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November 22, 2020

Dear Families,

I hope you are enjoying a much-deserved Thanksgiving Break. From the start of the year, we have emphasized the importance of responsibility among our students and members of the community. This year, responsibility has meant making decisions in the interest of keeping ourselves and those around us safe and healthy. I want to commend and thank our community for the level of responsibility that each of you has taken so far this year. I also recognize that it has not come without sacrifice. We have all made sacrifices in each of our personal lives. We have missed activities we enjoy, had time away from extended family, and faced a multitude of additional challenges presented by COVID-19. I hope and pray each day that everyone and their families remain healthy. Even with our sacrifice, there is so much to be thankful for. I hope that you are able to see some silver linings and lessons learned over the past eight months. I am eternally thankful for a community that continues to work together and support one another. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

This past week, we were pleased to present the first-ever remote Middle and Upper School Grandparents’ Day to grandparents and grandfriends. We invite you to enjoy photos from campus and performances by talented Middle and Upper School students in the comfort and safety of your own home. We missed our grandparents and hope to gather on campus for Middle and Upper School Grandparents’ Day next year!

On The Bright Side:

Congratulations to Annie Sillin ’21. Annie was the winner of the Yarmouth Historical Society’s 2020 Wellcome Prize for student historians. Annie wrote about Elsie Wellcome, an outspoken suffragist from Yarmouth who died in her twenties from the 1918 flu. Annie gave a talk on the subject to the Yarmouth Historical Society through Zoom.

Last week, NYA celebrated World Kindness Day and supported our neighbors at the Yarmouth Food Pantry. The Dress Down Day sponsored by Key Club raised $378, and our Middle School Kindness Ambassadors organized and delivered food to the pantry. They were greeted by grateful volunteers who gave students a tour and explained the importance of the food pantry to area patrons. Kind Campus honored Eliza Smith ’28 and Lauryn Casey ’24, who consistently model intentional kindness. Eliza’s name was written on multiple kindness slips by her peers for her acts of kindness. Lauryn has been focused on leading the class of 2024 to be a Kind Class. She created a kindness bulletin board and sends weekly emails to the class with enthusiasm for kindness to one another.

The second Parents’ Association Morning Forum will be held on Wednesday, December 2 at 8:15 a.m. The topic for this forum is: Student Health and Wellness during COVID-19. Cindy Hould P ‘33, NYA Counselor, and Ian Ramsey, Director of the Kauffmann Program, will serve as presenters. It will be an interactive presentation with time for questions. A Zoom invitation will be sent to each of you on Monday, November 30.

Reminder:  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 Estabrook’s Nursery in Yarmouth (not at NYA as in past years). You will receive a voucher to use at Estabrook’s once you place your order. Pick up will take place from November 30 to December 6. Tell your friends!

We will offer school picture retakes for all divisions on Thursday, December 3 from 11:15 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. in the Middle School Community Room. If your school picture didn’t turn out the way you hoped, or if you’re new to NYA and missed picture day, this is for you! This is the only retake day and time, so please plan to be there if you would like your school portrait retaken. If you have questions, please contact Kristi Belesca. (Our school directories are printing now, so the retake photos will not be included in the book, but they will be in the yearbook and available to order on SmugMug.)

From the outset, as much as possible, we have been committed to providing in-person learning and the opportunity for students to participate in the activities that they enjoy. We have been able to accomplishment a lot during the school year, but there are many variables that are beyond NYA’s control. Music and athletics have presented a lot of shifting guidelines by the state. Despite these many changes, we are looking forward to resuming activities immediately following Thanksgiving Break. Below are some announcements from Director of Athletics, Kelsy Ross:

Moving into the Thanksgiving Break, we are especially thankful for the ability to stay active with the start of the Upper School winter activity seasons. In our continued effort to uphold state, community, and school sport guidelines, our athletic facilities will remain closed for group gatherings until our return to in-person learning. Upon our return to in-person, the following dates currently pertain to Upper School winter activities:

  • Monday, November 30, drama, boys and girls hockey, and studio band meet in-person
  • Monday, December 7, boys and girls basketball, indoor track and field, and Nordic meet in-person

Specific team meeting and practice details will be communicated via email by coaches and activity leaders. Schedules can also be referenced online. If there are future periods of remote learning, activities will continue to gather via Teams during the 3:15 – 5:00 p.m. Panther time block.

In any year, but especially this one, we are committed to supporting our student-athletes and their pursuit of excellence. We understand the anxiety some may feel in the face of cancelled recruiting opportunities this year. We are currently collaborating with the NYA College Counseling Office to create a comprehensive Upper School student-athlete program focused on navigating the college athletic recruiting process. Additionally, we will be rolling out an in-house NYA recruiting highlight film opportunity for all interested winter student-athletes, with hopes of continuing it into the spring and perhaps even backlogging into the fall season. These two opportunities will not only support our student-athletes looking to play at the next level, but will hopefully relieve some of their stress connected to the upheaval of the athletic recruiting process this year. We are excited about these special offerings and look forward to sharing more details as they are finalized.

A quick reminder-If you traveled to a non-exempt state (currently only VT and NH are exempt),

As you arrive back in Maine, have your student take a PCR test, and share a copy of your student’s negative test results with Ashley Moody. With the current turnaround time for testing, results may take two to four days, equaling a total of seven to nine days after you return to Maine. Families also have the option to quarantine for 14 days upon returning to Maine. Please contact Eric Austin or Marissa Markonish if your child will need to temporarily shift to remote learning due to your holiday travel. Please contact Ashley Moody with any questions regarding testing or quarantining. Thank you.

As the weather gets colder, we are replacing the window fans in Russell Hall, Merrill Lower School, Toddler House, and the Middle School art building with air purifier systems. These are scheduled to be installed prior to our return from Thanksgiving.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Break. We return to classes on Monday, November 30. The great news is Monday, November 30 will be a Code Orange Dress Down Day – so get ready to show your Panther Pride! There is also a fundraising Dress Down Day scheduled for on December 2, to benefit Cooking for Community, $3.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Ben Jackson
Head of School


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