Intercession coverPhotoIntersession at Nueva’s Upper School is an academic experience that brings together many Notably Nueva elements.

Over the course of six days spanning January 4 to 11, students in the Upper School chose from 53 seminars, 66 activities, and 22 full-day intensives in topics ranging from visual, performing, and literary arts to science, music, medicine, psychology, business, technology, and many more.

Linda Yates, Intersession Committee Chair, was excited about the program. “Intersession 2017 marks the first time we have a full four years of students participating!  We had 150 events with over 100 presenters. In addition, this year we were able to open all types of sessions to all grade levels across both weeks, and it worked incredibly well.”

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Nueva’s Philosophy in Action

By dedicating these days to Intersession, Nueva’s Upper School lives its commitment to bringing high-quality, enriching, meaningful curriculum, taught by subject-matter experts to students who thrive while working with real-world, hands-on experiences and challenges.

Intercession bodyPhoto2Central to Nueva’s pedagogy and at the root of the experience is choice: students select their preferences based on their interests and passions, their curiosity, and, for some, their future dreams. Steven K., a freshman at Nueva this year, shared, “The first week I took ‘Arc Welding’ because I’m interested in studying engineering in my future, and this week I’m in ‘Storyboarding for Animation’ because I want to explore the possibility of drawing a manga.”

Maddy T., a senior who is certain she will include art classes in her future studies, loved Intensives so much last year that she opted to take two this year to concentrate her time during Intersession. Bubbling over with excitement, she recounted the process of creating zines — mini, artistic, self-published magazines — learned during “Screenprint, The Art of Zines,” held at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley. In her second Intensive at Kala, “Watercolor Painting,” she experimented with techniques including wash, gradient wash, salt, sponging, and glazing while painting still lifes of vegetables. “I’ve experimented with watercolor before, and learning all the different techniques really put more tools in my artist’s tool bag. This is one of my passions.”

Program Structure

The course catalog provides a dizzying array of offerings, and choosing what to take can be both fun and agonizing for students. Seminars, activities, and intensives range in their level of depth in a topic and length of class. Seminars are a deep dive elective for two hours a day for three days (six hours a course). Activities are stand-alone lectures, panel discussions, or interactive experiences that run for 90 minutes per session at mid-day. Intensives are interactive retreat-style workshops that provide the deepest dive, held for 5 hours a day for three days (15 hours a class). Intensives can be on or off campus.

Classes stretch and extend Nueva’s core themes around social justice, the arts, STEM, the humanities, globalization, design thinking, and social-emotional learning.


Experts Bring Passion for Their Subjects

Intersession is an enormous success because of the dedication of the amazing instructors who share their passion, experience, and talents with Nueva students over the two weeks of Intersession. They bring love of their subject, infusing the atmosphere with an energy that is palpable.

Excitement for the instructor experience often mirrors that of the students. Romayne Putna, an education consultant for nearly 20 years, is teaching three activities and one seminar in topics ranging from “Forensic Science” to “Crucial, Beautiful Math.” In so doing, she is sharing her love of creating and instructing project-based curriculum that excites and inspires. A passionate advocate of interactive learning and “edutainment,” she shared her appreciation for this experience: “It feels like someone’s given me a little gift box, allowing me to teach what I love to amazing students.”

In Romayne’s classes, she seeks to introduce her students to history, science, art, and fashion, and illustrate through discussion and activities — like dusting for fingerprints or trying on period clothing — the ways that our present reality is built on the past. She sprinkles in a bunch of fun along the way, finding and sharing the absurdity in her topics.

In “Storyboarding for Animation,” George Evelyn, a visiting artist at the California College of Art, works with students to create an animatic, the modern version of storyboards, the pinned drawings famous in the early days of animation. An acclaimed and award-winning writer, animator, director, and producer, George is sharing his experience with Nueva students in his Intersession seminar.

The students dove right into the process of creating thumbnail storyboards using a light table, background drawings, character animations, an iPhone, and iMovie to create their mini-movies. George encouraged students to choose their own stories. “Some students are into anime while others are working on longer animation projects. Each student has a specific vision and they are all animation-savvy. They’re sophisticated students at this art,” he said.

Intersession grew this year to accommodate all four Upper School grades, and Linda Yates shared her gratitude for the new presenters. “We are very lucky to have such an amazing corps of presenters. I hope that the Nueva community will peruse the catalog and get to know the offerings and the bios of our instructors.”


A Teacher’s Perspective

Lee Holtzman, upper school history of science teacher and Nueva alum, attended as many of the Conversation Ambassador sessions that she could. Conservation Ambassadors’ mission is to give a worldwide voice to wildlife by providing a loving home for displaced, abused, abandoned, or permanently injured wild and exotic animals. During these sessions, Lee touched an alligator, a possum, a lemur, and more; observed otters scampering around the room; held a squirrel monkey in her lap; and watched a bald eagle spread her wings. But most importantly, over the course of Intersession, Lee watched the students transform, their attitudes shifting from “how cute, I want one!” to a deep respect for and recognition of the worth of the animals. She said, “We all interact so little with nature these days, and these moments of contact with the wild both centers us and shows us why we need to preserve nature. Students held baby alligators with a sense of sanctity, and watched with wonder as the red-tailed hawk spread her wings. The moment of touching an immense Burmese python or locking eyes with a fox engendered a real desire to protect and care for nature in the students,” said Lee.


Using Their Skills

Students gain experience and technique rapidly in this type of small-group, hands-on instruction, and come away with skills they can immediately put to use. Steven K. said, “Being guided by someone in these fields who really knows what they’re doing is something that is invaluable. You get quickly up the learning curve. I’ve never had an experience like this. It’s great.”




Intersession Sparks Exploration and Lifelong Learning from The Nueva School on Vimeo.



 January 13, 2017



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