Lower School Newsletter for October 20, 2019

The next few weeks will bring numerous special activities as well as some changes in routine here at NYA. The entire campus will celebrate Halloween with parades and festivities. There is no school on November 7 and 8 for Parent-Teacher Conferences and no school on Monday, November 11 for Veterans Day. By this point in the year, students have settled nicely into the routine of the school day, and we will work together to maintain that consistent routine here at school. However, these days off provide time for parents and teachers to come together and for families to have some quality family time before the rush of the upcoming holidays.

Parent-Teacher Conferences provide an important opportunity for parents and teachers to connect and build a strong school-home partnership in support of each student. Our youngest students may not yet be able to vocalize fully what is going on in the classroom each day, and parents often yearn to see and hear what is happening at school. These meetings allow for such insights. I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to meet with your child’s teacher to learn and share as much as you can. We thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to come meet with us, and we look forward to collaborating with you.

Marissa Markonish
Head of Lower and Middle Schools


Nothing marks the fall season quite like the celebration of Halloween. This holiday has always been near and dear to the NYA community (perhaps because our colors are orange and black!), and we do it up in grand style. From pumpkin carving to costume parades, NYA takes this opportunity to have a brief respite from our usual routines and engage in some seasonal fun. The classroom teachers have planned numerous activities, and we have special events planned specifically for our Lower School students. Primary and elementary students wear costumes as part of the celebration, but we ask that they stay in keeping with the dress code – nothing too scary, no weapons of any kind (swords, guns, light sabers, etc.), no masks, etc. For our Primary students, animals (e.g. cat, dog, lion), careers (e.g. chef, doctor, firefighter), book characters, Halloween classics, and silly creations are all great choices. We look forward to celebrating together!


Representatives from the Chewonki Foundation’s Traveling Natural History Program will be coming to NYA on Halloween to do several sessions on Owls of Maine for the Lower School classes and the fifth grade. Student groups will join the Chewonki representative in the Middle School Community Room for an interactive presentation and chance to learn about the identifying characteristics and calls of these beautiful nocturnal animals and to meet three owls.


In addition to numerous classroom activities, the Lower School students will have a special costume parade through Curtis Building and Grizzy’s Quad. During the parade, they will receive cheers from some of the older students and pick up a few non-candy treats along the way. Later that afternoon at 2:00 p.m., the elementary students will join with the Middle and Upper School students for a parade and costume contest in the gym. While the younger students will not be attending as a class, parents of students in the Toddler and Primary programs are welcome to pick up their children early that day and join the festivities. This is a fun community event!


Starting on Monday, work will begin on a new water line to the Curtis Building. This work will require digging up portions of Main Street and the driveway to the Lower School and the Curtis parking lot. As a result, please plan on traffic delays. We apologize for any inconvenience. The work is expected to be completed by Friday.


NYA will host a Flu Shot Clinic on Wednesday, October 23 from 12:00-4:00 p.m. in the Savage Middle School.  Lower School students (ages 7 and up) must be accompanied by a parent.  See Announcements in Family Web for the screening questionnaire and consent form.


As part of the fall curriculum, the Primary classes have been learning all about apples. They dissected an apple and looked at the skin, flesh, stem, leaf, and seeds. After learning about all the parts that make up an apple, the children took diagrams of an apple and labeled the parts accordingly. As a culmination of their study, the classes headed to Thompson’s Apple Orchard in New Gloucester to pick apples, enjoy some delicious cider donuts, and go for a hay ride. Thank you to the parent chaperones and drivers for all their help!


Mrs. Gallagher’s class spent early October exploring the life cycles of pumpkins and sunflowers, among other plants. Currently, they are delving into the biology of owls and bats, learning about birds and mammals, and vertebrate creatures. On Friday, October 25, the class will attend Secrets of the Forest at Maine Audubon at Gilsland Farm, an ecology program with focus on plants and animals of the Maine forest. As the month comes to a close, it is a perfect time to discover new understandings of the forest ecosystem all around us in our beautiful state.


As part of Fire Safety Month, the Yarmouth Fire Department visited NYA on Monday, October 7. The firefighters spoke with the kindergarten through fourth grade classes about fire prevention and awareness. The students had the chance to ask questions and explore one of the fire trucks and an ambulance. This annual event is an important safety reminder and loads of fun!


