The NSA Middle School Advisory Program promotes personalization and the development of a community of learners. The structure of the program provides students with guidance and support to enhance their learning experience. All students benefit from the small group atmosphere where the advisor serves a liaison among the students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Advisee activities throughout the school year are designed to build a sense of community. Because we here at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy understand the need and importance of students feeling a sense of connectedness, the school day begins and ends with the advisor.
The Middle School Student Council Organization offers students opportunities for developing leadership skills, impacting their school community, and providing support to Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and the outside community. The Council works with the faculty and administration to develop a positive school environment. In addition, the Council organizes service projects for the school and its neighboring communities. Finally, the Council plans and carries out social activities for Middle School students that are usually tied in with various service projects.
The Student Council Organization consists of five elected officers from all three grades and representatives from each advisory group, serving for one year. Representative are responsible for expressing the concerns, questions, and opinions of the members of their advisory groups, as well as for providing leadership to involve the advisory group in service projects and sponsored social activities. SCO meetings are held regularly, often in conjunction with service projects. The SCO strives to uphold the traditions of NSA as well as bring new student-driven ideas to enhance the school community.
The “Day of Caring” in the Middle School has quickly become a cherished tradition. The entire Middle School student body participates in an off campus community service day in October. Students gain an awareness of the needs in their own community. Past visits have included nursing homes, hospitals, fire stations, homeless shelters, and food banks. This opportunity sparks a lifelong desire to serve others.
The art of public speaking is a priority in the Middle School. At all grade levels, students have many opportunities to hone their skills by presenting to their teachers, their classmates, and their parents in a variety of ways. In sixth grade the culminating activity is the “Immigrant Project,” in which each student takes on the role of an immigrant on Ellis Island. The immigrant experience is shared through the written and spoken word. In seventh grade, students select a controversial topic about which they feel strongly, and they write a persuasive speech. This speech is presented to their classmates. In eighth grade, students write a “This I Believe” essay that is modeled after the 1950s radio series with the same name. The students write about a strong belief or value they hold, adding specific experiences that have helped shape this personal philosophy. These essays are orally presented to their classmates and parents.
Each year the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Middle School Forensics team competes in the Robert S. Sergeant Forensics Tournament, a public speaking competition for seventh and eighth grade students. After many months of practice, the students compete against students from other independent schools in the HamptonRoads areas. They engage in four categories of competition: oratory, in which a persuasive speech is written and delivered; poetry, in which a poem is recited; prose, in which an excerpt from a novel is recited; and storytelling, in which a story is performed for the audience. Students are judged on a variety of oral communication skills, and our students always represent us well in the competition.
Spelling and public speaking are important aspects of the Middle School curriculum, and the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Spelling Bee provides students with the opportunity to practice both skills. Students take a written test to qualify for the Bee. Held in January, the Spelling Bee showcases the spelling prowess of the Middle School competitors who score best on the qualifying exam. The winner moves on to the Regional Spelling Bee sponsored by the Virginian Pilot. The Regional Spelling Bee Champion advances to the state level competition and could advance as far as the Scripps National Bee in Washington, D.C.
Each January interested students in grades four through eight are invited to compete in the NSA Geography Bee. The Bee offers students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of facts about the United States and world geography. The school-level champion has the opportunity to complete a written qualifying test to see if he or she will earn an opportunity to compete at the state level of the National Geographic Bee, which is sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Over the years, several of our students have performed well and advanced to the challenging state competition.
A View from the Middle, the Middle School publication, is a collection that showcases student art and literary works. Many submissions are completed throughout the school year, and students are encouraged to submit their personal writings from outside of school, as well. An annual publication, the magazine includes student works of poetry, prose, short stories, non-fiction, personal reflection, and images of art. A contest is held to secure the student generated cover artwork, and the collection includes at least one submission from every Middle School student.
Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders are selected to participate on the Middle School Lego League Team. The Lego League team is designed to get students excited about science and technology while teaching them valuable life skills. Each fall, the students are presented with a challenge that is based on real worldwide problems facing scientists and engineers today. Through a robot game and projects, the students create innovative solutions. Learning to work as a team is the hallmark of this program.
Seventh grade math students participate in a year long math incentive program during which students earn “math money” in a variety of ways. Completing homework, assessment scores, class participation, and helpfulness are a few examples of how students earn “math money.” This program provides the opportunity for students to use basic computation skills and mental math on a daily basis. At the end of each trimester an auction is held in each math class. Students are able to use their “math money” to bid on items in the auction. The highest bidder could walk away with anything from an iTunes gift card to a funky hat!
The ESCP program provides and opportunity for high achieving science students in the sixth grade to expand learning in areas of earth science. As an extension of the topics investigated in class, students have the opportunity to engage in research and data collection. Multiple short-term challenges are presented throughout the year and allow students options for exhibition of material.
The BEP is an ungraded extracurricular research program designed to allow high performing seventh grade scientists the opportunity to delve deeply into an area of their personal interest. Students will choose their topics and will be the architect if their own learning path. The teacher provides research opportunities, guidance, and resources throughout the process. Students will design and populate their individual websites. Each student’s site will creatively represent his/her findings and will include products such as videos, documents, presentations and links.
The PEP is an ungraded extracurricular research project designed to allow high performing eighth grade science students the opportunity to examine specific physics concepts in more detail. Students will be paired together and will collaborate throughout the entire process – from choosing a topic, to researching the concept and presenting the final project. The teacher, acting solely as a mentor, will provide research opportunities, guidance, and resources throughout the process. Current Upper School physics students will act as additional mentors during the project. Students will prepare an oral presentation that will provide an explanation of their physics concept and must be accompanied with a physical demonstration of their concept in action.
The Middle School offers an exciting book club opportunity entitled, Chat and Chew, to all interested sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. The club provides a time to enjoy a pizza lunch and discuss a novel that students have read prior to the club meeting. Students enjoy an opportunity to engage in thought-providing discussions from award winning authors. The students relish the opportunity to gather together in a relaxed “coffee house” atmosphere.
Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s Middle School is pleased to offer a fee based program after school for our students and their families. Students in grades six through eight are welcome to attend the Beyond the Bell Program after school from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Monday - Friday. Our Middle School students begin the afternoon with time to relax after a day of classroom learning. Students then participate in a 45-minute study session before moving on to indoor activities. At this age level, students are given greater independence while still benefiting from adult supervision.
The Turkey Trot is a Middle School tradition that spans several decades. In the fall, students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades spend several weeks training in their physical education classes. On the day of the event, many students dress up in theme, and all Middle School students and faculty members head to the track for the two-mile November “fun run.” Students complete the race, and prizes are awarded for achievement, as well as for spirit.