October 2015 Davidson Academy Prospective Student eNewsletter

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  Student to Student  Get to Know Us  Program Updates  In Memoriam  | Student Activities  | Davidson Fellow  |  In the News

   Student to Student

To Prospective Students -

Tales of the Davidson Academy’s academic prestige, with all sorts of facts and statistics, are probably what caught your eye when you heard about this school for the first time. And while yes, that definitely does exist here, it’s not what contributed to the Academy turning into what feels like a second home for me. While great academics exist all over the world, there’s no other place like Davidson, in terms of kaleidoscopic community of students, teachers, and learning that has grown and flourished here.

Too often are gifted kids labeled as simply nerds focused solely on the STEM field. And while that may be true for some of us (guilty), that’s far from all there is to our student body. We consist of poets, programmers, musicians, researchers, actors, mathematicians, artists, and anyone else you can think of. I may be a biology major next year, but some of my favorite memories over seven years at Davidson have been forming a band with my English classmates, performing in a Shakespeare play, and becoming a Peer Advising Liaison to help my fellow students with academic skills. This is a place to branch out, to explore new things you may have never even thought of, and show that you are far more than just a label.

This type of mentality and ideology may start with our students, however, it only grows from here. In my years here, I’ve found that the Academy brings the best kinds of teachers to help their students grow in every way possible. In addition to the wisdom they bring on particular subjects, Davidson teachers are individuals that incessantly push our thinking, teach us to make our own decisions, and want to see every single student find success. They do more than I would’ve thought humanly possible, and seeing it only makes me want to accomplish more in my life. They’ve not only taught me how the world works, but how to analyze it, create my own ideas, and present them to others.

However, accomplishing any of this is far from easy for students here. Thinking critically, being challenged to accomplish new things and ideas, and coloring outside of the pre-determined academic “lines” comes with it’s own set of growing pains. But, at Davidson, it’s made possible. It’s something that every student here is capable of achieving because the spirit of these ideas pervades every molecule of the school. Here, if someone has the drive and motivation, everything is put at our fingertips to learn, grow, and achieve more than ever thought possible. So, I hope you’ll join us. We need more people like you.

~ Valary Zvyagin, Seventh Year Davidson Academy Student


   Get to Know Us

As the school year moves forward, it’s hard to believe we are already approaching the midway point of the semester! With 26 of our students graduating in May, we are helping them think about their future and locate the best match for their future academic and personal options. To accomplish this, we have set up weekly guidelines to assist graduating students throughout this arduous process, and have an independent college consultant working closely with them. For more information, see the College Advising page on the Academy website. We hope you will consider applying to The Davidson Academy for the 2016-2017 school year, or attend one of our tours (see details below)!

                                 ~ Colleen Harsin, Director of The Davidson Academy of Nevada


   Davidson Academy Program Updates

2016-2017 Application Now Available

The Davidson Academy of Nevada application for the 2016-2017 school year is now available! Visit the How to Apply page to access the online application system. If you are looking for an environment to better fit your social and academic needs, the Davidson Academy may be the place for you!

The Academy is specifically designed to meet the needs of profoundly gifted middle and high school students who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ or college entrance tests. Please review the Qualification Criteria page of our website as these scores are mandatory for student eligibility. On the Application Review Process page, you will find detailed information about the on-site assessment.

Upcoming Tours for Prospective Students

At the Davidson Academy tours, prospective students and their parents meet current Academy students, parents, faculty and staff, and ask specific questions about the school.

Upcoming school tours will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the following Fridays:
  • Nov. 20, 2015
  • Dec. 11, 2015
  • Jan. 29, 2016
  • Feb. 19, 2016
For details, including directions to the Davidson Academy and RSVP information, please visit the Tours page. If you would like more information, please contact us at outreach@davidsonacademy.unr.edu.

The updated Davidson Academy School Profile is now available on the Academy website. It provides information on the Academy's background, students, mission statement, goals, core values, eligibility criteria, curriculum, graduation requirements and more.

   In Memoriam

Carmen Garcia, M.Ed., Director of Curriculum and Instruction
July 29, 1967 – October 3, 2015

All of us at the Davidson Academy of Nevada wish to recognize one of our best and brightest staff members who is no longer with us. Carmen Garcia, our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, passed away earlier this month after a harrowing battle with pancreatic cancer. With a mere two months between diagnosis and Carmen’s final day, our community here at the Academy has experienced an indescribable loss.

Employed as a Family Consultant with the Young Scholars program at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development in 2005, Carmen assisted a number of families with educational advocacy and planning. Soon after the Davidson Academy of Nevada opened for the 2006-2007 school year, she transferred to work here as an instructor and curriculum coordinator to help the new school continue to grow and thrive. Under her guidance over the past several years, the Academy has built and maintained a solid curriculum that offers a range of academically rigorous options across all required subject areas and an impressive array of electives. When interviewed for our June 2008 newsletter, here’s what Ms. Garcia had to say:

What do you do as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction?
My job is coming up with creative ways to bring out the very best in both instructors and students. This includes things like helping teachers find effective ways to challenge their students and making sure that students have access to intellectually stimulating coursework. I also like getting to know each student so that I can contribute to their personalized learning plans (PLP) and use their ideas to shape the curriculum.

