The celebration lasted barely two hours, but its special moments and traditions served an important purpose: to launch Nueva’s 85 eighth graders to high school.
They walked in solemnly and seriously, concentrating on their speeches—the now-traditional 100 words—which they would share with assembled family and friends. With characteristic Nueva flair, they presented, rhymed, and sang their Nueva reflections: of opportunities seized and challenges overcome, and of their love and appreciation for classmates and teachers.
And the celebration was fun. Everyone awaited each unexpected delight, as the students reveled in their moment. When adjusting the microphone height periodically emitted an awkward noise, students couldn’t contain their giggles and we watched them visibly relax into their speeches. We saw their authentic smiles and felt how special this milestone was for them.
The sentiments were as unique as each student, and together they painted a picture of a class that has shared life and learning as a community. Just before 4 pm on Friday, June 7, they strode out of the tent on the Hillsborough sports field with high fives and hugs, having given their hearts to us one more time.
(Editor's Note: Hats off to these now ninth graders. I was unsuccessful in my attempt to write this story within 100 words!)
Here are a few speech excerpts:
“Nueva gives me freedom to learn from my mistakes; I’ve done a lot o’ learning.”
— Zander C.
“Nueva inspires me to pursue my own ideal."
— Alexa W.
“From fourth grade to now, I’ve hit my bumps and potholes. I’ve tripped and fallen. But every time, I’ve righted myself back up and continued on with the help of my extraordinary friends and teachers.”
— Thomas H.
“If you know me, you know that I love books. My time at Nueva has felt like being inside one of the books that I love so much, filled with adventure and new ideas.”
— Selina M.
"Thank you, Nueva, for giving me the opportunity to take risks."
— Winston L.
"Nueva has taught me to have an imagination."
— Abigail W.
“Nueva taught me to have the confidence to speak up, to express, to think unconventionally, and, most importantly, to live for myself.”
— Rosie D.