An exciting new addition to the school schedule this year for all divisions is the inaugural Humanities Fair, which will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 14. This first in a biennial series of fairs—the Humanities Fair will alternate with the phenomenal STEM Fair—will be held virtually, but there are plans for this to be an in-person event once it is safe to do so. The aim of these alternating fairs is to show Nueva's balanced commitment to all these disciplines, as well as give students a chance to share their work and thinking.
Parent organizers Sarah Ordódy, Margaret Lynch, and Essy Nickolova have been working with Interim Humanities Director Jennifer Paull to bring this event—designed to promote the excitement, depth, and breadth in Nueva humanities teaching—to our community. In addition to student presentations, there will be talks and activities with outside guests, designed to develop the students’ exploration of literature, history, languages, and more interdisciplinary themes and topics. In lower school, there will also be two special days of programming on the Monday and Tuesday following the fair, with a storytelling theme and a range of special speakers.
“It's been such a nice experience working on the Humanities Fair with Essy—who has been beyond amazing—and the rest of the NPA,” shared senior Willow Taylor C. Y., co-lead of the Upper School Student Council.
Willow is supporting the music program at the fair through student involvement and sign-ups. She will also moderate the journalism panel.
“They are working tirelessly to put on this virtual event, and I think it's really shaping up to be celebratory and lively and bright,” Willow added. “As a humanities person, one of my favorite things about Nueva is the way we approach and teach humanities and social science concepts, so it's really fantastic to see all of that being cohesively presented and appreciated in a very public and positive way.”
Jen has also been working diligently with the parent volunteers to bring in speakers who appeal to all ages within our community.
“I’ve been reaching out to speakers, students in the upper school, and our student clubs,” she said. “We have lots of terrific things in the lineup! Already confirmed are two special guest speakers, author Aimee Nezhukumatathil and poet, writer and organizer Mahogany Browne.”
Aimee, a nature writer who has transformed the genre with her beautiful and unusual books, including the most recent World of Wonders, will be in discussion with middle school students from the Colors of Nature elective, whose work will also feature in the fair. (Aimee said these Nueva students’ work is “right up her alley!”) Also attending is SF Chronicle journalist Peter Hartlaub, whom the parent organizers only found out after inviting him happens to be a Nueva alum!
“I’m really excited for this inaugural Humanities Fair,” said Interim Middle School Head Karen Tiegel. “It’s a terrific chance for students and teachers to showcase projects and to highlight the exciting work that the humanities, writing and languages teams are doing.
“We are thrilled to be welcoming special guest speakers, including Aimee and Mahogany,” Sarah Ordódy noted. “We are happy to have this opportunity to showcase the humanities work and thinking of Nueva students—to celebrate our own writers and poets, our deep readers and thinkers, our questioners and reasoners, our cultural anthropologists and activists, and our creative artists.”
In addition to spotlighting and celebrating the Nueva curriculum and students, the aim of the Humanities Fair is to build community around a shared interest in or curiosity about the humanities, and to be “the spark that ignites a passion,” Sarah added.
To help create a spark, there will be a book writers' panel, and students, of any grade, who have or are writing a book can join the panel.
“We are lucky that author, writing teacher, and Nueva parent Liza Percer will be moderating the panel,” Sarah noted. “And that fifth-grade writing and humanities teacher Cliff Burke, will also be on the panel (he is also the author of An Occasionally Happy Family).”
The Nueva deans are eager for our students to take this opportunity to showcase all of their humanities work in and out of the classroom. Dalton Lobos, sixth grade dean said, “We want to celebrate what middle-school students have been doing in the classroom, as well as their personal passion projects. They can share work from writing on the website, lead a live presentation, lead a workshop for Nueva students of any age and much more! One of the most important things they can do is to attend the fair and celebrate the humanities at Nueva!”
Keep your eye on Nueva Notes and look out for an all-school email with the schedule and Zoom links.