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Upper School Newsletter for January 23, 2022

Happy New Year! I hope you and your families had a wonderful holiday and respite from the daily routine as we continue to enjoy the winter season in Maine and usher in 2022. With the start of a new calendar year, we also begin the second semester of our current school year. Congratulations go out to all of our winter teams for terrific starts to their seasons, including several successful holiday tournaments and games. Classes, practices, drama rehearsals, and new electives are once again in full swing, and I look forward to all of the ongoing successes of our students this year. We are excited for what will be a full and engaging semester ahead.

Eric Austin
Head of Upper School


Congratulations to our students who performed as part of the District II Instrumental Music Festival on Saturday! These students were accepted through auditions in the fall. They spent the day rehearsing with their groups at Oxford Hills High School, and the festival culminated in a livestreamed concert.

NYA’s District II Instrumental Festival Participants:
High School Band: Hans-Erik Jerosch, horn; Fynn MacCarthy, trombone; Leif MacCarthy, trombone
High School Orchestra: Genevieve Vaillancourt, viola; Madeleine Vaillancourt, cello; Jack Byrne, cello
Middle School Band: Hadley Smith, clarinet; Maia Barschdorf, clarinet; Ivy Birney, trombone
Middle School Orchestra: Jackson Bartick, violin; Nathan McGillicuddy, cello


Congratulations to our honors vocal students who will perform as part of the District II Vocal Music Festival on Saturday, January 29. These students were accepted through auditions in the fall. They will spend the day rehearsing with their groups at Windham High School, and the festival will culminate in a livestreamed concert.

NYA’s District II Vocal Festival Participants are:
Mixed Chorus: Madeleine Vaillancourt
Treble Chorus: Emma Gagnon and Caitlin Michaelis
Middle School Chorus: Ivy Birney


The College Counseling Office hosted NYA’s annual College Night last Tuesday. Guest speaker, Leigh Weisenburger, Vice President for Enrollment & Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Bates, offered remarks on the college search process, what colleges are looking for in applicants, the role of standardized testing in a COVID-impacted admissions world, letters of recommendation, and explanations of the meaning of the “liberal arts,” and “comprehensive and research universities.” She then answered questions from the audience. A recording of the program will be sent to families along with an electronic copy of the College Counseling Guide that Gretchen Bergill and Betsy Tomlinson created. Updates to the online guide will be posted in Scoir, the new college counseling program that juniors and their families are using. Ninth and tenth graders will have access to Scoir later this year.

Last Thursday morning, Gretchen met with the ninth grade class during the Ninth Grade Seminar. The point of her talk was to encourage the class not to worry about college just yet and instead to spend the year reflecting on their strengths and interests. She asked them to be intentional in their choice of courses, clubs, sports, and summer activities. The class also looked at a mock NYA transcript to learn about how the grades they earn starting in the ninth grade will impact the academic record that will accompany their college applications. Families interested in a copy of Gretchen’s remarks are welcome to email her directly at any time.


HONK! is coming to NYA! The NYA Drama Team, consisting of students in grades 6-12, is hard at work putting together this heart-warming adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale “The Ugly Duckling.” The musical was written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, was first performed in England in 1993, and has become a favorite theater production. Shows are tentatively scheduled in Safford Center for February 10-12. Watch for more information on tickets as we get closer!


Although the last couple of weeks have included a number of adjustments to our Winter Activity schedules, we continue to relish in having our students engaged in winter season competition. Their fortitude, energy, and passion for representing our community are inspiring. Thank you for supporting them along the way!

As we look to the remaining month of the season, please review the Covid Return to Play protocols for any student-athlete who tests positive. These protocols were previously recommended and are now a requirement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They take the cardiac complications associated with some COVID cases into consideration and are in the best interest of our student-athletes’ health and safety. We are seeing an increase in COVID cases among our activity groups. This puts in-person gatherings and interscholastic competition at risk. In order to finish out the winter season successfully, please remember that if a student feels ill, they should NOT attend school until they are symptom-free. Your cooperation and commitment to our community health and safety is so important as we work to represent NYA in the remainder of the winter season. Feeling ill? Stay at home! Go Panthers.

Any questions can be directed to Athletic Director, Kelsy Ross.


Yearbook recognition ads are on sale now! 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 10. Click here for more information on purchasing and designing a yearbook ad for your student. Yearbooks are automatically ordered for all Upper and Middle School students, and charged to their student account. If you do not want your student to receive a yearbook, please reach out to Yearbook Advisor, Sara Jaffe,  no later than Friday February 11 in order to cancel the order.


Friday, February 4 will be an early release day to allow faculty and staff time for professional development meetings. School will run from 8:00-11:30 a.m. with a special class schedule. We will have morning snack, but lunch will not be served. Students should plan to be picked up at 11:30 a.m. Upper School activity schedules for the afternoon will be communicated by coaches and group leaders.


The admission office has several upcoming events for families looking to learn more about NYA:

Lower School Live, on Wednesday, January 26 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., is designed for parents interested in the Lower School. Parents will meet virtually with Marissa Markonish and Leslie Durgin to learn more about our Lower School curriculum and to ask specific questions about the program.  Interested parents can also arrange for a virtual observation to see our classrooms in action.

There are also two Virtual Panther Chats via Zoom planned for prospective Middle and Upper School families. Each Panther Chat will include a Q&A opportunity with students, faculty, and administrators. A chat about Middle School Life is scheduled for February 16, and a chat about Upper School Life will be held on March 2.

More details for all admission events can be found on our website. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to join us to learn more about an NYA education and what it might mean for their children.


Save the date–Friday, June 3, 2022, for the annual NYA Soirée. You will not want to miss this great evening of entertainment, camaraderie, and support for NYA. Please plan to join parents, alumni, grandparents, faculty, and friends under the event tent on the NYA campus.

If you are interested in getting involved, please email Crystal Gordon. Specifically, we are looking for event organizers to serve on a committee with other parents to help with event logistics, secure donated items for the silent and live auctions, and assist with corporate sponsorships. We’d love your support to ensure this event is a success!


1/27Dress Down Day (TeamSeas)$3
2/2Dress Down Day (Key Club, Children of Peace Int’l)$3
2/4Early Release Day for Professional Development Meetings11:30 a.m.
2/10Dress Down Day (Chilanga School for the Blind)$3
2/10-2/12HONK! Musical Shows (TBD)
2/16Dress Down Day (Kiva Club)$3
2/19-2/22Presidents’ Day Long WeekendNO SCHOOL
2/24Dress Down Day (WinterKids)$3
3/4Last Day of Classes before Spring Break


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