June 2, 2022

Dear Akiba Yavneh Academy Community,

As I am reaching the end of my two-year term as President of the AYA Board of Trustees, I would like to take a moment to thank each of you — our parents, teachers, donors, administrators, volunteers, alumni, friends, and of course, our students — for all your extraordinary efforts to ensure that the 2021-22 school year was one marked by significant achievement despite the continuing challenges of the pandemic.  

Please allow me to take a moment to reflect back on the year and recognize that our AYA students across the campus, achieved incredible success this year in academics, sports, and social/emotional development. 

Our remarkable Senior Class of 2022 had extraordinary SAT and ACT achievements, as well as an outstanding roster of college, yeshiva, seminary, and Israel gap year acceptances. Our varsity boys’ basketball team was state runner up, the soccer team made it to the state championship, and the girls’ basketball and volleyball teams performed exceptionally well. Moreover, this class realized great success in science fair and math competitions, and is comprised of multiple AP scholars, a National Merit Scholar Finalist, an Atlas Fellowship Winner, a Division-1 tennis player, and a published author! Their graduation ceremony last week brought so much nachas and joy to those of us in attendance and on Zoom. We could not be prouder of these exceptional young adults and cannot wait to see their impact on the world! 
We are thrilled that each of our Middle School experiential learning trips, which include the 6th Grade Texas History trip, the 7th Grade Washington DC trip, and the 8th Grade Israel trip, were able to take place again for the first time since 2019. We are certain these valuable learning experiences will impact our students for years to come. Our Middle School sports teams also had a full season of robust play with memorable performances. Our 8th Grade graduation ceremony took place on Tuesday night and each 8th Grader came to the podium and delivered a short speech about their experiences over the years at AYA. It was a beautiful evening that gave the attendees a glimpse into what makes AYA and its students so special!  

Similarly, our Lower School students were able to celebrate Judaic milestones on campus with their families with the 1st Grade Siddur Celebration, the 2nd Grade Chumash Celebration, the 4th Grade Tanach Celebration, and the 5th Grade Hebrew Play, Peter Pan! Our Early Childhood students were able to experience a Model Pesach Seder and those participating in Discovery had the chance to take the stage and demonstrate their ballet, hip hop, gymnastics, and capoeira skills to their friends and families.  

While all these programs and accomplishments are themselves great indicators of a successful school year, our community was finally able to come together for several in-person, on-campus events, and begin to feel connected again. For me, that is one of our greatest achievements. We opened the school year with the outdoor celebration dedicating Annette’s Torah and then had a lovely Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony. Our High School hosted a lively and well-attended Purim celebration and then our Middle School put on a meaningful Yom Hazikaron gathering and Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. All these events culminated in the simply fabulous and wonderfully fun community carnival for Lag B’Omer in Jordana Bernstein’s honor. Our connectedness as a community is our greatest strength, for which we can all be grateful. Personally, this is a moment of great hope for our wonderful school after the challenges we lived through in 2020 and 2021.

Our faculty and staff are unquestionably the heart of our school. We all share an enormous amount of gratitude for their steadfast dedication and outstanding efforts to ensure that each student in their trust has the best opportunities to learn and grow to become curious and dedicated learners as well as responsible community members and leaders. I know I speak for the entire community in expressing our collective gratitude to our outstanding faculty and staff for their tremendous efforts.

Looking into the summer, we are so excited to see Camp Kulanu in full swing and are certain our youngest children will have an amazing experience. While school is out, there is still a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to make sure next year is exceptional for your children. As you may have read, we have convened a task force to work on the important job of unifying Akiba and Yavneh into our distinctive AYA brand with a plan to launch the 2022-23 school year in August with a fresh look. We look forward to connecting with you next school year through several fun community activities we are planning around this effort, so please stay tuned!

On July 1, 2022, David Radunsky will take the helm as President of the AYA Board of Trustees. David is a highly dedicated and experienced Trustee, a former AYA parent, and a current AYA grandparent. Moreover, he has been a strong supporter of our school and many key community institutions for many years. Having worked alongside David for the past few years, I know that we will benefit from his experience and that he will give his heart and soul to the advancement of our very dear school. Please join me in wishing David great success and hatzlacha as he takes on the leadership of the Board. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Josh Hochschuler, Dani Meyerovitz, Jessica Josset, Andy Schultz, and Tara Ohayon, five exceptional AYA Trustees whose terms are coming to an end. They have been outstanding volunteers for the school and have demonstrated exceptional dedication and commitment to AYA. On behalf of myself and the community at large, I want to express appreciation for your important contributions.

Thank you again for your support and partnership over these past two years. Akiba Yavneh Academy is a magical place, and we are all so fortunate to be able to experience it together, as a community and a family. Wishing you all a relaxing, restorative, and memorable summer.

Most sincerely,
Laura Burstein 
President of AYA Board of Trustees