Campus News

Mavericks Making Waves: January 2021
Rachel Freeman, communications/website manager

Students Shine in Prestigious Math Competition
Congratulations to all of Nueva’s deserving young mathletes who participated in the prestigious AMC 8 Math Competition!

The test, offered by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), is the younger sibling of the AMC 10 and 12, which function as the opening qualifying steps for participation on the United States team that competes at the International Mathematics Olympiad. Interested middle (and some lower) school students logged on to take the first-ever online version of this test at a time of their choosing during a designated week in mid-November. Designed to challenge even the brightest of eighth graders, the AMC 8 is a demanding test of mathematical knowledge, cleverness, speed, and endurance. 

“Nueva believes that there are many ways to be good at math, and skill at math competitions is one of these many ways,” said Steven Chanan, middle school math teacher. “Everyone who participated in this year’s especially tricky contest deserves praise for their bravery and fine performance.” 

Many young Nueva mathletes distinguished themselves and earned awards: FanFan J. (8) earned a Gold award for finishing first in the school, Howard L. (8) and Colin C. (7) earned Silver awards for finishing second, and Anika G. (7), Ryan A. (7), and Camille C. (6) earned Bronze awards for finishing third. 

FanFan, Howard, and Colin also earned Honor Roll of Distinction awards for finishing in the top 1 percent nationally. Anika, Ryan, and Camille, along with Jackson O. (8), Nate B. (7), Daniel K. (6), and Pablo Z. (6) earned Honor Roll Certificate awards for finishing in the top 5 percent nationally. 

Finally, sixth-graders Camille, Daniel, Pablo, Darmook K., Analise C., Hubert C., Kaiyan N., and Miriam H., fifth-graders Shen H., Davina R., and Aiden Y., and fourth-graders Atticus L. and Brandon N. earned Certificate of Achievement awards for scoring 15 or above as sixth graders or below. Congratulations to all the participants!

Music Videos by Nueva Science Teacher and Nueva Science Rap Academy Students Makes Forbes List
Nueva made this Forbes list of the 10 best science parody music videos from the past 10 years! 

Tom McFadden, eighth-grade science teacher, has a knack for combining science education and rap music. Having loved science and hip hop since he was a child, Tom even wrote his thesis for his master’s in science communication on music in the classroom. 

So, when he joined the Nueva faculty in 2013, he began Science Rap Academy, an elective that combines student culture and creativity with high-level science concepts (Here is his students’ first video!). Now, both he and a group of his students are being recognized by Forbes for their creativity.

Tom—formerly known as ‘the Rhymebosome’—was individually recognized for his video, “Mitosis Bling,” a parody of Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” A group of his students were recognized for their parody video of “My Shot” from the musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In 2017, these eighth-grade students created the video from conception through production by researching, writing, singing, filming, and editing. This parody about vaccines always surfaces around flu season each year, and it became very topical in 2020 because of news of the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccines, earning it a spot on the Forbes list of “geeky yet goofy” videos.

“It's great to see the "My Shot (Vaccine Version)" video get its due, since it is one of the best ever,” said Tom, who has loved science and hip hop since he was a middle school student. “Since I've been making YouTube science videos for a long time now, I know most of the other people on the list, so it's fun to get celebrated alongside my friends.”

The music video, which stars Lucy B. ’21 as a patient learning about vaccines, mentions herd immunity and explains why vaccination is vital for those with immunodeficiency. 

“Creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking are the foundation for every Nueva class, including this one,” Tom said. “But by blending together so many different skill sets—science research, lyric writing, vocal performance, cinematography, video editing—the goal is really to have every student get a chance to shine and show off their talents, whether it is in front of or behind the camera!”

Here is a full playlist of the student videos. Enjoy!

Eighth-grader FanFan J. Earns Second Place in Renowned International Music Competition
Eighth-grader FanFan J. was recently selected as the second place winner for his age group in the international music competition, “Grand Prize Virtuoso.” 

To be selected, FanFan submitted two unedited video recordings in which he sang two pieces: a German piece titled, “Aus meinen Tränen sprießen,” and an Italian piece titled, “Ombra mai fu.” 

As a selected winner, FanFan received an invitation to perform in the Winners Concert at the Beethoven House in Germany, and while COVID-19 has halted the performance until summer 2021, he is excited to participate when it is safe. 

“This is the first time I have earned an international music competition award in Europe,” FanFan said. “I am very excited about visiting Beethoven’s hometown and performing in Beethoven’s house this summer.” 

