Cultural immersion Spanish class is offered to students who have advanced language skills. These students are researching topics of interest based on diversity and heterogeneity. One student chose Costa Rican food, another student chose solid waste management and burning as a way of disposal of household trash in the Atenas canton.
After having done online research, they will now be collecting field information through interviews. In the case of Costa Rican food, the student is interviewing NSA staff from Costa Rica, young people, and adults in Atenas who are recognized for their experience in culinary arts. The interviews on solid waste management will include the environmental agent from the municipality, a representative of the local firefighter station, and people from Atenas and NSA. The final product will be a written text and an exhibition presented to NSA students and staff.
NSA’s U.S. History class is analyzing small U.S. led military engagements that sought to pursue U.S. empire building, promote and negotiate expanding economic markets and policies, protect corporate investments in foreign lands, conduct scientific, oceanographic, and geological exploration, and occasionally noble pursuits like the encouragement and spread of democratic principles, political stability, infrastructure soundness and public facilities (customs houses, schools, administrative structures, road and highway systems, bridges, and hospitals), bureaucratic transparency and fairness, and basic modern sanitation systems and standards.
Chemistry class has been studying functional groups as part of our Organic Chemistry Unit. Students have been practicing drawing, naming and recognizing molecules, as well as studying the relationship of Organic Chemistry with daily life (hydrocarbons, steroids, pheromones, and pharmaceutical drugs, just to name a few.) The class is currently researching different types of drugs and their chemical structures, in order to put the knowledge learned in class in context; they will be presenting their findings to the class next week as part of their final evaluation for the quarter.
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.
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!
NSA’s January Health term is an intensive, three-week series of workshops and classes that focus on a holistic view of healthy young adulthood.
The first two weeks of the term consist of a collaborative effort -- with all staff from each department facilitating rich learning experiences based on our new student assessment system, which details characteristics of a healthy Self, healthy Community and healthy Future.
The Personal Growth department’s therapists and case managers engaged the students in workshops and hands-on activities relating to Identity, healthy Relationships, and Executive Functioning in the teenage brain.
The Experiential Education mentors conducted courses on Physical Health, Nutrition and Mindfulness.
And the Academic Department’s teachers worked with students in Career Exploration and Application Skills using Initiative workshops where students wrote themselves into their personal Hero Journeys, and in Resilience activities.
To celebrate the two weeks, the departments collaborated with our resident Master of Games, Matthew, to learn about and realize the importance of play in our lives. Students dueled it out in lip-sync contests (teachers set the bar with The Who’s Baba O’Riley), inventing games, and in an epic competition of capture-the-flag!
The third week of the Health Term has students and staff working with members of the Wilderness Medicine Institute to earn professional certifications in Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA).
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