Another special visitor came to campus to speak with the students about space exploration. Sally Hanley, sister of Middle School teacher Nate Smith and aunt of Hadley (Class of 2026) and Eliza (Class of 2028) Smith, is an Aerospace Engineer who has worked for NASA, the Air Force Research Laboratory, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and currently works for Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado. On Thursday, October 19, Sally visited several classrooms with some of our fourth through eighth grade students. She talked about why we go to space, how we get there, what we send to space, and what type of people and jobs do this work. Throughout the presentation filled with slides and videos, the students asked some great questions and got to talk with Sally about all facets of space exploration. Sally greatly enjoyed her time with NYA students and is excited to come back again soon!


The Thirst Project is one of the Key Club International Service Projects that we are sponsoring this year. It is a nonprofit organization started by college students. Their goal is to educate students about the global water crisis and provide safe drinking water to communities around the world that do not have the same immediate and easy access that we have. Since the Thirst Project is Key Club’s main project, we wanted to share their inspiring message with everyone so that, during future fundraisers, they know what organization they are donating to and why donating is so important and impactful (it only costs $25 to provide safe drinking water to one person for life). Representatives from the Thirst Project will be presenting to students in grades five through 12 on Tuesday, October 22 and we will be sponsoring a Dress Down Day to support the project on Wednesday, October 23 ($3).  ~Ellie Hilscher, Class of 2020, NYA Key Club President


Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled for Thursday, November 7 from 12:00 – 8:00 p.m. and Friday, November 8 from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. There will be no school on these two days. The conferences will be scheduled on the half hour and will run for approximately twenty to twenty-five minutes. This is a chance for parents to speak in depth with the classroom teachers about the start of the year and setting goals for the months ahead. Instructions for the sign-up process will be sent out soon. Please remember that sign-ups for conferences are on a first come, first served basis. Families seeking child care during their conference time slot will be able to sign up at the Lower School reception desk.

To make the most of these conferences, come in ready to ask questions about all aspects of your child’s involvement in the classroom: What areas and concepts seem to interest him most? What are some of his greatest strengths in the classroom? What areas are most challenging for him? How is her attention, ability to focus, perseverance, and effort? Is she able to follow directions independently? Does she appear to be meeting developmental milestones? Are there any areas of concern or potential concern that should be monitored or assessed? Does he seem to enjoy his specials? Is there any activity which he finds especially pleasing? How does he do with snacks and lunch? Does he seem particularly tired or energetic at various times throughout the day? How does she interact with her peers? Does she appear comfortable with her classmates? What goals would you suggest for her?

At the same time, come in ready to share your insights on what you see, hear, and observe about your child in relation to the class, NYA, and her world in general. Share any strategies that have been helpful to your child and let teachers know your insights on what might work best for him. Ask what you can do better support your child in her learning. Ask if there are things that you should not be doing. Approach these conferences as a team supporting one another and working toward the common goal of meeting the needs of your child. We look forward to meeting with you!


Under the leadership of Eliot Grady’s advisory group, we are holding a Dress Down Day  on Wednesday, November 6 to sponsor a student who hopes to attend the Siddhartha School in Ladakh, India. As little as $360 will pay for a student’s tuition, books, and other school expenses. NYA has a special relationship with the Siddhartha School. Khen Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist Monk and founder of the Siddhartha School, is a frequent visitor to NYA and presented the Academy with our prayer wheel in the spring of 2017. In addition, Stanzin Angmo, NYA Class of 2016, attended Siddhartha prior to coming to NYA in her junior year. Stanzin Angmo is currently a senior at Bennington College in Vermont and returns to Ladakh each summer to help educate the community on women’s and children’s health issues.


To call in for attendance, please contact Heidi Lathrop at 846-9051 before 8:15 a.m. You may also contact your child’s classroom teacher via email if desired.


A reminder to parents to please label your child’s clothing and outwear. This becomes especially important as the children have additional layers for chillier temperatures. Clothing without a label frequently lands in the Lost and Found. With the change in seasons, it is also time to re-stock the extra clothing bins (for Toddler and Primary parents) with long pants and shirts.


NYA has multiple Lost and Found collection areas. If you are missing any items, please first check the Lost and Found cubby at the Lower School. If the item is not there, it may have been turned in to the Upper School bin (in the hallway on the way to the gym) or the Middle School bin (located in the hallway between reception and the Health Services’ office).


