What was your transition like after NSA?
After graduating in December I had nothing to do and no one to do it with. When I went home my friends were all in the middle of their freshman years at college.
I was still living with my parents until I would go to university in Washington the next August. I had to actively create obligations for myself. It didn't help that my first week was spent recovering from a wisdom teeth extraction, which gave me a great excuse to sit in front of my computer all day like the days of old. It was different of course, than before attending New Summit. I was spending time with my family, sleeping regularly, remaining healthy.
After Christmas I printed off about forty resumes and walked around town, giving them to any business that would take one. I received offers from a few places, and I ended up working at a
frozen yogurt shop. I also took Intro to Ethics at my local community college.
What was your biggest challenge in your transition?
In December and January, when I was slipping toward pointlessness, I did roughly what I had planned in my transition quarter. I was sensible. In May after my class ended, 19 hours a week standing behind a register weighing cups of yogurt wasn't enough to stave off that hollow feeling of existential drifting. I, somewhat impulsively, decided to go adventuring. I used some of the money I had earned to buy a plane ticket to Ketchikan, Alaska and found a job on a fishing boat until August.
What advice would you give to current NSA students?
In general I advise making a specific and achievable plan that advances whatever short or long term goals you have while bringing you some degree of happiness. That being said, I also advise testing yourself. Test your will, your resiliency. You will then be better able to plan for yourself having an honest self-assessment of your character.
What are your strongest memories of your time at NSA?
The Aventuras are doubtlessly the most memorable part of my stay at New Summit. I often think back nostalgically to those beaches, kayaks, trails, and especially to the company. I am grateful to have had those experiences. Sweat-saturated clothing, sore feet, burned skin, a knot in my back, blisters on my hands, sand in my shoes and pack, tired arms, tired legs all tested my patience.
I chose to maintain a positive attitude (most of the time), reminding myself that these burdens are temporary and that I have the strength to persist. I learned to take complete ownership of my life. Everything I do, whether I succeed or fail, is a product of the effort I apply.
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.
Soccer. Cooking. Birthday Parties. Barbecues. Our students have the unique opportunity to participate in these activities and much more with their beloved Costa Rican homestay families.
Each family, carefully selected to match student interests and personalities, opens their home to one of our students every Sunday and shares their lives and culture with them.
To thank them, NSA hosted our always-anticipated homestay family picnic this past week, which included an impressive karaoke contest, delicious lunch, and the ever-popular bingo tournament. Many thanks to our Atenas community for providing our students with a home away from home!
NSA’s signature Aventura program consists of five integrated adventures exploring the diverse and beautiful ecosystems of Costa Rica while providing students a chance to reflect on their growth and return to campus recharged.
The Aventuras are intentionally designed to begin at sea level and progress to the students’ final experience: summiting the highest peak in Costa Rica, Cerro Chirripo.
Each student makes the climb alone, beginning before dawn, silently contemplating his process. After climbing nearly 10,000 feet, graduating students meet at the summit to celebrate their efforts – both on the mountain and in their time at New Summit Academy.
As a reminder that this moment is the beginning of their journeys, students are reminded of the Zen proverb “When you reach the top of a mountain, keep climbing!”
Students and staff spent an arduous week working side-by-side to learn and master the content and skills needed to earn their WAFA and CPR certifications. Our fabulous instructors are adept at interspersing classroom learning with real-life, hands-on application of wilderness medicine essentials including:
- Scene and situation evaluation
- The ABC’s of airway, breathing and circulation evaluation
- Comprehensive patient assessment
- Stabilization and treatment techniques
Our community worked to dress fake (but so realistic!) wounds, splint broken bones, diagnose heat stroke and more on their way to earning professional level WAFA and CPR certification cards.
Congratulations on everyone’s hard work and success!
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!