Mavericks Making Waves is our latest roundup of exceptional student and faculty accomplishments and activities happening beyond Nueva's walls.
Senior Matthew S. Plays in National Youth Orchestra
By Rachel Freeman, communications/website manager
Every summer, musicians from across the country are brought together to form the National Youth Orchestra of the United States (NYO-USA), a program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. This summer, senior Matthew S. was selected as one of 107 musicians to participate in NYO-USA following a rigorous and comprehensive audition process.
Matthew has been playing the violin since he was 5 years old, and he has already accomplished much in his young career. In summer 2019, he went on tour as a first violinist with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and was named associate concertmaster of National Youth Orchestra 2. He has also performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on two occasions.
“This year, I finally met the age requirement to audition for the NYO-USA, the premier national youth orchestra for young musicians,” he said. “I was overjoyed to hear that I had been accepted into the program.”
While he was initially disappointed to learn that the program would take place online this year, Matthew said “NYO-USA 2020 was an amazing program. I didn’t know what to expect. In my mind, there was no way a virtual program would be able to replace the real orchestral experience. I came to realize that although an online experience was different from the real deal, it could be just as valuable.”
As part of the program, Matthew took private lessons and masterclasses with notable faculty (including with the concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony), participated in full-orchestra sessions, heard Wynton Marsalis and Jacob Collier, and engaged in discussions around a number of well known pieces of music.
Matthew added, “I was very happy with my experience. National Youth Orchestra didn’t try to replicate an online program. Instead, it offered a unique musical experience that really couldn’t be appreciated outside of that online context. I came to realize that an online music program doesn’t need to replicate its in-person counterpart. This online music experience was different, not worse, and it held a different kind of significance for me.“
Lauren W. '21 Leads Remote Coding Summer Camp
By Thalia R. '21, communications intern
During the summer, Nueva senior Lauren W. remotely taught coding skills and other technology basics through coding camp CS4Girls, a camp she co-founded in 2019. CS4Girls teaches fifth-through-ninth-grade campers the basics of many coding skills, including website building, wearable tech design, and video production. Lauren herself started coding in third grade.
Lauren, and co-founder Chloe N. (who attends Crystal Springs Uplands School), started CS4Girls to provide a uniquely comfortable and supportive space for girls to pursue their interests in STEM. Research shows that women are significantly underrepresented in computer science and engineering fields, a gap that Lauren aims to bridge.
In an effort to follow social distancing guidelines, Lauren taught the camp on Zoom, and she met some unique challenges.
“From running the camps, I've gained a lot of respect for the Nueva teachers who had to do it for months,” said Lauren, whose challenges included gauging campers’ attention and interest and keeping things engaging. She also experienced difficulty troubleshooting technical problems.
“It's really hard to tell whether a kid is struggling or not if they aren't willing to share,” Lauren said.
Lauren also experienced many upsides to working on Zoom. For example, breakout rooms made personalized instruction easier to deliver. She also was able to use her phone’s camera to demonstrate physical actions that would otherwise be hard to see through a screen. Most important, however, her excitement and passion for teaching remained at the forefront of her vision for the camp.
“I enjoy talking about technical things,” Lauren said.” When teaching, I get excited discussing with the students in the same way that many people like talking about their favorite TV show or book.”
In addition to leading CS4Girls, Lauren has taught programming to many people through the Coding Club at her local library and through the organization Girls Who Code. She has also developed a variety of apps, including the DoNation iOS app, which won the 2018 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 14th congressional district.