Rich LawsonAlumni and alumni parents visited the Nueva Book Fair in December to hear former Nueva third/fourth grade teacher Richard Lawson read from his recently published book on teaching poetry The Tree in the Middle of the Playground, which recounts the heartwarming tale of the love and joy built between a teacher and her students through writing poetry.

In addition to reading select poems from his book and other works of poetry, Rich also shared about how the book grew from one poem and the ideas his wife added to make the book even better.


When Meta Weiss (class of 2001) returned to Nueva on January 30, it wasn’t just to perform as part of her string duo known as duoW. It was also to bring a part of Nueva into her musical career. 

During their performance, duoW premiered their latest music video "Stars and Stripes," which was filmed, directed, and editedScreen Shot 2014-02-12 at 1.39.42 PM by alumnus Max Strebel, (class of 2004). Max used Nueva’s GCC stage, the Mansion, and exterior parts of the school’s campus to help capture the concept behind the video and beauty of the music. (Please click here to watch the video)

“I started fantasizing about using the Mansion for the chase scene since it has such a grand and historic feeling,” Max said. “I don't know what we would have done had we not had the location. I really think the Mansion turned out to be a character in the film and set the tone and time period of the piece.”

In many ways, Meta and Max’s music careers first began at Nueva. Meta started playing cello when she was just four-years-old in pre-k. She participated in Brown Bag concerts, sang in the choir, and was cast in the Middle School plays. All these helped shape her as a performer and musician, she said.  For Max, it all began in fifth grade when he was given an assignment to create an animation film. He realized then his love for film and animation and went on to make three or four other films while at Nueva.

“All of my teachers at Nueva were really encouraging of me playing around with the medium and really fostered my passion for it,” Max said. “I've been making movies ever since!”

The concept behind the music video is a mix between a Charlie Chaplin iconic silent film and Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday” performance to then president John F. Kennedy. Marilyn, who is played Meta’s former Phillips Academy classmate Carrie St. Louis, is interrupted by duoW’s performance and a chase ensues.

By introducing this comedic element of duoW being chased by security, it highlights the juxtaposition of the virtuosic style and iconic marching band tune in the song, Meta explained. It also pays homage to Chaplin’s performance comedy.

“We find it funny because it is supposed to be in the style of Henryk Wieniawski, a very serious and virtuosic violinist and composer of the 19th century romantic tradition. But, at the same time, we are playing the official march of the United States. It is hard not to smile when you listen to it,” she said. 

“Stars and Stripes” is a recording off duoW’s debut album “Entendre,” which was released in August on the Sono Luminus label. It is John Philip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever" arranged by the brilliant violinist Bruce Dukov.

After raising funds through a 30-day Kickstarter campaign, duoW reached out to Max to begin production. Max, who was in charge of directing, editing, and creating the story for the film, was a classmate of Meta’s sister at Nueva. They began shooting at Nueva in the middle of duoW’s California tour on January 26 and January 27, and were able to produce the final cut in time for their Nueva concert. 

“Besides for the awesome location, it was so nice to return to such a welcoming and accommodating community.  Everyone really wanted to help us and be flexible with us,” Max said. 

“Everything about the video, including the music, is iconic. We immediately thought of Nueva because Max and I both know it so well. As Max thought about it more, he wanted to use more of the campus since it, too, is so iconic and lent itself so well to the chase scenes,” Meta said. “It was great to be back, and I still feel like I know every part of the campus so well.”

More about Meta Weiss and duoW
Top prize-winner in numerous competitions, including the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, Carmel Music Society Competition, National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist Competition, Schadt Cello Competition, and the TexASTA Solo Competition, Meta has also been featured on National Public Radio on many occasions, including as guest artist on the shows A Prairie Home Companion and From the Top. Meta and her duo partner Arianna have been performing together since they first met ten years ago at the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. Both recent graduates of the masters program at Juilliard, Meta and Arianna have been recognized internationally for their astonishing musicianship and brilliant technique, garnering multiple awards and honors, and receiving recognition in major competitions around the world.

