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Upper School Newsletter for February 7, 2021

As we approach mid-February and enjoy the increasing amount of daylight with each passing week, the winter season in Maine is undoubtedly still in full force. Our athletic teams and their coaches have collectively and patiently adapted this winter as state and local guidance  recently shifted in favor of increased participation. And speaking of adaptation, NYA’s drama enthusiasts are hard at work this season preparing for the first-ever Winter Comedy Show. As we look ahead to the four weeks remaining before March break begins, we note that these weeks will be flush with student accomplishments including continued academic progress, increased ability for afternoon student activities and athletics, and the much-loved annual tradition of Spirit Week during the first week of March. Despite the ongoing precautions and our focus on health and safety, this time of year will certainly be full and exciting for our students!

Let the Panther Roar!

Eric Austin
Head of Upper School


Enrollment agreements were sent out last week with a March 1 deadline. We appreciate your prompt return of these agreements as staffing and schedules for next year will be constructed based on students whose re-enrollments are submitted by March 1.


Congratulations to NYA senior, Emma Collins, who will represent NYA in this year’s Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition in February. To become our representative, Emma memorized and recited “In the Basement of the Goodwill Store” by Ted Kooser and “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron. After viewing all of the submissions, the NYA English Department selected Emma as this year’s nominee. In addition to reciting these poems, Emma will memorize and recite a third poem, “Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam” by Dan Vera and then send her recitations through video to the Regional Finals, where regional winners will be announced on February 22, 2021. If selected as a regional winner, Emma’s recitation videos may be sent to the State Finals in March with the possibility of moving to a National Competition in May. Jack Schaeffer was selected as NYA’s Poetry Out Loud representative runner-up. Congratulations to Emma and Jack!


Congratulations to three ninth graders for their writing recognition through the 2021 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards! The award winners are:

  • Bryce Curtis, who received a Gold Key for her short fiction “Seeing Clearly”
  • Haley Hegarty, who received a Gold Key for her short fiction “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Love”
  • Madeline Prokopius, who received a Silver Award for her short fiction “A White Blur”

We are proud of these students for their award-winning writing as there was a high volume of Scholastic writing submissions this year!


Congratulations to Topher Prokopius and Madeleine Vaillancourt, both juniors, who were accepted into the All-Eastern Music Festival! All-Eastern is a regional honors music festival, selecting juniors and seniors from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington DC. Topher was selected to play tuba in the All-Eastern Band, and Madeleine was selected on cello in the All-Eastern Orchestra. The festival will be held virtually this year due to the pandemic, and the students will meet online March 4-6, with their virtual concert recording to be released in April.


An additional congratulations goes to sophomore, Emily Greene, and freshman, Hans-Erik Jerosch, who were selected for the All-State Music Festival. Emily was selected for violin and will play in the orchestra, and Hans-Erik was selected for horn and will play in the band. They will join Topher and Madeleine, who were also selected for All-State. We are blessed with some amazing music students and an exceptional music faculty. Congratulations to all!


CivilTea is a student-driven program that promotes civil dialogue around timely or challenging topics within school communities. Originally created by sisters Pricillia Ismbi and Naissa Isaro, the fundamental purposes of the program intend to build communication skills, enhance student leadership, and promote active listening. Since the beginning of the year, over 30 NYA students have been developing their facilitation skills, planning panels for dialogues, and engaging their peers in meaningful discussions.

CivilTea addresses real world issues that are felt here at NYA as well as beyond our campus community. The goal is not to change a policy or to necessarily solve a problem, but rather, to respectfully engage with peers, share opinions, and listen to others. Student groups (as well as a separate faculty and staff group) recently discussed the topic of Sports Culture and Sportsmanship. The session began with a virtual panel, facilitated by Alaina Rauf and Bryce Poulin, made up of an athletic administrator, coaches, and athletes from the college and professional levels, followed by small group discussions. NYA student facilitators did a wonderful job in helping their peers engage in civil discourse, and the CivilTea club is excited to prepare for our next school dialogue.

Thank you to CivilTea program advisors Taylor Kanzler, Morgan Lake Adams, and Ross Markonish.


Maine Needs is a local non-profit whose mission is “to help individuals and families in Maine meet their basic, material needs by providing donated clothing, hygiene products, household items, and other necessities. We focus our work on those starting life over from scratch: domestic abuse survivors, asylum seekers and those facing financial hardships.” Some of our NYA families who volunteer with the organization suggested getting our community involved in gathering donations to help support those in need in our larger community. We are holding a donation drive to gather clean, gently used donations which we will pass on to Maine Needs for distribution. Their top priorities are cold weather gear, 4T-18 clothing (especially for boys), anything waterproof, thermal underwear for adults and kids, and insulated sleeping bags for the homeless. Check out the full list of items accepted here. We will have boxes for donations at each of the wellness checks from February 8-19. There are so many families in need, especially during these challenging times. We appreciate your help and generosity!


