January 16, 2021

Op-Ed: Lyme Academy Offers Thanks for Community Support

As the first month of our new academic year draws to a close we would like to extend our deepest thanks to the businesses and non-profit organizations that once again extended a warm welcome to the students of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts of the University of New Haven. We welcome nearly 140 students to campus this year with 45 living in our Southwick Townhouses, adjacent to our campus, and 20 living in the newly constructed Post and Main apartments in Old Saybrook. All of our new and returning students were greeted with welcoming smiles and sweet treats on both sides of the River in Old Lyme and Old Saybrook, alike.

Along Lyme Street, the Chocolate Shell, Nightingale Cafe, and the Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe and Café all welcomed our students with tasty offerings. The owners of Old Lyme Inn opened the doors of their Side Door Jazz Club to the students and family members who attended our midsummer student meeting. During our orientation program, the doors were opened once again. The baby grand piano and the luxurious ambiance of Side Door Jazz Club provided the perfect setting for the performance of our very own, sophomore Alexandra Naimoli, at our first Lyme Light event of the year.

A special highlight and tradition of our orientation program for incoming students was the museum tour and delicious ice cream social on the patio of Café Flo, hosted by Jeffrey Andersen, Director of the Florence Griswold Museum and David Rau, Director of Education and Outreach. This was the first of a series of museum/gallery visits that will occur throughout the year. Other neighboring galleries and museums that students will visit during their fall semester at LYME include the Lyme Art Association, the Cooley Gallery, and the Lyman Allyn Museum.  The generosity of the staff of these organizations to give of their time and share their knowledge allows us to provide valuable experiences that complement students’ career development during their years at LYME as well as networking resources that will prove valuable as they progress in their careers.

In Old Saybrook, it has been nearly a month since the Post and Main Apartments became the home away from home for twenty students from LYME. We are extremely grateful to the community of Old Saybrook for warmly embracing our students.  Susan Beckman, the Economic Development Director in Old Saybrook and Judy Sullivan, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce took time from their busy schedules to gather together maps, guides to local resources and other gifts. Welcome baskets filled to the brim with treats from local businesses greeted our students as they moved into Old Saybrook. And the presents continued throughout the first week; including gifts from Pursuit of Pastry, Dunkin Donuts, Jack Rabbit’s restaurant, Caffé Marche, and offers of free dance lessons from the Fred Astaire Dance studio. A special highlight was a tour of the Kate with Executive Director Brett Elliot. During the tour, students were surprised with a $50 Gift Card, to a show of their choice, made possible by a very generous donor.  Local businesses like Saybrook Point Inn are reaching out to students with offers of employment, and a number of organizations are working with us, and our students on myriad programs still to come.

The charm of Lyme Street and Main Street, variety of restaurants, hiking paths and miles of beach offer countless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment. Both Old Lyme and Old Saybrook make for wonderful homes for our students and, in turn, our students bring a special vibrancy to these warm and welcoming communities. We are looking forward to discovering and sharing many new and exciting experiences in both of these communities as well with many organizations as in neighboring towns including Essex, New London and Mystic where our students have been invited to participate in field studies, internships and create and display art in the year ahead.

In 2014, shortly after I began my tenure as Campus Dean, I was asked “What do students do with their time when they aren’t in class?”  I can now answer “Plenty!”  All thanks to our friends in the community.

As LYME continues its partnerships in the region with remarkable films, lectures, exhibitions, and studio art workshops, we are grateful for all this community does for us, and our students.  We are so proud to be an integral part of the lower Connecticut River Valley and look forward to continued collaboration with our neighboring organizations throughout the coming year.


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