Lower School Newsletter for January 12, 2020

Happy New Year! We hope you found the mid-year reports to be informative and enjoyed hearing more about your child’s time and progress here at school. There is vibrant learning taking place in each classroom, and the teachers love having the chance to share a small piece of that with you. Please feel free to contact your child’s teacher if you have any questions. In April, parents will have the opportunity to have a second round of conferences as well. We truly treasure the opportunity to work with and nurture your children each day. We look forward to continued curiosity and growth, along with lots of fun, throughout the spring semester!

Marissa Markonish
Head of Lower and Middle Schools


Friday, February 7 will be an early release to allow faculty and staff time for professional development meetings. School will run from 8:00-11:30 a.m. on this day with a special class schedule. We will have morning snack, but lunch will not be served. Parents should make arrangements to pick up all students at 11:30 a.m. Buses will leave at 11:40 a.m. There will be no After Care available on this day.


Students in Primary through fourth grade will have some options for after school activities beginning this week. Each activity takes place from 3:15-4:15 p.m. Parents may pick up directly from the activity, or students enrolled in After Care will be escorted back to the Lower School until pick-up. We ask that parents pack an extra snack for the children to eat before heading to their activities. Tomorrow, Monday, January 13, is the last day to sign up for these activities.

  • Chickpea Yoga will offer yoga classes incorporating mindfulness and movement specifically designed for children. The classes are open to students in Primary 1 through fourth grade. The activity will meet Wednesdays from January 15 until February 26 and will meet in the Middle School Community Room. Contact Sarah McDarby to register.
  • Brick By Brick Maine will offer LEGO Woodland Creatures for students in kindergarten through fourth grade on Thursday afternoons. The activity will run from January 16 until February 27 and will meet in Room 62 in the Middle School. Check here for additional information about the program and how to register.
  • Mad Science of Maine will offer Secret Agent Lab for students in kindergarten through fourth grade on Tuesday afternoons. The activity will run from January 21 until March 3 (no class on February 18) and will meet in Mertz 611. Check here for additional information about the program and how to register.


NYA Head of School, Ben JacksonJoin us on Tuesday, January 21 from 8:00-9:15 a.m. in the Middle School Community Room for Moving NYA Forward – The Strategic Plan. Eric Austin and Marissa Markonish will join Ben and other staff presenters to share an overview of the strategic plan, recent progress, and exciting initiatives on the horizon for NYA. Discussion to follow.


It is so important for children to have movement breaks and a chance to move their bodies and play each and every day. While it is always our first choice to take the classes outside for recess, the safety and comfort of the children is our top priority. We follow the Weather Watch Guidelines set by Maine DHHS in determining when it is safe to bring classes outside. When the weather is in the red zone (i.e. a wind-chill of 15° or below or heat index of 90° or above), classes remain indoors for recess and take advantage of the gym, Community Room, or Great Room for indoor activities. Teachers offer movement activities inside the classroom as well.


With Maine’s winter weather, it is important to dress children with the appropriate layers and clothing for moving between buildings and for outside play. Warm coats, snow pants, hats, mittens/gloves, and boots are all essential items. Please clearly label all items with your child’s name. Children sometimes struggle to recognize their own items and many have identical gear. Also, please be sure to update extra back-up clothes for the season (shorts and a t-shirt can be difficult to wear in January!).


We are pleased to welcome Mary Goodrich to the position of Director of Summer Programs and Middle School Administrative Support. Mary earned a BA in English Literature from Saint Michael’s College and most recently served as the Director of Programs and Operations at Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine, where she worked for twelve years. Mary will now be the voice on the phone and the face at the Middle School reception desk greeting many of us each day. For attendance matters, parents should contact Mary via email (mgoodrich@nya.org) or 846-9051.

We wished a fond farewell to Heidi Lathrop, who worked in the Middle School for the past seven years, before we left for winter break. Heidi touched so many lives in the NYA community and will be greatly missed. We wish her well as she takes more time to focus on her family, home renovations, and new puppy, but look forward to seeing her often around campus, as NYA is still very much her home. In addition to being an NYA parent, she is also an NYA alum!


We are pleased to announce that Cynthia Hould has accepted the position as NYA’s next school counselor. Cindy earned her BS in Human Development and Family Relations from UMaine and her MA in Family Therapy from UConn. Cindy has extensive counseling experience working with children and adults in schools, with the military, and in private practice. Most recently, she held positions as a counselor with the Military Support Program and as a clinician with the Sandy Hook Recovery Team in Newtown, CT. She and her family are moving from Connecticut to her native Maine, and she will begin in the counselor role at NYA in March. Until that time, Michelle Napoli will remain in the counselor role part time. Even though Michelle will still be at NYA for the next two months, we want to take this opportunity to thank her for her contributions and significant impact on the students and community. Thank you, Michelle!


Experience NYA, on Friday, January 17 and Friday, February 14 from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m., is designed for parents interested in the Middle and Upper Schools. Parents of prospective students will meet with Ben Jackson and other school administrators, attend senior speeches, and then tour the school.

Lower School Live, on Wednesday, January 29 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m., is designed for parents interested in the Lower School. Parents of prospective students will meet with Marissa Markonish and observe Lower School classes in action.

These are two wonderful opportunities to learn more about NYA. Families are also welcome to contact the admission office at any time to schedule a tour of the Academy. Our current families are NYA’s best ambassadors. Please reach out to friends, family, and neighbors and encourage them to contact NYA to schedule a visit.