As we enter the second week in February, we are looking forward to the long-awaited competitive portion of our winter athletic seasons (woohoo!). There has been plenty to keep up with in the world of Athletics (link to last Sunday’s update), and we don’t envision that changing anytime soon. Our goals for this exciting time include keeping everyone safe, engaged, challenged, and supported as we get back out there in the black and orange! In an effort to streamline our scheduling process, we are shifting from our current Big Teams platform to rSchoolToday. The full transition to rSchoolToday will take place on Monday, February 15. For more information on where to find practice and competition details, including how to sign-up for rSchoolToday alerts, please visit our Athletics webpage. We encourage you to confirm specific team practice, competition, and transportation details directly from your coaches. ~Kelsy Ross


In preparation for the spring season, students should confirm their spring activity participation with Athletic Director Kelsy Ross or Associate Director Mallory Michaeles prior to March Break. Coaches will communicate information regarding specific gear and additional updates to their team rosters in the upcoming weeks. Contact the Athletic Department via email or at 847-5456 with any questions.


Coming soon:  The NY A-comedy Show! Produced by the Winter Drama Team with the help of CBS Late-Night VP Nick Bernstein, the SNL-styled show includes short films, commercials, and sketches all written, staged, filmed, and edited by the team. You will see Keeping Up With The Canadians, Virtual Prom Ask, NYA Quiz Show, Daughters of Power, and so much more, with guest appearances by several faculty and staff members and at least one parent! We plan to release the show before March Break so you can enjoy it with your family and friends! Special thanks to all those teachers and staff who have allowed us to film in their spaces, and who have unselfishly agreed to be part of the show! Get ready for some family fun!!  ~ Nora Krainis


Studio Band is having a great season, despite this year’s unusual parameters! Throughout the winter, the group of students in grades 9-12 has been rehearsing daily, with a focus on instrumental songs, student-written steelband arrangements, and hip-hop (since no singing inside is currently allowed) by artists like Sabaton and A Tribe Called Quest. In the coming weeks, the group will record and create a series of videos of the songs they have been working on. Toward the end of February, they will release these videos to the school community.


During the final week before March Break (Monday – Friday, March 1-5), we will have special dress days and a series of fun grade level / advisory activities. Below are the special dress days for Spirit Week:

• Monday: Pajama Day
• Tuesday: Mainer Day
• Wednesday: Team / Jersey Day (NYA or favorite sports team)
• Thursday: Decade Day 
• Friday: Class Colors

Students who choose not to take part in the special dress must be in regular NYA dress code. 


Enjoy this update from Heather Dean, NYA’s athletic trainer and K-5 PE teacher.


Congratulations to our athletic trainer Heather Dean for being the first Howie’s Athletic Tape #TJTuesday winner for her fabulous calf taping job! In their post, they declare “This calf athletic TJ was so good that it had to be signed.” Way to go, Heather!


On Thursday, February 11, Celeste ’25 and Jessica ’23 Merrill are sponsoring a Dress Down Day with a $3 donation to support the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. Celeste and Jessica selected this worthy cause in honor of their half-brother who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and passed away after seven months. They are grateful for the support their family had from everyone at Barbara Bush during that time and would like to provide this donation in support of other families  who are going through a similar experience.

Mrs. Gagne’s third and fourth grade class is sponsoring a Dress Down Day for Malawi, Africa on Thursday, February 18. They are asking for donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste to be sent to a village school in Malawi, The Chilanga School for the Blind. Over the past couple of years, the NYA community has provided this school with notebooks, pencils, and Croc’s. These much-needed items have been so appreciated. We would be grateful for your help in collecting these supplies so that we may continue to support their school community.

Our Kind Campus will celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17 and as a follow-up will have a Dress Down Day on February 25 to raise money for the Ben’s Bells Project, who provided kindness bells to hang throughout our campus this year. We will reciprocate the kindness with a donation to their organization.


Spanish, French, and Latin language students in grades seven through twelve will take National Language Exams in the coming months. The Grand Concours will be given during the month of March, the National Latin Exam will be given before March Break, and the National Spanish Exam will take place in April. Language teachers will communicate specific details about exam dates and times in their classes. Awards will be announced in late spring. Please contact Eliot Grady, Modern & Classical Language Department Chair, with any questions. Merci, Gracias, Gratias!  ~ The Modern & Classical Language Department

March Reading Challenge 2018MARCH BREAK READING CHALLENGE!

