It's not every day that high school students have the opportunity to watch multiple versions of Godzilla or read chapters and chapters of manga or discuss the importance of Hello Kitty as part of an academic class.
The Nueva Upper School reinvents the high school experience as four years of inquiry-based learning, collaboration, and self-discovery.
A Nueva education develops creative, resilient, thoughtful leaders and collaborators who are ready to solve problems and have an impact on the world.
The Nueva Way at the Upper School
At the Nueva Upper School, the students’ experience — their courses, interests, and passions — is at the center of everything we do. We nourish their love of learning by providing each student unparalleled opportunity to chart their own pathway through high school. With support from advisors, students select from more than 100 electives that satisfy graduation requirements and allow them to dive deeply into exciting subjects.
Embracing the interconnectivity of the world, teachers build courses with global relevance and connections across academic disciplines. Assignments center around authentic, real-world challenges, and are flexibly structured to allow students to be creative and incorporate their personal interests. Surrounded by a community dedicated to intellectual pursuits, collaborative projects are dynamic and thought-provoking. From examining historical trends through unique lenses to writing code for mathematical processes, Nueva students are capable, adaptable, interdisciplinary thinkers.
Nueva Quest, the in-depth pursuit of a field of study during each year of Upper School, is another way students are empowered to follow their boundless curiosity. Students are mentored by experts, feel the joy of creating something from nothing or delving into an area of interest, and practice Design Thinking skills that will serve them well into the future.
Opportunities for personal growth, collaboration, and exploration abound beyond the classroom as students participate in extensive co- and extracurricular opportunities. Advisories, activities and clubs, rich arts offerings, and athletic programs are an important part of every student’s Nueva experience.
"Nueva has been incorporated into my vocabulary not just as a proper noun, but also as an adjective. It refers to both a community and a worldview — unbridled intellectual energy, an ardent desire for knowledge, and endless efforts to achieve it."
Our Culture of Kindness
Nueva’s 50-year history of social-emotional learning (SEL) and commitment to developing students’ social and emotional acuity play an essential role in the learning atmosphere of trust, community, and inclusion at the Upper School. Nueva’s environment of caring and layered system of support ensures each student feels truly seen, heard, cared for, and valued. With formal training in SEL, faculty make themselves available for questions and conversation, supporting students in self-reflection, observation, inquiry, and the development of attitudes, behaviors, and skills that will serve them and their communities well into adulthood.
Each year during pre-term, the Upper School community welcomes and integrates new and returning students through grade-specific fall orientation trips. These camping retreats in the California wilderness give students time and space to build relationships with faculty and classmates, and give them shared experiences to bring back to campus.
Design Thinking and Engineering
Nueva’s Upper School students quickly become adept at Design Thinking process, practices, and mindset. Extensive offerings in Design Thinking, engineering, computer science build skills through human-centered design challenges, ensuring all students have hands-on experience with the Design Thinking process and the ability to use computational thinking and problem-solving. Students also become confident, safe, and responsible at creating with the vast array of tools available in the I-Lab.
A wide array of electives enables students to dive deeply. Examples include Design Engineering for Social Good, Machine Learning, Engineering and Fabrication Workshop, and many more, all of which are taught using the Nueva Way philosophy emphasizing real-world context for learning.
Across the classes, students identify needs, prototype, obtain feedback, and create and test solutions, while gaining both knowledge and skills along the way. With experience, students have ready access to the Design Thinking tools: it ceases to be “a process” and becomes the way they think. They are empowered changemakers, prepared for a future where resilience is key and translating ideas into reality is essential.
We prepare Nueva students to succeed in their interconnected world. They are encouraged to use Design Thinking skills to learn about the world through active participation, identifying situations where they can make positive changes and developing the personal and collaborative tools to take action. Students bring their SEL skills to bear as they engage with different cultures and diverse perspectives.
School trips, from nearby Oakland to countries around the world, provide immersive, inspiring learning experiences. Community service learning is woven into the curriculum and given special focus through service learning days, projects, and events.
Through our cross-disciplinary focus on environmental learning, we’re developing strong leaders who will build a more sustainable future.
The Nueva Internship Program places our students in one- to eight-week engagements with more than 50 different Bay Area organizations spanning the fields of technology, research, politics, medicine, publishing, fine arts, and more.
We believe that applying to college should be a personal journey to the best fit, not a process to fear. Nueva’s college counseling team works with all students, starting in their junior year, setting each on an individual path of self-reflection, dreaming, and strategic planning. We help students think about who they are, who they want to become, and map the best way to get there.
In Amber Carpenter’s upper school creative writing class, students have been exploring flash storytelling. They wrote three vignettes or fragments that provided instructions on how to care for an adolescent in the year 2021.
In the midst of the towering stacks of books in the Writing and Research Center (WRC), the new collection team has been hard at work evaluating the diversity of the collection.
The upper school Groove Workshop band produced their rendition of "What's Going On" to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the classic Marvin Gaye tune.
Upper school student council arts representative Tomo recently launched the Nueva Art Collection, a place to share, explore, and document all of the artistic talent and creativity of the Nueva community. Judith Worrall caught up with him about the creation of this virtual art gallery.
Over the past semester, students in English 10 have been immersed in a unit focused on eco-poetry. Throughout the year, teachers and students investigate a variety of issues brought on by colonialism, post-colonialism, and globalization.
“Poetry is political and subversive. It has the power to spark conversation, inspire change, and make a profound impact,” said Amber Carpenter, upper school English teacher.
"You are a motivator, a positive force, and an inspiration to us all. Thank you for setting the bar so high and for bringing such HOPE and deep empathy to this community.”
Imagine receiving this appreciation message . . . how would you feel? Valued? Appreciated? Loved? All of the above? The special sentiments above were written during Kindness Week, a tradition that Director of Social Justice and Equity Alegria Barclay started four years ago with the help of then Kindness Club President Anna Sandell ’18.
On the morning of Thursday, Jan. 21, Nyle Fort spoke to upper school students about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, what it means to be an activist, and how young people can get involved in social movements.
The organizer, minister, and scholar helped set the tone for the rest of the day’s programming, designed to explore Dr. King’s conception of justice and introduce Nueva students to young social justice activists.
We recently interviewed Sean Schochet, upper school Science of Mind teacher, and the peer consulting team in the high school to hear about the warmth, friendship and support this outstanding group of young people offer Nueva high school and middle school students.