NOVA Community Stories

Maisie Maclay '15

"NOVA really emphasized that individuals can make a difference, and I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied unless I feel like I’m doing important work that uses my abilities to benefit others."

So, what are you up to?
I’m currently living in Spain on a gap year, studying Spanish and volunteering as an English teacher in a primary school. I’ve been able to travel all over Europe, which has been a phenomenal and really life-changing opportunity. I’ve learned so much about other countries and other cultures, as well as the ways the US interacts with them, and now I feel ready and excited to go into college and make the most of that opportunity!

What are your plans for the future?
My short term plans are to go to university next fall and major in political science and linguistics. As for longer term plans, I’m not sure. I hope more traveling is on the horizon, but mostly I just hope to find a career where I feel like I’m doing meaningful work. NOVA really emphasized that individuals can make a difference, and I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied unless I feel like I’m doing important work that uses my abilities to benefit others. I’m grateful to NOVA for making me believe that I am capable of making an impact!

Oh, that's a nice segue. Tell us more about your NOVA experience.
NOVA’s academics and small classrooms provide you with a fantastic academic base for high school, and they provide you opportunities for independent growth with things like World of Work and Eighth Grade Project. But for me the most important preparation was my sense of self. I think that because NOVA is such a small school, by the time you exit eighth grade you have become the most concentrated version of yourself, meaning that all your personality traits are demonstrated at the extreme. Entering a big high school in ninth grade tends to dilute that back down, but I think because I spent so much time getting to know myself in middle school without worrying about fitting in, I was able to hold tight to a core vision of who I am.

What are some favorite memories of NOVA?
There are so many, it seems impossible to choose. Of course there are big ones, like the class trips or Camp Colman, but my very favorite memories are tiny moments, some with people I haven’t even seen since NOVA, that would take a whole page to explain. We had so much freedom to be ourselves, and so my fondest memories are of everything from building fake books to use in the school musical to bouncing on our knees during Potato Club meetings to arguing about what color mountains they have in Frodoland.

What advice do you have for current NOVA students?
The best advice I could give is to value the relationships you make at NOVA, both with your peers and your teachers. This school is an incredible community full of brilliant individuals, and the small size really gives you the experience of forming deep and meaningful connections that will stay with you long after you graduate. While not all of your classmates will be your lifelong best friends, there will always be a connection between you. And the NOVA staff is an amazing group of individuals with so much expertise, and they will continue to support you long after you move on to other places!

Alumni Spotlight

Sarah Joy (Cundiff) White 2008

NOVA was really a key place for me at a pivotal time in life.

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Alumni Spotlight

Matthew Rosen 2012

NOVA taught me to think critically, to be curious, and to love learning.

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Alumni Spotlight

Laurel (Olfson-Manning) Schimelfenig 2007

NOVA was a safe place where I knew the staff, teachers, and fellow peers were there to support and guide me.

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