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November 1, 2020

Dear Families,

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of Travis Roy’s passing on Thursday at the age of 45. Travis grew up in Yarmouth and learned to play hockey at NYA’s rink where his father, Lee Roy, was the arena manager. Travis went on to attend NYA and achieved his dream of a scholarship and opportunity to play hockey at Boston University. Almost 25 years to this day, 11 seconds into his first shift as a BU Terrier, Travis was paralyzed in a freak accident. He turned this tragedy into his lifetime of amazing work through the Travis Roy Foundation – dedicated to supporting those with spinal cord injuries and spinal cord research. To honor Travis, the NYA Travis Roy Ice Arena was named in his honor in 1998, his 00 jersey was retired in 2015, and he was inducted into the NYA Edgar F. White ’38 Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019. He remained a friend to our school, hosted alumni events, and addressed our students on many occasions. An accomplished artist, he believed equally in the importance of academics, the arts, and athletics. During his visits to NYA, he would enjoy observing NYA kids on the fields, at the rink, in the studio, and in the classroom. We will continue to honor his legacy and greatly treasure the memories of his involvement, commitment to, and support of the Academy. He will be greatly missed, but his impact on others is alive and well.

It is hard to believe, but the first quarter of the year is behind us. Parent-Teacher conferences were held last Thursday and Friday. I hope the year is off to a great start for your children, and you all received a good update on your child’s progress thus far.

Halloween was on full display at NYA on Wednesday. From the toddlers to the Upper School to the faculty, everyone was in the spirit! The Lower School faculty and staff theme was crayons, the Middle School faculty and staff were villains, and in honor of our frontline medical professionals, the Upper School faculty and staff dressed as famous doctors. Student costumes ranged from Harry Potter to sumo wrestlers, and as always, the creativity of the students did not disappoint. While we missed our families at the parade, it was a great event with the NYA Executive Council awarding prizes. The Parents’ Association saved the day for those who were concerned that there might not be any trick or treating this year. All students received goodie bags filled with an obscene amount of candy. Thanks to the PA for putting these together. The dentists appreciate it as well.

  • The Class of 2021 was also treated to a nice Halloween lunch by the senior parents.
  • The Chewonki Foundation visited the Lower and Middle schools virtually with some of their creature presentations.
  • The toddlers organized a mini-pumpkin scavenger hunt on the Lower School playground.

COVID-19 wasn’t going to cancel Halloween at NYA. I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

Mr. Myer and art students, Liam Street ‘24, Kailyn McIntyre ‘24, Aidan Plant ‘21, and Mary Parker ’22 began work creating Be Kind murals displayed at the main entrance of Curtis. The murals will display kindness chain links for each act of kindness our students perform. Our Kind Campus goal is to have 500 acts of kindness by the end of the school year. The murals will be on exhibit for the school year and display the growing accumulation of acts of kindness by our NYA community. Thank you to the students and Mrs. Hould, NYA Counselor, for your work and guidance on these important Kind Campus initiatives.

With the Cross Country Qualifiers last Wednesday, the fall athletic season came to a close for our students. Middle School winter activities will begin on Monday, November 9. Upper School boys and girls NEPSAC hockey practice will also begin on Monday, November 9. The Maine Principals Association (MPA) issued a press release earlier this week stating that the winter season for MPA athletics has been delayed from its original November 16 start date. No new date has been released as of the publication of this letter. With the right safety protocols around locker rooms, transportation to and from competitions, and use of masks per state guidance, we are confident that our students can safely compete this winter. We are hopeful that the MPA and state of Maine will provide guidance in this direction and are eager to learn more about the winter schedule. We are currently reviewing ways to provide voluntary after school athletic activities to our Upper School students between November 16 and the to-be-determined official start of the season. We will share news with families as soon as we receive additional word from the MPA and the state. A reminder that the Upper School Fall Sports Recognition Ceremony will take place virtually on Tuesday, November 10 at 6:00 p.m. Login details will be shared via coaches next week.

On The Bright Side:

Mrs. Bartick, NYA STEM Coordinator, has been busy creating STEM opportunities for NYA students. A Middle School X-Block is creating underwater robotic devices under Mrs. Bartick’s guidance. She is also teaching an Upper School Introduction to Engineering elective, which features hands-on projects and guest speakers in the Engineering Field. The attached newsletter includes additional links about current and future STEM opportunities for NYA students.

Reminder: The first NYA Virtual Morning Forum will be held on Thursday, November 5 at 8:15 a.m. The theme is “The Year Ahead and Ways to Get Involved at NYA.” The program will include a welcome and important dates from Director of Development, Jennifer Richard, and me, followed by a discussion of ways to get involved with the Parents’ Association and your child’s education with PA President, Tori Baron. We hope you can be there. We will send out a link on November 4.

On Friday, September 25, nearly 50 benefactors gathered on the Curtis lawn to dedicate the Bicentennial Learning Commons. The event included tours, a ribbon cutting, a short program, and live entertainment. The event was livestreamed, and over 130 people participated virtually. Please enjoy this short video of the event, which includes a peek inside the new facility. It was a wonderful night for NYA! Thank you to all who supported this important project!

Project Graduation is an overnight, safe, fun filled, alcohol-free program of activities for our seniors after graduation. Parents work throughout the year to raise funds to provide special events to make post-graduation unforgettable. This year’s organizers are already at work raising money with the NYA Annual Poinsettia Sale. Place your orders HERE now through November 29. Due to COVID-19, this year pick up is at Estabrooks Nursery in Yarmouth (not at NYA as in past years). You will receive a voucher to use at Estabrooks once you place your order. Pick up will take place from November 30 to December 6. Tell your friends!

In closing, I wanted to share a message similar to the one I shared with students at last week’s Friday Forum. In case you haven’t heard, an election is scheduled for Tuesday. Politics has always been a delicate topic, but this is certainly the most polarizing election of my lifetime. It is a divisive one to be sure, and within this school, we have students, faculty, and families from different backgrounds and political views. The reality is, we are fortunate to have diverse opinions and are a richer community because of it. Open debate and dialogue is healthy, and it should be celebrated. Without access to diverse opinions, we would never open our minds to other viewpoints and allow our own perspectives to evolve and sharpen.

An open and positive dialogue should ultimately bring us closer together as a community. It only divides us when the conversation deteriorates into personal attacks. As a school, we hope to facilitate discussion on the election and issues that are important to our students and society around us. It is our goal to challenge our students to be engaged and think critically about the world around them. It is our hope and commitment that this be done in a respectful manner and we try to model this for them. No one has to agree on issues, but when it devolves into personal attacks it is unhealthy for any community.

We can all remain true to our convictions and respect those with opposing views at the same time. If we learn to do this well, it will only bring us closer together rather than driving us apart. What is really exciting is that there are members of this year’s senior class who will be eligible to vote for the first time. For the next presidential election, all of our current Upper School students and even some of the eighth graders will be eligible to vote. As I shared with our students, even if you are not eligible to vote, it is a good time to develop an interest in the process. As we all engage, I am hopeful and confident that as a community, we will be open to and, most importantly, respectful of opposing ideas.

Reminder: Today marks the end of daylight saving time. If you haven’t already done so, set your clocks back one hour. Whose idea was it to add another hour to 2020?

Have a great week.


Ben Jackson
Head of School


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