Upper School Arts

Top-down view of art supplies


Art is an important form of expression for students across all three divisions. The Upper School arts curriculum is multifaceted, varied, and interdisciplinary. We expose students to a wide variety of tools, methods, and mindsets that build competencies in a variety of artistic fields. Our students become able to capitalize on their innate curiosity and their desire to create; they come to view themselves as artists. 

Choice is fundamental to Nueva’s student-centered pedagogy; students have a voice in choosing where to dive deeply in many areas of their creative education. The Upper School offers many programs and elective opportunities for students to engage in a variety of artistic mediums.

We invite you to explore the ways in which the arts are intrinsically woven into the student experience.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

The integration of tools, techniques, and technologies helps develop both fluency and unique ways to think about the world. By working with various materials, students learn diverse approaches to studio arts and develop an appreciation of historical masterpieces. Courses emphasize students' technical understanding, practice, and innovation in their pieces.

Upper School visual arts electives include architecture, drawing, mixed media, graphic design, sculptural ceramics, and more.

Photo of the ceramic totem pole outside of the Upper School Campus



Students learn musical expression through elective coursework in jazz, chorale, rock genres, digital music, and musical production, as well as through extra-academic opportunities that include classical quartets, student-formed bands, an a cappella group, and "pop-up" shows at the Upper School.

Upper School music electives include Groove Workshop, Jazz Ensemble, Music Design and Production, Soundwaves a cappella choir, and more. 

Performing Arts

Performing Arts

Performing arts in the Upper School bring together experiences that build students' self-assurance and life skills. In addition to igniting a passion for the stage, students learn kinesthetic and dramatic skills, improved self-confidence and public speaking techniques, and the ability to accept and apply feedback, time management, commitment, and collaboration with an ensemble. Performing arts are also an avenue to forge interdisciplinary connections, deepening the study of humanities and bringing meaning to history. 

The Upper School produces an annual fall play and a spring musical. Upper School performing arts electives include Acting I and II, Fall Drama Production, and Musical Theater. 

Arts in Nueva News

2018 Graduates Celebrate Their Nueva Experience

Graduation speaker Lucy W. posed this question to the audience at Nueva’s 2018 graduation ceremony, the culmination of a week of celebratory activities that began with the Lifer’s Dinner on Monday, June 4, and ended on Sunday, June 10, with commencement on Nueva’s Hillsborough campus. Lucy’s reference to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was also an allusion to one of the seminal readings in Nueva’s ninth-grade English curriculum, a reading experience shared by nearly all graduating students.

Invention Studio Inspires Student Projects for Social Good

At Nueva, when students see a problem or a need, they invent a solution. Now in its second year, Invention Studio began as an outgrowth of I-Lab teacher Connie Liu's Design Engineering for Social Good course. It allows students to use design thinking and engineering skills to create empathy-based solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing our society today. Invention Studio is Nueva pedagogy at its best — student-centered learning that gives students the opportunity to use both design thinking and social-emotional learning skills in a real-life setting, to solve real-world issues.

A wind turbine spins with LED lights...it's STEM fair!

On Sunday, March 18, nearly 1,200 visitors traveled to Nueva's upper school campus for the annual STEM Fair. This year's program offerings included partnerships with the San Mateo Astronomical Society, Virtual Reality Experience, GoBabyGo!, and iD Tech Camps. From marble runs and human generated electricity to science raps and the amazing poster pavilion, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

Join the Club: New Groups Form to Connect Upper School

In the spirit of inclusivity and connectedness, several new clubs are starting up across disciplines and thematic areas at the upper school to provide a place for shared interests and dialogue. This semester, the new clubs include creative writing, chemistry, and masculinity.

Math Circle Explores Machine Learning at Bay Meadows

Room 245 in the Writing Resource Center was packed to capacity on Saturday afternoon, February 10, for the inaugural Bay Meadows Math Circle. Students from Nueva and other Bay Area high schools, along with many parents, flocked into the classroom and clustered around the tables, settling in for one of the two 70-minute Introduction to Machine Learning sessions taught by Nueva computer science teachers Jen Selby and Carl Shan. It was the first time that computer science was featured as a topic at a Math Circle.

First Team from Nueva Competes at Young Physicists Tournament

Every February, the United States Association for Young Physicists (USAYPT) releases four physics problems for which high school students spend a year preparing solutions and then present at a tournament the following January. This year, for the first time, Nueva sent a team of four students — Peter A., Tobias B., Cameron W., and Andrew Z. — to compete against teams from twelve other schools across the U.S. and abroad.