More about Max Strebel
Max Strebel is a commercial and independent filmmaker.  As an independent filmmaker, Max has made over a dozen films and screened in festivals including the New York City International, San Francisco International, Mill Valley, Nashville, and Santa Fe, among many others.  He has also had his work screened at the De Young Museum, on the jumbotron at the AT&T Ballpark, and at NYC’s Skirball Center where a 60-piece orchestra preformed the score to his short film “Words.”  Aside from independent films, Max has made commercial videos for organizations including the Exploratorium, The Nueva School, Papabubble and Pivotal Labs, as well as worked on commercials for Sony, Jaguar, ESPN, The Disney Channel, and Pixar. While Max focuses on writing and directing, he also is an animator, storyboard artist, editor, and graphic designer.  Max went to high school at the Urban School and is a graduate of NYU Tisch where he majored in film and television.

DSC01979 bmDr. Erika Ebbel Angle (class of '95) visited the grade 9 Science and Society class September 20 at College of San Mateo to speak to students about leadership and her journey as a scientist that began as a Nueva student working on science fair projects with her mentor. Even though her first project failed to provide conclusive results, Erika continued to do research with her mentor in his lab for more than seven years, learning valuable lessons about science and research. He coached her in the process of designing experiments and doing research, whether or not her questions would ultimately get answered.

“My mentor changed my life by showing me that failure is a part of succeeding,” Erika reflected. To the ninth graders she emphasized the need for perseverance, especially when confronted with failure, and pointed out there’s a reason it’s called RE-search.

This lesson has continued to help Erika throughout her life as she has tackled a number of challenges including completing her doctorate, running a biotech startup company—Counterpoint Health Solutions—and founding the non-profit organization Science from Scientists, which sends engaging scientists to teach STEM lessons to more than 5,000 students in Massachusetts every year.

While majoring in chemistry and minoring in music at MIT as an undergraduate student, Erika’s friends signed her up for the Miss America scholarship program without her knowledge. Although she didn’t win the first time, the competition organizers told Erika they thought she could win, so she decided to try again. It took her three years and a brief delay of college graduation to finally win Miss Massachusetts, but it also opened a lot of doors for Erika and for her passion for improving student interest in STEM topics.

As the first MIT graduate to win Miss Massachusetts 2004, Erika was well aware that her post-college plans didn’t follow traditional routes. She went on to complete her PhD in biochemistry from Boston University School of Medicine after her stint in the Miss America pageants.

“It is ok to get off the ‘train,’” Erika told the ninth graders. “Taking a detour can lead to good things.”

Nueva is thrilled to announce the appointment of Liza Raynal (class of '95) as the new head of the middle school. A Nueva Lizaalumna and former middle school teacher and dean, Liza brings seventeen years of deep connection to the community. Liza was a student at Nueva for her own PreK-8 education and returned to Nueva in 2006 as a writing and arts teacher.

“I’m a better person when I’m a teacher. I’m a better person for having students.”

While she was a student in the lower school, the middle school was added, and Liza remembers her shift in thinking, that suddenly there was a chance to continue on at Nueva at the middle school. “I have very vivid memories from being a student here,” reflects Liza. “And now I have double memories of places, it’s like looking through transparencies.” She participated in Future Problem Solving, and returned to help coach it later.

“I know what it’s like to be a student, I know what it’s like to be a teacher. Part of the pleasure in taking on this new role is in getting a different perspective,” Liza says.

As a kid Liza loved school because of the neat activities she got to do every day, memories she still carries with her like dissecting frogs, making purple cloud for snack, the Thanksgiving Feast, and exploring math with Mary Laycock. Much has changed since Liza first came as a student, but she recognizes many aspects of the school that remain true.

“The way teachers are with the students is still the same, which is the fundamental core of a school,” explains Liza. “The fact that it’s happening on the same earth, it’s the same geography, that feels much more the same to me than different.”

SinTung20thOn Sunday, March 3, 2013, violin instructor Sin-Tung Chiu and alumnus Dmitriy Cogan (Class of '75) pleased listeners with a violin and piano recital in the Mansion Ballroom featuring three sonatas by composer Edvard Grieg.

Regarding his performance Sin-Tung said, "We'll have other recitals later this year to celebrate 20 years of friendship and playing music together, but it seemed appropriate to mark this small milestone by playing here where we first started." The recital was dedicated to G.G. Fitzmaurice -- founder of Nueva's music program in 1967 -- who initially introduced Dmitriy and Sin-Tung and asked them to play together two decades ago.



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