NOVA School students Thurston Talks
What is the tuition at NOVA?

For the 2017-2018 school year, the tuition and comprehensive fees for a full year at NOVA is $16,774. Three payment plans are available, as well as need-based financial aid. Comprehensive fees cover costs such as the fall retreat to Camp Colman, year-end spring trips, Winterim activities, and school planners.

Optional costs include purchasing NOVA logo wear or ordering lunches for Tuesdays or Thursdays. 

If families are interested in applying for financial aid, please refer to the Financial Aid  section.

How many students attend NOVA, and how large are the classes?

105 students attend NOVA School. Core class sizes normally are about 18 students, while elective classes are often smaller.

How is the school day structured?

The school day begins at 8:00 AM. Each student rotates from class to class in a six period day to receive instruction from different teachers. Most of the Core classes meet in the morning and most of the Enrichment (elective) classes occur in the afternoon, but schedules vary from day to day. Students have a morning break and a half hour lunch period. The school day ends with a Closing Crew where students receive announcements and contribute to keeping the building clean. Students are released at 2:45 PM.

Who goes to NOVA?

NOVA attracts students from public and private elementary schools all over the South Puget Sound area, including Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, Pierce and Lewis counties. Many students have attended public school gifted programs. Incoming students have usually functioned at the top of their classes based on a combination of academic, creative and leadership criteria.

What does “highly capable” mean?  

Highly capable students perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments. For some students those characteristics are evident in their general abilities.  For others it includes specific abilities such as math, writing or leadership. It’s not uncommon for highly capable students to shine in some areas and struggle in others. Not all highly capable students score well on standardized assessments. Thinking outside the box, creativity, a heightened sense of justice, and intensity are common characteristics of highly capable students. Sometimes the terms highly capable and gifted are used interchangeably. Being highly capable is only one aspect of a mission-appropriate student applicant.

How do I know if NOVA School is right for my child?

Our goal is to find the best match between the NOVA School mission and program, the student’s needs and the family’s expectations. Our admissions process is designed to identify students who exhibit all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Strong academic achievement, who scores in the 90th percentile or above on most sections of standardized achievement tests.
  • High intellectual potential, who scores in the 90th percentile or above on the aptitude test we give for enrollment.
  • Reads and writes very well for his/her grade level.
  • Sufficient mathematical ability to move at a pace faster than a typical regular classroom math curriculum.
  • Exhibits curiosity, independence, focus, and motivation, as indicated by teacher comments.
  • Shows desire to attend a challenging, rigorous, personal school, and the willingness to work to his or her potential.
  • Well-behaved, respectful, and cooperative in a classroom setting.

Accepted students will be expected to read and write fluidly, complete assignments conscientiously, work independently, exhibit respectful behavior, be responsible for regular homework, and contribute positively to the school community.

Although NOVA School provides a program specifically for highly capable students, there are some very bright students we can not appropriately serve. The following are potential reasons for denying admission to, or continuance in, our program: not academically prepared for above-grade level study; not emotionally or socially prepared for the rigors of our program; an inability to demonstrate respect for peers or teachers; serious difficulty focusing; serious difficulty working cooperatively in groups; specific learning disabilities; or other special education needs.

What kind of diversity is at NOVA?

NOVA students are similar in their level of academic ability and in their parents' commitment to high quality education. Otherwise, those who come to NOVA are surprisingly diverse. It is our goal to have the NOVA School population reflect the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of our community. Over one-third of our student population receives financial aid, which enables additional diversity. Diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, varied family structures, wide-ranging interests, divergent political and religious views, and varied personal belief systems are all valued at NOVA, and students are taught to respect these differences.

My child wants to complete his or her 6th grade year at our elementary school. How might this affect the possibility of coming to NOVA?

There are two fundamental ways waiting can affect admission and success as a NOVA School student. The first is due to simple numbers: with the maximum class year size at 36 students, there has to be an available slot for a new student to attend in 7th grade.   The second way is a result of program design, as all of our subjects are taught with a full three-year, curriculum plan; therefore, students coming in the 7th grade might experience gaps in their preparation.

How much homework can we expect?

NOVA students complete regular homework assignments in the Core subjects. They also work on longer-term projects requiring the time management skills taught by faculty to successfully complete tasks at home and at school. Homework is designed to be at a level that does not prevent student commitments to extra-curricular art, sport, music, community service and other activities critical to creating well-rounded, worldly adults.

What opportunities exist for families and prospective students to visit the school?

The best way for parents to get the most information about NOVA is to attend a Prospective Parents' Meeting and then come visit the school in session. We encourage parents to visit the classes during the school day; you may visit for as long or as briefly as you like. If you are unable to attend one of our meetings, you may, of course, still visit and meet with the Head of School if you so desire.

Students are encouraged to experience a guided tour during the NOVA application process. Visits are half day from 8:00am to 12:20. Prospective students are matched and attend classes with an age-appropriate student guide. To schedule visits, please call Julie Hankins, Admissions Coordinator at 360-491-7097.

When are applications due? When are testing dates? When are students notified if they’ve been accepted?

Please see the NOVA Admissions Calendar submenu.