Mark your calendars! The Lower School Arts Celebration will take place on Wednesday, March 4 at 2:30 p.m. in the gym (snow date is Thursday, March 5). All Lower School students will take part in a musical performance. Following the concert, parents and students will remain in the gym to enjoy the art show and brief reception. Mark your calendars now to join us for this special event!


Parents of children in Toddler 2, Primary 2, Primary 3, and Grade 4 are invited to set up a time for a transition meeting with Marissa Markonish 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. We will contact families with available time slots soon. We look forward to speaking with you!


To help meet the needs of our families, we will offer the option of care from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. during our March vacation. This will be available to all Lower School students on a first-come, first-served basis and will run only if a minimum number of students enroll. Rate for this care is $80/day. If you anticipate utilizing this service, please contact Leslie Durgin. The deadline to sign up for care over March break is Friday, February 28.


On Thursday, January 16, the NYA Studio Band will perform its Thirteenth Annual Acoustic Show at 6:30 p.m. at One Longfellow Square in Portland. This year’s Studio Band includes a cross section of Upper School students, grades 9-12, ranging from four-year veterans to first time performers, some of whom have learned a new instrument only this year! The band will perform songs from a range of artists, including Fleetwood Mac, The Cure, Death Cab for Cutie, and Kanye West. It is sure to be a fun-filled evening of music for all. Admission is free (donations to help support Studio Band costs are gladly accepted), and the event is child-friendly, so all are encouraged to attend the show! Our final show of the season, Studio Band’s Last Waltz, will be on Friday, February 28 at 6:30 p.m. in Safford.  ~ Ross Markonish


North Yarmouth Academy presents Sister Act. This show, written by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater, is based on the 1992 movie of the same name. The musical made its first regional appearance in Pasadena, CA in 2006 and opened at the London Palladium in 2009. A revised adaptation opened on Broadway in 2011, and the show has since been presented around the globe. Performances will be Friday, February 21, at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 22, at 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $8.00, and can be reserved beginning in February with Mary Goodrich, 847-5432.


Save the date for the annual NYA Soirée on Friday, May 15, 2020 at Portland’s Ocean Gateway. This year’s gathering will include a live and silent auction, games, food stations and hors d’oeuvres, entertainment, and plenty of fun. Planning for the Soirée is underway by event committee members, Jen Edwards P ’30, P ’32, P’36; Jenn Yilmaz P’07, P’19, P’22, P’24; Jillaine Geary P’26, P’28; Diana Mutagoma P’22, P’25; Maryea Curtis P’30; Lissa Von Brecht ‘02; and Amity Jackson P ’21, P ’22, P ’26, in concert with the Development Office. If you have event ideas, want to get involved in planning, or are able to offer any auction prizes, please be in touch with the event planning committee or Crystal Gordon in the NYA Development Office. In the past, successful auction items have included jewelry, travel packages, concert and sporting event tickets, fine dining, and unique experiences. Let’s make this a fun, meaningful night for the NYA community! 


The NYA Parents’ Association is looking for three volunteers to co-chair the NYA ice cream booth at this year’s Clam Festival. The co-chairs will work as a team, each with individual responsibilities. Primary duties include coordinating volunteers, running the booth during the Clam Festival, and ordering and coordinating the food and supplies. Laura Bergeron and Scott Frank have done a great job of running the booth for a number of years and will be available to train and answer questions, with Scott staying on as a co-chair this year. This is a fun event, a great way to meet people, and a very positive way to contribute to NYA and our fundraising efforts. Please contact Laurie Hegarty or Tori Baron with interest and questions.


Daily attendance is taken at 8:05 each day. A parent should call the office at 846-9051 or email Mary Goodrich (mgoodrich@nya.org) by 8:15 a.m. when a student will be absent all day, arriving late, or leaving early – even if the parent has informed the classroom teacher. It is our policy to call the parents of students for whom we cannot account. For further details on attendance policies, please consult the NYA Student and Parent Handbooks. Thank you for your help with this process.


  • The Brain Trust: Ian Ramsey will host a meeting of the “Brain Trust” parents group  on Tuesday, January 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Middle School Community Room. The Brain Trust is a monthly parent and community gathering to discuss health, emotional well-being, mindfulness, and human performance for our children and ourselves.
  • Guided Mindfulness Sessions: Ian will also hold an open community mindfulness session at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 15 in the Middle School Community Room. No experience necessary, and all are welcome.


1/13 Last day to register for after school activities  
1/14 Dress Down Day for

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Maine

1/14 Meeting of the Brain Trust, MSCR 6:30 p.m.
1/15 Guided Mindfulness Session, MSCR 7:00 a.m.
1/15 Chickpea Yoga begins, MSCR 3:15 p.m.
1/16 Brick By Brick Maine Lego begins, MS 62 3:15 p.m.
1/16 Studio Band Acoustic Show, One Longfellow Square 6:30 p.m.
1/17 Experience NYA Admission Event 9:30-11:00 a.m.
1/20 Martin Luther King Jr. Day NO SCHOOL
1/21 Morning Forum with Ben Jackson, MSCR  
1/21 Mad Science: Secret Agent Lab begins, Mertz 611 3:15-4:15 p.m.
1/29 Lower School Live Admission Event 9:00-10:00 a.m.
2/7 Early Release Day 8:00-11:30 a.m.
2/14 Experience NYA Admission Event 9:30-11:00 a.m.
2/17 Presidents’ Day NO SCHOOL
2/21 Drama Performance, Safford 6:30 p.m.
2/22 Drama Performances, Safford 2:00 & 6:30 p.m.
2/28 Studio Band The Last Waltz, Safford 6:30 p.m.


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