Mavericks Making Waves is our latest roundup of exceptional student and faculty accomplishments and activities happening beyond Nueva's walls.
Upper School Students Named National Winners of Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Science Competition
Andrew C. ’22 and Akshar R. ’22 were named national winners of the 27th annual Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision competition, the world’s largest K–12 science competition. Winners are named in four divisions: Grades K–3, Grades 4–6, Grades 7–9, and Grades 10–12. Andrew and Akshar were named the winners of the Grades 7–9 division, as they completed the project before the end of their freshman year.
“This year’s winners have gone above and beyond to think critically and creatively about the biggest problems facing our world,” the press release noted.
Andrew and Akshar won for their project, “A Cure for Chronic Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Infection.” According to Akshar, “This specific competition is centered around the future and imagining how technology today can change and help solve problems in the future.”
“We definitely weren’t expecting to win,” Andrew added. “It was an awesome experience, and we had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC, to meet the other winners, share projects, and meet lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Middle Schooler Sean G. Competes in Cross Country Junior Olympics
Last weekend, Nueva sixth grader Sean G. traveled to Wisconsin to compete in the USATF National Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships. The conditions were tough—23 degrees with a stiff wind, which brought the wind chill down to -12 degrees—but Sean persevered and ran a personal best time of 12 minutes and three seconds on the 3-kilometer course. Sean qualified for this race by competing in the Sectionals final in Folsom and then the Regional final in Fresno. Only the top 30 runners and top five teams for each age division advance to the next stage, meaning Sean and his team, the Woodside Wildebeests, were a top five team in each round.
“Sean was the youngest Nueva student to ever join the cross country team, and his work ethic raised the bar for all the older kids,” said Zubin Mobedshahi, Nueva PE teacher. “He reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Tim Noakes, ‘Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit.’ That’s Sean in everything he does.”
“It felt really good to run in the Junior Olympics,” Sean said. “That is what I am always training for. When I run, it feels like all of my hard work has paid off. It was a great experience!”
Jack Albright ’22 Makes Great Strides in Fight Against Alzheimer’s
Jack Albright has fond memories of his grandmother, Granny Janet, who loved to tell Jack and his younger brother the stories of her life, which included living on a sailboat in the Caribbean.
In 2017, Granny Janet’s memories started to fade, and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. "Before her diagnosis, Granny Janet was a gifted short-story writer and an avid reader," Jack remembered. "It was upsetting to see how quickly she lost the ability to do these things that were so central to her life."
For his eighth grade recital project, Jack developed software that can predict the onset of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia in people who are suspected of having Alzheimer’s disease. "By detecting Alzheimer's before symptoms appear, researchers could design more successful drug trials and perhaps discover more effective treatments or a potential cure for Alzheimer's disease,” Jack explained.
Jack's work was awarded the $20,000 Robert Wood Johnson Award for Health Advancement and was recently featured in Brain & Life, a publication of the American Academy of Neurology.
"I was very excited to win the award, but my efforts pale in comparison to my grandmother's daily struggles," said Jack, who hopes to become a computer scientist. "This award is for Granny Janet and the millions of other patients and caregivers who face the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease."
For the past year, Jack has worked with the local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association to advocate for bipartisan legislation to advance Alzheimer's research and patient care. On November 19, he received a proclamation from San Jose City Council member Magdalena Carrasco. Carrasco designated November as National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.
Nueva Students Crowned Chess Champions
Four Nueva students—senior Jake V., junior Daniel H., and sophomores Brandon C. and Steven H.—competed in the 2019 CalChess Grade Level State Championship. As a team, they won the Grade 10–12 School Team State Championships, defeating the second place team by a whopping six points. All of the Nueva players also placed in their respective divisions: Jake V. was named 12th Grade State Champion, Daniel H. was named 11th Grade State Champion Runner-up, Steven H. was named 10th Grade State Champion, and Brandon C. placed third in the JV Division.
Chess is a game of strategy and small details. Steven explained, “During the tournament, I played someone I’ve played before and I knew that he likes to play quickly. So I decided to take my time and exploit his fast play. He did, in fact, make a mistake and I was able to exploit that.”
“Chess is usually an individual sport,” Steven said, “but when you go with a team, it alleviates some of the pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself to out-perform myself and do really well. With teammates, it helps lighten the mood, and we also give each other suggestions between rounds. It was having a team this year that really made the difference for me.”