Middle School News

Middle School Athletics Showcase Nueva’s Philosophy
Dianne Willoughby, Editorial Manager
MIddle School Boys' Basketball

Middle School Athletics Showcase Nueva’s Philosophy
Record numbers of students joined winter basketball and soccer to play and learn by doing. Nueva’s K-8 Physical Education Teacher and Athletics Coordinator and two faculty coaches reflect on The Nueva Way in their successful 2019 season.
Nueva's fields and courts were busy this winter. What’s the story?
Alyssa Richards, Nueva’s K-8 Physical Education Teacher and Athletics Coordinator
“Participation was amazing for both the boys’ and the girls’ teams! And they came to play -- even though many teams had practices cancelled and games rescheduled by adverse weather and smoke from the northern California fires, they were determined.
We find a place for every student who wants to play, and this year we created a total of 18 winter basketball/soccer teams to meet their desire. As coordinator, I’m grateful for numerous faculty that come out and coach. Students connect with their teacher/coaches during the day, and at this young age, that’s so valuable in relationship building. This speaks to how we extend the classroom community and write the narrative of Nueva Athletics.”

What is the narrative of Nueva Athletics? What were the essential elements for your basketball teams?
Gary Kaplan, Middle School Humanities Teacher
"Nueva’s cornerstone social-emotional learning (SEL) philosophy runs through Nueva Athletics. Life lessons show up regularly, and at Nueva, we shine a light on these moments. We strive to instill a love of sports AND an understanding of the fairness of play. On the court, students expand their SEL skills: self-awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Sports have always been a big part of my life, and I admit that I always go in wanting to see our players win. However, at the same time that we are teaching them to shoot, we spend time on goal-setting, team-building, and strategic thinking. We wrap it all in reflection and appreciation for one another -- and all of this is more important than whether they win or lose.

At Nueva, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never played before, and on my teams it was really fun to watch the new players grow. They start to understand their own capabilities, experience competition, and to work together as a team. And they love representing their school. It’s just great!”

Some of these students are really young. What happens when the competition gets tough?
Eitan Tye, Eighth Grade Humanities Associate Teacher
"Yes, sometimes there’s intensity, when the competition builds in those neck-and-neck games. This is where Nueva’s culture shines through.

Middle School Boys' Soccer

Ultimately, playing a team sport is about the importance of relationships. We challenge the players to think about how their actions on and off the court impact the team. In the same way, we teach them how to channel gametime emotions in  ways that help the team. If they were upset about a call or previous play, they practice using their emotions to play even harder or smarter. They see the impact on the court, and these become life lessons that we hope will stay with them.

Building relationships is woven through my experience, too. Having the opportunity to both teach and coach eighth graders was wonderful because I really got to know my student-athletes. I was impressed with their level of commitment, felt their respect, and through this, we achieved something important together."

A Few Winter Highlights
The girls’ soccer program included 37 athletes, including many who had never played before. They formed two teams, one varsity and one JV, and the varsity team went undefeated!

MIddle School Girls' and Moms' Basketball Game

Boys’ basketball broke participation records with eight teams, 79 students from fourth through eighth grade. There were three varsity, and five JV teams including our youngest team of (mostly) fourth graders who finished the season 6-1.

Girls’ basketball had a blast with 50 athletes fielding five teams. While many of the teams finished 50/50 on the season, the fun ran all the way to the games they played against each other, including the end of season, JV A team's  Mother/Daughter celebratory game. Ask the girls who won!

Boys’ soccer grew this year as 52 players joined two varsity and one JV team. Coaches reported to Alyssa that they “felt supported by their athletes!” Students stepped up to leadership roles, and some students took notes when not playing. They used this in team meetings to give feedback on performance and to appreciate each other.

Read More

Remotely Together: Sharkbytes Build a Robot in a Remote Environment

While FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team captain Lucy D. was building the chassis, build team lead James T. was working on the flywheel launcher, Jason C. was busy creating the intake, and Howard L. and Anton P. were building the wobble arm. This was life for the Sharkbytes, who worked together remotely to design, build, and program a robot for the 2020–21 FTC competition.

Colors of Nature: An Eye-Opening Course—Or, How Environmentalism & Racism Are Intertwined

In the new fall 2020 elective “Colors of Nature,” seventh- and eighth-grade students explored the notion that people of color have different access to and privileges in the natural world. Through class discussions and creative journals, students reflected on how environmentalism and racism are intertwined. Eighth-grader Jax C. shares an introduction, and three students—Anika G., Kayla L., and Anjuli M.—reflect on their experience in this course. 

Catching Up with . . . Christine Braun

Viewing the world with an artist’s eye. Creating projects rooted in empathy. Empowering students with iteration and innovation. 

Throughout the past year, I-Lab engineer and Hillsborough shop manager Christine Braun has been a fixture on the Hillsborough campus, using the I-Lab as her home base while teaching, leading, and planning for design thinking-related initiatives. She is also a lit club facilitator for a seventh- and eighth-grade lit club.

Fifth Grade Earth Science “Rocks” in Remote Setting!

Toward the end of October, fifth-grade Earth Science classes completed the fall study of Earth’s composition and the rock cycle. To help students solidify their learning and set it in stone, students created models of the rock cycle using upcycled or ephemeral materials found in their homes. 

“Poem-Worthy Noodles” Connect Community to History and Each Other: Jennifer Lin-Liu, Author of On the Noodle Road ‘Visits’ Nueva

After school on Thursday, October 21, about 40 students and teachers gathered on Zoom to enrich and extend their current interdisciplinary study of the Silk Road. They were participating in a noodle-making workshop by author and restauranteur Jennifer Lin-Liu that covered centuries of history and was generations of cross-continental journeys in the making. Organized by Jennifer Paull in conjunction with the seventh- and eighth-grade humanities teachers, this event is one of many the new Humanities Center will showcase in the years to come.

Catching Up with . . . Sarah Powell

We sat down with Sarah Powell, middle school student support specialist, to hear about her passion for supporting gifted students, particularly during this challenging time. In this interview, Sarah shares how she helps to create pathways for students’ academic development, and she provides insight into the importance of relationships between parents, teachers, and students—and superpowers!—in our middle school support program at Nueva.  

Nueva Students Welcome Families to the Mid-Autumn Festival

This month, students in Weixia’s class celebrated 中秋节 or zhōng qiū jié (the Mid-Autumn Festival), a traditional event celebrated by many East and Southeast Asian people. With their parents, students watched the full moon, recited an ancient poem, and gave their parents a handmade card of appreciation. These activities were part of their process of immersing themselves in Chinese culture, an important part of learning the language, and they also offered an opportunity for students to share their learning with their families.