Sunday Letter Graphic for WordPress

May 17, 2020

Dear Families,

On Friday evening, the first-ever virtual Soirée brought together over 300 people from the NYA community to participate in the live and silent auctions, paddle raise, and program from as far away as California, Florida, New York, throughout New England, and of course our hometown of Yarmouth. It was a great evening of camaraderie and support for NYA! Over $155,000 was raised for faculty support and financial aid during the event. On behalf of all of us at NYA, thank you to all who generously supported this event and the planning committee who helped to pull together this wonderful experience.

Last week, I sent a letter to the entire community detailing important end-of-year events. You may reference this on the NYA’s COVID-19 information page. We will continue to update this as the year progresses. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Mission Spotlight – NYA Diplomas with Distinction

NYA offers five different Diplomas with Distinction that Upper School students may pursue. This program gives students the opportunity to demonstrate in-depth study and mastery of a specific subject area of interest. These distinctions culminate with a final project during senior year. It is not only an opportunity for the students to pursue their passion, but it reflects well on their college transcripts. The five programs are: Distinction in Global Citizenship; Distinction in Outdoor and Environmental Leadership; Distinction in Social Advocacy; Distinction in STEM; Distinction in Music: Performance, Entrepreneurship, and Community.

This year, 14 NYA seniors will graduate with a Diploma with Distinction. Three receiving the Distinction in Global Citizenship recently made their presentations to an audience of faculty members, families, and students. The presenters and their topics were as follows:

  • Sydney Billings – The Effects of Globalization on Modern Day Cancer Treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa 
  • Ellie Hilscher – Bilingualism and Education
  • Afton Morton – The Exceptions to a Democracy: How Modern-Day Colonialism Prevents Americans from Voting 

These presentations were amazingly thorough and very well delivered.

The music distinction requires several public performances. On Wednesday, May 20, the following students will be giving virtual recitals:

For the seniors, this will be their final recital at NYA. These recitals are normally held in the Black Box Theater in Higgins Hall, and it is always a treat to attend. This year, the students will present their performance on Instagram and YouTube (linked above). Be sure to check NYA social media on Wednesday in case any of these links change. I encourage you to tune in. They are sure to be terrific performances from these amazingly talented musicians.

Other remote learning highlights:

In the Toddler Classroom, Ms. Kathi is working on “Learning to Write Your Name” lessons with her three-year-olds. The students are making great progress.

In Kindergarten, Ms. KB is doing a variation on the Flat Stanley project. Ms. KB sent a flat version of herself to all her students’ homes. The students took flat Ms. KB on a tour of their home and took pictures of her with their favorite things. The photos showed the students had a great time.

Although we can’t travel to see the world right now, the world can still come to us remotely. Ms. Grady’s nephew, Riker Vermilye, from Washington D.C., visited her virtual sixth grade geography class this past week. After college, Riker worked on international banking policy in the U.S. Senate, but then decided to join the Peace Corps. Although he hoped to go to Mexico, he was assigned to Madagascar, where he worked on agricultural projects in the far south, desert area of the country. Riker’s stunning slideshow introduced the students to Madagascar’s flora and fauna – 80% of which is found nowhere else in the world. In addition to explaining his work, which included working with local schools to plant shade trees and gardens, Riker also discussed the topography of the island, languages, and customs, such as the funeral dance in which he participated. Riker awoke one day in late March to read an email from the Peace Corps. He, and the more than 7,300 Peace Corps Volunteers in 60 countries around the world, had to evacuate within 24 hours. He took a 12-hour bus ride to a coastal city, which began his one-week journey back to the U.S. Riker also shared the challenges of readjustment back into the U.S. after more than a year away, and his hopes to return to Madagascar in the future. Riker’s presentation greatly enhanced the sixth grade’s study of Africa, and we send him our thanks and best wishes.

NYA AP students have been busy taking their exams. They started last week and will run through next week. NYA offered 17 AP courses this school year. Good luck to our AP students!

Normally, the senior class takes the month of May to complete their senior service projects with a minimum of a 40-hour commitment to an organization. This year, logistics made it difficult to complete these projects. However, many seniors are still voluntarily doing projects and making a difference in the community. Ms. Grady, senior service project coordinator, will be sharing these stories in the coming weeks.

The Wellness Theme of the week is Nurturing in Nature. Being in nature, taking in the sights, sounds, and textures elicits many psychological benefits that reduce stress and can then transcend to physical benefits. Enjoy spending time outside, and try one of the family nature activities shared on the Healthy Mind and Body webpage.

Last week, the Maine Principals Association released its guidelines on remaining spring and upcoming summer athletic activities. Spring sports coaches will continue to offer virtual suggestions on sport-specific training through June 13, at which time all seasons’ coaches can provide virtual suggestions for sport-specific training. The goal is for a CDC-approved version of in-person instruction to roll out on July 6. Until then, we encourage all of our Panthers to stay active on your own by following the Weekly Wellness Get Moving suggestions!

While waiting for guidance from the state, we are actively working on plans for a safe reopening of school in the fall. I plan to provide a more thorough update in the very near future. As always, please reach out if we can be helpful to your family in any way during this challenging time.

I hope you have a great week. Thank you!


Ben Jackson
Head of School


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