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Student Life

Nova Community Norms

Nova Community Norms and Policies

  • be mindful
  • share yourself and leave room for other people to share themselves
  • be sober
  • speak from I (avoid generalizing other people’s experience/beliefs and/or being a condescendy pants)
  • explain don’t shame
  • sit with discomfort but not injustice
  • be thoughtful about your language because language has consequences (Discrimination based on race, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and/or mental or physical disability is illegal and not tolerated here. Slurs related to these forms of discrimination as well as language and jokes that minimize sexual and physical violence will have serious consequences in our community.)
  • practice clear consent (Treat people the way they want to be treated, ask them if you don’t know and listen when they explain.)
  • be thoughtful about broadcasting your personal business (Be aware that folks have different levels of comfort when it comes to talking about sex, drugs/alcohol and other personal biz as well as public displays of affection.)
  • welcome people
  • follow the visitor policy and bring your visitors up to speed about what safety means at Nova
  • when you see people at Nova you don’t recognize ask them to check in with the office
  • help each other to be accountable
  • leave Nova and Nova spaces nicer than you found them

At Nova we respect that people can be upset and uncomfortable about the content of curriculum, discussions and media that is used and shared in classes. We work to be clear in course descriptions and by giving warnings to students ahead of time about potentially upsetting material. We simultaneously work to support students to make good choices for themselves when picking classes and in advocating for themselves when they need an alternative assignment.

Students with extreme sensitivities should work with their coordinator to make sure courses are appropriate before signing up for them, as once a course is in motion the student might have to find a new course if their sensitivities keep them from being able to participate in a significant amount of the course activities.

For example, if someone has an extreme phobia and they sign up for a course that is a film study related to that phobia the class will not be changed and the student will need to find a new class. If the same student was in another class where that phobia related to one essay, the student and coordinator could work toward creating an alternative assignment as long as they clearly communicate and negotiate that with the teacher.

Nova was founded on principles of students driving their own education and actively participating in the democratic management and improvement of Nova. The Nova Project is our historic name and shows our belief in the on-going growth.

Nova has grown into a school that is dedicated to racial and social justice where community responsibilities balance personal freedom and where every aspect of school can continue to grow toward equity and access for all community members.

To graduate from Nova there are additional requirements beyond the state graduation requirements that reflect our commitment to social justice, participatory democracy and community.

Personal Responsibilities

  • The student signs in daily or text/call/email excused absence.
  • The student attends and participates in the schedule they create with their coordinator.
  • The student communicates changes to their schedule in a timely fashion to their coordinator, teacher and family/support team.
  • The student sets goals for each semester and modify and update them as they change.
  • The student has a meeting with coordinator at least once a month unless more frequent meetings are necessary/required.
  • The student is actively involved in future planning, preparing for life, college and/or careers.
  • The student facilitates family meetings as needed (when requested by student, family or coordinator).

Community Responsibilities and Democratic Participation

  • The student respectful and supportive to fellow community members by following the school norms.
  • The student participates in school decision making through coor and committees. (.25 mentorship credit per year is required for graduation and is earned through coor.)
  • The student actively is involved in something that improves, educates, governs Nova and/or produces events that build community. (.25 governing committee credit per semester is required for graduation. This replaced the 10 hours of Nova Service per year requirement, when a proposal about governing committees was brought to United Nova and then went through a multiple step ratification process.)
  • The student is actively involved in something that builds community at Nova beyond academic classes. (Students can earn leadership credit for running community building activities and events or running activity committees and students can earn student activity credit for participating in these activities. Students can also turn community activities into specific credit earning opportunities by working out competencies and contracts with teachers or their coordinator.)

Social Justice Responsibilities

  • Each department has developed social justice competencies that are integrated into classes students will take to acquire the credits in Language Arts, History, Science, Art and Math to move toward graduation. The student is actively involved in classes and projects where they will engage with social justice competencies.
  • The student will take and earn full credit from an ethnic studies class and/or a class specifically focused on race, power, and privilege. (0.5 credit is required for graduation.)
  • The student is actively involved in something that improves, builds or governs a community beyond Nova. (60 hours of community service is the current state graduation requirement, but we are developing new competencies to unite several graduation requirements into something that is more integrated and authentic: Justice-Based Culminating Inquiry Project.)*

*Justice-Based Culminating Inquiry Project

12th grade students will participate in the Justice-Based Culminating Inquiry Project which has replaced the senior project, senior project presentation, 60 hours of community service, 40 hours of Nova service, 12-15 page paper, and 500 word essay.

