The past weeks have been packed with engaging, interesting, and fun opportunities for our students at New Summit Academy.
At the start of the month, students and staff participated in our Integrated Aventuras, which combine experiential, hands-on learning with personal growth in some of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica.
Newer students spent the week learning about conservation while volunteering in reforestation projects in the Osa Peninsula.
A second cohort of students paddled around the Golfo Dulce, studying tidal fluctuations, watersheds, and coral reefs, along with fishing with hand lines and competing in the famous “Tent Partner Olympics.”
A third group of students hiked through Corcovado National Park, learning about forest succession and spotting exotic wildlife including tapir, anteaters and spider monkeys!
Last week, when NSA welcomed a new student into our community, a senior student pointed to our scheduling calendar and said “Just look at what we get to do this weekend!”
In just two days, our students had the opportunity to:
- Show off their moves at the Roller Disco
- Fish in the estuaries along the Pacific coast
- Spend the day immersed in Costa Rica’s culture with Homestay Families
- Visit the National Theater
- Expend some energy at the Trampoline Park
- Participate in Film Club
NSA students are beginning the quarter by planning for their continued growth with their SCAFA (which stands for Self, Community, and Future) Teams.
On the first day of each quarter, NSA has a special schedule that allows students to each meet with their Academic Advisor, Experiential Education Mentor, and Case Manager – who make up their SCAFA Team – to review their quarterly goal plans and set concrete steps to achieve those goals.
When not attending SCAFA Meetings, students are working to unpack from their home visits or Recreational Aventuras, organizing their iPads for the upcoming quarter, participating in community service in Atenas, and expending some adolescent energy on the basketball court, on the soccer field, or in the gym.
SCAFA Day is one way we work to set up our students for success this quarter!
New Summit Academy celebrated a very special graduation day this spring, as we proudly sent eight young men into the world, prepared for success.
This graduating class served as leaders and role models for our students, and every student graduated with honors – a feat never before seen at NSA!
These students have been hard at work this past quarter, writing and polishing their transition plans, working side-by-side with their families to come to agreements on their plans, and meeting with the Transition Team and administrative staff to complete a final review. The grads then took one final trip together, celebrating their accomplishments at the summit of Chirripo, the highest peak in Costa Rica.
Some of our recent graduates will return to finish high school, while our senior graduates will be attending Juniata College, The University of Denver, Lehigh University, and the University of Oregon.
Congratulations to these amazing young men; we look forward to their many successes!
NSA has always believed that non-traditional education is the most effective way to reach a greater variety of learners and to better prepare them for our rapidly-evolving world. We have spent the past 15 years engaging students in experiential, collaborative, problem-based learning, and now we are sharing it with the world!
This May, Heather Tracy and Martin Naffziger, our Executive Director and Director of Learning and Outcomes, traveled to Chicago to present: Why (and How) Non-Traditional Education Must Be the New Traditional.
The presentation, given in front of a crowd of diverse educators, outlined the trends in adolescents and the world we are preparing them for, and how a different set of skills must be developed to best set them up for success.
While in Chicago, we also had the chance to host a current and alumni parent meet-up, sharing updates and memories. Families of graduates from as far back as 2013 met and mingled with families of students graduating this May, so it was a truly special occasion.
Thanks to all of our families for your continued support!
Our May 2020 graduating class consists of nine young men who have left an indelible, positive impact on our community. That impact has been felt outside the walls of NSA, especially at our local children’s home Hogar de Vida.
These grads, and many of their peers, have dedicated afternoons and weekends throughout their stay to build connections with the children through play, sing-alongs, art projects, games and just having fun.
This week, the graduates carried ice cream and cake to the children for one final afternoon of fun. The children had plenty of hugs for our graduates, who have gained so much from their experiences with Hogar de Vida.
Many thanks to Daisy, who continues to facilitate our ongoing relationship with this tremendous organization!
This past week, students returned from Integrated Aventuras in the rainforests and cloud forests of Costa Rica with stories to tell. Some of the highlights of the trips included:
• Working hard on mangrove reforestation projects along the shores of the Golfo Dulce
• Learning techniques for finding the highest quality coconuts
• Developing the most efficient teamwork techniques for moving 4.5 cubic meters of gravel over two busy days to create rainy season-resistant flooring for new trails
• Having the wind and current at their backs and high tides that coincided with arriving and leaving camp which made loading and unloading gear much easier
• Seeing a pod of at least 30 dolphin at sunrise while crossing the Golfo Dulce
• Catching mackerel, red snapper and tuna, and spotting sea turtles, different sting rays and even a whale shark!
• Creating the perfect shelter in a two-hour “team-building” exercise (though it miraculously didn’t rain, so the final design unfortunately wasn’t put to the ultimate test)
• Celebrating two student birthdays, marked by setting an NSA record completing an excruciating 3km hike in just 37 minutes
• On the last day of Aventura, making a bonfire by the river and roasting s’mores Costa Rican style
• Students being vulnerable with each other about the bittersweet feelings of moving on, processing the great connections they’ve made during their time at NSA and preparing for the transition as graduation approaches
This February’s round of Integrated Aventuras engaged students in hiking, rafting, swimming, service work, and other amazing opportunities. While the physical challenge and natural beauty of NSA’s Aventuras are often highlighted in stories and photos, these experiences offer our students so much more.
These reasons, combined with the physical challenge and connection with nature, are why NSA’s Integrated Aventuras are some of the most meaningful and impactful experiences for all of our students, and why our alumni continue to speak about them 10 years after graduation!
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