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Lower School Newsletter for February 7, 2021

It is hard to believe that there are only four weeks of classes until March break! These weeks are packed with numerous special events, including skating at NYA’s Travis Roy Ice Arena, celebrating friendship on Valentine’s Day, and marking the one hundredth day of school and spirit week with some special festivities. Although the recent snow reminds us that we are squarely in the midst of winter, it will not be long before we begin to dream of the longer days of sun and blooming flowers that springtime will bring. This is also a time of tremendous learning in the classroom, as students build on prior learning and stretch themselves to take on new challenges. Ask your children about what they are learning and doing in the classroom. Find ways to have fun together while practicing recognition of colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. And don’t forget about one of the most important gifts that you can give your child – read, read, read!

Marissa Markonish
Head of Lower and Middle Schools


Enrollment agreements were sent out last week with a March 1 deadline. We appreciate your prompt return of these agreements as staffing and schedules for next year will be constructed based on students whose re-enrollments are submitted by March 1.


Maine Needs is a local non-profit whose mission is “to help individuals and families in Maine meet their basic, material needs by providing donated clothing, hygiene products, household items, and other necessities. We focus our work on those starting life over from scratch: domestic abuse survivors, asylum seekers, and those facing financial hardships.” Some of our NYA families who volunteer with the organization suggested getting our community involved in gathering donations to help support those in need in our larger community. We are holding a donation drive to gather clean, gently used donations which we will pass on to Maine Needs for distribution. Their top priorities are cold weather gear, 4T-18 clothing (especially for boys), anything waterproof, thermal underwear for adults and kids, and insulated sleeping bags for the homeless. Check out the full list of items accepted here. We will have boxes for donations at each of the wellness checks from February 8-19. There are so many families in need, especially during these challenging times. We appreciate your help and generosity!


NYA will host its eighth annual March Break Photo Reading Challenge. Since most of us will be enjoying a staycation, this year’s challenge will really let your creativity shine! Dress up as your favorite book character and send a photo or selfie of you, in character, reading the book! Think Hermione reading Harry Potter, the Queen of Hearts reading Alice in Wonderland, or Peter from The Snowy Day reading in a snowstorm! Send your entries to Eliot Grady by noon on Wednesday, March 24 to be considered. All entries will be posted in the Bicentennial Learning Commons. The pictures will be judged by a panel of faculty and staff, and a winner for each Division (Lower, Middle, Upper, and Faculty/Staff) will be announced on Friday, March 26 at Friday Forum and via newsletters. Get creative, have fun, and READ!  ~ Eliot Grady


Coming soon:  The NY A-comedy Show! Produced by the Winter Drama Team with the help of CBS Late-Night VP Nick Bernstein, the SNL-styled show includes short films, commercials, and sketches all written, staged, filmed, and edited by the team. You will see Keeping Up With The Canadians, Virtual Prom Ask, NYA Quiz Show, Daughters of Power, and so much more, with guest appearances by several faculty and staff members and at least one parent! We plan to release the show before March Break so you can enjoy it with your family and friends! Special thanks to all those teachers and staff who have allowed us to film in their spaces, and who have unselfishly agreed to be part of the show! Get ready for some family fun!!  ~ Nora Krainis


To help combat the winter doldrums, NYA plans a Spirit Week each year. This year, Spirit Week will be March 1-5. We will mix things up a bit with some special dress days and fun activities and projects. The special dress days might include pajama day, orange and black day, or wacky attire. Classroom teachers will send out details with specific information for each child’s class.


NYA is hosting a Girls on the Run (GOTR) team here on campus this spring. GOTR is open to girls in grades three through five. Each practice will focus on a topic related to the girls’ lives and include discussions, games, and a running workout. The program will follow all NYA health and safety guidelines along with new protocols within the program to ensure everyone’s safety. Lottery registration opens February 22 and the eight week program will begin April 5 with practices on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:15-4:45 p.m. Your daughter does not have to be a runner to participate; she can run, jog, walk, or skip her way to reaching her goals! To learn more about the GOTR program and to register, visit Please email Jess Smith with any questions.


On Thursday, February 11, Celeste ’25 and Jessica ’23 Merrill are sponsoring a Dress Down Day with a $3 donation to support the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. Celeste and Jessica selected this worthy cause in honor of their half-brother who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and passed away after seven months. They are grateful for the support their family had from everyone at Barbara Bush during that time and would like to provide this donation in support of other families  who are going through a similar experience.