NYA will host its eighth annual March Break Photo Reading Challenge. Since most of us will be enjoying a staycation, this year’s challenge will really let your creativity shine! Dress up as your favorite book character and send a photo or selfie of you, in character, reading the book! Think Hermione reading Harry Potter, the Queen of Hearts reading Alice in Wonderland, or Peter from The Snowy Day reading in a snowstorm! Send your entries to Eliot Grady by noon on Wednesday, March 24 to be considered. All entries will be posted in the Bicentennial Learning Commons. The pictures will be judged by a panel of faculty and staff, and a winner for each Division (Lower, Middle, Upper, and Faculty/Staff) will be announced on Friday, March 26 at Friday Forum and via newsletters. Get creative, have fun, and READ!  ~ Eliot Grady


The NYA Yearbook is a much-loved, highly-anticipated publication. The yearbooks will be passed out to students during our last day of school, Friday, June 4, 2021. All NYA Middle and Upper School students are automatically charged for a 2021 yearbook, so you will see a $55 charge per student on your March bill. Don’t want a yearbook? No problem, just call or email Lisa McGlinn in the business office, 847-5425, and she will reverse the charge. If you choose not to purchase a yearbook for your student, please inform your child so that he or she will be prepared not to receive one on the last day of school.

Yearbook recognition ads are still on sale. Parents, relatives, and friends may purchase and design their own ad online, recognizing a current NYA student and celebrating their achievements. While ads are typically purchased by families of graduating seniors, they are open to all! Ad space is available on a first come, first served basis, and all yearbook ads must be submitted by Thursday, February 11. Click here for more information on purchasing and designing a yearbook ad for your student. Feel free to contact Yearbook Advisor Sara Jaffe with any questions.


Panther Chat Button

The NYA Admission Office is hosting a series of virtual chats for prospective Middle and Upper School families. Each chat will include a Q&A opportunity with students, faculty, and administrators. The third in the Panther Chat Series, with a focus on Middle School Life at NYA, will be held on Wednesday, February 10. Please forward and encourage your friends and neighbors to join us to learn more about an NYA education and what it might mean for their children. Families may register here. Information on other upcoming admission events can be found on the admission section of our website.


NYA is always recruiting new families for its Homestay Program. If you are interested in hosting a student or learning more about the program, please contact Here is a link to additional information about the program.


Registration for NYA Summer Programs is now open! NYA offers a host of summer programs for toddlers to age 15. Camps include soccer, hockey, theater, dance, circus, science, magic, and more. Camps are filling up fast, so don’t wait! To receive the early bird discount, register by April 15. Visit our website to register and learn more.


The next session of NYA Parents’ Association’s Morning Forum Series, Academic Program Across Divisions, will be held on Thursday, March 4 via Zoom from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. Speakers will include Eric Austin P’15 P’17 – Head of Upper School, Marissa Markonish P’19 P’23 – Head of Lower and Middle Schools, and Alumni Speakers on the lasting impact of an NYA education. A link to the Zoom session will be sent the day before the event. Mark your calendars now!


Parents are invited to support this year’s NYA Soirée by contributing auction items or becoming an event sponsor.  Join other NYA families, friends, and alumni to help make this year’s event on Friday, May 21, 2021 a success. Your support is very important.  Kindly contact Crystal Gordon or a member of the planning committee (Katie Leinwand, Amity Jackson, Jenn Yilmaz, Jess Lynch, Jen Edwards, Carolyn Allen) if you are interested in helping.  Event details to be announced soon!


The Middle School parking lot is a very busy place at drop-off and pick-up each day. We want to ensure that the experience is as safe for students and as convenient for parents as possible. Please do not park in the turn-around. For drop-off in the morning, please pull ahead to the furthest point in the turn-around before stopping and have students exit the vehicle quickly. Time is of the essence! In the afternoon, timing is everything. If your child is not waiting outside for you, please pull into a parking spot and wait there. One car waiting for even a few minutes can throw off the whole flow, cause our own little traffic jam, and create hazardous conditions. We appreciate your help and patience with this process!


2/8-2/19Accepting Maine Needs Donations 
2/10Panther Chat: Middle School Life via Zoom9:30-10:30 a.m.
2/11Dress Down Day, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital$3
2/11Deadline for Yearbook Ad Submissions 
2/13-2/16Presidents’ Day Long WeekendNO SCHOOL
2/18Dress Down Day, Malawitoothbrush &  toothpaste donations
2/25Dress Down Day, Ben’s Bells Project$3
3/1-3/5Spirit Week 
3/4Morning Forum: Academic Program Across Divisions via Zoom8:15-9:15 a.m.
3/5Last day of classes before March Break 
3/8-3/19March BreakNO SCHOOL
3/22Classes resume 
3/24Deadline for March Break Reading Challenge submissions12:00 p.m.


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