NOVA Middle School in Olympia Guides Students Through Critical Years in a Fun and Nurturing Environment


Middle school is often referred to as “the lost years.” It’s a time when kids start to understand family issues such as divorce and money problems. It’s also a time when the impact of the new chemicals rushing through kid’s bodies cause them to act in new and sometimes, unpredictable ways. It’s a time when friendships become more complex and volatile and peer pressure begins to emerge. Throw in neurodivergence in gifted kids and it can be the perfect storm. NOVA Middle School in Olympia is a nurturing school for highly capable students that makes things more than tolerable. Students tend to blossom and flourish.

“It’s a time to figure out how to navigate life,” explains Tiffany Price, head of NOVA Middle School.

students on a large climbing wall
Students are always climbing upward at NOVA Middle School in Olympia, Washington. Photo courtesy: NOVA Middle School

NOVA Middle School Supports the Critical Years of Youths’ Development

Middle school is a critical time for students to learn and practice the study skills necessary for high school, when grades start to become a big factor in getting into college. More responsibility is given to students in middle school, with longer projects and the changing of classes throughout the day. NOVA Middle School guides students through a smooth transition into high school with a thrilling 3-year program.

It’s a good time to practice coping skills and problem-solving techniques for everyday pressures and issues. It’s also a good time to teach students to appreciate and respect the many differences they may find among their peers. 

“Academically, I think [middle school] sets the stage for the habits students will have in high school and beyond,” explains Julie Stephan, NOVA Middle School counselor. “NOVA helps them develop their work ethic, organizational skills, how they think about the world. And how they take in information.”

Students take a break from studies at NOVA Middle School to bat the ball around with some lawn volleyball. Photo courtesy: NOVA Middle School

Students, faculty and parents join together to create a school with the feel of an extended family. “We help our students to find themselves intellectually, socially and emotionally in a safe place,” explains Price, “without the high stakes of high school.”

NOVA Middle School supports highly capable students through the critical years with education and support. One of the unique ways they support student development is through off-campus overnight trips twice a year.

At the beginning of the school year, the group takes over Camp Seymour exploring nature, playing games and building their bond. At the end of the year, sixth and seventh graders go to either Portland or Port Townsend to create goals for the next school year, while the eighth graders visit the San Juan Islands to celebrate their final moments before heading off to high school.

Middle School in Olympia Celebrates Students and Families with Alumni Quiz Bowl and Annual Celebration and Auction

Families who are or were a part of NOVA Middle School are invited to attend the convivial Alumni Quiz Bowl, hosted each spring semester.

Some alumni of NOVA Middle School in Olympia come back to visit as high school seniors when participating in the Quiz Bowl. Students like Sarah Joy White, who graduated in 2008, will continue to hold the school in their hearts for years to come. “NOVA was really a key place for me at a pivotal time in life,” she shares. “NOVA had great academics, of course, but for me the biggest thing was the strong social support. I went from a timid and emotional elementary schooler to a confidently unique high schooler ready to take on leadership roles.”

NOVA Middle School building in Olympia
NOVA Middle School in Olympia welcomes guests to the Alumni Quiz Bowl Celebration and Silent Auction. Photo courtesy: NOVA Middle School

“NOVA was really a key place for me at a pivotal time in life,” White continues. “I improved my confidence, met one of my best friends, was able to excel academically.  Additionally, I joined the basketball team while at NOVA. I never felt like I was talented in sports, but at NOVA I was given the courage to try even if I didn’t think I was good at it. That gave me the confidence to do other sports, which kick-started my career path into physical therapy. I was also able to take swing dance for winter PE while at NOVA and now I do competitive swing dance around the world.”

Quiz Bowl is a beloved tradition. “It’s one of the Hallmarks of what we do at NOVA,” Price says, “learning in a fun and interesting way.” The annual Alumni Quiz Bowl brings back fond memories of students’ time at NOVA and gives alumni a chance to reconnect with each other and past teachers.

“The Quiz Bowl theme this year is ‘In Living Color!’” says Stephan. “When I think about the theme, I think about all the vibrant experiences our students have while they are here. I think it’s going to be a great night!!”

After the Quiz Bowl champions are declared, the 12th grade alumni will receive the highly anticipated letter they wrote when they were students at NOVA Middle School in eighth grade. Before calling it a night, attendees dive into some nachos while watching an entertaining slideshow of the 2020 graduates.

An auction the next evening helps provide funds for NOVA’s operating budget and financial aid. However, the main goal is to bring the community together. The event supplies the opportunity to connect alumni, board members, teachers and families, past, present, and future. “It’s a time to celebrate NOVA and the kids’ time at NOVA,” explains Price.

Participants proudly smile after completing in NOVA Middle School’s Quiz Bowl and are ready for the celebration. Photo courtesy: NOVA Middle School

Why NOVA Middle School

Moving away from the elementary principles of primary school and into middle school is such a transformative time for young minds. NOVA Middle School in Olympia prepares highly capable students for the complex world of high school while still giving them the fun and entertainment their pre-teen minds need.

During this critical time in a young person’s life, one of the most important things kids need is a reliable support system, NOVA Middle School offers this to its students. “The number one thing is the community,” states Price. “We are a really tight knit group of adults, as well as kids. We are so welcoming and supportive of one another.”

“I think the kids really respect one another,” adds Stephan. “It is a very accepting, nurturing environment.”

To learn more, visit the NOVA Middle School website.


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