Mrs. Gagne’s third and fourth grade class is sponsoring a Dress Down Day for Malawi, Africa on Thursday, February 18. They are asking for donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste to be sent to a village school in Malawi, The Chilanga School for the Blind. Over the past couple of years, the NYA community has provided this school with notebooks, pencils, and Croc’s. These much-needed items have been so appreciated. We would be grateful for your help in collecting these supplies so that we may continue to support their school community.

Our Kind Campus will celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17 and as a follow-up, will have a Dress Down Day on February 25 to raise money for the Ben’s Bells Project, who provided kindness bells to hang throughout our campus this year. We will reciprocate the kindness with a donation to their organization.


Enjoy this update from Heather Dean, NYA’s athletic trainer and K-5 PE teacher.


Congratulations to our athletic trainer, Heather Dean, for being the first Howie’s Athletic Tape #TJTuesday winner for her fabulous calf taping job! In their post, they declare “This calf athletic TJ was so good that it had to be signed.” Way to go, Heather!


The NYA Yearbook is a much-loved publication. The Lower School students do have a small section in the book, though the primary focus is on our older students. Yearbooks are available for $55. If you would like to purchase a yearbook for your Lower School student, please contact Sara Jaffe by February 21. Be sure to include the name and grade of your student(s). The yearbooks will be passed out to students on our last day of school, June 4. Payment may be made directly to the Business Office, and checks should be made out to NYA Yearbook.


Panther Chat Button

The NYA Admission Office is hosting a series of virtual chats for prospective Middle and Upper School families. Each chat will include a Q&A opportunity with students, faculty, and administrators. The third in the Panther Chat Series, with a focus on Middle School Life at NYA, will be held on Wednesday, February 10.  Please forward and encourage your friends and neighbors to join us to learn more about an NYA education and what it might mean for their children. Families may register here. Information on other upcoming admission events can be found on the admission section of our website.


NYA is always recruiting new families for its Homestay Program. If you are interested in hosting a student or learning more about the program, please contact Here is a link to additional information about the program.


Registration for NYA Summer Programs is now open! NYA offers a host of summer programs for toddlers to age 15. Camps include soccer, hockey, theater, dance, circus, science, magic, and more. Camps are filling up fast, so don’t wait! To receive the early bird discount, register by April 15. Visit our website to register and learn more.


The next session of NYA Parents’ Association’s Morning Forum Series, Academic Program Across Divisions, will be held on Thursday, March 4 via Zoom from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. Speakers will include Eric Austin P’15 P’17 – Head of Upper School, Marissa Markonish P’19 P’23 – Head of Lower and Middle Schools, and Alumni Speakers on the lasting impact of an NYA education. A link to the Zoom session will be sent the day before the event. Mark your calendars now!


Parents are invited to support this year’s NYA Soirée by contributing auction items or becoming an event sponsor.  Join other NYA families, friends, and alumni to help make this year’s event on Friday, May 21, 2021 a success. Your support is very important.  Kindly contact Crystal Gordon or a member of the planning committee (Katie Leinwand, Amity Jackson, Jenn Yilmaz, Jess Lynch, Jen Edwards, Carolyn Allen) if you are interested in helping.  Event details to be announced soon!


2/8-2/19Accepting Maine Needs Donations
2/10Panther Chat: Middle School Life via Zoom9:30-10:30 a.m.
2/11Dress Down Day, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital$3
2/13-2/16Presidents’ Day Long WeekendNO SCHOOL
2/17Random Acts of Kindness Day
2/18Dress Down Day, Malawitoothbrush &  toothpaste donations
2/22GOTR Lottery Opens
2/25Dress Down Day, Ben’s Bells Project$3
3/1-3/5Spirit Week
3/3-3/4Cabin Fever Reliever Activities
3/4Morning Forum: Academic Program Across Divisions via Zoom8:15-9:15 a.m.
3/5Last day of classes before March Break
3/8-3/19March BreakNO SCHOOL
3/22Classes resume
3/23MS Spring Sports Begin
3/24Deadline for March Break Reading Challenge submissions12:00 p.m.


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