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April 28, 2019

Dear Families,

Thank you to everyone who attended the NYA Soirée on Friday night. It was an amazing evening for the entire community and a successful night in support of the students at NYA. I want to thank the Soirée committee who worked tirelessly since the fall planning the event. I’d also like to thank our sponsors: In particular, lead sponsor Patriot Insurance, in-kind sponsors Griffin and Griffin Lighting and Hemphill Photo. Thank you to Maine Craft Distilling, Allagash Brewery, and Pine State Trading. A comprehensive list of the evening’s sponsors may be found through this link. Finally, thank you to the development team: Jennifer Richard, Crystal Gordon, Carol Harris, and Mike Warde and everyone else involved for their hard work on this event.

The senior baby pictures on the wall in Safford are a clear sign of spring. It is a difficult task figuring out who is who. The seniors only have one week of classes before they begin their senior service projects. Every May, NYA seniors volunteer for 40 hours at local organizations as a way of giving back to their communities. While many students return to their elementary schools and volunteer there, others become involved in a wide variety of projects such as Farm to Table Kids in North Yarmouth, Maine Campus Compact in Lewiston, and Wayside Food Programs in Portland. At the end of the project, host organizations submit evaluations of our students and their work. This one, from last year, illustrates why we have the SSP: “The fact that your students can complete these hours after they are (mostly) finished with school is super. And the act of giving beyond oneself is a life lesson that everyone should put into practice at some point. Doing this before the insane chaos of college, job-hunting, and adulthood, plants that seed. Your student has grown into a lovely young man; your school and its expectations, his education, and his family are to be commended. Thank you for sharing him with us!”

The gym was packed Thursday night for another performance in what has been series of amazing NYA musical events. The spring instrumental concert did not disappoint. Also last week was an impressive strings concert. Congratulations to our talented students and music department faculty-Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Vaillancourt, Ms. Krainis, and Mr. Gilbert.

There are several more performances and student recitals scheduled throughout the final month of the year. Check out the NYA calendar and join the students for a great show in Higgins Theater. Thursday, May 2 is Fifth Grade Arts Night, which includes a performance of the classic play, The Phantom Tollbooth. The play will be in Higgins, and it is shaping up to be a great show for kids of all ages.

Twenty-five NYA singers participated in the Maine ACDA Elementary and Middle School All-State Festival on Saturday, along with over 200 students from all over Maine. This was a one-day choral festival for Maine students in grades 4-8, culminating with a concert at the McCormack Performing Arts Center at Gorham High School. The students were nominated by their chorus teacher and accepted by a managing committee. This year’s middle school choir was directed by internationally renowned conductor and composer Jessica Napoles. This year’s elementary choir was directed by internationally renowned conductor and composer Henry Leck. We are super proud of the students who worked hard to prepare for this festival. Participants from NYA included:

Elementary Chorus

Ivy Birney, Sidney Bouman, Mary Hackleman, Cocoe Haedrich, Henry Jackson, Brayden Kloza, Sarah Ludlum, Ellie Miers, Annie Millar, Josie Rodgers, Ellie Bea Sahlman, Hadley Smith,

Middle School Chorus

Rogers Crowley, Jack Curtis, Caroline Grace, Emily Greene, London Haedrich, Nizzie Hemphill, Chloe Kern, Caleb King, Celeste Merrill, Caitlin Michaelis, Gabi Muehle, Wyatt Thomas, Genevieve Vaillancourt

Mission Spotlight:

In Social Studies, Mrs. Gagne’s class is involved in a semester-long study of the African country of Malawi. They have explored the culture, economics, and geography. They completed a novel study on the book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba. They viewed slideshows and videos to explore the customs, celebrations, and traditions of Malawi. They made connections, asked interesting questions, and discovered similarities and differences between our cultures. The class chose to carry out a service learning project for an impoverished village school in Malawi. The students decided to raise money to buy needed classroom supplies, such as paper and pencils. To support this project, they held a bake sale this week and raised an amazing $204. The students will add more funds to this service project, as the class will also be sponsoring a Dress Down Day next week. Mrs. Gagne is proud of this group for making a difference.

Spring sports season is heating up, and the NYA teams are off to a good start. Congratulations to Upper School lacrosse student-athletes, Helen Hamblett (NYA ’19) and Ryan Baker (NYA ’19). They were both named 1 of 15 Maine “lacrosse players to watch” this season by the Portland Press Herald.

Lower School Grandparents’ Day is just two weeks away. It will be held from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Friday, May 10. This is a wonderful opportunity for grandparents, aunts, uncles, or “grandfriends” to visit the students at NYA. There will be classes to visit, performances, and it will culminate with tea and dessert. This is always a fun day for all in attendance. Kindly RSVP online. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

One of the goals of the Soirée was to raise funds to help bring STEM education to the next level at NYA. We were successful in raising funds to support new classes, purchase new resources, and hire a STEM Champion to the faculty for the 2019-2020 school year. This STEM Coordinator will teach courses, oversee the STEM Diploma with Distinction, and support teachers and students as they integrate technology across the curriculum. This will bring several exciting new opportunities to our students.

In addition to these STEM initiatives, NYA is also in the final fundraising stages to complete three major projects:

  • Construction will begin on the new two level “Learning Commons” in the Curtis Building that will modernize and more than double the size of NYA’s current library.
  • Three new tennis courts will be constructed this summer to replace our current courts.
  • With continued fundraising success, we hope to replace the turf field this summer.

Cumulatively, the Academy is embarking on nearly $2 million in capital projects. These projects are ambitious, but our students are worth it, and together they will greatly enhance the overall experience in academics and athletics. These projects would not be possible without the generous support of our donors, but work remains. If you would like to learn more about these projects or help us get to the finish line on fundraising, please reach out to me ( or Director of Development, Jennifer Richard (

From the Parents’ Association:

This Tuesday, the NYA Parents’ Association is sponsoring an interactive conversation entitled Student Anxiety – What Can Parents Do? from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the Middle School Community Room. This event will feature a panel of speakers who will discuss and answer questions about recognizing anxiety triggers, developing coping skills, and strategies for parents to manage anxiety at school. Coffee and snacks will be served. This event is open to the public, so bring a friend or two.

If you are interested in helping with NYA’s booth at the Clam Festival, please contact Scott FrankLaura Bergeron, or Tori Baron for further information.

If you would like to donate to the May Day Luncheon for faculty and staff, please deliver checks (made payable to the NYA Parents’ Association) to Heidi Lathrop in the MS office, or you can Venmo Laura Bergeron (Laura-Bergeron4).

Coming soon: At the Soirée last year, the Lorenz family earned the opportunity to serve as Head of School for the Day. I will soon be meeting with William (grade 3) and Lucy (grade 1) to discuss their plans for serving as Head of School on May 17. Their only limitation is they cannot call a snow day. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. It will surely be a memorable day!

Have a great week.


Ben Jackson
Head of School


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