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    Getting Started

    Incoming 9th grade students attend 3-1/2 days of workshops and advisory activities when they arrive at Nova before signing up for classes. They meet their teacher advisor (aka Coordinator), meet with their advisory group, meet one-on-one with their teacher advisor, and sign up for classes.

    All of our 9th graders are enrolled in Freshfolks during their first semester at Nova.  Freshfolks gives students an overview of the tools they'll need to be successful at Nova: 

    • Learn our competency-based system
    • Understand how to participate fully in seminars
    • How to work collaboratively with other students
    • How to manage their time
    • Making good personal and school decisions
    • Establishing expectations for reading, writing, presentations, critical thought and action

    We also provide ongoing parent and family orientation meetings, and Friends of Nova offers regional orientations for new parents and families at the beginning of every school year. 

    The first few days of each semester are different from those at traditional high schools. All students are required to participate in the following activities: 

    • Attend Coor each morning. Students get to know other members of their Coor group, hear school announcements and information, share personal stories, and plan for the school year. Learn more about Coor.

    • Meet with their Coordinator. All students have a “one on one” meeting to discuss their student learning plan and possible course schedules to prep for class registration.
       
    • Participate in NOVA CON. Nova Con is a justice, art and community conference hosted for Nova students twice a year at the beginning of each semester. It is focused on justice, art and community workshops and events. The conference is designed to connect Nova students to our community and also to the many communities we are nested within.

      Workshops are planned and facilitated by students, families and community facilitators. This also allows teachers to meet individually with every student before the semester starts to craft their unique educational experience. Nova Con happens at the beginning of each semester, so we are always looking for volunteer workshop facilitators! Learn more about NOVA CON.

    Planning a schedule: Before choosing classes, students and their coordinators carefully consider their needs for the semester as well as graduation requirements, college or vocational plans, and other long-term goals. Using our internal ALE database -- where every student has a written student learning plan that is updated monthly, based on teacher reports on student progress in every class -- the coordinator helps students select classes that fit their interests and juggle schedules, all with graduation, college and future goals in mind.  

    Students and coordinators also plan for any extracurricular activities - sports, music, work, and so on, working to build a schedule that best “fits” the student.

    Together, they review the course offerings and select classes of interest plus a few back-ups. This process ensures that the student is well prepared for registration day. You can learn more about Nova's coursework by department and course catalog.

    Registering for classes: Students sign up for classes by visiting each teacher’s room. Seniors and those with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) may have priority and can sign up early. Students are reminded to be flexible when choosing their classes and have a “back up” plan in case a desired class is full. When a class fills, teachers may create wait lists.  Each teacher manages their wait lists differently. If a student is considering adding or dropping a class during the term, they must first speak with their coordinator.

    Attendance: Key to student success at Nova is regular attendance, participation and engagement in all classes. Nova reports attendance daily.  Students are required to “sign in” on their COOR Attendance sheet daily, and each teacher also takes attendance.  Nova follows the attendance requirements mandated in the WA State Compulsory Attendance Law (28A.225 RCW). Please notify the school office @ (206) 252-3500 if your student is absent.

    Class Schedule: Classes meet twice or three times a week for one and a half hours each day. Current class schedules are available in the Nova office.  Nova’s weekly schedule incorporates time for Coor meetings, community service, committee involvement, academic support, field trips and additional activities. Learn more about Nova’s academic program.

    As participation in these activities will depend on student inspiration and school/community needs, a student’s schedule can vary some week-to-week. Nova follows the SPS district calendar for all breaks and holidays but does not observe early dismissal days. The Seattle Public Schools calendar can be found online at www.seattleschools.org.  

    Competency Based Learning: Nova’s teaching and learning system differs from traditional schools.  The student and their teachers collaborate to define the student’s specific interests and develop expectations for fulfilling competencies based on those interests.  A competency can be defined as a concept, a skill, or any specific knowledge essential for passing a class.

    Instead of measuring student knowledge on the basis of teacher-assigned tests, homework, and reports, the student and teacher work together to define and assess mastery so that the credits earned correlate with the student's understanding and application of the key concepts and skills covered in the class. Learn more about competency based learning.

    Alternative Learning Environment (ALE): We believe learning looks different for each person and thus should be a flexible and malleable personalized process driven by the learner with support and guidance from caring mentors and other learners. At Nova, students and staff are both learners and teachers. We work to find balance between personalization, academics, and community responsibility. Learn more about Nova as an ALE school.

    Governing Committees: Student engagement extends beyond the classroom. Nova has always been grassroots, democratic school with a strong commitment to social justice. For over 40 years Nova has been run collectively by the students and staff. Students are required to participate in a governing committee that makes real decisions about how their school is run.

    Nova is democratically governed by committees made up of students, teachers, parents, guardians, alumni, principal, and staff. School matters are addressed by the entire community. All have a voice and a vote on issues including managing the budget, changing class schedules and activities, staff hiring, and changing the governing system itself. Students can also participate in or create Committees for credit and fun. A list of current Committees.

    Graduating from Nova: Graduating Graduation and State assessment requirements are mandated by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction-OSPI. Information regarding credit and state testing requirements for each graduation year can be found on the Seattle Public Schools website at; www.seattleschools.org/area/gradreq/index.dxml Requirements and progress are monitored by the Coordinator using the student’s graduation worksheet. In addition to the District credit requirements each Nova student will complete a Justice-Based Culminating Inquiry Project.

    Life After Nova: Students leave Nova knowing how they learn, what they care about and who they are. Each student is supported to find their unique path and make meaningful plans for their future. Nova has a designated Career and College counselor to provide an additional layer of support and meets with students and families to plan next steps.

    Our graduates meet all state graduation requirements and receive a Seattle Public School High School diploma. College admissions officers from highly regarded colleges — University of Washington, Lewis & Clark, Mills College, Oberlin, The New School and others — seek out Nova students every year because they have come to expect creativity, critical thinking, maturity and self-reliance. Nova students are accepted at highly regarded colleges and other schools in our region and across the country.