the NYA website from 6:00 a.m. during times of bad weather. Due to the variety of weather patterns, from Boothbay to Biddeford and from Bridgton to Freeport, it may look like clear going in one town while another is “snowed under.” The administration makes cancellation/late start decisions with student safety as a top consideration. If school is not cancelled, and a parent feels it is too dangerous for their student to be on the road, they may simply call the Main Office. On days when road conditions require slower speeds, families should plan to leave early enough to allow for the extra driving time that is needed, though we will certainly be understanding of late arrivals.

feb-5-statue-ipod-1If it has already or will soon stop snowing but the road crews have not been able to clear the streets, the administration may decide to delay the start of the school day. If this is the case, it will be announced on local radio and television stations and the NYA website. Buses will be delayed two hours in this instance.

In the event that snow arrives unexpectedly or earlier and/or heavier than predicted, the administration may decide to call for an early release from school. If this is the case, we will make every attempt to contact parents. The early release will be announced on local radio and television stations (if possible) and will be posted on the NYA website. The school will remain open until all children can be safely picked up by parents or other authorized individuals.

As noted in Ben’s letter last Sunday, we will be testing our text message alert system soon. You will receive a separate email outlining the details. We look forward to sending out snow delays and cancellations (and emergency alerts) via text message. Ben will also announce snow delays and cancellations on his Instagram account.


Parents, please remember to clean out your child’s cubby or locker for the winter break. This will help the maintenance staff do a thorough cleaning and allow us to start the new year fresh. Thank you!


danielson_kateJoin us on Friday, December 9 from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. in the Middle School Community Room for the Morning Forum with Head of School, Ben Jackson. Come meet NYA’s School Counselor, Kate Danielson, and learn about what she does on campus. Kate and Ben will also discuss ongoing health and wellness initiatives. Come with questions, comments, or just to listen. Coffee and refreshments will be provided.


Thank you to everyone who has supported the Academy Fund thus far. Click this link to learn about the Academy Fund in 100 words. Our goal for the year is to raise $282,000 with 100% parent participation. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact Randall Thomas, Annual Giving Officer.

skates-image-picFAMILY OPEN SKATE

Alex Kloza (Ice Arena Manager) and Caroline Anson (Alumni Relations) have arranged for a series of open skates for alumni and families. Families are welcome to bring friends and neighbors. HELMETS ARE REQUIRED FOR EVERYONE. No sticks, please. Open skate dates are coming up on Saturday, December 17, 2016, 3:20–4:20 p.m.; Saturday, January 14, 2017, 5:30–6:30 p.m.; and Saturday, February 25, 2017, 5:30–6:30 p.m. Following the open skate on December 17, everyone is invited to stay and watch the Alumni Winter Sports Day Hockey game. For more information, please contact Caroline Anson.


12/7Dress Down Day for Holiday Families$3
12/7-12/8Lower School Cardboard Challenge
12/9Elementary Field Trip to Portland Science Museum
12/9Morning Forum with Ben Jackson, MSCR8:00 a.m.
12/15Dress Down Day for Preble Street Teen Shelter$3
12/16Last Day of classes before Winter Break; Last day of first semester
12/17-1/2Winter Break NO SCHOOL
12/17Family Open Skate; Alumni Winter Sports Day
1/3Classes resume on Tuesday, January 3; Second Semester begins