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Upper School Newsletter for October 17, 2021

Dear Parents,

Thank you for the consistent commitment and dedication you have demonstrated on a daily basis this fall towards ensuring that our student body remains healthy. We continue to work to maintain the ability to collectively attend school together. Additionally, I commend all of our students who have worked to follow the guidelines in place to prioritize community health and safety. NYA students have risen to the challenge and continue to impress those of us working with them each day.

The student Executive Council sponsored an enjoyable Autumn Spirit Week earlier in the semester consisting of daily dress down themes, class activities, and support for our student-athletes. We were also happy to administer PSATs on campus last week to the junior and sophomore classes. Congratulations to our fall athletic teams and coaches for their spirit and successes so far. We look forward to cheering on those teams that are destined for post-season competition. Our senior class is working hard to meet the upcoming deadlines for college applications under the guidance of Gretchen Bergill. The seniors are also preparing for their senior speeches with speech advisors Ross Markonish, Taylor Kanzler, and Dave Gagne – and we have already had two seniors deliver their extremely thoughtful speeches last Friday morning. Congratulations, Rylie and James!

Parent-Teacher conferences (via Zoom) are coming right up at the end of the month and serve as a great opportunity for parents to obtain a current mid-semester summary of their student’s progress in each class. More information about conference sign-ups follows below. If you are not able to attend, teachers will be happy to send along a progress summary email for you.

Finally, I would like to offer thanks to our Class Parent Representatives for their work this fall: Betsy Tod (ninth), Danielle King (tenth), Christine Byrne (eleventh), and Gretchen Lacombe (twelfth). We also appreciate the efforts of Melissa Cusano, Jan Haedrich, and Jess Lynch (NYA Craft Fair Committee); Stacey Schuler-Cannon (Wreath Sale Chair); and Laurie Hegarty, Anne Snow, and Jessica Lynch (Clam Festival Committee).  Thanks also for the ongoing leadership of Patrick Cannon (Parents’ Association President), Tom Kirby (Vice President), Dewey Mote (Treasurer), and Danielle King (Upper School Parent Coordinator).

In the meantime, we hope this Upper School newsletter provides some helpful reminders and timely information for you as we look to the weeks ahead. Happy Autumn!

Eric Austin
Head of Upper School


The Intro to Engineering class wrapped up their Civil Engineering unit with a special visit from Finn Hadlock ‘11. After graduating from NYA, Finn went on to earn a BS in Civil Engineering from RPI. Finn shared his passion for engineering, walking the class through several of the projects he worked on while employed by Cianbro, including the construction of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Portsmouth, the Exxon NAG-OF Project in Baytown, TX, and the Walk Bridge Project in Norwalk, CT. Finn shared amazing photos, anecdotes, and the logistics of each project and answered numerous questions put forth by the class. Finn has returned to Maine and is currently employed as an Assistant Project Manager at Zachau Construction of Freeport.


Whaleback Shell MiddenLast week, the Maine State History class visited two shell middens – Glidden Point (via the Great Salt Bay Preserve in Newcastle) and Whaleback (the state historical site in Damariscotta). Both middens are remnants of much larger deposits that were largely destroyed in the late 19th century. They visited the middens as part of our current unit on Wabanaki history. They represent one of the oldest records of human alteration of the landscape in Maine that is still clearly visible to us today. The middens have provided a rich archeological record, but also allow students to see how Native communities utilized the coastline.


Tom Roderick, NYA ’23 parent, recently served as a guest speaker for NYA’s inaugural Stock Market Club. Tom is a Notre Dame graduate and has worked for 21 years for Stifel, a mid-size investment bank out of Chicago. He gave an informative presentation during school period to a packed house of 26 students, discussing the real-world story of what he does, and what students should look for as they contemplate investing. He began with the story of how early in the pandemic, he appeared on television telling people not to buy Zoom stock, when it was trading at $600, because it would eventually come down to $250/share (which is where it is today!) He talked about what made him say that (“everyone is using it today, but when this ends, what happens then?”), and how he took a lot of pressure for it. He shared how they investigate company “books” to look for the stories numbers tell, and how to look for not just the immediate story, but what connects to it. (We’re all at home for a pandemic – what are people buying now? How are they buying it? What will happen when everyone can go back outside?)  Thanks to Tom for his insight and wisdom in helping the Stock Market Club!


Make-A-Wish is an organization that strives to bring a bit of joy into the lives of children living with critical illnesses. NYA’s Make-A-Wish Club organizes a variety of events to raise funds in order to help grant as many wishes as possible. We are sponsoring a Dress Down Day on Tuesday, October 19 and ask for a donation of three dollars or more. We appreciate the contributions you make, but not nearly as much as those who will benefit from the joy a wish brings! 


This year we are excited to welcome visitors back to Senior Speeches. Seating is limited so we are asking that, if you want to attend a Friday Forum for speeches, you must pre-register. Please RSVP to Lynn Sullivan by Thursday, 12:00 p.m., prior to the Friday speeches.


