Nova High School

High School
Student Life

Social Justice

Social Justice at Nova

At Nova, students and staff continually engage in community-building and social justice work embedded in learning and service activities. Nova’s students and staff devote their time and energies to engagement in activism and service towards social justice. 

Let's Go There: Nova High School, All for the Community

Here are some examples of social justice learning woven throughout the school day: 

Action Faction Committee

As an all-inclusive committee, we work to create a safe and respectful community for all genders and sexualities. We combat sexuality and gender identity oppression by creating positive actions in Nova and beyond. Positive actions include maintaining safe spaces for discussions, resources and events. We believe that any social justice movement must work towards inclusion of other social justice goals. We recognize that all oppressions are connected and in no way do we want our actions to propagate other forms of oppression.

POC Committee

The People of Color Committee (POCC) is a meeting place for students and staff who identify as people of color.

We meet to build community and hold space for POC students and staff to develop and practice their leadership skills and discuss issues of race and equity in a safe and open environment. Along with teachers, students will facilitate committee meetings & projects, on a rotating-signups basis.

We’re excited to re-connect with each other and new faces after the summer break, program and host school events, organize field trips, collaborate with local organizations, and teach & learn about our experiences as POC at Nova and Seattle at large.

Walk the Walk Committee

The Walk The Walk Committee is committed to providing a centralized list of service learning opportunities for students with a social justice focus to volunteering in the community. This committee will keep a list of service learning opportunities for students and staff to access.

Ethnic Studies World History Class

Intro to Ethnic Studies is a world history class focusing on the experiences of peoples around the world who’ve played/continue to play critical roles in shaping the modern world, yet whose experiences and perspectives are frequently absent from and/or distorted by mainstream narratives of world history.

We will unpack what are dominant narratives—what they do, and why/how they persist—and work to uncover, analyze, and reconcile with counter narratives to broaden our understandings of how the past continues to shape the present (e.g., to determine why and how things change and/or stay the same for various peoples and the planet). Race/ethnicity, gender, class, power, and culture are primary lenses we’ll work with to research complex historic events. We will study interesting cases in the last 500 years in and outside of the US through thematic units on colonialism and imperialism, immigration and migration, and liberation and decolonization.

Books of Many Colors

Here is your chance to not only read authors of color, but some of the greatest authors in the world:

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Love Medicine
  • Bailey’s Cafe
  • Sula
  • The Bluest Eye
  • House of the Spirits
  • Eva Luna
  • Mamma Day
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Another Country
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
  • Tracks
  • The Kitchen God’s Wife
  • Like Water for Chocolate
  • Exit West 
  • And on and on and on…there are just so many!!!!

We will create reading groups, and you will also choose at least one book to read on your own. We will have conversations about our books and do projects on them.

Please know this: Any reading level is welcome in this class. You just have to be willing to either read or listen to the books. I can work with you in a hundred ways to get books to you.

We will do some reading in every class. In addition, you will work hard at learning how to gain deeper insights into the books you read by understanding how authors use symbolism and theme.

If you love reading, are interested in doing it, want to get better at it, want to read books by some of the greatest authors of color (and authors period) on the planet, then take this class.

U.S. History Intensive

This U.S. History intensive will use reading, writing, costumes, debates, role plays, theater, art projects, videos, and classroom research to engage ourselves in a process of uncovering our collective and personal histories. We’ll approach history as a contested subject, one in which a multitude of stories from different perspectives must be weighed and considered as we search for larger trends and truths in U.S. society. Examining history through a lens of race, class, gender, and power, we’ll constantly ask whether the common stories we tell in U.S. history might be biased. If so, what purposes do they serve?

Rather than focusing on memorizing names, dates, and places, this class will challenge students to think critically about U.S. history and to identify historical trends and tensions within U.S. society. By the end of the semester, students should be able to construct a cohesive narrative that connects current events to earlier U.S. history, including to our founding documents.

This class will cover American history from the Columbian exchange through modern events. We’ll put a strong emphasis on developing history skills, including researching primary and secondary resources, spotting bias, and developing critical and supported arguments.

Fries au Foire

We will take a look at all kinds of learning in this class.   Reading with our ears and eyes, we will look at the gifts of ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, as well as depression and anxiety and how they impact learning.  We will also look at multiple intelligences.  As an inquiry-based seminar-styled place of learning, we will explore what and how we want to learn together beyond my initial ideas.  So, bring your questions, frustrations and joys about learning, and come ready to learn about yourself and others. 

Washington State History Class

Students will explore the history of the state of Washington through the following topical strands:

  • Social justice;
  • Oral histories;
  • First nations;
  • Civics and government structures;
  • Geography;
  • Earth and ecological history and dynamics;
  • Economics.

In addition to educational and committee opportunities, Nova is committed to continual growth as an institution.  These commitments are woven into our Continuous School Improvement Plan:

  • We are committed to deepening our development of our Ethnic Studies curriculum and classes. Based on the results of a year-long evaluation process led by our POC (People of Color) committee, POC committee identified and presented to staff their results, which included the need for more Ethnic Studies for students of color and white students. They also asked teachers to be more explicit in their teaching of systemic oppression.

  • Our student/staff People of Color committee currently meets twice a week. We have added additional study support times for students of color.

  • Our recruitment committee’s goal is to increase the number of students of color. Our hiring and review committee also has the goal of recruiting and retaining staff of color. These were expressed specifically by students of color as essential to improving Nova.

  • We started and will continue a racial justice book group for teachers.

  • The science and art (SNArt Department) is committed to creating a STEM club for POC students and bringing in more POC STEM speakers to classes.

  • Over the next three years the SNart department is also committed to developing culturally relevant arts programs and building partnership with arts programs.

  • We will continue to focus staff professional development time on our racial justice goals which includes staff racial justice groups, staff book study groups, expanded Ethnic Studies classes, and continued support for students and staff of color at Nova.