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.
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!
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!
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!
Pursuing healthy passions is an important part to living a full, balanced life, and our Clubs enable our students to advocate for their particular interests in that pursuit. Any student can start a Club with enough interest and by passing a proposal with the Experiential Education team. Once a Club is approved, student and staff leaders facilitate a quarterly Club Fair for student sign-ups.
This quarter’s Clubs include Cooking, Gardening, Chess, Comic Books, Biking, Climbing, Music Makers, and Backcountry Skills.
Clubs then collaborate to organize and schedule weekly meetings and weekend outings, developing student advocacy, organization and follow through while having fun!
The next two weeks are exciting ones for our students, families and staff of NSA! Newer students will be off adventuring and relaxing in the untouched forests of Sarapiqui and on the shores of Lake Arenal. They will be spending the week zip-lining, playing soccer, stand-up paddle boarding and horseback riding in some of the most beautiful areas of the country.
Another group of students will be traveling to South Africa for two weeks of impactful cultural immersion and community building.
Next week, our students and staff will be hard at work studying and applying their learning hands-on in their efforts to earn their Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) and CPR certifications. Stay tuned for stories and photos from these upcoming activities!
NSA and The Bridge have been not only long-time members of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), but innovators leading the way toward more effective and enriching models of engagement and growth for young people.
At this year’s national NATSAP conference in Tampa, our programs collaborated to facilitate four different presentations, which included:
- Martin Naffziger and Kelly Weld speaking about how investment in a rigorous Academic program can develop stronger Therapeutic offerings
- Dr. Heather Tracy and Mario Duran presenting on how to balance student empowerment with administrative needs
- Dr. Danny Recio discussing his recently-published article in the Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs titled Coming of Age in Foreign Lands
- Martin Naffziger presenting in collaboration with Montana Academy on innovative structures in education and the responsibility that therapeutic programs have to develop strong Academics
All of our Supportive Immersion programs will continue forward with industry-leading standards of education, personal growth and experiential education!
This week, New Summit Academy proudly awarded high school diplomas and certificates of program completion to six young men who have – like all of our graduates – shown impressive effort and growth during the past year.
December graduation coincides with our seniors wrapping up their college application process, and reflecting through their personal essays on their unique journeys. As we celebrate this graduation and look forward to more stories of success in the future, we would like to share a handful of excerpts from these student reflections:
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!