Lower School Drama is presenting Disney’s Winnie the Pooh KIDS next month. All students in grades one through four will participate in the production. Toddler, Primary, and fifth grade students will have the opportunity to watch the dress rehearsal on Tuesday, November 19. Lower School students have been hard at work since September bringing the story of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, Roo, Christopher Robin, and all their friends to life. The performance of Winnie the Pooh KIDS is on Wednesday, November 20, at 2:30 p.m. in Safford. It is free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!


Each year, NYA works throughout the fall to help provide some wish-list items for local families in need. For the past several years, we have teamed up with Molly McMahon, NYA class of 1995, daughter of Jack McMahon, former Middle School English teacher, and sister of Tim McMahon ’93, former Middle School art teacher. Molly works with immigrant families seeking asylum in the United States. While many of their needs include the basics, such as warm clothes, shoes, boots, pots and pans, dishes, etc., we are sure to also include toys and special gifts. The entire school community joins together for this great cause. We will be holding Dress Down Days for Holiday Families on Tuesday, October 29 and Wednesday, December 12.


The NYA community is working to support the Preble Street Shelter by collecting donations of food to stock their shelves for the upcoming holidays. Seasonally, and especially with the start of colder weather, they are in need of extra supplies to serve the individuals and families who rely on their help. Between Wednesday, November 6 and Friday, November 15, students are asked to bring donations of the following items to the Middle School: Stuffing Mix; Rice; Pasta; Gravy; Canned Fruit and Vegetables; Coffee; Canned Soup; Canned Beans; and Cooking Oils. Parents may also drop off donations when they come in for conferences on November 7 and 8. In celebration of the spirit of giving, students will enjoy a Dress Down Day on Friday, November 15. Thank you for your generosity!


While it seems impossible that holiday decorations could be on anyone’s mind, it is on ours! The NYA Parents’ Association is once again kicking off our annual Wreath Sale. As you may know, the PA’s mission is to promote school spirit, foster community, and support and strengthen NYA through programming and volunteer participation. Fundraising is a crucial part of this, and as our top fundraiser, the Wreath Sale will enable us to continue to award grants to faculty and students, host speakers, support faculty & staff appreciation programming and other division specific events, and much more. We are combining efforts with Project Graduation’s Poinsettia Sale, a fundraiser organized by parents of seniors to help pay for a fun and safe post-graduation party for NYA’s class of 2020. Click Here To Order Your Wreaths And Poinsettias. Please spread the word to family, friends, neighbors, and local businesses.  Your involvement makes all the difference!  ~ Stacey Schuler-Cannon, Wreath Sale Chair and Corinne Larson, Poinsettia Sale Chair


From 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 3, we will welcome prospective middle and upper school families to campus for an Open House. It is a terrific look into the NYA communit, and we encourage you to share the news with friends, family, and neighbors. If you have questions or would like some material to share with friends, please contact the Admission Office at admission@nya.org.


  • Guided Mindfulness Sessions: Ian Ramsey will host his monthly guided mindfulness session from 7:00-7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 13 in the Middle School Community Room. No experience necessary, and beginners are welcome and encouraged. NYA will provide some meditation cushions, but participants are encouraged to bring a pillow to sit on if possible (or can sit on chairs if that is more comfortable). All are welcome!
  • The Brain Trust: The third meeting of the “Brain Trust” parents group will be on Tuesday, November 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Middle School Community Room. The group, facilitated by Ian Ramsey, is a forum to discuss emerging brain and health science and its significance for children and adults. The event is open to NYA parents and the general public.


10/23 Dress Down Day for Thirst Project
10/25 End of First Quarter
10/25 Mrs. Gallagher’s Class Trip to Maine Audubon
10/29 Dress Down Day for Holiday Families
10/31 Halloween Festivities and Parade; Chewonki Presentation
11/3 Middle and Upper School Open House 1:00-3:00 p.m.
11/6 Dress Down Day for Siddhartha School
11/6-11/15 Bring in Donations for Preble Street
11/7-11/8 Parent-Teacher Conferences NO SCHOOL
11/11 Veterans Day NO SCHOOL
11/11 Deadline for Wreath and Poinsettia Orders
11/12 Brain Trust Parents Group, MSCR 6:30 p.m.
11/13 Guided Mindfulness, MSCR 7:00-7:30 a.m.
11/15 Dress Down Day for Preble Street
11/20 Lower School Drama Performance, Safford 2:30 p.m.
11/22 Last day of classes before Thanksgiving Break
11/25-11/29 Thanksgiving Break
12/2 Classes resume
12/5 Lower School Live
12/7 NYA Holiday Craft Fair


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