We have over 150 grandparents already registered for Grandparents’ Day!  We encourage your child’s grandparent or grand friend to join us and register to attend at

This special day for grandparents and grand-friends would not be possible without the assistance of parent volunteers. Please consider signing up to volunteer by adding your name to one or more of the times and tasks. Volunteering is a great way to help NYA, enjoy the student performances, and ensure grandparents have a great visit to campus. Thank you for your consideration. Please note that we are not able to accommodate parents at Grandparents’ Day unless they are volunteering.


NYA Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled for Thursday, October 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday, October 29 from 8:00 a.m. to  3:00 p.m.  There is no school for students on these two days. Conferences will be held on Zoom, and each conference slot will be for ten minutes. This is a chance for parents to talk with individual teachers about the progress of their child in that class. Instructions for the sign-up process will be sent out early this week. Please remember that sign-ups for conferences are on a first come, first served basis. We look forward to meeting all of the parents over the course of these two days, but if your schedule prevents a meeting during those times, please contact a teacher directly to either meet at a different time or to request a summary email from the teacher.


The fall weather has been almost as great as our team success this season. As fall regular seasons come to an end, and tournament play begins, be sure to sign up for the rSchoolToday “Notify Me” alerts for game detail announcements. We look forward to your support on the sidelines in the home stretch! Mark your calendars for the Virtual Upper School Fall Athletics Recognition Ceremony, taking place on Tuesday, November 9th at 6:00 p.m. Coaches will email login details to students and families.

Winter seasons will be here before we know it! Students should be on the lookout for winter activity emails to confirm their sign-up. The NEPSAC hockey season begins Monday, November 8, with the MPA winter season set for a Monday, November 22 start date. Full competition schedules, post-season opportunities, and specific sport guidelines are being finalized and will be posted online and communicated in future newsletters as soon as they are available. We are looking forward to it all!

Need to update your mask wardrobe? Swing by the Athletics Office for a NYA Panther mask! $7.00/mask or three for $18.

Please contact Athletic Director Kelsy Ross with any questions. Go Panthers!


On Wednesday, October 20, NYA will receive about 250 pumpkins that will be carved on Thursday by students in advisee groups.  On Friday, October 22, the jack-o-lanterns will then be delivered to Freeport by student and faculty volunteers as part of their 2021 Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival. The pumpkins will be lit up in Freeport along with thousands of others in a spectacular display, and then sold to make money to support Camp Sunshine’s programs. This is the eighth year that the Upper School Executive Council has organized NYA’s involvement to support this fundraiser.


Celebrating Halloween at NYA with creative costumes and a student parade is an enjoyable annual tradition here. Students may wear their costumes (or portions of their costumes) throughout the school day. However, it is important that costumes still permit students to engage in the learning process (i.e. cumbersome masks or accessories should wait for the parade). This year, costumes must also include an approved face mask (Halloween masks cannot replace the approved masks typically required). All costumes should be school appropriate in nature. If a student opts not to wear a costume, s/he must be in regular dress code for the day (and we remind students that dressing down as a “public school student” is not a costume).

We will have a slightly abbreviated class schedule on Halloween, followed by a socially-distanced and modified Halloween Parade outside so that students can display their costumes with members of the student Executive Council and have the chance to win prizes in categories such as “Best Small Group,” “Scariest,” or “Most Original.” Lots of photos will be taken and posted to the NYA Smug Mug website (see below for details) to share with the community following the festivities.


Whitney Wreath 2021While it seems impossible that holiday decorations could be on anyone’s mind, it is on ours. The Parents’ Association is once again kicking off our Annual Wreath Sale. As you may know, the PA’s mission is to promote school spirit, foster community, and support and strengthen NYA through programming and volunteer participation. Fundraising is a crucial part of this, and as our top fundraiser, the Wreath Sale will enable us to continue to award grants to faculty and students, host speakers, support faculty & staff appreciation and school programming efforts, and much more. Watch your inbox for more information and the link to order starting next week – we’re adding some amazing new products that can be shipped directly to you or the recipient of your choice!


Make-A-Wish is an organization that strives to spark joy and bring hope into the lives of children living with critical illnesses. NYA’s Make-A-Wish Club organizes a variety of events to raise funds with the goal of helping to grant as many wishes as possible. To help our community get into the Halloween spirit while doing something in service to others, the Make-A-Wish Club is putting on a Halloween movie “night” for NYA students of all ages:

  • Lower School Family Screening: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Middle School Student Screening: 5:15-6:45 p.m.
  • Upper School Student Screening: 7:00-9:00 p.m.

*Movie titles are to be determined. All titles will be age-appropriate.

The movies will be shown under the event tent on Denney Field on Friday, October 22. Grab a blanket and come watch a movie with your NYA friends! There is no charge for admission, but donations are encouraged ($5 suggested donation). Snacks, drinks, and pizza will also be available for purchase. All proceeds will go towards granting the wishes of children in Maine. 