Staff and students will work together to refine the Justice-Based Culminating Inquiry Project to modify when some of these competencies have already been completed for the graduating classes of 2020.

It will be a graduation requirement for the graduating classes of 2021 and beyond. This project will be credit bearing which is most important to the classes of 2021 and beyond who are now required to meet the state’s 24 credit graduation requirement.

Although Nova High School reserves the right to use the standard discipline procedures spelled out in the Seattle Public Schools Handbook, we as a school community will try to use transformative justice based solutions to problems that arise within our school community.

We are committed firstly to stopping any harm, secondly, to educate and support the needs of all community members involved, thirdly, to give community members ways to rebuild community trust when they cause harm and finally, to reflect on our systems and use these incidences to grow a more just and safe community. We will work toward education, support and restitution before punishment and exclusion are considered.

In alignment with our educational goals to educate the whole student and our growth mindset we treat each student individually and with respect to their strengths, needs and challenges in addressing problems that arise in our school. Students and their coordinators are involved in negotiating a plan of support and restitution to the community that the student, coordinator and administrators all agree makes sense for that student.

If the student will not agree to the plan after the coordinator and administrator have made reasonable attempts to create this plan, taken input from the student and given the student options, the student has the right to opt out of the process and will receive the standard district punishment and/or exclusion instead.

If a student’s actions or behaviors are an immediate danger to themselves or others in our community our priority is to stop the harm and only after the situation is stable, begin a restorative process. This may require a reasonable cool off period.

If multiple attempts have been made to provide education and interventions to support a student with reoccurring violations to our school norms or district policies, if a student refuses to participate in creating a restorative plan or when a student does not follow through on their plan then we will default to the districts standard discipline procedures.

Nova follows the school district policy on animals in school. Students are not allowed to have animals of any kind at school, unless the animal is a service animal. Service animals are defined as an animal who is trained for a specific life assisting task necessary to provide the individual with access and safety.

Emotional support is not considered, by the district, a specific trained skill, therefore students are not allowed to bring emotional support animals to school.

At Nova, we know that animals can provide emotional support for students, which is why we have trained therapy animals as part of our program. These animals must be the property of a school district employee, who has signed an agreement to take responsibility for their animal while it is in the school. These animals must always be well behaved and under the control of this person, be well groomed, have a clean bill of health and current vaccinations.

If a student has an allergy or fear of any of these therapy animals then it is the staff member’s responsibility to remove the animal from the student’s learning environment if another solution cannot be reached.

Public spaces must have appropriate art and other representations at all times. A space will be provided for freelance graffiti and tagging as long as it is non-competitive, does not “mark territory,” and is respectful of all members of the Nova community.

All inappropriate markings or taggings on Nova public spaces will be removed.  A meeting with the coordinator and the student will be held to discuss any misunderstandings of the policy and appropriate service back to the school community.  This will include parent/guardian notification by the student’s coordinator.

Nova’s implementation of the school district drug and alcohol policy is as follows:

  • Students cannot be under the influence at school.
  • Students cannot use drugs or alcohol that would lead to being under the influence before school or during school hours.
  • If a student is under the influence at school, a parent/guardian will be contacted, safe transportation home will be arranged, a meeting with the student, coordinator, and parent/guardian will take place before the student can return to school, and a drug evaluation will need to be completed and the results shared with the coordinator. The student will remain a student in school during this process and must follow the recommendations of the drug evaluation.  ACRS can administer the drug evaluation and any needed follow-up counseling. The student will create a community restoration plan with their coordinator.
  • Selling or distributing drugs or alcohol to Nova students will result in immediate long-term suspension. The student can no longer be a student at Nova and will be served a no trespass order and referred to Interagency or another school in consultation with the student and their family.