In both academies and electives, an abundance of choices for students range across subject areas, from math, science, technology, art, sports, drama, singing, writing, music, and humanities to even crafts and games! Each semester, students in seventh and eighth grades take two electives.
All Middle School students, as well as fourth graders, also take an academy, which generally takes place every Friday afternoon. The academies, shaped by student interests, provide a more relaxed but challenging environment than electives and encourage groups of children and adults to explore and work together.
Head of School Diane Rosenberg and a group of teachers inspired from a gifted-education conference brought the idea of academies, which provide teachers with the ability to better differentiate learning, to Nueva. Generally, teachers lead the academies; however, parents and even administrators also propose and lead them. Here are some examples of Academy program offerings:
- Drawing Studio provides an environment for self-motivated drawers to practice their skills.
- Culinary Academy teaches simple but classic techniques for preparing healthy foods from scratch.
- The Mahjong Club involves a world-known board game with roots that can be traced back to 1890, and which almost everyone plays in China.
- In Glee Club, students sing harmony arrangements of various genres and perform.
- Garden Design and Implementation has students working out in the school garden to design new features that incorporate resource conservation, agricultural ecosystems, and sustainability.
- iPad Art inspires students to use iPad apps to create exciting and vibrant artwork with photography or from iPad finger painting.
- In Juggling, students learn the art of juggling and other circus- and manipulation-related talents.
- Digital Audio Recording Using Pro Tools offers hands-on techniques of recording on Pro Tools software.
- In Basketball, students hone their hoop skills on the court.
Electives provide students with opportunities to choose what they would like to study from such areas as performing arts, visual arts, writing, math, and technology. Teachers conduct electives like any other class, where they have particular learning goals for students and evaluate them on performance. Examples of electives include such topics as the following:
- Carnaval Arts -- Drumming & Dancing focuses on samba and soca drumming and dancing to perform along with the steel drum bands and costumed revelers in the spring Carnaval San Francisco parade.
- Digital Expressions enables students to explore digital imagery as an artistic medium that integrates photography, advertising, drawing, painting, video, and animation.
- The 1,000-Word Challenge is a writers' workshop where students compose fiction or nonfiction pieces of no more than 1,000 words. Writing with a word limit forces writers to carefully choose words, move a plot along in a limited space, and condense ideas.
- Trigonometry, part of precalculus mathematics, is the study of circles and triangles, and combines geometry and analysis. The class is for motivated math students who are expected to do work outside class.
- Introduction to Entrepreneurship gives students opportunities to identify attractive market opportunities, understand critical trade-offs regarding one's product/service concept, and develop a sense for what makes a great entrepreneurial team. The course culminates with each student or team defining a viable business or nonprofit opportunity and developing and presenting a business model and plan.