From 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 7, we will welcome prospective middle and upper school families to campus for an Open House. It is a terrific look into the NYA community, and we encourage you to share the news with friends, family, and neighbors. If you have questions or would like some material to share with friends, please contact the Admission Office.


The College Counseling Office in Curtis continues to be a busy place with seniors and post graduates coming in for individual appointments and college admissions representatives stopping by to meet with interested NYA students. With prior instructor permission, juniors or seniors can meet with an admissions representative to learn about their options. Some visits are “virtual” and students are welcome to Zoom from the college counseling office outer lounge.

The Class of 2022 is reminded that if they haven’t already completed these tasks, Mrs. Bergill would like to help them get them done as soon as possible: requesting two teacher recommendations, adding teacher recommenders to Naviance, matching the Naviance account with the Common Application, adding appropriate application deadlines to the Naviance college list, and adding her as an “Advisor” with viewing privileges to their Common Application. Any students planning applications to the University of California system should remember that application is quite different and due no later than November 30.

Looking ahead to the end of October, seniors and post graduates (planning to submit any early applications) are encouraged to submit edited drafts of their applications and essays to Mrs. Bergill as soon as possible. As we get closer to November 1, things only get busier. To accommodate all of the students hoping to meet with her, Mrs. Bergill has scheduled College Counseling Open House days from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on October 26 and 27, and again on November 1. On those days, students can simply sign in when they are free and meet with Mrs. Bergill. She will try to keep meetings as brief as possible in order to meet with every student. Anyone planning to submit EA or ED applications on one of those days must remember to bring a credit card with them so that they can pay any required application fees. A similar opportunity will be offered prior to the November 15 application deadline.

Parents and guardians should keep in mind the FAFSA and CSS Profile deadlines tied to early applications. More information is available at and

Juniors and Sophomores took the PSAT on October 13. Their scores will be available on the College Board website by early December. Any families interested in working with the highly regarded online test prep company, Revolution Prep, should let Gretchen know so that she can try to match you with one of their introductory discounted offers. Otherwise, free test prep is always available through Khan Academy which is found on the College Board website. Juniors who plan to continue testing are encouraged to plan for the March 2022 SAT or the April 2022 ACT. Details will be available in their first college counseling meetings.

Looking even further ahead, once the Class of 2022 has completed the bulk of their college research and application process, the College Counseling Office begins its work with juniors in earnest. In January, there will be a kickoff meeting for students and a College Night for parents. Details are forthcoming.


Due to current restrictions in place, NYA will not host a flu shot clinic this year. However, the CDC highly recommends flu shots, now more than ever. Below are some options for flu shots this year:

  • Your doctor’s office – Call to set up an appointment and to confirm availability.
  • Pharmacies – Maine pharmacies offer flu shots to ages 7 and up. You could take a chance and pop in OR you can call ahead to ensure they have enough supply for the demand.
  • Urgent Care – Many urgent care offices throughout the state are offering free flu shots (e.g. Convenient MD is offering free flu shots for those 6 months and older, 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.). Call or check websites to determine options in your area.


Enjoy this update on Hunting for the Good Stuff from Cindy Hould, NYA School Counselor.


Are you interested in becoming a homestay family for an NYA student from away? As many of you know, NYA has a homestay program for Upper School students who live out of the state or country. In recent years, NYA has hosted students from many different countries, such as Canada, China, Austria, Spain, India, Germany, and more. We are always looking for potential homestay families to host these students. You don’t have to be a current NYA family to host a student. A monthly stipend is provided to each homestay family. The school will facilitate COVID screening on the student’s arrival to Maine. Please see our webpage for more information or email us (Sagaree Sengupta and Eliot Grady) at for specific details.


NYA has a new way to share photos with our families. Just go to and use the password NYApanthers. We plan to add photos of school events, athletics, and student life to this page on a regular basis, so check back often! School pictures will be available on this site very soon. The site offers a wide variety of print options and custom items for purchase. If you have questions, please contact Kristi Belesca. Please note that the password is case sensitive.


10/21Pumpkin Carving for Camp Sunshine
10/22End of First Quarter
10/22Upper School Grandparents’ Day, Dress-Up Day for students9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
10/22Movie Night on Denney Field7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
10/27NYA Halloween Festivities
10/28-10/29Parent Teacher Conferences via ZoomNO CLASSES
11/7NYA Open House for Middle & Upper School
11/8NEPSAC Opening Date
11/9Virtual Fall Athletic Recognition Evening6:00 p.m.
11/10Veterans’ Day Flagpole Ceremony
11/11Veterans’ DayNO SCHOOL
11/15Picture Retake Day
11/17CivilTea Dialogues
11/19Last day of classes before Thanksgiving Break
11/22MPA Opening Date for Maine Winter Athletics
11/22-11/26Thanksgiving BreakNO SCHOOL
11/29Classes resume
12/16Fall Semester Ends



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