Campus News

Mavericks Making Waves: March 2020
Rachel Freeman, communications/website manager & Mitzi Mock, digital videographer/storyteller

Mavericks Making Waves is our latest roundup of exceptional student and faculty accomplishments and activities happening beyond Nueva's walls.

SharkBytes Swims Ahead of the Pack

Belated congratulations are in order for SharkBytes, our Middle School robotics team! In January, team members attended the FIRST Google Qualifier, where they received the “Think Award," which honors a team for their engineering process. To qualify for this award, the team kept a detailed journal of the science and mathematics that went into its robot design and game strategies. The Mavericks came in as second runner-up in the design and inspire categories. 

Their success continued a few weeks later when they attended the FIRST Robotics Regional Championships, where they won the "Promote Award” for producing the best video message celebrating STEM and FIRST Robotics. The regional championship event was hosted in partnership with Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Force for Change philanthropic initiative. Several Disney actors attended the event dressed in related costumes. Christine Braun, SharkBytes’ team advisor, writes, “We LOVED that the Emperor said, ‘Come to the Shark-side!'”

Seventh Grader, FanFan J., Makes Final Round of Competition to Determine USA Physics Team

Seventh grader FanFan J. recently took the F=MA contest, an American Association of Physics Teachers exam designed to select the United States team for the International Physics Olympiad Competition. Not only did FanFan participate in this high-school-level competition, he passed the test and made it to the final round. He was one of 400 entrants to pass the test and qualify for the USA Physics Team Exam, in which he will compete at the beginning of April. This USA Physics Team Exam is used as the basis for the selection of the 20 team members who will make up the US delegation. 

FanFan has been mentored throughout his physics journey by US teacher Mark Hurwitz. “Mark has been patiently waiting for me to grow up,” FanFan said. “He coached my AP Physics 1 class when I was in fifth grade and has invited me to all of the high school physics contests.” 

Congrats, FanFan, on such an outstanding accomplishment! 

The Show Must Go On on YouTube for One Nueva Performer

Eighth grader Owen Y.-L. was recently cast in the Palo Alto Players’ performance of Matilda: The Musical. Two weeks into rehearsal, Owen and his castmates got word that the show could not go on as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that didn’t stop the cast from sharing their music with their audience, on YouTube. “We didn’t want to let the talent of this cast go without an opportunity to shine,” says the opening credit of the YouTube performance. “Many members of the cast recorded themselves from home, separately singing the bow song along with the rehearsal piano track.” Owen joined in and can be seen in the bottom right corner (one in from the right) and can be heard beautifully singing the finale song from the musical with his castmates. Click here to see the performance. 

"I was really excited about participating in this project, because we got to display all the effort that we had already put into the show," Owen said. "When I saw the video, I was amazed at how it all fit together, because I only recorded myself singing my own part. It was also amazing to see how although we were all separated in our own homes, we were given the opportunity to all come together and have fun singing in the midst of these unique, challenging circumstances."

Upper School Student Brandon C. Qualifies for Computational Linguistics Competition

Sophomore Brandon C. qualified this spring to take part in the invitational round of the North American Computational Linguistics Open Competition (NACLO) after he placed in the top 10 percent of all Open Round qualifiers. 

“This year’s competition provided a fun way for me to interact with new algorithms and languages in really fascinating ways,” Brandon said. “Ultimately, I think computational linguistics technology will help with a variety of future applications, including natural language processing and better AI systems.”

Said Claire Yeo, Upper School assistant division head, “It is remarkable that, as a small school, we have had a student from Nueva qualify for the invitational round each year since we started participating three years ago, and Brandon is the youngest yet.”

The results of the invitational round haven't been shared yet; the jury will select eight people to move on to the international competition. Brandon is hoping to lead a computational linguistics club, and invites anyone who is interested to email him.

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Pride at Nueva

For the first time in 10 years, Nueva families and students were not able to participate in the parade as it and many other Pride events throughout the world were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. While members of the Nueva community were certainly disappointed, the support our students, faculty, staff, and parents have for the LGBTQ+ community remains strong.

Teachers and Students Participate in Environmental Citizenship Workshop

Nueva’s first internal Environmental Citizenship Curriculum Development Workshop was held virtually on June 22–26. Important topics included “What are the characteristics of an environmental citizen?” “How are we already developing environmental citizenship at Nueva?” and “How does/can environmental citizenship relate to your curriculum?”

Maverick Weeks

During the week of June 15, our parents and students met with teachers on Zoom for their end-of-the-year conferences. More 350 Nueva students, across all divisions, participated in nearly 45 online-classes hosted by our enrichment partners and visiting educators.

Alumna Audrey Chin '19 Reflects on Nueva Athletics

Each year, a Nueva alum is asked to speak at the end-of-year athletics celebration and reflect on his or her time as a Nueva student-athlete and what he or she learned through involvement in our program. This year, we were honored to welcome back Audrey Chin '19, freshman at Harvard University and a member of the Harvard Women's Swimming and Diving Team. Audrey shared these reflections.

Fireside Chats Ignite Interesting Discussions

In the midst of the COVID-19 “new normal,” the popular Fireside Chat series has sparked many engaging discussions. Hillary Freeman, Jennifer Paull, Tanja Srebotnjak, Alegria Barclay, and Aron Walker took the lead a few months ago to provide the Nueva community with a relaxed forum to discuss some timely topics

​​​​​​​Environmental Citizenship during COVID-19 

For environmental educators, the pandemic creates a unique opportunity to engage with students in real time and on multiple fronts. Teachers can bring their disciplinary lens to examining the environmental effects of the pandemic with questions such as “What are the changes, where do they occur, and how do we measure them?”

Gary Kaplan and advisory

Gary Kaplan—Nueva’s favorite lawyer-turned-educator—retires from Nueva after 10 years as a humanities teacher and coach at the Middle School. Hear Nueva students reflect on the ways Gary had an impact on their lives.


Diane Rosenberg speaking at a podium.

After 19 years, we bid farewell to our beloved head of school, Diane Rosenberg. Students, teachers, alums, and trustees from the last two decades return to reflect on Diane's many contributions to Nueva and her lasting legacy.