NOVA Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I know if NOVA Middle School is right for my child?
  2. How is the school day structured?
  3. How many students attend NOVA, and how large are the classes?
  4. How much homework can we expect?
  5. My child wants to complete his or her 6th grade year at our elementary school. How might this affect the possibility of coming to NOVA?
  6. What does “highly capable” mean?
  7. What is the timeline for the admissions process?
  8. What is the tuition at NOVA?
  9. What kind of diversity is at NOVA?
  10. What opportunities exist for families and students to visit the school?
  11. What schools do NOVA students come from?

How do I know if NOVA Middle School is right for my child?

Our goal is to find the best match between the NOVA Middle School mission and program, the student’s needs, and the family’s expectations. Our admissions process is designed to help families partner with us to make this determination.

Accepted students will be expected to read and write fluidly, complete assignments conscientiously, work independently, be responsible for regular homework, and contribute positively to the school community. We look for kids who are curious about the world, who ask a lot of questions, and who seek knowledge.

Although NOVA Middle School provides a program specifically for highly capable students, there are some very bright students we cannot appropriately serve. The following are potential reasons for denying admission to, or continuance in, our program: not academically prepared for above-grade level study; not emotionally or socially prepared for the rigors of our program; an inability to demonstrate respect for peers or teachers; serious difficulty focusing; serious difficulty working cooperatively in groups; specific learning disabilities; or other special education needs.

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How is the school day structured?

The school day begins at 8:00 AM. Each student rotates from class to class in a six period day to receive instruction from different teachers. Most of the core academic classes meet in the morning and most of the enrichment classes occur in the afternoon, but schedules vary from day to day. Students have a mid-morning break and a half hour lunch period. The school day ends with a Closing Crew where students receive announcements and contribute to keeping the building clean. Students are released at 2:45 PM.

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How many students attend NOVA, and how large are the classes?

A maximum of 108 students attend NOVA Middle School. Core class sizes normally are about 18 students, while elective classes vary.

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How much homework can we expect?

NOVA students complete regular homework assignments in the core subjects. They also work on longer-term projects requiring the time management skills taught by faculty to successfully complete tasks at home and at school. Homework is designed to be at a level that does not prevent student commitments to extra-curricular art, sport, music, community service and other activities critical to creating well-rounded, worldly adults.

Teachers work together to ensure that homework and project due dates are spread out across the week. The standard that we aim for is for students to do no more than 90 minutes of homework per night; however, each student brings different organizational and time management skills into middle school, and we work closely with students to develop those skills. 

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My child wants to complete his or her 6th grade year at our elementary school. How might this affect the possibility of coming to NOVA?

Waiting can affect admission and success as a NOVA Middle School student in two fundamental ways. The first is due to simple numbers: with the maximum grade level size at 36 students, there has to be an available slot for a new student to attend in 7th grade. The second way is a result of program design, as all of our subjects are taught with a full three-year, curriculum plan; therefore, students coming in the 7th grade might experience gaps in their preparation. In addition, in the 6th grade, all of the students are coming in from different schools. The group forms as they develop skills together and make the transition from elementary to middle school. Going through the entire three-year program benefits students in their personal development as well as their academics.

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What does “highly capable” mean?

Highly capable students perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments. For some students those characteristics are evident in their general abilities.  For others it includes specific abilities such as math, writing or leadership. It’s not uncommon for highly capable students to shine in some areas and struggle in others. Not all highly capable students score well on standardized assessments. Thinking outside the box, creativity, a heightened sense of justice, and intensity are common characteristics of highly capable students. Sometimes the terms highly capable and gifted are used interchangeably. Being highly capable is only one aspect of a mission-appropriate student applicant.

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What is the timeline for the admissions process?

What is the tuition at NOVA?

For the current school year, the tuition and comprehensive fees for a full year at NOVA is $17,612. Three payment plans are available, as well as need-based financial aid. Comprehensive fees cover costs such as the fall retreat to Camp Colman, year-end spring trips, Winterim activities, and school planners.

Optional costs include purchasing NOVA logo wear or ordering lunches for Tuesdays or Thursdays. 

If families are interested in applying for financial aid, please refer to the Financial Aid  section.

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What kind of diversity is at NOVA?

NOVA students are similar in their level of academic ability and in their parents' commitment to high quality education. Otherwise, those who come to NOVA are surprisingly diverse. It is our goal to have the NOVA Middle School population reflect the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of our community. Over one-third of our student population receives financial aid, which enables additional diversity. Diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, varied family structures, wide-ranging interests, divergent political and religious views, and varied personal belief systems are all valued at NOVA, and students are taught to respect these differences.

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What opportunities exist for families and students to visit the school?

The best way for parents to get the most information about NOVA Middle School is to attend an Open House. We also encourage parents to schedule a visit during the school day; you may visit for as long or as briefly as you like. Seeing the classes and the students in action provides the most clear and authentic view of what a school day here is like. If you are unable to attend one of our Open Houses, you may, of course, still visit during a school day and meet with the Head of School or Assistant Head of School to learn more.

Students experience a guided tour during the NOVA application process. Visits are half-day from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm. Prospective students are matched and attend classes with an age-appropriate student guide. To schedule visits, please call Julie Hankins, Admissions Director at 360.491.7097.

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What schools do NOVA students come from?

NOVA attracts students from public and private elementary schools as well as homeschool and alternative learning programs all over the South Puget Sound area, including Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, Pierce and Lewis counties. Many students have attended public school highly capable programs. Incoming students have usually functioned at the top of their classes based on a combination of academic, creative, and leadership characteristics.

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