Even in Rebuilding Year, Public Forum Debate Team Has Several Successes
Debate coach Les Phillips has called this year “a rebuilding one” for the Nueva Public Forum Debate Team. But don’t tell that to students on the team, because they have seen several notable successes thus far at both the varsity and novice levels. 

The public forum debaters compete in debate around the country—albeit virtually this year. In public forum, debaters debate specific topics for one- and two-month periods. Topics this year have included NSA surveillance and No First Use nuclear policy. 

At the Kentucky and Apple Valley tournaments in fall 2020, juniors Elena R. and Nikki A. reached the elimination rounds, finishing in the top 10 percent in the nation. At a tournament hosted by Yale, senior Kevin W. and junior Humza R. reached the elimination round, as well, finishing 17th in a field of nearly 300 teams from around the world. And two novice teams of ninth-graders Olivia C. and Christine Z. and seventh-graders Jordan G. and Katja G. went undefeated at their very first novice tournament. 

“Jordan and Katja have continued their nationwide reign of terror of this year, taking second place in the junior division at the University of Houston tournament,” Les said. “The entire public forum team is now preparing for the critical late January/early February series of very competitive tournaments run by Emory, Stanford, and UC Berkeley. We are also looking forward to competing in the National Tournament of Champions in late April, a tournament Nueva won in 2017!” 

Communications Team Wins International Marketing Award 
Earlier this month, the Nueva Communications Team won a 2020 Bronze InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Award for its special event, “Anti-racist Communications Strategy Session.” This competition is the only international one that recognizes excellence in private and independent school marketing and communications exclusively. 

The entries were judged by a panel of 69 marketing experts from around the world, and entries were scored on creativity, persuasiveness, design, copy, photography, and overall appeal. 

“Schools are at their best when they look beyond themselves and their students,” one judge wrote. “It was encouraging to see the Nueva School take on this important topic, and do it so well.”

“We wanted to provide a forum for communications professionals to brainstorm in a safe place how to navigate these uncharted waters,” said Nueva Director of Communications Antonia Ehlers. “Communication to our school community is so important—now more than ever—and it was wonderful to meet other communications professionals who are facing similar challenges due to our nation’s political landscape and the COVID pandemic. Our commitment to building a Beloved Community is unwavering, and I am so proud of our Communications Team—Rachel, LiAnn, and Mitzi—for making this event happen. We hope to offer another one again soon.”

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Intersession 2021: New Ideas, New Partnerships, New Discoveries

Intersession, hosted each year since the upper school’s inception during the first week following winter break, is a time for upper school students—and, new this year, lower and middle school students, as well—to engage in interdisciplinary exploration with real-world experts. Many alumni often share that intersession was a favorite time for them during their tenure at Nueva.

Even in a year that has been anything but typical, students had hundreds of intersession courses from which to choose, ranging from cooking and art to politics and computer science to improv acting and juggling, and so much more. 

Behind the Scenes: Part One of a Four-part Series

Over the course of the last nine months, everyone in our community has worked tirelessly to ensure that we continue to offer the academic program and community experience our students and families love about Nueva. One team that has worked particularly hard, and entirely behind the scenes, is the Facilities and Operations Team. In this season of thanks, we are so very grateful to Director of Facilities and Operations Steve Osbourne and his entire team, spanning both campuses, for their efforts to allow us the safe return we have had over the past few months.

More Than 1,000 Grandparents and Special Friends Gather for Special Virtual Event

This is not a typical year, so it made sense that Nueva’s annual Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day (GPSF) would also not be so typical. In this virtual event hosted on November 20, approximately 1,300 grandparents and special friends Zoomed in from across the globe—from Burlingame and Oakland to Boston, England, and Pakistan. 

Anti-racism is a Verb: Part Five of a Five-part Series on Anti-racism Work at Nueva

Part 5 – Activism and Moving Forward

Ingrained in all of the teaching and learning around anti-racism at Nueva—in programs and projects built over the years, as well as new ones introduced this year—is a message of hope: hope for this next generation of young people, hope for the future of Nueva, and hope in creating a more anti-racist community at Nueva and within our broader communities. 

Ten Ways SEL Helps Students Meet the Challenges of 2020

At Nueva, social-emotional learning is embedded in everything we do and is the foundation of the Nueva culture. It is during usual times and unusual times—like the one we find ourselves in—when SEL is on full display. From SEL classes and advisories to math, humanities, and electives, here are ten ways that SEL supports Nueva students emotionally, at a distance and when adapting to new social norms in the classroom.