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    As a fourth year high school student who has attended a number of different schools throughout the district and world I can say for myself speaking within the transitions between schools how much of our school years onset is determined by the internal often subconscious ideas our brain creates about things before they actually happen. We have all obviously been the new kid(s) here at one point and had the chance to formulate our own initial thoughts and impressions. Can you remember what your first day was like? Does it at all resemble the way you perceive the school's curriculum and community today? And the main questions I would like to focus on: What expectations or perceptions did you have of Nova, if any, prior to attending? What or who influenced you to create these perceptions?
    Throughout my first year of high school the only kind of perception of Nova I was able to build was based on that of those around me saying that it was some sort of “mess up for school” meant for students incapable of understanding or succeeding in a conventional high school setting. Despite never fully succumbing to this, what I thought to be embellished opinion, I certainly was not motivated to start going there anytime soon. Over a year later I returned from studying out of the country in what would be widely considered an alternative setting: calling the teachers by their first names, significantly smaller class sizes and lots of flexibility towards each individual's learning style. I found the transition back into public school to be intimidating and provoking of a sense of being lost in the crowd. I quickly realized that it wasn't for me and stopped attending. By this time my brother had been going to Nova for around 6 months and seemed to be having a much more personalized and meaningful learning experience than any public school. Later in the year I went to the Nova orientation tour and decided for myself that this school was not in fact what it is commonly and may I say “publicly” perceived to be and it was in fact for me.

    Transferring to Nova became an obvious decision for me after a year studying abroad having before that no experience in any sort of alternative school. Within that environment of a smaller student body and much more flexible, personalized education experience, I learned to prioritize focus on my own academic strengths, weaknesses and patterns before attacking a workload, giving me a good foundation to start an intrinsically-motivated experience. After returning to the US, I found it very difficult to transition back into a large public high school. Setting myself up for success seemed harder than ever with under 100 teachers to over 1000 (21:1) students leaving a diluted appeal toward any sort of alternative learning style or preference. As I lost motivation in my classes and began to fall behind it quickly became as if I had missed the last ferry left debating the possibility of jumping in and ever catching up to it.

    After interviewing several Nova students about their impressions of Nova before transferring. I found that their experiences differed unsurprisingly from my own with students attending other public high schools often false perceptions of Nova being something of the negative reputations that I mentioned earlier. With this I believe that the idea of Nova being a school for conventionally incapable students is false and simply empowers the fact that going here really does take open-mindedness, internal motivation and firm educational values. Nova is a prime opportunity to take the reigns of your learning as well as redefining what it means to go above and beyond to what you make it for yourself.