Middle School News

Fifth and Sixth Grade Students Travel East to Bring Their Studies Alive
Jim Morrison

During the month of May, Nueva fifth- and sixth-grade students traveled east to immerse themselves in history and bring their respective year-long studies into real-world perspective.

Nueva's fifth-grade classes have been traveling to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in southwestern Colorado for well over a decade. This trip allows students to walk in the shoes of both the Ancestral Puebloan people and the archaeologists still working to learn about their life and culture. The trip includes academics, adventure, and a multisensory immersion in a gorgeous landscape and rich cultural history. This year, the addition of a new year-long class called “Pueblo Time” — focused on content directly related the trip — brought a new level of engagement and depth to the experience.

The sixth-grade class traveled completely across the country, seeking greater understanding of our nation’s origins and current state of affairs. During a packed week, which included visits to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Gettysburg, and Washington, DC, students led their classmates in discussions and explorations of the monuments, battlefields, and locations that have shaped our history. After a year spent creating personalized guidebooks, crafting historical fiction and art, and studying and reinterpreting historical documents, the students arrived east with deep knowledge, ready to engage fully in the experience.

What follows are excerpts from each trip's blogs, written to document the experience for the families of the students and capture the learning, growth, and magic that each day of our Trips Program can bring our students.

Excerpts from the 2018 Crow Canyon Trip Blog

May 21, 2018

Hello all,

Kids are nestled in their bunks after our first full day at Crow Canyon. After breakfast this morning, we took a hike around campus to familiarize ourselves with some campus areas. We saw (and smelled) sage bush, admired blooming red prickly pear cacti, and stood in the shade of cottonwoods under a hot sun.

Kids have quickly fallen in love with Crow Canyon's permanent tenants  a madness (collective nouns for the win!) of marmots who live in the rocks near the pond.

After lunch, we began our Crow Canyon campus program with an introduction to the historical periods and artifacts of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Kids observed and analyzed artifacts from the Basketmaker period to the modern era to uncover the lifestyles of people from each of these eras.

All the best,

The Crow Canyon Chaperone Team (Al, Alison, Carol, Chris, Lee, Lissie, Reenie, Zac, and Zubin)


May 22, 2018

In the excavation lab, kids huddled around a recreated kiva site and each received a 2ft-by-2ft section to excavate.

They used trowels, brushes, and artifact screens to look for pottery sherds (not to be confused with shards, which solely applies to glass in the archaeology world), matates, monos, projectile points, pots, hunting tools, and other kiva artifacts. They practiced preserving artifacts in context in order to best understand ancient civilizations. Once their square area was excavated, students drew diagrams of their site and analyzed the artifacts of the other students to investigate the time period of the newly uncovered kiva.

Monday night’s class on the artifacts of the Puebloan peoples' different time periods led beautifully into today’s excavation as students recalled details readily in order to piece together information about their kiva's time period. As we left the lab classroom, a chorus of “that was really cool” resounded from our students (and teachers).

All the best,

The Crow Canyon Chaperone Team


May 23, 2018

Arriving along the edge of the San Juan River, kids slathered on sunscreen and strapped on life vests before boarding our raft boats with our masterful guides from Wild River Expeditions. The low water level and dry terrain, caused by the recent drought, made the silvery Russian Olive trees and the spring Cottonwood leaves pop all the more against a red and brown monocline landscape. Kids paddled heartily and splashed other boats they passed. Some boats sang and others simply enjoyed the landscape.

After a couple hours of rowing, our guides brought our boats ashore and our group hiked up to a cliff face to observe some rock art. Crow Canyon’s petroglyph lessons came to life as we witnessed the trapezoidal anthropomorphic figures we’d seen on a projector screen on Monday night.

The Crow Canyon Chaperone Team




Excerpts from the 2018 Washington DC Trip Blog

May 20, 2018

What a day! It started out sleepy, but most everyone was on time for breakfast. Under partly cloudy skies and in muggy conditions, we headed out to Historic Jamestown, the living museum that displays the history of Jamestown from precolonial times to the fort settlement in the early 1600s. We were greeted by the incredibly beautiful sight of a bald eagle flying up to its nest and enjoyed the breeze off the water as we walked through the busy Powhatan village to the James River. We climbed into the tight quarters of the ships that carried the English settlers to Virginia and built part of the fort’s wall.

By the early afternoon, the heat was really building, so we very much appreciated our air-conditioned tour of the governor’s palace. From there, the students split into small groups and wandered the colonial streets of Williamsburg. They visited the wig-maker, chatted with the apothecary, watched a cannon being shot, and helped the brickmaker stomp mud for the bricks, among other adventures.

Having a great time,

Your DC Chaperones (Rachel, Azmi, Katie, Marilyn, Ed, Sarah, Les, Dalton, Jim, and Karen)

P.S. We walked over 20,000 steps today!


May 21, 2018

At Monticello, we learned a great deal, and not just about Mr. Jefferson, but about the time period he lived in and the world around him. For example, we learned that enslaved people took five feet of dirt off the top of the mountain where Monticello is situated and made thousands of bricks from the dirt they removed. And that those bricks form the walls and foundation of the house itself.

We discussed the paradoxical problem of Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence, stipulating that “all men are created equal,” even as he himself owned as many as 600 slaves. And yet we couldn’t help but admire Jefferson’s innovations in his home — from the clock in the living room to the dumbwaiter that brought up bottles of wine from the cellar to the polygraph that allowed Jefferson to record a copy of a letter he was writing.

A lot to think about...

Have a great evening!

The DC Chaperones


May 22, 2018

Today was the busiest day of the trip — and maybe the most fun so far. We left our hotel in the early morning, joining the commute into Washington, DC. We spent an emotional hour at the Vietnam Memorial, talking with veterans (many of whom are in town for Memorial Day) and absorbing the incredible impact of the 58,000 names on the wall. From there, we walked to the MLK Memorial to honor the civil rights leader who helped make our world a better place.

The highlight of the afternoon was the incredibly beautiful, powerful African American History Museum. From the designs on the outside of the building to the elevator that takes you through time to the framed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, the students absorbed the impactful history of our nation through the art, architecture, and exhibits of the museum.

Wishing you a quiet evening and good rest,

The DC Chaperones


May 23, 2018

This morning was a time of reflection in Gettysburg. We drove and walked the battlefields, including the Peach Orchard, the Wheat Field, and Little Round Top. We learned about the three-day battle during which thousands clashed in what would later become known as a turning point in the Civil War. We found out about the twists and turns of fate that affected the outcome: how the Union army had established their men and artillery on the top of Little Round Top only ten minutes before the Confederates began their attack and were able to hold onto the advantageous position.

Nearly 750,000 perished in the Civil War in a time when the US had 31 million people. If we lost a similar percentage of the population today, ten million people would have died. With that information in mind, we ended with a meditation and reflection near the statue of Albert Woolson. He died at age 109, having fought in the Civil War as a seventeen-year-old drummer boy and was the longest-living survivor of the war.

See you tomorrow night!

The DC Chaperones



In many ways, our fifth- and sixth-grade trips build a foundation for the historical and cultural learning opportunities our students experience throughout their middle school and upper school years. For more information about trips across all three divisions, please visit our Trips and Global Learning page today.

By Jim Morrison, VLP Director

June 6, 2018 

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