What do highly capable learners need to thrive?
Over the past three decades, we’ve kept this question at the center of everything we do, especially when it comes to the backbone of our program: our core academics. Core classes at NOVA draw on our collective wisdom in the field of gifted education, best practices and protocols, emerging research, and the thousands of interactions and experiences we’ve had with highly capable and twice-exceptional students through the years.
The NOVA Language Arts program helps students become skilled communicators as part of a strong literary community of readers and writers.
Through personal expression and literary experiences, students get a well-balanced, thorough background in the four strands of literacy: writing, reading, speaking, and listening.
High School Transition: Graduating NOVA students are prepared to enroll in ninth-grade Honors English.
Deep conceptual understanding of the language of mathematics provides the strongest foundation for students' varied future pursuits.
Our math program focuses on helping students develop solid skills in Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and—for some—Geometry. Each student progresses at a rate that challenges them while also ensuring deep understanding.
High School Transition: NOVA students earn Algebra I high school credit. Students who follow an accelerated path also earn high school credit in Geometry.
Developing scientific thinking skills occurs through hands-on practice, a high level of scientific dialogue, and inquiry.
Over three years, students study Earth and Space Science, Biology, and Physical Science in a curriculum that’s responsive to current events and grounded in Next Generation Science Standards. Students develop scientific thinking skills through dialogue and inquiry along with lab work, data evaluation, and the use of various technologies.
High School Credit: NOVA students usually earn a credit for Physical Science and will typically take Biology or Honors Biology in ninth grade.
In our Spanish program, students practice self-expression, study the varied cultural contexts of Spanish, and learn foundational grammar and vocabulary.
Our goal, beyond increased Spanish proficiency, is to create a strong foundation for future language study and to provide a healthy opportunity for kids to engage with this essential 21st-century skill.
High School Credit: NOVA students earn high school credit for Spanish I. Those who continue with Spanish studies in ninth grade enroll in Spanish II.
What do highly capable students need to grow—as students and as people?
A healthy school experience is about more than traditional academics. That’s why we incorporate a number of classes beyond the core curriculum into our program. Every student at NOVA will take these classes over their three years with us because we — and modern research — believe they are essential for young adolescents to be balanced, happy, and healthy.
Our Visual Arts program helps students build artistic skills and practice creative problem-solving through experienced instruction, access to professional tools and materials, and guidance that helps them foster creativity.
Through a mix of 2-D and 3-D projects over their three years at NOVA, the curriculum helps students use art as a means of expression and communication, as an exploration of human thought and emotion, and as a path to deepening compassion for themselves and for other people.
Our robust afternoon Enrichment program gives students the opportunity to explore a variety of topics based on their interests.
Each trimester, students choose from a list of several dozen classes, with titles such as French, Songwriting, Robotics, Cartography, Photo Manipulation, Crocheting, Mystery Theater, Chess, and many more. Teachers are continually creating new classes based on their emerging interests and student suggestions.
Throughout their time at NOVA, students also receive grade-appropriate support through seminars that meet weekly in grade-level groups to help them prepare for future success.
In sixth grade, we focus on study skills to help them increase their educational independence and autonomy. Seventh graders study and participate in various forms of service throughout the year. In eighth grade, students take on a yearlong independent project designed to help them practice skills they’ll need for long-term independent learning.
NOVA's Physical Education program is varied, playful, and non-traditional.
We believe all students can gain confidence through physical activity and have the capacity to lead. In the fall and the spring, classes are on campus and consist of games that focus on teamwork, self-refereeing skills, and positive participation. In the winter, classes move off-site to various community locations. Choices change based on availability and student interest but some recent examples include rock climbing, bowling, racquetball, Zumba, swimming, and golf.
Twice a week, students meet in small groups we call cohorts.
On Tuesdays, teachers check in individually with students to go over their grades, talk about any missing work, come up with strategies, and check in on overall progress and well-being. They also help students prepare for new classes and conferences. During these check-ins, other students have extra work time. On Thursdays, cohorts challenge each other in games like Pictionary or Codenames.
Our Social-Emotional (“SoEmo”) program includes classes that meet weekly throughout a student’s time at NOVA and is woven throughout our entire curriculum.
Classes focus on emotional wellness and personal development and cover a wide range of important topics including communication, transitioning from elementary to middle school and from middle to high school, and navigating students’ growing independence.
All students take a NOVA Tech class that introduces them to the systems and software we use on campus.
From there, students can choose from various Enrichment classes in technology that help them become nimble and confident in an ever-changing digital world. Our technology classes serve students at all levels, whether they enter middle school with very little exposure to technology or have already clocked many hours exploring coding languages.
Beyond the Classroom
What do middle school students need to feel like they’re part of a community?
Extracurricular student experiences at NOVA are designed to round out and fit in with the goals of our core academics and other required classes. Spending time with other students who enjoy similar pastimes builds community and gives students even more opportunities to experience our core values of connection, commitment, intention, and joy.
Team sports build confidence and skills.
NOVA's sports teams are inclusive and fun, offering any students who wish to participate an opportunity to try out something new, build confidence and skills, and compete. Volleyball is offered in partnership with the South Sound YMCA. NOVA students can also still participate in the after-school sports programs of their home public school. Simply contact your home public school to make arrangements.
After-school clubs are an energizing way for students to connect with peers.
After-school clubs shift and change every year, based on student interests, but they’re all relaxed, fun ways for kids to connect with each other outside the classroom. Any student can start a club. Periodically, teachers host clubs at NOVA. Adventure Club, for instance — hosted by our advanced science teacher — gets students busy with hands-on projects and experiments. New in 2023 is the Aerospace Club. This club hosted by Olympia High School students will see middle schoolers producing high school level rocketry and competing.
Elementary School Mentoring
Becoming a mentor is a great way for middle schoolers to stretch their wings.
NOVA has a history of partnering with local elementary schools to give our students an opportunity to work with elementary school-aged children and learn firsthand how to be leaders in a classroom.
Music is a tradition on our campus and a crucial part of many students’ NOVA experience.
Though music is not a requirement, many NOVA students participate in music throughout their time at the school. We offer orchestra, band, and choir regularly. Students in these groups perform in concerts and at school events throughout the year. For students who want to learn more, we offer Enrichment classes on topics such as songwriting or music history.
Theater helps students become more confident and creative and nurture friendships.
Through our Enrichment program and after-school activities, NOVA students can participate in theater, a great way to become more confident and creative and to nurture friendships. We offer multiple Enrichment classes, including the ever-popular Improv class. In the winter, students rehearse, produce, and perform one show as an after-school activity. Shows have included musicals, dramas, comedies, and one-act plays.
Belonging at NOVA
Our goal is for our school culture to be one of inclusion and belonging for every member of the NOVA community.Our Culture