What is a lasting memory you have of Nueva?
“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.” – Yo-Yo Ma. To me, this is the true essence of Nueva. Nueva is a school filled with passion—a prodigious amount that resides in both its students and teachers. And after 10 years at Nueva, I have learned how to learn, and been taught not so much what to think, bu how to think. I’ve spent approximately 18,680 hours here; each hour helped shape the person who is writing this very sentence. It cannot be more simply put than Nueva is my second home and has made me the young woman I am today. I will always remember mummifying a chicken in third grade, becoming a playwright in fourth, understanding Batten’s disease for my health innovations class in fifth, writing a potential bill for congress in sixth, acting in a Shakespeare tragedy in seventh, pursuing neural stem cell research on Shiverer mice in eighth, simply surviving ninth, attending an experimental biology conference in Chicago with amazing teachers and amazing students. This list is the truncated version, and yet each of these experiences have (each in their own way) fashioned me. So thank you, Nueva, I owe most […]
Teaching at Nueva was a joy. The relationships I had with my students (crazy love!), other teachers (heavenly!), the parents (brilliant assortment of fabulous moms, dads, grannies and step families!) was so much fun and we all just seemed to click and make it work. I doubt that there was any other school like Nueva in the Bay Area at that time and the memories I have are so precious. How lucky I was to be hired to do a job I loved with people I loved and I hope that today’s Nueva population is as delighted to be as as connected by the that spirit as I was.
From my ten years at Nueva, the thing I miss the most is the nature. I learned how to build forts, make flower crowns, and feed the chickens. I held banana slugs and looked on in horror as some kids (cough, Josie) were brave enough to lick them. Later, I learned to love the solitude of the woods and I escaped everything for a couple of moments during recess in order to sit below the trees. I reveled in the softness of moss and, yelling, ducked out of the way of hanging moth caterpillars. I still have some of the flowers I pressed. Oh, and I made my own money, too.
I remember growing up in the forts: constructing shelters out of moss-covered branches and carving the maroon bark out of trees to paint symbols and treasure maps on our arms. We’d harvest knuckle-sized quartz crystals to use as currency, and race to tops of sprawling oaks to survey the surrounding activity. Our playground was vivacious— transformed every recess into an autonomous, make-believe civilization. The forts were a microcosm of Nueva’s broader environment in which I lived and thrived: a place where learning was alive, driven by the curiosity of dirt-covered kids. Even now, my nostalgia for the forts lingers. I don’t want to fully let go of the naïve magic we cultivated under that canopy of oaks. I haven’t returned in years, but I notice small echoes of the forts in unexpected places: in the farmer’s market booth that sells henna dye for body art, and in the small pile of twigs that my younger sister and I made into a fairy-fortress in our backyard. Although I’ve had to search for the spirit of the forts elsewhere since leaving Nueva, I’ve been able to hold on to the incredible friends with whom I used to spend my recesses. I’m so grateful to still consider […]
My favorite memory was from fourteen years ago, when I was in pre-k. I had been out sick for a day or two with a case of pink eye, but my mom had to drop off something (a field trip form, maybe?) at school. She brought me with her, but told me to wait in the car while she brought the form to Carolee. I climbed into the passenger seat, which had it’s window open, and waved at my friends playing during recess. As soon as they had spotted me, they ran to the fence keeping them from the parking lot and stuck their arms through it. I got out of the car (sorry, mom) and went over to say hello, while keeping a respectful and bacteria-proof distance from my classmates. Seeing my friends, after having known me for only a few months, be so excited to see me after only a day or two of absences meant the world to me. There are lots of adjectives that are used to describe Nueva students, but on that day, the adjective best suited to my classmates was “kind.” I love you, Nueva!
One of the many Nueva memories that will stay with me forever is from my trip to Peru the end of freshman year. We arrived in Aguas Calientes, the town surrounding Macchu Picchu, late at night after a full day of transit. Before we headed off to bed, we were given the option to hike up to the Sun Gate –a spot with amazing views of the Peruvian landscape– with the exception that it would require waking up at 4:00 the next morning. Getting the chance to sleep in sounded tempting, but with a little coercion from my roommates, I realized that I was getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness an amazing spot with some of my closest friends, and we grudgingly set the alarm. I’ll never forget what the view from the top looked like. The hike up was fast-paced and brutally steep, but the sunrise was breathtaking. Our normally chatty group stayed silent, both out of exhaustion and amazement, as we watched the sun melt away the fog to reveal this gorgeous green jungle. It was then when I realized just how much Nueva had taught me over my many years: to be fearless, to challenge myself, and to be […]
The trees and the music. Nueva instilled in me a love for the mystery of nature and the pleasure of being outside, and memories of the imaginative games my friends and I played in the Rope Swing Area (as it was then known) and the Lower Meadow are some of my most treasured. I also love the songs G.G. taught us, beautiful standards like Sentimental Journey and pieces like Russian Picnic that are intertwined with memories of the Mansion and the sun flooding into the Ballroom on a Friday morning. Nueva taught us that the extraordinary was possible.
By far, one of the most outstanding memories for me was getting to visit the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 7th Grade. It was truly amazing to see the different creative directions the directors took the different plays, and how it compared to our own performances. For me, my favorite play was Hamlet, as I felt a particular kinship to that play (I played Hamlet in the first half of our production). I remember being so excited when we watched the play in Ashland because the blocking was exactly the same! I also loved that we were able to have so much independence in Ashland to hang out with our friends, go look at the cool Shakespeare merchandise, get boba tea, hang out in the parks, etc. Just like most of my experiences at Nueva, it mixed fun, through getting independence with friends; learning, through about Shakespeare and drama; and a gain of practical skills, through coordination, organization, compromise together to create an utterly memorable experience. Happy 50th, Nueva!
