So much of our program at The New School revolves around dialogue and communication. We have small seminar classes, a daily all-school meeting, exhibitions each quarter, and we value thoughtful and creative expression in project work. It’s no wonder that writing holds a special place in our curriculum.
Writing is hard. It takes practice growing comfortable with putting one’s ideas on paper, and organizing those ideas into meaningful sentences, paragraphs, and compositions. Writing, though, is an essential skill, and when I ask college professors to describe their ideal freshman, I always hear “better writer.” Not “great writer,” not “perfect writer.” Rather, simply a student who understands and is comfortable with the paragraph-by-paragraph development of an idea, and who understands the conventions of research, citing sources, and academic honesty.
It’s not in our nature to be formulaic, and within those general principles of scholarly writing we encourage our students to develop a voice and style that they like and are proud of – always with guidance and feedback from their teachers.
Writing is built into our program in many ways – in individual classes and projects – but we have two fundamental institutions where all students focus on the writing process. In the middle school, we have our reading-writing workshops in Quarters 1 and 3, where students receive direct instruction in writing based on the topics of their choice. And in the high school, in Quarter 2, all students write a scholarly paper in response to their morning module essential questions.
Our students do well in college largely, I think, because they have a strong sense of themselves as learners, they are dynamic thinkers and problem solvers, and they are comfortable with expressing themselves both verbally and in writing.
To the middle schoolers, we’re proud of your writing this first quarter, and we’re excited to see what you will write about next quarter. To the high schoolers, good luck this quarter on your exhibition papers!
In Exciting College News…
The first round of applications has passed, and the waiting begins for those seniors that applied by November 1, but there are still some early action/early decision deadlines coming up in mid-November and December. Students can, of course, apply to colleges on the regular decision plan, typically with deadlines on or after January 1. Waiting to apply by regular decision means colleges can see first quarter grades, and gives students time to retake the ACT or SAT if they choose to do so.
Parents were treated to a special guest at our first Coffee with Steve in October. Liza Jones, whose daughter Taylor attends the school, is an attorney and long time child advocate who has started a college advising business called Campus Fit Consulting. Liza spoke to parents about the importance of finding a college that fits their child, rather than pushing their child to fit into a prestige school that may not be right for them. She explained that there are colleges out there for everyone, and urged parents not to overlook the benefits of taking a gap year or starting out at a community college.
Alumni Check In
This month we checked in with Class of 2005 alumna, Sarrah Edwards-Roberts. Sarrah started at The New School as a sophomore.
What are you doing now?
Right now, I work from home with my fiancé Michael. We own a craft business where I create home decor pieces (wreaths or mantle art out of old glassware) and he makes custom rings. I’m also a mom to an almost 5-year old which is my biggest and most important job. I went to college and earned my degree in Social Work because I love helping people. I wanted to work in the foster care and adoption system because I was an adopted child, but that drive shifted after a traumatic life event.
I was widowed at 30 years of age. My late husband was a Marine Corps Veteran who served in the military for 8 years and went on multiple combat deployments. Unfortunately, he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and took his life in 2017 at the age of 27. Since his death, I’ve become a loud advocate for veteran mental health. Recently, Michael and I designed a ring to raise awareness of veteran suicide. We held a fundraiser for 6 weeks where we donated 50% of our sales to an organization called Mission 22 that helps provide programs for veterans that struggle from PTSD. This has become my calling; to support others in their time of need. I have hopes to one day go back to college to earn a Masters Degree in Social Work so I can work with veterans and veteran families.
How do you feel NSNVA prepared you for where you are now?
NSNVA instilled a number of qualities in me that helped me build on myself. Being such a small school, you are a part of a little community and you help one another when they are in need which has really helped me in my advocacy as I am working with a small community of veterans. The biggest thing I learned from NSNVA is problem-solving. Sometimes, I become overwhelmed in life, but the teachers instilled in me the importance of never giving up and always give your absolute best effort. I take that lesson with me everywhere I go and continue to learn on those roots that were planted in high school. I also felt incredibly prepared for college. My classes weren’t “easy”, but my study habits from high school made a huge difference when I went off to college. Because of our exhibitions, I am now able to give speeches and have discussions without the stage fright that I had before NSNVA.
Are there any special memories of NSNVA that stand out for you, now that you’ve been away for a while?
I organized a field trip twice for Virginia’s drumming class. We took a weekend trip to West Virginia to a program out there that I attended before NSNVA. They specialize in drumming, so we went for the weekend and had a wonderful time teaching rhythms to my classmates as well as learning new ones. Another memory I have is my senior exhibition. I poured my heart and soul into that exhibition and earned a solid A. This was a huge boost for me, showing me that what I put my mind to, what I give my best effort to, I will flourish and succeed.
Are there any messages you’d like to send to our current students?
