With so many Aventuras happening simultaneously, smaller groups allowed students and staff to bond like never before.
Three lucky students traveled to the peaceful Golfo Dulce to study tides, mangrove ecosystems, coral reefs and watershed systems. During their daily paddles, students were followed by a pod of dolphins, which may have helped the fishermen bring in dinner each day.
Even though kayak can be the most logistically demanding Aventura, the group's instant camaraderie led one student to describe the journey as more of “a trip with a few friends instead of a school trip. It was amazing.”
This quarter’s Community Service Aventura was one for the record books. With a recent reduction of Osa Conservation staff, help was desperately needed and NSA’s group of students and staff logged nearly 100 miles on foot in order to rise to the challenge. The students assisted with the demolition and reconstruction of a bamboo turtle hatchery, performed various greenhouse and gardening chores including relocating hundreds of pounds of dirt and beach pebbles.
They patrolled the beach for eggs each midnight and sunrise and studied in daily academic classes and PG assignments. Students kept extremely positive attitudes while continuing to exceed expectations both physically and academically.
Students commented that doing good feels good, and agreed that the trip highlight was stumbling upon 18 turtles hatching and beginning their own exciting life journey.
NSA’s Biology class is studying cellular biology, and has been learning about cell organelles including chloroplast, nucleus, mitochondria, Golgi Apparatus, Endoplasmic Reticulum and more. The students are currently conducting an experiment on transport across the cell membrane using chicken eggs and food coloring. They have also begun to work on their final project, which is creating a hands-on wooden model of an animal and a plant cell for the Science classroom - which will help future classes learn about cells.
As an extension of their studies of mythologist Joseph Campbell and his "Monomyth" theory, students researched major world religions. They compared and contrasted two religions, noting unique characteristics as well as shared values, symbols, and stories. Topics ranged from Christianity to Shinto, and students were free to choose the format for their presentations. One student's presentation, which he described as a narrated comic, included hand-drawn images recorded on his iPad and edited into an educational video with voice-over narration. While some chose to focus on religions with which they were familiar, others opted to explore new territory. Through this project, students examined the narrative structure of Campbell's Hero's Journey model while delving into the Global Citizenship facet of diversity.
This quarter, our senior Literature and Composition class is learning advanced interviewing and writing techniques, and applying them to craft biographies of family members. Our quarter began by looking at word choice as the building blocks of literature. We then studied Literary Devices - metaphor, synecdoche, alliteration and more - and incorporated them into our writing. Dialogue and dialect, archetypal themes, strong verbs, telling details - each lesson was integrated into our stories about grandparents, parents, uncles, brothers and sisters. Many thanks to our willing families for providing rich details, newspaper clipping, photographs and memories about themselves and their loved ones to make our unit on the biography so meaningful.
This quarter's Cloud Forest Aventura cohort was a particularly tight-knit group. With only four students and three staff members, the group made record time hiking from our campsite at Alto del Roble to Monte Sky.
Students transformed the house at Monte Sky into a museum exhibit to teach about the world's major biomes. At the Pacuare River Camp, students spoke with local river guides about President Luis Guillermo Solís' recent decision to ban hydroelectric dams on the river for the next twenty-five years. The presidential decree, made after decades of community opposition to dam construction, was an excellent real-life example of the Aventura's personal growth theme of community impacts.
Between courses of the feast, students engaged in (safe) wrestling matches, noodle-sword duels, and gave their teams rousing speeches to galvanize them in competition. The students should be commended for taking it upon themselves to organize and host healthy, fun activities – and we hope to see more in the future!
As we begin the first week of March, more college decisions are coming in for our seniors at New Summit Academy. All seniors apply to a range of schools, including a core list, a fallback school where they know they will be accepted, as well as a handful of “reach” schools – where acceptance is a longshot but always a possibility.
Of the 33 responses students have received thus far, 94% of those responses have been acceptances, and the two which weren’t are waitlist decisions – so they might turn out to be acceptances as well.
Just as encouraging as our students’ phenomenal acceptance rates are the merit scholarships being awarded. With many responses still pending, our students have been offered a total of $356,500 in scholarships so far!
One scholarship was even awarded to a student for “having broader cultural perspectives” – a sure nod to his unique Costa Rica experiences. Students, families and staff can all look forward to even more exciting college news in the coming months!
As New Summit Academy’s midterm week came to a close, the entire Academic faculty and student body turned the final day before Aventura into a unique learning experience. Students traveled in four groups – based on their cohort from the Global Citizenship Foundation Course – to different sites in the Central Valley to explore real-life situations where the facets of Global Citizenship are being promoted.
Newer students traveled with Adam, our Global Citizenship coordinator and organizer of the event, to Costa Rica’s University for Peace. At this United Nations-mandated higher education institution, the students performed community service, met with current UPeace students to exchange ideas about Global Citizenship, and engaged in a workshop on the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. The Earth Charter International Secretariat is located at the UPEACE Campus in Costa Rica.
A second group of students – delving into the topic of sustainable development – traveled to a nearby organic farm. Here they learned from the farm manager – a young man who is transforming the “traditional” methods of farming using chemicals and genetically-modified foods. Students learned about his efforts to reintroduce ancient farming techniques using methods of permaculture, natural pesticides and organic fertilizers. Students also pitched in, helping to build planter boxes for future crops.
The third group traveled to the office of The Tico Times, the largest English-language newspaper in Central America. With the goal of exploring ideas of social justice and digital citizenship (the Times went 100% digital in recent years), students interviewed journalists at the newspaper about recent articles. Students were also excited to learn that this respected newspaper was started in the mid-1950’s by young students at the very same high school where they take their SAT and ACT exams!
NSA’s oldest students traveled to the Puriscal Valley reserve of Quitirrisi – home to the indigenous Guetares people. Students learned that the Guetares were once the largest, most dominant group of natives in Costa Rica, but that the Spanish conquest had diminished their population from tens of thousands to a mere 1,800 today. The son of the chief welcomed students into the village, and gave them an oral history of the people. Students then gathered firewood for a traditional spiritual cleansing ceremony, before working together with the chief’s son to clean the streets of litter.
Each group returned to campus with stories to tell about their Global Citizenship experiences. The Academic faculty plan to make these Field Learning trips a tradition for each mid-quarter week, which will only help enrich our one-of-a-kind program!
Aventuras will depart at the end February, and students and staff are getting ready mentally and physically for experiential learning which become highlights of students’ careers at NSA.
New Summit Academy takes an integrated approach to our program, and Aventura preparation is no different! Our experiential education staff have designed Physical Education classes and activities to develop strength and flexibility for kayaking, hiking, and community service work. The department also holds pre-trip meetings for students, so that they are comfortable with trip itineraries and expectations. Our therapeutic staff work with students in their cohort groups to process community issues related to the upcoming Aventuras.
Our teachers are also hard at work, preparing for the experiential, hands-on classes which engage students on each trip. Look for a report on each Aventura in the next edition of the NSA newsletter.
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