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October 4, 2020

Dear Families,

After an amazing month of weather, September finished with a little bit of rain. No complaints from me as the rain was much needed. When the weather is beautiful, our teachers and students spend a lot of time outside. It is not unusual to see the Lower School students spread out on the grass by the apple tree, Middle School students sitting on their towels on the turf, and Upper School classes engaged in discussion on the front lawn or the Alberding Family Terrace. Students are also eating lunch outside. This weather won’t last forever, but we certainly want to take advantage of it while it is here. Of course, our plans call for accommodating everyone inside if necessary, and we are prepared when the weather turns.

As I have previously shared, our students are doing a terrific job with wearing masks, social distancing, and following safety guidelines. We decided to reward them with a dress down day on Friday. It is always appreciated, but even more so this time as they didn’t have to make a contribution to dress down. The Upper School Executive Council is organizing some ice breakers with an Upper School Fun Day scheduled for Wednesday. The students will take a break from their normal schedule to make time for class bonding activities. Students will meet as a class outside, where they will get to know one another better through activities led by class officers. After that, the students will complete a scavenger hunt in smaller groups. The goal is to interact with one another, collaborate, explore campus, and have fun.

It will be spirit week next week for all Lower through Upper school students. We normally do this during NYA Homecoming week, and we are going to continue with this part of the celebration. The theme for each day will be sent by departments.

Last week in Middle School advisory, the students assisted with Mrs. Bartick’s Upper School Intro to Engineering course. The Intro to Engineering students are learning about technical communication and writing procedures. Mrs. Bartick gave her students paper airplanes that she folded, and they were tasked with creating a set of directions that anyone could follow to replicate the same design. The students created ten different versions of the directions. Middle School students then received a version of the directions and tried to construct an airplane following the instructions. The goal was to have individuals outside of the class try to make the airplanes to determine the effectiveness of the directions. The engineering students learned from how their directions were interpreted by the Middle School students (and what went right and wrong). Of course, the Middle School students also got the chance to fly the planes to see which were the most aerodynamic! This was a fun project for all and they learned many lessons.

Congratulations to the NYA Varsity Golf Team who won the Western Maine Conference Class C Team Championship on October 1 at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. Cal Davies ’21, Carson Gall ’23, Will Jackson ’21, Bryce Poulin ’22, Maddy Prokopius ’24, Topher Prokopius ’22, Derek Wolverton ’21, and Coach Charlie Hudson all represented NYA well on the day.

Senior speeches will begin on Friday, October 9. Speeches are presented during Friday Forum, and each week two or three seniors will make their speech. The senior speech requirement is a rite of passage for our graduating seniors. Seniors speak on a variety of topics that may include overcoming a challenge, a person who is important in their lives, an adventure, humorous story, or just about any other topic. Students work closely with Mr. Markonish and Mr. Gagne over a three-week period, and the speeches are personal and very well delivered. It is really the culmination of the many opportunities from Lower to Upper school to write and speak publicly; skills we want our students to take with them when they graduate from NYA. The speech is also something that our alums remember (fondly) for a lifetime.

In normal years, Friday Forum is open to the community. Unfortunately, this year only the seniors will gather together in the gym for Friday Forum. Other students, faculty, and staff will attend remotely through Teams. Immediate family members will be able to attend speeches in person.

While it is a challenging and stressful time for all, there are still a lot of great things going on at the Academy in the classrooms, in the studio, on stage, and on the field of play. Each week I will feature one of these stories with the On the Bright Side feature.

On The Bright Side:

In addition to a full academic class load, our NYA Middle School students have regular opportunities for elective classes through x-block. These mini-courses, taught by NYA faculty, occur throughout the year and will start soon. X-block classes offered this semester include activities such as building underwater robots, chess, crafting, writing comics, digital art, outdoor games, flag football, and ultimate Frisbee. These are great opportunities to both learn new skills and take a break from the regular academic schedule.

The Welcoming Library is a pop-up library of picture books and conversation starters featuring new arrivals and new American Families. It is currently visiting Mrs. Gallagher’s first grade class where students are using the books to spark conversations on kindness. They explored the importance of self-talk and wrote kind letters to themselves. Positive self-talk is an important skill for these first grade students.

On the topic of kindness, the Kindness Club has both designated NYA as a Kind Campus and is setting ambitious goals for the year. Kind Campus is kicking off the school year by setting a goal to reach 500 acts of kindness from NYA students by June. The kind acts are tallied when students fill out a challenge slip and submit it to a teacher or drop it off in one of the orange Kind Campus folders found throughout campus. One student wrote that his grandfather was kind for driving him to school. Another student wrote that it was kind when someone opened the door for her, and yet another appreciated the kindness of a fellow student who agreed to be their partner. Challenge slips can also come from acts of kindness at home and help us spread intentional kindness beyond our campus. Here is a link to the Be Kind challenge slips if you’d like to do these at home.

NYA has some exciting things planned to share with Lower, Middle, and Upper School grandparents this year. Be sure we have their contact information so they will be included in this year’s communications and outreach, including NYA Grandparents’ Day video celebrations. You can fill it out here.

Last Friday, the Bicentennial Learning Commons was dedicated with a small gathering of families, trustees, alumni, faculty, and friends. Thank you to the over 100 families who contributed, for your generosity and continued commitment to NYA. Enjoy pictures from the evening here.

The 18th Annual Steve Morris Alumni & Friends Golf Tournament was held last Saturday. It was another great event, with almost 60 golfers participating at Falmouth Country Club and over $10,000 raised for the Steve Morris Scholar Fund. This event honors long time teacher and coach, Steve “Mo” Morris, and proceeds support the Steve Morris Scholar Fund. Ten current NYA students are recipients of these funds, and they carry on Steve Morris’ legacy. Thank you to the many alumni and families who supported or participated in this event.

The NYA Parents’ Association (PA) leads many community-building events throughout the year. They also raise funds to support student and teacher grants, which have made a significant impact on our students’ experience throughout the years. There are many ways to support the PA and volunteer for NYA. With general PA questions, reach out to PA President, Tori Baron. The PA is also looking for class representatives in the following classes: toddler, primary-kindergarten, fifth grade, and sixth grade. If you are interested in serving as a class rep or learning more, contact Laurie Hegarty. Thank you to PA President, Tori Baron, and all of our amazing PA volunteers.

Please remember that Monday, October 12 is Indigenous People’s Day, and there is no school.

Have a great week! It’ll be spirit week, how can you not?


Ben Jackson
Head of School


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