At Nueva High School’s end-of-year assembly, students and faculty waited hungrily for my speech. Little did they know their orator was about to “drop some rhymes.” Yes, I rapped my eleventh-grade reflection. Over my thirteen years in the Nueva community, I’ve marinated in an environment where creativity and risk-taking are encouraged, along with other classic “Nueva things” like social-emotional awareness, grit, passion, and curiosity. In first grade, I discovered the fruits of social-emotional learning when I worked with classmates to cook up rules for our play-forts. In second grade, I learned that innovators embrace failure when courageous mispronunciation of unfamiliar words was celebrated with cookies. In eighth grade, I followed my passion, training as a sushi chef for the year-long “recital” project. Sophomore year, my biology teacher commended my intellectual bravery when I posed questions others were too afraid to ask. Gasping for breath, I finished my retrospective rap, and the audience erupted into applause. More than ever before, I felt my solid place in the Nueva community. In that moment, I not only epitomized Nueva’s essence, but also cast it into the audience. Nueva’s “secret sauce” will always flavor my understanding of the world and the world’s understanding of […]
Nueva taught me the importance of individuality and creativity both in my personal and professional lives. My teachers encouraged me to think out of the box and find innovative and sometimes unusual solutions to problems. Nueva also fostered my love for nature and the environment. I have fond memories of playing on the campus grounds, watching for banana slugs, and going on school camping trips. The experience taught me that we all need to cherish our environment and value nature. Finally, my experience at Nueva taught me the importance of listening to and valuing diversity. I was shaped to recognize that the best leaders not only give opinions, but acknowledge and integrate the ideas of people around them. One of my favorite Nueva memories is the annual Halloween Music class, where we listen and dance to an old recording of Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” To this day, I carry out this tradition with my family every October. The gift I treasure most from Nueva is the love of learning. Attending Nueva taught me that life is not just about figuring out the answer or finishing the last chapter of a book. The process of learning and […]
One of the things I love most about Nueva is the trips that each grade takes. The 7th grade Yosemite backpacking trip was one I had looked forward to for a while, but I also had some trepidation about it. We had been told it would be very fun, but you have to go to the bathroom in the woods and pack everything on your back. I had also never been backpacking or to Yosemite before. But I had a ton of fun. Even though I wasn’t with all my friends, and I had wanted to be on a harder trail, ours was really fun and I made lots of new friends. My group also got to have a bathroom next to our campsite, unlike some of the groups. However, four of the kids got sick and had to leave, giving us tons of extra food. That worked well for the good food, like Oreos, but for food like quinoa… well, that was a bit of a low point. This trip also culminated in a pizza lunch at a delicious place called Mountain Mikes, where they bring you pizza after pizza after pizza. This trip represents Nueva with trusting the […]
(Board Member: 1987-2006) From the moment I first observed Marilyn Reisen’s PreK class at Nueva in 1978, I knew it was the right place for my children. The years that followed were filled with inspiration and awe at Nueva’s dynamic learning environment. The curriculum was interdisciplinary, hands-on, and experiential, emphasizing creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. It was learning by doing, and learning by caring. The halls were filled with Art, Music, Book Fairs, Science Fairs, Media Fairs, and Night at Nueva. The beautiful outdoor spaces gave children places to roam, play, and build. Social and Emotional Learning were integral to the environment. Children found their own voices, and could be their own best selves, learning rights, respect, and responsibility. In the end, my children became life-long learners, eager to embrace the world around them. Our family loved the engaging and talented children, parents, and teachers, who brought so much diversity and richness into our lives. We thank you Nueva, for all those great years.
I discovered my love for many things at Nueva: trees, poetry, jazz, and, of course, learning. I was encouraged to tackle daunting assignments like writing a sonnet or researching the lymphatic system with confidence. My education at Nueva prepared me well for the rigor of college and taught me to embrace challenges and unfamiliar subjects. At Nueva, the unknown was never something to dread or fear, but something to dive into and investigate. Perhaps what has stuck most with me from my time at Nueva is a deep sense of empathy, fostered through the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. The ability to empathize and look at life from another’s perspective is not easy, but because of SEL, I always make an effort to do so. The skills taught through SEL have proved invaluable. I am better able to communicate with and understand others, even in conflicts or when I disagree. SEL instilled self-awareness and compassion in me, so that I can care for myself and for others. My ten years at Nueva have helped me become an eternal student, a lover of learning, and a compassionate citizen. I am grateful for the life experiences I gained […]
Son of the Sky This photo shows my classmates and me on stage in the GCC singing, dancing, and performing in our fourth-grade play. We worked on the production for months; writing the songs, learning our lines, choreographing the dances, and making our costumes and props. All of us were so passionate about the Greek myths we were studying. We had listened to speakers, read books, researched myths, and really enjoyed studying about the Greek people and their civilization. On the stage, I remember singing my heart out, having fun with my friends, and looking out to the audience. This whole experience changed me in many different ways—in fourth grade we had put together an entire play, from writing the script, to blocking the scenes, to performing it. That experience made me feel like I could succeed in a project, from start to finish, no matter my age or the size of the task. I hope that Nueva continues this way of learning without noticing that you are learning. During that play, I was focusing on remembering my dance moves and making sure my toga fit right, not that we had learned so much about Greek history. Rather than sitting in […]