High school seemed difficult at the time, but looking back almost 15 years, I have some advice I’d like to provide. Study hard in high school. This will set you up for your future. Your study habits and research habits now are the building blocks for beyond high school; whether you choose to attend college or get straight out into the workforce, what you do now is your foundation. You never stop growing and you never stop learning, so learn how to enjoy learning. Find something you are passionate about and go out there and do it! Give your passion your very best efforts and you will never have any regrets. And don’t be afraid to try new things. Setting yourself into a routine can be great, but in your future, it can limit your full potential. The world is at your feet, don’t let fear hold you back.
It was a month of fun events like Ted’s Paint Night, field trips for German Reunification Day and to the Durga Temple, projects on biodiesel fuel and statistics, volleyball and soccer games, and spooky special events! Take a look:
We can’t thank you enough! Because of our amazing donors, we were able to cross off all of the items on the STEAM Teacher Wish List in just over a week.
The Wish List was created when New School teachers thought about what resources could make their teaching even more impactful. Your generosity will put these resources into classrooms just in time for Second Quarter classes to begin.
Because of you, teachers and students will soon be able to use the following items to enhance learning and exploration both in and out of the classroom:
Digital drawing tablets to help students improve their design skills in art, technical theatre, and architecture classes.
Digital scales to help students conduct experiments with precision and accuracy. They’ll also help decide the winner of the pie baking contest on Pi Day!
Graphing calculators to make sure students have access to the tools they need to explore the world of Math.
A license to LoggerPro to help students conduct science experiments and measure data more accurately.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the year as New School teachers and students put these items into action.
Thank you again for your support. You’ve made a difference, and it means the world to both teachers and students.
We just put the finishing touches on another amazing fall sports season at The New School with our Student vs. Staff volleyball game! We now turn our attention to upcoming winter sports–but before we move forward, I want to take a moment to thank all of the students who made this another successful year for both soccer and volleyball.
Our soccer team saw a lot of returning faces, but also plenty of new ones. I’m happy to say that we noticed a big improvement in our team skills this year, and we can only get better as the team grows! Billy is already looking forward to another great season next year.
Our volleyball team, led by co-captain seniors, Hanai and Sammy, fought hard in every single game. As the coach, not a game went by where I didn’t lose my voice cheering like crazy. We had students from every grade playing this season, and the future is looking bright for the team!
Now, we are officially moving on to winter and basketball season. With a full schedule right off the bat, Coach Rachel and her team are already ready and raring to go. We hope you’ll come down and join us in cheering on all of our teams throughout the year!
Halloween and Spirit Week
Thank you to the students, parents, and teachers who helped to make this year’s Halloween Party a great success! Halloween is the unofficial New School holiday and we take it very seriously.
We had a costume contest, pumpkin carving, karaoke, movies, games, snacks and a haunted house, preceded by Spirit Week (during which everyone had a blast dressing up!).
Tues. Oct 15: Pajama Day & Free Hot Chocolate (Courtesy of Student Gov)
Mon. Oct 21: Dad Joke Day.
Tues. Oct 22: Doppelganger Day
Wed. Oct 23: VSCO Day
Thurs. Oct 24: Decades Day
Friday. Oct 25: Halloween Party
30th Anniversary Celebration
Remember to save the date for The New School’s 30th Anniversary Celebration!
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Tickets on sale in March.
We hope to see you there!
This is the third year of our German Exchange with the Kreuzgymnasium Dresden. Two students, Luise Enders and Mika von Olberg, had a great month here with their respective partners, El Oakes and Michael Voskian (who will be in Dresden next April!). I interviewed them both about their experience here:
What surprised you the most at The New School?
Luise: I was (positively) surprised about how individual and different everyone at The New School is. 🙂
Mika: What surprised me most was the size of the New School. It is a a lot smaller than my school and it makes things like morning meeting possible.
What did you enjoy learning here?
Luise: I really enjoyed the soccer class in the afternoon (even though I wasn’t the best…..)
Mika: I enjoyed my morning [Honors: Cognitive Bias Seminar] and afternoon mod [Forensic Biology] best, because I don’t have any subjects like that at my school.
Luise: Remembering the names of everyone.
Mika: Well, I’d say the biggest challenge was language. Because reading a scientific paper in German is hard, but in English is a whole other level.
What will you tell your friends back home about life in Northern Virginia?
Luise: I will tell them that I met a lot of nice people and that fast food tastes better in Northern Virginia than it tastes in Dresden 😀
Mika: You notice pretty fast how different our cultures are. But it is a pleasurable place to stay. You have more fast food then we have, that’s for sure.
What is your craziest memory from your time with us?
Luise: The craziest moment was probably hiking in the rain with Mika, Michael, El and Virginia.
Mika: The most crazy memory will probably be Kings Dominion. I’ve never been to any of these amusement parks, so that was a great experience.
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