July is perhaps our most exciting month at New Summit Academy as the summer brings our annual International Aventura to Peru! This year’s trip was especially meaningful as students engaged with a curriculum created by our Aventura teachers, therapists and Experiential Education mentors with a view toward building a greater sense of community among students and staff to bring back to our NSA campus.
After arriving in Peru, students began their journey with a tour of the colonial town of Cuzco before traveling by train to Machu Picchu, which is always a highlight of the trip.
Next, students split into two groups and, with their staff group leaders, followed the same itinerary, but in reverse order. One group began a high-altitude trek in the Auzangate region of the Andes, learning about the sacred gods – or Apus – of the mountains. The hikes were demanding, but the views made them worth the effort!
The second group began their trip with a 3-day whitewater rafting adventure, navigating class III and IV rapids (plus portaging around the class V’s), and camping along the spectacular river banks. Our English teacher, Brooke, was impressed with the way students cooperated in navigating the challenging portages.
The two groups reunited in the middle of their journeys in the indigenous village of the Amaru people, who welcomed them with a traditional ceremony complete with flutes and drums. Both groups spent the day working side-by-side with the Amaru helping them prepare fields for planting. The day culminated in a celebratory lunch prepared by the villagers.
NSA’s summer International Aventura has always been an unforgettable experience for those who participate. The students, now back on campus with stronger bonds within their community and ready to begin the school year, will be telling stories of their trip for weeks to come.
Each semester, our students and teachers have an opportunity to show off the results of their project-based classes during an Academic Fair.
The turnout for this year’s Fair was wonderful, and included over 40 student family members!
Their dynamic projects included:
- Reflection videos from our Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) class
- A podcast created through a collaboration between writing and music classes
- A LARPcast (Live Action Role Play Broadcast, an NSA invention) for World History
- A student music concert and a math-based interpretive dance
Thanks to the students and their teachers for another great academic year!
New Summit Academy is fortunate to have many of our students return to “give back” to the program and to serve as interns and valuable mentors for our current students. This summer, we proudly welcomed a 2016 graduate, Zach, who has joined our team during a college break. Zach, who is double majoring in Physics and the Classics, was generous enough to share some of his experiences with us
This month, each student participated in one of our experiential, hands-on Aventura experiences, based on their progress within the program. This round of Aventuras was particularly effective in building student-staff relationships, developing leadership with emerging seniors, and enhancing our community’s supportive, positive milieu.
Community Service with Osa Conservation
Students, staff and volunteers from around the world teamed up to work side-by-side with the professionals from Osa Conservation in their preservation and protection efforts of the habitats and species of the area.
Everyone pitched in without hesitation to create a nursery for balsa trees, which are very important for native animal species including monkeys and scarlet macaws.
Students also built a new turtle hatchery, learned about reforestation, big cats, sea turtle conservation, and were rewarded with the opportunity to release baby turtles on the beach!
Kayak Explorations on the Golfo Dulce
Students in their second full quarter at NSA joined a seasoned group of staff – including our Director of Personal Growth, Director of Experiential Education and Director of Program Integrity – in a 5-day kayaking expedition around the spectacular Golfo Dulce.
Students said that they were initially nervous about going on Aventura with so many “administrators," but at the end of the trip expressed that they had an amazing time and were pleased to have spent time with the staff.
Highlights of the trip included:
- Learning about mangrove ecosystems while swimming in an estuary
- Student success at catching fish, including some first-time fishermen
- Sighting dolphin, sea turtles, monkeys and stingrays
- Spotting bioluminescence, watching the sunrise and catching tuna on the night crossing
Corcovado National Park Highlights
The setting of our Corcovado Aventura – surrounded by primary rainforest teeming with animals – made for a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our students in their third full quarter.
Students learned about biological relationships and forest succession while spotting wildlife that included multiple anteaters (two with babies in tow), three tapir that walked through a rainforest class, and an impressive boa constrictor seen moving along the forest floor next to a poison dart frog!
Cloud Forest Adventures
Our more senior students spent the week exploring Costa Rica's cool cloud forest on foot and raft, on a trip where they take charge of their growth and logistics, including menu planning (this trip actually had one student try peanut butter and jelly for the first time!)
Students braved hanging bridges, technical trails, and the frigid waters of the high-altitude streams, even taking some time to be kids and build a waterfall dam. Classes focused on ecological communities and how these relate to students’ relationships within their communities.
Our English teacher, Brooke, even channeled Mary Shelley and inspired a scary story session in the evening. Check out the Cloud Forest video she shared with us!
May 1st is here! This day marks the deadline for our seniors to have made their final selection and enrolled in the college or university of their choice.
This process began months and months ago with students detailing the characteristics of a learning environment that would best fit their needs, and has resulted in these impressive stats:
--- 100% of students who participated in the full college guidance process have been accepted and enrolled
--- 65% of schools applied to offered admission
---- Seven acceptances from the “Colleges That Change Lives”
---- College or University enrollment for Fall 2018 includes: Eckerd, Loyola Marymount, Queen Mary of London, Montana State, Allegheny, St. Edward’s, UT Austin School of Engineering, CU Boulder, Juniata, Flagler, NC State, Denver, and Tulane’s Honors Program
---- A total of $1,191,000.00 in merit scholarships offered!
Congratulations to our seniors; we are proud of you and look forward to great things!
Every five weeks, the Academic team engages our students in the investigation and study of one of the eight facets of Global Citizenship, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to explore all facets during their time at New Summit Academy.
Last week, students chose subtopics of personal interest that fit under the facet of Sustainable Development – including local and global water issues, renewable energy, and pollution. Student groups each produced multi-media presentations guided by Art teachers, which were shared with the community. Presentations included interviews and films about Atenas’ water situation and podcasts addressing electric cars and sustainable energy sources.
To celebrate International Book Day, our English teacher Brooke teamed up with Daisy and Vianney, our Spanish Teachers and Cultural Coordinators, to bring more reading opportunities to the communities of Atenas.
Students first organized a Spanish and English language book drive to collect reading materials for the community. Students and staff then collaborated to install a “Book Deposit Box” in front of Atenas’ municipal building as well as distribute “Lost Books” around town for residents to discover, read, and pass on to others.
Thank you to our students and teachers for your creativity and passion in celebrating literacy!
New Summit Academy’s Integrated Reading and Writing Program engages students in the investigation of driving questions through reading and responding to a variety of texts while developing increasingly-complex critical thinking skills.
Each quarter, students choose the focus of the driving question, and then vote on staff and student-suggested texts for our entire community to read.
This quarter’s question, “Who Am I?” – will be explored through reading, discussing, and writing about texts including Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, The Book (On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are) by Alan Watts, and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.
Four young men celebrated their journeys and growth this week as they return to their families with program certificates and high school diplomas.
These seniors deserve our recognition as they begin the next phases in their journeys, which include one graduate enrolling in Montana State University with a merit scholarship, another considering (among many choices) Tulane University, where he was invited to join the Honors Program, and the others ready to test their new skills returning to complete high school in their home towns.
Congratulations to our graduates; we are proud of you and look forward to your many certain successes!
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