How are students matched with the coursework they take at the Academy?
Broadly speaking, we place students according to their ability in each particular subject area. We do not have specific grade levels, but we offer coursework at both the middle and high school level. Our first priority is to provide a well-rounded and rigorous secondary education. This means thinking about what the well-educated person should know and the kind of learning that will benefit them in the future. The personalized learning plans always begin from these guiding principles, but allow us to focus more closely upon each particular student so that their educational experiences will make sense for who they are as individuals. We also strive to provide electives that will reflect our students’ interests and passions. In fact, the way we think about electives is directly related to information the students have shared with us.
You have also taught English Literature and Philosophy classes. What is your favorite subject to teach?
The best thing about teaching is watching students discover the sublime power of their own minds, regardless of the discipline. To me, philosophy and literature are both very exciting subjects to teach. If I had to pick one, it would be philosophy because nothing beats listening to bright kids take on the problems and questions of the ages. They bring fresh perspective and new fire to the oldest, most fundamental conundrums of the human experience. Philosophy is also a subject that has traditionally been reserved for college-aged students who are thought “ready” to tackle all the abstract reasoning it involves. I have to admit that I get a real boost from hearing my 11- to 16-year-old students demonstrate how faulty this assumption really is. Also, when I hear a couple of my students arguing over Plato or Jung at lunchtime, it absolutely makes my day!

What are your thoughts on summer reading?
In a nutshell I would say, “seek pleasure and avoid pain.” During the school year it is a fine and honorable thing to work hard, but life is more than toil. Besides, some of the best corners of your mind live near the imagination, which takes its prime nourishment from joy and self discovery. With this in mind, filling the summer book bag is very simple. Toss in two kinds of books - a little something old and a little something new. By “old” I mean authors and genres that you already know you like, and by “new” I just mean anything that you haven’t tried that sounds interesting. To discover new fodder, talk with people who read since most avid readers like to share their discoveries. You can also browse through recommended reading lists and look for interesting catch phrases like “magical realism” or “historical fiction,” and use them to narrow your searches. Another very simple way to explore your options (once you have looked at the various genre labels) is to hang out in the library. Take your time and really burrow in so you browse through a lot of different books. Librarians can also be very helpful - if you take the time to describe what you value in a book, most good librarians can point you in the right direction. These are some of the ways that I stumbled upon some of my very best reading experiences and those books are still cherished friends of mine.

Known as Carmen by students and staff members, Ms. Garcia has been an integral part of all things Academy. As such, her presence remains with us, as does her commitment to the students we serve. We will continue to grow and thrive as a learning community, and are thankful for her role in that process. For certain, the world will not be the same without Carmen, but it is a better place because of her.


   Student Activities

National Merit Scholarship

Thirteen Davidson Academy students were named 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program Semi-Finalists: Taryn Apel, Duncan Boren, Haydn Bradstreet, Holly Choma, Joseph Chou, Harry Fosbinder-Elkins, Brad Gephart, Connor Novak, Paul Novak, Adelaide Oh, Vandana Ravikumar, Giselle Serate and Angela Shao. These students are in the process of completing their applications to be considered for Finalist status, which is an additional honor that may also result in scholarship considerations. The Class of 2016 at the Academy has more semi-finalists than any other high schools in Reno. Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

Also, the following seniors were named as National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Students: Juliana Anderson, Amanda Bak, Addison Cram, Forrest Karo and Valary Zvyagin.

American Regions Mathematics League Competition

A number of Academy students participated in the American Regions Mathematics League (ARML) Competition in Las Vegas as part of the Northern Nevada Math Club. They did a fantastic job, placing 6th nationally in their category. Participating students were Paolo Adajar, Lauren Brilliant, Derek Chien, Christoph Kemmelmeier, Rinik Kumar Sarah MacHarg, Nathan McAlister, Dhruv Rohatgi and Courtney Shinagawa. Well done!


   Academy Graduate Named 2015 Davidson Fellow

Congratulations to 2015 Davidson Academy graduate Grace Hong for being named a 2015 Davidson Fellow! Grace will receive $10,000 for her literature portfolio, which attempts to capture the unique situation of people from mixed ethnicities. It illuminates the struggles that people of color undergo in America, such as racism, microaggressions, and reconciling their multiple cultures. She was featured in the Reno-Gazette-Journal for this accomplishment.


   In the News

Based on the recently released book, The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star, Davidson Academy alum Taylor Wilson was featured in the Bright article, "Is America Failing its Brightest Stars?". The article describes Taylor's childhood and how his parents nurtured his exceptional interest in science. The Davidson Academy is also spotlighted, describing how the school is personalized to specifically meet the needs of profoundly gifted students.

“Social connections are made by individuals, and never by groups, meaning that all kinds of people find great friends that they may otherwise never have met, had it not been for the Academy . . . People are free to be whoever they want to be here, and that’s a great part of what makes the Academy an amazing school.”

Matt Henderson, Davidson Academy Graduate


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