The “Sweet Gulf” of southern Costa Rica provides the setting for students’ second Integrated Aventura, as they kayak around this untouched marine wilderness. NSA’s teachers provide hands-on learning experiences throughout the Aventura, with students learning about subjects in which they are immersed: the tides, coral reefs, watersheds, and mangrove ecosystems.
During daily paddles, our students were accompanied by dolphins and sea turtles, did their best to bring in dinner with hand lines, and marveled at the bioluminescence during a night crossing of the Gulf.
Updates like these make all of the efforts worth it:Hi, Kelly,
Life is fantastic right now! I am settled in to my dorm (my roommate is awesome) and have had two days of classes (already five hours spent on homework). I have met up with a lot of my old friends and I am hanging out with another NSA grad often, he’s doing great as well. We went on the same backpacking trip and saw a bear less than 15 feet away, walking toward us! It was a really fun trip and we had perfect weather with a full moon and blue skies.
I had a full time job this past summer as a dish washer with 50-hour weeks (roughly). I managed to go to three concerts through all of that: Rebelution, Guns n Roses, and Blink 182. At the Blink 182 concert, I caught the drummer’s drumstick!
I was sick right when I moved back (figures) but it only lasted a week and I’ve been healthy ever since. There already parties almost every day up here and I’ve managed to stay sober so far so that’s good, still having fun though.
I have no idea what I want to study but I think that is a good thing. I feel comfortable on campus and around all these people, everyone is really friendly up here.
I know I’ve said this before, but in times of reflection, I think I should say again that I am forever grateful for NSA and how it helped me turn my life around. Without it I would not be in college right now and maybe not even have a high school diploma. Then there’s all the emotional knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained, but I won’t go on about that (although it’s really important/advantageous). But the most important skills I learned at NSA were how to live with people, solve conflict, and open up as a person. I am so comfortable around everyone here, and it helps others be comfortable around me. It’s quite an experience to look back on, and I wouldn’t change a thing if I could.
Thanks for all your hard work.
Feel free to share this with people and I will write a letter to Martin ‘cause he deserves one and he helped me so much.
Arriving at a new place can be overwhelming for anyone, especially when that place is a new school, with a new group of peers, new staff, and different rules – and in an entirely foreign country!
Classes, wrap-up meetings, Aventuras and meals - these facets of life at NSA make up a big part of our students' experiences. However, there are many more hours in the day and many interesting activities available that engage our guys in healthy recreational opportunities.
Preparing students for a successful transition from New Summit Academy is a crucial step in helping them succeed in the next stages of their lives. A huge part of this help comes from their work within the NSA Transition Program - an intensive process which engages students, families, and a "Transition Team" in planning and preparing for life after New Summit.
The planning begins well before students' final quarters, when they work with their families to create drafts of their Transition Plans, which will be refined and edited for months before final approval. These comprehensive plans include expectations about education, finances, family and house rules, socializing, and more. Throughout the Transition Program, students also engage in life-skills workshops of their choosing, including topics such as College Level Skills, Planning for and Preparing a Meal, Independent Travel, Budgeting and Finances, and Sex and Dating.
In Costa Rica, and throughout much of Latin America, Columbus Day is celebrated - not for the "discovery" of the Americas - but for the diversity of cultures throughout the continents created by our shared history. New Summit Academy is unique among high schools in that our students enroll from all corners of the United States, and that our international staff come to us from Costa Rica, the U.S., Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and other countries.
Each year, our Cultural Coordinator Daisy ensures that students learn about this important day and the impact diversity has on Costa Rica and on the students' everyday lives. In celebration of the cultural melange that makes up NSA, Daisy organizes our staff to create and share food and drinks with our students which represent the cultures from which we come.
This year, students enjoyed traditional Caribbean meat patties, Columbian arepas, chicharrones from Costa Rica, Thai massaman curry, and hearty mid-western chili.
Food is a window into and celebration of this variety of cultures (not to mention the best way to interest teenage boys), so many thanks to Daisy for facilitating this enriching event!
"Therapeutic Educational Experiences" (similar version published in We Are NATSAP newsletter October 2016)
by Dr. Heather Tracy, Ed.M., Ed.D., Executive Director at New Summit Academy & The Bridge – Costa Rica
During the admissions process at therapeutic boarding schools, there is no shortage of educational symptoms listed: Grades declined. Skipped classes. Suspended. Fell into a negative peer group at school. Bullied. Whatever the case may be, what happens at school is often framed as a symptom of a deeper clinical issue that is the true reason for seeking treatment. What is often not highlighted is just how integrated an adolescent’s educational and personal development experiences actually are. The up side to all of this is that education does not solely serve to alert us to symptoms needing clinical attention, but
rather educational experiences can be important facilitators of healing and growth as well.
What could be more therapeutic than...
Each and every one of these examples is representative of how New Summit Academy is not just filling up students’ days with scores on tests and credits on transcripts. NSA's teachers and administrators work tirelessly to create “therapeutic” educational experiences for our students. We do this believing that someday soon other schools will catch on to the idea that therapeutic education is not just healing what has “gone wrong” for our students; instead, it is what education is meant to be at its core – an experience that facilitates learning about ourselves, each other, and the world around us so that we might meaningfully contribute in our own unique and positive way.
The month of September is a special time in Costa Rica, as proud Ticos celebrate gaining their independence from Spain on September 15th, 1821. Our Cultural Coordinator, Daisy, ensures that students take part in every aspect of this patriotic celebration.
Typical Breakfast Celebration
On the day before Independence Day, faculty and staff arrive to campus extra early to prepare a typical Costa Rican breakfast for our students. As students awoke to the sound of live marimba music, they found their teachers ready to serve them such traditional foods as gallo pinto, huevos rancheros, and handmade corn tortillas.
Staff (and some of our braver students) danced to classic Tico tunes, punctuated by “bombas” – short, comedic poems recited by everyone involved.
Making Faroles and Supporting a Local Elementary School
On the evening before Independence Day, Costa Ricans celebrate the gathering of citizens by lantern light throughout Central America as the call for independence was raised in 1821.
Children fill the streets, carrying homemade “faroles” or lanterns in the colors of the Costa Rican flag for a magical parade.
NSA students traveled to a nearby small village called “Altos del Monte” to work with the students at a humble elementary school to construct their lanterns.
Our students then took part in the parade, and further supported the school’s yearly fundraiser by purchasing plates of traditional food.
September 15: Independence Day Parade
Many thanks to our Costa Rican community for including us in their Independence Day celebration, and to Daisy, for organizing such a rich series of experiences for our students.
Happy Independence Day, Costa Rica!
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!